the “blurred lines” case… the lines are even more blurry now

This week we saw a verdict in the case of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” vs. Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” copyright infringement lawsuit and quite frankly, it was kind of shocking. The result: Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who wrote the song, were ordered to pay the Gaye estate to the tune of $7.3 million.

Robin-Thicke-Blurred-Lines-ft.-T.I.-PharrellNo matter what you think of Robin Thicke or the song “Blurred Lines”, this ain’t right. There are two excellent articles, written post-verdict from LA Weekly and the New Yorker, and I’ve included the links below. Check ‘em out:

Hopefully the ruling will be reversed on appeal, as it should be. Yes, there are similarities between the two songs but mostly in the areas of rhythm and feel/overall vibe… which you cannot copyright. I hadn’t ever heard “Blurred Lines” until this week – I must be living in that hyperbaric chamber Andy Hermann speaks of – but I’ve played “Got To Give It Up” in a couple of cover bands I was in and these two are not the same song… which, at least up ’til now, has always been the basis for any ruling on copyright infringement.

Certainly it’s not anywhere near as blatant as Vanilla Ice’s ripoff of “Under Pressure”, written by Queen and David Bowie, for his hit “Ice Ice Baby”. That the steal is so obvious in that instance, it should be the standard by which copyright infringement is measured. But as Bob Dylan said: “The times they are a changin’…” and all this verdict does is add more (unnecessary) shades of gray to an already (needlessly) gray area.

First off, the case should never have come to trial in the first place. Usually any disputes over copyright, if the plaintiffs have a good solid argument for infringement, should be settled out of court, more or less amicably, as in the case of Sam Smith and Tom Petty over Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down”.

Second of all, Robin Thicke should never appear in court on his own behalf as the jury, apparently, found him “massively unappealing” which, when all is said and done, seems to have formed the basis for their decision.

Which means the jury wasn’t really looking at, or listening to, the presented evidence that these two songs are not the same – that “Blurred Lines” is not a direct ripoff of “Got To Give It Up”. Other factors – emotional perhaps – came into play and thus the verdict should be reversed. There are certain elements of the recording and overall sound between the two that are similar but those cannot be the basis for punitive monetary damages against Thicke/Williams because, as Tim Wu writes, “…by that standard, every composer would be a lawbreaker”.

Well, we are an unruly bunch, as outlined here (tongue in cheek)… but, no – that ain’t right either.

That the Gaye family now has another of Pharrell Williams’ songs – “Happy” – on the radar for copyright infringement should be a huge red flag. That Pharrell has admitted that he was “inspired by Gaye and borrowed from him” only makes him a target for these kinds of lawsuits, but again, “Happy” is not the same song as “Ain’t That Peculiar” and acknowledging one’s influences should never be grounds for someone filing a lawsuit against you.

It points up the unfortunate fact that if you, as an artist, release something that becomes insanely popular, goes viral, etc. – i.e., and the bottom line here, makes you a shitload of money – someone somewhere is going to want a piece of that, possibly a substantial piece of that, whether or not it’s justified or the claim has any merit. In a rapidly changing – some would say disintegrating – music industry, this lawsuit amounts to nothing more than a “land grab” – get whatever money you think you’re “entitled to” while you can, and should be seen as such.

As all art is derivative of some other art that has gone before, this ruling sets a very dangerous precedent for everyone working in all creative fields, not just music … Which is why it should be reversed, no money awarded. I won’t even go into the aspect of “better songwriting” here; that’s for another time… Until then, establish a working relationship with a good music lawyer if you don’t already have one.

Nights on Venus News:  I’m currently putting finishing touches on the last song, “The Fool’s Journey”, for a 4-song EP, as yet untitled, to be released toward the end of June, 2015. More details to follow…

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

a snowy weekend… put some records on the stereo…

Greetings from Colorado! Winter finally arrived yesterday and today.

Yours truly... winter, 2015. From Golden, Colorado...
Yours truly… winter, 2015. From Golden, Colorado…

For most of this winter here in CO we’ve had temps in the 40s-50s, sometimes in the 60s in the Denver area, and it has only been snowing (seemingly) on Wednesdays. Well, that just ain’t right. So thankfully we got our first big storm in the foothills this weekend… and we needed it, because as Coloradans will always tell you: “we need the moisture”. When we don’t get it, bad things happen… warm, dry, windy weather means wildfires in the summer, then floods in the fall.

Now as storms go, this isn’t nearly, remotely in the same league as what they’ve been getting up in Boston and most of New England so far almost every week this year – and kudos to you guys for toughing it out and keepin’ it together. Still, it’s a welcome sight here this weekend. It has been snowing since Friday night, it’s snowing now, heavily at times, we haven’t seen the mountains less than half a mile away from where we live since Friday, and although we’ve been out a couple of times to the convenience store close by, we’ve been “essentially” in snowed-in mode at la casa… essentially, of course, being entirely subjective here.

Cosmo investigating a guitar case...
Cosmo investigating a guitar case…

But hey, it’s fun(!) to think that you’re snowed-in even when, technically, you’re not. So that got me thinking about what albums/songs are what I would call “snow songs”… ’cause you know you’re going to listen to a lot of music, watch a lot of DVDs, break out the board games – Scrabble, etc. – play non-board games, read, sit in front of a roaring fireplace, and spend a lot of time cooking, with a fair amount of drinking, when you can’t go anywhere. If the power goes out… well, that sucks.

Walkin' the dog
Walkin’ the dog

Since we’ve had no power outages, I’ve had a chance to listen to some songs/albums that always remind me of snow days or a time when I remember it was snowing. Or songs that specifically mention snow in their lyrics, like these three:

2000 MilesThe Pretenders
For better or worse, this is pretty much the quintessential snow and Christmas song now, from their 1984 album Learning To Crawl… so I love it. However, my boss at the day job played a Christmas CD that had “2000 Miles” on it every day in the building this past December and a few days into January and for the time being I can’t listen to it again for a while… it’s gonna take some time…

Valley Winter Song – Fountains of Wayne
Another obvious choice since ‘winter’ is in the song title… This is from their album Welcome Interstate Managers so the album automatically becomes a “snow album”.

Love Is Lighter Than Air
The Magnetic Fields
The chorus features these lines: “Love is lighter than air/ It floats away if you let go/ Love is lighter than air/ It rises through the falling snow.”

The Ice Palace at Varykino, from the movie Doctor Zhivago...
The Ice Palace at Varykino, from the movie Doctor Zhivago…

Varykino Snow
The Mermen
This instrumental references the summer retreat turned “Ice Palace” in the movie Doctor Zhivago; there’s a ton of snow in that movie. Brrrr. 

snow5Well, you get the idea… What I’ve been listening to today:


The first two Boston albums, the debut album and Don’t Look Back, both seem to be snow albums mostly because I remember listening to them on a particularly difficult drive coming back to Texas from a ski trip in 1979. The snow started falling just outside of Limon, Colorado and didn’t stop all the way to Lubbock. I drove a VW bug back then and I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the right set of tires on the car for snow-packed roads. Also remember listening to David Bowie‘s live album Stage on that drive.

The aforementioned Fountains of Wayne for their albums Welcome Interstate Managers and also Utopia Parkway; both are snow albums. Spent many an afternoon listening to these songs in the gallery in Empire while the snow was coming down.

The white stuff piled up quickly yesterday…

Other snow albums in no particular order:
Material IssueInternational Pop Overthrow
Seal2nd album, Seal
ShoesBlack Vinyl Shoes
Wendy & LisaWhite Flags of Winter Chimneys
Nirvana‘s MTV Unplugged in New York
The Church – Forget Yourself, particularly the song “Lay Low”
And Brian Eno’s song, “Always Returning”, from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, has always brought to mind the image of blowing snow drifting across a deserted highway at night.

Currently finishing up a new song, “For All the Afterthoughts”, in the studio.

Looks like the snow plow came by and took out the stop sign... Hey, it happens.
Looks like the snow plow came by and took out the stop sign… Hey, it happens.
"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.








Zoe Keating vs YouTube: The End of an Artist’s Right to Choose Where Their Music Appears on The Internet.


Important read… and a call to action.

“I believe that this is a dangerous precedent and should be examined by the Federal Trade Commission. I urge you to write the FTC and ask them to look into this matter. I understand that you can reach the chair of the FTC at this email address:” – David Lowery

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

This is a call to action folks.

Many of you may already be aware of this blog post from  Zoë Keating detailing the new terms of the Google/YouTube “Music Key” service.  YouTube’s “communications manager” Matt McLernon has followed the Spotify approach and attacked Zoë Keating’s story as “patently false” although it looks like Google is not exactly backing up their “communications manager“.

I’m pretty sure that Google is not truthful about their conversation with Zoë–you know Google’s lying when their lips are moving–if for no other reason than I believe Zoë’s notes of her conversation with Google are accurate.  Not to mention that the description of the Music Key deal points from Zoë’s notes shows Google tying the YouTube and Music Key deals together in pretty much the same way as the Music Key deal that Google threatened indie labels with last year.

But I’m not sure if the mainstream…

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random thoughts on a sunday…

A few random thoughts today during some “down time”… The album Perspective has been released and is available on all the usual online outlets. I’ve been cleaning up in the studio the last month, clearing out some of the old, making room for the new, and catching up on some listening, mostly Prince’s albums from 2014 – Art Official Age (love it) and PlectrumElectrum with 3rdEyeGirl (love it). Well, I’m a huge Prince fan.

Nights on Venus News: Several people have asked why “Blue Mountains Walking” wasn’t on the recent release, and yeah, that was a judgment call along with a few other songs. I wasn’t completely satisfied with it and it was more electronic which didn’t quite fit in with the overall vibe of Perspective. For now, you can find it here as a mastered demo. It will be on the 1st EP for this year of which there should be at least two. It’s paired with a new song, “The Owl and the Lynx”, so far.

Moving forward, I’m going to a more-or-less perpetual release schedule starting in 2015, which means when a few songs are done, they get mastered and released. NoV in bite-size chunks… with a summary album of all recorded material at the end of the year, the long and the short. It’s a bit more ambitious and, at the same time, more personal, rather than the standard one album per year release. A couple of gigs are tentatively scheduled  for the summer at festivals in the mountains here, with an expanded lineup – nothing definite (or signed) yet.

In the meantime… I’m watching Green Bay vs. Seattle in the NFC Championship game, the Cowboys having been eliminated last week. Go Pack Go!

On this day in Rock history: From 1974… former members from Free, (Paul Rodgers & Simon Kirke), Mott The Hoople, (Mick Ralphs), and King Crimson, (Boz Burrell), formed Bad Company. Their debut album was released in June that year.

I remember seeing them that summer of ’74 at the Denver Coliseum, having never heard of them before and opening for the Edgar Winter Group; they kicked ass that night! That album and their next, Straight Shooter, became listening staples during senior year of high school.

And finally, a staple of the current morning routine around La Casa NoV… Bryan Cranston (Walter White, aka “Heisenberg” of Breaking Bad fame) narrating that children’s classic (for adults) “You Have to F***ing Eat”. Cracks me up… “The bunnies are munching on carrots…”

Until next time…

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.


“perspective” album release… full album here (via soundcloud)…

Today, on the day of the Winter Solstice, the album “Perspective” is released officially… and is now available on CD Baby, iTunes, Bandcamp, the Nights on Venus website, and Amazon MP3 as an MP3 digital download.

Three songs are available this week of Christmas as free downloads on ReverbNation – the title track,  “(A Higher) Perspective“, “Heliotropic“, and “Copper Afternoon” – to coincide with the album release, and the full album is featured here today via SoundCloud with a few notes about each song, what may have been running through my mind when I was writing or working on it.

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

“Copper Afternoon” was written for that sweet last and next to last run of the day on the slopes (at my favorite place to ski, Copper Mountain), when the shadows grow long across the snow and there’s only the hellish bumper-to-bumper drive to face on I-70 eastbound back toward Denver. There is an extended version of this song which may appear at a later date as a remix.

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Bend towards the light, not the dark… i.e., no going over to the “dark side”. Image/painting by Don Pollack, “The Proposition”, oil on canvas…

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Convergence… You, right here, right now, where you stand. There is nothing else. Photo taken from the top of Mt. Flora on the Continental Divide, Colorado. Kind of a 60’s vibe to this one…

(© 1974 Taylor / Thomas / Smith / Mickens / Westfield / Bell, Published by Warner Tamerlane Publishing. All rights reserved.)

A remake of the classic Kool and the Gang instrumental from their album “Light Of Worlds” from 1974. Official release date on the single: 5/26/2014.

What I’ve tried to do in covering this song is retain the feel and vibe of the original – paying homage to it – while offering up my own take on this classic on its 40th anniversary with the addition of piano and vibes. Always loved this song and in recording it, I’ve tried to stay as close to the original as possible. The original version is in the first “Rocky” movie – the scene where Rocky brings his girlfriend Adrienne back to his apartment for the first time. Artwork by CCT.

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Spawned by the refugee crisis of 2014 and years before (see the film “Sin Nombre” -2009), this –…ss-at-the-border/ – says it far better than I ever could. So does this:…central-america
Tear. Down. The Fence. Echoing the words of Fr. Corpora, may we see true, real, and honest immigration reform very, very soon.

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Kind of surf, kind of jazz, kind of classical (in a Chopin-esque sort of way – well, this is the ‘piano’ album). The image is an interesting story; check it out here… Photo by D’Milo Hallerberg, from Burning Man. Freedom baby!

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

This world’s messed up; we need a new one, but not a corporate, government, 1-percent mandated one. Transformation, nothing less… Light at the end of the tunnel…

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Erin Foley on alto sax here. Terra incognita…. new, uncharted territory. When in doubt, go higher. From the top of Quandary Peak, a ’14er’, Mosquito Range, Colorado.

Shift, alter, gain perspective… anew. The overview.

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Just pure enjoyment here… love infinity pools and being in one. Can’t tell where the water ends and the sky begins (well here you can – imagine yourself actually in the pool). Visual (and aural) metaphor for “All Is One”. As above, so below… All things in balance.

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

The 2nd single released this past summer. Impermanence… Defines our lives… constant change. You really don’t have all the time in the world… so turn off the TV, the smart phone and go do something.

(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

And we all come full circle, every 29 years… at 29, 58… and, if you live long enough, 87. Saturn, the timekeeper. Completion, a major milestone, a passage… then on to the next stage of life. Saturn image courtesy of NASA.

Thanks for reading and listening over the years. May all of you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, however you celebrate, and be safe in your travels to and from! I’ll be back after New Year’s as we all head into 2015.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.


pictures at an exhibition…

This week, I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving holiday…

The new album “Perspective” is complete and is currently being mastered by Brian Hazard at Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, CA. Scheduled release date is still set for 12/21/14 and the album will be available as an MP3 digital download and also on CDs (at a slightly later date).

The cover artwork for the MP3 album digital download is pictured below. The CD version will feature different artwork on the cover.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover

chihuly_15And so, to celebrate the completion of the album, Erin and I headed into Denver last night – the 2-hour mini-vacation from Golden and vice versa – for a night out and to catch the Chihuly Nights exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens on its next-to-last night here in town.

chihuly_16The glass sculptures are the work of American artist Dale Chihuly and the installation is absolutely spectacular, particularly at night. The pieces, ranging in size from small to large-scale, are amazing, beautiful, intricate. Not sure where the installation is headed next but if it comes to your city, be sure and go see it – it is well worth it. Some of the highlights are pictured below.

At the Chihuly Exhibit, Denver Botanic Gardens, 11/29
At the Chihuly Exhibit, Denver Botanic Gardens, 11/29
Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from the realm of craft to fine art.


"Summer Madness" - MP3 single, May, 2014
“Summer Madness” – MP3 single, May, 2014
The single "Impermanence"... released July, 2014
The single “Impermanence”… released July, 2014

The singles, “Summer Madness,” and “Impermanence” from Nights on Venus are both available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website as are all full-length albums.

Nights on Venus - the debut album (2011)
Nights on Venus – the debut album (2011)
"Another Day in Paradox" - 2013
“Another Day in Paradox” (2013)

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook., and Instagram.

"In 4 the Evening," released May, 2012
“In 4 the Evening,” released May, 2012

Thank You For Appointing Me CEO of Spotify: Now a Strategic Plan to Fix the Service.


How to fix Spotify in 4 simple steps…. from David Lowery, reblogged from The Trichordist…

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

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…

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excursions in sound and consciousness with the band Nights on Venus


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