James Brown urged, “Get on the good foot!” and happy dancers obeyed by the sweaty millions. Another challenge: “Get on the side of artists! Don’t steal music! Or low-rent it, either!”
Pharrell Williams made just $25,000 from 432 million — that’s MILLION! — Pandora streams in three months of 2014, including performance rights royalties and publisher and songwriter royalties.
Hunter S. Thompson once accused, “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.” Thompson targeted the record business, increasingly run by lawyers, while musician John Lurie (the Lounge Lizards) titled a song, “What Do You Know About Music, You’re Not a Lawyer!”
Two years after Pandora pilfered Pharrell’s product, an Equity Research study (“Music in the Air: Stairway to Heaven”) for Goldman Sachs predicted global music revenues would nearly double over the next 15 years to $104 billion, through increased paid subscriptions to streaming services. This analysis, however, also predicted that record labels would gain the most from increased streaming. A sister study (“Music In the Air: Paint It Black”) sided with the record labels, sounding the alarm that do-it-yourself artists would sell their music directly, sidestepping the corporate powers, their attorneys and accountants. Artists are hitting back: Taylor Swift has removed her music from Pandora, for example, while artists are suing streaming services as eagerly as they once attacked “free” file-sharing sites and fought abusive record deals.
So, let’s buy music directly from artists.
Let’s buy music by going to shows. Let’s buy the recorded music that artists themselves sell there; it’s a better deal for them, and you can even get them signed. Most artists still sell CDs at their live shows, though some sell download cards and a growing number sell vinyl. Daptone Records artists sell both full albums and 7-inch singles. We boomers remember: those black discs with the large-diameter holes that antique jukeboxes play. When we buy music online, let’s buy from the artists or their labels directly.
OK, two pair isn’t a bad poker hand, though a full house beats it. Let’s hope for full houses for these two pairs of shows in area venues.
WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany; 518-465-5233; www.thelinda.org) presents Willie Nile tonight and Steve Forbert on Saturday.
Nile is simply one of the greatest rockers onstage these days. He’s a writer of exalted conscience and consciousness, a performer of wound-up intensity, a singer of towering conviction and leader of a fierce and fiery band. Go, just go — and buy whatever records he sells there. 8 p.m. $25, $45 with meet and greet
Like Nile, Forbert wields more talent than mainstream fame. Since playing his area debut just doors away at J.B. Scott’s, Forbert has welded his Mississippi hyper-literacy to compelling music. His new memoir “Big City Cat — My Life in Folk-Rock” recounts the steps along an era-defining artistic path. $25 advance, $30 on Saturday
The Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College (615 Broadway, Saratoga Springs; 518-580-5321; www.skidmore.edu/zankel) presents Bria Skonberg Friday and Cherish the Ladies Saturday.
Hailing from Chilliwack in the same southwestern-Canada corner as pianist-singer Diana Krall, Skonberg has followed a similar twofold musical path: master vocal and instrumental music — Skonberg is a skilled trumpeter/singer — so completely that sound eclipses looks/glamour. Wielding a warmer charm than the reserved Krall, Skonberg earned the love of area jazz fans for inviting the middle-school kids who’d played at intermission into her own set at A Place for Jazz. She played and sang both solid support and outstanding solo spots in the recent Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour band that recently delighted fans at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. 8 p.m. $25
Irish-music giant Mick Moloney organized Cherish the Ladies in 1985 to showcase the Celtic music skills of women artists, both Irish- and American-born. Flute and tin whistle player Joanie Madden now leads the sextet, whose previous members include stars Aoife Clancy, Winifred Horan, Eileen Ivers and many more.
Powerful, poignant and poetic, they started recording in their first year together and last year released “Heart of the Home,” their 18th. 2 p.m. $35; $65 for up-front seating and 11:30 a.m. meet and greet at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs)
NEW AT THE CAFFE
Expanding their ongoing innovation, Caffe Lena introduces a new collaboration Friday in a two-part presentation of singer-songwriter Adam Ezra. Brilliantly buzzworthy, this two-fer sold out. At 7 p.m., NPR hosts Vivian Nesbitt and John Dillon interview Ezra for their Art of the Song program. At 8 p.m., the full Adam Ezra Group plays fresh tunes from their new album “Find a Way” and favorites from seven prior releases since 2010. Yes, the show and interview are sold out, but you can stream the show at www.concertwindow.com/shows/60757-caffe-lena-adam-ezra-group/passes/new
In time-honored folk fashion, veteran troubadour Tom Paxton has teamed up with younger-generation collaborators to maintain a strong performing schedule.
For several years, Paxton has played with the Don Juans and returns with them Friday to the 8th Step at Proctors Underground (432 State St., Schenectady).
The Don Juans are singer-songwriters Don Henry and Jon Vezner; no, they don’t sing in Italian or Spanish, but in persuasive Nashville English. Big stars including Blake Shelton, Lonestar and Miranda Lambert, plus older-generation giants Ray Charles, Patti Page and Conway Twitty, have recorded Henry’s songs, though he arguably sings them as well as these luminaries. Henry and Vezner co-wrote “Where’ve You Been,” best song Vezner’s wife Kathy Mattea has ever recorded, while Vezner on his own has penned hits recorded by Steve Wariner, Diamond Rio, Clay Walker and others. 7:30 p.m. $28 advance, $30 on Friday, $50 front and center. 518-434-1703 www.8thstep.org
At the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) Wednesday, Moshulu combines the well-tested talents of four all-stars in a new band. Jeff Berlin (bass — Bill Bruford, Alan Holdsworth, who played the Van Dyck shortly before he died); Dennis Chambers (drums — Funkadelic, Santana; played here in bass god Victor Wooten’s trio Trypnotix at The Egg); David Sancious (keyboards, guitar — Bruce Springsteen, Sting and his own fusion bands); and Oz Noy (guitar — Chris Botti, Toni Braxton) bring impressive resumes and roof-raising power. 8 p.m. $20. 518-348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com