Thursday, October 19, 2006

The King's Singers

I've been a fan of The King's Singers since I was a kid, first seeing them on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where they made regular appearances during the 70's and 80's.

The vocal group was founded in 1965 by six choral scholars at King's College Cambridge. At first they called themselves Schola Cantorum Pro Musica Profana in Cantabridgiense. By 1968 they'd adopted the catchier name of The King's Singers. Over the past thirty years the lineup has changed, but the music they've made has remained strong. Well, except for a few pop-related mis-steps. But there's no better way to introduce your children to the joys of vocal music than through the vast catalog of The King's Singers...

They've sung German madrigals:
"Das G'läut Zu Speyer (The Bells of Speyer)"

British folksongs:
"Home Sweet Home"
"There's Nae Luck About the House"

Classical interpretations:
"Flight of the Bumblebee"

Gilbert & Sullivan:
"Patter Matter"

Popular tunes:
The Beatles' "Honey Pie"
Queen's "Seaside Rendezvous"

Gorgeous originals:
"You Are The New Day"

Buy King's Singers CDs here

- Phil, at A Family Runs Through It


Anonymous said...

the idea for the siteis good but you really shouldn't be posting full mp3s --I have posted MP3s for sampling purposes. If you own the song and object to it's placement here, by all means, let me know. I'm happy to remove.-- i can tell you that many music publishers and labels would be pretty pissed if they read that - it not legal to share music you don't own without permission - you can't just post something and say you'll take it down if someone who owns it complains - what are the odds they'll see this site? but it's still not right to do, so why do it? you're giving people something for free that they might have bought on itunes or somewhere like that - that's stealing in essense - at the very least if it's supposed to be for sampling purposes post a sample of the song - most people won't have a problem with that but not the whole song

deb in sf said...

This is definitely some interesting, Phil! Wow. Honey Pie is hilarious! Thanks for bringing us more totally new-to-us stuff.

superclea said...

Hello anonymous— I hear you, though if you want to call me a thief, you should really state your name. heh heh ;) Listen, I'd say 1/2 or more of what I put up is out of print, not available on CD and not available on itunes or emusic. A lot of stuff I post is coming to me directly from the label or musician with express wishes to please post it. And while it's true, we do post things that are available say on iTunes, we try and not put up TONS of it with the hope that you, the reader, will dig the tune and go out and buy the whole darn CD. It happens. When I played Tally Hall, a band that is available on iTunes, several people wrote me and said they went out and bought that album. Now, let's see. A handful of people downloaded a couple free tunes and then several of those people who had previously not heard of them, went out and bought the whole thing. It's a paradigm that is being debated on the hundreds of music blogs out there today, the bulk of which have a lot more traffic than this one. But I do understand your concerns and thoughts and again, if the artist or label has a problem with it, I will take it off. I know, that's not enough for you. But whoa, if a few people got their hands on the song in the meantime and liked it, hopefully they will tell some friends and make it all worthwhile for the band. But as of yet... no complaints (save for yours) and no problems. I mean, I ain't posting the latest Ryan Adams or Yeah Yeah Yeahs...

Phil said...

There's a very good reason why the major music labels have left MP3 blogs alone for the past several years.

MP3 blogs LEAD TO SALES OF MUSIC! Plain and simple.

They know it, we know it.

That being said, there is the potential for abuse, like posting brand new singles of major artists that many people would normally have purchased. That's probably not cool... Elton John doesn't need MP3 blogs posting his songs to get sales.

With the above King's Singers tunes, the point was to introduce the group to a wider audience that has children. They have a massive 30-year catalog to explore. Not a single one of these posted tracks is going to take a sale away from The King's Singers. Not a single one. The only possible outcome is that someone listens to, or downloads, the songs, enjoys them, plays them for their kids, and at some point... maybe the next day, maybe a month from now, gets it into their head that they'd like to hear more of The King's Singers. Bam! They just made a sale that they never ever would've gotten before.

But I said it before and I'll say it again. If the record labels did not like MP3 blogs, the hammer would come down and the MP3 blogs would no longer exist. It's nothing for them to unleash a tidal wave of cease and desist letters. But they don't do it because it would take away sales, plain and simple.

I've been following MP3 blogs for over a year now, and have literally bought well over $1000 worth of music because of the tracks I've been able to download and peruse at my leisure at home or through my iPod. Sometimes it takes awhile for a song or band to grow on me and make me want to hear the rest of their albums. I would not be buying new music if it weren't for the MP3 blogs.

Okay, rant over.

Phil said...

One more thought... Next thing you know, Mr. Anonymous will be telling us that we shouldn't be making mix CDs for our friends and family.

When I discover a really good song or band, I'll make mix CDs for more than a dozen people. I'm like a little Johnny Musicseed, spreading the good tunes.

Oh, and I also do another horrible thing... When I finish reading a good book, I (gasp) give it away to a friend for free!

superclea said...

Oh Phil, you said it better than I did by a landslide. I agree with everything you said, yes and yes and yes again. No artist, no label has complained thus far because it's helping them. And I too have spent a whole lot of money on CDs because I heard them on blogs... and before there were blogs, I heard them on the mix tapes that may friends made me! Thanks Phil, yet again!!

Phil said...

You're right Clea, the labels and artists are not complaining. That deafening silence you hear from the major labels on the subject of MP3 blogs is their tacit approval of the medium.

They know that the intention of most MP3 blogs is the promotion of music, not the wholesale giving away of it.

As long as your intention is promotion of an artist, you are actually doing a huge favor for them. It used to be called "word of mouth"... Now it's called "blogging".

I once posted a song on my blog from a semi-obscure rocker named Eytan Mirsky. Two days after posting, he emailed me to say thanks for letting people know about him.

deb in sf said...

oh, you BOTH said it well. I was "not having" this conversation with a musician friend of mine the other day. Saying I totally know you have to make a living. I get that. And not saying it right. Maybe I'll send her here and she'll see what I was completely not saying right.

Eric Herman said...

Wow. Interesting, and I can certainly appreciate it from both sides, as an artist who wants money (eating is nice, and diapers are nice... uh, for my baby girl, I mean) and might feel slighted if someone can download my song somewhere that I wasn't aware of. And also as an artist who wants money (the eating & diapers thing) and knows that the more people hear my music, the more they're likely to actually buy it.

One thing that I can back up the original post on, though... I've just spent the last week trying to get in touch with artists' reps about using their music on my site and almost without exception they said no problem... as long as I only used a part of the song. So as far as why they haven't shut anything down... they just don't have the time or legal money to do so. But I would say that they probably don't like it. Actually, what I would guess is that the artists themselves don't mind, but the more suity and snooty record and publishing companies do.


Jeff - OWTK said...

I can bring some small amount of experience to this "debate". In a previous life nearly a decade a go I owned a record label. Songs from the records I released are all over the web, both as free complete songs and on iTunes, etc. I never had a problem with it. Getting the music out there was part of the goal and the fun. I have experienced more sales thanks to sites like Epitonic and a few blogs/sites that post songs over the past few years - as this medium expads and draws a new audience. I am thankful for that and never once bemoaned the "lost" revenue. The artists I have worked with feel the same way. Part of being an artist is the need and want to share your art with as many people as possible, that desire comes, in many cases, ahead of the wish to pick every last penny up of the floor attitude. Bands and labels know, smart ones anyhow, that this medium and the posting of songs, helps them to their job. It may bite into sales short term, who knows, but I bet and they bet on it increasing sales long term of other tracks on the current record and ten previous and future albums in their entirety. Good bands and smart labels want to create fans for life, fans that will buy the back catalog and future stuff, buy merch, and go see the band or artist live a couple times and share that passion with their friends (maybe even post in their blog about the band! ha). They will make up that lost .99 - they know that and we know that (well, some of us anyway). Maybe Anonymous is coming from a different place. One where every last dollar must be grabbed with no thought to a bigger, fuller picture of business and loyalty (which, I guess, is what I was referring to ealier). A positive note and an mp3 link generates more sales from those who liked what they heard. for those that did not like it, no harm done as they would have never heard it anyway - so the claim of theft or stealing is quite silly.

Anyhow, that is my .02 (or .99) cents on the issue.

superclea said...

Another great comment on the subject, eloquently said Jeff. I think you've touched on a very important point -- the long term success of an artist and how this blog machine figures in to that. Thank you for posting your opinion!

Phil said...

One thought about using samples of songs... Rarely, well, actually NEVER have I ever become interested in an artist solely through samples of their songs. Even back when I was a radio listener (decades ago), I'd have to hear something all the way through several times before it really made me want to go spend money. Songs that I download today from MP3 blogs go straight onto my iPod, where I discover them at my leisure. It's hard to sit at my computer and actively listen to music.

I figure I'm not alone in this, and that's why you just don't see any MP3 blogs that offer up samples instead of entire songs.

What's really odd is that the labels that do have tons of money are the ones who are probably steering clear of the MP3 bloggers, while the small indie labels have close working relationships with the big sites like Fluxblog, Stereogum, Gorilla vs. Bear, and My Old Kentucky Blog. Heck, even Rolling Stone magazine is now featuring MP3 blogs as good places to discover new music.

I was looking through my CD collection today to figure out which artists I've PURCHASED because I was able to download one of their songs from an MP3 blog... In other words, I never would've heard of them if not for a single file on somebody's website: Keane, Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, The Decemberists, Arctic Monkeys, Tally Hall, The Essex Green, Lily Allen, The Pipettes, KT Tunstall, Regina Spektor, The Zutons... The list goes on.

Oh, and then there's another factor into all of this (it's complicated, isn't it?)... Last week I was looking on Amazon for more information about a band that I'd heard through an MP3 blog when I saw a "Buyers Also Purchased" note about a new Beautiful South CD. I had no idea they'd released a new disc. It was an import, but I had to have it. My point is, you MP3 bloggers are costing me a ton of money! Why would the labels think this is anything other than a great idea?