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Looking into the Crystal Ball: Glimpses of 2006

by Tim McMahan











One of the more popular articles I write each year is my "predictions" story. So controversial was it last year that those ignoble poets of the airwaves, Todd & Tyler, skewered me over it during their dreadful morning show. The sods. I'll be using this column next week to give you, gentle reader, a glimpse at what lies ahead for '06. But first, let's look at how I did with my predictions published Jan 5, 2005:

LY (last year's) Prediction: "Podcasting" will begin to replace traditional radio broadcasting, acting like an audio version of TiVo.

Reality: In June, Apple added podcasts to its I-Tunes music store, giving easy access more than 3,000 downloadable podcasts. Today just about every popular radio show has a podcast counterpart.

LY Prediction: Watch out for Mash-Ups -- a music craze where DJs/remixers take two songs by two different artists and combine them.

Reality: In November, reported that the RIAA targeted, a site that hosts and distributes mash-ups, saying that their content violated copyright law.

LY Prediction: The first mix-and-burn custom CD kiosks will begin popping up at local coffee shops and music stores.

Reality: Homer's added its first such kiosk at their Orchard Plaza location, allowing users to select individual tracks from different sources and burn them onto one CD in the store.

LY Prediction: The break-out indie artist in '05 will likely be Mastodon.

Reality: Masta-who?

LY Prediction: U2, Bruce Springsteen and one other mega-band will be booked at the Qwest Center by year-end.

Reality: U2 was last week. The Stones are Jan. 29.

LY Prediction: All of Courtney Love's personal and legal troubles will end in '05.

Reality: She's alive and kicking.

LY Prediction: Bands we'll be talking about this time next year: Beck, Yo La Tengo, Nine Inch Nails, Cat Power, M Ward, Bob Dylan, Lou Barlow, Crooked Fingers, Ladyfinger, Anonymous American, Bright Eyes, The Monroes, Neva Dinova, Desaparecidos and The Golden Age.

Reality: Beck's up for some Grammy's. NIN finally released With Teeth. Dylan got his own satellite radio show. Ladyfinger and Neva are on the verge of signing with Saddle Creek. And Bright Eyes just released a live CD (but that new Desa album never materialized).

LY Prediction:Bands we won't be talking about this time next year: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Eminem, Switchfoot, the Simpson sisters, Modest Mouse, Interpol, 50 Cent, Green Day, Avril Lavigne and U2.

Reality: Mostly correct, other than Bono (the post-show buzz continues) and Green Day (more Grammys).

LY Prediction: Saddle Creek will cut a deal with the city allowing them to build Slowdown downtown, somewhere north of the Old Market.

Reality: The bulldozers are currently digging away on 13th & Webster.

LY Prediction: Slowdown won't be the only new live music venue that'll hit the Omaha scene.

Reality: A number of new venues opened, including Jobber's Canyon downtown, Shag and The Spotlight Club, but none of them are a replacement for The Ranch Bowl.

LY Prediction: Saddle Creek Records will add not one but two new local bands to their roster, including their heaviest band yet. Meanwhile, sister label Team Love will out-release Saddle Creek almost two-to-one.

Reality: Criteria joined the Creek fold in April, followed by Azure Ray's Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, with both Neva Dinova and Ladyfinger rumored to be next. Creek, however, out-released Team Love 11 to 4.

LY Prediction: Saddle Creek mainstay Bright Eyes will boast the label's first gold record.

Reality: Not yet.

LY Prediction: Camera crews from a national TV news magazine -- 20/20, 60 Minutes, 48 Hours or Dateline -- will attempt to blow the lid off the burgeoning Omaha music scene.

Reality: A VH1 exec came through this summer to research a proposed expose of Saddle Creek that never materialized.

LY Prediction: KM3 will replace talentless blowhole Travis Justice's "For What It's Worth" segment with a new nightly arts & entertainment segment.

Reality: KM3 deemed For What It's Worth worthless, yanking it last month. But it's another local TV station that's in the early stages of developing a program dedicated to local music. Stay tuned.

LY Prediction: Scheduling conflicts will take their toll on one of the area's most successful recording studios, causing it to close its doors in '05.

Reality: Presto! lives on, though it may be moving to Omaha this year.

LY Prediction: Two local video producers/film makers will gain national attention for their rock video work.

Reality: Local videomaker Nik Fackler (The Good Life, Orenda Fink) will be directing his first full-length feature film this year.

LY Prediction: As many as six local bands will sign either to national indie or major labels.

Reality: The big push never happened, though Criteria went to Creek, Venaculas is working with a start-up indie, and Emphatic is rumored to be working with a major.

LY Prediction: A non-Saddle Creek act from Omaha will appear on a late-night chat show while Bright Eyes will be a "special musical guest" on Saturday Night Live.

Reality: We're still waiting.

Look, it's very unlikely that I could outdo that unholy performance. I know this. So much so that I considered taking my crystal ball to Sol's and trading it in for a second-hand shotgun or an 8-track-tape player. But, knowing how much you, the reader, depend on my precognitive skills, here are my visions of 2006:

  • This music scene was built from a concrete bunker on Leavenworth Street called The Cog Factory. Just about every significant band of the current era either performed or watched a performance at the all-ages shithole during their creative infancy. Under a cloud of IRS controversy, the Cog closed its doors in 2001. Now as we reach the end of the Omaha music scene's second Golden Age, the next generation of bands will see the opening of a new, all-ages performance space in '06 that caters to high-school kids who've reached the age of anger and dissent. If the operators of this nonprofit venue are wise, they'll consider resurrecting the Cog Factory name, as blasphemous as that sounds.
  • Living rooms will be introduced to Omaha music via a new weekly television program broadcast on one of the four local affiliates. Focusing exclusively on original music, the show will include interviews and taped performances from local bands (including Creek artists).
  • Instead of a slew of music stores closing their doors, a couple new stores will open in '06 selling a combination of new and used CDs, collectables and Urban Outfitter-style apparel.


  • Adding to the resurrection of independent record stores, national box chains (Best Buy, Target, but probably not Wal Mart) that successfully lured unsophisticated music buyers by offering new releases at fire sale prices will get out of the music biz altogether after the major labels finally drop CD prices below the $10 mark. Look for new CDs as low as $8.99 and $9.99.

  • Meanwhile, to make up for this generosity, those greedy major-label bastards will force Apple's hand to introduce a tiered pricing scheme on iTunes. The oldies will still cost 99 cents to download, while new tracks by craptacular acts like Britney, Kanye and Stefani will run $1.29 or more. Promised cheaper prices for Freedom Rock classics will never materialize.
  • We're all going to have to keep waiting for that next important music trend to emerge. The only trend in '06 will be more indie bands signing to majors (who will continue to water down their already tired sound), as well as the prolonged country music and retro-electronic/dance music revivals.

  • Bands we'll be talking about this time next year: Morrissey, New Order/Joy Division, Radiohead, Modest Mouse, The Postal Service, Prince, Tilly and the Wall, Ladyfinger, Cursive, Sarah Benck, The Cure, The Who, David Bowie and Simon Joyner.
  • Bands we won't be talking about: Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Bright Eyes, U2, Kanye West, The White Stripes, Fitty, Fall Out Boy, Franz Ferdinand, Wilco and Ryan Adams.

  • All of Michael Jackson's personal and legal troubles will come to an end in '06.


  • In a maverick move, One Percent Productions will enter partnerships with a number of large venues in markets outside of Omaha and Lincoln. It's their next step as they evolve into a regional music promotion powerhouse. Marc and Jim in business suits? Unfortunately, yes.


  • Slowdown, the highly anticipated downtown Saddle Creek Records office/music venue/bar/retail space/condos/movie theater/pizza place, won't open in the fall of 2006, as had been announced. But look out 2007.


  • With the emergence this year of video i-Pods, myspace and satellite radio, technology will take a breather in '06. The division won't be between Sirius and XM radio users, but between those who listen to satellite radio and the rest of us.


  • I say it every year and I'm gonna say it again: A non-Saddle Creek act from Omaha or Lincoln will make an appearance on a late-night chat show -- Conan, Carson Daly, Craig Ferguson, etc. Meanwhile, this year Bright Eyes will be a "special musical guest" on an episode of Saturday Night Live. It's going to happen this year, by cracky!

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Posted Jan. 5, 2005. Published in The Omaha Reader Dec. 28, 2005. Copyright 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.