Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Free EPs from the Acorn

Via Will McGuirk: Critically acclaimed Ottawa band the Acorn has two free EPs for you. The first Ear Worms contains "Ear Worms: 12 - 30 sec. songs written and recorded on xmas eve." the second is Little Elms - "a short 4 song EP inspired by end-of-summer sun-stroke". Both are available at the band's web site theacorn.ca.

There are also a few older songs you can get in the podsafe download section of this site.

Canadian Blogger Arrested in Tehran

Via CBC comes word that Canadian-Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan has been arrested in Tehran. Derakhshan, author of Editor Myself, which has been included in the news and politics section of publicbroadcasting.ca for some time has drawn fire from both Tehran and Washington over the years.
International human rights groups and media reports said Derakhshan, a former Toronto resident, was arrested on Nov. 1.
"His case is in a preliminary investigative stage at a revolutionary court and he is currently in incarceration at a jail in Tehran," Jamishid said, giving no further explanation of the charges against Derakhshan.
In Iran, revolutionary courts handle national security matters.
Known as "the blogfather" for his pioneering efforts at helping Iranian bloggers post welblogs in the Persian language, Derakhshan was both an outspoken critic of the clerical regime in Tehran, and supportive of his homeland's controversial nuclear program.
In his blog Editor: Myself, he wrote that Iran had the right to defend itself from what he called "U.S. aggression."
There has so far been no response from Foreign Affairs.

Canadians Rally for Arts and Culture Over the Holidays

Eight days ago, three days before Christmas, I urged people to take a moment out of their holiday preparations and contact new Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff in defense of Canadian arts and culture. Although getting people's attention over this period is a tall order the response has been good. So far, that I know of, more than 280 people have contacted Iggy and urged him not to allow Harper's conservatives to take politically motivated hacks at arts and culture while he prepares a 30 billion dollar stimulus for every other industry.

My hope is that every message sent over the holidays will carry extra weight. That the fact the people are willing to take time over the holidays to stand up for the arts will send the message that this is vitally important to us. It is a safe bet that there are ongoing discussions between the Liberals and Conservatives about what needs to be in the budget to prevent the government from falling on January 26. I think it is also a safe bet that attacking arts and culture is not important enough to Harper that he is willing to sacrifice his government and potentially his political career over it.

There is really no telling, at this point, what will happen at the end of January but for those concerned about arts and culture this is an opportunity to insure that the cuts that brought Harper under fire before the last election and whatever new ones he is thinking of do not go ahead. If a coalition government takes over there will be no cuts. If there is an election it is anyone's guess but there will be no cuts at least until a new government is formed, this is our opportunity to make sure that if Harper remains in power that there are no cuts to the arts.

Please take a moment, if you have a Facebook account to add this event, invite like minded people and, whether you have a Facebook account or not contact Michael Ignatieff using this feedback form or by emailing Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca

Remember, even if you don't consider yourself a supporter of the arts, we are in an economic recession and this is a huge industry in Canada
According to the Board of Trade arts and culture, both directly and indirectly employ 1.1 million people, generate 84 billion in economic activity and accounts for 7.4% of GDP.

Arts and culture, according to the Canada Council employs "roughly the same number of jobs as agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil & gas and utilities combined".

According to the Government of Canada's website for Trade Routes Canada's cultural exports equal 5 billion dollars annually.

Hooded Fang's Dance Cuts on Harper's Arts Cuts: Arts Gala!

Monday, December 29, 2008

49 Songs North of 49

CBC Radio 2 is having a competition. The idea is to come up with 49 songs from north of the 49th parallel to present as a welcome gift to incoming US president Barrack Obama.
This is your official heads up: you have a week to consider which song you think best represents and defines our country to the incoming president. On January 5th, we'll invite you to start making your suggestions to us online at our special website, by email or by phone (details to come).

On January 12th we'll unveil the top 100 candidates. You'll have 5 days to vote for your favourite entries online (until January 16th), and finally on January 20th - Inauguration Day in the USA - we'll announce the winning songs and play as many of the 49 as we can fit into our daytime shows: Radio 2 Morning, Tempo, Drive and Tonic.
If McCain had been elected down south this would have been an easy one, with a clear #1:

Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie

But since it's Obama I think this would be a good place to start: It kinda goes well with 'Yes We Can':

You Have A Choice

K-OS, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent,
Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Jason
Collett of Broken Social Scene, Darren Dumas of The Salads and the Arts
Offstage Choir under the direction of David Reed.

Ian Lefeuvre (The Hundreds and Thousands) and K-OS

Lyrics all contributed by the artists. Additional keyboards are performed by Todor Kobakov from Major Maker. The track was mastered by Joao Carvalho

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Machetes Record Release Cabaret at the Drake Jan. 7

The Machetes who I first saw when they were opening for the Woodhands at their CD release are having a CD release of their own. Their debut EP will be officially unveiled at a free show at the Drake underground on December 7 along with "NXNE 08 DVD release, and a live recording of the whole darn thing!"

Also on the stage will be Romoroto and Dylan Studebaker "the one and only punk magician" and some appropriate machete juggling. In the mean time you can get a sneak preview at myspace.com/machetesband - you can also find the Machetes on Facebook and the event page is here.

Machetes - Black Leather

Bicycles, Chris Page and Camp Radio added to podsafe downloads

Still going in alphabetical order, today's additions to the podsafe downloads are Toronto's Bicycles and Ottawa's Chris Page as a solo artist as well as with his band Camp Radio.

Still to come over the next little while The Michael Parks, the Flaps, Flecton Bigsky, Greenfield Main, Henri Faberge and the Adorables, Hoffenheimer, Hilotrons, Jim Bryson, more stuff from the Midways, Paperjack, Peter Project, Prairie Cat, Proffessor Undressor, Recollers, Rhume, South of 78 and Woodhands.

Dinosaur Bones 1st Birthday, January 17

Toronto's Dinosaur Bones will celebrate their first anniversary as a band on January 17 at the Horseshoe Tavern with The Junction, Black Hat Brigade, and The Paint Movement playing along.

For more details check out the Facebook Event Page if you're so inclined stop by their group page and say happy birthday!

You can also find their self-titled debut EP on Zunior - a full length release from the band is expected later in 09.

Dinosaur Bones - Ice Hotels

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Biggest Threat to Social Media is Social Media Done Wrong

I am still amazed at how many people, even in the social media business, don't get social media. I'm not going to provide examples as it is not my intention here to embarrass anyone but the misunderstanding seems especially pronounced with traditional media and people with marketing, advertising and pr backgrounds. I've seen a number of campaigns and even articles on how to do social media that have the same problems as traditional advertising.

So once more with feeling: Social media is social, that means there is an ongoing conversation with give and take, not simply a top down, one directional announcement. It is about telling the truth about what you are selling or promoting and hoping that it resonates with others who will pass on the message. It is not about manipulating people or telling them to pass on your message because you said so. Search engine optimization and other such tricks are fine as long as you have something of substance for people to search for.

I run a number of groups (for example) that are all opt in. Sometimes the number of people goes up, and sometimes it goes down. I am always pleased when the numbers go up, even by one, and never worry when the numbers go down. If people leave then they weren't part of the 'audience' I was after anyway.

I do my best to promote people and things and ideas that I support. I firmly believe in the power of social media to change the world and to empower individuals. I believe that social media can create a climate where the best ideas and the best talent rise to the top even without big money or big names behind them. I fear though that those who take the traditional advertising (cynical) approach to social media will cause people to turn away and destroy what could have been a golden opportunity for society.

the Acorn, Andrew Vincent, Andy Swan added to Downloads

I mentioned last week that I've gotten permission to add a bunch of artists from Ottawa's Kelp Records and Toronto's Fuzzy Logic Recordings to the podsafe downloads on this site. In total this will mean 23 new artists will be added to the list.

In case you don't know podsafe means that you can use them in podcasts or, if you don't have a podcast, download them, listen to them, share them with your friends. No one is going to get upset, or sue you. Because there are so many I'm adding just a few at a time and I'll update all the menus when it's all done. For today though the Acorn, Andrew Vincent & the Pirates and Andy Swan have been added. (I'm going in alphabetical order).

Coming Up in Toronto

Friday, December 26
Facebook Event Page

TWM Presents: Construction & Destruction, Rockenspiel & Dan Griffin
Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Saturday, December 27
TWM: La Casa Muerte, Dancehall Free For All, Kaleidoscope City, Rival Boys+
Facebook Event Page

Some of the most acclaimed films of 2008 - and a little bit of silliness too (for free!)
Facebook Event Page

Jimmy Hogg's Comedy Onslaught
Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Wednesday, December 31
Black & White Bash!
Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Thursday, January 1
Facebook Event Page

Friday, January 2
TWM 32: Amos the Transparent, Whale Tooth & Bellewoods
Facebook Event Page

Saturday, January 3
TWM:The Paint Movement,Biiter City, Cam Malcolm & the Owls,Matthew de Zoete
Facebook Event Page

Monday, January 7
Take It Back @ Next Stage Festival Jan 5-18
Facebook Event Page

The Next Stage Theatre Festival 2009 (January 5 - 18)
Facebook Event Page

Record Release Cabaret
Go down in DVD history w/ Machetes!!!
Facebook Event Page

Friday, January 9
Facebook Event Page

Wednesday, January 14
Little O at the Gladstone
Facebook Event Page

Saturday, January 17
Facebook Event Page

Friday, January 23
Circus O Burlesque A Mania 2
Facebook Event Page

Facebook Event Page

Thursday, February 12, 2009
WAVELENGTH 450 / Ninth Anniversary Festival / Feb. 12-15, 2009
Facebook Event Page

CBC News Wants Suggestsions? Maybe? Sortof?

In what appears to be a post directed only to CBC employees they are asking for ideas to improve CBC news as part of the 'CBC News renewal process'. My first thought is that if this is meant only for employees it shouldn't be on Inside the CBC - which is available to everyone (inside and out.) The link for more details leads to IO, which is the internal portal for CBC employees. My second thought is that as the nation's public broadcaster they should be asking the question outside the organization as well. So, although you can't get 'more details' please feel free to send your suggestions to newsrenewal[at]cbc.ca.

As someone who has sent a myriad of suggestions to the CBC over the years I'm somewhat skeptical of any request for suggestions (from the inside or the outside.) It has seemed to me for the last few years that those who make the decisions inside CBC have behaved like a cheating spouse. The audience they have isn't the audience they want. Having found an audience for something they continually want a younger, sexier audience with a better job and a nicer car.

Although I personally prefer the new Radio 2 to the old one, they certainly made the old Radio 2 audience feel like they simply weren't audience enough. The same goes for the cancellation of JPod and Intelligence despite public protests. They cancelled Zed, but Al Gore is bringing it back (sort of) and making into a 24/7 network. They decided against bringing Canadian indie music to television but others are going to in the form, again, of 24/7 networks (more on that later).

So, it is a little difficult to believe that any ideas received by them, no matter how good, will be put to use. It is a bit of a catch 22 - if you are a dedicated viewer with ideas on how to make things better that probably means that you are not part of the audience they want and therefore your ideas are not likely to be of interest but I'd encourage you to send them anyway. If, as Sarah Hepola suggests at Salon.com the age of the tabloid is over (thanks to Bill Doskotch for the link), then they may be at a complete loss as to how to proceed.

madelocal.org for local products

In order to be environmentally friendly you are supposed to buy local. This doesn't just mean local produce but local everything (or at least as much as possible). The basic idea is that the less shipping and transport that is required to deliver a product to your home the lower the carbon footprint of that product.

Part of the problem with this is that it is hard to know exactly what is made local. Very few products advertise where they are made. A new website called madelocal.org has launched to try and help people find local products and help local producers find products. Only a few products are listed on the site so far - (5 for Nova Scotia and 1 for Quebec) to be exact. So if you know of great local products, or if you yourself are a Canadian producer of stuff, go visit madelocal.org and click on the 'submit a local product' link at the top of the page.

CBC's Best of User Generated Content

The CBC, like most news networks, have opened a door for people to send in 'newsworthy' pics and videos. This is, for news networks, a tremendous source of free content. Most people who submit 'user generated content' are unaware that some of the truly 'newsworthy' videos and pictures are actually worth money..be aware.

Anyway, someone at the CBC put together a 'best of' montage of some of the really good stuff sent in to them over the last year - newsworthy or otherwise.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For When You Need Xmas Music, but Don't Want to own Xmas CDs

Relatives coming over? Short on holiday tunes? CBC Radio 2 has your back - if you can run music from your computer, Radio 2 has a whole whack of Christmas concerts you can pop on. Choirs and orchestras and more erm..'contemporary' music, regardless there is a bunch. Have a listen at http://www.cbc.ca/radio2/blog/2008/12/23/christmas_concertson.html.

Christmas With Evil

I got this bit of Christmas cheer from Maylee Todd who will be releasing her first solo work at some point in 09 (finally!). After spending part of the afternoon out and about on Dundas West, seeing people who are almost homicidal with holiday joy I thought I'd pass it a long. It's like 'It's a Wonderful Life' but with more evil and tin foil instead of guardian angels.

Merry Christmas?

Torontoist is Un Cancelled

Much thanks to Julianna Yau for the tip: David Topping, Editor-in-Chief at Torontoist announced today that due to overwhelming public support Torontoist isn't going away after all.
"...a lot has changed for the better in the past week and a half, and a lot now seems possible for the site's future that wasn't before. And while Torontoist does not yet have the financial support it needs, we do have the support of our readers and our city, and that is what we've always needed most. So I'm happy to announce that up to, through, and past January 1, Torontoist will continue as Torontoist, with its existing name, existing contributors, and new content. (And, for now, it will continue to be supported technically and sustained financially by Gothamist.) It won't just be business as usual: it is the entire staff's shared mission to give the site one big concerted push, one that will see us in far better shape in six month's time and that should ensure not just our survival but our growth and success. We're going to do what we can to make Torontoist better than ever. It might, of course, not work. But we're not done—not yet."
This, to me, does not change the fact that Torontonians need to support their own more than we do. It is especially difficult for blogs. I've looked into some of the revenue possibilities for publicbroadcasting.ca and none of them were acceptable. Most would have required me to put up intrusive ads for products I wouldn't buy or to put up blog posts endorsing things I don't like and pretending they weren't ads at all. Some, such as google ads, would have paid so little as to not be worth the column space (50,000 hits in a month would have gotten me near the break even point.) So it will e interesting to see how Torontoist goes about becoming more financially viable but the key thing is that they are still here, for now.

New Feeds Added

Another batch of new additions to publicbroadcasting.ca's aggregators this morning.

Band Blogs
  • Andy Swan

  • Glenn Nuotio

  • Jill Zmud

  • Whale Tooth

  • Music Blogs
  • Juicebox.com

  • CanBlogs
  • Things That Go Pop!
  • Monday, December 22, 2008

    Juicebox.com: PWYC Record Label Launches

    On Saturday, December 20 Toronto's newest record label and the first (as far as I know) Pay What You Can (PWYC) record label ever launched at juicebox.com. It's first release JuiceBoxDotComp includes tracks from Gravity Wave, Saint Alvia, the Wooden Sky, Spooky Ruben, PDF Format and more than a dozen others. It is available for download for an (optional) donation (hence PWYC).

    Visit Juicebox.com for details. You can also find them on Facebook, MySpace, and a nice writeup on chartattack.com.

    Very Sick Four Year Old Wants More Christmas Cards

    This is normally outside the areas covered by this blog but, tis the season. Four year old Hanna Garman or Ephrata, Pennsylvania is suffering from a rare, incurable brain tumor. She is currently bed ridden and her activities are severely limited but she has asked for Christmas cards, lots of them. More information about Hannah can be found at http://www.wgal.com/news/18312086/detail.html?rss=lan&psp=news or http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/hannahgarman but if you have a few minutes, an extra card and a stamp the address is

    Hannah Garman
    259 North Reading Rd.
    Ephrata, Pa. 17522

    Remember the cards are for the girl, who is four. It is likely that all she really understands is that she is sick, so condolences, medical advice, laments etc., will probably only confuse her. Keep it simple and positive.

    Tell Mr. Ignatieff to Block Arts Cuts

    So there is apparently a big stimulus package coming from Ottawa. The general guestimate at this point is that it will be around 30 billion dollars with money for auto makers, forestry, oil companies, and just about everyone else.

    I've pointed this out multiple times already but, beyond it's many less tangible benefits arts and culture is also an industry and a big one:

  • According to the Board of Trade arts and culture, both directly and indirectly employ 1.1 million people, generate 84 billion in economic activity and accounts for 7.4% of GDP.

  • Arts and culture, according to the Canada Council employs "roughly the same number of jobs as agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil & gas and utilities combined".

  • According to the Government of Canada's website for Trade Routes Canada's cultural exports equal 5 billion dollars annually.

  • My purpose here is not to disparage aid to other industries, or even to call for more money for arts and culture (although arts and culture investment reliably brings strong returns on investment.)

    What I would like to see in the budget though is no new cuts and a return of the government dollars that the Conservatives previously cut, including cuts to PromArts, Telefilm's New Media Fund, the Trade Routes Program, the A-V Preservation Trust, the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund, the National Training Schools program, and a rumored $200 million dollar cut to the CBC that the Conservatives would like to sneak in.

    These cuts (real, proposed and rumored) were all politically motivated to begin with and would come to less than 250 million at a time when the government is planning a 30 billion dollar bailout. The cuts will not result in much savings, and will certainly cost jobs and economic activity.

    Additional funds would be nice but I would urge Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals not to pass a budget that includes a politically motivated kick at arts and culture during an economic downturn.

    Please use the feedback form at http://www.michaelignatieff.ca/en/get-involved/feedback to urge Mr. Ignatieff not to allow the Conservatives to attack the arts and culture industry while handing out billions to every other industry.

    You Can Also Use the Facebook Event page to urge others to act: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=54663788216

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    The Rest of the Bucky Winners

    So, the other day I mentioned the 2008 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award winners. I also mentioned that there were a few awards left to go, but I never put them up. So watch the video below to get the last few - most notably at all Laura Barrett was voted the 'Sexiest Canadian Musician for 2008' - This is such a good country. = )

    Can We Bring Communities Together in 2009?

    For the last 3 + years I have maintained publicbroadcasting.ca to 'preserve and strengthen the independent and emerging Canadian voice'. As a part of this I have promoted public broadcasting, community and university radio, a free and open internet, home grown arts and culture, and progressive politics. There is alot of overlap and common ground between all of these areas.

    Public broadcasters tend to support home grown arts and culture in a way that large commercial broadcasters do not. Artists (of all stripes) tend to come out in support of progressive politics, and progressive activists tend to support public broadcasting and independent local talent.

    I should also not that when I talk about 'progressive politics' I am not talking about right or left. Progressive politics in Canada is about centrist themes that enjoy almost universal support in this country. Things like the environment, education, poverty reduction, health and safety (broadly defined - from public health to crime prevention), equality and human rights, and public support for arts and culture. I believe that calls for things like electoral reform grow out of a frustration that nothing ever seems to get done on a broadly supported, progressive, centrist agenda.

    Strangely though public broadcasting, arts and culture, progressive politics and new media overlap and intersect they all seem to have their own unique communities and lack the numbers to strengthen the whole. Even within arts and culture the music community, the film community and the literature community have their own groups and do not (to a sufficient extent) support one another - leaving each in a financially precarious situation.

    I currently run more than 20 groups on facebook alone all with some overlap, but all separate and distinct. One of the things I would like to work on in 2009 is building bridges: finding ways to bring together artists, media folk (old and new media), progressive activists, etc in a single community dedicated to mutual aid and support.

    If such a community could come together we would have a better country altogether with a better environment, better education system, safer streets, healthier communities, lower poverty rates and a strong well funded arts and culture sector that would have, but increasingly wouldn't need, government support.

    If you are interested in sharing ideas on how to bring such a community together please get in touch. Initially, I think, a handful of dedicated people sharing ideas would be a good place to start.

    Happy Holidays from the Burning Hell

    Steve McNabb of the Burning Hell and Radio Free Peterborough recently got in touch to let me know about a couple of things.

    First of all there is Radio Tarahumara "Broadcasting the Voice of the Raramuri to the World". So who are the Tarahumara?
    "For at least 2,000 years the Tarahumara have lived in the mountains of northern Mexico, resisting outside intrusion by retreating, when necessary, to ever more inaccessible territory. In this way the Tarahumara have been better able to retain their traditions than many native peoples in North America.
    The past 12 years have witnessed the worst drought conditions on record. The Tarahumara are expected to face another poor harvest this year.
    The Sierra Tarahumara, is an immense and diverse region spanning the south and west areas of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is home to North America's tallest waterfall, Basaseachi, and also its deepest gorge, Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), which is visited by tourists who ride the Chihuahua-Pacifico train.
    Many Raramuri (as they are known in their own tongue) speak Spanish but their native tongue is Raramuri which has a variety of dialects in the region.
    The Tarahumara are a native group inhabiting the rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre mountains in north central Mexico. Their original home was on the fertile plains, but they were forced to leave that area for their own survival, and to maintain their culture, several hundred years ago.
    The Tarahumara continue to live much as they have for centuries because of their separation and the difficulties in reaching them. They are a people rich in culture, dedicated to their families and extended families, who live in widely scattered collections of small adobe houses or caves.
    Their numbers are not well known. It is estimated that there may be up to 130,000 Tarahumara living in over 6,000 communities throughout the Sierra Madre range. Europeans called the tribe the Tarahumara, but the Tarahumara refer to themselves as the Raramuri.
    Recent years have been difficult ones for the Raraumuri as a persistent drought has caused repeated crop failures which, in turn, has weakened the population and caused outright starvation in many places.
    Please take a moment, if you have one or two and check out the site. The other thing Steve mentioned was the new Burning Hell widget. The Burning Hell, like every other indie band out there still needs to sell albums so .. have a listen, watch the video and think about buying some tunes and if you want your very own widget, check out http://www.wearetheburninghell.com/badges/happy_birthday. (widget below the vid)

    The Birth of the Gentleman Reg Video Blog

    Gentleman Reg (Vermue) who's next album Jet Black will be released on Arts & Crafts at some point next year has just sent out his first ever video blog along with a note that reads:
    Watch the first, in what i'm sure will become a regular and ongoing video blog. All to do with things Gentleman Reg. You'll be amazed!
    There really is no other video blog on all of the internet with this exact content.


    The perfect thing for you and a loved one to do during this holiday season. A little five minute getaway from the hustle, the crowds, the snow, that uninvited guest, the sound of your relatives crying baby, or anything else you're trying to escape.
    Trust me. Just Watch it.

    xo reg
    If you'd like to hear about these things first hand you might want to join http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=11830434807.

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Ink Canada Seeks Creative Citizen of the Year

    Ink Canada is an organization for "Canadian Screenwriters & their sketchy friends". They are currently looking for their Creative Citizen of the Year. The criteria:
    Sometimes, when an artist or cultural industry worker truly sets the bar for caring about more than the bottom line and the credits, we organize a little group virtual standing ovation for them on our wee page, to try to bring eyes, ears & hearts to their efforts to improve the quality of life for human beings in general.

    We miss more than we applaud on ink canada, largely because these model citizens are generally rather modest about their gigantic Goodness-es.

    So. If you know someone who ought to be applauded for the smallest acts of Giving a Damn, or the biggest... please use this space to bring them some luv and us all some lessons on what cool really looks like. Tell us about the people you know - writers, our friends, our collaborators, our companies, our sponsors, our audience members, anybody you know of... who make the world a better place and makes us all look good by the vaguest association.... or here, at the very least, acknowledgement:
    If you have suggestions you can get in touch on their facebook group - the discussion is going on at http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2312266656&topic=7150 you can also add your .02 via Twitter: twitter.com/inkcanada or, if all else fails editorinkcanada[at]mac.com - if none of this works for you I'll pass on any comments left on this post.

    Ding Dong The Witch is Dead

    Which old witch? How about RIAA lawsuits over Peer to Peer file sharing. From the Wall Street Journal via Michael Geist comes word that the RIAA, which has sued more than 35,000 people since 2003 has decided to abandon it's strategy of suing their best customers. This doesn't mean that they are gone, or that they have decided to be nice:
    "Instead, the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers. The trade group said it has hashed out preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which it will send an email to the provider when it finds a provider's customers making music available online for others to take.

    Depending on the agreement, the ISP will either forward the note to customers, or alert customers that they appear to be uploading music illegally, and ask them to stop. If the customers continue the file-sharing, they will get one or two more emails, perhaps accompanied by slower service from the provider. Finally, the ISP may cut off their access altogether.
    But a new ISP is less expensive than legal fees! It is also unlikely that most of the RIAA's major clients will survive the current economic crisis.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Free Holiday EP From Fuzzy Logic

    Your friends at Fuzzy Logic Recordings have prepared a special X-mas gift for you. A digital EP with special wintery holiday like tunes from Gravity Wave, Prairie Cat, Steve McKay the Bicycles and the Poos and it's all for free at http://www.fuzzylogicrecordings.com/mp3s/Fuzzy_Holidays.zip. You may love it, you may not love it as much but .. um it's free so...go..get.

    Also, over the next little while I'll be adding some Fuzzy Logic stuff to the Podsafe Downloads section of the site from Peter Project, Prairie Cat, Bicycles, Woodhands, Henri Faberge and the Adorables and more from the Midways stay tuned...

    Free Calls to U.S.

    Free phone calls are normally well outside my area but times being what they are - if it helps you get through the holidays etc.,: Via the Globe and Mail, starting tomorrow callingamerica.com will let you make free phone calls to anyone in the United States from any computer with "a web browser and a broadband connection" (We'll assume a microphone and speakers or headset would help as well). There is, naturally, a catch. You have to watch an ad before making your call. But if you have time but not money this could save you a few bucks.
    "Most important, the service works domestically and all over the world. That means you can call the United States free from any cybercafe or Internet-enabled computer virtually anywhere. While it might not be as cozy as a call from a phone booth in London, the service is certainly cheaper."

    A Golden Age for Independent Meda and Web 2.0?

    In case you haven't noticed there is a recession on. A pretty good one too. Some economists are even starting to use the D word (the one that ends in epression and that drugs don't help.) As a result, when companies started cutting costs one of the first things to go was advertising. So traditional media companies are cutting jobs all over the place, even the blog Torontoist is set to close it's doors on January 1.

    Now before anyone gets the impression that I'm happy about this, I'm not. I have alot of friends in traditional media and am worried for them. This is more of an observation of things likely to come based on the present reality:

    Back to where I was going; Media that is dependent on large amounts of revenue and advertising is in for a rough ride and as media goes the internet is rapidly becoming the most essential and the last one that people will give up. It is, after all, in it's current state capable of being a library, newspaper, television, movie theatre, radio, telephone etc., all in one. Even without our current economic problems traditional media has been catering to smaller and smaller niches, newspapers are already in trouble, large movie studios and music labels have been trying to figure out how to survive in the internet era.

    Having laid all of that out, it's also undeniable that the biggest media growth in the last several years has been online - blogging, podcasting, social media etc., have exploded and unlike traditional media no revenue is the norm. A decline in ad revenue has almost zero impact and, unlike other media business actually appears poised to spend more money on social media in 2009.

    The other growth has been in the independent and it's been going on for awhile, in film the Sundance festival took on Hollywood blockbusters with intelligent film with substance. In Music independent music has exploded. Despite the decline of the major labels the number of CDs produced is up more than 1000% (not kidding) in the last 10 years and that doesn't even count the stuff that is being released digitally and distributed online.

    So these trends, the rise of the amateur and the indie and the decline of the big and corporate are already underway. Now we're going into a period where the big and corporate are going to have to learn to work on the same budgets of the small and indie.

    The great depression brought a boom in media as people sought fun and escapism. Jazz, already rising in the 20s burst into the mainstream and Hollywood, already on the rise enjoyed it's first golden age.

    It is very likely that the current economic downturn will see a similar surge in media,. People will need their escape. Because of rising unemployment more people will have more time on their hands but their entertainment will have to be inexpensive. Where or when this surge happens remains to be seen but from the perspective of the small, the indie, the amateur, the sincere but underfunded there appears to be a perfect storm brewing (in a good way.) A reversal of the trends of the last decade, giving current economic conditions, appears unlikely.

    Coming Up in Toronto

    Daily until Dec. 24
    "Toronto Stories" Theatrical Engagement at The Royal
    Facebook Event Page

    Thursday, December 18
    Hioliday Toy Fundraiser @ the Comedy Bar
    Facebook Event Page

    Board Game Mingling Night
    Facebook Event Page

    Ugly Bug Band at the Local Dec. 18
    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Friday, December 19
    The Diableros, Great Bloomers & Serb Superb at The Boat!
    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    An Evening of Holiday Magic
    Facebook Event Page

    Saturday, December 20
    Facebook Event Page

    "Man Down" at WildSound Film Festival
    Facebook Event Page

    "I Remember Halloween": The Art of Ghoulish Gary Pullin
    Facebook Event Page

    TWM 31: Golden Hands Before God, the Speaking Tongues, Terror Lake
    All together now!
    Facebook Event Page

    Friction - December Edition
    Facebook Event Page

    The Paranormal Show Extended Run at Campbell House!!!
    Facebook Event Page

    Sunday, December 21
    Themis Wiccan X-Mas Party December 21st at The GoodTime Cafe
    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Wavelength Xmas Party -- GAMES NIGHT!
    Facebook Event Page

    Tuesday, December 23
    CousinDog plays Horseshoe Tues.Dec.23rd @ 9pm
    An Early Christmas Gift
    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Saturday, December 27
    TWM: La Casa Muerte, Dancehall Free For All, Kaleidoscope City, Rival Boys+
    Facebook Event Page

    Wednesday, December 31
    Black & White Bash!
    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Thursday, January 1
    Facebook Event Page

    Monday, January 7
    Take It Back @ Next Stage Festival Jan 5-18
    Facebook Event Page

    The Next Stage Theatre Festival 2009 (January 5 - 18)
    Facebook Event Page

    Friday, January 9
    Facebook Event Page

    Friday, January 23
    Circus O Burlesque A Mania 2
    Facebook Event Page

    Facebook Event Page

    Learn Sign Language with Bob Wiseman

    Having trouble with sign language? Bob Wiseman can help. No expensive classes, no cost and .. well not all that useful when talking to people who can't hear. But it will only take two minutes and fourty three seconds to learn so what the hell right?

    The ITunes Killer?

    Well not for me. My mac is not Intel based so it won't work for me and I don't have enough problems with iTunes to buy a new machine so I can use this app. If you do have an Intel mac, Windows XP or Vista or a Linux machine check out the new open source music player Songbird and let me know how it works for you. Songbird is, as I suggested, free and open source and comes with a ton of features including:
  • Mashtape:Discover Flickr photos, YouTube videos, last.fm biographies, Google news (and more) for the currently playing artist.

  • Last.fm Scrobbling - Integrated Last.fm support allows you to scrobble, love, and ban your tracks.

  • Concert Tickets: Discover upcoming shows in your area based on the artists in your library. Event listings powered by Songkick.

  • SHOUTcast Radio Stream music using the integrated SHOUTcast Radio directory.

  • There is also a large and growing directory of available add-ons to play with.

    Give the Gift of Omnichord

    If you need a last minute gift idea for the children (of any age) on your Xmas list check out Jenni Omnichord's 'Charlotte or Otis: Duets for Children, Their Parents and Other People Too'. If you don't know Jenni Omnichord you probably know Jenny Mitchell (or at least the Barmitzvah Brothers. Jenny's new album of duets for children released to commemorate the birth of her son features duets with Wax Mannequin, Shad, Jim Guthrie, Old Man Luedecke, Andy Swan, Andrew Penner (Sunparlour Players), Mathias Kom (Burning Hell - see below) and many others.

    Herohill says:
    "I don't mind telling you I had no idea what to expect from this album. I knew Jenny Omnichord to be the pre-eminent source of Omnichord-powered, quirky pop songs in this country, but I wasn`t sure if an album of her singing kids songs, even with the assistance of Canadian indie stars like Tony Dekker and Old Man Luedecke, would be something I`d prefer to expose my progeny to. It turns out, it is. Often artists tend to overdo the "kid-ness", for lack of a better term, when attempting to make songs for kids, and this usually results in songs most adults would prefer to never hear again after humouring the kids with an initial listen. But Jenny, and her assembled guests, have put together a collection of fun, heartfelt songs, with simple melodies that should appeal to both kids and their parents."
    Best of all, times being what they are, you can snag this amazing album for about 8 bucks via zunior

    Jenny Omnichord ft. Mathias Kom - "What Happens to Animals"

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Winners: Bucky Awards and Scarves

    Most of the CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards for this year were announced this afternoon (a few categories will be announced on the next episode of the Radio 3 TV video podcast. Only a few of my picks made it, but my sincere congratulations to everyone who took one home.
    :: Best Road Trip Song
    WINNER: Matt Mays And el Torpedo "Tall Trees"
    :: Best Live Act
    WINNER: Holy F*ck "Lovely Allen"
    :: Catchiest Hook
    WINNER: Black Mountain "Stormy High"
    :: Best Collaboration
    WINNER: Will Currie & The Country French/ F Sloan "Push Pins"
    :: Best Lyric
    WINNER: Stars "14 Forever"
    :: Most Canadian Song
    WINNER: Jason Collett "Charlyn, Angel Of Kensington"
    :: Best Reason To Learn French
    WINNER: Karkwa "Oublie Pas"
    :: Top Fan Award
    WINNER: Colin Medley
    :: Most Unconventional Instrument
    WINNER: Fred Eaglesmith "Sweet Corn"
    :: Best Band Name
    WINNER: Library Voices
    :: Rookie of the Year
    WINNER: Plants and Animals "Bye Bye Bye"
    :: Lifetime Achievement (formally 'Old and Awesome')
    WINNER: Teenage Head
    :: Best Vocals
    WINNER: Mother Mother "Body of Years"
    :: Best Beat
    WINNER: Woodhands "Dancer"
    :: Future Classic
    WINNER: Chad VanGaalen "Willow Tree"

    Also congratulations to utopisteservile - who took home the equally coveted Radio 3 scarf for her video:

    Thunderheist - Jerk It

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Should there be a Department of Public Investment ?

    I had this idea while talking with someone at a xmas party. Bailout fatigue is setting in but I think that it's possible that such bailouts might not be necessary, and recessions could be a little more rare if governments (federal, provincial and local) took more of an interest in sustainable economics to begin with. So, here is the big what if:

    What if we set up a Department of Public Investment (D.P.I.)?

    It would work something like this:

    The DPI would get an annual budget (let's say 3 billion - the amount that the auto sector bailout is going to cost). It would be kept arms length from government. The DPI would have a charter that defined the kind of investments they were looking for, but the DPI would not be allowed to lobby government and government would not be allowed to interfere in the decisions of the DPI.

    So, for example, the directive might look something like this: The Department of Public Investment should look for long term investments that provide jobs and economic activity within Canada. These investments should be in industries that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

    After a period of time, say 10 years, the DPI would be expected to start returning money to the government: So, and this should also be made clear in the directive: The DPI makes investments, it does not give handouts or grants. These investments are expected, over time, to return profits.

    The DPI would make annual reports available - to government, the media and taxpayers. It could invest in new technologies, startups, or existing industries that are trying to re-create themselves but these investments would be based on realistic business plans and the expectation of creating profitable companies (instead of throwing money at dying business' to try to prolong their death.)

    The DPI should also (and this is something that alot of taxpayers are going to hate) - hire people who have demonstrated success in the private sector and pay them salaries (and even bonus') that are in keeping with private sector expectations. In other words hire people who know business and economics and have a track record of success - not bureaucrats who have always worked for the government.

    If this idea were adopted, and worked the way I think it would it could insure a continually growing economy with new industries and technologies continually in development. It would help these business' to succeed by investing in them, instead of offering them loans and adding to their debt load. It would provide tax payers with the promise of returns - eventually adding to the government coffers instead of draining them and switching from public subsidies to public investments in the economy, jobs and industries.

    This is, as I've said, a rough idea - something I've just come up with recently and haven't examined from every angle yet so I'm interested in hearing what people have to say.

    Calgary from a Hip Hop Perspective

    The folks in Dragon Fli Empire have launched a new blog promising "Calgary from a hip hop perspective". That's a promise I believe and something Canada could use. I've added it to the Music Blogs and Calgary.

    Dragon Fli Empire ft. Cadence Weapon - Outside Inn

    Ottawa Libraries Make E-books Available

    According to the CBC the Ottawa library is about to start e-books to borrowers.
    The books include fiction and non-fiction for all ages and take the form electronic documents, (mostly .pdfs) that can be downloaded to your computer from the library's website. After three weeks, the file is automatically deleted, so there is no need to return it.
    Wong said that after the library began offering digital audio books, which take the form of a sound file, patrons started sending e-mails to the library asking when it would start offering e-books, like libraries in Toronto, Hamilton, Oakville and Edmonton.
    Online and downloadable books are no doubt good for literacy on a number of levels - in addition to saving trees and trips in the car it makes more books available to more people regardless of where they are.
    There has been some argument that this is not good for libraries. The logic goes that if people stop visiting the library as a physical location that the need for them will decline. There is probably some truth in this - some smaller branches may close. It is worth noting though that the other roles of libraries as gathering/meeting spots and as collectors of historical documents will continue and libraries should increasingly focus on these and on internet access points for travelers and low-income people.

    If Libraries can have more material, available to more people at a lower cost and cities gain extra public gathering spots it is good news for everyone.

    New Album Details from Immaculate Machine

    Victoria, B.C.'s Immaculate Machine has posed details about their new album 'High on Jackson Hill. From their Myspace Blog :
    We have finished a new album, called High On Jackson Hill - 12 songs, all recorded in the comfort of a borrowed home. The relaxed environment compared to a sterile studio helped make the album sound really laid back and creative. Working with producer Colin Stewart was a fantastic experience; he really helped bring out the 70s weirdo music in us.

We are anticipating our first show with new material to be at SXSW in Austin March 2009. The official release for the album will come shortly after that, in March or April.
    Put it on your calendar, their 2007 album 'Fables' was one of the most underrated albums of the last few years and their live shows are amazing! (New album means new tour right?!?). More pics from the studio can be found on their blog.

    Immaculate Machine - Dear Confessor

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Canada Still Getting the Government it Deserves

    A plausible explanation has emerged for much of the confusion and anger that surrounded the recent Parliamentary circus in Ottawa. According to a new Ipsos Reid poll shows that far too many Canadians do not understand our system of government. According to the Canadian Press:
    For example, results of the Ipsos Reid survey show 75 per cent of Canadians asked believe the prime minister, or the Governor General, is head of state. Bzzzz - wrong.
    It's actually the Queen...

    Given a choice how best to describe the system of government, 25 per cent decided on a "co-operative assembly" while 17 per cent opted for a "representative republic."
    Canada is neither.
    Only 59 per cent correctly picked constitutional monarchy.
    In a similar vein, 51 per cent wrongly agreed that Canadians elect the prime minister directly.
    To me this is the result of Canada's neglect of the education system. The answers to these questions should be deeply ingrained before a child graduates primary school.

    Ultimately, if people do not understand their system of government and have at least a basic understanding of the issues they are voting on you cannot claim that it is a democratic system at all. For the moment we can only hope that there is significant crossover between the 51% who believe that we directly elect the Prime Minister and the 49% who decided not to vote in the last election.

    A Free Holiday EP from Said the Whale

    For the second year running Said the Whale is offering a free Holiday EP. This years 'West Coast Christmas EP' can be downloaded at http://www.pop-machine.ca/stw-xmas08.htm and if you missed it you can still grab last year's at http://www.pop-machine.ca/stw-xmas07.htm. Santa may like rich kids better but Said the Whale loves you all.

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    Canadian Media Guild and CBC Reach Tentative Agreement

    All I can say is I'm shocked, I was sure that this was going to be a long process and that it was going to be ugly, but there appears to be a tentative deal between the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that takes them through 2014 and avoids a 2009 lockout.

    Reposted (in full) from insidethecbc:
    The CBC and the Canadian Media Guild have reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year deal after seven weeks of negotiations. The deal was signed this afternoon. It is subject to a ratification vote by guild members.

    If ratified, the deal would come into effect on January 1st, 2009 and last until 2014.
    The details are a bit thin at this point, but here are the highlights:
    Wage increases of 1.5 per cent each year;
    Improvements in maternity/paternity benefits;
    Improved benefits for bereavement leave and layoffs.

    There are obviously way more details on the deal, and I’ll post them as I get them.

    Follow on insidethecbc and/or Teamakers.

    New Additions

    Added to Cancasts and News and Politics:

    At the Barricades the Podcast of Lake Ontario Waterkeepers

    Added to Film and Television

    Cinemars: The blog of filmmaker Mars Hordyski.

    Dear Toronto, I Love You, Please Stop Sucking?

    So I already mentioned earlier today that Torontoist is going out of business because it's not as lucrative as the US cities that have blogs on the Gothamist network. What I said about that relates, in large part, to this:

    Last night I was at the premier of Toronto Stories at the Royal Cinema on College Street. This was kind of a big deal: Toronto Stories was shot in Toronto, by Torontonians about Toronto and (as far as anyone can tell) is the first fictional feature film with the word Toronto in the title. This was the first public screening of the film. Bruce McDonald was there. Richard Crouse was there. But there is a very good chance that you weren't. There were, by my estimation, 100 or so empty seats for the first screening.

    Now I haven't lived, or even been, to every city but I think that if this had been Halifax Stories, or Winnipeg Stories, or Sudbury Stories that the theatre would have been packed and, very likely, it would have been a major, red carpet event with the Mayor in attendance and weeks of local media interest. I have heard many Quebecers say that English Canada needs to keep Quebec in confederation because we have no culture of our own. That's not entirely true. We have our own culture, English Canada (in case you don't go to Canadian films, read Canadian books, watch Canadian television, listen to Canadian music) has its own unique voice. It's own distinct culture, but most English Canadians are not a part of it, most
    English Canadians are really participants in American culture, while still claiming to be proudly Canadian.

    English Canada has it's own stars, it's own directors, it's own artists and musicians and writers. It operates as a community - by the time you go to 5, 6, 7 or so events you'll start noticing that you keep running into the same people over and over: That the audience for many of these events is made up of people who are themselves - actors and filmmakers, writers and musicians and, unlike the Hollywood set in the US, you can be a member of that community just by walking through the door and introducing yourself.

    Anyway, enough ranting: Toronto Stories is a collection of four very different short stories about lives lived in Toronto, all tied together by a common thread. It is running at the Royal Cinema on College St. through Dec. 18 and will be playing in other cities across Canada in 2009: You've missed the premier but you can still go and see Torontonians tell stories about Toronto. Don't go see it out of obligation though. Go see it if you believe in Toronto and in Canada. Go see it if you think our city is unique and has stories worth telling in its own right.

    p.s. Look for my name in the "Special Thanks to" part at the end of the credits: A few years ago I walked through the door and introduced myself. = )

    Torontoist to Close on January 1

    According to a Dave Topping yesterday Torontoist, after thousands of posts and millions of visitors, is shutting down:
    At the end of this month, I will be stepping down as Torontoist's Editor-in-Chief. I've loved everything about this job since I started it, and my decision to leave was not an easy one to make, but it is, ultimately, the right one at the right time for the right reasons. Gothamist has decided, as a result of both my resignation and the recession, to close Torontoist on January 1, 2009 and concentrate on their more lucrative American sites. That decision is the right one, too: as it exists now, Torontoist can barely be sustained, let alone developed, and it has survived and thrived as long as it has, in spite of modest means, largely because of the ceaseless hard work of that aforementioned collective. Torontoist may return at some later date, if conditions are different; until then, it will remain in suspended animation, its content still public and searchable.
    It would appear that even in the blogosphere that collaborations between Canadian and US media simply do not work. If Canadians want th;eir own culture, their own media and their own stories told it must be created, maintained and supported in Canada.

    One of the things, I think, that has kept publicbroadcasting.ca going this long is that there is no business model. There is no revenue, no donations, and no paid staff. It was designed this way on purpose because Canadians interest in themselves is simply not there yet and if you plan on having no revenue, you can't be driven out of business. It is also impossible to 'buy influence'. Hopefully, one day, more Canadians will be interested in Canada, more Torontonians will be interested in Toronto and Torontoist will return and thrive. If any of you have an interest in contributing here, knowing that it won't pay, feel free to get in touch.

    Friday, December 12, 2008

    Triple Album Coming from Joel Plaskett

    CBC Radio 3 is reporting that Joel Plaskett is currently busy producing a new Two Hours Traffic disc. But come February (exact date unknown) he will release a three CD set entitled "Three" - each of the three discs will have 9 songs on it (3 x 3 songs = 9 x 3 CDs = a 27 song song collection called 3). Plaskett actually revealed all of this in an interview which you can listen to in its entirety here.

    Joel Plaskett - True Patriot Love

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Sing Like a Dude

    Calgary band the Dudes wants you to sing on a new song they are recording. Via their Myspace Blog:
    "hey y'all. the dudes are recording a new song with a wee sing along at the end. it would sure be super nice to have your voices on that track. you want to? you can hear and download the sing along part right here on our myspace page! its just up there with the rest of the songs. 

a lot of people think that sing alongs are for sissies, but i say eff that junk. i say, tell it to the moustache 'cause my face is busy doing this sing along.

seriously. sing that part on your home studio er whatever, and send the file to:


best format would be a wave file but mp3 style is cool. sing alone! sing with your pals! sing with your mom's boyfriend! this is going to be LEGENDARY! good luck!

LYRICS: if it hurts, when you bleed... if you need, you can terrify me."
    I haven't been able to 'download' it myself but to hear the part they want you to sing just go to Myspace.com/wearethedudes and click on "sing this on our next album".

    Blame the GG

    You really cannot blame Stephen Harper for trying to fill the senate while Parliament isn't in session. He is just being Stephen Harper: calculating, petty, opportunistic, undemocratic and hypocritical. The person you can blame is Governor General Michaƫlle Jean - who gave a Prime Minister who clearly did not have the support of Parliament permission to act as the Government without restrictions or checks for a month and a half.

    She should not, clearly, have allowed Harper to prorogue parliament in the first place, but giving it to him with no restrictions on the actions he could take while we wait is unconscionable and this, sadly, will be the action that defines her term as the Queen's rep. in Canada.

    Harper's move though should be all Ignatieff needs to know. This government, regardless of it's budget, needs to fall at the first opportunity.