Saturday, November 28, 2009

Popobit: Al Alberts

Al Alberts, singer with The Four Aces, has died.

Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Alberts was a child star who made regular appearances on radio. After university, time in the navy introduced him to Dave Mahoney, with whom Alberts would form The Four Aces. In a seven year period, the Aces charted a number of times, picking up Grammys for Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing and Three Coins In The Fountain.

Alberts quit the group in 1956, hoping for solo success which never materialised, prompting a sideways move into producing radio and TV programmes. His Al Alberts Showcase ran for 32 years, offering a platform to new artists - helping Sister Sledge and Teddy Predergast at the start of their careers, for example.

Alberts retired in 2001. He died from complications from kidney failure at home on Friday. He was 87.

What the future might look like

Variety profiles Guvera, an Australian company which is working on ways to suck the life out of musicfind ways of monetising music now that the market value of individual tracks is almost zero:

For example, a clothing brand could create a list of tunes for girls in their teens who like "Twilight," or men who play videogames, read comicbooks and eat a lot of fast food. When searching for songs, users would be directed to music channels presented by brands with similar sensibilities. The marketer would pay record labels for those songs whenever they get streamed or downloaded.

Tracks are offered only to registered users of Guvera's website who have provided personal info, such as age, gender and where they live, as well as favorite bands, movies, sports teams, etc. -- information that will pair specific audiences with the brands that want them and are happy to pay for their entertainment.

The weakness at the heart of this idea is that it amplifies the general drift of the music industry over the last twenty years: the belief that your musical tastes are the result of your demographic data; with the obvious next step of reducing your choices to the things that you should be liking. Only now with adverts as well.

The upside is that this is only going ruin music that would work well for selling stupid tracksuits, and there has to be some way to service EMI's massive debtfund major label investment in new acts. At least it's a response that doesn't involve suing people.

Tour dates: Frightened Rabbit

2010 is - according to the press release - to be a pivotal year for Frightened Rabbit. You can catch them at the start of the pivoting on a March tour:

March 04 York Duchess
05 Manchester Club Academy
06 Aldershot West End Centre
08 Bristol Thekla
09 Oxford Academy 2
10 London Koko
12 Birmingham Academy 2
13 Sheffield Leadmill 2
14 Norwich Arts Centre

Magnapop weekend: Lay It Down

Back, then, to Magnapop - "'I'm sorry' doesn't help, and it turns you away". Why has it taken this long to get round to a Magnapop weekend?

[Part of the Magnapop weekend]

Downloadable: We Have Band

Another download offer, another widget. This time it's We Have Band who are offering swapsie of a free tune for an email address. That's unless you're reading this post in a couple of months and the widget doesn't work and there's just a gawking hole where the offer should be:

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Liz Fraser

It's not often you see something billed as "their only interview this decade" and think "yes, I can believe that" - but somehow, I don't think we're going to see Liz Fraser popping up to do the same stories on Graham Norton next week, following her interview in yesterday's Guardian.

Karl T is sure there's an angle:

Liz (or Elizabeth, now she's all grown up) is interviewed in todays Guardian. I've checked the listings, and she's not performing her new single on X Factor this Saturday, but could the denizens of the jungle be getting an etherial, otherwordly sonic-chathedral-y mystery guest this week?

Either that, or they're really desperate to fill the time on Strictly.

The interview revisit the failed reunion tour:
According to bassist Simon Raymonde, the band stood to benefit to the tune of £1.5m each for getting back together – enough to guarantee them financial security, enough to secure the future of Raymonde's Bella Union label.

There was just one problem. Within weeks of the announcement, the group's singer, Elizabeth Fraser, announced she wouldn't take part.

"I don't remember it being that much money and in any case that's not the reason [for reforming]," she says today, in her first interview since the band split in 1998. "But people get so fucking carried away. Even though something's staring you in the face, people just cannot see it. I knew it wouldn't happen and it didn't take long to want out."

Gordon in the morning: Alimentary, my dear Watson

Even Madonna never bent over quite as far as Gordon Smart does to promote Guy Ritchie's terrible career. Sure, she might have done Swept Away, but she never went this far:

There isn't really a story attached to this, either - it's just promo puffery. How much will this cost behind the Sun paywall?

Embed and breakfast man: Magnapop

Somehow, the return of Magnapop had passed me by - they'd vanished in 1999 with a contractual obligation to not use the name for seven years hanging over their heads; they'd re-emerged in 2005 and relifted the flag with Mouthfeel - which seems to have never got a UK release.

This year, there was another new album, Chase Park, which only got a digital release. I say "only" like the prospect of new material from Magnapop is ever going to be underwhelming, which is, of course, wrong.

But this story is getting itself round the wrong way - forgetting to mention the roots in that primordial soup of guitar bands, Athens, Georgia; the spell trading as Homemade Sister and Swell; demos produced by Michael Stipe; tour supports for Sugar and Juliana Hatfield and The Lemonheads. The ceaseless touring in the 90s and the big break that broke them, opening for REM on the Monster tour. The strains weren't helped when their record label collapsed.

But they were special - they are special, and have remained special in the intervening time.

And this is what they sound like:

More Magnapop informations
Magnapop official site
Magnapop on MySpace
Magnapop on Twitter

Buy Magnapop
Chase Park
Hot Boxing
Rubbing Doesn't Help

A little more Magnapop to come this weekend
Lay It Down
Skin Burns live
Open The Door

Brighton already treating Borders like a dead man walking

Panic in the centre of Brighton as they watch Borders struggle for life:

A prime shopping site could lay empty for months following the collapse of bookshop Borders.

This despite the chain (currently) still being a going concern. But the worry - which seems to come solely from the Evening Argus looking to fill a square on its pages - hasn't been helped by Churchill Square's failure to fill the slot left by Zavvi. Ah, if the Virgin Megastore had remained in its gorgeous building along Western Road, the hole might have been less apparent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

WiFi fine unfair

This shows what a horrific mess the pushing of more and more weight onto copyright law had created: a pub in the UK has been fined £8,000 after a customer downloaded copyrighted material through the free wi-fi service:

According to internet law professor Lilian Edwards, of Sheffield Law School, where a business operates an open Wi-Fi spot to give customers or visitors internet access, they would be "responsible in theory" for users' unlawful downloads, under "existing substantive copyright law".

However, she said the measures that would be brought in under the Digital Economy Bill — measures that could include disconnection of the account holder — would not apply because the business could be classified as a public communications service provider, which would make it exempt. According to the terms of the bill, only "subscribers" can be targeted with sanctions.

Except that under those laws, the "service provider" would then be lumbered with the task of trying to find out who had done the supposed copyright breach to pass those details on to the intellectual property owners, which is going to be even more messy.

The name of the pub hasn't been made public; nor has the name of the corporation who - presumably well aware they were going after an entity which had done no actual wrong itself - greedily slammed in a claim. We're told over and over how we must support the copyright holding companies because they are so very, very good for the economy: is it really good for the economy to have companies in stretched market sectors being forced to shovel out eight grand for a minor infraction by someone who might not even have been one of their customers?

Virgin have a magic illegality-detecting machine

I'm not sure that it's entirely a heartwarming idea that Virgin are running a secret tool to inspect four out of every ten customer's internet streams to spot "illegal" files:

Jon James, Virgin Media executive director of broadband, said, “Understanding how consumer behaviour is changing will be an important requirement of Virgin Media’s upcoming music offering and, should they become law, the Government’s legislative proposals will also require measurement of the level of copyright infringement on ISPs’ networks.

“Detica’s CView technology potentially offers a non-intrusive solution which enhances our understanding of aggregate customer behaviour without identifying or storing individual customers’ data,” he added.

It's not entirely clear how having someone look at what you're doing online is "non-intrusive". Even if the intention is to keep it anonymised, there's a question mark over how anonymous you really can make such studies.

It's also not clear how, exactly, this data will detect 'illegal' files - by which we're presuming they mean unlicensed files. How - if the data is anonymous - would Virgin even begin to be able to tell if the data they're looking at is being used with or without permission? Do they have some sort of magic detection box?

Turntable turned off: Technics nixxed

Even the sort of wedding dj who pretends that they're Fatboy Slim seems to have stopped using turntables in favour of digital decks, so it's perhaps no surprise that Panasonic have announced they're ceasing production of Technics turntables.

The big question: If DJs now turn up with all their choons on a memory stick, what has taken the place of 'carrying one of the big plastic boxes of records' as the time-honoured way of sneaking into the venue without paying?

Record Of The Day Awards

Last night, the Record Of The Day Awards brought together those who work round the back of the music business to honour them with awards. These were the winners, with what you can either call nominees or losers in brackets:

Best Blog
No Pain In Pop
(The Von Pip Musical Express)

Best PR Campaign for a Breakthrough non-UK Act
Lady Gaga - Polydor
(Passion Pit – Columbia)

Live Reviews: Writer of the Year
John Doran, The Quietus, NME and others
(Alexis Petridis, The Guardian)

Free Music Magazine of the Year
The Stool Pigeon
(Kruger Magazine)

Best PR Campaign for a Breakthrough UK Act
Florence and the Machine - Toast
(Tinchy Stryder - Stoked PR)

Best Music Coverage in the Popular Press
Sun - Something For The Weekend

Best PR Campaign for an Established UK Act
Dizzee Rascal - XL - Michael Cleary (formerly at XL, now at Columbia)
(Arctic Monkeys - Bad Moon)

Record Reviews: Writer of the Year
Alexis Petridis - The Guardian
(Luke Turner, The Quietus)

Best Music Coverage in a National Newspaper
The Guardian
(The Guardian Guide)

Best PR Campaign for an Established non-UK Act
Jay-Z - Atlantic
(Phoenix - V2/Cooperative Music)

Digital Publication of the Year
The Quietus
(The Line of Best Fit)

Best In-House PR Person
Adrian Read – Polydor
(Janet Choudry – Parlophone)

Best In-House PR Department

Breaking Music: Writer of the Year
Peter Robinson – Popjustice
(Paul Lester – The Guardian)

Feature of the Year
Warp Records' 20th Anniversary Feature - Clash Magazine
(Thom Yorke’s autobiography by Steven Wells)

PR Reputation Management
Michael Cleary formerly at XL - Dizzee Rascal
(Supersonic PR – Cheryl Cole)

Best Independent PR Person
Beth Brookfield – Purple PR
(Briana Doughety – Darling Dept.)

Best Independent PR Company

Editor of the Year
Mike Williams – Kruger
(Krissi Murison – NME)

Magazine of the Year
Observer Music Monthly
(The Wire)

Outstanding Contribution to Music PR
Alan Edwards

Outstanding Contribution to Music Photography
Kevin Cummins

Outstanding Contribution to Music Journalism
Phil Alexander

Bit of a shame that the Observer Music Monthly team will be having to sell their prize to eat from next month.

The most curious of this list is not the winners, but the nomination of Krissi Murison at NME. She's not really had much time to put her stamp onto the title yet - and there's been a run of awful, pointless, list-based issues (the most dead pop stars or whatever it was? Really?); the suspicion must be that this was a nomination based on 'not being Conor McNicholas'.

Robbie Williams is not afraid of being cheesy

There's perhaps nothing cheaper than using local radio to propose to your girlfriend - sure, the first couple of times, popping up on air and saying 'Elmer, will you marry me?' was cute; now, it's become a cliche and has the air of someone too mean to buy an upside-down pineapple cake to hide a ring in.

It's no wonder Robbie Williams would do it, although his 'people' are now rushing to make clear that his proposal on an Australian radio station was "just a bit of fun". Except for the listeners.

Gordon in the morning: Two of us getting nowhere

Paul McCartney made a fateful mistake yesterday of saying something vaguely nice about Jedward, and thus has been rewarded with Gordon's team not just doing a bog-standard 'oooh, imagine if we stuck Jedward hair on a photo of Macca' bit of photoshoddy, but also Beatles songs amusingly tweaked to make satirical comment on the twins.

By 'amusingly', of course, I mean 'why? why? why would you do such a thing?' This would be the best:

1. Ballad of John and Edward

To be fair, Gordon hasn't put his name to this - step forward, Sean Hamilton, and take a bow.

Embed and breakfast man: Pixies

The Pixies - always happy to lend support to a dying regime - have been on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon this week. Look:

One of the comments on the YouTube page says "it's one of the best Debasers I've heard since the first reunion", which I'm not sure is meant to be sarcastic or not.

Martin Gore: Forensic alienation expert

Erik Estavilo is upset with World Of Warcraft. Upset to the point of issuing lawsuits:

Estavillo believes that the game's monthly subscription fee is too high and that its various other charges are too numerous, and he also believes that the game contributes to his sense of alienation.

It's not clear from reports if he's happy to be alienated providing that he doesn't get overcharged for it, or if he doesn't expect to be alienated paying prices like that. You'll have stood behind people like this in queues at customer services in Sainsburys.

This would be none of our concern, were it not for the expert witnesses Estavillo is calling in. Winona Ryder has been subpoenaed, but so has Martin Gore:
He's subpoenaing Gore "since he himself has been known to be sad, lonely, and alienated, as can be seen in the songs he writes."

Plus, he's from Basildon, which means Gore can talk about alienation with a degree of authority.

It could be the start of a whole new career for Gore - Forensic Alienation Expert, ready to be called in whenever society is being put in the dock by those it has shunned.

[Thanks to @simonth for the link]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Embed and breakfast man: Victorian English Gentleman's Club

They're Victorian, but only called English, so it's probably appropriate that TVEGC is doing this for the Sight Of Sound exhibition at the National Museum of Wales.

The track Mr Fenton and his photo of Melrose Abbey can be downloaded for free from the Museum site, too.

Rihanna naked photos 'worst thing ever'

You'd have thought that with the wringer Rihanna's been through this year, she'd be taking the lesson from Edgar that while you can still say it, you ain't seen the worst. But she has, and... it was the leak of the nude pictures which was the low:

R&B singer Rihanna has said the "humiliating" leak of naked photographs of her was "the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to me".

It is a pretty nasty thing to have happened - although, frankly, if you so much as think as attaching a photo of your underpants zone to a text message, you might as well just email a copy to TMZ these days, cutting out the shit of a middleman you'd mistaken for an intimate.

But it was even worse than you could imagine:
"It was humiliating and it was embarrassing - especially my mum having to see that. It was two days before Mother's Day, so I was nervous.

"I sent her flowers first before I called and then she texted me - when the world is against me she's always there supporting."

Curses - imagine ruining the two-days-before-Mother's-Day day for everyone. Is there no level to which people won't stoop? Couldn't they at least have waited until three-days-after-Mother's-Day, when parents are much more comfortable having their kids' vaginas smeared all over the internet?

The open minds of Take That fans

Let's get this straight, then. People turned out for the launch of a glorified karaoke Take That game, sat through James Corden quite happily, and started booing Speech Debelle instead?

Singers Lily Allen, Paloma Faith and Rachel Stevens, model Kate Moss, and Pixie Geldof were also at the party.

And yet it was Speech Debelle who was booed? Blimey.

Apparently her crime was to rap her way through Pray (or, possibly, to pray her way through rap). Does she not respect the integrity of their music?

Borders on the edge

Things keep getting glummer and glummer for the UK branches of Borders - the prospect of being rescued by WH Smiths was bad; the withdrawal of that prospect was worse; now, the 45 remaining stores have been placed into administration.

The administrators are sounding upbeat about finding buyers, but... I'm not sure the prospects are looking that good.

Jermaine Jackson has a go at logic

Jermaine Jackson - noted professor of psychology - has decidced the suicide of Jordan Chandler's father proves - somehow - that Michael Jackson never molested anyone.

It's the guilt, you see.

If Jermaine has learned one thing over the last year, it's that whole "you can't libel the dead" rule.

Rihanna and her neighbours

Turbulent times in the Los Angeles real estate market - Rihanna found herself being sued by a neighbour who found her noisy and unpleasant. Now, her landlord is counter-suing the neighbour, claiming that if next door hadn't been shouting and yelling at Rihanna all the time, she would have bought the house off him.

The landlord wants the profits he would have made from the deal, although surely going so very, very public with an announcement that the people living next door to a house you're trying to sell is going to cost you more in the long run?

Gordon in the morning: Eminem's career must be on the slide

The whole suggestion that Eminem is begging Simon Cowell for a judging seat on the X Facor seems strange.

Sure, you can see why Eminem might need to try and find a way in front of a big audience again, perhaps with a caption saying "Yes, he's still going", but why would he set his back-to-front baseball cap at X Factor instead of American Idol? Or did he issue two statements, identical except for the programme name, tailored to each market?

Em believes he could judge better:

Eminem, real name MARSHALL MATHERSIII, said: "No disrespect to the current judges but you need people who are global, platinum-selling stars. You need to prepare contestants for what it's really like out there, and what sort of pressure you are going to be under."

It's not disrespectful, but, hey, your current judges are nobodies.

The big question is why, exactly, you'd need judges who know what it's like to be a mulit-platinum selling artist to spot a person who could successfully have a single number one before booking two seasons' panto in Northampton.

Given that Eminem's biggest gift to the world so far has been starting Dido on a career, let's hope Cowell quietly ignores him.

The Pete my heart skipped

How close the world came to losing Pete Doherty: The cancellation of Irish dates last month turns out to have been after his heart stopped.

"If I hadn't been on a life support machine I'd have been in Ireland," he told NME.COM, speaking of his stay in Swindon's Great Western Hospital. "But my heart stopped."

No, no. What you're thinking, and what I'm thinking, and what the doctors were thinking - apparently not:
"Their [doctors'] immediate thought was that it was to do with drugs but it wasn't," he said. "What happened? Well, I don't know. I don't remember. I was running into the walls, making steering wheel signs with my hands. And then I just… stopped. My body just stopped."

Clearly that wasn't drugs. Imagine if drugs made things like that happen, eh? They wouldn't be allowed to sell them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rock sick list: Ronnie James Dio

Not well: Ronnie James Dio. He's got stomach cancer, but isn't taking it lying down. His wife has stuck out a statement:

"Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans.

"Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio.

"Thanks to all the friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up."

A doomed dragon called stomach cancer. Even his life-threatening illnesses have fireworks in the background.

ITunes adds another string

Apple has announced that iTunes is going to start selling live albums. In order to make this happen, Apple is cosying up to LiveNation, and the prices come in slightly evil tones, too. $13 for a live concert video? You could almost afford to go to see a gig for that.

209 in dire straits

It's not a good time to be involved in community radio - the longest-running community station in the UK, Forest of Dean Radio, is closing down at the end of next month because of financial problems, and now comes news that 209Radio in Cmabridge could be vanishing if it doesn't find some money soon:

The station has only recently announced big plans to offer more to the citizens of Cambridge in 2010, which include renaming the station to reposition itself more strongly within the Cambridge community, but it can now only survive if someone comes forward able to offer it a lifeline. Chairman of 209radio Clive Woodman is calling for people to support the station today or lose it for good.

"We have reached a point now whereby we need stable regular financial support to help with our core costs and continue to provide this incredible and unique service to the residents and community groups of Cambridge. We are calling for anyone who can help financially to come forward now!"

James P - who alerted us to 209's plight - explains what Cambridge would be losing:
The station provides great opportunities for local people. There are programmes made for and by the many sections of the community who aren't served elsewhere - The homeless, refugees, the elderly, those with mental health problems and many more. They've also got some brilliant music shows covering numerous genres (the indie show, Stagger, is fantastic). The station broadcasts on FM to Cambridge, and also online. All shows are podcasted too, so there are loads of opportunities for anyone who could benefit from the programmes to hear them.

Certainly give them a listen - but if you're able to help them in a more practical, cash-related way, they'd appreciate it. Membership, perhaps?


To Cerys Matthews, mother to a new-born baby.

Chris Hawkins is sitting in for Cerys now - which is kind of ironic, given that Cerys was officially covering Nemone's maternity leave. You suspect that Nemone might not be expected back.

Isn't there something we can do to stop this sort of thing happening?

Robert Pattinson, out of The Lil' Lestats, is planning a pop record. But he's not rushing into it:

I don't want to release an album which has a sticker on it saying, 'By the vampire of 'Twilight',' on it.

If most bright-eyed actors who stick out records are anything to go by, you'd be better off worrying about the sticker saying "Reduced: 49p".

Erasure records

Yes, yes, it's right and proper that The Pet Shop Boys are feted as national treasures, with their po-faces on the stamps and a holiday in their honour every September 19th. But why don't we also hold parades celebrating Erasure in the same way?

They're currently out in New York, recording a new album. Perhaps we should do something nice for them when they come back?

Good Morning to you, Adam Lambert: GMA swings axe

If only Adam Lambert had been deliberately courting controversy by feigning oral sex on prime-time mainstream telly, eh? But who knew that might upset people.

If Adam had been interested in exploring exactly how liberal ABC is, he's now found out: Kicked off Good Morning America and - oh, the shame - having to relying on a counter offer to go on CBS''Look, It's This Or More Advertorials For Snuggies' programme.

Gordon in the morning: Gorjedward

On the television a lot recently; doing something in the media for which they were cruelly underprepared; part of a big brand which does little more than pump a bland nothingness out. No wonder Jedward felt so sorry for Gordon Smart they went round to cheer him up.

They're "editing" Bizarre this morning, and slipping in some revelations:

John said: "We haven't really had jobs. We do some chores for family but we don't take any money."

They've never had jobs. Whoeverwouldhaveguessed, eh?

They also share their views about the important issues of the day - which, to be fair, the Sun even gets the Page Three porn participants to do:
Edward made the Hand of Jed blunder, telling me: "Thierry Henry is great at soccer.

"He is deadly. A great player. We didn't see the game because we were in rehearsals but we know he helped score a goal that people say was cheating.

"He's still a great player. He's such a cool guy."

That's hardly - as Gordon called it - "backing THIERRY HENRY"; in fact, Edward seems to be saying that as he didn't see the incident he can't really offer a comment on that.

How did Edward not see it, though? They kept showing the handball on the news all t... oh, right.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Italian Rolling Stone seems to have lost its way

Apparently impressed by his anti-democratic and sexist ways, Rolling Stone has made Silvio Berlusconi rock star of the year. Not that it approves:

There was no political agenda behind the choice. "We are far from favouring Left or Right," said [Italian edition editor Carlo] Antonelli. "Silvio Berlusconi's daily behaviour, his furious vitality, his inimitable lifestyle have given him, especially this year, incredible international popularity."

Really? Who actually likes him, then?

Gordon in the morning: Victoria Hart returns

Remember Victoria Hart? She was the subject of an unlikely PR blitz a couple of years back - the waitress who played for George Clooney and somehow landed a multimillion deal, all at the same time.

The reappearance of her in Bizarre this morning still bills her as the Waitress who sang for Hollywood, which - you'll be ahead of us here - suggests her story's ending is not entirely a happy one.

Elsewhere, Mika has taken to wearing an eyepatch after a mosquito bit his eye. No word on how the mosquito is doing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Michael Jackson album resurrected for AMAs

Away from the excitement of Adam Lambert and his very, very dry face-humping, the big story of the American Music Awards was Michael Jackson winning big.

Four awards, in fact. Quite an achievement considering the man hadn't actually done very much - besides dying, of course - in the qualifying period. There was something of a stretch on display:

He was named favourite male artist in the pop/rock and soul/R&B categories. His 2003 greatest-hits album, Number Ones, also won favourite album in both categories.

Okay, you can just about get away with calling his final curtain a justification for people going "you know, the way he keeled over was superstar, man, pure superstar."

But to scrabble around to give a prize to a six year-old album which, itself, was just a coagulation of earlier work is just ridiculous. If the album was that good, why didn't it win when it came out? Or any year subsequently, come to that? I'm a sucker for cheap sentimentality, but death hasn't added anything to the record that wasn't already there. And if the music industry is in the doldrums, maybe it might want to think about not writing off an entire year's worth of releases on the basis that there was a shoddy compilation made years ago that was better.

Stop! Thief! He copied my album!

There's a balanced and considered editorial on the Digital Economy Bill in today's Guardian.

It is, however, set alongside a piece by Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League and a member of the "Creative Coalition" which trots out the sort of muddle-headed screeches we've been hearing from record manufacturers for ten years:

There are threats as well as opportunities, not least the challenges presented by online copyright infringement, more commonly known as piracy. I prefer to call it by its real name – digital theft.

Digital theft? Or is it merely the market forcing prices down to near zero?

Scudamore trills away, apparently not noticing that his entire argument is 'never mind that the marketplace has totally changed, let's just do it the way we always have':
The reality is that unauthorised peer-to-peer filesharing, among other forms of illegal streaming, presents a very real threat. These burgeoning industries are based on a high-investment model, driving consumer demand – or in the Premier League's case, fan demand – by providing what the public want: a quality product.

The old model was based on high investment models. There's no reason why the new model has to be - the beauty of the internet is that you can find small audiences and create new ways to make them work.

Or you can just cling to the old ways of doing things, and end up with a pudgy, boring, declining business like the Premier League, where the money has got so out of line it's ceased to be a competition and become a dull carousel of the same handful of teams.

If we're looking to the Premier League for tips on how to make our nation creative, we might wonder how much home-grown talent their brilliant system has managed to generate. At least the music industry has managed a couple of worldwide successes since 1966.

Adam Lambert and his oral sex act

The poor editors at ABC have a bit of a problem. They're showing this year's normally dull American Music Awards, and when it went out on the East Coast, Adam Lambert reminded everyone he was gay:

When Lambert finished his song — complete with simulated oral sex with a male backup dancer and a passionate kiss with a male keyboardist — earlier tonight, fans hit the Internet to debate whether the American Idol runner-up’s first major televised performance since the Idol finale pushed the envelope too far.

Lambert points out that if he was Christina Aguilera, the stampede to the internet would be merely looking for downloads:
“It’s a shame because I think that there’s a double standard going on in the entertainment community right now,” Lambert tells RS backstage after the show at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre. “Female performers have been doing this for years — pushing the envelope about sexuality — and the minute a man does it, everybody freaks out.

A little disingenuous, Adam - it's not because of what you did, it's who you did it to - but the broad point is still valid.

So ABC have to decide if they leave the faux-blow in for the West Coast broadcast. Lambert warns them they better leave him uncut:
If ABC opts not to broadcast several of the more risqué moments of “For Your Entertainment” in a few moments, “In a roundabout way it’s a form of discrimination because it is a double standard,” Lambert says. “They didn’t censor Britney and Madonna macking onstage did they? But yet two men kissing they’ll censor?”

It might be more the oral sex bit that worries ABC - who, to be fair to them, aren't MTV and are also balancing the demands of the FCC and the threat of enormous fines alongside the cultural and societal questions.

In the end, ABC left in the kiss, cut the pretend oral sex bit - I'm sure you can download Adam Lambert blowjob video footage online if that slightly-understandable fudgey compromise disappoints you.

Gordon in the morning: U2 in a field

Pssst... Gordon... You're talking about this like it's a good thing:

MICHAEL EAVIS promised something special for Glastonbury's 40th birthday next year - and boy has he delivered.

U2 will headline on Friday night - the first time the Irish rockers have ever played the festival.

Well, at least it's good news for whoever's headlining the second stage at the time.

There's an unsourced source:
A source said: "Everyone is over the moon that the deal has been done.

"Michael really wanted a huge name for the 40th anniversary and the fact U2 have never played Glastonbury in their 32-year career only adds to the mystique."

"Only adds to the mystique"? What does that actually mean? What "mystique"?
Earlier this year Bono said of Glasto: "I know lots of people want us to play.

"It's something we're working up our whole life to do. We really, really want to do this."

What an utter politician Bono is. You've been working your whole life up to playing Glastonbury, have you? Your entire career trajectory has been designed to achieve a slot on the Worthy Farm stage? So what exactly has been stopping you hitherto? Did you have to harvest Golden apples and change the flow of a river before you could play? Or is it just you couldn't be arsed to do it for the money before?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

MySpace snap up Imeem, unworried by strange smell

Increasingly, Rupert Murdoch's purchase of MySpace looks like a kneejerk move that confused the panic with the strategic.

Clearly, he's managed to bring this management style to MySpace, whose purchase of MySpace looks exactly the same.

As takeovers go, it has all the thought and care of that box of Milk Trayy Way grabbed from a Wild Bean Cafe shelf moments before midnight on Valentine's Day.

Admittedly, MySpace are getting something dirt cheap - the most generous estimates are putting the price tag at nine million; shrewder heads suggest it might have been scooped up for a million dollars. The company has spent more than twenty million to get to this point.

On the other hand, MySpace is already seeing its bottom line assailed by the costs of offering streaming music - does it really need to pick up more of those costs? Especially since Imeem was undermined by high royalty demands from labels - exactly the same problem MySpace is struggling with.

Wells Fargo crush Essex swing band

"You would think they would have something better to do" observes Dave Bronze, bassist with the band that used to be called Wells Fargo until the bank of the same name got in touch.

Yes, apparently, Wells Fargo thought there might be people getting confused by a swing band playing in East Anglia and a US bank.

There's the usual old cant from Wells Fargo about "protecting the brand" - although it's perhaps a bit insulting to the customers of the bank to suggest that they're so dense that, if by some chance they found themselves outside a pub on the Colchester bypass on a Saturday night promising "Wells Fargo tonight", they'd be rushing inside to sort out their direct debits.

Wells Fargo are now simply Fargo. Let's hope the ID card company of the same name doesn't find out.

Paying for it: YouTube's big small earners are labels

Record labels will feel vindicated by Business Insider's chart showing whose videos are the biggest earners on YouTube. Universal, Sony, Hollywood Records, EMI... Yes, surely, this is proof that without music, YouTube would be making nothing.

On the other hand: even aggregated, the top ten earning video sources struggle to account for more than about 10% of the monetised views. Lots of source, making little bits and pieces, adding up to the whole - sure, Google would miss Universal if they weren't there. But not much.

Universal launch loaded survey

Universal music are currently doing a spot of market research, aimed primarily at seeing what Spotify is doing to the music market. It's being run by an outfit called Angus Reid Strategies through a service called Springboard UK, and the idea behind it makes sense.

Disruptive technologies being disruptive, why wouldn't you want to try and work out what they're going to do to you?

One problem, though: when the survey gets onto torrents, it starts to sound less like a disinterested investigation, and more like it's - and let's be generous here - trying to educate. Hence the torrent systems themselves as described, more than once, as "non-legal" services.

Apart from being wrong - and deliberately confusing the networks with the data on the networks - if you make the question sound so hostile, isn't it going to skew the responses you get? "Did you touch that naughty thing?" is much less likely to get an honest answer than "do you use that thing?", right?

Winehouse: Whole new ways to cry for help

Dean Piper, writing in today's Sunday Mirror, seems to grasp that Amy Winehouse's newfound embrace of the scalpel is an extension of her previous love of the pipe:

Once an addict, always an addict. And now it seems Amy Winehouse is battling a new addiction – plastic surgery.

So, does Piper approach the story delicately, or like a set of new punchlines in waiting?
I can reveal that just weeks after she pumped up her boobies from a 32B to a 32D she’s booking herself to go back under the knife – this time to sort out her beak.

Ha ha ha; she's addicted.

Is it a good idea for a singer with a distinctive voice to have her nose hacked about?

Calling your name: Marilyn reappears

There's a snarky piece in the News of the World this week. The paper has caught up with Marilyn, seemingly just to point and laugh:

HE urged us to Feed The World - but 25 years after Band Aid, Eighties star Marilyn seems only to have fed his FACE.

For the slim, 10st gender bender who recorded Do They Know It's Christmas with Bob Geldof and a host of other pop idols has ballooned to over 17 STONE.

Gone are the blond locks and girly make-up along with the millionaire lifestyle. Bloated Marilyn, 46, is now just a shambling, jobless self-confessed drug addict who lives with his MUM in an ex-council semi.

I'm a little confused about why the detail of "ex-council semi" is thrown in there - doesn't the Murdoch press love the idea of people buying their council houses? Wasn't that aspirational?

Still, I'm sure James Murdoch will be delighted to read one of the papers he runs laughing at someone for having to rely on their parent's generosity.

Marilyn talks to the paper, but doesn't have much to offer. He's been on the drucks, but we all knew that when his career was crashing down in fame. Most of the people on Band Aid were a bit cynical - but that's hardly a surprise. Status Quo took drugs to the recording - but even Status Quo trot that anecdote out.

It's all a bit of a shame. But, on the plus side, it might be the first time anyone has written an article about Marilyn without suggesting he was little more than a Boy George side-project.

There is another plus - to pad the piece out, there's a 'where are they now, the other people who were on the Band Aid' piece which might be the only time the national press has worried about 'what is Mark Unpronounceablename from Big Country up to these days'?

It's a shame about how wrong it went for Marilyn, whose career never quite worked out. Mainly, because while Boy George was happy to keep his act edging close to the pantomimic, Marilyn never attempted to recast his sexuality as theatrics. The world wasn't really ready.

This week just gone

Where you from? The ten most popular nations visiting No Rock this year:

1. United Kingdom
2. United States
3. Canada
4. Germany
5. Australia
6. Ireland
7. France
8. South Korea
9. Brazil
10. Netherlands

And a special hello to Timor-Leste, Republic of Congo, San Marino, Palau, Guinea, Somalia, American Samoa, Greenland, Niger, Christmas Island, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Sierra Leone and the Solomon Islands - one resident of whom visited just the once.

These were the interesting releases of the week:

Grant Hart - Hot Wax

download Hot Wax

Brilliant Corners - Growing Up Absurd/What's In A Word?

download Two Roads

Shakespear's Sister - Songs From The Red Room

download Songs From The Red Room

Various - Kitsune Maison 8

download Kitsune Maison 8

Various - Park Lane Archives (includes rare Hipsway, Primals, Bourgie Bourgie, Altered Images, AC Acoustics...)

download Park Lane Archives