Remember how much I liked the video for "What a Big Wide World" from Essie Jain? Well, the director of Jain's video -- Carolina Melis -- was also responsible for a video for "Go Go Ninja Dinosaur," the Four Tet track from the Belle & Sebastian-curated kid-comp Colours Are Brighter (review). Very, very cool. Somebody please get Melis a contract to do a video game or permanent residency on Yo Gabba Gabba!, please. Four Tet - "Go Go Ninja Dinosaur" [Vimeo]
DidiPop has decided to give her music away (digitally, at least). That's right, the Los Angeles-based artist is now offering free streams and mp3s of her two full-lengths and other assorted tracks. DidiPop Goes To Hawaii may just be what you need if you've suffered from one too many East Coast snow storms...A widget with every DidiPop song after the jump...
I think the world would be a better place if there were more Antonio Carlos Jobim on family music stations. This version of "Waters of March," featuring Jamie Broza and his daughter Carmen, makes me smile. The fact that the song is often thought of as being about the passing of time lends a poignancy to the intermixed shots of Carmen when she's younger. But I think it's just a fun little song. (And it's probably a better choice for kids' radio than, say, "The Girl from Ipanema.") Broza's new CD, I Want a Dog!, is out March 15. Jamie Broza - "Waters of March" [YouTube]
For those of you who thought that maybe after probably two dozen different releases (including their main series), the allure of Kidz Bop would begin to fade... I have bad news to report. Billboard this week reported that the latest Kidz Bop disk, Kidz Bop 19, hit number 2 on the charts this week. Not the Top Kid Audio chart, but the Big Kahuna, the Billboard 200. It sold... wait for it... 70,000 albums. The #2 rank ties the series' highest chart position (Kidz Bop 9) is its its best sales "week since 2007 (Kidz Bop 12, when it debuted with 71,000 at No. 7. Billboard reported that Kidz Bop distributor Razor & Tie pointed to a stepped-up TV marketing campaign for the album. Also, exclusives at Target and Walmart helped push the title's mass-merchant (e.g., Target, Walmart) share to about 55%. Razor & Tie also noted in a separate press release that "sales of KIDZ BOP albums have grown nearly 40% over the past 24 months, while overall music industry sales are down more than 20%." KIDZ BOP 19 also debuted at #1 on the Billboard Children’s Chart, where there are currently two other KIDZ BOP albums in the Top 10. The new release follows a chart-topping 2010 where KIDZ BOP 18 was the #1 Kids’ Album of the year (KIDZ BOP 17 was #2) and the KIDZ BOP Kids ranked as the #1 Kids’ Artist of the year, according to Billboard. Other kid audio albums on the Billboard 200 include the Big Time Rush soundtrack (53), Disney Princess: Ultimate Song Collection (124), Kidz Bop 18 (131), Hannah Montana Forever (136), Tangled soundtrack (137), and the Aquabats' Hi-Five Soup! (181). That's 7 albums in the top 200, which isn't a bad result. (Compare that, for example, to the top Classical Album, which debuted at #167 on the Billboard 200, or top World Album, which debuted at #111; neither genre chart had more than one album on the main chart.) Now, as always, chart position has - at best - poor correlation with listeners' perceptions of quality. (I am partial to the Tangled soundtrack myself.) The strong performance of the mass-marketed Disney/Kidz Bop stuff is a double-edged sword for an independent artist, though. On the down side, trying to break through on the Kid Audio chart against those albums is tough. On the other hand, there's value in having the genre doing so well. Sell a couple thousand albums in a week, and you might only hit #6 or #7 on the Top Kid Audio chart... but you might break through onto the Billboard 200 chart as well. (Sell a couple hundred and you could get on the Top 100 Kid Audio chart.) I realize 2,000 albums in a week is a dream for most artists, but it does seem within range of a handful of artists given a concentrated one-week push. But 70,000 albums? Yeah, that's not happening.
Nothing like a little Barry Louis Polisar to scrape the warm and fuzzy edges off kind and gentle kids music. This is a reasonably straightforward telling of Polisar's "I Eat Kids," as performed by the Radioactive Chicken Heads from the 2-CD tribute album We're Not Kidding!. Well, except for the actual eating of kids. Right? The Radioactive Chicken Heads - "I Eat Kids" (Barry Louis Polisar cover) [YouTube]
After a wild 2010, Kindiefest is back for another weekend of margaritas, dancing, and heart-to-heart chats. No, Kindiefest is not a college reunion, though it clearly felt like it at times. (There were even afterparties.) What it is, of course, is a conference for musicians, writers, producers, and others interested in the family music genre. I've already written a lot about my experiences at the conference the past couple years. And I still go back to the idea of "owning your stuff" that I first wrote about last year. Registration for Kindiefest 2011 is now open. It's scheduled for April 29 through May 1 once again at Littlefield NYC in Brooklyn. If you're at all local to NYC, then attending the conference shouldn't really even be a question. At less than $100 for the conference (if you register now), it's pretty reasonable price-wise. And while the panels are good, the real value I think is in the opportunity to spend time with other folks doing the same thing you are. All of a sudden, this thing that you have to explain to people about what you do becomes the norm. You move way past that stage and into sharing experiences and advice. As for those of you who live a distance from NYC, I understand totally, because I'm one of you. You have to add transportation and/or lodging costs to the budget. It's no longer cheap. But for those folks the face-to-face contact is even more important. For example, I had a phone conversation just today with a couple folks I met at Kindiefest. And I think that a lot of out-of-town attendees will say that they made valuable connections with artists and presenters in other cities, connections that helped serve them as they tried to expand their own base of operations. As I have not yet tired of saying, the genre still needs to focus on growing the pie rather than having each artist figure out how to get a bigger share of a smaller pie. Kindiefest is one step towards doing so. Finally, for those parents/fans who've made it this far, don't worry, tickets for a public Sunday show will be available soon. It was a great value last year and I expect it to be so again this year.