Plugged:

How cool is this? Go to a concert and immediately get to download the live versions of songs performed that night? Not just any live song, but the song you just heard.

That's what Pearl Jam and Verizon partnered up to do this week, and that's exactly the kind of thing needed to jumpstart the sluggish mobile music market.

For more than 10 years now, I've listened to companies say that the only way for mobile content to work is to provide content that takes advantage of the phone's most unique attribute-mobility. Yet in that time, the vast majority of content and services offered were just thinned down versions of what you can get anywhere else in a much easier way.

So it's refreshing to see the rare rollout of a service that let's fans acquire content at the very point of discovery which is otherwise unavailable elsewhere. Sure, the bootlegs will also be available from the Pearl Jam site, but not until two weeks later.

This service lets fans acquire the songs as they leave the show, still excited about the performance they just witnessed.

Unfortunately, it's only available to Verizon subscribers. That's because Verizon is doing the heavy lifting to make the live tracks available right after the show from their own production facilities -- a bus that travels from show to show. A better solution would be for the bands themselves to handle the production duties and make the songs available to all mobile users via a common shortcode.

But one step at a time, I guess. This is a positive move forward that I hope other artists and mobile operators take seriously.


UnPlugged:

When is the music industry going to start eating what it cooks and just end the whole promotional CD nonsense altogether?

The blogs lit up this week after a federal court ruled that promo CDs could be re-sold on eBay and other outlets, responding to a lawsuit against one re-seller brought by Universal Music Group. All arguments on that issue aside, my question is -- why the heck are we still issuing promotional CDs anyway?

Billboard's offices are lousy with promo and pre-release CDs stacked up like battlement defenses between cubicles, in some cases so precariously that an ill-timed sneeze would send the whole lot down on an unsuspecting neighbor.

I was just at EA's offices in L.A. this week visiting the team that puts together the soundtracks, and their plight is even worse. I barely found room to place my water bottle on the coffee table from the stacks of discs littering the place -- and this is a group that has point-blank openly requested getting e-mail files over discs.

I myself continue to have CDs sent my way even though I don't cover music (!!!), and haven't owned a CD player in years.

If would be far more economical, environmentally correct, and organizationally elegant to just e-mail the damn files! After all, there is this thing called digital music... perhaps you've heard of it.

Some are still wary of digitally sent files finding their way to pirate networks. Hello? CDs are finding their way into stores that can just as easily be ripped and placed on those same networks.

And there are digital promo services like Play MPE and others that have a whole secure system for digitally distributing pre-release music to DJs and press outlets. Some even up the ante on sound quality.

Now UMG and the other labels have all dabbled in digitally distributing promo songs, but they really should just make it a standard practice. If every label decided to stop issuing physical promo CDs tomorrow, the rest of the industry would fall in line pretty damn quickly.

So bite your lip and rip off the Band Aid already, you sniveling pansies! It'll only sting for a minute, I promise.