It's been three years since former Tea Boys-turned-Mix Mavens Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns released their last Zero 7 collaboration, The Garden, a project that was Grammy-nominated as 2006's Best Electronic/Dance Album (shut out by Madonna's Confessions On A Dance Floor). But the duo's commercial hiatus will be over on September 8th when their new Atlantic studio album, Yeah Ghost--touting guest talents such as soul/jazz artist Eska Mtungwazi, folk singer/songwriter Martha Tilston, and electronic hip-hop performer Rowdy Superstar--will become available at your finest music emporium (or iTunes, Amazon, all that). Though the track "Everything Up (Zizou)" was unveiled by Stereogum a few days ago, your friendly neighborhood Huffington Post today is premiering an audio clip of Yeah Ghost's first single, "Medicine Man" (no, not a remake of the 1969 Buchanan Brothers hit) with remixes of "Everything Up (Zizou)" by Joker & Ginz, Gold Panda, and Mock & Toof dropping in the next few weeks. For further Zero 7 excitement, the Yeah Ghost track list follows. Tell a friend.
1. Count Me Out
2. Mr. McGee
4. Everything Up (Zizou)
5. Pop Art Blue
6. Medicine Man
7. Ghost sYMbOL
10. The Road
11. All Of Us
MPL's Creative License
Come this September 9th (and about two weeks prior), you won't be able to pick up anything that bears newsprint on and offline without it containing some major feature on The Beatles' re-mastered/re-released catalog, as well as their video game, The Beatles: Rock Band. But there is other significant news happening over at Paul McCartney's label/publisher/entertainment company, MPL Communications. On the licensing end, creative developer Nancy Jeffries and new media manager Dan Sokol have been involved with retooling both the website and MPL's approach to publishing/master assets promotion. "Dan worked on a redevelopment of the site two years ago, and it became very user friendly for people to search our catalog," says Jeffries. "But what's got us even more excited is that over the last year, we've developed what we're calling a 'pre-cleared' section, where we control both the master and the publishing, or we have independent artists participate with us who also own and control their own properties. So people can come to our website with a credit card and do one-stop shopping for licensing masters."
In this context, the term "licensing" means that if you have a film, television series, commercial, video game, etc. and you would like to exploit a musical piece within it, normally, you need to negotiate a price and define its use with the copyright owner. So MPL is offering, through easy navigation and payment on its site, the ability to instantly "rent" much of their catalog, one large enough to include songs written by Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Harold Arlen, Frank Loesser, Jerry Herman, and Meredith Willson, plus pop standards such as "Witchcraft" and "Autumn Leaves"; most labels and publishers merely offer a "browse" feature on their sites to sample assets for consideration with price negotiation occurring separately. By removing the "salesperson" from the mix, MPL effectively closes the deal by cutting to the chase electronically, although obviously, depending on the uniqueness of a project and its needs, a human touch still is necessary.
Though this process is innovative and probably where the future of licensing is headed, perhaps the more fascinating element of MPL's new licensing approach comes in its partnering with new talent. Jeffries explains, "Instead of signing writers to the publishing company, we invite indie artists and people that we like who control their masters and publishing to come on our site. On a non-exclusive basis, we offer their material for licensing, and we take a percentage. It's like Pump Audio only with a serious filter." With a solid A&R background from working for major labels such as A&M, Elektra and Virgin, as well as managing Bob Marley Music for years, part of Jeffries' job is to play tastemaker and decide which submitted recordings/songs get posted. "For me, it's a lot of fun to do," she admits. "Dan (Sokol) is a musician as well as the site developer, and with Krisstina Hawks, we all do the talent scouting." On the process in general, she adds. "It's a means for us, in a very cost effective, modern way, to interact with the new music community."
While a couple of MPL's latest, high profile placements are Paul McCartney's "Dance Tonight" from his Memory Almost Full album (playing in the July 19th episode of Entourage), and a new composition, "I Want To Come Home" (debuting in Robert De Niro's upcoming film, Everybody's Fine), there is an equal amount of pitching and support for their affiliated artists' material. Among those contributors are well-known names like Edie Brickell, whose latest project, The Heavy Circles, teams her with stepson Harper Simon, Paul's kid from "St. Judy's Comet" and a previous marriage; another is blues guitarist Sonny Landreth, whose records feature the likes of Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton. And in the lesser known but with great potential category is Phillip Glass devotee Trevor Gureckis, guitarist Pokey La Farge, singer-songwriter Abby Payne, and The Maxes, a local NYC husband and wife team. MPL even has a few of these artists update some of their company's classics, adding new blood to some of those older copyrights. "One of the best things about this is we don't have to be signing 'hits,'" Jeffries points out. "Since we're looking for things for syncs, we can be crazy creative." And it's pretty obvious that the entertainment business in general needs "crazy creative" approaches like these and more to flourish during the music industry's current period of transition.
And here's a link to the site: