Q&A: Film, U2 album keep Daniel Lanois on the go

Fri Mar 7, 2008 6:51pm EST
 
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By Jonathan Cohen

NEW YORK (Billboard) - In between jet-setting around the globe with Brian Eno to write and record with U2, Daniel Lanois is still finding time to work on his own music.

A documentary about his recent experiences in the studio, "Here Is What Is," will have its U.S. premiere March 9 at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and Lanois will play a host of shows in the following days during the music portion of the Austin, Texas, conference. The artist also has launched his own digital download store at RedFloorRecords.com, offering a deluxe CD/DVD of "Here Is What Is," his solo albums and a wealth of unreleased material. Just before leaving for Dublin to finish U2's new album, Lanois spoke to Billboard about his myriad projects.

Q: Your "Omni Series" will offer six albums' worth of unreleased music online. What inspired the idea?

Daniel Lanois: "Well, we can be fast and furious. I can record something at midnight and have it available at breakfast, and the money is in PayPal by 5. 'Omni' will accommodate my spontaneous offerings. We're going to put out a steel guitar record in May or June. Then, there's 'Midnight,' which is spooky, late-night stuff; a little more psychedelic and whacked-out. Another one I really love -- about a year ago, I did the music for a Pixies documentary. That little body of work has a nice feeling to it. So I called up all the members of the Pixies and asked if they minded if I could put it out, and they said sure. Finally I have my corner store. I've been dreaming about it since I was a little kid."

Q: You're selling the music as high-quality WAV files. Is there an added cost to you to do this?

Lanois: "No, we offer full fidelity for the same price. We're proud of that. We dedicate ourselves to quality. Part of the deterrent is the receiving end -- you need a high-grade Internet hookup. If you're in the boonies, it might be confusing. And it takes longer to download. It's not as quick and easy -- not quite the TV dinner."

Q: You were able to regain the digital rights to your solo albums. Any advice for acts trying to accomplish that?

Lanois: "If somebody wants to own your master, that's fine, but not for more than four years. That way, everybody has their party and everybody makes their money. I don't think it's necessary for artists to give up master rights forever, because then you become a catalog feather in the cap for a company that just wants to sell its content. It's unfair. I don't think record companies should automatically own your masters for good simply because they've helped you with a campaign. Those days are gone."   Continued...