Home for the Curious Musician

Off Notes: RIP Columbia House, Prince goes Tidal, and More!

So many important things happened out in the world of music this week, and we weren’t about to let a single one slip by unnoticed. From opera in living rooms, to the demise of mail-order music, to a fond harkening back to that time when Dave Matthews Band spilled poop on everybody, we’ve got all of the important musical happenings right here!

RIP Columbia House

NPR and The Verge: Columbia House, the long-beleaguered king of music mail-order services finally met its end this week when parent company Filmed Entertainment Inc. filed for bankruptcy. NPR noted that the filing pointed to the advent of streaming services in music and film as the nail in the coffin for the service that every high schooler in 90s lusted after. But Piotr Orlov, former director for Columbia House, put the shift in a different and more heartbreaking light: “No one cares about owning CDs anymore.”

The Verge published a wistful retrospective.

columbia house

The lasting pain of the Dave Matthews Band #poopgate

Consequence of Sound this week released a “documentary” commemorating the 11-year anniversary of the day the DMB’s tour bus driver dumped 800 lbs. of raw sewage off of a Chicago bridge and onto the heads of the unsuspecting passengers aboard a passing architectural tour boat. This pinnacle of filmmaking features eye witness and survivor interviews (not really), and a dramatic reenactment perfectly executed using a toy tug boat and Hershey’s syrup.

More ways to listen to music in strangers’ houses

Brooklyn Magazine: We here at Soundfly are on the record for our love of listening to music played in stranger’s living rooms. Sofar Sounds has been bringing together groups of strangers in living rooms since 2009. Groupmuse made the movement classier with classical music in living rooms. This week we profiled the “Hangover Sessions”, a perfectly-named Saturday afternoon music series. And now our friend Natalie Rinn at Brooklyn Magazine tells us that the movement has a new badass member in LoftOpera. Co-founder Daniel Ellis-Ferris says the experience is shockingly similar to being at a punk or metal show:

It’s a super powerful experience and, when you’re up close to it, it’s kind of punk because it’s so loud… The amount of sound coming out of a dramatic soprano’s body is frightening. It makes your stomach vibrate and ears hurt and it’s kind of like being at a hardcore show.

Guess Wu?

Noisey recently decided the world had gone too long without a rap-themed board game and decided to put a stop to it. Beautifully illustrated and featuring 48 Wu Tang Clan members and affiliated acts, the project promises a summer full of wholesome fun with the Rza, the Gza and all your favorite Wu Tang friends! They’ve also created a printable version of the faces that can be cut out and slotted into your very own Guess Who set. Goodbye, Alfred!

noisey wu tang clan

How to bend the waves of an image using Audacity

Question Something: Published back in 2012, this article isn’t news so much as it was news to us. A university student published a comprehensive exploration into what happens when you add audio effects — from echo to amplification, altering pitch to equalization — to an image file. The results are dozens of fascinating and bizarre images of a cat warped in a visual representation of audio manipulation. Below is my favorite, but click on over to the full thing. It’s so cool.

off notes, audacity

Prince compares recording contracts to slavery, remains beloved

The Guardian and Jezebel: In a move that anyone from Sarah Palin to Quentin Tarantino to Lauryn Hill will tell you is fantastically well-advised, the artist presently known as Prince compared recording contracts to slavery. He also announced that his new album Hitnrun will be released on September 7th, exclusively on streaming service Tidal. But I find it very hard to remain objective and tell you whether this is sage advice to young musicians, or the ramblings of a crackpot, because as I type, I am wearing this magnificent Prince t-shirt:

Prince tshirt

And closing out this week, let’s revel in Prince’s full, genius crackpottery with his addition to the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Jump forward to 3:27 if all you care about is Prince’s epic guitar solo, 4:45 to see the look of sheer, goofy joy on George Harrison’s son’s face as Prince falls off stage into the waiting arms of his bodyguard, and please, please stick around for the moment at 6:09 when Prince throws his guitar into the air and, defying physic, it never returns. Happy weekend!


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Zoë Young

Zoë is an internet enthusiast and writer who wants to empower everyone to find the knowledge they need to pursue their dreams through the magic of the internet. When not working on web tools and articles to support the Soundfly community, Zoë cooks up a storm and plots ways to recapture her former glory as a third grade recorder soloist. Follow her @parsnipsbk.