Saturday, June 16, 2012

The return of dotmusic, sort of

Remember dotmusic? The one-time online home of Music Week from the days back when the internet was in black and white and closed down at 10.30? Sold on to BT, and then to Yahoo, where all the effort and marketing cash ended up in the service being folded into the now-defunct-on-its-own-right Yahoo Launch? You remember, right?

Lets hope Yahoo kept the paperwork, though, as there's no fewer than four (five, depending on how you count it) companies called dotmusic something or other bidding for the rights to be registraron the soon-to-be-launched .music top-level domain.

.music is part of a massive push to try and create new domain names, partly to stop the crush of demand for the dwindling supply of .com names. (It's doomed to failure, of course - large numbers of .music and other new web addresses will be registered, at great expenses, but research will discover that people trying to guess names will still always plump for .com, and so that's where the real demand will be. You know how you smile indulgently at companies that still use .tv as their main website? It's like that.)

Hypebot has a helpful list of contenders:

DotMusic Inc.
Dot Music / CCGR E-Commerce LTD - founded by Constantine Roussos, who began lobbying to establish the .music top level domain in 2005 and has the edge with the support of TuneCore, LyricFind, CD Baby, ReverbNation, The Orchard, INgrooves Fontana and others in the industry.
dotMusic Limited
Victor Cross
Charleston Rd Registry / Google
.music LLC / FarFurther - supported by the RIAA, The National Music Publishers Association, A2IM, Impala and The Recording Academy.
Entertainment Names Inc
I know, it's like suddenly in the middle of 2012 there's something a bit like an ITV franchise round.

The real point of interest here is that the Roussos bid and the FarFurther biddraws support roughly split between internet-native businesses (Roussos) and old-school music endeavours (FarFurther). I think a useful rule of thumb is any initiative being supported by the RIAA is liable to work against the general interests of musicians and audience, and in favour of the multinational companies which used to be the music industry. On that basis alone, lets hope one of the others wins. The RIAA already believes it controls music; let's not let it control .music, too.

Bookmarks: Shirley Manson

There's a great interview with Shirley Manson over at Drowned In Sound, where she wonders what happened to provocative women in music:

“It’s tough for anyone to be in the music industry, but I think what has happened in the last decade is that a lot of women have forgotten what a struggle it was for previous generations to even get a foot in the door in the music scene and so have forgotten how tenuous their holding is. As a result I haven’t seen much effort into trying to redefine the way women have historically been viewed as solely visual treats and playthings. Make no mistake, there is still an incredible struggle for women to be treated as equal around the world and in the music industry. I’ve always felt a responsibility to conduct myself a certain way. Before I broke into the music scene there weren’t that many empowered women getting played on the radio. There are still very few women who have managed to navigate a career of any length or are considered of any worth and that bothers me.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Billy Corgan blames the internet for killing rock

Billy Corgan thinks that Facebook is stifling innovation in rock music:

"You've got a Facebook with a few hundred friends. If you do something truly radical, are you ready to withstand the forty negative comments?," Corgan asks. "Most people aren't. So they're getting peer pressured at levels they don't even realize," he adds.
Corgan, of course, is known for his radicalism, taking the wild and crazy step of reviving the Smashing Pumpkins not to pacify the gods of iTunes or Facebook, but simply because it was a valuable brand name that could be used to shake dollars out of ageing fans desperate to chase their fading youth but who were, frankly, uninterested in either Zwan or his solo stuff ("for wild experimental reasons").

You've got to wonder how people would get 100 Facebook fans if 40% of them didn't really like what you were doing.

The bigger question, though, is if Corgan actually understands what experimentation and risk-taking actually are. If you do something really different, difficult and challenging and don't expect half of your fans to dislike it, you're probably not really taking that big a leap.

The suspicion has to be that Corgan doesn't really like the internet because it's not an environment that rewards very rich men pulling 'serious thinking face' with quiet nodding and the odd tear of respect. Corgan dates from an era when rock stars were at the top end of a one-way street of adoration. It's no wonder he doesn't feel comfortable in a world where the audience talks back.

The irony is that if the web had been a more common medium twenty years ago, Corgan might have been saved from disappearing into his own fundament.

DLT to disappoint ASSK

Aung San Suu Kyi is going to be in London next week, and at a Foreign Office Reception she's going to meet Dave Lee Travis:

Bearded Dave, 67 — who gave himself his Cornflake nickname while presenting Radio 1’s Breakfast Show — said: “I am absolutely thrilled.

“I’m just knocked out to have the chance to meet her.”
DLT, of course, has been basking in the glow of having been picked out as the World Service presenter who kept Suu Kyi entertained during her house arrest years.

The trouble is, it was fairly obvious that she was really talking about Bob Holness' programme, not DLT.

Which means that poor Aung San is in for two disappointments in quick measure next week. Hasn't she suffered enough?

Starr's house saved again

After all these years, it looks like a combination of Joe Anderson and Grant Shapps have done what Flo Clucas never could, and saved Ringo Starr's first home.

And actually saved this time, not merely issued some half-asses promise about it being taken down and rebuilt in some ill-defined museum somewhere. It's actually part of a plan to save some of the Victorian terraces in the city which had been due to be demolished, so it goes beyond Beatleabilia in its significance.

Assuming, of course, that this time the promises are genuine and not merely a cheap photo op that won't actually deliver. But, hey, what sort of politician would pull a stunt like that?

Tesco buys We7

Given that Tesco is having trouble with its core business right now, and critics are accusing it of neglecting being a shop while heading off on empire building sideplans, what to make of the purchase of we7?

The most notable thing is the price - £10.8million really is priced to move; perhaps that's why Tesco have waded into a business they don't have any experience of. Maybe it was such a good price - and perhaps placed near a checkout, making it too hard to resist.

For a company once part of the squad of potential iTunes killers to go for such a relatively small price is a hint that iTunes remains unkilled.

We7 are excited at the idea of working with their snow overlords; they hope that Tesco can bring the skill it no longer has for reaching consumers to their business, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Paul McCartney endorses the Queen

Superbly feathered hats off to Paul McCartney, who manages to combine fawning over The Queen with epochal self-aggrandisement:

Asked what he thought of The Queen, McCartney said: "She is the rock n' roll queen. Weirdly enough, that is one of the things her reign will be remembered for. Queen Elizabeth I, we remember Raleigh; Queen Elizabeth II, it's gonna be the Beatles."
The case for the Queen being the Rock & Roll Queen is, of course, somewhat undermined by the way that every time the camera cut to her during Gary Barlow's concert for the Jubilee, her majesty was pulling a face like a professional mourner losing at a lemon-sucking competition.

And how modest of Mr McCartney to suggest that his achievements might be on a par with Raleigh - explorer, poet, spy and politician. Mind you, Raleigh ended up in disgrace and being executed, so not without his own equivalent of the Frog Chorus.

Labelobit: Frances Preston

Frances Preston, former CEO of BMI records, has died.

Preston started her career in radio before joining BMI in 1958. Her major role was around artist royalties, and throughout her career she was active in trying to ensure songwriters received a fair share of the monies generated by their skills. Her enthusiasm sometimes worked against the broader public interest - she was part of the campaign to extend copyright periods under the U.S. Copyright Amendments Act of 1992.

Frances Preston was 83; she died from heart failure.

John Lydon is fond of Newt

I think we're many years past the point where John Lydon saying warm things about Newt Gingrich has any power to raise more than a murmur, but his reasoning is quite interesting:

I've had great pleasure meeting the likes of Newt Gingrich and having a chat with the fellow on a staircase. I found him completely dishonest and totally likeable, because he doesn't care! He knows what a politician is, and he's a perfect embodiment of one.
Saying anything to keep the log rolling? I wonder why Lydon found such a position to be so understandable, eh?

The Ping is dead

Apple is planning on putting Ping out of its all-to-apparent misery, according to All Things D.

Since its launch in 2010, nearly everyone who uses iTunes has celebrated Ping as the most "woah, let's switch that shit right off"-y off all the social networks. It took the idea of Last.FM, and made it as horrible and avoidable as LinkedIn.

From the next major version of iTunes, you'll no longer have to pretend that Ping isn't there, begging you to activate it; Apple will be joining you in wishing they'd never gotten drunk and invented the bloody thing.

Still, at least there won't be any problems about how to shift user's data over to them when the service closes; I believe the entire Ping database consists of the words "Tim Cook is listening to the audiobook of Steve Jobs' biography" over and over again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shirley Manson sees some hope in smouldering remains of the music industry

There's a certain degree of truth in Shirley Manson's biopsy on the music industry:

Speaking to Metro following the release of Garbage’s new album ‘Not Your Kind Of People‘ last month, Manson said: “It’s a shell of what it once was and the industry hasn’t got it’s head around the fact a lot of young people don’t listen to the radio or buy records – the industry has been slow to adapt and become a dinosaur.”
Ah, but there is a silver lining:
“When corporations become dinosaurs they get desperate and greedy and become involved in ugly practices,” she continues. “The good thing about the collapse is it’s got rid of characters who have no interest in music. The workers left at the companies are passionate and care about bands.”
Hang about... if the few remaining staff are passionate about music, but the companies are slow-moving dinosaurs, does that mean caring about bands is an outdated attitude as well? Or would it be better to have people who view music as "product" but can at least put together an effective twitter campaign?

Downloadable: Bailterspace

You know who else is about to release a new album? Bailterspace, that's who. The last one predates the start of No Rock - it's been thirteen years, an absence that has grown into puberty. Which makes Strobosphere pretty exciting.

It's not out until August, though, but in the meantime, they've snuck out a taste - No Sense:

Embed and breakfast man: Shrag

Shrag are about to release their third album, Canines, and to tease you in the meanwhile...

This is the title track, Show Us Your Canines.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NME says sorry to Morrissey

As the libel hearing over the Morrissey grumbling about British identity court case gets closer, the NME has published a statement which sort-of says sorry while sighing that they never meant he was racist:

In December 2007, we published an article entitled 'Morrissey: Big mouth strikes again'.

Following this, Morrissey began proceedings for libel against us. His complaint is that we accused him of being a racist off the back of an interview which he gave to the magazine. He believes the article was edited in such a way that made him seem reactionary.

We wish to make clear that we do not believe that he is a racist; we didn’t think we were saying he was and we apologise to Morrissey if he or anyone else misunderstood our piece in that way. We never set out to upset Morrissey and we hope we can both get back to doing what we do best.
Morrissey and the NME getting back to what they do best? Presumably they mean living off past glories?

Superchunk channel the Narns

Given it's two years since the Superchunk reunion album, it's not clear if the new Superchunk single is a continuation of that comeback, or a whole new comeback all of its own.

The most exciting part of he new single is the b-side: a cover of Bananarama's Cruel Summer.

Bananarama - Cruel Summer by hushhush112
(Nb: this is the original.)

The bad news? The single, This Summer, is limited to a pressing of 1300 . Good luck hunting one down.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Downloadable: Skinny Puppy

Fancy a free download of Skinny Puppy playing live? Course you do. Sideline have a handy link to grab a version of Worlock delivered live on the German stage.

Copyright industry now officially Charlie Brown to Pirate Bay's Lucy

You could almost feel sorry for BREIN, who tramp off to the courts to have Pirate Bay IP addresses blocked, only to discover that The Pirate Bay adds a new IP address.

To their cussed credit, rather than giving in on a battle they can't win, the Dutch collection agency takes another run up. Maybe one day, Lucy won't pull the football away, guys. One day.

Stone Roses have plans to add hubris to comeback

I suppose it's inevitable, but ill-judged: The Stone Roses are going to try and "crack America".

Really? Isn't the comeback money enough without adding a vanity project on the side?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

VH1 discovers black people

For a long time, the best hope African-Americans had of getting airtime on VH1 was that they might play the video for Say Say Say. Now, though, Popmatters claims it's the audience which might save the network, although only because VH1 has realised it can insult the intelligence of audiences of any race, creed or colour:

The Viacom-owned cable channel has found ratings gold with shows such as “Basketball Wives,” “Love & Hip Hop,” and the tamer “La La’s Full Court” and “T.I. & Tiny” and hopes to keep building on the foundation that started with “Flavor of Love.” That 2006 dating show featured female contestants fighting, spitting and defecating on the floor as they vied for the affections of gold-toothed hip-hop lothario Flavor Flav. And VH1 has more reality fare on the way: Its newest contender, “Hollywood Exes,” featuring the ex-wives of Eddie Murphy, Prince, R. Kelly, Will Smith and Jose Canseco, premieres this summer.

“They tapped into an audience that is very faithful,” said Robin Boylorn, a professor at the University of Alabama who focuses on race studies. “It’s smart in terms of marketing and money because in this moment they have the ear of a particular public. I think that they took advantage of that—we see it with all the spinoff shows for ‘Basketball Wives’ and ‘Love & Hip Hop.’”
But don't worry, white America - VH1 isn't abandoning you, either:
“The numbers were great,” said Jeff Olde, who oversees all VH1 original programming and production. “It showed to us that an inclusive network can survive.” Olde noted that music remains a part of the channel along with non-African-American-themed reality hits such as “Mob Wives.” Later this year VH1 will roll out a slate of pop-culture-centric and nostalgia-based new shows, including a gabfest helmed by Jenny McCarthy and “Miss You Much,” a revamping of “Where Are They Now.”
Actually, thirty year old Macca and Jackson duets are starting to sound more and more like quality programming.

Idea for the Duke of Edinburgh

Sure, Christopher Lee might, at 90, be. Aspirated whole year younger than the Duke, but if Lee can record a metal album, surely Phil could at least pull together a little Goth collection?

NME casts Katy Perry as Mary Austin

To be fair to the NME, they do at least put a question mark at the end of the headline, but even so:

Katy Perry to play Freddie Mercury's girlfriend in new film?
The strongest thing you could say is that Perry is campaigning for the job:
A source has said that Perry is interested in the role of Mercury's girlfriend, Mary Austin, commenting: "Katy would love to be in the film as she is such a huge fan. She would want to play Mary Austin ideally. Katy has a similar look to Mary and would be a brilliant foil to Sacha."
If thta's her pitch - she looks a bit like Austin and would be a "foil" to Sacha Baron Cohen - it sounds like someone might have some more research to do. Or possibly should set her sights a little lower. I hear there's a new Muppet movie being put together.