Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Clef Notes: The “Money For Nothing” Edition

Every Friday, or at least until his spectacular rock star flameout, Giovanny will be dropping a week’s worth of music knowledge on you with Clef Notes, proof positive that he’s a one man music magazine

News:

Their logo seems legit.

Their logo seems legit.

Cue the Dire Straits: What price would you pay to have dinner with your favorite musician? How about a private guitar lesson from an iconic six-string hero? Perhaps you're more interested in Skyping with a bleary-eyed frontman while he kills time in his hotel room? All of these “once in a lifetime experiences” could be yours if the price is right- provided the musician in question needs the cash- thanks to the enterprising folks over at Bandpage.com.

For those of you out there who don’t make a habit of reading EPK’s, or checking out the websites of your favorite bands, allow me to explain what Bandpage (formerly Root Music) is. Launched in 2010, the San Francisco-based startup began as an application intended to help artists customize their Facebook pages. With the app’s aid, artists could upload music, share videos, and publish tour schedules cleanly and effortlessly within the social network. The app quickly caught on, becoming a big enough hit for Billboard to name Bandpage one of the "Top 10 Best Digital Media Startups" back in 2010 (though I'm not exactly sure how lofty an honor that is). On the surface this seems pretty boring but that’s mainly because, thus far, I’ve only referenced the banal aspects of Bandpage, and not the recent insanity which they’ve made a part of their business model.

If one heads over to Bandpage.com they’re greeted by a realtivaly nondescript gray homepage, with the comapny’s mission statement (“Connecting people who make music with people who love music”) in bold black font. Toward the bottom of the page is a rectangular green box, which provides a link to the site’s Bandpage Experiences. That’s where all of the real fun begins. It’s there, on the Bandpage Experience “menu” (if we can call it that), where regular jackoffs like you and I can actually buy some of our dreams, and have real life interactions with the figures we have obsessed over for years... or at least we could, if any of our actual heroes were taking part in this semi-blatant cash grab.

You see, at this point the Bandpage Experience service is still in its infancy (its Beta, to be exact), so there is no actual guarantee this venture will be a success, which is why Rihanna has yet to offer up a bowling date with herself and Chris Brown. Most of the artists who are taking part in the Bandpage Experience (with a few notable exceptions which I will get to later) are of the indie “no one has ever heard of us” variety, and in this modern world where file-sharing is murdering an already dying industry, I can completely understand why Nataly Dawn will personally deliver homebaked cookies to you (as well as a song or two) during one of her tour stops for the not unreasonable price of $150 (maybe the cookies are awesome). I’m not saying I would pay for such a thing, but I’m not offended by Dawn’s motivations either (that's why I chose to term this endeavor as a "semi-blatant" cash grab).

After having perused the Bandpage Experience menu somewhat thoroughly, I've determined there are a wide variety of unique "events" and or "wares" you can buy on the website, and much like life itself, they range from the interesting to the absurd.

Don't you think these dudes deserve to go to space?

Don't you think these dudes deserve to go to space?

Let’s start off with some of the interesting options: For $15 the band Wild Child will prank call your friends. For $20 the band 2AM Club will fill a disposable camera with images shot both while touring and in their own free time, then send you the camera so you can develop the pics and keep them (I really kind of like this one). For $35 Lia Rose will send you handwritten lyrics of your favorite Lia Rose song, in a framed and artful-looking package. If you are a fan of any of these artists (are you?) then those all seem like reasonably priced experiences, which might even be worth it (it should also be noted that for $500 Lia Rose will actually perform for you and your friends, in your living room).

As far as the absurd goes... well, it all really starts and ends with the San Francisco-band Battlehooch: For $50, Tombo (your guess is as good as mine?) will either A) Take you on a bike tour around the San Francisco Bay area, or  B) give you a lesson in bike repair. For $100, someone named Bo (also from Battlehooch) will listen to one of your personal problems, "assess your situation", and be “brutally honest with you”- whatever that means. For $300, some band members will actually come to your house and clean it while being scantily clad. And of course... for $10,000 you can send the boys of Battlehooch on a commercial spaceflight (though it should be noted it would actually cost well over a million dollars to send all of Battlehooch to space, it's just that $10,000 is the limit Bandpage will allow an act to charge... so far).

It’s not all just cookies and spaceflights for sale over at the Bandpage Experiences; there are actual Rock N’ Roll hall of famers whoring offering up their time in order to give you an "unforgettable memory". For the somewhat reasonable sum (if you’re a fan of course) of $150, you and someone you love can go backstage to meet and have a photo taken with funk legend George Clinton... though you must have a ticket to one of his shows on the West Coast leg of his current tour. Let’s be clear, if I could meet a legend I was a fan of backstage at a concert I’m pretty sure I would pony up $150 and, in Clinton’s case, I bet the odds are good that you'll probably get high.

Then there’s Zakk Wylde.

For the completely outlandish sum of $2,500 the Viking guitar-god himself will give you a 30 minute guitar lesson... over Skype. SKYPE!!! In order to sweeten the deal, Wylde will also offer up an "exclusive Black Label Society vest"! Look, I'm well aware of Wylde’s guitar prowess, but you could head down to your local Guitar Center and buy a more than serviceable guitar for about $500, and use the remaining $2000 to buy two years of guitar lessons from a guy with a Ph.D in music and several vests of your own choosing! Wylde’s package is surely specially reserved for rich idiots with mid-life crises (sad), or the most devout of fans (also sad)- which brings me to my final point.

I'd like to believe there is a great deal of promise to this particular service, but I’m afraid the reality is, it'll simply become a new avenue for artists to rip off fans who just want to be close to those they worship. Honestly, I just don’t want to have to sell my blood, bone marrow, and possessions in order to afford the Skype teatime with Paul McCartney.

Review:

The Next Day - David Bowie

The Next Day - David Bowie

David Bowie has finally returned, with one shockingly great record (the man is 66, for Christ’s sake). Apparently it is possible to look backwards while still moving forward... [Full Review]

16th Notes:

He pisses all over Francis Scott Key.

Pisses all over Francis Scott Key.

This week Bob Dylan became the first ever musician to be voted into the American Academy Of Arts And Letters. Do you think such awards and honors can possibly mean anything to this man at this point in his illustrious career?.. More than 10,000 people have signed a formal and legitimate petition to the Obama administration with the hopes of changing our National Anthem from The Star Spangled Banner, to R. Kelly’s Ignition (Remix). I desperately want to be outraged by this, but after having laughed thoroughly while reading the petitioner's request, I can’t stay indignant... The Nine Inch Nails machine continues its slow return to life as they have scheduled more tour dates, including slots at both the Reading and Leeds festivals. Who wants to go to Britain with me?.. Wayne Coyne is starring in yet another commercial, and this latest one is for Virgin Mobile. The commercial is weird, surreal, and more than a little absurd, so it’s exactly what you would expect from Coyne. Watch it here... The Smashing Pumpkins have announced a world tour. If only I could get them and Nine Inch Nails to share a bill... After a Guns n’ Roses concert in Perth, Australia, Axl Rose threw his cordless microphone into the audience, allegedly knocking out the teeth of a 39 year old fan. As you would expect, the fan is suing for damages, and Axl Rose probably couldn’t care less... Numerous young ladies around the world simultaneously learned there is no Santa Claus this week when a Tennessee woman found a massive cache of unopened Taylor Swift fan mail in a Nashville dumpster. This story gained a lot of traction in the Tennessee area, and eventually made the local news. When reached for a statement, Swift’s people shared some nonsense about how all fan mail is opened, read, and recycled, but of course we all know that’s bullshit...

Top Ten List:

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Back in my younger and happier days I used to look forward to the annual carnival of Punk Rock and skanking which was the Vans Warped Tour. I can still remember the excitement of tremendous lineups, featuring the likes of Bad Religion, Rancid, Social Distortion, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, NOFX, CIV, and countless other bands whose names sadly don’t resonate in the modern day.

Believe it or not, one of the most enjoyable surprises I ever experienced at a Warped Tour (besides one occasion when I went crowd surfing, only to run into my ex who was also crowdsurfing, and we engaged in the exceedingly rare crowd-surfing makeout session) was catching a set by the younger than young Blink-182. This was way before they band decided to get naked and run around MTV, before the band sold its soul to the pop demon... hell, this was even before the release of Dude Ranch. I was thoroughly impressed with Blink’s joie de vivre, their catchy-as-hell tunes, and the palpable camaraderie the lads all shared on stage. Today is Mark Hoppus’ birthday (as well as Mark McGrath’s, but fuck Sugar Ray), and I always got the impression he was the leader of Blink-182, so in that spirit I give you the Ten Best Blink-182 songs of all-time.

10) A New Hope
9) Dick Lips
8) What’s My Age Again?
7) All The Small Things
6) M+M’s
5) I Miss You
4) Dammit
3) Josie
2) Adam's Song
1) Apple Shampoo

Clip Of The Week:

Those of you with great memories may be able to recall when I featured some webisodes of the Gorburger Show as a Clip Of The Week last year. The hilarious Funny Or Die series stars a massive blue alien (Gorburger) who is essentially holding a Japanese morning show hostage, and using it as a vehicle to interview famous musicians, all as he studies human behavior, falls in love, and obsesses over Usher’s dancing. This week’s clip stars the immortal and jovial Flea of the RHCP, who is an incredible sport throughout the entire affair, discussing his “robust genetalia” and doing his own interpretation of the (Punk Rock) worm.

I really hope this Funny Or Die series continues to catch on, and more music luminaries take a seat on Gorburger’s couch. I mean, how has Usher himself not capitalized on this thing? Oh, that’s right, I guess he’s Usher, and is too busy dancing.

Track Of The Week:

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BBC 1 Essential Mix - Thom Yorke & Nigel Godrich: By this, the 118th Clef Notes, all of you should come to expect that whenever Thom Yorke gifts the world with some music (even just a DJ set) I will be highlighting it as a track of the week. That’s just the way things go here in Clef Notes land.

This week’s track is actually a two-hour DJ set featuring both the driving force behind the world’s greatest band, and one of the most gifted producers alive. In an attempt to build interest in their recent Atoms For Peace debut record, Amok, the duo have been making the rounds, conducting interviews, and dropping superb mixes. This latest mix is by far the best they’ve concocted, and features 39 different tracks, including work from Aphex Twin, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Diplo, among others...Oh, there's also a previously unreleased Radiohead song titled Harmonics Loop. Please dim the lights, click the link above, lay back, and allow yourself to be entertained.

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