Saturday, November 24, 2012

This week just gets better...

Coldplay are going on a three year hiatus.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dub off: David Rodigan quits Kiss

I think David Rodigan was the only surviving member of the original (legal) Kiss FM line-up from 1990; but he's gone now, resigned in protest at the marginalisation of his show and reggae in general on the network:

David Rodigan said he was leaving Kiss FM after 22 years "with great sadness" after being moved to a midnight slot.

He said the change "left me no option but to make a stand for my passion".
Sunday nights at midnight is a pretty grim slot, especially compared with the veritable shop window he occupied before:
The DJ's hour-long Sunday show had previously been broadcast at 23:00 GMT.
Seriously, though, even though it's just another hour later, there comes a point where you have to take a stand against the chiseling away of the slot; a point beyind which too much piss has been taken.

And so another link to Kiss' past vanishes; another flavour out of the mix.

What the pop papers say: Fifty years, more or less.

After the 60th anniversary of the NME (or the 60 and a half-th), the next big anniversary the NME is celebrating is the 50th anniversary of the NME Awards.

They start trailing this in the current issue, with an announcement of "a special Spotify playlist" (ooh, you're spoiling us) and a look at the new art-deco logo.

I have no idea why the logo is based on the 1920s for a celebration of an event from the 1960s, but anything that gets us away from that awful raised-finger statue has to be welcomed.

I'm not sure the celebration is quite right, though. The promo says:

It's 50 years since rock n roll's biggest knees-up began...
- but surely for a long period of that time there wasn't any event as such, just the publication of a magazine containing tabulated results?

Still, there were parties and TV specials. Although, erm, it looks like there was one in 1961 - shown on ABC. Which would make 2013 the 52nd anniversary.

Never mind, it's an impressive track record however you miscount it. And clearly the NME would be keen to focus on the mid 1960s instead of the start, when they scored a pretty sweet presenter for their events. Chap called Jimmy Savile. Why wouldn't you want to fudge the numbers a little to remember those days, eh?

The Vaccines stick up for the X Factor

The Vaccines don't have a problem with The X Factor, seeing it as part of the grand tradition of pop:

"I actually think the talent shows hark back to the '50s, '60s era of variety stuff," [Justin Young] told BBC News.

"I think they're the old fashioned way. People expect us to turn our noses up at these shows, but I think that for a lot of people it's the only opportunity they're going to get and I think it's as valid as going out playing show after show every night."
Actually, that's not really "sticking up" for The X Factor, is it? That's just going up to Leona Lewis and saying 'you're effectively the Pam Ayres of our times'.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Embed and breakfast man: Brave New Voices

This excellent take-down of hipsterdom cultural appropriation is from the Brave New Voices final:

"To be fair, as a white person..."
"No no no no, shut the fuck up."

Bit of a pity that the YouthSpeaks team don't give the names of the artists.

[via GirlGangZine]

Martin Gore wants someone to non-violently shoot Simon Cowell

In these post-McAlpine days, does that headline count as an incitement to non-violent violence? Who can be sure?

Gore wants Cowell shot to remove his woeful influence on music:

"I'm not advocating violence but I think somebody should shoot Simon Cowell.

"His influence in the music industry over the last God knows how many years it's been now... it's just like, so many people think that that's what music is.

"What happened to bands getting together? They are very few and far between now and the ones that do probably can't afford to get into a studio and make a record."
I'm not quite sure how you'd go about shooting someone non-violently - presumably you'd need to get a masseur to relaxing shoot him? Not that you should.

Don't shoot Simon Cowell. Just don't.

Besides, it's like chopping down a tree that's got ash dieback; the infection is already blowing through the country on every wind. It's too late to do any good.

Not that shooting Simon Cowell would be good, anyway.

Fiona Apple cancels her tour

You'd have to have a heart of stone - the coldest, coldest stone - to not have a lump in your throat when you read Fiona Apple's note cancelling her tour dates:

"I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship. I am the woman who stays home and bakes Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend.

"Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life, that keeps us feeling terrified and alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time.

"I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that.

"Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I've ever known."
Janet, the rescue dog she's had since she was four months old (since the dog was, not since Fiona was), is terribly ill with a tumour.

What better day than thanksgiving to hug your friends, whether they have two or four legs, or more, or fewer?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Top Of The Pops shut down by Savile again?

As it gets increasingly hard to work around episodes of Top Of The Pops with those accused of sexual misdeeds, BBC Four's Richard Klein is weighing up if it's worth going on:

"It is complex and it is difficult to judge," Klein told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch on Wednesday.

"These are judgments we are making on a case-by-case basis. It requires us to be cautious and careful without overreacting, to take into account public sensibilities and legalities, and hopefully we are going to get it right."

He added: "At the moment we actually haven't scheduled 1978, so we'll take a view. We have only done it the last two years [beginning with 1976] so if we didn't do it again it wouldn't be the end of the world and audience figures have declined quite markedly.

"It has done a good job, whether I choose to continue or not I don't yet know."
You'd have to suspect that it's the declining audience as much as the rattling of Jimmy Savile's skeletons that is reducing the enthusiasm from the channel.

Gordon in the morning: Kravitz to be Gaye for pay

Lenny Kravitz is being lined up for the role of Marvin Gaye in Julien Temple's biopic.

I guess he could lip-sync to the songs.

If the casting wasn't bad enough, the focus of the film doesn't sound that great, the way Gordon describes it:

Lenny will portray Marvin in the early 1980s when he had moved to London while struggling with booze and tax bills.
Part of me really wants to see Lenny Kravitz pretending to be a drunk man struggling to balance his deductibles column for an hour and a half. Most of me doesn't.

Wayne Coyne is that idiot holding up the TSA queue

The presence of the TSA at airports in the US might do very little to stop terrorists, but they do perform a diligent job of stopping gun nuts taking their nutty weapons onto planes - the last week in October, for example, they stopped 38 loaded guns being taken on board by twitchy fellow travellers. And a throwing star. And a bunch of grenades.

Yes, a bunch of grenades. While you're juggling a sudoku book and an iPod, there are people who put grenades in their carry-ons. Perhaps they don't intend to use them. Perhaps they plan to show their displeasure if the beef meal has run out by the time the steward makes it to their seat.

There's an awful lot wrong with the TSA, but stopping the sort of people who are deluded enough to take live or fake weapons into a tiny plane is a really useful byproduct.

I mean, what sort of person would try to take a grenade onto a plane?

What's that? Wayne Coyne, you say?

Yes, Coyne held up a security queue - causing people to miss flights and lose money. Because he had a grenade in his carry-on.

Coyne can explain, though:

The Embryonic leader described the airport officials as "very nice," and admitted some fault, but Coyne wouldn't accept full responsibility for inconveniencing his fellow travelers (even though he did tweet that apology the same day as this mishap). "I would agree that it was stupid of me, but I don't feel wholly responsible if people missed their flights," he said. "I'm not making the rules. It's not illegal for me to have that grenade with me."
The grenade was a fake, and Coyne claims he "forgot" he had it with him. I guess it's possible - only last June I forgot I hadn't put my bottle of water in the bin as I moved towards the front of ORD. I mean, who wouldn't forget they'd put a grenade in their bags, right?

It's just disappointing that Coyne won't accept that he was in the wrong, and it was his fault. Because despite what he says, realistic explosives are banned from flights, either as carry-on or in baggage.

Mainly because the only way to tell if a grenade is a real grenade or just an uncanny lookalike is to set it off.

Mainly because if someone stands up on your plane demanding that Miss Congeniality II is shown as the in-flight movie, it's pretty hard to tell if they're waving round a genuine grenade or (as Coyne had) "a non-explodable grenade painted gold".

Yes, Coyne is convinced because it had been painted gold, that somehow showed that it wasn't a threat to the flight.

It's true that Coyne doesn't make the rules. It's true the TSA might have some odd rules and some awkward moments applying them, but not taking things that look like they could blow up a plane onto a plane is a pretty good rule, and really, if you don't want to follow that sort of rule, Wayne, stick to the bus in future.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

AC/DC give in; join the modern world

If you read the round-ups of what's popular on the site, you'll know a perennial favourite item is AC/DC's firm holdout against iTunes:

“We don’t make singles, we make albums,” [Angus Young] told the Telegraph. “We believe the songs on any of our albums belong together. If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album. We don’t think that represents us musically.”
Apparently, they've had a bit of a rethink. Look at the front page of their website:
That's not just a sly, quiet recanting. That's a proud, pounding reverse. Not simply eating their words, but ordering a big plate of seconds and eating those words too.

To an outsider, it might look like they've achieved nothing by not being on iTunes for the last half-decade other than missing out on a half-decade of sales (albeit of individual songs rather than albums.)

But why now? What has made them change their mind? Apple hasn't shifted. I guess that there's only a couple of weeks until the current release of iTunes is replaced by the new one and...

ohmygod - that's it, isn't it?

AC/DC were just waiting for iTunes to go up to 11.

Britain's got Tarrant

Chris Tarrant has given an interview to Radio Times:

TELLY host and radio star Chris Tarrant has blasted the compliance culture of broadcasting, calling it a “nightmare”.

He said: “My generation may have had the best fun. Now the accountants have taken over. You have to submit scripts weeks in advance to ‘compliance’ departments.”
You're right, Chris. Modern broadcasting management - it's too micro-focused, too busy fussing around, looking at every detail, making sure everything is in order.
“I heard about Jimmy Savile – I met him twice and found him deeply unpleasant,” Chris said.

“God knows why none of it came out before."
You're right, Chris. Historically broadcasting management was too distant, too busy turning a blind eye, letting things roll on without overseeing detail, not ensuring things are in order.

Gordon in the morning: How Rihanna stole Christmas

Rihanna loves Christmas, the whole Christmas season,
But it's not gifts or turkeys she gives as her reason.
Maybe it's the 500 k she gets for those nights
she turns up in London to turn on the lights.
She drifts by, eventually, a whole hour late,
flicks at a switch and sings (not so great).
Each in the crowd, they turned to their friend:
"We wait an hour, she didn't stay to the end!"
For as soon as she arrived - to make all things worse -
she dashed off the stage, song hanging, mid-verse!
Half a million, half a song; it's somewhat slapdash.
And they could have got Pink for a third of the cash.

(With heartfelt apologies to Dr Seuss)

Monday, November 19, 2012

MySpace have a plan

MySpace is the Rye of social networks, the thriving port whose harbour long since silted up and no longer sees the boats coming. But it has a plan; it's about to relaunch again, and to focus on music, again. And it has Justin Timberlake onboard, hoping that nobody will point out that he was buzzy before Tom was friending everyone.

Why the focus on Timberlake? Even if he was an example of the smaller band trying to build a fanbase who MySpace hope to attract, everyone knows he's sunk a wedge of cash into the project. Every time he goes "it's great", the audience thinks "you're flogging me your product" rather than "that's an independent review."

MySpace think they have something to offer in 2012, as MusicAlly reports:

“The promise of discovery and sharing new, good music was never really fulfilled by other services out there,” Tim tells The Guardian, while flagging up its streaming catalogue of 42m tracks from major, indie and unsigned artists.

Analytics to help make sense of fanbases will be a key part of Myspace’s pitch to woo back those artists (and management/labels).

“Artists are really tired of sending their fans over to one platform to listen to music, another to watch a social stream, and others watch videos, buy merchandise or purchase tickets,” says Tim. “They really are just looking for a home, and we try to be that for artists.”
Are artists really tired of that? And even if they were, couldn't they embed videos and purchase boxes into Facebook?

Isn't the fundamental problem here that MySpace are saying 'artists are tired to maintaining several sites, so we're going to help by introducing another site they have to maintain'?

And while wonderful analytics are a great thing to offer, they're bugger all use if there's no audience on the site to analyse.

Ah! But MySpace have a plan:
The new Myspace will be opening up in beta to more users, who’ll then be able to invite some friends (aka The Gmail Launch Strategy). Journalists are in already.
The trouble with trying to sell MySpace like Gmail is that when Google launched its mail service, it was brand new, and shiny. Everyone was excited and desperate to be let in.

Who is desperate to see what the new MySpace looks like?

Are there any 'opinion formers' who would really want to risk ridicule by sliding over to their friends offering secret passes to MySpace?

More to the point, what drives social platforms is numbers. Why would anyone spend time crafting a new MySpace site if it can only be accessed by a chosen few? And if people don't build sites, what will be there when the doors are opened to all?

More importantly, building a secret MySpace behind a big wall and only letting in a few journalists isn't really cherishing those few MySpace users who have kept faith with the site while the rest of the world has gone elsewhere. Not only are you telling them that they've been wasting their time on a wrong site; not only are you destroying their neighbourhood; but you're leaving them entirely locked out of the process.

In design terms, the rollout plan is as garish as any of those flashing colour-clashed pages that marked out MySpace back when it was famous.

Gordon in the morning: Once again, One Direction fans prove themselves sweet and restrained

How delightful One Direction fans are, warmly welcoming the news that Harry Hairsytyle is dating Taylor Swift by sharing their good wishes:

One tweeted: “I’ll murder Taylor Swift. She will not date my Harry.” Another posted: “If u dating my harry, I kill u.”
And Lord McAlpine thought Twitter was hostile towards him.

The fans - known amongst themselves as Directioners and amongst law enforcement officials as Borderline Psycopaths - cover themselves in glory once again.

The one soothing consolation for Taylor Swift is that the 'fans' have about as much chance of getting near enough to act out their threats as they do of getting close enough to Harry to act out their fantasies.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Galaxie 500: There's no money in being a Tugboat captain

Damon Krukowski out of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi has written a piece for Pitchfork about how low royalties from Pandora and Spotify are.

They are, as we know, low:

Galaxie 500's "Tugboat", for example, was played 7,800 times on Pandora that quarter, for which its three songwriters were paid a collective total of 21 cents, or seven cents each. Spotify pays better: For the 5,960 times "Tugboat" was played there, Galaxie 500's songwriters went collectively into triple digits: $1.05 (35 cents each).
To put this into perspective: Since we own our own recordings, by my calculation it would take songwriting royalties for roughly 312,000 plays on Pandora to earn us the profit of one-- one-- LP sale. (On Spotify, one LP is equivalent to 47,680 plays.)
Obviously, this isn't comparing like with like; if you expect streaming to earn selling-like money on a rental-like proposition, you're going to be disappointed. It's more like radio plays.

And if you're expecting to earn radio-like money from streaming, you're going to be disappointed, too. With radio, you get paid for playing to big chunk of people; online you have to collect each of those listeners individually and so - unless you're a One Direction or a Lady GaGa - you're going to struggle to gather together an audience large enough to make anything beyond chump change.

But even if you set your expectations low, there seems to be something strange going on. Having set low royalty rates, Spotify then claws back most of the cash for... um, 'reasons':
[F]or 5,960 plays of "Tugboat", Spotify theoretically owes our record label $29.80.

I say theoretically, because in practice Spotify's $0.004611 rate turns out to have a lot of small, invisible print attached to it. It seems this rate is adjusted for each stream, according to an algorithm (not shared by Spotify, at least not with us) that factors in variables such as frequency of play, the outlet that channeled the play to Spotify, the type of subscription held by the user, and so on. What's more, try as I might through the documents available to us, I cannot get the number of plays Spotify reports to our record label to equal the number of plays reported by the BMI. Bottom line: The payments actually received by our label from Spotify for streams of "Tugboat" in that same quarter, as best I can figure: $9.18.
Taking two-thirds of the money away because the computer said so seems to be quite a disgrace. To not even be able to explain to the musician why Spotify are pocketing twenty bucks from a thirty dollar payout is, at best, unfair.

And it gets more unfair. Pandora pays a few cents to the musician as well as the songwriter. At the moment:
Pandora in fact considers this additional musicians' royalty an extraordinary financial burden, and they are aggressively lobbying for a new law-- it's now a bill before the U.S. Congress-- designed to relieve them of it.
As Damon points out, even with all this Scrooge McDuckery, neither Pandora nor Spotify are getting rich, either:
Pandora and Spotify are not earning any income from their services, either. In the first quarter of 2012, Pandora-- the same company that paid Galaxie 500 a total of $1.21 for their use of "Tugboat"-- reported a net loss of more than $20 million dollars. As for Spotify, their latest annual report revealed a loss in 2011 of $56 million.
Damon's conclusion? He subscribes to Spotify himself, and so isn't calling for a boycott, or a march on the server farms with burning torches. It's just this:
I have simply stopped looking to these business models to do anything for me financially as a musician. As for sharing our music without a business model of any kind, that's exactly how I got into this-- we called it punk rock. Which is why we are streaming all of our recordings, completely free, on the Bandcamp sites we set up for Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi. Enjoy.
And he's right. Having your music on Spotify is better, financially, than having it on a torrent or giving it away for nothing; but not much better.

That doesn't mean Pandora and Spotify should be allowed to try and shrink the already small sums they're paying, though. There's a logic to there not being much in pot; there's no reason for the house not to share it fairly.

[Thanks to @zaichishka for the tip]

Tidings of great joy I bring, for you and all mankind

Apparently Noel Gallagher is taking an extended break from making music:

He said: ''I'm going to take voluntary redundancy and maybe grow a couple of beards. I like to get as far away from it as possible when I finish touring because it's so full on when you're doing it. There's not just only the gigs, there's all the other stuff that goes around it.''
He's going to wait until inspiration strikes him before returning to music. Of course, if he'd done that after the second Oasis album, he'd still be on hiatus now, so fingers crossed, everybody.

This week just gone

Technical run-down... here's the top ten browsers used so far this year by visitors to No Rock:

1. Firefox 30%
2. Chrome 25%
3. Internet Explorer 22%
4. Safari 19%
5. Mozilla Compatible Agent 2%
6. Opera 1%
7. Android 0.4%
8. In-app Safari 0.2%
9. Playstation 3 >0%
10. Blackberry >0%

These were the interesting releases:

Clinic - Free Reign

Download Free Reign

Guided By Voices - The Bears For Lunch

Download The Bears For Lunch

Sarah Cracknell - Lipslide

Download Lipslide

El Perro Del Mar - Pale Fire

Download Pale Fire