The music business press has repeatedly criticized artists for not providing a solution for the problems with streaming. Once you get past the amusing fact that it’s not our job nor are we paid to fix streaming services it does become a useful exercise. Here is my response.
I would like to thank the shareholders for appointing me CEO of Spotify. I am honored that you placed such great trust in my ability to navigate us through this difficult time.
I would like to make a few comments on the strategy pursued by my predecessor Daniel Ek. I do this not to criticize my predecessor but to illustrate how my leadership of this company will vary significantly from his.
1. Under my predecessor’s leadership Spotify pursued a scorched earth policy towards artists that criticized our company. This has been going on for some time. In the past Spotify engaged surrogates and proxies to attack…
The album “Perspective” is now a wrap as we have moved into fall and the final mixdown of songs and pre-mastering has begun. Just in time for fall colors…
It is September 28 and I’m already running late… (albeit a self-imposed deadline). 11 songs on the new one, culled from 18 songs written and recorded; they’ll go off for mastering in about 3-4 weeks.
The set list and sequence order:
1. Copper Afternoon
3. Being, Time, and Place
4. Summer Madness
5. La Frontera
6. New World Create
7. (A Higher) Perspective
8. Bliss in Blue
9. Infinity Pool
11. Saturn Return No. 2
Scheduled release date is set for December 21, 2014, the first day of winter… MP3 digital download and CDs.
“Summer Madness” and “Impermanence” were both released as singles this past summer (which now seems like ages ago) and are on “Perspective”. Both can be found currently on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and eMusic. The single version of “Summer Madness” is the one that will be on the album.
Up until last month I had not heard all of the material together in one sitting. Very different vibe to this album; there are no 8-minute “mini-epics” this time (the longest song, “Heliotropic,” clocks in at 5:27). 9 of the 11 selected tracks feature the piano. Erin – who plays alto sax on the title track – has listened to it a few times now – her impressions: “Less electronic, lots of piano, more jazz-oriented, more moody.” I’d say that’s an accurate description of “Perspective”… more low-key than its predecessor, more reflective.
A couple of tracks will be available as free downloads, pre-release, sometime in November on the NoV pageon ReverbNation. More details to come…
A few days ago I read an article on Slate – Neural Nostalgia: Why do we love the music we heard as teenagers? – by Mark Joseph Stern. Basically it’s a good article that asks the age-old question: “Why do the songs I heard when I was teenager sound sweeter than anything I listen to as an adult?” The premise of the article goes something like this:
“Between the ages of 12 and 22, our brains undergo rapid neurological development—and the music we love during that decade seems to get wired into our lobes for good.”
And that got me thinking… about the music I listened to during those 10 formative years from pre-teen to young adult the author’s talking about. Certainly this is very true (although the Ludacris vs. Katy Perry example is kind of lost on me – doesn’t strike a familiar chord since for me that correlates to roughly the time frame from The Doors, Velvet Underground, and the Stones to the Ramones, Talking Heads and Elvis Costello and everything in between), but it also felt like something was missing from the equation. That explanation doesn’t go far enough, because really, this kind of nostalgia can happen at any age, not only during those (mostly) awkward, dorky teenage years.
I can clearly remember hearing The Beatles – “Twist and Shout”/”There’s A Place” – for the first time in the summer of 1963 at the age of 6 when we were vacationing in Rumson, New Jersey and it still makes me nostalgic for that time just as much as Prince’s album “Planet Earth,” as recently as 2007 at the age of 50, makes me nostalgic now for that particular time. So something else seems to be in play and operating as far as musical nostalgia goes.
“When we make neural connections to a song, we also create a strong memory trace that becomes laden with heightened emotion…”
And there’s a clue right there – ‘heightened emotion’. This can happen anytime in a lifetime, whenever you’re fully alive and actively engaged in everything that’s going on within and around you, whenever your awareness of your life circumstances as well is heightened. When significant changes are happening in your life – for instance, when you move to a new city or country, when you’re beginning a new relationship (or ending one), or taking the vacation of a lifetime or a road trip with your best buds, or when you break out of habitual patterns and create a new attitude or new way of being. That’s what was missing from the article and that doesn’t happen during just those teenage years. It’s your lifelong journey, set to music.
A few years ago I read an interview with musician Stan Ridgway where he said that what we were doing as musicians/artists was really “creating memories for people” and that seemed to click in my mind as one of the truest things I’ve ever read about the creative process and putting our creations out into the world because that is exactly what we do. From his own catalog, I can listen to the album “Mosquitos” (particularly “Calling Out to Carol,” the hit, and “Mission in Life”) and I’m right back in 1989 in grad school in my early 30’s.
Think of your life… aside from just the teenage and early adult years, what songs and/or albums are you nostalgic about and what was happening then? It’s a good trip and always one worth taking, through the good times and the bad.
And that, along with the intrinsic qualities of a piece of music itself, is the beauty of music – it can take you back to the most important, meaningful moments of your life faster than anything… and it’s amazing.
Nights on Venus News:
After 10 months, recording is finished and 18 songs are, more or less, completed for the new album “Perspective.” I am currently in the process of sifting through the songs… and mixing; 10, possibly 11, will go on the album – 8 have been selected so far – plus “Summer Madness” as a bonus track. Release date – MP3 digital download and CDs – is now set for 12/21/2014. More updates and track list will be forthcoming.
And this week, “Impermanence” has been released as of Thursday…. and now available on all the major outlets, iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, CD Baby, and Bandcamp, available in your choice of MP3 320 and FLAC (lossless) downloadable files on the latter two. And here it is from SoundCloud… Thanks for listening!
The image of this gargoyle is one I’ve used before – it appeared on the inner sleeve of the previous CD “Another Day in Paradox” and it has a certain amount of personal significance for me. ‘Impermanence’ itself – one of the four noble truths in Buddhism – simply means life is constant change, from one state to the next, moment by moment.
This particular gargoyle can be found at St. George’s By the River Episcopal Church in Rumson, New Jersey. This is where I spent the first year-and-a-half of my life and where I was baptized. My grandfather, Dr. Canon George A. Robertshaw, was the rector (senior pastor for those not familiar with the term) of St. George’s for many years until his death in 1964. St. George, patron saint of England who slew the dragon in mythical lore, so it hardly seems like a coincidence that – as my granddad’s name was George – he should be there and that the church flourished and grew during his tenure.
My mom, Joyce, grew up here at the rectory, the residence at the church at 7 Lincoln Avenue, for much of her early life, and this is where she met my dad, Paul Lindsley Thomas, who came to the church as assistant organist and choir director in 1950. They got married here and then I was born in 1956 down the road a little ways in Asbury Park, so these are my roots.
After we moved to Dallas, Texas in 1960, we returned every summer to the Jersey shore for a few weeks and stayed on the grounds, and I can remember as a little kid walking the grounds and looking up at that gargoyle and being fascinated by it. Some images just stick with (or haunt) you for the rest of your life and this seems to be one of those for me. [Perhaps also not coincidentally I heard my first Beatles’ songs, “Twist and Shout/There’s A Place” there in Rumson during the summer of 1963.]
I haven’t been back to the Jersey shore for a long, long time (1976). I’m sure way back then as a kid I couldn’t articulate that this image somehow reminded me of the fleeting nature of life, constant change, or of various changing emotional/mental states, but it sure did when I was walking around with the chord progression and that repeated guitar lick in my head months before I recorded it in June.
Notes on the recording:
“Impermanence” was recorded in June, 2014 at the ‘Cave Recording Studio, Golden, Colorado,
Craig C. Thomas – all instruments, engineering and production
Mastered by Brian Hazard at Resonance Mastering, Huntington Beach, California
Hope everyone had a grand, glorious, and safe 4th of July here in the States. Just a quick post to let everyone know that new music from Nights on Venus is coming very soon, like next week…
“Impermanence,” the next song and 2nd single/advance track from the album “Perspective,” has now gone to mastering. Official release date is set for 7/17 and will be available as a MP3 digital download only at all the usual outlets (CD Baby, iTunes, etc.). Below is the cover artwork for the single:
Well, mostly unplugged. I may have checked e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter a couple of times over the last 3 days on the laptop which is a far cry from business as usual these days and further aided by the fact that there was no cell phone coverage where we were (probably wouldn’t have mattered if there had been, I’ve had a run of bad luck with cell phones lately). And it felt kind of… weird. Actually, it felt like the kind of high country trips I used to take in the ‘old days’, back in the 90’s, long before the advent of instant (and constant) connectivity, Wi-Fi, Google, and Androids.
The idea for the weekend was to just truly get away, unwind… disconnect. Unplug. And South Park is still an ideal place to do that. It’s always been one of my favorite areas in Colorado from the time I got stranded in the small town of Alma overnight during a whiteout in ’92 and stayed at the hotel (and I use the term loosely) down the street.
So here’s a photo essay of the last few days, a rather lengthy one with a little bit of everything including a rare tornado. Click on the pics to enlarge…
And then we head back into town…
We did stay at the Mountain Comfort Bed & Breakfast just outside of town on Highway 9; I highly recommend this bed and breakfast for your own vacation getaway or family reunion. Sandy and Ernie are the perfect hosts and see to it that you have everything you need. Rooms are cozy, comfortable, and rustic, the setting is quiet, peaceful, and beautiful, and the breakfasts were amazing. We will definitely be back!
A recent review of “Summer Madness”: “This slow, instrumental piece relies on creating an ever-changing moody atmosphere to relax and calm you. With slower, jazzier ambiance that collectively builds throughout, this well done Nights On Venus release is one for the crowd that likes to slow dance and take it easy when listening to music.” – Curt Dennis, Bluestribute.net