The Future of Music?

Learned about Fog Chaser (LINK to his website + LINK to his Substack) on Substack when Ted Gioia (LINK) linked to him and wrote:

Music business model: Song gets released to subscribers first before showing up anywhere else. This is also fair and karmically valid–because subscribers pay artists better than do streaming platforms. 

I considered Substack as a platform. But, considering what I see happening when platforms change hands, I am not sure I can muster enough trust. Hello Twitter, hello many things that Google bought and eventually mothballed. Once the valuation is up, the same could happen with Substack. Sure, the social aspect of that platform along with the recommendations, human as well as algorithmic, could be very beneficial. But I am an oddball anyway. Better to do my own thing. I had the Ottmar-Friends subscription service 15 years ago. Ahead of its time. Perhaps I should have kept it going. The world might have caught up with me. It’s important to trust that the world catches up on one’s creations. True not just for painters and musicians but also for anyone opening a little store of any kind. 

It’s good to see that other musicians are experimenting with the same ideas. My membership program will go a lot further than offering the work to its members first… it will offer the work to its members ONLY. Easy to second guess myself but I’ll stay the course and wish Fog Chaser lots of success. 

Streaming Shenanigans

Spotify Gives 49 Different Names to the Same Song
Composers and recording artists are all different too, but the music is identical—what’s going on?

Spotify Gives 49 Different Names to the Same Song

(via The Music of Sound)

It’s called diluting the pot and Spotify has been doing that, in different ways, for years.

The good news is that Canton is hard at work finishing Backstage. 2023 will be a new beginning. Maybe I am riding against windmills, but that’s where I am headed. I hope you will join me. Backstage will be revealed within a month, I think. 

Tea + Cha

I knew that there are two main words for the popular beverage made from Camellia sinensis, namely TEA and CHA. I remembered that it depended on which port in China the tea left from. In the south of China the infusion drink was called teh, or tê, which is also how it is pronounced in German, where it is written Tee. (I think it is the only word in German that has a consonant followed by two identical vowels)

In the north of China the drink was called cha.

After reading my post about hacking matcha in my kitchen, Yumiko sent me a link to a Portuguese website that sells tea and tools. Read their story here. It’s remarkable!

Nosso Chá is the result of the first harvest of green tea in continental Portugal. Our tea plantation is situated in what is known as “the land of the camellias” on the coast of Northern Portugal and is the first of its kind in this location. Chá Camélia uses only organic, artisanal production methods. Nosso Chá is picked by hand and processed in an Asian style.

Nosso Chá – Comprar Own Production en línea – Chá Camélia

Very impressive. I also found the following quote, but can’t find any evidence to support the claim of TEA being an acronym.

Luso Chá celebrates the first European imports of tea by the Portuguese in the 19th century, in which the boxes were marked with the acronym “TEA”, an abbreviation for Transport of Aromatic Herbs. The origin of the word TEA that the English then gave to this incredible drink.

Luso Chá – Comprar Own Production en línea – Chá Camélia

I looked at the Wikipedia entry for tea and found that my memory was mostly correct. 

The etymology of the various words for tea reflects the history of transmission of tea drinking culture and trade from China to countries around the world. Nearly all of the words for tea worldwide fall into three broad groups: te, cha and chai, present in English as tea, cha or char, and chai. The earliest of the three to enter English is cha, which came in the 1590s via the Portuguese, who traded in Macao and picked up the Cantonese pronunciation of the word. The more common tea form arrived in the 17th century via the Dutch, who acquired it either indirectly from the Malay teh, or directly from the tê pronunciation in Min Chinese. The third form chai (meaning “spiced tea”) originated from a northern Chinese pronunciation of cha, which travelled overland to Central Asia and Persia where it picked up a Persian ending yi.

Tea – Wikipedia

Cha from the Portuguese and Tea from the Dutch. Chai is Cha plus a Persian “yi”. All this learning about tea… I had to get up and make a glass of matcha. 

I love that organic green tea is produced in northern Portugal and will find a store in Lisbon that carries it. 

Portugal isn’t the only new ground for growing tea. Here is a video about a tea grower on Vancouver Island and here is their website.

Thanks Yumiko. 


The Length of Now from Alicia Eggert on Vimeo.

It was about time, this week. First I listened to Time is way weirder than you think, a podcast with Ezra Klein and Dean Buonomano. If you listen to it you will hear the terms Presentism and Eternalism. Buonomano declares that he is a Presentist. I am leaning toward Eternalism, myself. (link to Wikipedia page on Eternalism). Eternalism makes sense with Quantum physics… It’s hard to feel this concept of time, but this is true for many things that are new and that we grapple with. All musicians know about this. A rhythm feels alien and strange and impossible at first. Then it becomes clunky and jagged. Given enough time, eventually we inhabit the rhythm and it becomes smooth and organic. Maybe, twenty years from now, I can get my head around Eternalism…

I didn’t plan this TIME related week at all. It’s like the end of the year conspired to make me think about time! Next I listened to a Long Now Seminar podcast with the artist Alicia Eggert. (Website)
Check out her Vimeo page for more video of her work.
One of her pieces “You Are (On) An Island” ties in with this photo I took in Lisbon last month:

Indeed I find that each of us is a world and is on a world, is an island and is on an island. We are never alone. For one, we carry several pounds of bacteria and other non-human beings in our gut. To those beings we are a universe.

From my universe to your universe, what do you hope for in the new year, 2023?

Bare Wood 2

Bare Wood 2 has been on Bandcamp since last November and as of today it is also available from all of the usual streaming services. I am really happy with the cover of the album. Starting with Fete I designed every cover on an iPad and really enjoyed the process. Bare Wood 2 is the last album that will be distributed or manufactured in any form. The next album, which doesn’t have a title yet and which I believe will be ready sometime next year, will only be available through this website and as an individually made and signed CD. It may be a Don Quixote-like move I am making – windmills, wave of progress etc. – but I feel good about it and will be okay with however the chips will fall.

This Happened

The post “Glorious Bench” was there and then it wasn’t. I received an email with the subject field “Mitigating a serious website hack”, but I didn’t get worried because Canton knows what he is doing. Things were done, most of which sound like magical incantations to me, the clock was turned back and I reposted the blog post. Everything should be fine, thanks to Canton.

I added some Luna Negra shows to the calendar. East Coast from 27 October to 6 November. Some favorites and a few new venues. If you are in New York, consider coming the show in Newark.

Read news about two rivers dear to me, the Rhine and the Rio Grande. Neither news was very good.

Less than a foot of water currently stands between European business as usual and a German supply chain crisis. Amid a record-breaking, continent-wide heat wave, the Rhine river has dropped to levels so low, that shipping on the waterway may soon become economically untenable or even impossible.


A stretch of the Rio Grande near Albuquerque that supplies farmers with water and a habitat for an array of aquatic life is drying — an unsettling sighting of climate change’s effects in a populous U.S. city.

Washington Post

And last, but not least… I had an idea that I am really excited about. But perhaps you will feel meh about my fabulous idea–one can never know about these things in advance. While streaming services are amazing, and I subscribe to one myself, there is no doubt that they dilute the perceived value of music. Did you know that the amount of money a streaming service has to pay for each play is set by a judge in Washington? I mean, on one hand it is pretty cool that a song by the Rolling Stones or Marvin Gaye fetches the same amount of money as a song a completely unknown person recorded on his computer, and which no one has ever bought. On the other hand this is a capitalist country and how is it possible that a judge gets to fix the price? Can you IMAGINE the judge’s inbox? They would get lobbied so hard by every streaming service and the record labels and performing rights associations. Nightmare.

Get to the point Ottmar! Yes, yes, almost there. So I was thinking about doing something radically different. So different that I don’t know of anyone who has done this. Drum roll!

What if I said that once I reach 999 subscribers to the membership club, I am currently leaning towards calling it “Backstage”, I will no longer distribute my music outside of it? No streaming services, no sales on Bandcamp, nothing! The music would only be available from Backstage. Members would be able to download high def files of the music. They would be able to burn a CD for themselves and print a PDF cover that they can also download. The music would be exclusive to Backstage and wouldn’t be available anywhere else. I know, crazy, right!?