Saturday, April 02, 2011

Embed and breakfast man: Stars

So, this is the video for new Stars single, Changes. It has breasts, a vagina and a tail in it, and thus is NSFW:

I'm in two minds about this - it's a lovely piece of work, but having a nubile, naked woman in your video is always questionable in terms of motivation - was the original idea 'a person dancing in a museum' or 'how can we get some tits into the video'? Nobody ever sold fewer records by putting a bit of t&a in the video. And, much faith as I have in Stars, I'm sure I can hear record company staff going 'please, someone, call this controversial, please'.

Also, the prosthetic tail looks like it's in the wrong place.

[Buy: Five Ghosts, the parent album]

Liam Gallagher: Not that there's anything wrong with ambition

You know when you're, say, seven years old, and you haven't quite grasped that the world takes more than wishes to make it run, and you actually believe that you might be able to be the first person on Mars? It turns out some people never grow out of that phase:

"Fuck being as big as Oasis," [Liam Gallagher] said. "I want to be bigger than The Beatles, man."
Yes, of course you do, little fella. And you go and have a try at turning your consolation prize group into a band bigger than The Beatles. He's adorable, isn't he? We should for sure buy some of those cookies his troop will be asking... oh, hang on, he's a grown man, isn't he?

And my, how he's grown:
Gallagher also spoke about wanting to move on from his former band, saying: "I'm done singing about 'Cigarettes And Alcohol'. I've moved on."
He has. No more cigarettes and alcohol. Look at Wigwam, for example:
The chips are down, you're in the game
But win or lose you feel the same
Another bottle in the hand
You're sick of life and it's demands
You see? Absolutely no cigarettes in that lyric.

But, hey, maybe that bottle doesn't have any alcohol in it. Let's look instead at Bring The Light:
I see no point in what you're thinking
I'm going out I'm takin you drinkin'
Oh... well, what about the Roller, then?
So you been crawling through a maze
An alcohol lemon haze
I've been watching you for days
You've been outta sight alright, alright, alright
Well, at least he has definitively moved on from singing about cigarettes. Let's give him that, shall we?

Gordon in the morning: Copied off the back of a DVD box set

Rihanna has filled some bottles with charity and is raffliing them off for UNICEF. Going to be tricky to turn that into anything more, eh, Gordon?

RIHANNA borrows an idea from Derek Trotter in her new advert.

The singer is bottling her own tap water to sell on.

But unlike Del Boy, she won't be flogging it in The Nag's Head like in Only Fools And Horses episode Mother Nature's Son.
It's funny that Gordon appears to know the episode title but not the plot of the programme. And, if you had to, wouldn't the concept of filling bottles from the tap and then flogging them at massive mark-ups be better compared to Coca-Cola's Dasani?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Downloadable: Sons And Daughters

Hurrah! It's Sons And Daughters, and they're back, back, and... well, you get the picture:

Pic: Harley Weir

The new album, Mirror Mirror, is out in June. Meanwhile, grab the Repulsion Box.

HMV unlikely to benefit much from budget measure

The Daily Mail suggested that George Osborne might have saved HMV:

HMV has benefited from a much needed Budget boost as Chancellor George Osborne took the first step towards closing a tax loophole that made the price of its CDs and DVDs less competitive.

The government announced plans to reduce the special tax break known as low value consignment relief (LVCR) which allowed retailers outside Europe to sell low value items free from VAT.
And, to be fair, the city did give HMV's shares a little rally straight after the budget.

But is it really good news for HMV?

Osborne's shift in the LVCR moved the place beyond which VAT wouldn't be reclaimed on products shipped from £18 to £15 - in other words, from 'well over the price of most CDs and DVDs' to 'still quite a bit over the price of most CDs and DVDs'.

And, more importantly, if the measure really did make internet purchases less cheap, that'll hit UK based online retailers who ship their stuff from the Channel Islands. Retailers like, erm, HMV.

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: We to me

Ben Goldacre abstracts some research into American song lyrics:

Over time, use of words related to self-focus and antisocial behavior increased, whereas words related to other-focus, social interactions, and positive emotion decreased. These findings offer novel evidence regarding the need to investigate how changes in the tangible artifacts of the sociocultural environment can provide a window into understanding cultural changes in psychological processes.

You can't stop The Music. Oh, you can.

The Music - who had an all-too-brief Imperial Phase - are calling it a day. Official statement time:

The Music formed in Kippax near Leeds in 1999 after attending high school together and came to prominence in 2002 with the release of their hugely acclaimed eponymous debut album. Their song "The People" was a radio hit throughout the world and saw them tour extensively throughout Europe, America, Australia as well as numerous trips to Japan, where the band enjoyed a great rapport with a fervent and loyal fanbase. Two further albums followed, 2004's "Welcome To The North" and 2008's "Strength In Numbers". Over the last decade, the band have played main stages at every major festival from Fuji Rock to Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds and Big Day Out, sell out shows throughout the world and gained a reputation as an incendiary live band. All good things though, come to an end, and The Music have decided that it's the right moment for them to call time on the band and start new chapters in their musical careers, but not before one last batch of shows to thank the people who have supported the band throughout their careers so far and go out on an absolute high.

The band said of these shows:

"We've come so far together and now it's time to end things the right way and in the place we love the most - onstage playing live. We're going to give it our all for these last times together and it's going to be emotional, but were really glad to get back to Japan one last time where people have been so good to us over the years, and we send our love and thoughts to everyone there who has been affected by the terrible events of March 11th. We'll be saying thankyou to so many people over these dates and we'll start now by saying thanks to anyone who's been with us on this incredible trip. We're all looking to the future and what comes next, but we'll always be grateful for the years, times and experiences we've shared. We're going to make these shows as much of a party as we can, and we hope people turn up to celebrate with us."

Those farewell dates:


25 Osaka - Big Cat
26 Nagoya - Club Quattro
27 Tokyo - AX


04 London - Shepherds Bush Empire
05 Leeds - O2 Academy

And this is why we'll miss them...

Neil McCormick: Did I mention that I know Bono?

You know what Neil McCormick really likes about his movie about how he knows Bono, based on his book about how he knows Bono? It's a great opportunity to go round places talking about how he knows Bono:

MCCormick tells U.K. TV show This Morning, "At a certain point, he was getting hard to know because I was in the Wembley Coach and Horses (pub) and he was in Miami doing duets with Frank Sinatra.

"He was telling me about all these things. I said, 'I don't wanna hear it. The problem with knowing you is you've lived my life.' He said, 'That's because I'm your doppelganger. If you want your life back you'll have to kill me.'

"In there, a little light bulb went off. Really it's a metaphor - it's about slaying your dragon. He was my dragon. He thought it was a great idea for a title, I was a little uncomfortable about it. He told me I should call it Killing Bono. He left a message on my answerphone one day, saying, 'Hey it's Bono, you have to kill me - it's for your own good.'"
It's a pity that Bono - who Neil McCormick knows, by the way - didn't come up with the idea early enough to prevent the book spending its early years as I Was Bono's Doppelganger.

Neil McCormick knows Bono.

MySpace: You can't expect lots of visitors in a little month

Against a background of mutterings about a possible merger with Vevo, the team in charge of MySpace desperately try to keep up spirits and value.

Mike Jones, CEO, talks to Business Insider and tries to explain the collapsing audience figures:

BI: When I look at MySpace traffic charts, just from ComScore or any of the outside auditors, it looks like a crumbling mess – a halving year-over-year situation. What numbers are you guys looking at to have a more optimistic picture? Please explain.

MJ: That's a fair question. First, February was a short month where we and a lot of other sites were impacted.
Yes, Mike. February 2011 was a short month. I'm pretty certain Febuary 2010 was also pretty short, too, so how does that explain a year-on-year fall?

Still, next year there's an extra day in February. Something to cling too.

Jones then tries to explain how 'audience tumbling away' is actually some sort of delicate rebalancing act:
In addition to that, we have an expected audience shift. We launched a new product in November, we've substantially changed the value proposition for our audience, and we expect that we're going to be changing the nature of our registered userbase, which is something that's been impacting us on our monthly metric basis.

What Comscore doesn't necessarily capture for us is the internal metrics that show success against the strategy.
What Jones appears to be saying is that because fewer people are coming, that's making the visitor numbers look bad.

But the strategy - oh, think of the strategy!
It doesn't show that we've roughly doubled our mobile traffic in the last few months because of products that we've offered on the mobile platforms.
Given the massive boom in the number of Smartphones, you'd expect a rise in mobile traffic. It does you little good if all you're doing is shifting what's left of your audience from one platform to another.
It doesn't show an increase around our content products.
The bits that are doing well are doing well.
I would say we're going into a new market that's an extremely large market of entertainment content. I think that we're migrating portions of our current audience against that strategy. We're attracting new audience against that strategy and we have a portion of our audience that's a legacy audience that has to decide whether they want to be a part of that strategy.
I think this sort of talk from the management - "you're part of our oldest audience, so shape up or ship out" - might be the reason why MySpace is broken.

Gordon in the morning: Dog days

Sadly, this doesn't appear to be Gordon Smart's April Fool - a claim that Victoria Beckham's dog looks like Harvey Keitel:

Aside from the fur, claws, tail and wet black nose, Coco the Bulldog was the spitting image of a holidaying Harvey in snaps of them wearing near-identical shades.

The sunglasses evoke memories of the veteran's career-high role in QUENTIN TARANTINO's ultra-violent 1992 flick Reservoir Dogs.
Yes, Gordon. If you ignore the fact one is a dog, and one is a man, they both look like creatures wearing sunglasses.

Is this the worst lookalike ever? Even Gordon's claim that the sunglasses are "near-identical" isn't right.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gordon in the morning: Amy Winehouse can breathe again

Well, that's reassuring:

NEW boy ALEX CLARE has said ex-missus AMY WINEHOUSE has nothing to be worried about when he releases his album later this year.
... because nobody will even notice its release.

It's curious why Gordon is giving so much space to Clare, and pretty much wearing his cardigan:
Alex put in a decent stint at his gig at The Lexington pub in north London earlier this week. His soulful voice worked well over dubstep beats on Too Close, Up All Night and I Love You.

Definitely one to watch.
I mean, I'm sure he's competent, but... really? The Sun is running reviews of gigs at the Lexington?

What the pop papers say: Cold, dead eyes

There's actually a pretty good NME this week - there's unapologetic coverage of the March 26th march, a long interview with Metronomy and stuff on Cat's Eyes and The Naked And The Famous. You could almost think it was a feisty, curious publication.

There's even an attempt to review Katy Perry live which is positive, in a pop-loving, spectacle embracing way, although Emily Mackay does get one factual point wrong:

[Perry] has tunes as well as image, from the supercharged motivational firepop of 'Firework'...
Nooo - however much the rest of her catalogue might shimmer in the sunlight, Firework is a dud, a patronising sentiment delivered like a horse falling downstairs. Bloody hell, at one point - "boom boom boom" - it starts quoting Baldrick's war poem with a straight face. And if Perry keeps returning to it, it'll go off in her face.

But apart from that, Mackay manages to turn in a fair-and-cogent piece while being assailed by candy floss smells and exploding glitterballs, a lovely piece of writing in a magazine that feels like it is at heart of a vibrant, interesting music world.

Except you can't tell that by looking, because the cover - the bit not given over to promoting the 479th free Muse and White Stripes poster - has got the simpering blankness of Liam Gallagher peering out of it. Beady Eye. Again. All this good stuff inside, but the front of the NME chooses to make it look like a magazine which stopped buying new records in 1999, around the time it got that job in the regional office and secretly switched to buying the WeightWatchers meals for one.

It's not just that they give over so much space to the band, but it's the rapt attention to a group that would have struggled to get a Wednesday night pub booking if they hadn't familiar faces. Over seven pages, a bunch of men who deserve at best understanding pity get treated like emissaries from the Lord himself:
Did you get a sense, in the build-up to these gigs, that certain people wanted you to fail?
Liam: "Yeah, without a doubt. People going 'Oh, it's going to be fucking shit'. It's like, are you tripping or what? I'm insulted that people think that Noel Gallagher has been carrying this band for the last 18 years."
An interview that was less keen on pleasing the press officer might have found much to think about here - Liam's belief that people thought Beady Eye would be rubbish, when really it's more about the utter irrelevancy; the use of "this band" an unconscious admission that, new name or no, Liam is really ploughing on with Oasis in his mind; that people don't think Noel was carrying Oasis for 18 years, but rather than the first two years of Oasis carried the band for the following 16.

Instead, it drifts on to talking about The Strokes. Liam Gallagher having a pop at Julian Casablancas. Most of the paper knows its 2011; why does it present a face to the world like it thinks Blair is still in Downing Street?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rihanna: Have I mentioned S&M recently?

The Daily Mail better brace itself, as just a few days after the paper ran an article slagging off pop music in general and Vogue in particular for focusing on Rihanna's S&M-tinged period, a so-called family publication is bringing it all up again:

'I like to be tied up and spanked': How Rihanna's song S&M isn't just for show
[...]She is constantly pushing boundaries with her raunchy dance moves, sexually-charged lyrics and racy costumes.

And it turns out, Rihanna's risqué antics aren't just for show.

The singer has told how she is 'a bit masochistic' in the bedroom in a revealing new interview.
She adds: 'Using whips and chains is too planned... you have to stop and look for the whip. I prefer them to use their hands.'

'I like to take the reins in my life, but I enjoy being submissive in the bedroom. In there I can be a little lady and have a male who has responsibility for the situation. That's sexy."
And what is this publication that risks outraging the Mail by running long extracts of an interview in which Rihanna talks about sex?

Erm, inevtiably, it's the Daily Mail.

The interview itself - along with the sort of photo the paper criticised Vogue for running last week - is lifted from Rolling Stone.

You'd think that Rolling Stone would know better than to give her more space to talk about oh-so-shocking sexual stuff like it was true. What S&M fan would have to "find" their stuff?

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Game is afoot

Staff from dwindling-computer-games giant Game have been spotted nipping into Tesco to buy Nintendo 3DS at silly prices, as they can still make a profit flogging them on in their own shops.

Sitting above the fray is HMV's Gennaro Castaldo:

"Some people may enjoy Game's discomfort on this or may feel they acted inappropriately, but others may consider the more valid question to be why another retailer made it possible in the first place," HMV PR boss Gennaro Castaldo told NowGamer.

"Perhaps we should all ask ourselves whose actions ultimately created the greater potential to devalue what is a wonderful piece of new technology that we should all be working hard to support?"
Boo-hoo-hoo, Tescos is undercutting us, a boo-hoo-hoo. Oddly, when HMV were flogging chart singles for 99p and throwing out catalogue albums for a pittance, I don't recall Castaldo worrying that they might have been devaluing records. But then it was only independent record shops that were being driven to the wall then, wasn't it?

HMV could pop into Tesco to top up its stock of 3DSes, but it's probable that they can't afford to do it.

RIAA lobbyist now hearing cases of interest to RIAA

There are times when it might be hard to find a judge who is not only impartial, but can be seen, clearly, to be impartial - if, for example, a lawsuit is brought against an ubervillain who planned to kill everyone on the planet, you'd have to have a judge with an interest. Or if Piers Morgan was in the dock, it'd be impossible to find a judge who didn't start from the thought 'let's throw the book at him'.

But usually, it shouldn't be beyond the wit of the justice system to offer have a bottom on the bench who doesn't appear to be tainted in one direction or another.

How, then, are unlicensed file sharing cases being heard in Washington DC by a judge who has made a living lobbying for the RIAA?

Ars Technica suggests that Beryl Howell hasn't strictly broken any rules in hearing the cases, mainly because Howell was paid by the RIAA and the cases she was hearing were related to movies, but given that rulings on .mp4 files can have influence on cases about .mp3 files that seems a slight defence.

There's an important point about perception of the law. Even if Howell is able to hear a case from the copyright industry without recalling that her rent was paid for a while by the copyright industry, her verdicts in this field will always have a shadow on them.

There's no shortage of judges. Couldn't they find one whose judgement isn't open to the suspicion that they're remembering those who helped them on their march to the bench?

[via @simonth]

Gordon in the morning: Holy Moly Lily

Lily Allen sending out a wedding invite showing her sitting on the back of some agricultural equipment gives Gordon a chance to show off his knowledge of tractors:

Yesterday the singer sent out this save-the-date wedding card, showing her and fiancé SAM COOPER riding across farm fields in a tractor... perhaps one of John Deere's earlier models.
He's so busy staring at the tractor he doesn't notice that the logo of the website from which he's lifted the photo of the invite, uncredited, is still in the picture:
Normally, of course, the churn of this sort of thing from one site to another is to be expected, but given how angry Rupert Murdoch gets when people use "his" scoops on other websites without paying, you have to hope he's not doing it to others.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Bluetones announce a split

Try not to say "were you still going, then?" as we discover The Bluetones are planning a farewell tour this September. They have statemented:

"After 17 years and 6 albums, The Bluetones have decided that the time has arrived to call it a day and move on to other challenges,”says frontman Mark Morriss."Before disappearing forever though, we will be heading out for one last tour, as a chance to say farewell and thank you to all the fans that have sustained us over these years, with a career spanning Greatest Hits/Best Of... style set of songs. It's gonna be emotional."
It does make you wonder who else might still be grinding away without anyone noticing - are The High still touring?

Beyonce dumps her dad

Beyonce is only sacking her dad in a professional capacity, be very clear about that:

“I’ve only parted ways with my father on a business level. He is my father for life and I love my dad dearly. I am grateful for everything he has taught me.”
Especially the bit about being ruthless in business and never letting sentiment cloud your judgement.

Papa Knowles, meanwhile, has a statement of his own:
“The decision for Beyonce and Music World Entertainment to part was mutual. We did great things together, and I know that she will continue to conquer new territories in music and entertainment… Business is business and family is family. I love my daughter and am very proud of who she is and all that she has achieved. I look forward to her continued great success.”
Rumours that he now intends to adopt Letoya Luckett could not be confirmed at the present time.

Browne: Bye bye, Bauer

Nichola Browne, who has been editor of Kerrang! for 18 months, is stepping down and leaving Bauer altogether.

Her editorship has been a pretty good time for K! - in the middle of 2009, it was selling 43,253 copies and a couple of thousand ahead of NME; by last month, Kerrang! was selling 44,013 - not a massive rise, but the gap with NME is now about 10,000, showing how well the title is doing compared with the market as a whole.

Gordon in the morning: Kissing

Gordon comes over all hot and bothered with a photo of Christina Aguilera:

AGUILERA ignores the fact she's in public and gets passionate with her man...
And where is this public space? back of car
Oh, that sort of public place. Public, if your lens is long enough, and you squint past the headrests and don't get driven into. I mean, it's practically like doing it in the road. If you ignore the car.

Qua diddly qua qua

Alan Ant is on On The Ropes on Radio 4 this morning, at 9am. You can hear it again at 9.30pm.

And, yes, there is an awkward photo of Adam Ant and John Humphrys, since you ask:

Amazon want you to build your own streamers

Quietly launched (on, not yet on, is Amazon Cloud Storage. You get five gig of free space to store stuff in.

Yes, yes, but that's not all - if you use your cloud drive to store mp3s, you can play them from there. Streaming to computers or android phones. All rather nice.

You can buy extra space, too (US customers only right now) - it's the sort of cheap deal that can rapidly become uncheap; a dollar a gig up to a thousand.

As a nice extra, if you buy mp3s from Amazon, and lob them into your cloud, they don't count against your space.

It looks at first glance like something useful; Mashable are impressed. It's not a totally new idea - there were similar, though more limited, services offered about ten years ago, but back then record labels squawking about piracy had them closed down. (Just as well - had they not had music lockers chased off the internet, their business might be looking pretty sick today, eh?)

Apple are rumoured to be about to offer something similar. If the cellular and wifi networks can cope, your music collection might never be bigger than your music player again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Traditional music industry shrinks again

Unsurprising news of the day: the global music industry has collapsed, and the RIAA's international arm, the IFPI is blaming lizards.

Alright, it's blaming piracy. Did you guess?

"The demand for new music seems as insatiable and diverse as ever, and record companies continue to meet it," said Frances Moore, chief executive of the IFPI. "But they are operating at only a fraction of their potential because of a difficult environment dominated by piracy."
There's not even a sniff that the music industry might have been hit by, you know, the global economy being rotten; there's not a hint that the record companies, far from meeting demand for new music, are falling back on gameshow winners and thinly-stretched catalogue; no apparent grasp that the rise of streaming means music consumption levels can rise while revenues will continue to fall.

Your business is rebalancing, Frances. Surely you must be used to that by now?

For the record:
Global recorded music revenues fell 8.4% last year, about $1.45bn, to $15.9bn according to the annual Recording Industry in Numbers report by international music industry body the IFPI.
Overall UK sales were $1.38bn, down some $170m or 11% year on year, thanks to a 19.2% fall in physical sales to $920m. Sales through digital channels boomed by 19.6% to $347m.
A sixteen billion dollar industry shouldn't be pleading poverty.

Madonna Kabbalah school staff call in the lawyers

More misery from the collapse of the Raising Malawi school: Madonna is being sued by eight staff who claim they were forced to accept unfair conditions as part of their termination:

The charity workers' lawyer, Mzondi Chirambo, said the singer had 14 days to respond to their concerns.

"Their employment was terminated by the trustees of Raising Malawi Academy for Girls ostensibly following the change of plan not to build the school as planned," he told Reuters news agency. "My clients are also being forced to sign a discriminatory termination agreement before they are paid their benefits."
Madonna is rumoured to be planning a counter-suit. Won't somebody think of the... oh, what were they called again? Those people they were meant to be helping. Yes, them.

Radiohead: Some amusing tit-fot-tattery

To mark Radiohead's launch of a newspaper with the King Of Limbs album, The Guardian staff have hit back by forming a band. The Radio Eds have covered Creep, featuring Tim Dowling's oft-mentioned banjo skills (his wife might be right) and - yes - Alan Rusbridger on keyboards.

So fucking special.

To help you with the pub quiz, here's the full line-up:
Lead vocals: Ed Vulliamy, Guardian and Observer writer
Keyboard: Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief, Guardian News & Media
Guitars: Jon Dennis, multimedia production manager; Mark Rice-Oxley, Guardian assistant foreign editor
Bass: Rick Peters, Guardian food and drink subeditor
Banjo: Tim Dowling, Guardian Weekend columnist
Drums: Katrina Dixon, Guardian Guide contributor and subeditor
Trombone: Pascal Wyse, multimedia producer
Vocals: Sarah Russell, Public Sector Portfolio Manager, Guardian News & Media

A very long way from Crash FM

Liverpudlians with long memories will recall that Juice started out life as Crash FM, a credible, well-regarded alternative music and dance station.

It's now reduced to getting people to paint their house for Justin Beiber tickets.

Dave Pearce heads off to Radio 2 with a quick snark at 6

Dave Pearce is waving goodbye to 6Music and setting up his camp at Radio 2, taking the chance for a farewell dig at the network which has been keeping his career alive:

On his website, Dave told listeners: "It was a great challenge to go and play something different on a radio station that is known for more or less playing the same indie music 24/7 but I was delighted we built a strong and loyal listenership and increased the audience in the Saturday slot by a third in the first quarter alone."
Isn't characterising 6Music as being known for playing the same indie music 24/7 a little snide - and also a bit self-aggrandising? On a network which offers Craig Charles' funk show, Maconie's Freak Zone and has had Huey from the Fun Loving Criminals as a regular daytime host, suggesting that a clapped-out Dance Anthems warhorse is somehow an extreme deviation makes Pearce like one of those students who gets a plastic circle poked in their eardrum and assumes this makes them edgy.

Especially so, since he is now taking on the role of being the David Jacobs of acid:
"I'm delighted to be able to share my passion for dance music with listeners to Radio 2. With nearly all the original heavyweight DJs over 50 now I guess dance music has finally come of age! It's time to bring back some of those great records that we all miss.

"I've been working in dance since playing disco on land-based pirate radio in the late Seventies and have continued going to clubs, DJ-ing and enjoying the music ever since. I'm really looking forward to hearing listener's anecdotes and record suggestions. People often say to me whatever happened to all those great records, the good news is that they are under my bed and in my loft!"
I'm sure for the fans this will be invaluable, but for a general audience, the thought of hour after hour of people desperately trying to remember foam parties in Ibiza or dredging up "... and he turned round, and it was Carl Cox" anecdotes might prove more tough going.

Holy Moly sells out

A side effect of the deal which sees Endemol take a 50% stake in Holy Moly - or "hmm, might be worth suing now" as most celebrities are calling it, Mr Holy Moly has outed himself as Jamie East.

Yes, Jamie East, out of this lot:

The biggest band ever from Derby, The Beekeepers.

Gordon in the morning: N-Dubz mention the Chilis again

In case you missed the claims of N-Dubz hanging out with the Red Hot Chili Peppers last month, they're making them again. Although the story now seems to have been downgraded from 'having a fun time in the studio together' to 'having an awkward encounter in a corridor':

Dappy said: "Anthony had heard of us, which was amazing. Well, he knew the hat, it's like my calling card."

The rapper also said the Yanks were baffled by his language - just like us then.

He told Q Magazine: "I had to tell 'em straight, 'this might not be SHAKESPEARE but this is how I talk, bruv'. They definitely didn't get 'Peng'. Peng means fit, sexy, good looking."
You had to tell them that straight, did you, Dappy? Because one thing all music critics agree on is that it's impossible to tell the difference between the Chilis and Shakespeare.

There is something sweet about Dappy that he doesn't think there's anything strange that his hat was recognised rather than him. Of course, it's possible that the more successful musicians weren't recognising the hat as such, just spotting an idiot wearing a hat indoors. In California. Or were going 'oh, there's that idiot in a hat we were warned about'. Almost certainly, they'll have come away convinced that he's called Peng.

PRS take falls; blames "piracy"

For the first time in its history, PRS has taken in less money than for the year before:

PRS for Music, the organisation that represents 75,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK, blamed digital piracy and a fall in high street sales for a 1% year-on-year decline in total royalties, down £7m to £611.2m in 2010. Royalties from recorded media fell 8.8% to £117.2m, only partially offset by an increase in income from overseas and from commercial radio in Britain.
Really? They're blaming piracy? That's the best they can do?

Record sales have been falling for ages, and "piracy" has been part of the environment for the whole of the century, so isn't that "normal operating conditions"?
Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of PRS, which represents artists such as Jessie J, Adele and Florence and the Machine star Florence Welch, said: "The loss of high street outlets, the slowdown in physical music sales as well as the challenges capturing the full value of music usage online has meant that for the first time we have seen royalties collected dip.

"Previously, any reduction from falling physical sales had been offset by our strong performance in music licensing both in the UK and internationally. In 2010 slower growth at home and abroad failed to fully mitigate the decline."
Yes, The Guardian really does try to spice up Robert Ashcroft by mentioning that PRS "represents artists such as Jessie J, Adele and Florence and the Machine star Florence Welch" - a very, very cherry-picked trio from a very, very long list.

But there is some good news:
While overall revenue fell £7m year on year, PRS for Music said the actual amount paid out to its members was down by only £0.8m due to reduced administration costs and improved efficiency within the organisation.
That makes it sound like PRS found six million pounds of efficiency, which sounds like a lot of inefficiency that's been burning through artists' money right there.

And there's still more to cut, judging by the continued outpouring of pointless surveys being churned out by PRS:
Latest research from PRS for Music has revealed the top 5 favourite songs, as voted by the Public, to be played at street parties* being held to celebrate the forthcoming Royal Wedding. Also revealed are the top 5 most popular songs for the happy couple’s first dance.
Dancing In The Streets, in case you're interested. Dave and Mick, not the proper one. The "survey" has all the stench of participants being presented with a predetermined list to choose from.
Commenting, Guy Fletcher, Chairman PRS for Music, said: “There are some great suggestions in this chart to help people plan their own Street Party celebrations for the Royal Wedding. As to the first dance, I’m sure Kate and William will chose a song that is special to both of them. Any writer will hope their song is chosen as it will undoubtedly receive both an airplay and sales boost.”
To be fair, without an expert from PRS, who ever would have guessed that the couple would choose a song special to them for the first dance? Why, without this survey I'd have assumed that Kate and Will would have merely installed a jukebox, hitting it, Fonzie-style, in order to randomly select a first dance.

Still, perhaps the survey can be excused because PRS is going to make some money from the licences sold, right?
PRS for Music, the organisation which licences the public use of music, has announced it will make no charge for music licences for certain small community events, including street parties, to encourage celebrations for the Royal Wedding taking place on April 29th.

The policy which will come into effect between 22nd April 2011 and 6th May hopes to help communities all across the UK enjoy the benefits of music to celebrate the forthcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Actually, that's a nice gesture from an organisation that usually tries to force you to buy a licence for humming on a crowded bus, but how sickening that it's not a move they're taking to encourage people to enjoy music, but to fawn over two very rich people having a bunfight. If you're running a small community event on May 7th, perhaps to raise funds to fix a church spire or to try and plug some of the many gaps in public provision being opened up by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, you're out of luck. Pay up, people.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Okay, we lost the case, but could do as we asked anyway, please?

Last year, the major labels took on Baidu, the Chinese search engine, to try and get it to stop linking to unlicensed files. They lost.

Now, they're begging Baidu to pretend that they won. Paidcontent explains:

Four of the industry’s main global umbrella groups have written a letter to the Financial Times (and sent to paidContent:UK, below) in which they say: “Baidu is the biggest source of this (piracy) problem.”
“Baidu facilitates infringement through deep linking and it is such a major player in the Chinese internet market that it is difficult to see a thriving legitimate digital sector develop while it continues to do so,” a spokesperson for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry tells paidContent:UK
Here's the thing: you might want to try the softly, softly approach before sending in the big guns. Because once you've spent money establishing beyond legal doubt that there's no need for Baidu to do you a favour, you're probably less likely to get them to do you a favour.

It's like dragging a murder suspect to court, having the case thrown out and then saying 'yeah, but how about you spend a few years in prison anyway?'

Limewire shutdown so significant, it changes users' behaviour in the past

Following the shutdown of Limewire, music industry research monkeys NPD were quick to claim a significant victory:

[T]he percentage of Internet users who download music via peer-to-peer services was at 9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to 16 percent in the same period earlier in 2007
As Alan Wexelblat points out, that is pretty impressive, given that Limewire didn't shut down until, erm, the fourth quarter of 2010:
The claim, then, is that an event that happened in the last 3 months of a three year period somehow caused a retroactive drop? Either that violates causality as I understand it, or someone in the P2P industry has invented time travel and isn't sharing it. Or maybe, NPD is full of shit[...]
To cut NPD a small amount of slack here, they do admit that former LimeWire users are moving to other sharing networks. But really, this is just marketing puffery. NPD has no idea what caused the drop in self-reported file sharing over the past three years. Maybe it was that people thought it was an increasingly bad idea to admit that they used LimeWire to random marketers when there was a relentless stream of bad headlines about LimeWire.
It's possible that the drop was also caused by more people coming online, and those new users less interested in peer-to-peer filesharing and such pursuits, just wanting to watch video or make Skype calls to grandchildren.

Still, if the music industry really does believe the drop in figures are significant, it must be sucking a thoughtful tooth - a big drop in filesharing activity without actually having the need for an expensive, fractious court case. Money well spent.

[via Boing Boing]

This week just gone

The most-read individual stories in March have been:

1. R Kelly sex video is evidential, rules judge
2. Billy Corgan's cover claims destroyed by actual cover star
3. Tatu annoyed that people think they're gay
4. Vo.X deny they're homophobic, using tight definitions
5. RIP: Loleatta Holloway
6. Phil Collins stops drumming
7. Liveblog: The last Mark and Lard show
8. KT Tunstall - what is she like? Who does she like?
9. Bon Jovi accuses Steve Jobs of murder
10. Sandra Parsons asks if we must fling filth at our pop kids

These things were interesting, and new:

Trembling Bells - The Constant Paegent

Download The Constant Paegent

Roddy Woomble - The Impossible Song

Download The Impossible Song

The Human League - Credo

Download Credo

John Foxx And The Maths - Interplay

The Icicle Works - The Small Price Of A Bicycle

Download The Small Price Of A Bicycle