New Specialist Direct-Disc Label – We will shortly be reviewing the first releases from a new German vinyl label which is specializing in direct-to-disc. This is the only label doing just direct-discs—Berliner Meister Schallplatten—and the only other label occasionally producing them we know of is Analog Productions’ blues recordings out of Salina KS, part of Acoustic Sounds. They will release not just classical music but “every kind of acoustical music with artists who have something to say and who are able and prepared to take this risk.” (They mean no editing.)
Facebook is Gearing Up for Showing Video Ads to Users – The online reports on this have all been blocked, and a Facebook spokesman declined comment, but look out.
U.S. Trade Deficit Widens – to $39.1 billion in July after a four-year low in June. American consumers bought more consumer goods, foreign cars and other imported goods, while U.S. firms exported fewer long-lasting manufactured goods. A wider trade gap can slow economic growth because it means U.S. consumers and businesses are spending more on foreign goods than U.S. companies are earning from overseas sales. Europe’s weak economy is also weighing on U.S. exports. A private survey in China found that manufacturing there expanded for the first time after shrinking for three months.
Rentrak Corp. Top DVD & Blu-ray Sales – Here are the top ten Blu-ray and DVD sales and rentals for the week ending August 25, based on estimated consumer spending per data collected: 1) Epic, 2) Olympus Has Fallen, 3) Oblivion, 4) NCIS 10th Season, 5) Boardwalk Empire 3rd Season, 6) Scary Movie V, 7) Killing Season, 8) GI Joe: Retaliation, 9) The Big Wedding, 10) Duck Dynasty Season 3. (Guess we’re not reviewing the right movies on this site…)
The Expansion of Sacred Harp Singing – also known as shape note singing, is celebrated around the world, profiled in the documentary Awake, My Soul, and will be honored at the 110th Annual Session of the United Sacred Harp Musical Association coming up in Atlanta. It developed in early American churches in the 1700s, using no instruments at all, and is based on four of the syllables, each note with a different shape. The archaic musical style, some of which predates Mozart, can be extremely loud, the singers face one another and not the congregation or audience, and the music disobeys many of the rules of musical composition. It was practiced mainly in the deep South and fell out of favor in the North. It you’ve never heard it, you probably won’t like it. It’s sometimes referred to as the punk rock of choral music.
New Broadway Musical on Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club – Nine-time Grammy winner Wynton Marsalis is preparing the singers for the October opening of the new musical. He’s musical director of the production, After Midnight, which stars Fantasia Barrino, former American Idol winner in 2004. The singer seemed embarrassed to reveal to Marsalis that she didn’t read music, but nobody read music in New Orleans when he was being raised, and his father always said “If you play music you don’t need to read it.” When the musical opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Oct. 18, two dozen performers, Fantasia and her co-star Dule Hill, and 17 pit musicians will be asked to capture the sound and glamour of the Harlem Renaissance.