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Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Day That No One Died (4)

Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Read part three here.
* * *

Nudging the nose of his Buick into traffic, Daryl pulled away from the curb. He had just enough time to stop at the post office on the way to his lunch meeting with Charlie Coulton. Getting the packages mailed today was critical to his business plan. Promotion of his product was now his primary focus, and the packages he was sending were intended to do just that. Promote.
Navigating the traffic -- weaving in and out, frequently braking and looking for an opportunity to move to a faster moving lane -- Daryl inched his way toward the post office across town. I can't believe how heavy traffic is today, he thought, turning on his mp3 player and choosing some of Coulton's music to get him in the right frame of mind. This is more like five o'clock rush hour than late morning traffic. Switching the music off, Daryl did something very rare for him to do -- he turned on the radio. Twice in one day, he thought, as he tuned in News Talk 510 and waited for the traffic report. Wow. Well, podcasts sure are great, but they just can't give you up to the minute traffic and weather.

Daryl ducked to the left as an oversize SUV claimed the space he was occupying, barely giving him time to vacate it first. "Watch what you're doing, you --"

Interrupted by the traffic report coming on the radio, Daryl paused.

Traffic is heavy both inbound and outbound, with gridlock in all directions on the loop. You'll need more than a little extra time to get where you're going today. Might I suggest taking a good book?

Daryl lost track of the conversation as the traffic reporter engaged in mindless banter with the anchor at the station. More than a little extra time, huh? he thought. Why don't they ever report on traffic conditions within the city? Do they think people only drive on the Interstate?
I don't know what's causing the hold up, Larry. It is definitely not your typical Monday lunch crowd. There are no special events in town this week that I'm aware of. It just seems that there are more cars on the road than usual, for some reason.

"Wonder how long it took him to figure that one out," Daryl said to no one. "More crickets. More cars. More coffee! That's what I need right now!"

* * *

Approaching the table slowly, Daryl heard the phone conversation end and made his move. "Excuse me, sir. My name's Daryl, and I'm the Manager here. Is everything okay with your meal today?"

"No, everything is not okay," the diner answered gruffly.

"I beg your pardon?" Daryl asked, shocked.

"I'm sorry," the diner answered. "Daryl, you said?"

"Yes, sir."

"Sit down with me, won't you Daryl?"

"Absolutely, sir. Was there something wrong your meal today?"

"No, no, the meal was fine."

"Something else bothering you, sir? Something I can help with?"

"You listen to music, Daryl?"

"At times, yes."

"What do you listen to?"

"Well, it's mostly stuff you never hear on the radio."


"No, of course not. I don't understand how anyone can listen to that stuff."

"To each his own. One man's garbage, you know."

"Yeah. I guess I listen to a little of everything, but it's mostly independent stuff."

"You don't say?"

"Yeah, I can't remember the last time I actually listened to music on the radio. Top forty stuff just doesn't get it for me."

"Really? Ever heard of Charlie Coulton?"

Taking that as confirmation that he was, indeed, speaking with the great Charlie Coulton, Daryl proceeded cautiously. "The TV news anchor?"

"Excuse me?" the musician responded with a tone of surprise.

"Of course I've heard of you, sir. Hasn't everyone?"

"Apparently not, if you ask my record label. They seem to think I'm a little slow putting out my next album, and that sales of my last album have dipped to an undesirable level."

"I can't imagine, sir."

"Do you own a copy, Daryl?"

"I could say that I have, but that would surely just lead to other questions I wouldn't be able to answer, so I'll have to be honest with you, sir. I haven't heard your latest album."

"Doesn't surprise me."

"I'm sure it's good music. I just, well, like I said, I don't really listen to mainstream music."

"Yeah, sure. Independent stuff. So you said. Maybe there's something to not having a big record label breathing down your next all the time."

"Lots of artists are trying it, you know. Quiet Riot, Radiohead, even the Godfather of Soul himself put some music out through independent channels. Not to mention George Thorogood and Nancy Wilson of Heart."



"Of course, you don't hear much of their music anymore."

"Quite the contrary, you just have to know where to look."

"Okay, educate me," the musician said, slumping back into his chair with his arms crossed over his chest. It was obvious that he didn't expect to hear anything impressive.

"Well, the independent music industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Of course, there's MySpace Music, which is critical to every musician, independent or not. There are more and more independent record labels that allow artists to retain more control and more of the profits from their work. Tri-Ooomph Entertainment, Populuxe Records, Engine Company Records, just to name a few. And there more and more channels for independent artists to distribute their music however they see fit."

"Go on," Coulton interrupted, sitting up straighter in his seat.

"Well, I guess first and foremost is the Podsafe Music Network, with tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of podcasters playing independent music in weekly online radio shows."

"Podcasters," Coulton repeated.

"Yeah. Musicians upload music to the PMN -- Podsafe Music Network -- and registered podcasters can download the music for free and use it in their own shows. Listeners then subscribe to recieve the show automatically every time a new episode is posted."

"Where's the money in that?"

"Listeners can purchase many of the tunes directly from the PMN. Most podcasters include links to artist websites on their show pages where listeners can go to buy the music. Many podcasters actually purchase the music themselves, even though they can download much of it for free for use in their shows."

"Sounds like copyright infringement just waiting to happen."

"That really hasn't been a problem yet," Daryl continued. "Podcasters do it because they love the music and they want to support independent artists. I guess they could share the music any way that they wish, but it's in their own interest to make the system work. Too much abuse could mean less music available for them to use, leading to less interesting shows and decreased listenership. Many podcasters actually run advertising on their shows and are making a pretty decent living doing what they do."

"Okay, so this PMN thing. That's it?"

"Actually, there are several other distributors who provide similar services. There's Magnatune, the IODA Promonet, AirPlay Direct, Ariel Publicity, it's actually becoming a pretty common way to distribute music."


"Nobody is getting rich on it overnight, but it's a way to get your music out there for artists who don't have a record deal, and there's no hassling agent or record company pushing them to meet a deadline, or cut a tune, or change a song or album title."

"I see."

"Listen, you really should check it out. Like I said, I listen to so much great independent music now that I can't remember the last time I heard music on the radio."

"Yeah, so you said. Including my music."


Jotting down a note on the back of a business card, Coulton continued. "Tell you what, I'll make you a deal. I'll check out this PMN and Magnum Tune --"

"Magnatune. It's at Magnatune dot com."

"Yeah, okay. I'll check out these indie sites, and you go check out my new album. It's not out yet, so I'm gonna trust you to guard it like these podcaster people guard the music they play. Here's a link where you can download the whole album. Let me know how you like it. My number's on the other side."

"Mister Coulton, I'm honored."

"Don't be honored. Just be honest."

"Why me?"

"Because you're an average Joe, and I think an average Joe's opinion is important."

"Okay, you got it."

Charlie Coulton, frustrated former top forty singer, dropped a wad of bills on the table and stood to go, turning and walking away without a word.
To be continued ...

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