Saturday, March 09, 2013

Le-on the sauce

Jared Followill has delayed work on the new Kings Of Leon album, through being too drunk to pluck:

"Wine isn't for everyone, but it is definitely for me," he tweeted. "Just tried for a sequence to the new album. Very exciting stuff. I can't quite nail it down due to the being too drunk. ?#Tomorrow"
This is exciting news. Who's for a kickstarter to keep Jared permanently up to his knees in wine and permanently delay the record?

GWAR manage to turn condiment range into violence against women

There's two things here. First, GWAR, even if you're launching a chilli sauce - even a hot chilli sauce - you're still just getting into selling condiments.

That puts them in the same space as, well, this guy:

However, if you must try and stretch your brand into sauces, condiments, pickles and chutneys, try not to do it like this:

The band's guitar player Balsac, has said that Gwar-B-Q sauce "is mostly made out of the blood of really hot chicks." He adds that such a use is "a terrible waste of fine ass, but ultimately worth it because this sauce is absolutely delicious."
Ha ha ha, murdering women and making food out of them. Hilarious. I can't imagine why HP haven't brought out an Ed Gein Limited Edition flavour.

Gordon in the morning: [Insert chat here]

It's one of those mornings where Gordon Smart has a straight-up great story that almost justifies the existence of the column. Tulisa has to be prompted when to be warm to her audience:

The former X Factor judge has to be prompted when to talk to punters at her gigs.

A copy of her set list orders her to “chat over music” before delivering an N-DUBZ medley.

And after a few more tracks the document tells her to “chat” – and plug her single during the natter.
Let's hope they've written "wave and leave stage" at the end, otherwise everyone's just going to be hanging around awkwardly wondering what to do next.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Pandora: all that's left is hope, but a lot of it

Pandora have just released their financial perfomance figures for 2013. Here's what they choose as the headlines:

- Fiscal 2013 revenue of $427.1 million grew 56% year-over-year; 4Q13 total revenue of $125.1 million grew 54% year-over-year
- 4Q13 total mobile revenue of $80.3 million grew 111% year-over-year, outpacing mobile listener hour growth, which grew 70% year-over year
- Fiscal 2013 total mobile revenue of $255.9 million more than doubled and grew 105%, outpacing mobile listener hour growth, which grew 89% year-over year
All that shouting about revenue can only mean one thing: they're not making profits.

Indeed, the losses are so grim, Pandora can only bring themselves to express them as losses-per-share:
For the fiscal year 2013, GAAP basic and diluted net loss per share were ($0.23). Non-GAAP basic and diluted net loss per share were ($0.08), excluding approximately $25.5 million in stock-based compensation. Basic and diluted earnings per share were based on 168.3 million weighted average shares outstanding.
You have to spend a couple of minutes carrying figures before you realise they're talking a great big hole. Even if you do exclude "stock based compensation".

For the next year, though, they're predicting a profit per share of something between 5cents and minus five cents, which is either going to be good news or terribly miserable.

The company is upbeat about things, though, pointing to buoyant listener hours and rising advertising take:
"For the past two quarters, growth in mobile advertising revenue exceeded growth in mobile listening hours,” as CFO Michael Herring put it.
That's one of those impressive sounding claims that suddenly falls apart when you think about it - there's no promise that the advertising revenue is growing at a rate large enough to cover the costs of delivering the growth in mobile listening hours; just that one percentage number is bigger than the other.

At the same time, Pandora's CEO Joeseph Kennedy is getting the hell out of Dodge.

The end result of all this was the share price of Pandora rose. How much that is down the general giddiness of the markets off the back of a Dow Jones record this week isn't clear.

Guitarobit: Alvin Lee

Alvin Lee, guitarist with perennially bigger-in-the-States Ten Years After has died.

Lee was with the band when they started as The Jaybirds - part of the 1960s 'British bands playing Germany often' scene - and wrote the group's biggest hit I'd Love To Change The World. He came to hate the track, because it was a hit. Most bands have their original fans do that for them, rather than do it themselves.

Ten Years After split early in the 1970s; Ten years after, they reunited, but earlier Lee had been touring a band called Ten Years Later. Ten Years After were still touring twenty years after they reunited.

Lee's 2007 album Saguitar saw a man still keen to experiment, even featuring him having a go at rap; his last record, Still On the Road to Freedom, stuck more closely to the model which made his name.

If you're looking for a testament from a fan, you could do worse than read Bob Lefsetz's appreciation of Alvin Lee.

Alvin Lee was 68; he died following post-operative complications on March 6th.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Justin Bieber invokes God as protection

The two-hour-late Bieber gig continues to bubble through the public prints, with poor Justin Bieber crying how he's been victimised:

Writing 12 messages on the subject on his Twitter feed, he put: "Rumors rumors and more rumors. Nothing more nothing less. Might talk about them one day. Right now I'm just gonna be positive. Can't bring me down." The messages continued, with Bieber claiming people wrote "fake stories" on him in order to sell papers.
Ooh, he "might talk about them one day". Goodness, let's hope he does. Presumably the detail is being kept secret under the Thirty Year Rule.

For someone who isn't talking about it, he does bang on a lot, though:
Bieber continued his defence on Twitter. "We are all equal in God's eyes & we have a responsibility to each other. So make up stories about fake fines and make no mention of the positive. Or say when I came out of my show with my shirt off because after performing for 2 hours I might be sweaty, I was going into a club (really?) or any girl I stand next to is my girl or that I don't care, or that I don't feel, or that a 19 year old going to a club in Europe is wild."
Not entirely clear what the "equal in Gods' eyes" gibberish is about, especially since some of us are paid squillions to prance about singing pissweak songs, and others dig deep into their pockets to give him money so to do and just ask not to miss the last train home in return.

Still, he does have a point about the fine stories.

Here's the NME on the fine:
Meanwhile, Digital Spy reported that Bieber was fined £300,000 for causing the gig to overrun. It was claimed that Greenwich Council fined the singer £10,000 per minute for exceeding a live music curfew. Due to the late start, Bieber's set didn't finish until 11.30pm, meaning it ran 30 minutes later than the venue's noise ban, which is said to be enforced at 11pm.
Well, yes, Digital Spy did report that. They also later reported that there was no fine.

But was it just Digital Spy which reported the erroneous story?

The difference? While Digital Spy have run a second story correcting the first, the NME, erm, hasn't.

Eurovision 2013: Bonnie Tyler can't fail, right?

So after Humph crashed and burned last year, this year the UK is going with Bonnie Tyler as Eurovision artist.

We've been holding out for a hero. But maybe this, it's a heartache. [Ctd p 94]

This song is thirty years old today

[Buy Blue Monday]

Gordon in the morning: Watching David Bowie with Noel Gallagher

Gordon has been reading the NME, and in particular Noel Gallagher talking about the David Bowie comeback:

[T]he HIGH FLYING BIRDS frontman is confused by the video to the legend’s track Where Are We Now?
Confused, you say?
“We’re still talking about that song. The video’s mad – like his f***ing cat directed it.”
That's not actually "confused", is it? It's just Noel saying that it's a bit out there, surely?

However, you can forgive Gordon struggling to make sense of anything Noel says. let's look at that lifted quote in full:
He told NME mag: “It’s great to hear his voice singing something new. The more you hear Where Are We Now? the better it gets.

“We’re still talking about that song. The video’s mad – like his f***ing cat directed it.”

But Noel added: “What it proved to me is that reunions are f***ing s****."
So, it's great to hear Bowie doing new stuff; and the new stuff gets better the more you play t; and it's an exciting talking point. So, er, that proves that reunions are shitty.

Sorry, what?

(Also: can you have a reunion if it's just you?)

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Do children listen to less music? Netmums say yes.

There's a survey been gathered by Netmums, which is a bit like Mumsnet but with its name the other way round; they're attempting to work out when childhood ends by asking parents what they think.

The results don't actually appear to have been published, but the summary has news that might make music industry executives a little queasy:

Only 23% spend time reading compared to 41% of their parents at the same age, while half the number of modern tweens listen to music (17%) compared to their parents (39%).
The musical sky is falling in! The musical sky is falling in!

But hang on a moment. The summary of the findings isn't exactly scientifically worded. Take this bit:
Parents also slammed retailers provision for tween fashion, especially for girls, with over half (54%) angry that stores only provide 'clothes that can be too sexual, such as overtly short skirts or crop tops'.
It's a valid concern, certainly. But did the research actually ask parents if they were "angry"? Or just if they agreed it was happening? And the word "only" in there is suspising. Stores only sell clothes that can be too sexual? The "only" seems quite definitive, but the "can be" seems more vague.

And what does this mean about the other 46%? Are they okay with the idea? Do they not believe the proposition?

Perhaps in the original research this question is a bit clearer, but without access to that data, all we've got is a presentation that has been designed to generate headlines.

So, we should approach this finding with caution. But even if you take it at face value, are less than one-in-five tweens listening to music?

Almost certainly not. It's probably more a generational difference in what constitutes "listening to music". Across the last generation, music has crept more and more inside personal devices, listened to through earbuds, with silent, gestural interfaces; music is purchased remotely and doesn't enter the house in plastic bags, making its arrival harder to spot.

And while a parent can think back and recall that at a social gathering, they listened to music, they're less able to judge if "listening to music" is part of an event that is pitched to them as "having mates over".

And there's probably a smidge of generational snobbery in there too - when I had a young, fresh face, i can recall scraggier, more wrinkly people telling me that my generation didn't really listen to music.

For their cohort, it was communal experience, rolling ciggies on the album sleeve and communing with the music, whereas us lot? We just had it on in the background and stuck photos of popstars in scrapbooks.

Are the current generation of parents any different? Kids today don't listen to music like Justin Jespen. It's not like them and The Spice Girls, where you had to really pay attention to understand the message.

So, less than one-in-five tweens listening to music? We could try asking them directly. But we'll have to wait until they've finished making their Harlem Shake video.

Gordon in the morning: Topical Olympic observation

To be fair to Tom Meighan, the Spice Girls part of the Olympics closing ceremony was pretty grim, but that was a while ago now:

“We were on tour during the Olympics but I saw some bits on telly. There were some horrifying bits, like The Spice Girls. That really didn’t do the place justice.

“That was the most horrifying bit. It was just horrible.
I think this makes Tom the first person to suggest that the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were somehow one horror after another.

But why is he talking about last summer right now? Oh, Kasabian have a booking:
“We’ll be the first band to play the park, so it’s great.”
There's your Olympic legacy for you. Right there.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Bieber: How will that help?

Having kept kids up late last night, E! reports on how Justin Bieber will say sorry:

Justin Bieber Will Perform 30 Minutes Early at Next Show to Make Up for Lateness, Concert Venue Rep Says
How does that help, exactly? If you missed your last train, or had to leave before the concert finished, last night, in what way does knowing that if you'd gone the next night he'd have had a more reasonable schedule make it up to you?

It's like not kicking your new dog, in the hope that somehow will make your old dog feel better.

Coming tomorrow: 'Early Bieber gig meant young fans distraught at missing first half hour'.

Does YouTube add up?

Interesting piece over at All Things D on the economics of YouTube - which we could summarise as 'once again, the music industry is surprised to discover that playing songs to people one-at-a-time isn't going to make anyone rich':

The dollars programmers earn from YouTube’s ad-selling efforts range widely. But many big publishers say that after YouTube takes its 45 percent cut of the ads it sells, they frequently end up keeping about $2.50 for every 1,000 views their clips generate — that is, if their video generates a million views, they get $2,500. Other publishers say their split can be as high as $10 per 1,000.
Vice Media's Shane Smith reveals - hold the pre-roll - that the adverts on the dozen channels he operates on YouTube “not going to be our monetization strategy.”

There's suggestions that things might get a little better - Google pointing to how it's starting to make money on mobile views, for example. Although it's hard to imagine that advertisers are going to want to pay very much more a pair of eyeballs squinting at a handheld screen than they would for a pair blinking at a desktop.

B*Witched, unblushered and bewildering

God love B*Witched, but I'm not sure they're the best band to go to for a famous faces without make-up article.

Don't you need people to remember what they look like with make-up for it to work?

The Daily Mail sets the scene:

While some popstars have felt the need to go under the knife to keep their young appearances, one girl group never felt the need to.
While welcoming the positive message of the piece, presumably part of the reason why B*Witched haven't popped down the cosmetic surgeon is not unrelated to the same reason that people haven't been popping down HMV to buy B*Witched records, surely?

The whole thing collapses in a self-defeating sinkhole:
'There’s a lot of pressure, especially on young girls, to look like the really polished version of celebs you see in magazines,' she told Heat magazine.

'It’s nice for them to see pictures like this.'
Yes. The best place to go to send out positive messages about body image to young women is Heat magazine, where they will sit unread amongst a bunch of articles about how fat, thin, wrinkly, sweaty and disgusting everyone else is. It's like doing a bit about peaceful dispute resolution in Guns And Ammo.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Gordon in the morning: Slim majority

Tomorrow, Fatboy Slim is, for the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life charity, playing a DJ set in the Houses Of Parliament. Gordon has scratched his head to think of something to say about this:

It’s just as well Fatboy – real name NORMAN COOK – is off the sauce these days. He’d have do ne some serious damage to the Government’s booze supplies back in the day.
What? "Yeah, if it had been a few years back he'd have drunk some of the alcohol". Righto.

"It's fortunate he doesn't have an insatiable desire to consume potato products, which would mean he'd have depleted the government supply of crisps."

"It's lucky he's not made entirely out of blood plasma, as he'd have made a terrible stain on the government carpet if he'd leaked."

The really frustrating thing is that Parliament isn't the government, and Cook is playing at the former, not the latter. So even if he had been unable to control a desire to smash plates, it would be Parliament's crockery that took a hit. Not the government's.

Justin Bieber runs late

Justin Bieber needs to take a good hard look at how Peppa Pig does it: because when you're doing shows for children, you have to keep on time.

His UK dates have been running late - by as much as an hour at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich - with the result that mummies and daddies have turned up to pick up their kids, only to discover that the show hasn't yet finished:

"A few of the parents went up to the information desk to complain and they were saying there's nothing they could do and that 'It's just Justin Bieber's production team'.

"We said that was all well and good, but most of us have to get trains... it was just a shambles. I said we've really got to leave at ten to eleven to get the last train."

She added that people in the crowd began booing at about 21:30, almost an hour before Bieber's act eventually started.
The blame is being put on the support acts over-running, although if people were able to boo for a solid hour before Bieber eventually came on, that seems a bit of a stretch.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Gucci Mane changes name, changes back

Gucci Mane is changing his name:

"I'm officially changing my rap name to Guwop and retiring the great Gucci Mane," he wrote according to Buzzfeed. "Thanks fans, for eight years as Gucci now it's Wop turn."
Guwop. Really?

Luckily, his fans were able to laugh in his stupid face:
"Im not gonna call you Guwop dumbass, just so you know," wrote @iStoleFreeHugs, while @fivefifths simply responded: "Shut the fuck up son"
It's hard to believe that people who are happy to call someone Gucci Mane might think that any other name could be considered risible, but there are.

After thirty minutes of being treated to an indication of just how risible the ill-chosen name of Guwop is, Mr Mane reverted to his original stupid assumed name.

If I was him, I'd have gone with Radric Davis, his actual name.

Gordon in the morning: Kelly Jones dreams of a fold-up chair with Jones written on it

Excitement this morning, as the Bizarre homepage teases us with news:

'PHONICS star wants to direct films after success writing movie script
I hadn't heard about a Kelly Jones script being made into a successful movie. That really is big news.

Lets see what's happened:
First up on the movie front is a screenplay he’s written in conjunction with Stereophonics’ new album Graffiti On The Train.

Aside from plugging the band’s latest effort, Kelly is busy attending meetings with the likes of BAFTA and Film Agency Wales to get his script off the ground.

He’s hoping the film will go into production within the next year.
Ah. So when Gordon is lauding "success writing music script", the success has come in the form of successfully typing one out.

(I suspect it should be the BFI rather than BAFTA, too; although why public money should support a film that sounds like a promo for a Stereophonics album is something of a mystery.)

Eurovision 2013: Armenia bags Iommi

Tony Iommi - yes, the one out of Black Sabbath - has apparently written Armenia's entry for Eurovision this year.

Apparently, Iommi's authorship of Gor Sujyan’s Lonely Planet "has been kept a secret for a while". It's not entirely clear if this is at Sujyan or Iommi's behest.

I can think of no reason why anyone involved in that would feel any less ashamed than anyone else.

[via @WorldOfChig]

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Morrissey unimpressed by modern music, life

What's the noise coming from the day room? Oh, it's Mr Morrissey muttering to himself about how things were better in the olden days:

The 53-year-old singer believes people are ''encouraged not to think'' so outspoken or political artists are not able to flourish, and few pop acts are able to work on their own terms.

He said: "The arts have diminished, because we are now living through a time when we are encouraged not to think. No one making music wants to waste time struggling with art. A group like the Sex Pistols would never again be allowed to slip through, and there is no such thing in 2013 as a popular artist who sets their own terms for success."
Robyn? Amanda Palmer? David Bowie? My Bloody Valentine? Adele? A large number of punk and metal acts? Quite a number of rap acts who head up their own mini-military-industrial complexes?

Come on, if you still think that The Sex Pistols is the gold standard in a band doing it without being told what to do (or the 'pretend that McClaren wasn't scripting it' thesis) you're as awry on the old days as you are on modern times.

Oh, Mr. Morrissey has more to say:
''Whether it be Beyonce or Justin Bieber, we see singers who have absolutely nothing to offer anyone as they walk offstage clutching three Grammys in each hand.''
When did Moz start to think the Grammys were some token connected to artistic achievement?
''In recent years I saw McDonna live, and no audience member reached up toward her to try to touch her. I see this so often with artists whom we're told are global stars. It is a big lie. Or else, you might possibly be a big star, but you are not loved."
McDonna - do you see what he did there? Hilarious.

If Morrissey really wants to test if big name bands attract blind, loving devotion, he could take a look at the correspondence the NME has been getting after Harry Styles won villain of the year.

Mr Morrissey, of course, feels that he's better than that, though:
My audience has an urgent need to touch, to shake hands, to move out of their seats
Given the age of most of your fans, Moz, the need to move out of their seats because their bladders can't hold out all the way through Paint A Vulgar Picture any more.
They don't simply sit and observe, but feel the urge to act. It's a great compliment for me, and one that most Grammy winners could probably never imagine.
I suspect that Morrissey has never been to a Justin Bieber gig, but surely he doesn't picture them as being full of young people sitting down quietly, does he?

Ne-Yo: He's quite the catch, ladies

Let's skate over the impression Ne-Yo gives - that he's probably never seen a lady naked, much less touched one - and tune in as he shares his secrets for bedroom success, shall we:

I'm a firm believe in do me and I'll do you back. If you work me out, then I'm gonna work you put with the same amount of effort. That's how I rock.
Here's the thing, Mr Yo: if you say things like that, rather than reflecting well on you, it makes you seem like the sort of douchebag who expects applause for, basically, boasting that you're not a selfish dick in bed.

The whole comment has a nasty, sticky 'I'm Ne-Yo, you know, I don't have to treat the person I'm with like they have their own nerve endings' hanging over it.

Still, it's lucky Ne-Yo has a subtle seduction technique to fall back on:
He told Britain's more! magazine: ''One night we went to a club and bought about 50 bottles of champagne. We were ordering 10 bottles every 10 minutes. It's one thing to hand a girl a glass of champagne, it's another thing to hand a girl her own bottle.''
You'd have to hope the bottle came with its own ice bucket, because if you're being targeted by a man who thinks that buying a bottle of champagne every sixty seconds for the best part of an hour is impressive, you're going to need a bucket.

Bieber fans: They're delightful

Had an interesting brief chat on Twitter yesterday with a couple of Bieber fans, one of whom had shown her anger at the paparazzi invasion of Justin's personal space with cameras by, erm, posting a photo snatched of him walking down the street.

Apparently I was wrong to think there might be something ironic in snatching a photo of a man looking pissed off to show how pissed off he was with people snatching photos of him. It's different because "Justin loves his fans".

Talking of whom, those fans did another great job of covering themselves in glory earlier this month.

A fifteen year-old girl from Portsmouth posted a tweet:

Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!
Justin (or, let's be honest, "Justin") saw this Tweet and was pleased. If it actually was Justin, he thought something like "that's a nice thing for someone to say"; in the more likely scenario that it was a person in the social network marketing arm of Bieber Inc, they thought "this Tweet shows a valuable push-through into a wider demographic suggesting a longer term serious artist strategy could pay dividends". Whatever happened, the tweet got retweeted into Justin's official Twitter account.

Whereupon, Justin's fans thought "hey, that's great - the artist we love and care about has managed to win over someone with his talent. In a way, that validates our belief in him as a musician."

Or so you might have hoped.

Instead, a bunch of bitter vitriol was unleashed on the girl. She told The News (Britain's most lazily-named local paper) what happened:
'It wasn’t too bad at first.

‘Some people were saying I was lucky I was retweeted by him and some were jealous.

‘But then it started to get worse as more people found out. I had things like “you’re not a fan, go kill yourself”.’

Soon after that, messages started circulating that Courtney was dating the Canadian pop star – and pregnant with his child.

Courtney added: ‘It was getting completely out of hand. So far things hadn’t got to me. But then they started saying I was pregnant with his child, and that my child would be a prostitute.’

One girl who sent Courtney messages claimed to be a 12-year-old fan from America.

She put: ‘Just tell her to die and leave Justin alone.’
Yes, that's a non-existent child from a non-existent relationship being projected into prostitution because its mother happened to like a record.

If Justin really loves his fans, he's got terrible, terrible taste in people.

This week just gone

The most-read February stories:

1. Telegraph Kraftwerk article strangely similar to earlier Observer piece
2. Liveblog: Brits 2013
3. Robbie Williams cast out by Oasis due to low Mod rating
4. My Bloody Valentine: Full album & early reviews
5. Grammys 2013: Winners in full
6. Simon Worrall tribute album: sample and details
7. YouTube streams can now influence the Hot 100
8. Northern Uproar: Back, back, back
9. 6Music ask listeners favourite single, seem disappointed by results
10. HMV "intern" wasn't an intern; didn't "hijack" the account

These were this week's interesting releases:

Cailtin Rose - The Stand-In

Download The Stand-In

Mogwai - Les Revenants

Download Les Revenants

Palma Violets - 180

Download 180

Woodpigeon - Thumbtacks And Glue

Download Thumbtacks And Glue

History Of Apple Pie - Out Of View

Download Out Of View

Various Artists - A Concert For Kirsty MacColl

Download A Concert For...

John Foxx - Evidence

Download Evidence

Johnny Marr - The Messenger

Download The Messenger