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Weird Al To Release Songs As He Records Them

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  • by monktus (742861) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:04AM (#25243439)
    ...doesn't mean that he should.
    • by electrictroy (912290) on Friday October 03, 2008 @06:17AM (#25243737)

      Yes it does mean he should. Through his actions he can demonstrate that an artist doesn't need the corporate engine in order to succeed. He can use the internet to eliminate the waste of the middle man.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        TRIVIA - In both 1988 and 2008 it took 1 hour to download a game. Internet speeds have kept pace with growing demand.

        94% of all internet facts are made up on the spot.

        • by electrictroy (912290) on Friday October 03, 2008 @08:27AM (#25244373)

          >>>94% of all internet facts are made up on the spot.

          Except this one is verifiable:
          1988 - download of 880k floppy game over then-typical 2400 baud modem =~ 1 hour (from my own personal experience)
          2008 - download of 4000 megabyte game over typical 10 Mbit/s cable =~ 1 hour (math)

          Naturally the actual time will vary if your 1988 computer had a double-sized floppy (takes 2 hours) or if you are downloading a dual-sided DVD (also 2 hours). But Slashdot's signature length limit precludes me from including all that detail. The important point to note is that speeds have escalated to match demand. We have never experienced the so-called "speed limit" that certain Chicken Littles keep claiming we're going to hit. They are just blowing a lot of hot air, and have been doing so for almost 15 years now. Their claims have no merit.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I guess my bigger issue is your definition of game size. I know that sizes vary wildly. In the 80's, I had some games that fit on one floppy, and others that spanned at least 4, and you had to swap as you made it to other parts of the game. The same is true today.

            However, if you argument is that we don't have an imminent bandwidth crisis, I will agree. However, we do need to invest in more infrastructure. With a soon-to-be $11 Trillion dollar debt in the U.S., I sincerely worry that our infrastructure will

            • by MBGMorden (803437)

              I guess my bigger issue is your definition of game size.

              Exactly what I was thinking. It's pretty easy to "prove" his point if he just picks two sizes that work out mathematically and declare those the standard sizes for games.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by electrictroy (912290)

                >>>if he just picks two sizes that work out mathematically

                We're talking about a *general* concept, not precision. Even if we assume somebody's downloading the 4-floppy Space Ace game to their Commodore Amiga PC, which would require 4 hours at then-common 2400 baud rates, it's still close to how long a game download takes today. It's within an order of magnitude.

                This is in direct opposition to what many experts were saying in 1995. They claimed the internet had reached a natural speed-limit of 33

            • >>>However, we do need to invest in more infrastructure.

              I have faith that private companies will, for the sake of profit, provide faster cabling..... just as they always have. I started with a 1.2k modem and without any government assistance, but merely through the profit directive, I was able to jump to 9.6k, then 56k, next 700k, and now 10,000k.

              If government starts interfering, I'm afraid it will have the opposite effect of slowing things down. The last time government was involved, they grante

          • by sorak (246725)

            >>>94% of all internet facts are made up on the spot.

            Except this one is verifiable:
            1988 - download of 880k floppy game over then-typical 2400 baud modem =~ 1 hour (from my own personal experience)
            2008 - download of 4000 megabyte game over typical 10 Mbit/s cable =~ 1 hour (math)

            Naturally the actual time will vary if your 1988 computer had a double-sized floppy (takes 2 hours) or if you are downloading a dual-sided DVD (also 2 hours). But Slashdot's signature length limit precludes me from including all that detail. The important point to note is that speeds have escalated to match demand. We have never experienced the so-called "speed limit" that certain Chicken Littles keep claiming we're going to hit. They are just blowing a lot of hot air, and have been doing so for almost 15 years now. Their claims have no merit.

            So are you saying that our system/network resource consumption will increase to match availability, or that we will never reach technical limitations and that all of the moore's law type observations will continue to infinity? I can agree with the first one, but not the second.

          • >>>>1988 - download of 880k floppy game over then-typical 2400 baud modem =~ 1 hour (from my own personal experience)

            Simple solution my brother...

            Don't Copy That Floppy!

            \Word!

      • by Mordaximus (566304) on Friday October 03, 2008 @07:54AM (#25244155)
        Much like Trent Reznor and Radiohead, he's got tons of cash to play around with and experiment - cash made while riding the corporate engine. I'll subscribe to your theory when I see a brand new artist do the same thing and make a profit from it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by EaglemanBSA (950534)
          How about Imogen Heap? Last I knew, she did her own producing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by El Yanqui (1111145)

          I think this form of distribution benefits Weird Al far more most other artists. While many nerds here believe he has created music for the ages, his songs work best when they're topical. Amish Paradise is funniest when it is held in comparison to Gangsta's Paradise. Same goes for Eat It and all of his parodies. To appreciate a parody you need to know the original.

          This way of distributing his songs allows him to seize on any momentary pop culture phenomenon and have the general public, those who don't read

          • by tholomyes (610627)

            There was a big piece on him in the last issue of Wired, and this is spot on. He said that one of the troubles with parodying today's music market is you no longer have the icons like Michael Jackson or Madonna with hits that stay on the charts for months at a time. Instead, you have one the one hand people like Kevin Federline and Jessica Simpson, who are already kind of self-parodies, and on the other hand the biggest top forty hits only stay on the charts for a handful of weeks. This makes releasing a

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Jaysyn (203771)

          Fugazi (& they were doing it 15 years ago), MC Chris, Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie (until recently), The Decemberists, The Shins, NIRVANA, The Postal Service, Rehab (again until recently), Arcade Fire...

          There are quite a few acts that have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. Just because you haven't heard of them or you don't like the genre, doesn't mean they don't exist.

        • by sorak (246725)

          Much like Trent Reznor and Radiohead, he's got tons of cash to play around with and experiment - cash made while riding the corporate engine. I'll subscribe to your theory when I see a brand new artist do the same thing and make a profit from it.

          If he ever does release another full album, I have a title for it.

          "Wierd Al: Much like Trent Reznor and Radiohead".

          Thank you Mordaximus!

      • "he can demonstrate that an artist doesn't need the corporate engine"

        After succeeding and making a butt-load of money using that engine.

        A better test would be to follow a new artist doing the same thing and see if they become as successful.
  • by sokoban (142301) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:07AM (#25243449) Homepage

    I guess now by doing this he can have a parody in the hands of his fans while the original version of the song is still popular. If you're trying to lampoon popular culture, releasing an album at a time means that you will always be a good deal behind the times.

    • by DynaSoar (714234) on Friday October 03, 2008 @07:06AM (#25243927) Journal

      I guess now by doing this he can have a parody in the hands of his fans while the original version of the song is still popular. If you're trying to lampoon popular culture, releasing an album at a time means that you will always be a good deal behind the times.

      That's not as good an idea as you might imagine. I do the same thing -- parody songs. Popular != well known. Older means more people have become familiar with it, particularly those who don't keep current on the genre the song is from. If fewer people recognize it, the act falls flat. I'll bet Weird Al is aware of this since he typically runs years behind a "hit" despite producing things in the interim. Plus, if he seeks permission (he used to sometimes) it'd be easier to get when something's no longer hot. Very new, and they won't want it made fun of. Older, and the parody can bring the original back up the chart.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Plus, if he seeks permission (he used to sometimes) it'd be easier to get when something's no longer hot. Very new, and they won't want it made fun of. Older, and the parody can bring the original back up the chart.

        That's an interesting point, but he isn't going to run out of available material to parody any time soon. And as far as I'm aware, he always asks permission from the artist before doing a parody of their song, even though legally he doesn't have to. I've always respected that about his work.

      • by ProppaT (557551)

        I guess now by doing this he can have a parody in the hands of his fans while the original version of the song is still popular. If you're trying to lampoon popular culture, releasing an album at a time means that you will always be a good deal behind the times.

        That's not as good an idea as you might imagine. I do the same thing -- parody songs. Popular != well known. Older means more people have become familiar with it, particularly those who don't keep current on the genre the song is from. If fewer people recognize it, the act falls flat. I'll bet Weird Al is aware of this since he typically runs years behind a "hit" despite producing things in the interim. Plus, if he seeks permission (he used to sometimes) it'd be easier to get when something's no longer hot. Very new, and they won't want it made fun of. Older, and the parody can bring the original back up the chart.

        And, obviously, this is why DynaSoar is now a household name. :p

        In all seriousness though, look at South Park. Sometimes they parody pop culture and the news the week after something becomes huge/mainstreamed. Part of its current success is that people can watch a new episode and see what's currently going on in popular society lampooned.

        Of course, certain things need longer to sink in than others, but, lets take MIA's song Airplanes for example. It's still relevant and it's been around long enough for m

      • by sorak (246725)

        I guess now by doing this he can have a parody in the hands of his fans while the original version of the song is still popular. If you're trying to lampoon popular culture, releasing an album at a time means that you will always be a good deal behind the times.

        That's not as good an idea as you might imagine. I do the same thing -- parody songs. Popular != well known. Older means more people have become familiar with it, particularly those who don't keep current on the genre the song is from. If fewer people recognize it, the act falls flat. I'll bet Weird Al is aware of this since he typically runs years behind a "hit" despite producing things in the interim. Plus, if he seeks permission (he used to sometimes) it'd be easier to get when something's no longer hot. Very new, and they won't want it made fun of. Older, and the parody can bring the original back up the chart.

        And are people more receptive to parody once they have started to get bored of the original? (When they are in that area where they aren't sick of it, but don't really care either).

    • by sukotto (122876)

      Strangely enough. I still enjoy his parodies long after the original song has dropped out of sight. Let's remember too that only about half of his work is parody. The other half is 100% his own work.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Weird Al parodies of Michael Jackson music: funny and still relatively popular
      Michael Jackson music: largely a joke now.

      Weird Al also (as others have pointed out) has been known to parody stuff from a decade or 2 earlier: e.g. Grapefruit Diet (Zoot Suit Riot) or The Saga Begins (American Pie).

      • by Mr Z (6791)

        Weird Al parodies of Michael Jackson music: funny and still relatively popular Michael Jackson music: largely a joke now.

        Imagine if you tried to predict that 20 or so years ago.

  • Oh Good (Score:3, Funny)

    by TornCityVenz (1123185) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:09AM (#25243455) Homepage Journal
    Oh what a relief...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gsslay (807818)

      I detect a touch of cynicism in your post.

      Do you not realise that this means that fans of food-based "parody" songs can get their hands on Weird Al's output while it's still lame, rather than waiting until it's lame and outdated? This could revolutionise Western culture as we know it.

      Only one question remains; how the hell is this news?

    • (To Four Seasons December 1963)

      Oh what a relief!
      Three Burritos with extra beans
      Washed them down with a fizzy drink.
      Now the chemistry's workin' me -
      Oh my wordy, what a relief!

      Two new gasses, from opposite ends,
      Like an 'Al song for all his friends!

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:12AM (#25243471)
    If this catches on by the time albums are released most fans will already have all the tracks they want on their iPhones, mp3 players, etc.

    It might not be too long before the physical album is like the TV series collectors sets - you only get them if you want the nice boxes and "official" stamp.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      MP3 players ARE the physical media!
    • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:57AM (#25243657) Homepage

      I think my kids (2 and 4 now) will find the whole notion of physical media for consumable media ridiculous.

      Once (hopeful here) this silly DRM thing is over and prices are low enough for piracy to be less attractive physical media will simply become impractical.

      Sure, there will always be the collectors who keep stuff for whatever reason, but most people are only after the music/video/whatever...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @06:52AM (#25243871)

        I'm afraid you are completely missing what is happening to the music industry.

        DRM was never about catching piracy, it was about extracting more money from those who legally pay for their media. Fortunately, DRM appears to be dying a death but the media companies still want to make more profits from those people who do pay for the stuff.

        The fact is that downloadable music, legal or illegal, is turning music into a disposable commodity - i.e. once your iPod fills up, wipe it and start again. And because of that, there will no longer be the *need* to make albums that people are likely to listen to for their entire lives.

        Look at modern pop music and you will see endless clone artists, no matter what the genre, that are thrown into the limelight for eighteen months or so just to churn out cheap-to-make music - as soon as these same artists get beligerent and demand more money, they disappear, with a new cheaper "clone" put in place.

        For the record labels its great - no arrogant mega-stars to deal with, just churn out plastic dross that's cheap to make but makes loads of profits. This is why a lot of youngsters these days have a perception that albums only have one or two good tracks on them - because that is actually the case for the trash that's forced on them by advertising.

        So I actually feel sorry for your kids - because when they get to an age where they can start to appreciate music, there will be no "classic" albums that will come out of their generation, just "pick 'n' mix" music.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          And because of that, there will no longer be the *need* to make albums that people are likely to listen to for their entire lives.

          I sincerely hope you're wrong. Some of my favorite music is stuff I hated as a kid (John Lee Hooker, Little Walter, old jazz from the '30s and '40s), some of the stuff I hated as a kid I hate even more (the Archies, most of the Beach Boys), and most of the stuff I loved as an older teen and young adult I still love (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Van Halen, Ted Nugent).

          I fear

  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by i_liek_turtles (1110703) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:16AM (#25243487)
    I now feel like I'm livin' in a Slashdot paradise.
  • by I cant believe its n (1103137) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:32AM (#25243553) Journal
    Use a font with serifs. After all, who wants to hear about some weird artificial intelligence creating music?
    • (I for one would welcome our weird artificial music creating overlords - but other HUMANS might feel offended...)
    • Mod this one up guys. At least I'll say that while I'm still laughing.
    • I don't have a Mac or a Vista machine handy for a comparison, but Windows XP defaults to using either Trebuchet or Tahoma, depending on the theme, for window title bars. Both fonts distinguish "Al" short from Alfred Yankovic from "AI" short for artificial intelligence. Trebuchet has a small serif on the bottom of the lowercase lima, and Tahoma has serifs on the top and bottom of the capital india. But Linux is guilty: Ubuntu and Puppy Linux both use Bitstream Vera or one of its derivatives, which doesn't di
  • I wish more "One-Hit-Wonder" groups/artists would do this, as well as many of the better groups/artists out there today.
    • by OSXCPA (805476)

      Well, yeah, but the trick is, do bands truly know the filler/crap on their albums from the good stuff? Some do - but they are the ones most likely to toss garbage instead of publish it. A struggling band that happens on a hit might not be so good at editing. Think about it - Band X puts out a single. It sucks. Repeat (cause distribution costs are so low on the net). Second song sucks. Repeat. If the 'hit' follows a bunch of garbage, who is paying attention any more? One of the few things record companies (S

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday October 03, 2008 @06:06AM (#25243687) Homepage

    This isn't really a surprise and its something that matches well with the podcast & channel concepts that are a major way that people track stuff they are interested in. For "traditional" bands who want a full album around a concept then it doesn't make any sense but for pop bands and satire/comedy it fits perfectly with the sort of instant response and dispose way that people consume the music today. Something like the "Multi-pass" concept on iTunes makes perfect sense for areas where people are interested in a given area and its responsive to current events (The Daily Show for instance).

    Its not the death of the album for long term bands but it is the sort of direction that singles chart targeted artists and media companies will want to go after. You can easily see a music company creating a channel around their latest factory bands and having snippets in there to get people to go and buy a single track and keep updating it with the latest "hot" genetically engineered concept band every week, or day.

    For someone like Wierd Al who works on parody its ideal to have the parody available while the original is still popular, especially if it could be seen as a counter culture to the manufactured band. Lets face it if there was a piece of crap at the top of the Billboard wouldn't it be funny to see a parody of the piece of crap at number one the following week? Its the sort of thing that short term internet crazes are made of.

    Smart move and not at all weird. Now if he'd said he was only going to release his next album on vinyl then THAT would have been genuinely weird.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Now if he'd said he was only going to release his next album on vinyl then THAT would have been genuinely weird.

      Not really. Vinyl players are still available and we still have people saying that vinyl sounds a lot better than CDs.

      Weird Al, release your next songs on 8-track tapes. Now THAT would be weird.

  • Flow and control the net, do not fight it.
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BTWR (540147) <americangibor3@yahoo . c om> on Friday October 03, 2008 @06:29AM (#25243787) Homepage Journal
    Pretty cool concept. Just like it took an alt band like Radiohead to properly market an album over the internet, it's not surprising that someone like Weird Al has trailblazed this. Most artists rant about how ipods kill the "album experience." They are correct, to a point. I mean, albums absolutely have distinct feels to them as a whole. Weird Al probably agrees with this. At the same time, he is probably more like "Eh, the hell with it. This way my fans get new songs all the time instead of twice a decade."
    • by OSXCPA (805476)

      Agreed. Interesting, though, how the artists who complain about 'the album experience' going away aren't really making album-style works. I think of 'Dark Side of the Moon' by Pink Floyd - that is an album experience. There aren't too many totally 'integrated' albums coming out that I've seen. Even Radioheads' stuff is more 'song oriented', though not as much as other bands. I'm curious how much of the trend away from albums is format changes and how much is artist-driven. Then again, Pink Floyd put out DSO

  • Wierd AI (Score:4, Funny)

    by javilon (99157) on Friday October 03, 2008 @06:33AM (#25243803) Homepage

    I it just me that thought that a wierd Artificial Intelligence was recording and releasing songs?

  • A valid use for DRM.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @07:40AM (#25244083)

    So it sounds like a great idea. As soon as a track is mastered zip, out onto the Internet it goes, to an online store like iTunes most likely.

    Why is that a problem? Well, for one, when you buy an album (assuming it isn't DRMed to hell), you get a perfect digital copy of the recording. Off iTunes or any of the like you're just not getting the same audio quality.

    More importantly, however, the real reason behind this move is obvious -- BitTorrent. BitTorrent works best for large packages of files -- say, full albums in MP3 or FLAC form for the audiophiles :P If he's releasing one song at a time and someone wants to throw it up on The Pirate Bay as they're wont to do, they'll have to create a separate torrent for each single release...typically more people are going to be seeding than leeching, and since it's a small file, it'll very quickly become slower and slower to -get- that small file simply due to the fact that people are closing their clients as soon as they've got it.

    It's a nice gesture on his part, but I don't think that people should take it without a grain of salt. If you look carefully enough there's potential financial motivations for making this decision as well, and it may actually -limit- your options as a consumer.

    • 1) Its Weird Al. I don't think people need a lossless recording of it. If a band thinks there music is worth it, they'll find a way. Trent Reznor always releases his stuff in a variety of formats, including FLAC. Like someone said earlier, this is more akin to 'disposable' music. Yea, some people are still listening to his early stuff today, but no one really listens to it that long. Its like that with a lot of bands. I'm not saying it makes it bad, but his music is just geared that way.
      2) God forbid peop
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Saffaya (702234)

      Well, for one, when you buy an album (assuming it isn't DRMed to hell), you get a perfect digital copy of the recording.

      No, you are not, and for two reasons.

      The first is that the CD-audio standard does not give you a perfect digital copy of anything.
      It lacks sufficient error-correcting codes.

      The second is that digital downloads can give you master-quality, or high definition audio, which are identical or extremely close to the original tune as designed by the artist
      See Trent Reznor and his latest album release in 96kHz/24bits .WAV format.

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Friday October 03, 2008 @07:42AM (#25244105)
    But where can I get nightly builds of his songs? I'd surely enjoy being one of his beta listener.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday October 03, 2008 @08:19AM (#25244303)
    Good god what a NERD! He is going to use the internet as a distribution medium? Good luck with that, you will ONLY have a worldwide audience and an instant connection. Just sell it in a store for an outrageous price - like NORMAL people!

    First in my class here at MIT
    Got skills, I'm a champion at D&D
    MC Escher - that's my favorite MC
    Keep your 40, I'll just have an Earl Grey tea
    My rims never spin, to the contrary
    You'll find that they're quite stationary
    All of my action figures are cherry
    Steven Hawking's in my library!
  • JoCo For the Win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iCharles (242580) on Friday October 03, 2008 @08:23AM (#25244341) Homepage

    Mainstream recording artists: once again treading a path previously taken by Jonathan Coulton.

  • What really... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhunachchicken (834243) on Friday October 03, 2008 @08:57AM (#25244627) Homepage

    ... fucks me off about the way the industry sometimes operates is that they will release a song to be played on the radio, but not allow people to buy the fucking thing for up to 6 weeks later.

    Huh?! I cannot count the times that I've heard a song on a radio and thought, hey, I like that, I'll head over to my favourite online story and buy a copy, only to discover I won't be able to until over a month later.

    Spontaneous purchases, that's what is going to sell more of Al's records...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192)

      You hear songs on the radio and like them? Really?

    • ... fucks me off about the way the industry sometimes operates is that they will release a trailer for a movie to be played on the television, but not allow people to buy the fucking thing for up to 6 months later.
  • ... it wants its recorded music release strategy back.

    This is really a simple response to the implementation details of current technology, just as it always has been.

    More cost effective to release music on media that holds multiple tracks: => albums.

    Not more cost effective to release music on media that holds multiple tracks: => singles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rob the Bold (788862)
      Many people may be surprised to find the term "Album" pre-dates the both 33rpm LP and the strategy of releasing a collection of pop singles on one disk. The first "Albums" really were "blank books", as the name implies, sold empty to hold multiple single disks and also sold with prepackaged collections of larger works. The disks slid into envelope-like pages bound into the book. A symphony recorded on 78s might appear in disks as sides A(n):B(n) as 1:((N/2)+1) . . . (N/2):N, to be played on an automatic
  • It seems to me, in the long run, this actually might be more profitable for artists. Although, it's going to challange them to come out with a good song every single time. If they could manage that, then every single song they release would be like a single. So rather then download part of a cd from iTunes, I might consider buying the whole thing piece by piece.
  • ...he can now release his songs for sale as he records each one rather than waiting for a whole album

    Wow. Talk about your damn revelations. Good to have you here with us in 21st century, Al...

  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:15AM (#25245557) Journal
    I bought one of his MP3s from Amazon, "It's Christmas at Ground Zero." I really like that song, perfect for this coming Christmas, especially, don'tcha think?

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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