Newsletter October 2002

First, a reminder that BETTY’s off-Broadway show BETTY Rules continues at the Zipper Theater in New York. See the rave review after opening night in both the New York Times and the New York Post of Wednesday October 16 on the papers' own sites. We couldn't find the third rave, in the New York Daily News newspaper but not on its impenetrable site, so we offer a scan here.

We’ve been making ourselves decent in the past month. That’s a lot of laundry, cleaning up 500 pages. We’ve expanded page links considerably, and reorganized the whole site for easier navigation. All streaming Liquid Audio links should now be working (along with Real Audio versions), and all our CD tracks are once more available for paid and sometimes free download. Not that we’re making a fortune from downloads. The present mutually incompatible noises coming from the record and software companies don’t encourage anyone to believe that things will settle down any time soon, but we will try to stay just ahead of the beat.

We’ve seen enough assertions from the major record companies that piracy and file-swapping and copying are hitting their business hard. There’s no proven correlation, but it is a convenient reason for shutting out or limiting new technologies that don’t conform to old business models. After the record companies unsuccessfully tried to browbeat the computer industry into installing copy-protection mechanisms on hard drives and elsewhere (at the manufacturers’ expense, of course), it was Andy Grove, the eloquent engineer CEO of Intel, who remarked that it wasn’t his job to improve on the record business’ outdated business models.

At the Stereo Society, we have no influence on the way the biz is conducted. But we have our suspicions that declining sales are due not so much to copying and piracy as to there being too many dull and limited records around. Remember that Clinton campaign motto? It’s the music, stupid. So what does the big biz do when it has to balance its books? You guessed right: put up the prices. Our CDs remain at just $9.99 for BETTY and Hilly Kristal, and $11.99 for the long-CD releases. Coming releases will stay in this range, at least while we can keep costs under control.

After last month’s new production note on the Sex Pistols, a group known to everyone, we turn to the increasingly esoteric Carmel. Hitting their peak in the mid-eighties, with a huge European following, they were propelled by their first UK single being a big hit. They embraced jazz, gospel, ethnic African and R&B styles, but treated them (and the world) with an uncompromising attitude that helped make Bad Day one of the most distinctive hits of its time. As a group they called it quits in 1997 after a feisty, 16-year career, but have recently resurrected themselves and are playing occasional dates in the UK. The pressure on a group making its first big-league single can be intense, and this volatile group didn’t escape. It all turned out nicely in the end, though…….

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