John Green's tumblr: Radiohead wouldn't exist without early major-label funding. The future won't bring new Radioheads. All I want to say...


In the wake of recent future-of-music discussions—Louis CK’s direct-ticketing move, which may indeed revolutionize touring for artists with that large of an audience, and the Emily White/All Songs Considered/David Lowery thing—I’ve been having arguments about record labels and money. I was kind of shocked that few people knew the ground-level math, the nuts-and-bolts inconvenient truth: the diminishment of labels means there’s little money to fund the initial touring costs of new bands.

Remember a few months ago when I posted my Trailhead about stealing music? Well, if you missed it, go back and re-read it. It’s still an issue important to me and I become enraged just thinking about the argument in support of stealing music.

Then, come back here and click the link above to read two quick pieces. The first is by Mike Doughty of the bad Soul Coughing and is an explanation of what losing record labels means for musicians. The second is a continuation of the theme penned by John Green (hero to a few of us at The Compass), author of several books. His paragraphs focus on the publishing world.

In the United States right now, there is a lot of venom spat at corporations. I do some of the spitting myself. But it’s important to recognize the possibilities such assemblies allow. Tearing down corporations, destroying their structures, will not necessarily give us the better world we envision. Nor will tolerating their greed or powerful reach give us access to all of the creative people out there. It’s a combination of the two that we require. And in this time of great discord and partisan gridlock, we should remember how important compromise and moderation is.


Friday Tidbit: Music and Intellectual Engagement

We are still alive. Here are some links to prove it.

1) James recently purchased “How Music Works”, a book by David Byrne of Talking Heads. I have not yet started reading it - I just started a biography on FDR that I will probably put down soon - but this video is making that text seem quite enticing.

2) Following along those lines, here is a video about starting your own business. Specifically, a record label.

3) I am trying to commit to actually accomplishing something that I can be proud of during my days. Too often I allow myself to be distracted by glossing over the thoughtful words of friends and strangers on websites instead of making contact and being engaged. John Green reminds me - and those of you who struggle with the same thing - of why we ought to push past that.

4) I drive a lot in my car for work, and podcasts have been my constant companion. This summer, the main podcast I’ve been listening to has been “Hi My Name Is Mark,” created by Mark Hoppus of +44 (at the time) and blink-182 (of today). It’s an old podcast - from 2005-2007 - and listening to it brings me back to sophomore year of college. A song I heard this week brought me farther back; I saw Zolof The Rock And Roll Destroyer at the Harmony Grange in Delaware when I was still in high school. I didn’t love them but this song is telling me to reconsider my opinion of the band.

Zolof The Rock And Roll Destroyer - “Argh…I’m A Pirate”


Friday Tidbit: Positive Thinking

Here are some videos that I watched this week that I liked.

1) I wrote a few weeks ago that “Call Me Maybe” has been received with much more positive feelings than “Friday” ever was. As proof: this video.

2) Here is a video about Anthony and his delivery service. This is not our Anthony, though the “our” in that clause is a limited one. It references The Compass. This is our Anthony, “our” referencing humanity. I work with people like Anthony: human beings who are challenged by things beyond their control but also able to do incredible things, namely, bringing joy to the lives of others. I think I have found a new responsibility for my work.

3) Good friend of The Compass Cait recently criticized an article published by The Atlantic. The article focused on Millennials and their economic decisions, which are changing the economic landscape. There is much talk about college debt and how overpriced college is. John Green is here to remind us all why college really matters. (I also see a lot of his points as explanation for why I’ll be voting for a certain presidential candidate in November - but there will be a post on that in the next few months.


Friday Tidbit: Insight and Frivolous Dancing

1) This episode of John Green’s Crash Course series takes a look at fame and greatness. He reminds us that those who are great are only great because we choose to celebrate them. I know that I’ve posted one of these Crash Course videos before, but I encourage you to watch this. Not because it’s important to know about Alexander the Great, but because John Green’s insight deserves to be heard.

2) I’m not really sure how I discovered Big White Clouds. Somehow I stumbled upon the blog of The Office, a recording studio in my current town. Big White Clouds recorded their album Small White Clouds there. Check out this charming opening track, “I Know I Know.”

3) If you ever wanted to be afraid of something definitely out of your control, watch this video on the sun and its incredible and awe-inspiring power. Hank Green, brother of John, has a video series called SciShow. It focuses on different interesting topics in science, especially new developments.

4) Need something to cool and calm your frazzled mind? Check out this jam from They Might Be Giants. It’s a response to their cover of “The Sun Is A Mass of Incandescent Gas.” This one is more scientifically accurate. Science is real, my friend.

5) There are some things in this world that just should not be combined for fear of destroying the fragile balance of our universe. The creators of this video care nothing for our well-being. Ladies and gentlemen, Jason Derulo and Star Wars.


Friday Tidbit: Inspired by Jill

Hello all,

Each week, I try to develop a theme for the links I share. After considering the commonalities between the four videos I choose, I realized they all have some connection to Jill, my girlfriend. As this is the week of Valentine’s Day (and my birthday [and Sarah’s birthday, I ought to add]), Jill is the theme for this week’s Friday Tidbit (which might be a stupid name for this weekly posting but I’m too committed to turn back now).

1) For Valentine’s Day, Jill gave me some great gifts. The coolest, and most personal, was letting me look at her favorite playlist on her iPod. Apparently, I am very judgmental about the things that other people like. (This is true - Friends is terrible, pop music sucks, Twilight is for barf bags are all common remarks from the mouth of Paul Riley.) One of the songs on there is “Kick Drum Heart” by The Avett Brothers. I really like this song (though I find the breakdown to be too jarring). There’s no official video, but there is a fan-made one - and you know how I love fan-made videos.

"Kick Drum Heart" - The Avett Brothers

2) That video led me to this one. I’ve heard of Noah and the Whale before but never checked out any of their stuff. I’m not sure where the ascendency of the ukelele started, but this song uses it well. Also, this video is book-ended by scenes in a library. Jill works in a library, so it’s a seamless connection.

"5 Years Time" - Noah and the Whale

3) Jill enjoys the show The Big Bang Theory. I enjoy watching it, but I know there are many who think the show is terrible. But can we at least all agree that the theme song is catchy and fun? Before you answer, watch this video and reconsider any preconceived notions:

"The Big Bang Theory Theme" - Barenaked Ladies

4) If you’d been following The Compass for a while, you probably know of my love for the Vlogbrothers in general and John Green specifically. In 2012, the brothers Green have started an interesting and exciting new video series called Crash Course. These videos cover topics in world history and science, and they are neat. I’ve watched this first one and have only been able to keep myself from watching the others by reminding myself I have other things that I have to do with my life to, you know, survive. I do think that John talks a little too quickly for this information to sink in, but as someone who just wants to watch the world learn, it’s neat.

Oh, and the connection to Jill? She was a History major. In fact, we took a History class together the term we started dating, prompting me to consider writing a song called “Our Love Bloom’d in Tudor England.”


Tuesday Tidbit: High-Bouncing Lover

The song I’ll be posting this Thursday — first of all, it’s going to be great. But as I was writing its lyrics, I realized how important the idea of color is in it. I’ve been saving the following three links for a while, until there was an appropriate time to share them. They all relate to the classic American novel The Great Gatsby, a piece of literature with what may be the most iconic literary image in the past 100 years: the green light at the end of the dock.

1) So, you may be thinking, “What’s so rad about The Great Gatsby? I read that book in high school and I hated it.” Well, I’ll let John Green tell you why this book is incredible. I’d like to think that everything I do here at The Compass is trying to live up to the passion John has for the ideas in this book.

2) “I’m not convinced. Any book worth its weight in gold (I don’t understand why this word choice is humorous) needs a video game!” Well, here you go: The Great Gatsby for NES (go play it now!)

3) “Okay, I can appreciate the book. But are the extremely wealthy and closed-minded members of our society — and T.S. Eliot — really that bad?” Yes, and here’s why: T.S. Eliot Would Gladly Rape Your Grandmother’s Decayed Corpse

Super limited edition extra link!

4) Recently, there was a week during which I listened almost exclusively to The Format. They’ve been on hiatus for three years now, but Nate Ruess (the lead singer) has a new group (fun.) with a new single. I think it’s outstanding. Check “We Are Young” out for yourself.