Steve Albini’s Face The Music Keynote / More on Beats and iTunes

Reading this I’m beginning to believe things could be getting better in the recorded music industry.

This past weekend I started playing with Beats Music again and have begun questioning the care and meticulousness of my own iTunes collection. I can’t think of a better example then last weekend when I was updating Elton John metadata, hunting for the right year, trying to get high-quality artwork. Then it dawned on me. “Wait a second, I don’t even really like Elton John that much!”

In a single $10 a month payment nearly all my music collection is available, as are all the new releases I’d be paying $10 each for anyway. Sure, if I stop paying it all goes away, but has there ever been a month where I haven’t paid at least $10 in iTunes downloads? No.

So after years of using iTunes, updating ratings, organizing smart playlists to help me wade through tens of thousands of songs, I’m coming around on the idea that I don’t need to own and organize this stuff anymore. I probably haven’t listened to most of my collection in years. These digital music files may as well be like the boxes of CDs I have in a storage room. Except they show up in smart playlists and are often skipped over.

…I still wish I could just login to my Beats Music account using iTunes on my Mac.1

I’m also liking the idea that a new band can get the ears of millions of people in as little as two days.2

Maybe this right now is the golden age of music.

I know that goes against other things I’ve written here, about how the streaming model is unsustainable…but that was before reading Albini’s address and his deconstruction of “We need to figure out how to make this digital distribution work for everyone.”

  1. Spotify has been real buggy for me. I think I’ve hit a collection limit. 

  2. $19.99 a year for unlimited releases using DistroKid means you don’t have to wait to release a CDs worth of material. 

Drucker on Corporate Social Responsibility

From Peter Drucker’s Management:Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’, after noting that expectations are placed on corporate entities not because they’re disliked, but because they’re one of the only institutions left that can effectively work towards their interests…so, the public thinks, let’s make our interests their interests.

Clearly, the demand for social responsibility is not as simple as most books, articles, and speeches on the subject make it out to be. But it is not possible to disregard it, as such distinguished economists as Milton Friedman of Chicago have urged. To be sure, Friedman’s argument that business is an economic institution and should stick to its economic task is well taken. There is danger that social responsibility will undermine economic performance and with it society altogether. There is surely an even greater danger that social responsibility will mean usurpation of power by business managers in areas in which they have no legitimate authority.

But it is also clear that social responsibility cannot be evaded. It is not only that the public demands it. It is not only that society needs it. The fact remains that in modern society there is no other leadership group but managers. If the managers of our major institutions, and especially of business, do not take responsibility for the common good, no one else can or will. Government is no longer capable, as political theories still have it, of being the “sovereign” and the “guardian of the common good” in a pluralist society of organizations. The leadership groups in this society, and this means the managers of the key institutions, whether they like it or not—indeed whether they are competent or not—have to think through what responsibilities they can and should assume, in what areas, and for what objectives. If there is one moral to these cautionary tales, it is not that social responsibility is both ambiguous and dangerous. It is that social impacts and social responsibilities are areas in which business—and not only big business—has to think through its role, has to set objectives, has to perform.

Social impacts and social responsibilities have to be managed.

Not a dry eye in the house

Seems like Billy Joel is done with love:

Before long, at the sound check, he began substituting bawdy lyrics: “I just want someone . . . to have sex with” and “Now you know I’m . . . full of shi-it.” “I couldn’t have loved you any better, unless . . . you grew some bigger tits.” Cohen walked by, shaking his head.

After a while, Joel stopped. “Should we really do that one? Really?”

“There won’t be a dry eye in the house,” the saxophonist Mark Rivera said.

When The Earth Stopped Moving and the Sun Wouldn’t Rise

One summer as a teenager, I think when I was 13, my brother and I went to a summer camp for a week. It was our first time away away from home without our parents for longer than a few days. We slept in a cabin in bunk beds nearby other kids we just met. There were public bathrooms. You’d have to wait in line for showers. You’d have to wait in line for showers at 7 in the morning. That sort of thing.

As a kid who spent his summers playing Nintendo, I hated the first couple of days.

One morning the camp counselors woke us all up – a siren blared on the campgrounds. It was still dark. We were told to meet by the flagpole on the grounds for an important announcement, where we were told by counselors that overnight the planet had stopped moving and the sun wouldn’t rise.

Top scientists were working on understanding what had happened. Although it felt like it was about 3 in the morning, clocks were set to our usual wake-up time of 7 AM. We were told we would start the day as we normally would. We all got ready for the day, went to the camp mess hall for breakfast, and did our standard morning activities and games outside in the dark.

Hours later we were told that scientists had discovered that nothing alarming had occurred, that they had figured everything out, but we were to all go back to sleep and get back in sync with the rotation of the Earth. We were all sent back to our bunks and slept for a few hours.

That summer I looked at that morning as some fun silliness that camp counselors had concocted to mess with kids. Then, years later, somebody had asked if I had ever seen an albino – someone with a pigmentation problem.

I have – there was one at that summer camp. I remember the feeling of seeing something like this for the first time, his skin bright white, hair bright blond. This kid had to be careful of sunlight – he had an umbrella, he hung out by the trees. Why his parents sent him to a summer camp I’ll never understand. Maybe for him to learn some social skills.

But then it hit me – maybe the Earth stopped moving and the sun didn’t shine for just a few hours so he could have some kind of normalcy and play kick the can.

Creative Diagnoses in Dentistry

Reading stuff like this I wonder how much oil changes would cost if they were covered by your car insurance.

“In recent years, I have been seeing more and more creative diagnosis,” Camm told me when I called him at his practice in Washington state. A dentist, he said, might think, “‘Well, the insurance covers this crown, so I’m not hurting this patient, so why don’t I just do it?’ That’s the absolutely wrong approach.”