Saturday, May 02, 2009

Don't take photos of Amy Winehouse

In court yesterday, Amy Winehouse tried to guarantee her privacy:

The order bans leading paparazzi agency Big Pictures from following Winehouse but also refers to any "persons unknown" seeking to photograph the musician outside her home and in other public places if they have pursued her.

This means that any photographers could face prosecution if they follow Winehouse by any means or approach her within 100 metres of her new home, which is near where she lived as a child.

All photographers are also forbidden from taking pictures of her in her home or the home of any members of her family or friends according to the order, which cites the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

And you can understand why. Although this does seem a little curious - how, exactly, in law is one of Amy Winehouse's "friends" defined? Would merely having been accepted on Faceplace be enough to qualify? Or would there have to be some sort of actual, type-of-friendship-people-had-before-the-internet friendship there? Could a photographer hauled in front of the beak say "your honour, the house was not owned by one of Ms Winehouse's friends, because they'd sold details of when we she was coming round to us..."?

Actually, had the injunction been in place before, would it have made the photos of Amy doing crack (or whatever it was she was up to, or up on) in breach?

And isn't that catch-all "persons unknown" a little worrying? Catch-all court rulings are generally bad ideas, simply because they are catch-all. I'm all for her protecting her privacy, but not in a way that creates a sloppy model which could start being cookie-cutter applied all over the place.

Still, when you read the response of unpleasant stalk-snapper Darryn Lyons, your misgivings melt away:
"We work very firmly within the rules and other paparazzi are using our name," said Lyons, who claims he has received an apology from Winehouse's management about the order. "We are also developing a situation where there is one rule for the rich and famous and another for everybody else – the rich and famous who use the paparazzi when it suits them but complain when they are doing something in public they don't want recorded."

How shocking that people might not want to be photographed except when they want to be photographed.

Lyons has a point - if you ride the tiger, there's every chance you'll discover the saddle will slip and leave you at a disadvantage - but watching him justify his trade is like seeing a jewel thief complaining that, if people don't want their diamonds pinched, they shouldn't make them shiny:
"Whether we like it or not celebrity is very much a part of British culture now and we record aspects of that and what celebrities have to understand is that they need the oxygen of publicity – with these kind of orders many are denying themselves that and they will feel the effects of that."

But to be fair to Winehouse, she isn't famous for being famous, is she? She's pursued because she's a singer. Or used to be.
"These privacy rules are mandated from Europe and they are eroding a tradition of press freedom which people in this country have fought for for centuries."

I would like Lyons to find one example, just one, of where a person has laid down their life in order that the British people might see snatched photos of a drunken woman's pants, or a gameshow host leaving a house in the morning. The only thing more odious than Lyons pretending that he performs any useful 'public right to know' function in British society is seeing him invoke the deaths of others in the name of protecting his business interests.

If people fought and died for anything, surely it was more often against the idea of a nation where your every move could and would be documented by people paid to invade your privacy than the idea that 'girl has drink' is some sort of crusading journalism.

Andrew Sachs: The victimless crime

If one thing was at the heart of the squawking fuss about Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, it was that the close, loving relationship between Georgina Bailie and Andrew Sachs had been strained by the pranks, and that Sachs was upset. That, presumably, is why thousands of people who hadn't heard the programme felt they should complain. Because Andrew Sachs was in pain, and the people of England would speak up for the man who used to say Que.


Actually, no, it turns out, according to, erm, Andrew Sachs in an interview in today's Guardian:

Sachs said the story had been widely misreported. He had not been close to his granddaughter Georgina Baillie, nor was he entirely shocked, as had been suggested, about her line of work as a dominatrix and member of the burlesque dance troupe Satanic Sluts. "I knew what Georgina was doing, sort of. But there was a lot of misquoting going on. I didn't say much. People interpreted that as he's so dignified. I'm not dignified, I just didn't know what to say. What was there to say?"

But all those job losses, and those massive fines - they'd be atoning for Sachs' ruined, traduced life - isn't that right?
Sachs told the Guardian that the affair had caused pain and embarrassment for his wife Melody and daughter Kate, but admitted that the controversy had been good for his career. "I came out of it very well … my profile's up. Great! They did me good. Thank you very much."

Hang about... is Andrew Sachs saying that he's made money and done deals off the back of the Brand phone calls? Doesn't that mean he's reveling in the humiliating phone calls? Shouldn't he be sacked for padding his position off the back of this sick stunt? Or something? Shall we ask the Mail for a moral lead to follow?

Courtney wishes to share

She's on the MySpace:

Me Blog Big today, no blog after!

orris look it up im orris rightbefore they put the enfluerage in and its taken about as long, there was a reasona fter all abnd nbo i bever ever would talk asmack about pamela , shes im sure doing fine shes just fucke3d byhger managers overhead andthathes opwned bythe Poison Dwarf and that i pimped her to him iom sorry and that shes on my aka list and has loads of creepyt varainst like p lee anders so is tomnny lee hes also tommy bass and TOMMYT LAW FIRM heh,


prelle cloud print

roja dove

la voit nuit

au revoir

theyre all going down hee heehee

I have no idea.

Gordon in the morning: Swine flu fever

Oasis holed up in a hotel in Venezuela. The two off Big Brother where you can never remember which was the one who snogged the Ordinary Boy and the one who was in Northern Line. These, of course, have been scares. But it was only a matter of time before a celebrity actually got swine flu.

Or, at the very least, someone who is vaguely famous - to those prepared to do a quick Google to refresh their memories - allows themselves to be photographed sweating with a mask on.

This morning, Gordon brings us the grave news about Tulisa. (I'll save you the Googling - she's in N-Dubz. And to save you further Googling, the band with the nice bloke off Buzzcocks who wore his hat the whole time.)

It falls to Jess Rogers to file the story:

N-Dubz star Tulisa ‘has swine flu’

Really? What rotten luck.
Tulisa Contostavlos, 20, flew to Athens on Thursday night for a break with family and friends after finishing a 23-date UK tour, when the band performed for thousands of teenage fans.

But she fainted and needed medical attention during the flight — then had to be rushed to hospital yesterday after a doctor noted all the symptoms connected with the potentially deadly virus.

Ah... so, in other words - she looked like she had flu. But still, to stack up the eye-catching headline, there must be some fairly strong belief that she's come into contact with the swine flu variant?
The band’s spokesman said: “We are hopeful Tulisa will be given the all-clear and will be well enough to leave hospital in the next couple of days.”

No, apparently not, then. 'Fairly well known person probably just has flu' doesn't have quite the same ring, though, does it?

There's a source, naturally:
“Tulisa’s family have been forced to wear masks and have only been allowed minimal contact. It is a terrifying time.”

Terrifying? Why? Even if it is swine flu, a young, healthy woman might not exactly welcome being unwell, but is hugely unlikely to die from it. Why would you be terrified?

I know what you're thinking - should we even be sharing this information before those close to Tulisa have been informed? Don't worry:
Band members Richard “Fazer” Rawson, 22, and Tulisa’s cousin Dino “Dappy” Contostavlos, 21, are in Britain and have been told about her illness.

"Dappy, do you remember the time you had a bad tummy? And kept sneezing? Well, Tulisa's a bit like that. She's going to have to spend some time in bedy-byes until she gets well, and then you can all play together again..."

Back in the land of the living, Gordon has some even grimmer news:
JAMES CORDEN has a lot on his plate, in more ways than one.

But the big lad from Gavin & Stacey has yet another tasty job offer that he should digest carefully.

James, aka Smithy from the hit sitcom, has been asked to perform the England 2010 World Cup song.

Ha Ha! In case you didn't spot Gordon's hilarious references, Corden is fat - that's why he's got a lot on his plate, you see - because he's eating lots, because he's fat, being a big lad. Do you see? Ha ha ha.

It gets worse, though: rather than encouraging Corden to create something horrible and new, the plan is to make something which worked well a little bit worse:
Sport Relief and the suits at the FA have asked him to team up with the England squad and cover NEW ORDER’s hit World In Motion.

Yeah - the suits, man. The suits. You stick it to those idiots who wear the suits, Gordon. Because who but a stiff wears a suit, right, man?

Oh... yes. But at least you looked like you were really, really uncomfortable wearing a suit.

Let's hope this story is like Smart's 'Moyles sacked' one, and just something he's made up to fill some space. Because otherwise, this is the future:
And my dream is to see James wearing BERNARD SUMNER’s sunglasses shouting: “Express Yourself — it’s one-on-one!”

Oh, lord.n

Friday, May 01, 2009

Art Brut settle in to LA life

It's not just Alexa Chung who is embarking on an exciting but time-limited new American career: Art Brut are setting up an LA residency - four nights at Spaceland in mid-June, added to previously announced spells in New York and Chicago.

Unlike Alexa, Art Brut's audience will actually have a clue who they are.

Levellers auction: Good works for charity

Mike E emails and asks if I can mention The Levellers' charity auction. "Or maybe embed the video?"

Go on, then:

The money goes to the No Surrender Charitable Trust.

Cabaretobit: Danny Gans

Las Vegas strip stalwart Danny Gans has died, reports the Associated Press.

Gans was the American equivalent of Joe Longthorne, building an act and career out of mimicking other singers. He arrived in Vegas, from Broadway, in 1996, and stayed there ever since. He won the accolade of having a theatre named after him, although earlier this year he moved to another venue. He'd been voted Las Vegas Entertainer Of The Year 11 times.

He recorded an album of Christian music, which was uncomfortably marketed to the pop and Christian audiences, making it hard to it to find traction with either.

Gans died in his sleep overnight; he was 52 and is survived by a wife and three children.

McDonalds Chicken Nuggets: Now include portion of Sweat

Did you know the American McDonalds has got a special site for black people who enjoy eating ground up cow-face as much as white people? It's called 365Black - deliberately excluding those black people who take weekends and publoc holidays off - and it pledges itself to be "deeply rooted in the community" (although quite what that means it doesn't make clear).

Currently 365Black includes exciting news about celebrations for the silver jubilee of Chicken Nuggets - a product which contains no beaks or feathers, at least nowadays. And how better to celebrate a quarter century of chopping up dead creatures and shoving their remains into a small cardboard box than by getting Keith Sweat to sing a song about them?

“Everyone knows I’m keen on love songs, so it was a perfect fit for me to write a love song for the 25th anniversary of Chicken McNuggets.

Yes. Because quite liking songs about kissing ladies are similar to doing advertising jingles.
I was honored to have the opportunity to share some of my creative talent with McDonald’s. It was great working with them on this project – I’ve grown up with McDonald’s and was happy to be a part of it.

Only some of his talent. It's not like it's the Big Mac.
Since writing the song, I started the ‘McNuggets Lovers Club’ on my radio show website. Fans who signed up for the club got McNuggets stuff and my new CD.

It's a very, very long way from a Grammy nomination to parceling up your records with baseball caps promoting chicken products, isn't it, Keith?
There’s been a lot of traffic to the website and I’m proud of that. I hope that young people today see my success and use it as something to strive for. I love being able to inspire with my career, my music. Writing this song for McDonald’s was another opportunity for me to do that.”

Yes, the young people today - if you work hard like Keith Sweat, put in the hours, focus, practice, focus, practice, you too can find yourself selling chicken McNuggets for a living. On the other hand, you could just spend your time dicking about, having fun, and you'll still end up selling chicken nuggest for a living. But - and here's the thing - nobody will laugh at you for it.

LiveNation: Top promotions

I'm sure Ultravox will be delighted at the well-positioned advert which appeared in today's G2 Guardian supplement, promoting their UK tour. It had all the dates, clearly listed, complete with contact details. It even had the extra date, added due to audience demand, at the Roundhouse.

Money well spent.

The only slight cloud would be that the Roundhouse date was the final night of the tour, and it took place yesterday evening, so LiveNation probably didn't need to place the advert at all. But still: details, dear boy, details.

Spain thinks internet users owe songwriters a living

The spread of copyright management concerns demanding that ISPs make up the losses they're experiencing as their businesses undergo structural change has reached Spain:

The copyright holders, the Coalition of Creators represented by the General Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE), wanted the ISPs to charge their customers extra to cover alleged losses from their activities on P2P networks. Eduardo Bautista, SGAE’s president, recently said that it is the ISPs “civic duty” to cooperate. Unsurprisingly, he also wants repeat infringers to be disconnected from the web.

It's a "civic duty", is it? Clearly, Bautista realises that he has a claim which is economically and morally invalid, so he's now - perhaps unwittingly - admitted that what he's after is an act of charity.

The Spanish ISPs aren't, naturally, rushing to embrace this thinking.

Venuewatch: The Gramercy Theater

The Gramercy has been having a bit of a hard time of late, what with its sponsor, Blender magazine, crashing and burning. Now, LiveNation has put the whole place up for sale. The spec even mentions the TVs which allow people who can't be arsed to go and watch the band stay in the bar to see the performance. That's the way to create an electric atmosphere, eh?

Pink and pushing

What really caught our eye in the report of Pink turning up to sing for the people filming a T-Mobile advert in Trafalgar Square was the intro:

PINK thrilled thousands of volunteers filming a commercial in London on Thursday (30Apr09) when she made a surprise visit to sing for the crowd.
More than 13,000 members of the public converged in the British capital's Trafalgar Square to participate in a mass singalong for phone company T-Mobile's new TV ad.

"Volunteers"? For a television advert for a mobile phone company?

"Unpaid extras", surely? You volunteer for a charity; if you turn up to appear for nothing in an advert for a company with a £115million annual advertising budget that would make you a schmuck, rather than a volunteer, surely?

Keef grief

It appears that Keith Richards used to hate being called Keith Richards, as it didn't live up to his expectations:

"It made me sick – my name's Keith Richards," he said. "It hardly makes it against Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters, does it?

Presumably Keith knows that Mr. Wolf and Mr. Waters weren't actually known by those names to their mums, right? Surely Keith didn't sit about cursing his luck that he was born to the Richards family rather than the Fox clan?

It seems, yes, as he did try to rebrand himself:
On my first guitar I had Boy Blue written – just pathetic. But that was as good as I got at the time.

Ah yes. Looking to channel the great Mississippi bluesmen, Keith Richards tried to get himself passed off as a gay jazz mag.

Still, it would have all made for a wonderful Aviva advert - a shot of Keith being cheered back when he had internal organs, with modern Keith digitally inserted: "Would any of this happened if I'd been called Keith Richards... oh, actually, it did, didn't it? Bugger."

Green Day, grey minutes

Thanks to @Electroweb for news of how quickly the Green Day ticket sale turned in to a tout payday:

wow, touts are quick! Green Day tix on GetMeIn 10 mins after sale starts for mere 3 x value... good old Ticketmaster...

Of course, it helps when the official sales outlet are also the official home of touting, doesn't it?

Dears: Oh dear

Montreal is turning in to a music crime blackspot. The Stooges and Clinic have had stuff pinched from there, and now The Dears tourbus has been lifted.

Luckily, it was empty of both equipment and band members when it got pinched, but they'd still like it back:

A plea for information on the missing bus has been put out, the vehicle was a Prevost model, Series 60. Accuride Alcoa; license plate: V957YW.

The bus was taken from outside the Saint Jean Comfort Inn.

New Zealand rips it up, starts again

Probably brought about in part by the recent failure of attempts to implement a three-strikes style law, the New Zealand government is going to completely overhaul copyright law.

From scratch. Not trying to bend a law designed for paper and plastic into a digital age.

It's a wise approach to the problem of how you can make 200 year-old laws fit in a world that could never have been predicted, and a lot of countries could do worse than follow New Zealand's lead.

The worry, though, is the risk of merely remaking copyright law from scratch without having an open and honest debate about what the law should be for is simply going to create a law that is much more effective at doing all the wrong things. And given the party which is pushing this new legislation, that has to be all too likely.

Gordon in the morning: Swines and stripping

More on swine flu, then, as Oasis turn up in the wrong place at the wrong time - no, not the music scene anytime after 1998 in this case, but Venezuela in a time of mild crisis. (And it is only a mild concern there at the moment; most of the country's response to swine flu is about trying to cope with flights redirected from Mexico.)

Gordon, though, has the Mancunians in the very pit of health hell:

LIAM and NOEL GALLAGHER have been stuck indoors for a couple of days, only venturing out wearing surgical masks to protect their prized lungs from the potentially fatal virus.

Actually, since you ask, the team at The Sun have photoshopped face masks on to pictures of the Gallagher brothers wearing face masks.

On a more serious note, Oasis haven’t had much luck across the Pond over the years.

Noel said in a Q magazine interview that the band could have been bigger than THE BEATLES in America, but Liam threw their big chance away by being a yob.

Uh-oh. Noel's already suffering from delusions and hallucinations. Someone needs to get the Tamiflu to him.

Gordon seems unsure of how to play this story. Is it knockabout fun - with facemask photoshopping, or is it a serious threat to this nation's most precious lungs?

In the end, the punning wins out:
Just make sure you survive the virus floating about South America first, Liam.

Get some oinkment for your chest.

Oinkment? Because it's called swine flu? But why would putting ointment on your chest help you "survive a virus"?

Still, that's not the worst pun in the piece. Oh no.
Aye up mask kid ... Liam Gallagher gets the Biz mock-up treatment

No. Eye watering though that might be, even that isn't the worst one.

Prepare yourself:
Champagne pork-anova ... Noel as he might look in mask

Champagne porkanova?

Elsewhere, there's perhaps the least surprising celebrity statement ever:
JENNIFER ELLISON couldn’t care less if men get turned on by her sexy mag shoots – because she’s only in it for the money.

The busty pin-up admits she strips off for the pay cheques – and will continue to while she’s in demand.

Tim Nixon has filed this for Bizarre, apparently thinking we might have thought that Ellison was removing her bra for Nuts out of some sort of artistic impulse.

Michael Jackson stays at home

There is simply no health scare that cannot be raised a couple of pitches in hysteria by the addition of Michael Jackson to the mix. Jackson was, we're told, due to inspect mansions this weekend, to decide where he'll stay while occupying Greenwich.

Not now, though:

But the 50-year-old father of three has delayed his visit until fears surrounding the swine flu - H1N1 virus - subside, according to the Daily Express.

Oh. The Daily Express. We hardly need worry about this further, then, except to point out that it's likely that the UK peak in swine flu cases will be during next winter's flu season, so if Jackson's really staying away until the "fears" have passed, it's going to put a wrinkle in this summer's concert schedule. And, given that America is currently experiencing a higher impact from swine flu than the UK, isn't, if anything, Jackson to be more likely to infect us, than we, him?

I think Tim Harper's Twitter has the best dispatch of this story, though:
RT @TelegraphNews:Swine flu: Michael Jackson 'worried about flying to Britain' - thought he wore a mask anyway?


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Glastonbury 2009: Slight overstatement

Even by the standards of meaningless lists, the Time magazine 100 Most Influential People list's inclusion of Michael Eavis seems a little extravagant.

Now, Eavis is a nice enough guy; his festival is successful and although he might sometimes neglect fact in favour of a sunny précis, his intentions are usually well-meant.

But one of the 100 most influential people on the planet? Really? How would you see his influence? Men proud to have their heads on upside-down? A few dozen me-too festivals around the globe? But if it was the latter, would you not expect to see a few more of the Glastonbury-clones being run on a not-for-profit basis at the very least.

Tell us, how did Time choose Eavis?

Coldplay singer Chris Martin paid tribute to Mr Eavis in an article for Time...

Oh, really? Could it be, do you think, that Time asked Chris to write about someone, and then slotted that someone into the run down?

Still, Chris: one of the most influential people on the planet. How does that stack up, then?
Coldplay singer Chris Martin paid tribute to Mr Eavis in an article for Time, writing that Glastonbury was "the biggest rock cathedral in the world".

"Michael is one of the people to whom I owe my life and career," he wrote, explaining how the offer of a headline slot in 2002 had "changed everything".

"We've headlined other festivals, but Glastonbury is the only one that feels like - and is - a family event. It's also the only one where we received some handmade cheese as a thank you," Martin added.

So: he gave you a cheese and helped make Coldplay famous - which you suggest is a good thing? And that's influential, is it? On Martin's life, perhaps, but on the world?

Come on, Time: this is meant to be a serious endeavour, isn't it? You're seriously suggesting Eavis belongs here? Isn't this for statespeople and scientists and...
He is one of 100 people listed, along with US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown...

You see?
... teen actor Zac Efron and TV host Oprah Winfrey.

Oh. That's the calibration, is it? As you were, then.

RIAA finally scrapes some cash out of the Santangelo family

After four years, an out-of-court settlement has been reached in the legal battle between the Santangelo family and the RIAA.

This is the charming one, you'll recall, where - having failed to prove a case against the mother, the RIAA then went after the kids instead.

The family are going to give the RIAA $7,000 to settle the case, says the AP. The Santangelo family explicitly have not admitted any wrongdoing; they're only settling now to allow the kids to concentrate on college.

Still, seven grand, eh? That must more than compensate the RIAA for the costs of a four year legal-harrying campaign against a one-parent family, right?

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Santangelos," Cara Duckworth, spokeswoman for the RIAA, said in an e-mailed statement. Asked how much had been spent to win the $7,000 settlement, and whether it was a victory, she said, "We don't break out costs per case, and it's not a question of it being 'worth it' or a 'victory.'"

Surely it's not a casde of being worth it or a victory because, erm, it wasn't worth it and it's not a victory.

It's interesting to hear that the RIAA don't bother to apply any consideration of if crushing families is worth the candle before spending the money. If I were a shareholder in a music company, I'd be thrilled to hear that I was supporting an organisation that embarks on the most expensive processes imaginable without thinking through the consequences.

Oh, hang about: Duckworth is about to explain that it was a victory, and that it was worth it.
She said the lawsuit had succeeded in showing that breaking the law has consequences and in steering music fans toward legal online services "that fairly compensate musicians and labels."

Given that the RIAA hasn't actually demonstrated that the Santangelo family did break the law, that's a bit of a dangerous claim. And I'm pretty certain that Duckworth would be hard pressed to prove that a single person has started using iTunes or similar as a result of their folly. But it must make them feel better to think that it wasn't totally pointless.

Twittergem: Lawrence Lessig

Warner Music has issued a takedown of one of my presos on YouTube. Someone send them a copy of §107 ("fair use").


Perhaps Warners are just trying to make themselves look stupid by filing a DCMA takedown against a leading Copyleft expert. Perhaps.

Seeqpod launches its Napster 2.0 phase

Seeqpod is dead. But just as Napster died, and got replaced by something with the same name, but useless, and Muxtape died, and got replaced by something with the same name, but uselss, here's the new Seeqpod. It's... well, useless, as Hypebot discovered:

The site os back online, but all of its popular former functionalities are gone. "We'll be back soon, stay tuned!" is the only explanation along with "Meanwhile, enjoy one of our featured artists" and an offer for indie band Arlo Hero's new EP plus a Seeqpod T-Shirt for just $4. Whether this signals a new direction for an embattled Seeqpod or they are just cleaning out their swag closet is unclear.

Another victory for the music industry - by making it that bit harder to find mp3s online, they're sure to arrest the decline in CD sales.

Darkness at 3AM: Elton John gets a makeover

Do the 3AM Girls actually understand about music?

This morning, they turn their attention to Elton John:

It is definitely one of Elton John's more unlikely collaborations.

Let's not worry about the extent to which working with DJ Ironik would be "unlikely", given that John has taken the stage with Eminem and Pete Doherty, and has quite a reputation for working with young artists. It's that "collaboration" tag that is misplaced. If the 3AMies had even read their own quote, they might have spotted that:
Last night Elton rang 3am to say: "I'm always incredibly excited when another artist reworks one of my songs.

"I'm thrilled by the reaction it's had."

It's a reworking. It's a sampling. It's not collaborative, any more than if you draw a moustache on the Mona Lisa you're collaborating with Leonardo.

And why did Elton ring up the Mirror to say that any way? Are they sure he rang them?

Still, even in such a short piece, Elt's intervention manages to not be the most pointless quote.
Its success has had a little help from Radio 1's Chris Moyles - who at first hated it. He said: "It's ace."

Gordon in the morning: Mrs GaGa's Summer Holiday

Worrying news from Lady GaGa's camp this morning as Gordon suggests she's about to crack:

Lady GaGa goes lala

EXHAUSTED LADY GAGA has been given a month off as record label bosses fear she’s about to burn out.

The double chart-topper’s ferocious work rate — added to her love of a good old tear-up — is taking its toll.

Uh-oh - a woman on the very edge of a breakdown, you say, Gordon?
So it’s still GaGa by name and very nearly GaGa by nature.

The sensitive approach to mental health is one of the things that The Sun is known for, of course.

It's so serious, though, Gordon gets through an entire piece her without mentioning hotpants or bra tops. So, tell us more about this emergency intervention, Gordon:
“Her management have spotted the warning signs and do not want her going off the rails.

“They’ve scrapped all her commitments in August to give her time to get her head straight.”

Oh. So, this story is actually 'woman looks forward to a nice summer holiday in a few months', then?

And it's hard to know exactly who this story reflects worst on:
JAILED Jack Tweed turned tail and ran from the showers in prison — after THREE encounters with naked gay star Boy George.

Probably the person who made it up in the first place.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wannadies die

I suspect you'd assumed it had already happened, but it turns out that The Wannadies hadn't actually split up before today.

Today they did, though.

It perhaps says a lot about how far the tide of fashion had swept by them that the news was broken exclusively by, erm, Teletext.

Chris Brown tries a change of subject defence

Chris Brown has, more-or-less, admitted that he did some bad things to Rihanna the night before the Grammy Awards. Oh, yes, he hasn't said "I am a domestic abuse type of guy", but he's alluded to events.

So, now he's up in court on charges relating to that night, what is his approach? He's trying to get the charges thrown out because of "government leaks":

"The leaks can form the basis for a motion to dismiss the case in regards to outrageous governmental misconduct," Brown’s attorney Mark Geragos told E! News today (April 29).

The leaks should never have happened. But they don't really make the punching of a woman any less wrong. You'd have thought that, if Brown believes he shouldn't have anything to apologise for, he'd at least have taken the opportunity to put his case. Calling for the charges to be dismissed on a technicality is the act of a weak, shameless coward.

Copyright catfights: Lil Wayne illustrates a point

The idea of copyright was, you'll recall, to encourage creativity. That was meant to be the point. Not to monetise ideas - although that was part of the means to the end - but simply to encourage the sharing of new stuff.

Now, you might feel that there's nothing wrong with turning synaptic sparks into money, or indeed that an idea should be a cash generator in perpetuity. But even if you do believe that, you'd be forced to admit that copyright law, with all its addenda and redrafts and extensions, isn't a good way of achieving that goal because it's trying to do something that copyright wasn't really supposed to do.

If you need evidence of just how ridiculous and broken copyright law has become, look no further than the legal squall generated by Lil Wayne's track I Feel Like Dying.

Urband & Lazar Music Publishing are suing Lil Wayne for the use of an uncleared sample from a track by Karma-Ann Swanepoel. That's a business suing, not the actual creator of the track. Oh, and they want to see financial data from the album Tha Carter III.

I Feel Like Dying isn't on Tha Carter III, but:

a lawyer for Urband & Lazar argues that Lil Wayne promoted the album by singing that song in concert and allowing fans to download it for free on his Web site.

So they're looking for a slice of money from album sales on a track that wasn't even on the album.

Let's just take a moment or two to pull up a chair, and ponder this: Lil Wayne uses a sample - uncleared, admittedly - on a track he gave away. So he's being sued on the basis, presumably, that someone who heard the sample might have gone on to buy the album - a someone who wouldn't have done so otherwise.

Presumably, a very disappointed someone if that had been their motivation.

Now, though, Lil Wayne has also issued a lawsuit - he's trying to make his producer pay for the mistake, on the grounds that it was up to the producer to clear the samples.

This, then, is how we stimulate creativity in 2009, is it? Or doesn't this whole farrago just suggest you'd be better off not bothering to try anything as it'll end up with a barrage of angry lawyers working off their mortgages?

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Hung up

Another day, another HMV announcement that comes without the Knowledge-Stick of Castaldo. The poor guy is probably struggling to keep up as HMV mutates its business seven or eight times a day.

Earlier in the week, you'll recall, it was suddenly going to be a cinema. Now, though, it's decided to be a mobile phone store instead:

The deal puts what Orange calls "show and sell" spaces into HMV shops, where Orange staff can demonstrate to punters why they don't need a dedicated MP3 player or portable video device when a high-end telephone will do both jobs almost as well. Glasgow, Plymouth and Teesside will be the first of a hundred such spaces to be created in time for Christmas.

Because, of course, the natural place to go if you want a telephone would be a record shop.

The idea seems to be in allowing Orange staff to persuade HMV customers to buy something they didn't want. They could try this with their music offerings, too, I suppose - inviting people to tell customers trying to buy Westlife that, actually, they might think about buying something better instead.

I'm not sure that this is quite going to work, though - it assumes that there are a large number of people who go to HMV to buy mp3 players in the first place, and that they're going to be persuadable that they don't know their own minds in large enough numbers to make it worthwhile. Have they done any testing on this? Because my guess would be that the sort of people who buy mp3 players at HMV are going to be either impulse-buying or else purchasing as a gift for other people - neither of which categories would obviously scream as being easy targets to lock in to a contract.

If only Gennaro was able to shed some light into this curious development. Perhaps he's preparing to issue guidance to editors if HMV announce plans to sell kitchenware some time tomorrow.

Iggy Pop isn't selling car insurance. Not any more.

The ASA has banned Iggy Pop from advertising SwiftCover car insurance. Not because they want to save him from himself, but because Swiftcover don't cover musicians:

Because the policy was promoted by a well-known musician, which might lead some viewers to believe the policy covered those who worked in entertainment, when it did not, and because Iggy Pop did not have a policy with Swiftcover, we concluded the ad was misleading.

Interesting - so it's unacceptable for an insurance advert to feature an entertainer who would be ineligible for that product? I wonder if that ruling will affect anyone else?

Calm down, dear... it's just the ASA...

Gordon in the morning: What a Lott for not a lot

With breathless enthusiasm, Gordon overpushes a session from Pixie Lott this morning:

WITH a cracking voice, an offer from top modelling agency Select and the backing of big record execs, new songbird PIXIE LOTT has it all before her.

"New songbird"? Oh, my.

Lott appears to be the result of Universal trying to splice Duffy and one of Girls Aloud (it doesn't matter which, just one of them), and Smart is VERY EXCITED:
Pixie had the cameramen mesmerised with her hotpants and five-inch stilettos.

Ah yes: there's nothing like an artists whose talent is measured in heel length, is there?
Remember — you saw her here first.

Assuming, of course, you hadn't seen her doing Dermot O'Leary a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile: Coldplay go rave.

No, no: really. Look, there's photographic evidence:

Hey... hang about a little... that's not a real photo, is it?
Mock-up ... how frontman Chris Martin might look

Why do they do this? Why? Seriously, Gordon, did someone pass that photo to you and you really thought "that's great, because sticking a face on some random body that may or may not be somebody at a rave really captures the idea of Coldplay going rave"? Seriously?

Although compared with the claim stuck on the story, the photo is like cinema verite. Because how have Coldplay gone rave?
COLDPLAY may have made their name with heart-stirring rock ballads.

But that’s about to change thanks to drummer WILL CHAMPION’s tinkering in the studio.

The tub-thumper wants to take the rockers on a rave odyssey after investing in some top-of-the-range beat-making equipment.

Yes, that's right - Gordon's "Coldplay go rave" story is actually "drummer buys a drum machine". There is no mock up of Will Champion opening a cardboard box.pixie lott

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Blue

Even without any noticeable public demand, Blue are getting back together.

I say without any demand; I think someone told Duncan James that a Blue reunion wouldn't be quite as unpopular as a sneezing pig in a city centre, which he took as being as good as a twenty thousand signature petition demanding they come back.

All the original members are going to be there... Duncan, Simon, Feegle, Drooper and Ben. Or was Ben 5ive? Anyway, they'll all be coming back:

No word yet on if they'll be recording any new music - although you suspect that "having something better to do" won't be a stumbling block if they decide to give it a go.

This is the sort of comeback that makes us wonder if it wouldn't be better if bands were forced into witness protection schemes when they split.

Fresh Slits

The Slits have been floating about in a reunited form for a couple of years now, so it's only with a slight feeling of trepidation that we hear they're about to release an album of new material:

"We've always wanted to do an album," [Ari] Up tells Spinner. "We just never had a chance to. Apparently we're still a revolution and we're still a threat to society. So now we got the album finally, which we've been wanting to do for a long time, but we didn't have the money to do it. We got signed to a record deal [with Narnack Records], and that's why we did the album."

This is the sort of comeback we like the sound of.

Apple's DRM heading to court

The iPod is great, but what if you don't want to use iTunes to sync your music to it? For a while, you could consult a website called BluWiki, which offered crowdsourced advice on how to use other software to load your device. But then Apple leaned on BluWiki, and the forum was closed.

The computer comnpany suggested that, should BluWiki have continued to share the advice, it could be considered to be inviting people to "circumvent the DRM". God forbid that if you pay a couple of a hundred quid for a music player, you be able to decide how to use it.

Now, though, the lawsuits are flowing in the opposite direction, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation co-sponsor a claim that Apple are stifling free speech:

According to the EFF, Apple alleged this type of discussion constituted copyright infringement, as it strongly guards iTunes' status as an exclusive content delivery and management tool for all iPod and iPhone hardware.

Fred von Lohmann, EFF senior staff lawyer, argued: "It's legal to engage in reverse engineering in order to create a competing product, it's legal to talk about reverse engineering, and it's legal for a public wiki to host these discussions."

Free speech versus DRM. Which is better? There's only one way to find out...

Meanwhile, over on Radio One

Chris Moyles has come under a bit of a sustained attack recently, with the Guardian suggesting he's too old, and Gordon Smart filling a page announcing his departure. Today, Ben Cooper, deputy controller of Radio One, gave him the sort of backing that would have a Championship Manager packing up his office:

Cooper was asked at a radio conference today whether Moyles would still be presenting Radio 1's breakfast show in 12 months' time, after a front page story in the Sun nine days ago claimed that he would be dropped by the station later this year.

"Make sure that you keep listening and you will find out by listening every day," was Cooper's non-committal reply.

Pressed further, Cooper said: "We have got contracts to negotiate … I think he is a very good broadcaster and I want him to stay on breakfast so long as he keeps connecting with the young audience we want him to."

Yes, you wouldn't want to say too much if there's a contract up for negotiation, but 'tune in every day to see if he's still there' is a somewhat weak endorsement of the man's position. You could look in the Radio Times, I guess, but given the last-minute yanking of the Andy Kershaw interview, even that wouldn't guarantee his job.

Still, on the bright side for Moyles, at least there wasn't a hint that he might be yanked off mid-show.

Cooper was talking at Radio Reborn, which had earlier seen Paul Gambaccini relaunch his now slightly obsessive attacks on Moyles:
Speaking earlier at the conference, Gambaccini said Moyles "encouraged bullying" and caused "human suffering" after a show in which he changed the lyrics to two Will Young songs and sang them in an effeminate, high-pitched voice.

Cooper counters that if he thought Chris Moyles was a homophobic bully, he wouldn't put him on the radio. You wonder how loudly Cooper would listen to the small voice of doubt as he draws up the schedule.

The Great Gambo's attack might have had a bit more weight to it if he didn't seem to be moaning about Moyles every time he goes out in public.

And it's not as if Gambaccini isn't above a little lazy stereotyping himself:
If Gambaccini had a modicum of sympathy for Moyles, then it was because the Radio 1 breakfast show had been extended from two hours, as it once was, to three-and-a-half hours today.

"Traditionally it was two hours," said Gambaccini. "That's what killed [former breakfast host] Sara Cox because three hours was too much to demand of a woman who had never been on radio.

"Now Chris is told to fill three-and-a-half hours at a time when there aren't any new good records. The factors really are working against an artist who engages in what I call blog radio. Just open the mic and hope something interesting comes out."

I'm sure Gambaccini didn't really mean to make it sound like he was suggesting that it was unnatural to expect a woman particularly to make a long radio programme - but sometimes when you write these things down, they can look quite bad, can't they?

And the suggestion that there just aren't enough "good records" to fill a programme really is the elder statesman showing his age. You seriously believe that Moyles talks a lot because there simply aren't enough songs to fill until the next weather forecast? You seriously believe that, even if Moyles did decide to shut up, there isn't enough worth playing to fill the gap?

Kershaw canned by the BBC - again

Today's On The Ropes was to have seen John Humphrys talking to Andy Kershaw. It never happened though, despite there even being a PIP page set up and the programme being trailed.

That summary is interesting, actually:

Andy has enjoyed a highly successful broadcasting career, winning a brace of Sony Radio awards and receiving critical acclaim for his reports from Rwanda, Angola, Haiti and Iraq. However, his outspoken opinions led to him being dropped by Radio One; he openly attacked Bob Geldof over his stance on Africa and in 2007 his personal life began to suffer.

Outspoke opinions led to him being dropped by Radio One? Really? At the time, he might not have gone quietly and had tussled with the network, but it seemed to be more about kicking him out the schedules to make way for more dance DJs. Although I guess that wouldn't really have fitted with the narrative of the programme.

It's a moot point now, anyway, as the programme isn't going to go out. Indeed, the interview was hoiked at the last moment. Mark Damazer appeared at the Radio 4 window to blog an explanation:
It is not often that we remove a programme from the schedule at short notice.

The 'On The Ropes' we had hoped to broadcast this morning in the end did not work. We were mindful of the background and, in particular, the strained domestic circumstances surrounding the break-up of Andy Kershaw's long-term relationship and the legal order, the result of which makes it very difficult for him to have significant access to his children.

We had hoped that we could explore the events leading to his personal and professional crisis and his subsequent efforts to recover while bearing in mind the interests of other parties and providing them with the appropriate degree of privacy. In the end that was not possible. The programme was recorded and edited close to the day of transmission - hence the lateness of the decision.

You have to wonder a little about what went on behind the scenes - was it really impossible to edit the programme leaving out the privacy questions? And if the sheer weight of potentially legally dubious material would have made the interview unsalvageable, any decent production team would have known that long before it got to trailing stage, no matter how late the final cut is delivered.

A lot of people are choosing to call conspiracy, suggesting this is another example of the BBC kicking Andy - although offering a platform to put his side of the story in the first place seems a curious way of going about that.

Commenters have been out in force, complaining...
I can only compare and contrast the way he has been discarded with the BBC's perpetual indulgence of the likes of Jonathan Ross, Chris Moyles et al, whose broadcasting talents are minimal compared to Kershaw's.

This seems to be hugely unfair to Radio 3, in particular, which left the door open for Kershaw's return - unless the complainants think that Kershaw should have been able to continue to broadcast while he was inside, or while he was too ill to do so, or while he was on the run from the police? And, however bad Chris Moyles behaviour might be, it's unlikely the BBC would allow his show to go out if it was going to raise privacy issues for a former partner or children. It's spectacular misfire to compare someone who oversteps the bounds of taste and deceny with a person whose life has fallen apart rendering them incapable, temporarily, of holding down any regular job.

Google explain why they're not The Pirate Bay

The first official defence of Google in response to the mutterings that there's little difference between them and the Pirate Bay, has appeared. Somewhat surprisingly, rather than coming from the Googleplex, it's appeared on the Google Italian blog [Italian version]:

La missione di Google è indicizzare e rendere disponibili tutte le informazioni presenti online, questo indipendentemente dai formati in cui questi file sono messi online.

Google's mission is to index and make available all information online, regardless of the formats in which these files are placed online.

I formati dei file non sono di per sé illeciti, ma è l'uso che se ne fa che li qualifica come tali.

The file formats are not in themselves illegal, but the use to which it is put to them as such.

Per fare un esempio Google è come un'autostrada sulla quali circolano molte autovetture (i contenuti); Google non può essere considerato responsabile se con una di queste automobili viene commesso un crimine e nemmeno lo è l'automobile di per sé.

For example Google is like a highway on which cars are moving much (content) and Google can not be held responsible if one of these cars is a crime committed, nor is the car itself.

Per venire incontro alle esigenze dei titolari di diritti di proprietà intellettuale, Google ha pensato una serie di procedure che permettono di segnalare e rimuovere i contenuti presenti sul proprio motore di ricerca per violazione del copyright.

To meet the needs of holders of intellectual property rights, Google has designed a set of procedures for reporting and removing the content on its search engine of copyright infringement.

Per quanto riguarda YouTube, invece, abbiamo sviluppato Con ContentID , una funzionalità che consente a chi detiene i diritti dei contenuti di monitorarli, gestirli ed eventualmente bloccarli.

Regarding YouTube, however, we have developed with contentId, a feature that allows holders of the rights of content to monitor, manage and eventually block them.

Con ContentID , infatti, è possibile agire anche sui contenuti caricati da terzi che violino il proprio diritto di copyright, non solo bloccando tali contenuti ma anche scegliendo di monetizzarli.

With contentId fact, you can also act on the content uploaded by third parties who infringe their copyright, not only blocking illegal content but also choose to monetise.

Un'opzione, scelta dalla grande maggioranza dei nostri partner, che indica un'evoluzione delle modalità di esercizio del proprio diritto in direzione di un nuovo modello di business.

An option, chosen by the vast majority of our partners, indicating a change in exercise of its right in the direction of a new business model.

I'm not quite sure I follow why, if Google can't be held responsible for illegal cars or crime taking place in those cars, that Google will also intervene to take those cars off the road, but perhaps that's because it's a weak translation of a poorly-considered metaphor.

Gordon in the morning: Runner-up in some sort of competition does something

In The Apprentice, you'll be aware, there ain't no second prize. Arguably, the arrangements made for the winner of the competition would suggest there's not really a first prize, either.

But what of the X Factor? What happens to the ballast in Simon Cowell's tanks?

Gordon has over-excited news:

Cowell's Ruthless

Hold on - that's a pun:
RUTH LORENZO has turned her back on mentor SIMON COWELL to sign a �1million deal with a rival record firm.

And only six months after not winning The X Factor. Talk about striking a little while after the metal was lukewarm.

Naturally, it's a million quid deal. They're always million pound deals, aren't they? Nobody ever signs a six-hundred thousand pound deal, even if you can only make it to seven figures by enthusiastic rounding-up and counting the costs of every muffin at every marketing meeting.

For all Smart's excitement, you'd have to guess that if Simon Cowell hasn't already forced Lorenzo into a strait-jacketed deal, it might be because he knows something EMI doesn't.

Gordon runs through some people who may or may not be lined up to work with her:
I’ve never been a massive fan of Ruth’s but Tyler, Slash and Santana are big potatoes on both sides of the Pond.

They're big potatoes? Presumably in the sense of "that's not small potatoes", but I'm not sure simply making the spuds larger turns them into something fabulous. Try it today - go in, see your boss, and tell him or her that you think they're an enormous tuber.

And from tubers to tubas, as Gordon has taken delivery of photos of Lily Allen and a man. Not knowing who the man is, Smart is reduced to describing the pictures:
The specs-wearing chum gave the songbird a delicate peck on the side of the head when she was looking glum.

Moments later she was grinning again as she fooled round with a little bugle.

That isn't, sadly, a euphemism. Or a euphonium, come to that.

Having drawn attention to the bugle, and unable to put a name to the man, where can Gordon go?
Lily has just announced a new eight-date UK tour for November.

I wonder if she’ll take an entire brass band on the road with her?

Really? You really wonder that, Gordon? You picture Smile with Harry Worth conducting, do you? Or is it merely that you can't really think of anything else to say about a photo of a woman mucking about by putting a small instrument on her head? If she'd put a flowerpot on her head, doubtless we'd be sat here pondering if she's ever thought of inviting Charlie Dimmock on tour with her.

What's that? Oh, yes... he had thought of that one... but:
Lily's got the horn

... naturally, he was keeping that for the headline.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: The kid stays in the movie

Thank god for that: Having failed to turn up in yesterday's story about HMV opening cinemas in unused space above its stores, Gennaro Castaldo has finally caught up, telling the Irish Examiner:

"Obviously, it if proves successful, as we hope and believe it will, we can consider rolling the concept to other appropriate HMV stores in the chain, and it’s possible some of our larger stores could be considered — although it’s still very early days and I’d say that such a prospect is quite a long way off right now."

I'm no expert, but I suspect that Gennaro is less-than-excited about this idea because it was launched with his boss doing the summation for the papers.

The Examiner has more detail on exactly what HMV are planning:
The first 200-seater, three-screen cinema will open in Wimbledon, London, in autumn. It will be kitted out with luxury seats and an area selling films.

As well as showing new releases the cinemas, which will open at 9am, will screen films for local schools and could beam live music events from concert venues.

Access to the cinema will be through the HMV store during the day and there will be a separate entrance in the evenings.

I'm not familiar with the Wimbledon branch of HMV, but I'm surprised there's room for three screens (and three screens with 'luxury' seats, which tend to be larger.) I can't imagine there's going to be much room for many paying customers in these theatres.

Which makes me wonder if they're really going to be able to offer "new releases" - Stelios tried to break in to the cinema market, he had enormous trouble getting hold of the latest releases because distributors were less than keen on shafting their regular, massive customers by sharing new prints with small operators, especially one that was doing cut ticket prices. And if HMV has to charge the same as proper cinemas, why would you choose a place with a smaller screen?

It's great that HMV is trying to think of ways of staying afloat; it's just a little depressing that their ideas are starting to look like crazy, straw-grabbing crazy plans.

Monday, April 27, 2009

MGMT reach entente cordialle

Remember that MGMT fell out with Sarkozy when he started to use Kids to soundtrack his party's campaigns? (Not, I suspect, that it was his personal decision, but you get the drift.)

Everybody has kissed and made up, according to the band:

"About two months ago it was brought to our attention (through the MGMT message board) that the UMP French political party was using our song 'Kids' at rallies and posting videos of these rallies on their official website. Normally MGMT steers clear of mixing music and politics, but the fact that the UMP used our song without permission while simultaneously pushing anti-piracy legislation seemed a little wack.

"We believe that access to music benefits both the musicians and the fans, and has undoubtedly helped spread our music around the globe, while also expanding our personal musical collections. We didn't want to be "typical Americans" and sue, despite the amazing monetary benefit and chinchilla coats and Navigators it would bring. Instead we're using the settlement fee the UMP presented and donating it to artists rights organizations. Thank you France for the wonderful food. C'est bon. MGMT"

It's nice that everyone comes to a happy ending, although frankly it might have been nice to see the UMP issuing an apology rather than just throwing money at a problem to make it go away.

And is French food really so great? Or are MGMT just talking crepe? [A payment of five guineas is being sent to Barry Cryer to mark the disinterment of that joke.]

Lucinda Williams now comes with cashback

Things are tight. And Lucinda Williams is alarmed at how much her people are charging her fans to go to her shows. So, she's doing something about it. She can't reduce ticket prices, but:

"I cannot, in good conscience, sit back and watch my fans get blatantly gouged." says Williams. "As an attempt to offset these fees, we are going to offer a standing credit at our merchandise table to everyone attending our upcoming US shows in 2009."

It's encouraging to see some artists are reaching out - and taking a hit on their own earnings - even while its dispiriting to see that artists (who we're often told are at the heart of everything the music industry does) can't even control how much tickets with their names on costs.

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Can I take you to the cinema?

This is grim news: HMV's plans to open cinemas are being talked up - but not by the company's cougar of quote Gennaro Castaldo. Oh, no:

Simon Fox, HMV's chief executive, said that the cinema has the potential to be rolled out to "wherever we have larger stores", including above branches of Waterstone's, the book retailer that HMV also owns.

This, clearly, is an act of folly too grand for Gennaro. It calls for a brass hat from head office to come down and explain that, for some reason, turning the office space upstairs into a cinema is the most natural thing in the world.

The heart of the idea is in the right place:
As well as showing new releases the cinemas, which will open at 9am, will screen films on behalf of local schools, have screening for parents with young children, and could beam live music events from HMV's concert venues. [HMV's partner in the scheme] Curzon's existing cinemas show already show live opera from the Met Opera in New York.

Offering a community resource is a lovely idea, and does fill a gap that many towns will feel - although how far the bottom line will be boosted by showing Peter And The Wolf to class 4B is debatable.

Is there really a business in showing films in small spaces? Who does HMV think will want to go to the cinema at nine in the morning? People who have lost their jobs but are too ashamed to tell their families?

Digital radio: More bad news

The news is far from good. The Taliban are gaining territory in Pakistan and are now so close to the Islamabad they're getting handover training in using the nuclear strike codes. Those pigs weren't just suffering from a bad hangover. The only calming influence on global warming is the reappearance of the ozone hole.

And now, it turns out that digital radio switchover might not be happening for a while yet:

Tim Davie, the head of BBC radio, has warned that the industry faces a listening slump with no prospect of digital switchover "in our lifetime" unless it wakes up to the challenges ahead.

Actually, the news is even worse than it first sounds - given the nuclear Taliban, swine flu and climate change, "in our lifetime" now means "by the end of 2011 at the latest."

Still, it's nice to know that some things never change:

Yes, that's MediaGuardian misspelling its own name, in keeping with the Graniaud housestyle.

Davie is gloomy:
Davie said it was "likely, not possible that we will be managing decline" in the years ahead with a "continued and sustained decline" in the average number of hours people who listen to the radio.

But it depends on what you mean by "radio", surely? Isn't the challenge less about a decline in listening, and more about in thinking about how to react to shifts in listening?

Downloadable: Eric's Trip

The ever-reliable CBC New Music blog takes a break from reliably posting great new music to bring a classic, overlooked gem: Eric's Trip doing Anytime You Want. Canada is brilliant, isn't it?

[UPDATE 27-04-09: The download has been removed in the last five years, but CBC has a bunch of Eric's Trip available to stream]

Gordon in the morning: The guy won't go far

Having endured the slow march to the Madonna/last husband divorce, we're now being invited to be witnesses to the "actually, we've been better friends than ever" stage. Gordon gives space to Virginia Wheeler to explain that Ritchie is buying a house near Madonna's:

MADONNA’S ex GUY RITCHIE has bought a home 200 YARDS from her London mansion.

Movie maker Guy paid millions for the four-storey house to be near his sons when Madge brings them to Britain.

Well... yes. To be near the kids. For the children. Is that really unusual?
The friend revealed the singer had even laughed when Guy made a crack about her new Brazilian toyboy JESUS LUZ, 22, speaking little English.

Guy said: “Blimey, no wonder the whole thing works so perfectly.”

Although an inability to string a sentence together in decent English didn't help you, did it, Guy?

Gordon, meanwhile, is running more pictures of the Girls Aloud tour - presumably, unless hemlines drop, he's going to do this every day until they're back home. But there is a news angle, as Sarah Harding (that's "Girls Aloud Stunner Sarah Harding" to you) has worries:
She added: “Our pyrotechnics are great. I’m worried, though.

“I wear a wig for a lot of the show and if one of those sparks go astray I could go up like a Christmas tree.”

Go up like a Christmas tree? Does Sarah Harding set fire to her tree every Christmas? Has she got the tree and the pudding fatally confused?

And Gordon has rumours of discontent amongst the Arctic Monkeys. The rest of them:
WHEN ALEX TURNER told his ARCTIC MONKEYS mates he was moving to London to live with girlfriend ALEXA CHUNG, there were serious rumblings of discontent.

Because when the frontman left Sheffield behind last October, the rest of the lads — JAMIE COOK, MATT HELDERS and NICK O’MALLEY — stayed in Yorkshire.

Things are going to get worse, he warns:
Now the distance between the boys is set to grow even larger — as Alex is following his TV presenter missus across the Pond as she tries to forge a US career.

Blimey. Still, when they come back in the middle of June, I'm sure everything will be forgotten, right?

Maybe I'm being unfair - it's not like every pretty autocue wrangler who turns up in the US gets repelled within weeks. After all, Julie Brown managed to make the massive leap from TV-AM to MTV, and since then... well... there was Anne Robinson. And Craig Ferguson. And... look, I'm sure Alexa has got plans and isn't just turning up on spec.

Gordon, certainly, thinks that Alex Turner moving to the States is just about as serious as it gets. Oh, yes:
Rock ’n’ roll folklore is full of cautionary tales of love affairs tearing bands apart.

The most famous case was when JOHN LENNON shacked up with YOKO ONO.

THE BEATLES didn’t last long after that and many people blamed their relationship for the split.

Hear that, Arctic Monkey fans? Gordon thinks you should start a pre-emptive misogynistic hate campaign...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Pirate Google

The question raised as Judge Ilovemesomecopyrights threw The Pirate Bay team into prison (or, at least, a long, drawn-out, process of appeals) was why the IFPI was targeting one search engine while not having a pop at Google.

There are two answers: first, Google could theoretically buy the four major labels without breaking much of a sweat and where would the IFPI be then? But, secondly, and more seriously, Google could find it much easier to argue - under US law - that it's just offering a search, and if people use it to search for things they shouldn't, well, that might be regrettable but is hardly their fault.

As if to test this hypothesis comes The PIrate Google:

The intention of this site is to demonstrate the double standard that was exemplified in the recent Pirate Bay Trial. Sites such as Google offer much the same functionality as The Pirate Bay and other Bit Torrent sites but are not targeted by media conglomerates such as the IFPI as they have the political and legal clout to defend themselves unlike these small independent sites.

What the organisers of this site seem to have missed is that, effectively, they're doing what The Pirate Bay did and what Google doesn't - building a search that expressly looks for torrents. So, rather than suggesting the IFPI goes after Google rather than the little guy, aren't they just making themselves targets?

[via Everything Is Miscellaneous]

Jackson: worse than the worst Location, Location, Location

Apparently Michael Jackson has decided he's not going to stay in his original mansion of choice (or second mansion, if you believe Gordon Smart) because it might scare his children:

WORRIED Michael Jackson has pulled out of renting a 28-bedroom mansion during his UK summer tour - because it is said to be haunted.

Jacko, 50, said he doesn't want ghosts frightening his children. He also feared 18th-century Foxbury Manor at Chislehurst, Kent, could not be made secure. He was about to pay a £1 million deposit for an an eight-month stay when he was shown a video made by aides and ruled it out.

Although the News Of The World might be headlining the 'ghost' angle, you'd have to suspect that it might be more the "cannot be made secure" aspect of the house that was the real deal-breaker here. (That, and "it's quite close to the main road, Kirstie...") Probably having every newspaper in the UK know where he was staying didn't help, either.
He is now looking at a mansion 15 miles away at Sevenoaks which is monitored by CCTV and guards and has no history of the paranormal.

Or at least, doesn't, until Jackson turns up, dragging his unquiet soul with him.

At this rate, he's going to end up in the Canterbury Travelodge.

Closing websites: The Music Magazine

Sorry to hear this morning that The Music Magazine is closing down (or, rather, going on "indefinite hiatus"). It's the familiar problem - trying to balance a massive demand for content with limited time and scant resources. Sadly missed.

This week just gone

The ten-most read April stories were:

1. Torrent Freak's Warner Brothers Pirate Bay takeover April fool
2. U2's manager Paul McGuinness argues that 'three strikes' is good for everyone
3. RIP: Steve Raitt
4. The actor Billy Bob Thornton doesn't like being called an actor
5. RIP: Randy Cain
6. Toby Keith falls out with Ethan Hawke
7. Beyonce bad singing hoaxer was making some sort of point
8. First night: Reviews of The Osbournes Reloaded
9. Lady GaGa knocks out dancer's teeth
10. Want to spy for the PRS? They're hiring

It was a bumper week for interesting new stuff:

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

download My Maudlin Career

The Noisettes - Wild Young Hearts

download Wild Young Hearts

FREE title track download

Handsome Family - Honey Moon

download Honey Moon

Jeffrey Lewis - Em Are I

download Em Are I

Christy Moore - Listen

download Listen

King Creosote - Flick The Vs

Download King Creosote stuff

Art Brut - Art Brut v Satan

download Art Brut v Satan

The Duke Special - I Never Thought This Day Would Come

Lacuna Coil - Shallow Life

download Shallow Life

Brakes - Touchdown

download Touchdown

65daysofstatic - Escape From New York

download Escape From New York

Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The Universe elaborate box edition

download Sounds Of The Universe sans box

The Dukes Of Stratosphear - Psonic Psunspot