Jukebox: Streaming payouts prove industry still ‘cruel’

Founding member Brendon Urie brings Panic! At the Disco to the Times Union Center on Tuesday.
Founding member Brendon Urie brings Panic! At the Disco to the Times Union Center on Tuesday.

Kudos to our Sara Foss for resolving to buy more music this year, choosing to pay for downloads and CDs rather than streams. Paltry payouts to artists for streaming prove, as Hunter S. Thompson claimed, “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

To her credit, Sara wrote that streaming music makes her feel guilty since her monthly fee of $7.99 lets her listen to almost any album she wants. Let’s forgive her: She also mused, “How any artist can make a living when so many consumers listen to their music on streaming platforms that cost about the same amount of money as a takeout lunch order is beyond me.”

Numbers prove she’s as right as Thompson.

Spotify pays $0.00397 per stream, iTunes $0.00783 and Pandora $0.00134. When Drake notched a whopping 1.8 billion streams in 2015, he earned $15 million from Spotify. Seemingly a big number in the aggregate, it’s still disgraceful.

Sara also told us her favorite albums of last year, listing Zeal & Ardor, Mount Eerie, Luciana Souza, U.S, Girls, Theotis Taylor, Anna von Hausswolf and David Crosby, who presented his new-music-with-new-kids at The Egg recently.

Much as I like reading others’ lists — www.nippertown.com is list-rich these days — I hate making my own. So I packed mine in a recent Jukebox about gift-giving, choices that have held up through my post-publication doubts: Aaron Parks’ “Little Big,” Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer,” Ry Cooder’s “The Prodigal Son,” John Prine’s “The Tree of Forgiveness,” Rosanne Cash’s “She Remembers Everything,” Kamasi Washington’s “Heaven and Earth,” Paul McCartney’s “Egypt Station,” Alejandro Escovedo’s “The Crossing,” Bonerama’s “Hot Like Fire,” Brandi Carlile’s “By the Way I Forgive You,” Jon Batiste’s “Hollywood Africans,” Cecile McLorin Salvant’s “The Window,” Charles Lloyd & the Marvels featuring Lucinda Williams’ “Vanished Gardens,” Jazzmeia Horn’s “A Social Call,” Willie Nile’s “Children of Paradise,” James Francies’ “Flight” and Kim Richie’s “Edgeland.”


Panic! At the Disco plays Tuesday at the Times Union Center (51 S. Pearl St., Albany), just the fourth show on its Pray for the Wicked Tour. Founding singer Brendon Urie is the only official member of the band, originally a quartet of Las Vegas high school friends. Fresh from a Broadway stint in “Kinky Boots,” Urie plays with drummer Dan Pawlovich, bassist Nicole Row and guitarist Mike Naran onstage behind him these days.

Many lineup changes brought stylistic shuffles, so busy Urie should maybe call his band the Chameleons or the Clones. Two Feet, and Betty Who open. 7p.m. $70.75, $50.75, $40.75, $30.75. 800-745-3000www.ticketmaster.com

When Alison Krauss played her local debut at tiny Pauly’s Hotel (she and Union Station earned $750 for that ’80s show that I caught), the idea of any bluegrass band playing such a place big as the Palace seemed unlikely.

But Greensky Bluegrass does just that, this very night: They headline at the Palace (19 Clinton Ave. at North Pearl Street, Albany), only a year after their area debut at The Egg. (Krauss played the Palace in 2002, then the Times Union Center in 2007, but I digress.)

Greensky Bluegrass mandolinist Paul Hoffman has said, “You can call us an acoustic ensemble, or a drum-less rock band, or a rock ’n’ roll bluegrass band.” They take advantage of category blurring to play anything they want. Like the jam bands they often play with on tour, Greensky Bluegrass plays two sets a night — likely echoing the dynamic that Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart once told me: “In the first set, we raise the sail; in the second, the wind comes.” Hoffman, guitarist Dave Bruzza, dobro player Anders Beck, banjoist Michael Arlen Bont and bassist Michael Devol just recorded a new album: “Shouted Written Down & Quoted,” their sixth. Circles Around the Sun (CATS) opens. Guitarist Neal Casal (Ryan Adams’ Cardinals and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood) formed CATS with keyboardist (and Brotherhood bandmate) Adam MacDougal, bassist Dan Horne and drummer Mark Levy to play Grateful Dead songs, like the Cardinals and Brotherhood. CATS recently followed its debut “Interludes for the Dead” with a double album, “Let it Wander.” It does, but to intriguing effect. 7:30 p.m. $36. 800-745-3000www.palacealbany.org


Musical conjunctions are “-paloozas,” like political scandals are “-gates.” So the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) presents Guitarpalooza Friday and Saturday.

Friday, Alex Skolnick of thrash-metal group Testament and other hard-hitting bands leads the same articulate, jazz-agile trio as on his “Conundrum” album: Matt Zebrowski, acoustic bass; and Nathan Peck, drums. Skolnick picks fast on a fat hollow-body. His website features a video of “War Pigs,” shot in a previous Van Dyck gig; another shows a hand-lettered label on his pedal box: “Alex is a jazzer.” True. 8 p.m. $18. 518-348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com

Saturday brings the area debut of Johnny A (born John Antonopoulos in Malden, Mass.). His “Just Me and My Guitars” is a solo show leaning heavily on the British Invasion sounds of his recent tenure with the Yardbirds; also on backing tracks and loops. Mr. A (as the New York Times would dub him) can play impossible riffs, always with gorgeous tones. It’s earthy at times, too. His pre-Yardbirds gig was playing rock-blues and R&B with Peter Wolf. On “Get Inside,” my favorite of his ingenious solo albums, he brings fresh insights to the sheer beauty of “Poor Side of Town” and the best “The Wind Cries Mary” since Hendrix himself. 8 p.m. $20


That’s how E Street Band boss Bruce Springsteen introduces drummer Max Weinberg — who’s playing the all-requests rock show “Max Weinberg’s Jukebox” Friday at Proctors GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). Weinberg hedges his bets some, versus the wide-open, anything-goes Magic Box request format that NRBQ is reviving these days. Weinberg offers a 200-song menu, then leads a four-piece band in playing fans’ choices from it. $55-$170 (for VIP meet-and-greet). 518-346-6204 www.proctors.org


The Massachusetts ensemble Darlingside sings and plays a remarkably beautiful sound, returning Saturday to The Egg (where they played last year) with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra in beefed-up arrangements. 8 p.m. $36

Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment

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