Saturday, April 04, 2009


This, then, is the 25,000th No Rock And Roll Fun post. Which, first, gives me a pause in the general flow of things to thank everyone who reads, and special thanks to commenters and those of you who send me tips and hints about stories you think I'll be interested in.

And, to celebrate this landmark, what better than some music, and a more-personal-than-usual post? Here are five musical landmarks from my life (and, if you're keen, feel free to share your landmarks through the comments section).

The first song I remember
I've got several really strong memories of songs from when I was not that much smaller but a whole heap blonder: Standing on the pouffe, singing along with The Carpenter's Yesterday Once More, creating a moment for future nostalgia out of a song that was, in itself, about nostalgia. Pilot's January, which made a massive connection in my head when I heard it while looking at a calendar displaying a January page. But, really, the first soundtracked memory I have, has this tune on it. Ringo Bloody Starr, and his you-wouldn't-get-away-with-that-now classic, You're 16, You're Beautiful, And You're Mine:

The memory itself is as underwhelming as the song, to be honest: getting up, on a dark winter's morning, to the sound of Ringo downstairs. He was on the radio. He wasn't a friend of the family.

The 'more than wallpaper' song
On Peeling Back The Years, Radio One's indulgent four-parter where John Walters explored John Peel's musical life, he posed a question "when was the first time you heard a song and thought 'this is more than wallpaper, this means something to me'?" Which is a tricky question to answer - I was already a smitten pop fan before hearing the next song, but it did something alchemical to me. This was the record where I realised that this was it; that the rest of my life would be spent trying to find records which gave me this sort of feeling of plunging deep into the heart of the sound; of that moment when the music and the lyrics and the performance resonates.

It was Blasphemous Rumours. Oh, yes, for a time, Depeche Mode were the group that defined me:

The song that changed my life
They defined me, but didn't reshape me in the way that Ride did. This came on Snub TV when I was at university, and I mentioned in a letter to a penfriend (a thing we did before the internet, young people) that I'd found my first great new band of the year. "They're playing here in Oxford next weekend, come down" she replied. So I did, kick-starting a couple of years of following bands, meeting people, growing up, sleeping in the open, falling to pieces and pulling back together. This isn't the first time Chelsea Girl has been posted on No Rock, but it can never be heard enough:

The song that sings of love
The first dance at my wedding. We're still dancing. I wouldn't be without her.

Mazzy Star's Fade Into You. If you have to have a Starr, then you need a Star to balance them out.

The greatest new song I've heard today
I hadn't heard much of the new PJ Harvey - John Parrish stuff before today, when I caught up with their live session on George Lamb's programme from earlier in the week. Sublime, as ever, making the switch from the music to the honking, the canned applause, and the provincial cabaret patter even more galling. Here's Black Hearted Love the way it's intended to be:

Music. It's bloody brilliant, isn't it?

Now, then, back to the cynical poking of people who try and ruin it...

Abe Vigoda tour dates (the band, not the actor)

It doesn't seem like five minutes since Abe Vigoda were last in the UK. But they're coming back already:

Tuesday 12 May – LONDON – Barden’s Boudoir
Wednesday 13 May – CARDIFF – Buffalo Bar
Thursday 14 May – MANCHESTER – Deaf Institute
Friday 15 May – BRIGHTON – The Great Escape (Uncut Stage)
Thursday 21 May – LONDON – Stag and Dagger festival
Friday 22 May – LEEDS – Stag and Dagger festival
Saturday 23 May – BRISTOL – Dot to Dot festival
Sunday 24 May – NOTTINGHAM - Dot to Dot festival

YouTube vs the PRS: Looking at that 'money making' claim

Central to the PRS charges against YouTube is the claim that the video hosting service is a money-making machine. Even when it doesn't set out to confuse the earning power of the whole of the Google organisation with the money made by YouTube, the PRS' central line of attack is that YouTube is making oodles of dosh, so it should share that.

But is that even true?

Not according to a Credit Suisse report:

Google's YouTube -- the Internet's most popular video site -- could be on track to lose approximately $470 million in 2009, according to a report Friday by Credit Suisse.
According to the firm's analysis of YouTube traffic and ad strategies, the site is on track to generate about $240 million in revenue in 2009, up about 20% year over year.

YouTubeBut the cost of bandwidth, content licensing, ad-revenue shares, hardware storage, sales and marketing and other expenses will total about $711 million, putting YouTube squarely in the red, the Credit Suisse report estimated. Bandwidth accounts for about 51% of expenses -- with a run rate of $1 million per day -- with content licensing accounting for 36%.

Now, these figures are fingers in the air, but if you choose to accept them, it seems PRS are really doing Google a disservice - far from refusing to share the profits YouTube makes, the company is blowing the entire profit on paying content license holders.

Darkness at 3AM: Reunion of one

The only plausible explanation for this piece on 3AM today is that they think having joke items is a tradition for every day in April, not just the 1st:

There's been Take That, the Spices and Boyzone. Now, it's East 17's turn! Well, a quarter of them, anyway. Tony Mortimer's doing a one-off show next month at the Monto@229 in London.

Where do you start? Where? That a solo gig is not, by any stretch of the definition, a reunion of a band? That East 17 have already reformed and split up again, apparently bypassing the Mirror's crack entertainment team? Or is it best to just sit, head in hands?

Twittergem: Trent_Reznor

Trent was online last night. Trent, not "Trent", as he explains:

Asshole alert: @trent__reznor is a fake.
about 8 hours ago from web

1 underscore = me (occasionally an asshole), 2 underscores = NOT me (full-time, internet-style, coward asshole)
about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

In all seriousness, I have met a number of fragile personalities over the years who have had lengthy online friendships with impostors.
about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

... that shit MAKES ME MAD.
about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

Then they're pissed at me because I'm not who they've been talking to!
about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

And why am I telling YOU and who am I talking to right now?? -losing my shit here. Step away from the TweetDeck, sir.
about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

OK, just one more. FYI I can stop doing this any time I want to.
about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

I figure as long as I TWEET (I feel stupid saying that) LESS times per day than @davenavarro6767 and @amandapalmer I'm OK. Right? Yeah.
about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

SEE! She couldn't HELP but tweet. RT @amandapalmer: @trent_reznor good god. feeling your pain, brother.
about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

And I know somewhere Dave's palms are sweaty... finger hovering over the RETURN button.
about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

[Follow: One underscore.]

Gordon in the morning: Yes, Virginia, there is a rule of law

The big news in Gordon's kingdom this morning is Madonna being told 'no':

Madonna screamed ‘Whaaaat’ and held head in her hands

That's probably 'what' as in 'what does this thing 'no' mean? It's a word I've heard, of course, but not one that has ever been directed towards my face before.'

Yes, Virginia Wheeler is finally doing some reporting from the court room in Malawi.
STUNNED MADONNA screamed “Whaaaat?” and held her head in her hands yesterday after a judge sensationally DENIED her bid to adopt a second Malawian orphan.

Perhaps Madonna was so surprised because she'd been reading Wheeler's reports that the whole thing was a done deal. Court was a "rubber stamp", wasn't it, Virginia?
The head of the orphanage where Mercy will today return said the ruling would be “like a dagger in Madonna’s heart”.

Annie Chikhwaza, who runs the Kondanani Children’s Home where the tot has spent most of her life, re-introduced Mercy to Madge when the singer touched down in Malawi last week.

And she revealed the excited little girl’s first word when she saw Madonna was “Mummy”.

Now, you or I might think this is a sign that the orphanage and Madonna have been handling this whole thing really badly - Madonna, apparently, making promises to a child that she thought were underwritten by her cash; the orphanage not cautioning that no child should be told they're being adopted until the paperwork is in place. This seems pretty scandalous.

So, surely Virginia will want to make sure her readers remember exactly who has been at the heart of this story, and the only person who should matter?

Well, sort of:
A family friend said: “Madonna is an amazing woman who always gets what she wants.

“This is a massive embarrassment for her. She is furious, shocked, devastated and cannot believe what’s happened.”

Back in Britain, and more surprise for anyone who relies on the Sun's reports to understand the world. You'll recall yesterday how the triumvirate of Gordon Smart, Sara Nathan and James Clench diagnosed Matthew Horne's illness:
The actor, said to be suffering from exhaustion, was taken off on a stretcher, breathing with an oxygen mask[...]
A source said: “Mat has been working so hard. He is a fragile guy. Friends worried he was taking on too much. It’s been stressful.”

Doctors last night said Mat was suffering severe stress.

Oddly, though, today a fourth writer, Rhodri Phillips turns up to deliver today's update:
COMIC actor Mathew Horne — who collapsed on stage during a West End show — is suffering from a virus, it was revealed yesterday.
It had been thought the Gavin and Stacey star, who appears in a TV sketch show and the film Lesbian Vampire Killers, could be suffering exhaustion.

Really... I wonder what could have made it "had been thought" that?

Friday, April 03, 2009

The PRS: Everything they do, they do for the musicians

The PRS - who are taking on the evil, fire-breathing Google - like to make great play about how they're non-profit, only covering costs and passing everything else on to their members.

Can anyone from PRS explain how, if you're, say, the bassist in a small band from Bolton, it helps for the PRS to spend a chunk of the money they've collected in your name on sponsoring television programmes on Sky Arts?

They've sprung to sponsor the Songbook series. Now, I'm sure that it's not an expensive deal, but if I was the bassist from Liquid Greek, I'd be pretty keen to know what the logic behind the deal is. Unless, you know, it's about bolstering the PRS' image and position in case there's any attempt to create a European wide royalties agency which actually thinks about its members when it spends money?

British public fined for Russell Brand's errors

So, Ofcom has decided that the BBC must pay for the Russell Brand phonecalls - or, rather, the licence fee payer has to stump up £150,000.

Given Jonathan Ross was suspended for three months without pay as a result of the phone calls, technically the BBC are still going to come out of the deal a few thousand ahead, but the sense of fining the BBC still makes little sense: that's the money we give them to make programmes with. So, in effect, we're having our money taken away and given to the government for something we didn't do. If there must be fines levied against the BBC, should they not come from management's wages - or the independent production company who made the programmes - and not from licence fee money? How does it fit with Ofcom's other work to ensure that there's enough money for public service broadcasting if it takes money away from the only place that is making it?

Ofcom doesn't seem interested, either, that most of the complaints came from people who hadn't heard the programme, and only were outraged at the descriptions of the event they read in the papers. It acknowledges, but doesn't comment:

After the programme of 18 October 2008, the BBC had received 2 complaints from listeners. However, on the Monday (27 October) after the programme of 25 October 2008 and following articles in the national press, the BBC received a further 546 complaints. The total number of complaints finally received by the BBC about Russell Brand was 42,851.

It doesn't alter the question if the programme should have been broadcast, but shouldn't Ofcom at least be starting a debate about this? People were upset not by the radio programme, but by the Mail's coverage of the radio programme. Should Ofcom really be responding to complaints from people who have only been alerted by a newspaper piece? 42,849 complainants had learned about Baillie's private life from the Mail On Sunday, not from Radio 2. Who was the actual broadcaster here?

It's especially odd that Ofcom seems most upset about the invasion of Georgina Baillie and Andrew Sachs' privacy - although she didn't actually complain herself, and he explicitly didn't want to:
In response to Andrew Sachs’ agent, Ofcom acknowledged receipt of the copy of the complaint and noted that Ofcom had “not received any Fairness or Privacy complaint from Andrew Sachs or his granddaughter.” Andrew Sachs’ agent then informed Ofcom that Mr Sachs “has no further complaint he wants to make.”

And in fact, given that within a few days Baillie was signing off on a nationwide poster campaign for a Channel Five programme which said "Now we'll give Georgina the chance to screw them both", it doesn't seem that Baillie was that bothered at all. It doesn't excuse what Brand and Ross did, but it's a bit weird protecting the privacy of someone who doesn't appear to be that upset at the supposed invasion and of another who made it clear they wouldn't be making a formal complaint about privacy.

If I'm understanding this correctly, then, the invasion of the pair's privacy was investigated not because the victims complained, but because a bunch of newspaper readers complained. An ugly public mob demanding that people who had elected to try and move on have their privacy defended, whether they wanted it or not. Let's go and drag Sachs into the street, bring him out his house, and make sure we protect his privacy by kicking off another round of stories about how his Granddaughter had poor taste in men.

One further piece on the affair: Ofcom have also issued a judgement against a Chris Moyles show for an interview he did with Brand. No fine for this, but it is another public drubbing for Moyles. Perhaps Parfitt might need to call him in again.

Whigfield: Tommy Scott

The first I heard about the death of Tommy Scott was while catching up on this week's Marc Riley shows (brilliant session this week from Piney Gir, by the way). On Monday night, Marc read out an email expressing shock at the death of Scott.

Trouble is, the lead singer of Space wasn't actually dead. It seems an ill-judged prank had taken place, with a headed paper news release coming from his new band The Drella's record company. Some people were surprised to find out that a man they believed to be in fine fettle was being pronounced dead; others were equally surprised to find out that he still had a record deal.

Scott isn't dead, and - although he had been victim of a tasteless joke - you might think he's just starting to milk it with a second day of interviews on the subject. It's a bit worrying when you need "not being dead" to gather any press coverage...

Malawi says no

The Associated Press is reporting that the Malawian court has rejected Madonna's attempts to procure a second child.

This, despite Virginia Wheeler reporting it as a done deal in The Sun all week. Does this country have no respect for journalists?

Telling fibs to members: The PRS rallies support

Thanks to Ian for forwarding on the letter the PRS is currently sending out to try and raise interest in its FairPlayForCreators initiative. It's quite an interesting read:

Fair Play for Creators has been established by PRS for Music so that its songwriter and composer members, along with other creators, can publicly demonstrate their concern over the way their work is treated by online businesses.

This is just a stylistic point, but wouldn't hope that a company which is part of the creative industries might be able to express itself in a slightly less ungainly fashion?
Fair Play for Creators is an online forum set up after Internet-giant Google made the decision to remove some music content from YouTube in the UK.

Is it? Obviously, "forum" is a slippery term, but wouldn't you expect a forum to be a place where you might be able to debate? What FPfC actually is is a space supporting the campaign, and contributions seem to be chosen only if they support the line.

And strictly speaking, YouTube in Europe, Middle East and Africa made the decision, didn't it?
Google made this decision because it didn’t want to pay the going rate for music, to the creators of that music, when it is used on YouTube.

Did it? Isn't the argument not about if YouTube wants to pay "the going rate", but what that going rate actually is? In the words of Churchill, they know what you are, they're just haggling about price.

But then "we think songs are worth more than Google does" isn't quite as hard done-by, is it?
Google continue to say they cannot operate YouTube if they have to pay a royalty – however small – every time a video containing music is played. In 2007, the UK’s independent Copyright Tribunal established that a minimum royalty per play was an essential requirement in the licensing of online services.

Have they? Or is this just a recognition that a single play would generate such a tiny figure, until you reach a certain number of plays it's facile to make payments. Seriously: how would the PRS even distribute an income in hundredths of a penny?
Google fails to recognise this and ascribes little value to music - in spite of a huge increase in music usage on YouTube’s UK service in the past year alone.

Why, PRS? Why do you embarrass yourself by writing this sort of thing?

You know it's not that Google "ascribes little value to music" - it just disagrees with you about where the price point is. Why must you treat your members - whose earnings pay for your jobs - as if they're idiots and talk to them in fairy stories?

And do you really not understand that simply because there's a "high increase" in music usage on YouTube "in the past year alone" doesn't actually mean that the company is making any more money? Are you so ignorant of the workings of the internet that you don't grasp that a "high increase" in usage of a web hosting service brings with it a "high increase" in costs, too - more bandwidth, more storage, more electricity to power the servers - and that an increase in demand doesn't automatically equate to an increase in income, much less profit.
We are pleased to report that there has been a good deal of media coverage about the Fair Play For Creators campaign including an article in The Times today. High profile supporters have also published a letter in The Times newspaper, to further raise awareness of the issues.

That's The Times newspaper. They haven't inserted an article into Ed Ball.
We are also delighted that many music industry organisations are also supporting the campaign. The Musician’s Union and the Featured Artists’ Coalition are the latest to throw their weight behind us, joining BASCA, the MPA, PCAM and UK Music.

A surprising number of organisations with pretty much the same activists and world view agree with each other.
As we write this, we have also just learnt that Google has begun similar action in Germany; blocking user access to premium content on the German YouTube service because it won’t pay the going rate for music to our colleagues at the German collecting society, GEMA.

Actually, YouTube is removing the music because the agreement with GEMA has expired, and so they no longer have an agreement to legally display the German organisation's member's music. Is the PRS suggesting that Google should have carried on playing out the videos despite having no legal agreement to do so?
Please add your support to the campaign by leaving a comment at

And if you don't agree with the PRS' bungled approach to the YouTube negotiations, which are costing artists real money because as a corporation they can't adjust to the new realities? What then, PRS?
Here you can also read more about the latest developments, read industry statements, link to media coverage and read the latest supporter comments.

Do help us highlight this issue by forwarding this email to fellow music creators or others who may wish to pledge their support.

We look forward to hearing from you.

It's funny, isn't it? The PRS makes much of being a member's organisation, and a democratic body - but never once does it think that there might be members who disagree with its direction. There's not a hint of asking "are we getting it right?"; not a sniff of any attempt to treat the renegotiation of the YouTube deal as part of a debate. To an outsider, it looks like PRS views its members as footsoldiers who - fed a bit of sub-Henry V calls to arms, smuttered up with a bit of inaccurate spin.
Fair Play for Creators – One voice together, we can be heard.

Gordon in the morning: The low groan on the treadmill is the sound of Madonna being shattered

What's this? Has Virginia Wheeler had second thoughts about Madonna's "adoption"?

Madge is unfit mother

Has Virginia considered the reasons why plucking a child, labeling him or her an "orphan", taking them from their family and pushing them into the arms of a nanny or two, might be bad for the child, however good it makes the 'adopter' look?

No, of course not:
MADONNA’S tour of African orphanages was suspended yesterday after she twisted her ankle falling off a treadmill.

[Footage of Michael Parkinson looking concerned unavailable at this time]

Yes, a treadmill. In Malawi. Why do you find that strange?
The singer, 50, had gym equipment specially flown to Malawi so she could keep fit.

Does anyone remember Madonna taking part in Live Earth? Something about trying to reduce our carbon footprints? Perhaps she was flying in orphan-powered treadmills on planes that floated on the power of Kabbalah alone.

Our local expert on Africa has confirmed that, while some nations on the continent lag behind richer Western nations in infrastructure, Malawi does possess long, flat surfaces upon which those keen to have a little jog could have a little jog. "The other advantage of running on the ground," he observed, "is that it's much harder to fall off."

Also falling over yesterday was Matthew Horne out of Little & Wise. He collapsed on stage during a performance of Entertaining Mr Sloane. Man falls over? That's quite a big story, isn't it? Who's going to write it down?

Yes, the TV editor. Horne is on television. All the bloody time. Of course. But this is a big story. Can Sara handle it on her own?

Naturally Gordon must help with the story. He knows a lot about... he's... he has expertise to share.

But hang about... Sara is a busy TV editor from London's Wapping, and Gordon has many demands on his time. Those shots of a man in a cardigan looking awkward don't take themselves. We're actually going to need someone to write the story, aren't we?

Good. The team's all here. Two editors and a person who has access to a keyboard. A superpowered reporting team. They'll be able - between them - to gain access to secret sources and entertainment deep throats to bring coverage of this man falling over that the general public would never be able to tap into. Hit us with your discoverage, SaraGordonJames:
His MySpace page yesterday said he was “drained”.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Flo Rida explains economics

Flo Rida - I wonder if he's regretting that stupid name yet? - explains why he thinks people are happy to pay for music:

Flo Rida [...] says most of his fans realise download prices are a fair deal.

"As an artist, we have to pay for things like studio time and if we traded those costs, they'd probably be paying a lot more," he says.

"They're probably in a better position when they buy an album rather than pay directly for my studio time which is about $150 (£105) an hour."

Well, yes... it is cheaper to spread the costs of production over a large number of people than for one person to pay the whole lot up front.

Similarly, most people would rather buy a loaf of bread rather than buy a bakery. And last night in Boots, the bloke in front of me in the queue decided to pay a few of quid for a prescription, rather than stump up for the entire costs of the drug company's research and development work producing the palliative.

It does miss the point quite a bit, but you can't deny that Aunt Flo is right.

Radio One: Never mind the cost, lose the quality

There's a strange little piece over on Brand Republic this morning which suggests that the BBC aren't showing an advert they've made promoting Radio One because it looks "too expensive":

Other BBC roster agencies have also expressed concerns that the BBC is asking them to produce work that "looks good, but not too good", in response to growing pressures that the licence fee is spent resourcefully during recession.

Of course, the BBC could stop people getting too energised over the amount spent on getting advertising agencies to make short films for it by - and this might be a crazy thought - using the creative people it employs and the cameras it owns to make the things.

Gordon in the morning: He loves a happy ending, does Gordon

What can a headline like this possibly mean?

Dubai do again

Dubai do... doobedoo... has Dubai now got so much money it's cloned Frank Sinatra and will make him sing Strangers In The Night over the airport tannoy?
SOCCER ace Ashley Cole wants to whisk wife CHERYL back to Dubai to renew their wedding vows, The Sun can reveal.

He has been secretly plotting a romantic break with her this summer after the football season.


Still, Gordon is carried away with the romance of it all:
The millionaire footballer — on international duty against Ukraine last night — is shopping for an expensive ring to present to Girls Aloud singer Cheryl in the swish Al Mahra resort.

Oh, bless.
England and Chelsea defender Cole, 28, plans to take X Factor judge Cheryl, 25, to the spot in the desert where he proposed in 2005.

Oh, how beautiful.
And he hopes the trip will draw a line under the one-night stand he had with hairdresser Aimee Walton, 23, which nearly destroyed his marriage last year.

Ah yes. Now... refresh my memory, Gordon: who was it who helped almost destroy the marriage in the first place?

Back, for example, on February 19th 2008?
Cheryl has pondered how to deal with the scumbag Premier League numbnuts during a luxury hol in Thailand. [...]
Chezza, you’re a beautiful, successful woman, send Ashley packing.

I’ve a drawer full of phone numbers from lads around the country offering you a shoulder to cry on ...

And then there was the Bizarre-branded stuff from Richard White on February 1st:
DEVASTATED CHERYL COLE has been told she could land a £4million payout by divorcing her cheating hubby ASHLEY.

In fact, where did the whole story start in the first place? Wasn't it a big exclusive reveal by The Sun?

Still, it's heartwarming to see that having done its best to turn admittedly bad behaviour into a bitter divorce, the Sun and the Bizarre team are now equally happy to claim exclusives on the rapprochement.

And they're serious about it: This is the second time in six months Gordon's pages have run a story claiming the pair are about to renew their vows.

More dreadful coverage of Madonna childscoop '09 from Gordon's person in Malawi, Virgina Wheeler this morning. Wheeler effectively decides to drop the idea of reporting in favour of running Madonna's side without question:
MADONNA last night slammed critics of her plans to adopt a second African orphan — insisting that her intentions are “totally heartfelt”.

The singer’s spokeswoman told how Madge had an “instant and profound” connection with MERCY JAMES the moment she first met her more than a year ago.

A journalist might wonder how, if the connection was so profound, Madonna didn't choose to spend more time with Mercy - at least while the adoption was being processed. In keeping with the usual Malawian practice, in fact, for overseas adoption.
Some human rights groups accused Madonna, 50, of using her cash to “bulldoze” the process in Malawi.

But her statement insisted she had “not skirted any legal issues”.

The adoption of four-year-old Mercy is set to be rubber-stamped tomorrow by a court in capital Lilongwe.

A journalist might have paused for a moment, and wondered how a court can be "rubber-stamping" a decision if "legal issues" are not being "skirted".
Madonna’s lawyer Alan Chinula told The Sun: “There is no existing law that can stop this adoption now.”

A journalist might have asked, at the very least, about the rules of the African Union - of which Malawi is a member - which suggests that overseas adoption of children should be a last resort.

The headline?
Madge: I loved my Mercy at first sight

A journalist might ask if there is a difference between loving someone, and adopting them, ripping them from their family and home, and thrusting them into the glare of the international media.

And shouldn't the "my" be in quote marks?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Miley Cyrus has heroes

Naturally, growing up in the home paid for by the royalties from Achy Breaky Heart, Miley Cyrus has never wanted for a hero to look up to. Her dad taught her that any old toot can pay for having the taps goldplated.

But a young woman needs more. Luckily, though, Miley has other role models:

"I'm a huge Jennifer Aniston fan and a huge Angelina Jolie fan," Cyrus said.

And what is it that appeal about Aniston, then? She has managed to parlay a limited talent and some hair into a multimillion dollar career, so perhaps that's it?
"Jennifer Aniston can put on a plain black dress with plain makeup and hair and look so stunning.

Um... yes. Being able to wear a dress. Well, that's a talent, I suppose.

But Jolie, then? She has, at least, shared her views on matters of global importance - perhaps you draw strength from Angelina's demonstration that celebrity can strive to be more than shallow, even if with limited success?
Angelina always looks so comfortable in her own skin. She's also changed, going from wild child to being a mom and having a normal life.

Angelina Jolie's normal life. Yes... yes, I can see how that normal, everyday, turning up at Davos economic fora life she's made for herself might appeal.

But hang on a moment, because Cyrus has remembered there's something else inspiring about Jennifer Aniston. And it's not being able to walk in heels:
And Jennifer Aniston bounced back after her divorce. If anything like that ever happens to me, I'm like, 'Pull a Jennifer, Miley!' She is so classy."

Mmm. Uncomfortably naked except for a tie on the cover of GQ classy.

The mind can only attempt warm-up leaps trying to speculate exactly what Miley has had happened to her that has been on a par with a very public divorce; much less how many events of this sort must have occurred for her to have generated a catchphrase for those happenings.

Lady GaGa will smack your teeth out

That must have led to observers saying 'that's gotta hurt':

One of Lady GaGa knocked out one of her dancers' teeth during a US radio performance yesterday (March, 31).

The singer got a little over-excited during the set for New York radio station Party 105 and unintentionally hit the backing dancer with her mic, resulting in her losing three teeth.

Still, at least it was in a good cause, dancing for a radio performance. Presumably GaGa - like the audience - hadn't seen the dancer was there.

Mark E Smith: Broken hip priest

Somehow I'd managed to miss the news that Mark E Smith had broken his hip, until he returned to stage using a wheelchair. He's going to be sitting down during the Koko gig as well.

To be frank, it might be a bit safer for him to do the gigs from a sitting position.

Seeqpod hides

Seeqpod was - and is - a brilliant idea. A playable searchengine, which lets you find music online, and listen to it in situ. Connecting fans and the curious with artists and product. Wonderful, right?

Ah, but what happens when someone has a brilliant musical idea on the internet? The increasingly Kurtz-like music industry attempts to have it destroyed. And so it is, with the Warners lawsuit forcing Seeqpod into protective bankruptcy and, it looks likely, rapid closure.

Well done, everybody: you've done nothing to make your industry any more secure, but done a little bit more to frustrate your audiences.

Guten abend: YouTube pulls German videos

There is some soothing balm for the PRS in the news that Google and GEMA have failed to reach a royalty agreement: GEMA's demands are 50% higher than PRS are looking for, which does at least mean that the PRS is no longer the organisation with the slimmest grasp on what online music is really worth.

As in the UK, music videos are now being switched off all across

Digital ate my music industry

There have been some awful explanations and pretty intense finger-pointing in the bid to find out what killed the music industry (or at least, what the RIAA-PRS believes to be the music industry). Joe Mardin is pointing his finger firmly at the CD.

Yes, the CD:

“In a way, the CD is what destroyed the music business,” says Joe Mardin, a musician, producer, arranger, and engineer. Mardin grew up in the music business; his father was Ardiff Mardin, the legendary producer of Hall & Oats, Norah Jones, Aretha Franklin, and others. “People were buying millions of CDs to replace their catalog," says Mardin, explaining how industry greed ended up killing the Golden Goose. “There was this imperative that started to emerge: 'You must fill up a CD with as much music as possible,’” Mardin says. “The rest was filler. You ended up with albums that were one or two hits and a bunch of wanna-be hits.” The record industry itself killed the album, trying to maximize profits.

So... having a format which persuaded people to rebuy the records they'd already owned with the promise of some sort of better experience was bad for the music industry?

I'm not sure I buy the idea that there ever was an imperative to "fill up" CDs, either - certainly, there's been enough lightweight releases in the last decade to suggest that some people were immune. And hasn't 'one or two tracks you want, and the rest so much bilge' been pretty much the standard set-up for an album since someone said "how about if we spin it at thirty-three and third?"

But even if you take Mardin at his word, he still makes no sense at all - if the music industry put out a load of tosh and killed off their audience, would you blame that on a small, inert, plastic disc - or, perhaps, the music industry management who took the decision? "Idiotic management decisions and greed killed the music industry" is both more honest, and a banner that many of us would be able to march behind.

[Thanks to Sarah D for the link]

UPDATE: Was going to stick this in the comments, but it probably deserves a higher profile - Peter Gorman on album length and the CD

First Night: The Osbournes Reloaded

Before the programme aired, the misgivings about Sharon's latest vehicle for making cash from her brood had sat mostly within the Fox Broadcasting family - affiliates dropping the programme, the network slicing airtime and junking the idea of a series in favour of an unspecified number of one-off "specials".

But now the programme has aired, the question is: What did America think?

For Variety, it was "a disjointed mess":

Ostensibly a variety show shot in front of a boisterous studio audience, the program featured a mix of live and taped elements -- the first problem being that among the show's central family, only Jack Osbourne appears to have any natural aptitude for the hosting part of the gig.

The premiere's centerpiece, oddly, hinged on a staged (and most likely not legal) wedding, in which an audience member was bushwhacked by a "Get married now or else" ultimatum from his girlfriend. Although it was rather uncomfortable to watch, at least that drawn-out interlude offered a respite from watching Ozzy, Sharon and Kelly curse, with little faces appearing over their mouths to prevent even lip readers from being offended.

The Hartford Courant's Roger Catlin didn't enjoy himself:
That they'd be the cutting edge for Fox made them seem a little dated as well. The network must have realized what a dud it had on its hand. Not only did Tuesday's show not start a season - it was a one-shot teaser for an unannounced future season - it was cut from 60 minutes, to 40 to 35.

And from the cutting, we may have been spared the sight of Kelly singing - or even Ozzy doing a number. As it was, we were left with some unpalatable filmed bits - of a cussing kid version of "The Osbournes" annoying people in a theater, to Ozzy and Kelly spending a day at a fast food drive through - a ploy David Letterman did much more wittily years ago - that ended up with them throwing food at the cars in line.

Yeah, but what does the Courant know about entertainment anyway, right? Let's try Entertainment Weekly. Surely Ken Tucker was entertained, right?
It seems a lifetime since, in 2002, the Osbournes came across as refreshingly nutty on their MTV reality show. On The Osbournes: Reloaded, Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly, and Jack were just pathetic. No wonder Fox kept chopping this proposed hour-long "variety show" into an ever-smaller size before airing it. The network is supposed to air five more Reloadeds. Don't hold your breath. Or maybe, do hold your breath: The stink of this show will last a long time.

So, then: Not entirely a warm welcome, but still more popular than Sharon's ITV teatime show.

Gordon in the morning: Picking up the kid

Bizarre online this morning is leading with a long-lens shot of Madonna with the new child she's trying to buy. I suppose if Malawi is prepared to ignore the rules on overseas adoptions, there's no reason to expect the Sun to respect the rules on invasions of children's privacy.

The paper does, however, respect Madonna's privacy, and blots out her address when it reproduces the court papers.

Virginia Wheeler has flown out to Malawi, and manages to report the story as if Madonna has already been approved:

LITTLE Mercy James looks back at her orphanage home as she walks away to prepare for her new life as MADONNA’s adopted daughter.

The Queen of Pop was pictured with Mercy for the first time yesterday as authorities began finalising the adoption arrangements.

[...]The judge will give an official ruling on Friday — but Madonna, 50, has already been told that her application will succeed.

Wheeler doesn't seem in the least bit bothered, or alarmed, or interested in the idea that the court hearing has been treated in such a way.

We should approach this story remembering that Wheeler filed the "Perv Glitter stroked my arm" report for the Sun which exclusively broke the news that Gary Glitter could touch people from rows and rows of seats away.

The Sun's inability to treat this story with any degree of seriousness is probably summed up by the decision to put a jokey caption on a photo of David Banda being reintroduced to the father who awkwardly stopped him from being an orphan.

Gordon, meanwhile, takes delivery of a press release from TopShop with some pictures of Kate Moss:
KATE MOSS scrubs up well.

Here’s the Croydon clothes horse looking in the finest of fettle in a promo shot for her new Topshop collection.

She looks a far cry from the blurry-eyed party animal snapped out on the thrash during the last month.

You know, I could have sworn an adult just published a sentence which suggests that professional model shoots tend to result in better looking photos than if you take a quick snap of the same person while they're on a night out. Perhaps that's his April Fool.
Marvellous things, airbrushes.

Yes. Clearly, Gordon - who happily churns out any load of photoshopped-to-buggery pictures with barely a murmur - is having a laugh, by running a piece that pretends to object to pictures being touched up in the studio. Very good, Gordon.

Warner Brothers Acquires Pirate Bay

Although you might want to double-check the published date.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Osbournes unloaded

Everyone's a critic. Unfortunately for The Osbournes, amongst 'everyone' is numbered the head of the Fox affiliate in Panama City, Florida, who has decided that The Osbournes Reloaded isn't fit for showing as family entertainment and has kicked it from the schedules.

Still, at least in Panama City Sharon can take comfort in being shifted for a rerun of The Simpsons. In Milwaukee, the local Fox station is dumping them for a documentary about drugs.

Mind you, if you want to warn kids about the dangers of taking too many drugs, surely putting Ozzy on screen is the best thing you can do?

Gordon in the evening: Printing made-up stuff

Thanks to Toby B who posted a link on this weekend's Gordon round-up which reveals not only was Gordon's story about Pete Doherty writing a drama for the BBC made-up, but it appears Gordon knew it was made-up before he published it:

I asked for the the BBC to confirm or deny if i) Pete Doherty is or isn't going to be writing/co-writing, or in negotiations with regards to writing a drama for the BBC and if ii) The Sun or Gordon Smart of the The Sun knew the story to be untrue before publishing it (if the story is untrue, obviously).

And a spokesman for the BBC confirmed that i) Pete Doherty isn't going to be writing a drama for them and ii)

They [The Sun] had our response in advance but didn't put it in.

Perhaps after coming up with "rich vein" joke he just didn't want to spike the story.

Still, at least we can all believe that Smart really went to the Groucho with Spandau Ballet. We've seen how bad his team's attempts at photoshop are, so that has to be a genuine photo.

[UPDATE: Apologies to Toby for mistakenly morphing him into a Tony when I posted this last night.]

Downloadable: Black Kids v Mates Of State

Today's lovely little gift from RCRDLBL is a Mp3 mashing-up of Black Kids and Mates Of State.

I know, owning mp3s is so 2007. But it's worth a go, innit?

British Press Awards: Mail wins prizes

For some reason, the British Press Awards - which used to be used to reward the best of UK journalism - has given its scoop of the year award to the Mail On Sunday. It's scoop?

The Jonathan Ross-Russell Brand story.

Now, I might be missing something here, but how exactly is writing a story about something that had been on the radio eight days before count as a scoop? It had been on the radio. Surely, if someone deserves a prize for letting people know that Brand and Ross had left messages on Andrew Sachs' answerphone, it should go to Radio 2 for broadcasting it just after it happened?

Still, it's exciting to know that copying stuff down off Listen Again now passes for the best of investigative journalism. I'm going to transcribe last Sunday's Archers omnibus. I fully expect to be picking up a Pulitzer within the year.

Horses must pay for their music. They like Celine Dion.

I might have been a little too hard on the PRS over the last couple of weeks - it turns out they do have art at their heart. Indeed, their latest antics demonstrate that, far from being a cash-hungry intellectual property organisation, they see themselves more as a dadaesque art group, launching humourous stunts.

After all, no serious organisation would issue demands that a woman pay for playing the radio to horses, would they? Clearly, the PRS is just moving in an absurdist fashion.

Their actual argument (let's dignify them with such a description) is that the two people who work with Rosemary Greenway might hear the radio as well - that the tunes are only on to soothe the horses cut no ice with the PRS:

A spokeswoman for the society said: "Of course, we don't ask people to pay for music played to animals.

"Mrs Greenway was only asked to pay for music played for staff, like any other workplace."

For, after all, the PRS are reasonable people.

You know, it's funny - on the site, the PRS puts into its supporter's mouths the suggestion that you should ignore the actual economic arguments in the battle between the royalty collection firm and Google because Google is a large company, and therefore must simply be morally in the wrong. By that logic - even if we ignore the time and effort being put into making horses pay for their music - doesn't the PRS have to be morally in the wrong for hassling a three-person outfit?

[Thanks to Mike E for the story]

Peaches Geldof: ... plus, we get to keep the linens and crockery we got as gifts

Peaches Geldof has no regrets about her surprisingly already finished marriage to some bloke from some band:

“Max and I are really good friends. We were just too young. That’s all it was. I still love the idea that we did it. I love the idea I can tell my kids one day about it and I know he does too.”

There's not much point in adding anything to that. Let's all just pretend it never happened, shall we?

Gordon in the morning: How it happened

Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams? In the same place? At the same time? Gordon is excited. Over-excited:

In what has to be fate, Rob and GARY BARLOW have found themselves working in the same London recording complex.

That has to be fate, doesn't it? Surely? I mean, it couldn't just be coincidence or anything?
Rob is beavering away on his comeback album with top producer TREVOR HORN at Sarm Studios in trendy Notting Hill.

For confused Gordon followers, that's "London's trendy Notting Hill".
Meanwhile Gary is guiding his protege GARY GO through his latest sessions just down the corridor.

He's got a protege called Gary Go? Really? Was that because Mini Me had already been done?

Gordon can't see how this can't help but mean the pair working together again:
I’ll bet my boots the pair’s creative juices start flowing together over a brew in the canteen.

I know he didn't mean it to sound mucky. It's like these things just come spurting out when he imagines Gary and Robbie bumping into each other over and over again as they go up and down each other's corridors.
Who knows what plans they might cook up behind the studio’s blue walls.

Who knows? Gordon allows his imagination to run wild:
[The] studio tea lady should be getting along equally well with Gaz — I reckon he’s a builder’s tea with milk and two sugars man.

The highlight of the piece, though, comes not from the word processor of Gordon, but from the Sun's Photoshop boffins. They've gone all modern, doing a mock up:

Yes, this is:
Could it be magic? ... how Google Street might have captured Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow at Sarm Studios

I thought at first Gary was putting out the rubbish, but - to be honest - I wasn't really looking at him. I only had eyes for Robbie's head. What the hell has happened to him?

Elsewhere: do I need to link again to the Press Complaints Commission code rule that Smart breaks by publishing long-lens photos of Rocco Ciccone for no reason other than the fame of his mother?

Billy Corgan seeks new friend. Yes, let's say 'friend'.

Jimmy Chamberlain having recently departed the not-even-quite-reformed-before-that Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan has to fill a hole in the band.

He's doing what anybody would do and advertising:

"Auditions will be held Friday, April 10 in Los Angeles for drummers who are looking to play with THE SMASHING PUMPKINS. They should send their background info, photos and performance web links via email only to:"

Presumably he's hoofing it round the music shops and record stores of California with photocopies and blutac.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Global Radio: Listening as they retune

Stephen Miron, who is in charge of Global Radio, talks to the Guardian today, in which he explains where he sees commercial radio heading in the future:

"Our challenge as an industry is to make sure we provide absolutely compelling reasons why listeners should go from analogue to digital," Miron says. "That means making sure listeners can get everything they get on today's FM radio as a minimum, and creating compelling new ones that will attract listeners."

Oddly, Miron's Global has been busily cutting back the range of services available on FM, to the point where Ofcom has been clearing its throat about it. If you can't deliver on FM what audiences are used to on FM, how are you going to be able to do so on digital?

Miron's idea is to get the government to pay for it:
Discussions are at a sensitive stage, but Miron is adamant the government must hand operators an incentive to invest. "As an industry we have already invested £180m in DAB with very little return," he says. "That's a lot of money."

Is it? Global spent £370m on buying Capital - part of a half-billion acquisition spree- so it's not like £180 million across an industry across the best part of a decade is such an awful lot of money. And given that there's precious little to show for it, an outsider might wonder if handing tax quids to a bunch of companies whose brightest contribution to DAB so far has been recording of birdsongs would be the wisest way to spend the money.

James P also sent some observations about his attitude to his network of formerly local stations:
It's all fairly bemusing stuff (particularly his comment that the Heart rebranding happened because "There are lots of itty-bitty stations all over the place" - Apparently simultaneously frustrated by and dismissive of those pesky local stations with their irritatingly different markets and locations), but the strangest claims come at the end. He says "We have advertisers who say, we wish we could advertise on Radio 2. Well now you can - it's called Heart". I can't work out if he's optimistically trying to plug his stations, or if he genuinely believes Heart stations are a rival to Radio 2, and hasn't realised that one of the main reasons people listen to Radio 2 is because those advertisers *can't* advertise there. (That and the more interesting playlist, better presenters, lack of 'speedlinks' instructing you not to miss tomorrow's Breakfast with Jez and Mel for your chance to win £50 with Scruttocks Windows and Conservatories, etc).

At the moment, Radio 2 is doing Big Band Special, which will be followed by Viva Latino. On Heart, Simon Beale is playing a Jamelia record on Heartbreakers. The two networks are virtually impossible to tell apart, aren't they?

Reading-Leeds: The servers melt again

There are some things which are obviously always going to happen. Like Peter Barlow's drinking getting him and his strange child-unit into serious bother. Like Boris Johnson's cabinet of skellingtons being paraded up and down the street. And like the launch of tickets for festivals being bungled by the organisations responsible for them.

Mike E emailed about 6.40 to report that seetickets had collapsed - twenty minutes before the Reading-Leeds NME tickets presale was due to start.

I feel a little responsible, what with starting rumours that George Sampson would be headlining.

Elsewhere on the web, there's the usual complaints caused by an apparent inability on the part of ticket companies to predict popularity:

They're pretty much all sold out. How people get through I don't know, because I've been trying everything since 3 minutes to 7! & it pisses me off to see tickets on ebay already. If you're not going, don't bloody buy them! I swear they probably won't make much of a profit after ebay & paypal fees anyway. Grrr

Caused by the inability to design a system which degrades gracefully:
reading festival organisation is such bullshit this year. no tickets on the box office? tickets onsale at hmv at 7pm instead of the following morning? so. much. bullshit.

doesn't matter much to me, because i already got my ticket last year. & will continue to do so every year from now on, because it is IMPOSSIBLE to get them online. i was there, on the dot, at 7pm, refreshing four different ticket sites to buy a ticket for my friend. i was clicking for half an hour, & i didn't get through once. bull. shit.

And, I suspect, there's going to be more complaints when people start to see this sort thing popping up all over the place:
viagogo is Europe's largest ticket exchange, where fans can buy & sell tickets for live events and they are the ONLY official ticket resale partner for the Leeds and Reading Festivals.

Use voucher code VGG762 before April 19th and get 5% off the price of your tickets.

Meanwhile, more of the line-up has appeared on
Main Stage
Kings Of Leon
Kaiser Chiefs
Fall Out Boy
Funeral For A Friend


Main Stage
Arctic Monkeys
The Prodigy
Maximo Park
Ian Brown


Main stage
Bloc Party
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Vampire Weekend
Brand New

The Kings Of Leon? Are you sure? Sure, the Sunday line-up looks pretty good, and you're not going hear complaints from here about Placebo. But The Kings Of Leon? Are they blackmailing somebody? Are they working undercover and need to be included at the top of the bill of every festival to help their cover stories?

Did Seetickets collapse under the weight of cancels?

NME sticks up for the fans

There's a nice piece on by Mark Beaumont attacking those big online sales of gig tickets and the effect they have on 'real' fans' chances of getting hold of a chance to see their heroes:

I heard the promoter of the gigs claiming that, of the 2 million pre-sales registrations [for Jackson tickets] logged that week, 1 million had been from touting companies’ ‘bots’; it’s these programs designed to snap up the big show tickets the instant they go on sale that crash the websites and keep you bashing away at the ‘refresh’ button like the proverbial wanking gibbon. And keep desperate fans risking an early death from hypothermia to get a whiff of a face-value ticket.

A few years ago the average tout on the Clapham Omnibus was bemoaning the threat to their ‘layvleyood’ from honest punters selling their spares on eBay. Now they’ve net-savvy’d up and, as the Jacko fiasco illustrated, they’ve got a technological stranglehold on the arena ticket industry.

It's a heartfelt, and genuine, plea for people-who-actually-want-to-go to get a better deal from ticket sellers. And only slightly undermined by having a big advert slapped on the top right of the page:
Reading and Leeds Festivals 2009 Reading and Leeds Festivals 2009

Exclusive NME Ticket allocation on sale 7pm today

Things get worse for Borrell: Kelly Jones offers advice

Oh, how badly your empire has slipped when the Stereophonics make sympathetic noises about your plight. It's like getting economic advice from Zimbabwe.

Kelly Jones has looked at Razorlight, kicked the wheels and sucked his teeth:

He told MTV: “If there's any band members left by that point... he reminds me of where we were with our third album… in fucking trouble!"

Actually, Kelly, Stereophonics were in trouble from about thirty minutes after everyone realised that Local Boy In The Photograph was as good as it was going to get.

But you're still here, clinging desperately on, like you're Patrick Kielty of pop. So, what's your suggestion for Borrell? How can he... well, if not turn it around, at least still manage the odd slot when the sun is still out at festivals?
"Just change your haircut, they’ll forget all about you then. It’s a new you – Madonna's done it all her life."

The difference is, though - at least for a good chunk of her earlier career - Madonna would emerge from the salon not only with a new cut, but also carrying demo tapes of something interesting, and arresting, and popular.

I must admit, though, I never noticed Kelly Jones getting a new haircut.

Reading/Leeds: Monkeys on top

NME is reporting that the Arctic Monkeys will headline this year's Reading Festival, which obligates them to do the same for the Leeds Festival as well. is going to unveil the rest of the bill this evening at 7pm, and, simultaneously, will be selling tickets via Seetickets. You'd think they'd have put the tickets on sale ten minutes later, so that you could read who's playing before joining the log-in rush. After all, if it's Spandau Ballet on Saturday night, and George Sampson headlining the second stage every night, you might think twice about investing your cash.

Nike: The BNP of the plimsole industry

Just as the BNP might not really have thought through the implications of putting leftist agit-popsters songs about fighting Fascists on their - sorry, not their, their supporter's propoganda, did Nike really think through choosing Run by Gnarls Barkley to promote their pumps?

Admittedly, the shoe people have started the song from the third verse, missing out the bit which sparks off the 'are they singing about drugs or Bill Wyman style inappropriate sex?' debates, but that somehow makes it all the more puzzling - "if we use this song, people might think we're suggesting that our sweatsocks are somehow connected to exploiting children, which is something that Nike can't be associated with, so let's just pretend the first couple of verses aren't there, shall we? Then everyone will think it's a happy song about running, right?"

Spotify shape-shifts into download store

Now, there's some words which might cause Apple a slight alarm - the words "iTunes killer" get flung about with gay abandon, and this ain't one, either; but Spotify have done a deal with 7Digital to allow selected European users to buy a download of selected tracks they might be listening to.

Not an iTunes killer, but - alongside Apple's enforced abandonment of one-price-fits-all, and Amazon's mp3 store - enough to give indigestion to iTunes.

Experts - or, at least, "experts" - see evidence of panic in the move, on Spotify's behalf:

However, said Mark Mulligan, analyst at Forrester Research, Spotify has found that far fewer users then expected are handing over the cash for a monthly subscription.

"The deal is happening now rather than at launch because Spotify is going through the process of re-learning its business," he said.

"It went into this thinking it was going to be a premium subscription business," he said. "The problem is what's proven to be the successful part is the free bit."

I'm sure Mulligan has good reason for believing what he believes, but I'd bet a signed Elastica seven inch that the reason why Spotify are adding this now, rather than at launch, was to avoid having their product clouded when it first went live. If there had been a chance to buy as well as subscribe, half the attention would have been on the download side and made Spotify sound like just another online shop.

And, again, Mulligan might have his reasons for believing that Spotify are "relearning" their business, but it would stretch credibility that they could have launched when they did assuming that more people would pay than listen through the ad-funded service. Perhaps they might have overestimated how much advertising would be around, but not that people would flock to free?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Online presence

A case study of artist's online presence:

This study was born out of an idea hatched by Christopher Lars Carlson, the club's president, when he realized that so few artists knew what they were doing when it came to establishing an online presence. He realized that by looking at what other artists were doing, one could model after them. Just one study wouldn't cut it though; multiple analyses would be needed to get the full picture of what a band should be doing online. Thus began The Case Book Project for Berklee's music business club.

[via Dubber on Twitter]

Madonna snaps at the children supermarket

Madonna, it appears, is not happy at public scrutiny of her plans to annex another child:

MADONNA has hit out at critics who have slammed her bid to adopt Malawian orphan MERCY JAMES - insisting it is "none of their business".

Given that those leading the criticism of her plans is Save The Children, you would have to counter "actually, you know, it might be very much their business".

Still, there has been a happy outcome of Madonna getting hungry again; it has reminded her of her promise - hitherto unfulfilled - of allowing David to see his Dad. Why, there's a meeting taking place on the current trip to Malawi. Almost as if she was keen to show that, ooh, she's a woman of her word or something.

Gordon in the morning: I love Kasabian

Gordon, we know, likes Kasabian. He really, really likes them. Look, here he is, introducing them on stage at the Teenage Cancer Trust gig last week.

He really, really loves them:

I’ve also had a sneaky listen to the band’s new album, The West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, out on June 8, and it should put them in the major league. Tracks such as Vlad The Impaler, Thick As Thieves, Fire and Underdog will be the songs of the summer in 2009.

It's nice to see Gordon writing about music rather than breasts, so let's not let him see us snickering at the suggestion that, apparently, everything on the album is going to become a summer anthem, or that the perennial Championship makeweights are in with a shot at the "major league".

Because Gordon really, really loves Kasabian:
The video for Fire will be a belter too. The boys will be in Joburg, South Africa, this week firing a ferocious arsenal of weapons for it.

Got to love the casual use of "Joburg", which is only slightly undermined by the explanation that it's the one in South Africa. Firing weapons, you say?
Speaking backstage at the sell-out fundraiser, Tom told me: "It’s going to be mental, proper Dirty Harry stuff."

Good to see that The Sun has decided to stop worrying about gun crime, and young people being given the impression that guns are cool.

Naturally, Gordon's not so blinded by love to realise that giving the lead story both online and in the paper to Kasabian will raise eyebrows unless he can find a great story upon which to hang it. So, from where comes the promise of the headline:
Serge of interest

And so it would seem:
HIP-HOP titans JAY-Z and KANYE WEST have offered their services to KASABIAN.


Well, not quite - there's some vague interest in picking up the Kasabian from "the music publishing wing of Jay-Z’s record label" and an even vaguer "Kanye has made enquiries about working on new material with the band’s songwriter SERGE PIZZORNO." Gordon's story doesn't even mention the name of Jay-Z's publishing company, or that it's a partnership deal with Stargate, or that it's a subsidiary of LiveNation. 'Large cash rich company investigates taking on as many publishing deals as possible' isn't quite as exciting, is it?

It's so hard with boys, isn't it? With a woman, you can just grab a photo, lob on a headline like this:
Kel's sea cups

and do a gentle waffle, and that's your article:
My pictures show Kelly [Brook] in the Caribbean doing what she does best – baring all in a bikini and running along the beach for a magazine shoot.

How do you bare all when you're wearing a bikini?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

BNP bungle again; use Manics to soundtrack video

The BNP are increasingly looking less like a political party, and more like they're being run as a challenge on The Apprentice. First there was the accidental use of a Polish spitfire to promote their attempt to get votes in the European elections; followed by a desperate attempt to justify their ignorance as having actually been a political point.

Now, they've managed to make a nasty little video over which they've put the Manic's If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next.

But - guess what? This turns out not to have been a BNP bungle at all:

Simon Darby, a spokesman for the BNP, said it did not use copyrighted material, and claimed the song had mistakenly been automatically streamed on to its site and had nothing to do with the official party.

BNP supporters often posted material online that had not been approved by BNP leaders, he said. Asked about the irony of the situation, Darby said: "You can interpret the lyrics any way you want."

You can interpret the lyrics "any way you want", can you?
The future teaches you to be alone
The present to be afraid and cold
So if I can shoot rabbits
Then I can shoot fascists

I'm pretty sure that the only way you could interpret that as supporting an outdated, extreme right wing grouping would be if you ignored the words and merely banged out the tune on your head using a rusty frying pan.

You also have to wonder at a grouping that believes it is capable of holding political office and yet seems incapable of controlling the videos being streamed through its own website.

Sony have intervened now, and had the offending videos removed from YouTube - although it's not clear if it's doing so because of the political uses to which the track has been put, or simply because they were afraid they might miss out on the 0.00004 pence.

South Korea announces nuke-testing for three strikes

France, New Zealand, and now South Korea flirts with the codifying 'three strikes' into law.

South Koreans who are accused by intellectual property representatives of downloading unlicenced material will now get two warnings, and then have their internet rights taken away from them.

No, I just checked Wikipedia and everything - the South Korea isn't meant to be the one where people do as they're told and have only government-approved fun.

Why are the South Korean ISPs not fighting the proposals? It could be that they're about to launch a movie download service - and so, unusually, find their interests aligned with the copyright holders. It makes you wonder if anyone could create a less-fair system, where copyright holders will complain to their business partners, and their business partners have the right to terminate anyone's link to the web without the need for proof.

[hats tipped to Boing Boing]

Even Ozzy has his doubts about the new Osbourne Variety Show

If Ozzy is able to spot through the fug that the Osbournes Reloaded is uncomfortable to watch, what hope for America as a whole?

Ozzy mumbles:

The show will include a variety of skits and pranks, including one sketch where Ozzy serves customers at the drive-through window of a fast food restaurant. But Ozzy confessed he was less than enamored with the segment, saying, "Not to my liking, to be honest with you. I didn't get involved in the entertainment business to do fast food restaurants. These people really work . . . I come from a working class background. I've never forgotten that. I've done my share of destroying hotel rooms and all of that stuff. It makes me realize they're still out there and they're still doing them jobs."

Okay, it's not especially coherent, but it's like a dim light shining somewhere that Sharon would be in trouble if the little people decided they weren't going to be butts of half-assed gags any more.

Seriously, though, Ozzy: when did you ever think you were getting into "the entertainment business"?

Save The Children from Madonna

It's not just everyone in the world outside of her employees finding Madonna's collection of African children slightly unsettling. Save The Children have their worries, too:

Spokesman Dominic Nutt said: “What Madonna is doing verges on a puppy parade. People like her are looking for the most beautiful child. They wouldn’t choose a child with a disability or special needs.

“It doesn’t help to take one child out of an orphanage to a huge palace and buy them a pony. All these children who may only have one parent, or no parent, cannot be transported to Notting Hill by pop stars.

“Madonna’s heart may be in the right place, but other mothers will look up to her and she’s setting a terrible example.”

Talking of things being in the right place, it's interesting that the grandmother of Madonna's latest target - who up until now had vociferously decried the plans - is now being "looked after" by the Madonna-funded Kabbalah charity.

Here we go again, then.

This week just gone

This month's most popular pieces:

1. Free download: Glasvegas remixed
2. Reluctant Idol: Leave me alone, begs David Cook
3. PRS take on YouTube: Battle front round-up
4. Video: MSTRKRFT on Jimmy Kimmel
5. Featured Artists Coalition calls for end to criminalisation of music fans
6. Rock sick list: Pete Burns in hospital
7. Amy Winehouse sort-of sets fire to her hair
8. Michael Jackson ticket presale allows O2 customers to experience Ticketmaster fail before anyone else
9. Ofcom disapproves of Chris Moyles; Guardian suggests he's getting old, too
10. Limewire offer tips on how to set up your own darknet

These were this week's suggested new releases:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz

download It's Blitz

The Decemberists - Hazards Of Love

download Hazards Of Love

Royksopp - Junior

download Junior

Pet Shop Boys - Yes

download Yes

Radiohead - 3 Disc reissue of The Bends

download new The Bends

Pendragon - Pure