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A QUICK WORD ABOUT PAPERTHINWALLS.COM

Did you think Paper Thin Walls was a piece of instal­la­tion art too? What else could a new music start-up with no rev­enue stream be? Appar­ent­ly it was­n’t. I knew it was too good to be true. It paid! Now it’s gone.

I was there in the begin­ning. I don’t remem­ber exact­ly how I got involved. I may have worn edi­tor Christo­pher Wein­garten down or he may have asked me to help him out of a hole while edit­ing the first Hol­i­day Mix­tape. It was a bap­tism by fire, all done for free, or out of some vague belief that I might actu­al­ly get paid for all the non­sense I was doing back then. It did­n’t, but I vol­un­teered for more as my unem­ploy­ment wound down.

In the end, it was all worth it. Work­ing with Chris Wein­garten (and Bran­don and Tom) was an oppor­tu­ni­ty not to be missed for a cou­ple of rea­sons. First, it was refresh­ing to find some­one so ded­i­cat­ed to music writ­ing, in and of itself. I felt that he was real­ly try­ing to recre­ate Chuck Eddy’s ver­sion of the Voice’s music sec­tion. It remind­ed me why I liked music writ­ing in the first place. He was curat­ing the sort of site I want­ed to read all the time.

Sec­ond­ly, and this is real­ly a corol­lary of the first point, Whiney’s just a great edi­tor. When I’d sign on in the morn­ing, I’d check Pitch­fork and find umpteen typo­graph­i­cal errors in the lead review or fea­ture, things that could’ve been fixed with just a lit­tle proof­read­ing. I’d joke with Chris about them, say­ing, “So many edi­tors, so lit­tle edit­ing.” Per­haps it was because of this that Chris held him­self to a high­er stan­dard.

It’s more than a lit­tle sad to see a site like Paper Thin Walls go. It was one of the last bas­tions of music crit­i­cism that did­n’t frus­trate me. The reviews were short and to the point, which helped keep the writ­ing live­ly. When I worked on Bull­horn updates for the news feed, I felt like I had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to lay waste to the pub­lic­i­ty cycle in 10 words or less. It was the sort of out­let that struck a crit­i­cal bal­ance between gonzo antics and for­mal­ism and kept music crit as it should be first and fore­most: fun!

Last, but cer­tain­ly not least, Paper Thin Walls helped me get my cur­rent job! I cel­e­brate that fact every oth­er Fri­day morn­ing at mid­night. Thanks for every­thing, Whiney. Your hard work and patience will not soon be for­got­ten.

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Doing

WHY MUXTAPE’S PROBABLY GONE FOR GOOD

Both Val­ley­wag and Sil­i­con Alley Insid­er point out that one of the rea­sons Mux­tape shut down prob­a­bly was­n’t the R.I.A.A., but all the costs asso­ci­at­ed with run­ning a mas­sive stream­ing music data­base. One of the things I’ve noticed about Web 2.0 is that music con­tent is seen as more of a lia­bil­i­ty than an asset when grow­ing a busi­ness, as the Mux­tape shut­down demon­strates. That is to say, there’s prob­a­bly no bailout com­ing, at least not for Mux­tape as we knew it. The bot­tom line is if you’re bull­ish on “music 2.0,” Mux­tape’s sit­u­a­tion should be a case study for any­one who’s try­ing to find the right niche for music online.

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Doing

IMAGINING THE PERFECT STREAMING MUSIC SERVICE

Read­WriteWeb has a must-read post for any­one who’s pay­ing atten­tion to what’s hap­pen­ing with Pan­do­ra and Mux­tape this week. As wi-fi becomes more pow­er­ful and wide­ly avail­able, I think more peo­ple will want on-demand dig­i­tal deliv­ery, rather than be bur­dened by the moun­tains of phys­i­cal prod­uct they rip to an mp3 play­er any­way. It’s equal­ly impor­tant for artists and labels look­ing to max­i­mize prof­its by cut­ting out the mid­dle­man.

Will it be free, like many of the ser­vices peo­ple enjoy today? Prob­a­bly not, but con­ve­nience and price will be major fac­tors as music like­ly tran­si­tions from a prod­uct in itself to some­thing that’s bun­dled with oth­er ser­vices. We’re already see­ing it with some mobile devices, and it’s prob­a­bly safe to say that this will quick­ly become an indus­try stan­dard.

As the events of the past week have shown, not all stream­ing music ser­vices will sur­vive, nor do they deserve to sim­ply because they’re inno­vat­ing in the online music space. As the music indus­try grows more des­per­ate for rev­enue streams, you can only expect that the play­ers involved will be tough on those that do make it. We’re on the eve of a rev­o­lu­tion in the way we con­sume movies and music. No one said it would be easy.

Check out the arti­cle at Read­WriteWeb and share your thoughts on what would make stream­ing music bet­ter for you!

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Doing

A CALL FOR iPHONE APPS

My iPhone, orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by Black­mail Is My Life.

I need your sug­ges­tions, specif­i­cal­ly for an all-in-one chat client that can com­bine my Gmail and AIM con­tacts. One pro­vi­so: I’m not real­ly look­ing to turn my iPhone into a gam­ing plat­form yet. What iPhone appli­ca­tions do you like? Which do you use most?

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Doing

MUXTAPE: IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME

If you click on the mix­tape link in the top nav­i­ga­tion, you’ll find a puz­zling mes­sage from Mux­tape. It reads as fol­lows: “Mux­tape will be unavail­able for a brief peri­od while we sort out a prob­lem with the RIAA.” It was a con­cern I had the moment Mux­tape went viral in late March. Any­one who was pay­ing atten­tion when the site launched could’ve seen this com­ing, despite Mux­tape’s efforts to tie the site to Ama­zon and defend it from would-be stream rip­pers. Appar­ent­ly it was­n’t enough. It’s hard to believe that they’ll be back any­time soon.

I’m actu­al­ly a lit­tle sur­prised that there has­n’t been more out­cry over this. I’ve only seen this post from Val­ley­wag in my feed read­er so far. This is the stuff of an epic Hip­ster Runoff post! Will there be a har­row­ing exo­dus from Mux­tape to 8tracks? I already have!