December 1st, 2011

The sweet taste of justice

Let me make a little sidestep first. In my country a sort of state-authorized semi tax office operates called BUMA/STEMRA. They “tax” radio stations, websites, pub owners, employers and whatnot for playing music, on behalf of the producers and writers. It is of course a big scam covered under a blanked of fairness. They have been coming under more and more pressure as they are sitting on huge amounts of cashed money, but somehow are “unable” to redistribute that money to the legitimate owners.

Double sidestep: the same goes, but irrelevant for this story for another “foundation” that “taxes” media like CD-R’s, DVD-R’s and in the old days cassette tapes, as we, the public, are obviously using them to illegally copy music and movies. They even tried to get their hands on mp3 players, memory sticks and media boxes. That failed. So far.

Anyway…. Too funny! In some international score cards (too lazy to dig them up) my country is supposed to be at the very top when it comes to absence of corruption. A composer complained to BUMA/STEMRA about them having used his work on an anti-copy clip that is forced on us every time we play a DVD or go the cinema. His complaint was rejected. But when he called one of the board members, that guy he said, he could get the subject back on the agenda. Of course he wanted some compensation. One third to be precise. Of more than a million Euro’s (1.4 mln US dollars). Unfortunately, the conversation was taped. He even claimed the composer now had nothing and when he would have helped him out, at least he would have received 2/3rd. The gentleman has “temporarily stepped down to concentrate entirely on his defense”.

Don’t we LOVE the the media industry!!

November 14th, 2011

The photographer

Forgot about this one, sorry. Vivian Maier. Wonderful photography in a what seems to me US urban context.

March 6th, 2011

The book surgeon

Pretty insane!

The book sugeon

The image above is a link to more of these works and an interview with the surgeon. Through

August 17th, 2010

The distribution of media

Yes I know. This is getting old, but again a real life story on how even new distributors or missing the boat, or are forced to miss the boat.

A true story: A few days ago, a US based friend needed a specific soundtrack for a project. As it was needed now, downloading was the only option. She found three sources: (the German variant),, and a site called Both amazon sites refused “due to geographic restrictions”. The legalsounds sounded fishy to her, so she asked me if I could maybe find it. I tried to purchase it too. I am not in Germany, nor the in the UK, and not suprizingly, I got the same refusals. Legalsounds was pay first try later and a simple whois showed the site was registered in Russia and the company based in Canada. Err, maybe not eh?

So, what to do? I found a torrent and had the entire album in under 25 minutes, no hassle (by the way, using Transmission, standard application on the Ubuntu install). Dropped the files to her and be done.

Now, before throwing theft accusations: the project is both professional and rather public, and license fees for the usage of the music will be payed. What I am trying to get across is: people willing to pay for a product, in this case a digital product), are being put off actually purchasing it, only to find it in no time for free. How that can be a smart business model is truly beyond me. And even if that had not been the case, only one willing friend in either Germany or the UK would have been the only thing needed.

ps: Same, but different: I want to have a Sony eReader PRS-600. Two clicks on (mark you) Sony’s website shows it does $ 169.99 in the US. The largest online book retailer in Europe now has a spectacular rebated price of Euro 249, roughly $320. Now guess where this eReader will be purchased? And mind you, local content for these devices here is roughly….. zero. English out-of-copyright content is fantastic though, i.e.

I just don’t get how business people make these kinds of decisions.

February 27th, 2010

The talent

What can I say? Discovered country-woman Janine Jansen a while ago and her performance is exceptional. If you like this, follow some of the youtube suggestions. There are hundreds of clips, some of the publishers.

January 27th, 2010

The positivity blog and Mozart

It’s all too easy to focus on the bad and ugly and deceit in the world. But let’s never forget the other side.

Mozart’s Top 3 Tips for Making Your Own Kind of Music (this links to the full post)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart seemed to live a pretty fast and quick life. He started writing his own music when he was just four years old. When he was six he played violin to the emperor of Austria. At 14 he wrote music for Milan Opera. As an adult he worked at a furious pace. By the end of his life he had written over 600 pieces of music. A life that ended early, just before his 36′th birthday.

  1. “I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.”
  2. “One must not make oneself cheap here – that is a cardinal point – or else one is done. Whoever is most impertinent has the best chance.”
  3. “When I am travelling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly.”

Thanks Elena.

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March 10th, 2009

The violinist

Through egodialogues.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning.
He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.
When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.
No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Must have been the acoustics. Siiiigh. I wrote earlier about Joshua Bell. He is such a nice unpretentious guy. I am not surprized he went along with this.

October 6th, 2008

The tears

I wrote about the last night of the proms earlier. On this 2007 last night’s performance the comment of the presenter was “I always think the audience should cry, not the violinist, and that is what he does, he lets YOU cry”. Listen to Joshua Bell, in an arrangement he made himself of Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise“. And cry.

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August 30th, 2008

The wheel

This short German movie is called “Das Rad” (the wheel). It seems the English title is Rocks, but that really doesn’t do it, imho. It takes a minute to grasp what’s going on.

It’s lovely. And reminds us in a humorous way of our irrelevance.

April 22nd, 2008

The copying of playlists

My el-cheapo car radio takes a usb stick or sd card. I couldn’t even tell if the cd player is functional as I haven’t used ever since. One tiny annoyance though. The order it plays is kinda random, probably something like how it’s physically sequenced in the file system. Rather annoying when i.e. copying a classical concert. But I think I got the perfect helper now. Empty the stick, then use Amok Playlist Copy to create or load a playlist and hit copy. It will copy the files the playlist points to to the destination (stick). Simple. One of these (free) have-to-have’s.

Added: And while we’re at it. Used streamripper yesterday to record a very special concert, and a nice small program called mp3DirectCut to chop it up neatly.

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Laeszhalle Hamburg