Tag Archives: Andy Warhol

A Mighty Wind

Bob Dylan has made a special recording of his 1962 song “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

It is special specifically because there is one copy of the song recorded last year on an analog disc developed by T Bone Burnett.*

One copy. Recorded by Dylan. A one-shot.

It is going to be auctioned at Christie’s in London this coming July.

There are thoughts that it might go for $1.26 million.

This could be the definition of “irony”:

In a description of “Blowin’ in the Wind” that appears in secondhandsongs.com there’s this:

“In a 1978 interview, Dylan confirmed that “’Blowin’ in the Wind’ has always been a spiritual. I took it off a song called ‘No More Auction Block’ — that’s a spiritual and ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ follows the same feeling.””

“No More Auction Block” is about selling people, not pop songs.

Over $1-million for a Dylan song created in a special format.

I would think he would come over to somebody’s house and sing it for less than that.

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Streams and Schemes

Deep within the Form F-1 that Shenzhen-based Tencent Music Entertainment Group prepared a prospectus for the SEC back in 2018, there is an interesting section titled “Fragmented music content providers and popularity of long-tail content.”

Know that TME, which is the leading music streaming service in China, operates music apps including QQ Music Kugou Music, Kuwo Music, and WeSing. The company’s platform includes online music, online audio, online karaoke, music-centric live streaming and online concert services. Although it is a fraction of the size of Spotify, given that there are about 1-billion internet users in China (in the U.S. for example, the number is along the lines of 312-million, less than half of the number of users in India, at 834-million), there is something to say for the upside opportunities of TME, which reported last month that it has 76.2-million paying users, a 36% year-over-year increase, which is some serious traction.

The fragmented music section includes:

• “China has a more fragmented music content creation and copyright ownership landscape as compared to developed economies. In contrast to the U.S. market where the top music labels have strong market positions, China provides a more conducive environment for online music platforms. According to iResearch, in terms of the volume of tracks streamed, the top five labels in China had a combined market share of less than 30% in 2017, while the top five labels globally had a combined market share of approximately 85%.”
• “China also has a fast growing market for long-tail, niche music content, including those that belong to niche genres, driven by an increasing demand for diversified and personalized online entertainment experiences.”
• “The younger generation in China, represented by Generation Z (born between 1990 and 2009), is also a key driving force of the market for long-tail entertainment content. They are generally technology savvy, creative, expressive, and willing to pay for quality content. They are also actively involved in content creation through interactive online platforms, driving both the supply and demand for long-tail music content.”

While there are undoubtedly changes between 2018 and 2022 and so this focus on niche music may be somewhat attenuated, in its Form 6-K filing with the SEC for March 2022 there is the following:
“As of the end of the fourth quarter, the number of indie musicians on our Tencent Musician Platform reached 300,000.”

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See and Hear

For the past several years, all vehicles have come with some sort of infotainment screen on the dashboard. One reason was to provide a built-in navigation system, which was (a) expensive and (b) not as good as a Garmin that you could pick up for a fraction of the price at Costco. As time went on it was determined that the screen could serve as an interface for plenty of things and thereby eliminate the need for the knobs and buttons that were characteristic of how people would ordinarily control things like audio volume and the HVAC system. On the one hand this was done in order to minimize costs: those knobs and buttons had a cost that could be eliminated by some lines of code. On the other hand this was one of the automaker’s attempts to be like Apple: people were becoming increasingly familiar with the swiping of the screen on their iPhone (introduced in 2007), and as Apple was (and comparatively is) perceived as being the company with the greatest appeal (in 2020 it became the first publicly traded company to have a valuation in excess of $2-billion and is pretty much the most valuable company in the world, while traditional OEMs pout and kick and quietly weep when they look at the value of their companies compared to Tesla, but that is another story), the auto companies decided that they would develop the same sort of user interface (perhaps not taking into account that when you are doing something with your phone you are staring at it and when you are driving an SUV, you are piloting something that weighs over a ton at some velocity, so you probably ought not to be concentrating on a screen).

Mazdas have screens for the infotainment system in its vehicles. There is a fairly sizable knob located on the center console between the two front seats. Various options are presented on the screen in the dash (e.g., audio, navigation) with each of the choices in a circle with the circles being arrayed in an arc. (This brings up the point that if you have an iPhone or an Android device you have an interface that is one or the other. If you get into a Mazda and then climb into a Chevy you’ll discover that each of them has its own approach. So while there is interface consistency on the phones, there is none in vehicles. Even vehicles made by the same company–say a Chevy and a Cadillac–have different approaches. No wonder that J.D. Power surveys find that people are not particularly happy with their infotainment systems.)

Last week some Mazda drivers in the Seattle area who were listening to, say, “All Things Considered” on KUOW, the NPR station in the Puget Sound region, discovered that their Mazda infotainment systems don’t work. Either they can only listen to KUOW or the Connectivity Master Unit in model year 2014 to 2017 just doesn’t work so not even the tones of Audie Cornish or Steve Inskeep can be heard.

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Dean and Britta – 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests

Dean and Britta - 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol's Screen TestsDean and Britta13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests (Double Feature)

A few years ago, a bunch of Andy Warhol prints made their way to the Czech Museum here in Cedar Rapids (Warhol was of Czechoslovakian decent) and it provided a rare opportunity to come face to face with some of his work.

The only trouble was, the weekend of the exhibit I had to watch over my son while the wife was working. I don’t know how many of you have spent time with three-year olds, but there is no comprehension to someone of that age that looking at pieces of art qualifies as fun and that part of that “fun” would require being stationary for short periods of time, quietly reflecting on individual pieces and admiring their beauty and technique.

We lasted about fifteen minutes.

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The Velvet Underground: New York Art

The Velvet Underground: New York ArtThe Velvet Underground: New York Art – Edited by Johan Kugelberg (Rizzoli)

As influential as the Velvet Underground is, there is surprisingly little written material devoted to the N.Y.C. groundbreakers. For years, Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga’s Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story was the best reference point available—a collection of interviews and retelling of the band’s history.

It remains as the go-to book for anyone wanting to learn more about the band and it presents the band in a warts-and-all fashion, particularly Lou Reed who is not spared from the harsh realities of truth, or at least his peer’s interpretation of it.

The Velvet Underground: New York Art takes a different approach in delivering the band’s story, as it focuses on telling it through visual methods instead of the traditional black and white prose.

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