Nuevobasso

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Milwaukee Symphony dives into iTunes


Last year the Milwaukee Symphony became the first American orchestra to sell archival recordings in iTunes. Their press release states:

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced the launch today of MSO Classics, an e-label created specifically for digital distribution of its recordings at the iTunes Music Store and other digital music stores and services, including Yahoo! Music, Napster, RealNetworks Rhapsody, and MusicNet outlets including AOL, Virgin, and HMV, via a worldwide digital distribution deal with IODA, the Independent Online Distribution Alliance. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is the first American orchestra to distribute, through digital music stores, recordings previously unavailable for purchase. Performances on “MSO Classics,” an e-label owned by the Symphony, will be available for 90 days, beginning today, exclusively on the iTunes Music Store – the world’s most popular digital music store.

“The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra has always been a pioneer – in the world of new music, through innovative programming and by being the first American orchestra to visit Cuba,” said Andreas Delfs, MSO Music Director. “Now a new age for classical music distribution has begun, and we are pioneers once again.”

I firmly believe that iTunes and other forms of online distribution will be a huge thing for symphonic music in America and the rest of the world. The “good old days” of frequent recordings beefing up the paychecks of symphony musicians are long gone. New methods of distribution need to be explored, and symphony orchestras are finally beginning to take some progressive steps.

I have written about classical music and iTunes several times in the past. You can read about other classical music/iTunes developments on these previous posts:

New iTunes innovations

Last holdout bands join iTunes
Big demand for classical downloads

It is great that the Milwaukee Symphony is also putting their music up on IODA Promonet. Many people may not be aware of Promonet–it is a service similar to the Podsafe Music Network, only for musicians on record labels. The PMN is generally for independent artists. Promonet allows podcasters to play certain tracks from artists on their podcast, and as podcasting continues to mushroom in popularity this will be an increasingly smart way to market classical music. Podcasting is great for narrowcasting to a specific audience. The audience for classical music is a small but loyal percentage of the population, and as podcasts continue to become more mainstreamed and more classical music fans start subscribing it will be perhaps the best way to market this music. Being ne of the first to market will be a very good thing for the Milwaukee Symphony.

The Milwaukee Symphony should start a podcast about their upcoming performances, play clips from their archives, and offer links to purchase the archived tracks from iTunes on their website.

I would love to see orchestras begin to organize their websites like a blog. Each week could be a new blog entry on the website. That entry would include a podcast for the week highlighting the music being played, links to download all of the tracks from the orchestra archives (for a fee), embedded video of an interview/performance clip with either the guest artist, conductor, orchestra musician, or music lecturer, a blog entry about what was happening behind the scenes for that week (see Brian Dickie‘s blog for a great example of this kind of blog), and Amazon/Borders/Barnes & Noble links to purchase albums containing these pieces. Orchestras could set up affiliate accounts with these three companies and thereby get a cut of each recording sale even if they had no involvement with the recording.

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September 11, 2006 Posted by | iTunes, Music, Orchestra, podcast | 1 Comment

New podcast episode from The DoubleBassCast

I hope that any bass players reading my blog have already checked out The DoubleBassCast. If you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, stop reading this right now, open iTunes (or your podcatcher of choice), and subscribe to this outstanding podcast. You can also visit the website here. The DoubleBassCast (formerly called The BassCast) is really an excellent podcast. It is the only real double bass podcast out there, and, fortunately for us bass players, it is terrific. I have a couple of podcasts, but one consists of my live performances and one consists of MP3 practice tracks for double bass solos, scales, and orchestral excerpts. The DoubleBassCast is a REAL podcast, with interviews, commentary, in-depth discussion of excerpts, and the like. Episodes come out every 1-2 months (I’d love to hear more), but each episode is a polished gem of a podcast.

I listen to a lot of podcasts every day. I must spend a couple of hours each day listening to podcasts. Whenever a new episode of The DoubleBassCast I put all of my other podcasts on hold and listen to it–sometimes several times in a row. My favorite episode of The DoubleBassCast is Episode 105. In this podcast all the orchestral excerpts from a recent Tenerife Symphony audition are discussed. The commentary on each excerpt is intelligent and insightful, and it would be a smart thing to listen to for anyone preparing for a double bass audition.

The newest episode (Episode 107) features an interview with Dietmar Engels. Dietmar serves as Principal Bass for the Coburg Opera House in Germany. This episode is all about the Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra by Jean Francaix. Dietmar talks about the process of preparing an unfamiliar concerto, and it is a very interesting interview. Check out the shownotes for this episode here.
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September 7, 2006 Posted by | double bass, Music, podcast | 1 Comment

Podcast for Teachers – Techpod


Podcast for Teachers recently celebrated their 50th episode. This podcast is produced out of Fordham University’s Regional Educational Technology Center in New York City and co-hosted by Mark Gura and Kathy King. It offers a witty and edgy look at news, trends, and innovations in the world of educational technology. I only recently stumbled across this great podcast after hearing an interview with Mark and Kathy on Podcast411. I learn several new things every episode, and I am slowly working my way back through their earlier episodes.

This podcast is a must for any teacher who uses technology in the classroom (which is basically every teacher these days). This show has become incredibly popular. In addition to thousands of downloads (I recently heard on the podcast that there are 400,000 subscribers worldwide), the show is broadcast on two internet radio stations. Every teacher should give this show a listen!

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September 6, 2006 Posted by | Education, Music, podcast | Leave a comment

New Podcast Tracks by Bjorn Berkhout

I just added two new tracks to my podcast Jason Heath’s Double Bass Performances. They are both live cuts or pieces that I premiered by the composer Bjorn Berkhout. Bjorn is a member of the Loyola University faculty and is an internationally recognized composer. His music has been performed by the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam, the June in Buffalo festival in Buffalo, New York, and the Omaha Symphony in Omaha, Nebraska. His double bass music is published by the great double bass publishing company Discordia Music, which was started by Chicago Symphony bassist Michael Hovnanian about 10 years ago.

Click here to download Rise

Click here to download Dakota Sleeps


Both of these pieces are written in a stark style. I have known Bjorn for many years now, and during this time I have seen him go through many different compositional styles. Rise reminds me of a minimalist heavy metal bass quartet, if that makes any sense.  I played the first four performances of Rise in a few different bass quartets. It was recently played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra bass quartet.

Dakota Sleeps is an even bleaker piece. The piece was originally called “Stark Beauty”, which is an excellent description. It is performed here with tape and bass, although it was originally written for piano and bass. Check out Bjorn’s website here.  To order his music, contact him directly or visit Discordia Music’s catalog.

August 27, 2006 Posted by | iTunes, Music, podcast, Uncategorized | 1 Comment