Follow-ups: Free Dr Pepper for all, Pandora spiraling downward, full Obama mix released

Somewhere, a marketing exec is losing his job

Last semester on Sac in Stereo, we discussed the long-delayed Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy," and Dr Pepper's promise to give each and every person in the United States a free soda if the album is released before the end of 2008.

Well, apparently Axl Rose (the only remaining founding member of the group) really likes Dr Pepper, because he kicked into high gear and now the album is slated for a Nov. 25 release date. But what about our soda?

This week MTV News finally answered the question everyone has been murmuring, and yes, everyone in the country is indeed getting a free soda. Here's a snippet:

According to a spokesperson for the company, full details of Dr Pepper's rollout plan won't be released until Guns N' Roses go on the record about the release date, despite the fact that Best Buy has already begun taking online preorders for the disc. Best Buy will be the sole retail purveyor of the set, as part of an exclusive deal announced late last month.

. . .

The Dr Pepper spokesperson told MTV News that, while additional details will be forthcoming, the company's plan to distribute free cans of its product will involve some sort of an online coupon system. "People will go on Dr Pepper's Web site and we will send them a coupon for a free one," the spokesperson confirmed. "It's going to be real easy."

I, for one, am getting thirsty already.

Internet radio staff manning the lifeboats?

In the most recent episode of Sac in Stereo (listen here!), we discussed the shaky future of Internet radio icon Pandora. Right now, the site is battling to reverse a March 2007 court ruling forcing the site to cough up 70 percent of its revenue to record execs [note: In the podcast, we incorrectly stated that the change in revenue was being delayed - it is, in fact, already in effect. Our bad. -CK].

Pandora top gun Tim Westergren has already said the change could force the site out of business, and Thursday he announced 20 of the site's 140 employees were being shown the door.

He blamed the cuts not so much on the fight over royalty fees, but the slowing economy. Then he went on to say that ad revenues are growing quickly. Huh?

Wired writes:

Indeed, despite the news, all is not gloom and doom for the webcaster. "There are tough times ahead for the economy, but our listenership is growing rapidly, the Internet radio royalty rate resolution seems finally near, and the explosion of mobile devices like the iPhone are opening up a world of opportunity for internet radio to expand off the desktop," added Westergren. "Moreover, our ad sales are growing so well that, not only did we not make any reductions there, we need to continue to hire more. It's just hard to be excited about all that today."

But, of course, all this goes out the window (along with the other 120 employees) if the royalty fees aren't changed soon.

Full political party mix released

Just a couple weeks ago, the Sac in Stereo crew made its picks for a soundtrack for the campaigns of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama (Sac in Stereo No. 14, if you're curious). Jake mentioned a sort of stump remix DJ Z-Trip was performing at fundraising jam sessions, with proceeds going to the Obama campaign. The mix takes snippets of Obama speeches and various political statements and, simply put, sets them to a sweet mashup beat.

With the election looming closer and closer, Z-Trip finally released an mp3 of the full duration of his mix. The almost-85-MB and 55-minute-long .zip file is available at his website, along with this message:

I encourage you to download it and pass it along to anyone you think should hear it. Feel free to burn copies, share it with friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and especially anyone you know is on the fence about this election. I'm also putting out a radio friendly version, in case anyone wants to broadcast it.

Please share the message. Educate those who may not know what is really going on. There is still time.

If you, or anyone you know, isn't registered to vote, I encourage you to make it a priority and fix that before it's too late. This election is WAY too important for anyone to not get involved. If you need more information on how and where to register, vote, or participate, please check the links below.

And in the interest of equal coverage for both sides, here's an update on the musical aspirations of the McCain camp: Add the Foo Fighters to the list of musicians angry at the way the GOP candidate is using their songs.

Turns out McCain is blasting "My Hero," an iconic (and awesome) Foo Fighters jam, at rallies. Like some of the examples we discussed in the podcast, the Republicans are in fact paying all the appropriate royalties, but the band never signed off on the use.

Here's what frontman Dave Grohl had to say (via Wired):

"The saddest thing about this is that 'My Hero' was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential," the politically active rock outfit said in a statement, which at this writing had not yet been posted to its official site. "To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song."

What do you think? Should campaigns use whatever songs they can afford to pay royalty fees for, or should the original artists be consulted first?

[Dr Pepper photo courtesy Flickr member Darwin Bell]
[DJ Z-Trip photo courtesy Flickr member evoque]
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Ray LaMontagne's new album 'Gossip In The Grain'

Sometimes you just need a little soul in your life. Ray LaMontagne's new studio album, "Gossip in the Grain," released Tuesday will give that soul back to you, just in case you lost it.

School stresses me out. Work starts the second I leave class. I need to groove it on down in order to keep my cool.

The album begins with a bang. This is a side of Ray I've never heard before. This is Motown. This is less folk, more funk. And I like it.

Horns dart back and forth in my eardrums and I can't help but make my shoulders sway along with them. And then it happens. The magic comes. LaMontagne's soulful voice serenades me, telling me, "Babayyyyyyyyyyy... it's been a long day, babayyyy.."

Oh, Ray, it has been a long day...

This album, as I move from track to track, feels so different from the two other studio albums that brought me closer to this Maine man.

"Trouble," LaMontagne's 2004 debut album featuring the heartbreaking and unforgettable "All the Wild Horses," the song that brings me to tears even if I'm having a good day, feels so foreign when compared to what I heard at my own personal listening party.

"Let It Be Me" feels like home, and feels familiar - except it's different.

"I Still Care For You" begins with this sliding guitar strings similar to the intro to every Mazzy Star track I fell in love with. He matches her flowing soft lyrics and reverb. If I ever fall in love again, it will be to this song.

"Hey Me, Hey Mama" makes me miss the extended family in Missouri. The Banjo, the group of yokels chanting in the background, the roughness of LaMontagne's drawl, it all makes me feel at home.

LaMontagne wraps up his present with the the fleeting seconds of the title track, "Gossip In The Grain," leaving me wondering when I'll hear more...

And then iTunes took it upon itself to start it all over... and the horns dart back and forth in my eardrums.
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