Saturday, December 11, 2010

HMV: Let's hope Gennaro's got his CV in good order

Terrible results from HMV this week: they've managed to turn last year's first half £25m loss into £41.3m, and have taken to weakly warning that the snow might make things worse:

Shares in HMV plunged by more than a quarter this morning after it reported disappointing sales figures and warned that the icy weather was keeping customers away from its shops.
Yes, the snow is the problem. People apparently even in the height of summer are avoiding HMV just in case there's lingering ice outside the shop, it looks like.

The throwing of the store into attracting gamers has proved to be a disaster, joining the industry just as games sales slipped first 30% and the 12% year-on-year. Obviously, the effects of being the last standing record shop have worn off. And the glitzy ideas of opening cinemas and promoting music and spoiling the name of venues is looking expensive - the chain is now clunking around under debts of over £150m.

Christmas trading - providing there's no ice, or rain, or wind - should just about pull them into profit for the year. To be fair to Simon Fox, there are many years of slow decline left in his business.

Gordon in the morning: Charles meets the Dubz

If it wasn't for the joshing reference to the protesters who nearly spared Charles and Camillia the horror of the Royal Variety Show, you'd have bet Gordon had written his Charles-meets-N-Dubz piece weeks ago:

N-DUBZ have got the royal seal of approval from PRINCE CHARLES.

The Camden scamps were given a thorough talking to by the Prince at the Royal Variety Performance.
Naturally, Charles knew all about them (i.e. had been briefed about them seconds before):
He said: "What are you guys doing here. Are you hip-hopping about?" Dappy replied: "No sir, we make great music for the masses."

Charles then replied: "So I've heard."
Given that Gordon and N-Dubz are seizing on this as evidence of Charles being aware of their work, surely an opening gambit of "what are you guys doing here?" is a bit weak. Hadn't he just seen them doing their thing?

Still, it made Dappy happy:
Afterwards Dappy was still beaming because Charles knew all about the band.

He said: "It just shows how far N-Dubz have come that even the Prince knows all about our music. We are honoured."
Hmm. "Are you hip-hopping about" and "that's a nice suit" hardly suggests Charles is ready to go on Mastermind with N-Dubz as a specialist subject.

Gary Barlow managed to wave a double-edged sword as he introduced N-Dubz on stage:
GARY BARLOW introduced the trio on to the stage, saying: "These guys are the only urban UK act to sell any albums."
Might come as a surprise to Tinchy and Dizzee, that, Gary.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Universal boss stuffs Cameron's pockets

From Private Eye:

NOW the Tories are in power they are receiving generous donations from some intriguing sources. According to the Electoral Commission, these include a whopping £80,000 in July from record label Universal Music, whose boss Lucian Grainge was a teenage fan of the Sex Pistols and Clash.

These days he prefers to hobnob with David Cameron instead. Grainge served on the Tories’ “Creative Industries” taskforce, which looked at weakening the BBC. He is unlikely to have consulted the artistes who bring in much of Universal’s cash – including Amy Winehouse, Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox and Tinchy Stryder – about their big Tory donation.
Why would Universal be raining cash down on government? Surely not part of the plans for the long-expected bid for EMI, is it?

Ne-Yo considers all possibilities except album not being any good to explain sales

Why would the disappointing Ne-Yo album be struggling to find a market?

Any ideas, Ne-Yo?

He told's Gossip Girls section: "I was a little disturbed by my first week numbers, but a lot of things went into that first week number.

"The album getting leaked a month in advance definitely had something to do with it."
You know, you could be on to something there, Ne-Yo - obviously, once people had heard how rotten the record is, they'd be less likely to buy it.

Mr. Yo had previously suggested on Twitter that filesharers have their hands cut off:
"ALL HACKERS DIE SLOW!! It's stealing plain and simple! There's places where they cut people's hands off for less! Y'all SUCK!!!!!"
You'll notice that 'sticking a copy of NeYo's album on the torrents' is a larger crime than, you know, ordinary theft.

Ne-Yo - his name is short for Ne-Yo-Gi-OH - attempted to explain his calls for sharia law to be applied to filesharers:
"I just feel like people don't have patience anymore. Where's the class and integrity that came with music back in the day?"
By "class and integrity" he's talking about the days when the record companies colluded illegally to rip consumers off with artificially high prices while simultaneously ripping off the artists with horrible contracts.
"You listen to it before it's supposed to be listened to and then you don't like it but you didn't even give it a chance to get done.

"That's like eating a meal before its finished cooking; of course you're not gonna like it!"
Ah yes - and which of us can truly say we don't dismember relatives who take a spoonful of soup from the pot while it's still on the stove. I know I do, and I don't consider that to be a hysterical overreaction on any level at all.

Delicious: Roberts and Metronomy

You've got to be that whatever emerges from Metronomy working with Nicola Roberts, it's going to be a whole hat-full more interesting than Will I Am churning out something with Cheryl Cole.

Gordon in the morning: First with the news

Everyone knows Debbie Harry's "I was picked up by Ted Bundy" story, right? Harry was telling people about it back in the 1980s, and it's right up there with 'Marianne Faithfull and half a Mars bar' and 'heart attack after eating a ham sandwich' stock half-true myths that circulate around pop music.

Amazingly, Gordon Smart is repeating it today as if it was news.

What makes it even worse is that - whoever was in the car that Harry got into - it wasn't Ted Bundy. I know Smart's habit of running stories that aren't true is well known, but surely this is the first time he's ever run a story that's been debunked by - Bundy never went to New York, where Harry's incident happened; the car Bundy drove was nothing like the car Harry described and Bundy hadn't started his spree at the time Harry was meant to be the first victim.

Doubtless Gordon will be clearing space tomorrow for an exclusive: 'Charles Manson auditioned for the Monkees'.

(To be fair to Gordon, The Telegraph also trots out hoary-old-anecdote-as-breaking-news.)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gordon in the morning: It's only awkward if you want it to be

Justin Beiber is thinking that he's chosen the worst Santa's grotto ever.

In a great meeting of minds, Justin has had some hang-time with Gordon. It's as delicious as you'd expect, as Gordon struggles like an every-second-Sunday parent trying to find some sort of common ground. As they work their way through golf and darts, it's surely only going to be a matter of time before Gordon suggests they go for a quick burger before he drops Justin off at Mummy's new friend's house for seven o'clock.

There is a great moment, though: Wonderfully - and almost accidentally - Bieber does manage to bitch-slap Cowell's irregulars:
"I think I maybe would have entered The X Factor if I hadn't been discovered."
It's a nice thing to do if you're not really famous, right?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Mute pulls itself from EMI wreckage

Like Molly's baby, Mute has been dragged from the carnage of the EMI tram-crash and has slapped out a press release about a new, all-in-business.

Strictly speaking, of course, Molly's baby hasn't slapped out a press release, so don't treat that as part of the extended metaphor, okay?

Following the recent announcement that Mute has reached an agreement with EMI Music which sees the company, led by Daniel Miller, return to being independent, Mute now announces details of the new structure which sees the record label, publishing company and a new artist/producer management company brought together under the Mute name.

Says Daniel Miller; “I am excited about this new phase in our development. The things we value most - our relationships with artists and our desire to embrace new ideas and ways of working – can now be fully realised in a structure I have been aiming towards for some time. This is the ideal time and perfect opportunity to bring three key elements together under the Mute name”.
Some artists aren't escaping, and will remain inside EMI. These musical Ashleys will still have their last rites taken care of by Daniel Miller, who is going to freelance for EMI.

Which is wonderful - not only has he got his label back, but his work at Mute is going to be subsidised by EMI. Terra Firma are brilliant at music, aren't they?

Downloadable: J Mascis

It's a free acoustic track, trapped in a web-leaping widget:

Gordon in the morning: How are the app sales going, Gordon?

It's not clear how sales of the Bizarre app - it's a monthly subscription - are going, but the competition to win some sort of meeting with JLS suggests a desperate bid to drive take-up.

Still, lovely to see a bit of salesmanship from Gordon:

The Bizarre application is FREE for the first 30 days of subscription and £1.19 per month after that.

It is available for iPhone and Android handsets, which are sold in all good mobile phone retailers across the UK.
Does he really think people are going to be going "blimey, that sounds so good I might go and buy a three hundred quid phone just to get that app... if only I knew where I could find such a thing..."?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Social mobility shocker: Charts light on oiks

Interestingly, the Daily Mail seems genuinely upset that the charts are being 'dominated' by public school kids:

In 1990 the charts were full of bands espousing working class angst and northern soul.

But some twenty years on it seems that it is British public schools that are delivering the pop stars of the moment.

A new survey into the heritage of modern musical acts has found that 60 per cent of acts in the charts today - attended public school - compared to just one per cent two decades ago.
It suggests the main reason for this is the cutting of public funding for music lessons - steady on, Mail, you're starting to sound like you're pre-May Liberal Democrats or something.

There is the another possibility, though, that it's just become more respectable for posh kids to be in bands now.

Also, back in 1990, the charts felt a lot older - Maria McKee, Madonna, Cliff, Paula Abdul, the B-52s, Elton John. Could it be that bands aren't actually getting any posher, but they're having hits younger, and so the kids who in 1990 would scuff about for a couple of years, go 'sod this, I'm going to call Uncle Barney and get a job at the merchant bank' are actually being successful before their trust fund manager threatens to cut them off?

Beatles on iTunes: It was Mills' work

You might have thought that dozens of lawyers were busy working behind the scenes to make the Beatles-Apple agreement which brought the mop-topped back catalogue to the iTunes store.

You'd be wrong.

It was all Heather Mills' doing:

‘iTunes? I organised it all with Steve Jobs [the Apple boss],’ asserts Heather between signing copies of one of her vegan ­cookbooks at a crowded Animal Aid Christmas fair at Kensington Town Hall yesterday.

‘But there’s no way I am going back to court for more money. It was all settled at the time and that’s it.’
How absolutely generous of her. Of course, it's possible she's not making any claims because even she doesn't believe the crap she's spouting.

Gordon in the morning: Wedding dj

Gordon's mysterious obsession with trying to recast Prince Harry as some sort of dancehall star continues today, with Mark Ronson 'revealing' that Harry knows something about djing:

MARK RONSON said: "He came to one of my gigs recently and he's totally clued up about my genre of music. He was requesting all these songs and he was dancing and getting into the spirit."
Okay, so Mark Ronson's "genre of music" is mid-market crowd-pleasing pop, but it's good enough for Gordon to extrapolate.

He asked for a song, did he? And he danced, did he?

Why, then:
PRINCE HARRY could probably do a decent job of DJing at his brother's wedding next year.
Yes. Yes. Assuming he can get out of helping Princess Anne putting the cold buffet out, that is.

Sky Music is falling

Sky Music, BSkyB's attempt to spin its massive user base into a subscription-based music service is being junked as, erm, nobody was interested:

A Sky spokesman said: "We've taken the difficult decision to close Sky Songs. Although we are extremely proud of the service we built and the experience it offers, we just didn't see the consumer demand we'd hoped for.

"As Sky Songs demonstrates, we're a business that takes risks and innovates, but at the same time, we're pragmatic and act decisively when a new venture isn't working out."
The deal was one of those awkward ones where you could stream as much as you wanted, and download and own a miserly-and-randomly-chosen five tracks a month. It's not entirely clear what the Sky spokesperson believes was "innovative" about that.

Even a price cut from an eye-watering £7.99 to £4.99 couldn't shift subscriptions and the obvious move - give it away as a sweetener with Sky Broadband - seems to have been dropped.

Although customers are going to be refunded this evening, the site is still taking sign-ups at the moment. I suppose there's so few they don't really expect anyone to create an account between now and 6pm.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Gordon in the morning: I'm aware this is actually the evening

Posh Spice has, we're told, gone to the dark side:

VICTORIA BECKHAM has road-tested many trends over the years, but her latest airport outfit will have Star Wars fans fearing she's turned to the dark side.

Wearing a high-collared black cape, the former SPICE GIRL was just a helmet and light sabre shy of replicating Darth Vader's menacing appearance in the classic sci-fi trilogy.
Now, call me picky, but I can't help feeling that if you hired a Darth Vader outfit and got one without a helmet or a light saber, you'd be a bit justified in feeling you'd been short-changed.

Dick Turpin wore a black cape, too, but it's unlikely that if found himself at the same works Christmas do as Vader he'd feel obliged to go home and change to avoid an embarrassing clash.

Glasgow: Weather axes gigs

Thin night in Glasgow tonight: Billy Bragg and Emarosa have cancelled their dates.

Good news, though - there are tickets on the door for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - but there'll be no Duke Spirit.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The exquisite old-world charm of Shaun Ryder

Ah, sweet old Shaun Ryder, eh? Accused of having ripped-off musicians during his career, his response is to threaten to have the complainant raped and murdered.

Apparently Shaun was proud that his violent anger isn't sexist and applied to men and women. He truly is the Leslie Philips of revenge rape, isn't he?

This week just gone

What brings people to No Rock from Twitter? Between September and November, these were the biggest bounce points:

1. The front page
2. Is it wrong to complain about the Glastonbury ticket sales?
3. Reactions to the annual Glasto ticket sales shambles
4. George Michael is virtually indistinguishable from Myra Hindley
5. The Breeders weekend
6. Jedward spend hard-earned (well, earned) money on tat
7. Chris Moyles complains about minor clerical error for half an hour
8. Spotify hire George Lamb
9. Resonance FM axes Max Tundra
10. Bono botches his miner tribute

The interesting releases this week:

Simian Mobile Disco - Delicacies

Download Delicacies

Various - Kitsune Maison Volume 10

Download Kitsune Maison

Jenny And Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now

Download I'm Having Fun Now

Lambchop - Boxset

Download Nixon