For music fans with long memories, there's some irony in the current battle being waged over Amazon's decision to lower the price of e-books to $10.
The uproar began earlier this month when more than 900 authors (including John Grisham and Stephen King) took out a full-page ad in The New York Times. In it, they urge readers to join an email campaign aimed at Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who's threatening to not carry e-books by Stephen Colbert, J.K. Rowling and others because their publisher won't sell them for less than $15 a copy.
All of which is the exact opposite of what happened back in the music industry's heyday, when an already curmudgeonly Tom Petty fought his record company to keep it from raising the price of his 1981 Hard Promises album from $8.98 to $9.98.
Naturally, much has changed in the intervening years. For one thing, 10 dollars doesn't go nearly as far as it once did. It's also worth noting that Petty made more money off a single album than most artists will see in a lifetime, which makes altruism that much more affordable.
In fact, writers have begun citing the plight of today's musicians to illustrate just how badly all this can go wrong: "The income of authors who labor over their work for years will plummet further," predicts the U.K.'s Daily Herald, "just as musicians saw royalty payments dwindle when music became digital."
For critics of intellectual property rights, of course, this is all just one more sign of the coming technological utopia in which we finally realize that, as Stewart Brand famously put it, "information wants to be free." Truly talented and resourceful artists, meanwhile, will simply find other creative ways to support themselves. (McDonald's is now hiring, by the way.)
And really, who needs royalties when you have live shows? This week's offerings, for instance, include a Wednesday night performance by Louisiana natives Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe at Front Range Barbeque. Like his Grammy-winning brother Chubby Carrier, the triple-row-accordion-wielding frontman has made Colorado Springs a regular tour stop and can be counted on to keep the party going well into the night.
For the more subdued, there's Ark Life — also no stranger to the Springs — who will be celebrating the release of their debut album, The Dream of You & Me, this Friday at Ivywild. The Denver folk-rock quintet — whose frontman Jesse Elliott and bassist Anna Morsett both hail from the band These United States — have logged some 150 shows over the last 15 months, which ensures they'll be very well-rehearsed, and possibly very tired, by the time they make it here. Denver compatriots Quiet Life will open.
Then on Saturday, you can stop by Studio A64 for the first in a series of monthly music showcases presented by Hip Hop 4 Shoes, a new nonprofit whose aim is "to keep children and families in our area moving forward one foot at a time."
The inaugural event will feature performances by Irie Black, LB Tha Genius, Wiebe Televisions and others. Organizer Noah Bodie promises he will not stop until he's gotten enough sponsorships to be "giving away whole tractor trailers worth of shoes." Those who find themselves in a position to give — or, for that matter, receive — can reach him at email@example.com.
Also on Saturday, you can head over to the Wild Goose Meeting House and get all mellow with Ben Pratt, who's arguably the only solo guitarist in America to do an effects-laden instrumental version of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head," which actually works a lot better than you might think.
And finally, on Monday, fans of American Idol can gather on UCCS' West Lawn for a free performance by fifth-season contestant Elliott Yamin. In addition to being proclaimed by Simon Cowell as "potentially the best male vocalist" to appear during the show's first five seasons, the singer released a 2007 single, "Wait for You," which would go on to sell a million copies. He'll probably play it if you ask nicely. Opening the show is Hana Pestle, who has not competed on American Idol but is, according to the folks at UCCS, a "YouTube sensation."