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October 04, 2007

The Third Party Movement

I've never been a real fan of any of the viable third-party options that exist today. I'm not saying that I don't like third parties -- I think that we need one, now that the GOP and the Dems are starting to look a LOT alike, especially fiscally. But the Libertarians don't appeal to me (I'm too much of a social conservative), and the Constitution Party is too isolationistic for me (I've talked about them before). There's always the Lighthouse Party (who I've mentioned before as well), but they don't even have a platform yet, so I don't see them getting anything ready for 2008.

But I find myself in the same boat as James Dobson. If the GOP nominates a pro-choice candidate, I can't support them. I'm not a single-issue voter (I have other concerns with Giuliani), but the abortion issue is important to me, on some very personal levels. And I don't see a Democratic candidate that I could come close to supporting. So I have an interesting problem.

So I'm watching the campaign with an interest I've not had in a long time. And I'm hoping that I don't have to go third party, because I really do think that the departure of even a small majority of conservative evangelicals will ensue that the GOP loses the 2008 election.

But maybe that's what needs to happen. More and more, evangelicals are being treated like the red-headed stepchildren of the Republican Party. They kiss up to us every election year, and court us hardcore every four years, but all it is is lip service. And I'm tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. If a loss gets the attention of the RNC, then maybe that's what the country needs, long term.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

RSS Reader Cruise

Remember the Blogroll Cruise? When I cruised through my blogroll quoting people that you should be reading? Well, I'm doing it a bit differently now.

Looking at the blogroll(s), there are a LOT of blogs I don't read, for whatever reason. And there are plenty of blogs I DO read that aren't on there. I'm working on a fix, but for now, I'm calling the cruise what it really is -- the RSS Reader Cruise.

I rarely read blogs at their web sites anymore. I dump them all into Google Reader and read them there (unless they only send the first 200 characters or something to the feed; then I have to go to the page and finish the article if it's interesting enough. You understand why I don't do that with this blog ...). So here we go:

Jared Wilson. Heck, I read whatever he writes -- if he wrote cereal boxes, I'd read more of those. I learn something every time I read one of his posts. And I love this one. Especially this part

I believe Jesus is for the cool. I believe you can be cool and follow Jesus. I believe there are cool Christians. But what if -- honestly, what if -- Jesus asked you to give up all your coolness to follow him? Would you still want to? What if following Jesus meant dressing up in a suit and having an Alfalfa haircut and listening to CCM? I mean, it doesn't, obviously (and thank God). But what if it did? Would having Jesus still be worth it?

The truth is, a great many of us desperately need to nail cool to the cross.
Life in Christ is about dying to self.

I've always loved parody and satire, and recently discovered Tominthebox News Network. Just read anything there, laugh, and then think about what it's trying to say. I think that's the problem with satire -- it assumes that people think. I'm not sure that's true anymore.

Ditto for SBC Outpests, but for different reasons. They've been silent for a while, but it's worth monitoring.

Joe Thorn blogs about unplugging, which ties in with a book I reviewed not long ago. Technology is good, but it should be our servant -- not our master. That's a lesson I'm trying very hard to learn.

I've got more, but that should keep you for a while.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 08, 2007

Music Mondays #1
Do Musicians Need Record Labels Anymore?

Note: This is the first in what I'm hoping is going to be an ongoing thing. Each Monday I'll have a few posts about music: the music industry, musicians, etc. I've been writing a lot about music lately, and I want to keep on doing it, but there are other things I want to write about, too, so the music posts will go on Mondays, unless it's something breaking or urgent.

Techdirt had a piece today about musicians and "venture capitalists" (record labels). It made me think about the functions of a record label, and whether bands need them anymore. Lets think about what labels actually do for their bands:

New Artist Discovery (A/R): This is actually something labels do more for themselves, but it's the first step in the process. It's the "discovery" event, when a band is "found" by a label.

This still happens, but with the rise of the Internet as a marketing device, and sites like GarageBand, Purevolume, and even MySpace, the fans are discovering the bands themselves -- sometimes before the labels ever hear about them. It's not hard to find new bands -- last.fm and iLike are just two ways that many people are using. So this is something we all can do for ourselves, if we put the effort into it.

Promotion: This actually ties in with A/R. And it's something that more and more bands are doing a wonderful job of themselves -- again, thanks to the Internet, and the web sites I mention above.

Bands are doing a great job of getting their music to their fans. They are recognizing that there are more ways to promote their music than on terrestrial radio. Musicians are generally creative people, and are able to go with new trends a lot faster than the suits in the music industry are.

Distribution: This is something that labels were essential for -- right up until (say it with me!) The Internet.

Radiohead is just the latest band to take advantage of online digital distribution. Places like Snocap and CDBaby are making it easy for musicians to sell their own music -- not to mention the impact that iTunes has had on music sales and distribution. Musicians have other options -- they don't have to go with a major label to gain fans.

Production: This is where the labels have an advantage. They have the money, so they have the technology. They've got the equipment to turn an also-ran band into the Next Big Thing(tm). There is a decided technology gap -- but it's narrowing.

Mixers aren't that expensive -- starting at about $70, and going up from there. Software is cheap -- try starting with FREE (Audacity) and going up from there. Run a four track mixer into a laptop and you're there. You're not going to duplicate a studio session in NashVegas in your basement, but you're going to get results you'll be happy with -- even if it takes you a little while to get it exactly the way you want it.

So if you've ever wondered why the music industry is losing money, and why they have to find scapegoats who share music online (more on that in my next post), maybe now you understand. The music industry folks may be starting to figure out just how irrelevant they're becoming, and they don't like it at all.

EDIT: OK, I just found out (thanks to this post that Snocap is now requiring an ISRC number for each song that's offered for sale through their service. That's a number given out by the RIAA. So Snocap may not be the indie-friendly option that I thought it would be.

RE-EDIT: Spoke too soon. Guess this shows why I should read all the news before I start blogging about it. ;-)

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Music Mondays #2
Why Do They Sue?

The RIAA won their case against Jammie Thomas in a decision that's going to cost her $222,000. She's going to lose a good healthy chunk of her $32,000 salary for the rest of her life. $9,250 per song. Think she could have bought her friends a few CDs for that kind of money?

But the case wasn't always considered a slam dunk, and there are still some folks who question her guilt. There's still the second-thoughts -- should she have just taken the RIAA's settlement offer of $5,000? This is a case that's going to set precedent. And it's an expensive precedent. It's going to be expensive for some people -- and some peoples' parents, who are going to be liable for their kids' collections of illegal downloads.

I've been pondering the irony of one aspect of the case. Technology is to blame, they say, for the sad state of the music industry. Technology is making it possible to pirate music, and share it with people all over the world. BUT technology is also making it possible for the industry to catch these pirates. It's easier to catch them now than it ever was before.

Think about it for a minute. Back in the '80s, we all made tapes for our friends. I discovered a LOT of music my freshman year at Liberty, thanks to the guy next door who had a broad collection of bands. Prodigal, Servant, Allies, Bash-n-The-Code -- all new experiences for me, and fueled by what the RIAA calls music piracy.

Funny thing is, I actually bought more music because of those tapes. I spent a LOT of money in school buying music. I made tapes for my friends, and THEY bought more music. The mix tape made the recording industry a TON of money back in the day, and they couldn't stop us.

The mix tapes, and bootleg tapes, and copy tapes -- they all had one benefit. They were anonymous. You got them from a friend's friend, or your roommate, or a friend's cousin, or something like that. There were no IP addresses, and no user IDs. Nobody could trace you, because there was nothing to trace. And RIAA never sued anyone.

Now, they can track people down. IP numbers can be logged, user names are tracked down. Viruses are spread sometimes, and offenders can be traced that way. The very technology that RIAA is complaining about is what is making their lawsuits possible to begin with.

RIAA is realizing how irrelevant labels are becoming. RIAA sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's a train, getting ready to run them over. Musicians don't need them, and now music fans are starting to see that they don't need them either.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 30, 2007

This Weekend

This weekend, we headed down to Lynchburg (Virginia, not Tennessee) for Homecoming at LU. Highlight of the weekend was the football game against Presbyterian College -- a PC-USA school that's just making the jump to Div. I (FCS) football. At the beginning of the season, this looked like a turkey shoot for LU -- the Flames are favored to win the Big South conference this year, and Presby is just making the jump, after all.

But Liberty has dropped a few close games (48-41 in 2 OT vs. William and Mary and a 35-34 heartbreaker to Toledo) and one they should have won (42-14 against Elon College, of all places). And Presby beat VMI and Coastal Carolina in pretty convincing fashion. So the results of this game were in doubt.

Up until about 2PM on Saturday. Liberty led 20-0 at the half, and went on to win 48-14.

All in all, this looks to be a promising rivalry (especially if Ergun Caner gets into it. I can hear the "Remember Servetus" chants now ...). We play them on the road next year, and fans of both teams are already looking forward to it.

EDIT: And I almost forgot -- BEAT COASTAL

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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