Saturday, April 16, 2011

Silver Sun weekend: Nature

The venue is the lovely Duchess Of York in Leeds; the year is 1997:

[Part of Silver Sun weekend]

Pete Doherty: No Munchen go-back

Pete Doherty was supposed to be playing Munich last night, but the gig was pulled.

Could this be anything to do with the still-unsettled story about the German record-shop break-in, and the police cars sitting outside the venue in Munich keen to have a word.

Doherty had got as far as turning up and getting his guitar out, when it sounds like the police heard he was in town, and then he heard that they'd heard. Backstage worker Hans-Georg Stocker told the Suddeutsche Zeitung:

"At some point, he's jumped into a taxi and disappeared."
One step ahead of the law. For now, Pete. For now.

Silver Sun weekend: Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

From Top Of The Pops, when the single was at a storming number 20:

[Part of Silver Sun weekend]

Liam Gallagher defends Wayne Rooney

Where would a man like Wayne Rooney - broad of fame, weighty of wallet, but short of grey matter - find a person prepared to support him after he got banned for swearing into the faces of Sky Sports viewers the other week?

From the same demographic, of course:

Speaking to BBC Football Focus, [Liam] Gallagher commented: "I suppose there's a lot of kids out there called Sebastian who will find it horrific that he's swearing down the camera. But it happens, young man," he said.
Actually, Liam, the Sebastians will be thrilled by the visceral clod-thumping reality of it all.

It's more parents who would be upset by Rooney's apparent inability to understand that what might be acceptable in one context isn't acceptable in others. You know, parents like that bloke who wants his kids to not grow up foul-mouthed:
The star revealed to Britain's Sun newspaper: "I won't have my kids getting lippy. No swearing"
Yes, that would be Liam Gallagher talking.

But perhaps Liam hasn't thought through how difficult it might be to bring your kids up to not swear their heads off when a rich, famous man dumps fucks into a camera because he put a ball into a goal.

Silver Sun weekend: Lava

Oh, man, I hate the Silversun Pickups. As if this wasn't a hard enough task to start with, they keep cluttering the search with their own particular brand of sludge.

Still, this is one mainly for the ears:

[Part of the by-public-demand Silver Sun weekend]

Embed and breakfast man: Silver Sun

There have been requests, and it turns out I cave easily.

I should start with a brief confession: I never much cared for Silver Sun myself. I suspect this is because their gigs and Evening Session appearances and so on managed to keep eluding me, and so I tended to have them filed away as 'the band that has badly drawn dodos in their adverts' and 'oh, god, they're a bit like fucking Kingmaker' in my mind.

So, second chances all round then.

Silver Sun are apparently a going concern still, but only in the 'never appearing to have gotten round to splitting up' sense - they last played in 2007, in support of the 2006 album Dad's Weird Dream, and their official website has bits and pieces from that.

It's worth mentioning - and timely, too - that key Sun James Broad is playing a bunch of the band's songs acoustically as part of the Norwich Arts Centre benefit for Japan on April 27th. And the Smoke Fairies are headlining that, too, so it's well worth going to.

With their vintage, and their style, naturally the band turned up on TFI Friday, but it's embedding disabled to request for I'll See You Around. The request comes from Lord Melbury, who is actually James under a fake but not very well concealed identity, so I suppose he's in a good place to ask. His YouTube channel is packed with a lot of Silver Sun stuff and, thankfully, not all of it is unembeddable.

Here, then, is the band on The Mag, the imaginatively-named Channel Five youth show that is so forgotten, you'll never even see a second-string stand-up pretending to remember it on a list programme. Not even one on Channel Five.

That's quite nice, actually, isn't it?

Silver Sun - the debut album
Dad's Weird Dream - the latest to date

Silver Sun online
Official site
Still very active fan forum
Silver Sun on Spotify

More Sun across the weekend
Too Much, Too Little, Too Late - TOTP
Nature live - Duchess Of York

Gordon in the morning: Won't someone not think of the children like that

What would The Sun think of a man who ran round with a picture of a very young looking 17 year-old boy stood in a shower, apparently cleaning his penis?

They might think it was a bit odd; a spot of twink-worship bordering on the creepy. Especially if the photo was taken with a long lens, with the lad involved apparently unaware he was being pictured. They might also feel sick-in-the-mouth disgusted if the bloke sharing the snap with his mates made some ribald jokes about cleaning yourself off; giving way to outrage if the man pretended he was offering some sort of "lesson to all teenage lads".

On the other hand, they might say "well done, Gordon - you've put a photo of Justin Bieber rubbing his cock in the paper". It's hard to know.

Metro warning as Spotify cuts back

First, lets just sit with mouths agape that yesterday's edition of the Metro led with Spotify making some small cuts to its free offering.

Not just mentioned; it put it on the front page:

Technically, it was page three, as there was an advertising wrap-around for 3, but still: Spotify decided the main news in the world yesterday morning was ten hours fewer free listening to songs.

You can see why Metro might be keen to fight for free media models, and god alone knows I don't want to put a newspaper off covering a tech story on page one, but the story was really bad. It's been revised a bit for the online edition, but the opening of print edition deserves a bit of attention:
Online music streaming service Spotify is to halve the amount of free music users can listen to - raising fears of a return to piracy.
Let's give them a pass on the use of the word "piracy", even though they probably shouldn't, and just turn over this contention that swapping Spotify free users from twenty hours free to ten will lead to "a return to piracy".

The assumption that, somehow, what Metro is calling piracy has been somehow vanquished is surprising enough; but the idea that the extra ten hours will make a difference big enough to go from a world without, to a return to is quite a lazy assumption. Even if the Metro had couched it as '...worries a complete withdrawal could lead some users to return to unlicensed music services' it would have been a start.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gordon in the morning: Your comeback is beinh geld in a queue

Six years ago, Liam Gallagher called Chris Martin a plantpot.

Now, Chris Martin has shot back.

After six years. Even BT customer services are faster than that.

Still, six years in production: it must be quite something he's come up with after that, right?

At a gig, he introduced one of his songs like this:

"This is a soppy song. I apologise but it's what Coldplay is all about, and it has made me mill... very happy. Hey, I've got to get paid for all the abuse I get from people like Liam Gallagher."
Wow. That's going to sting.

Then a bit later in he played Wonderwall. Maybe playing a song by Noel was meant to be a dig at Liam?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ricky Martin has upset Wanda Rolon

It would be wrong to assume that Wanda Rolon speaks for anyone besides herself and her First Christian Church of La Senada Antigua, but her tiresome rantings about Ricky Martin aren't reflecting that greatly on Puerto Rico:

“This weekend Puerto Rico will receive a man who God rescued from hell,” Rolon wrote, referring to evangelist Nicky Cruz. “On the other hand, there is another one who wants to take people to hell! RM is its ambassador.”
When people pointed out that this was a bit - well, very - hateful, the post vanished to be replaced by one of those not-actually-sorry "explanations":
Rolon deleted the post and denied claims she was homophobic in a second post: “I never promoted hatred, but the love of Christ. ... God calls us as only man and woman because it was how He created us.”
Yeah, how on earth would anyone think saying someone was "wanting to take people to hell" was promoting hatred, eh?

Wanda had another go at explaining herself:
In an interview with Primera Hora, Rolon, a self-appointed apostle, chided Martin for being open about his sexuality, saying she worried that children will think being gay is okay.

“They continue being sons, brothers and cousins. They have always existed, but glorifying this behavior no. I do not glorify a drug addict, an alcoholic,” she said.
Right. Let's just let the whole 'comparing gay love to drug addiction' thing for now, shall we, and just wonder who was asking her to glorify anything? Couldn't she just, you know, not worry about it at all? I'm sure gay people would be happy not to seek her glorification in return for her setting aside her vilification. Deal?

Spotify makes free marginallyless attractive

Spotify has tried to please the labels by cutting the hours on offer for its Free Users from 20 hours to 10, and introduced an arbitrary rule meaning you can only play a track five times. (Presumably, since the system struggles to recognise a track that appears on an album and a compilation, some tracks there might be a workaround that doesn't involve AudioHijack Pro).

The Guardian's Charles Arthur is very good on the real story:

To put it bluntly: Spotify is cutting the amount of free music people can listen to in order to please the American labels with which it is agonisingly negotiating to try to get permission to launch in the US. The fact is that the labels there – and for that matter in Europe – don't like Spotify allowing people to listen to so much music for free (even though Spotify pays them the stipulated amount per track, whether the customer is listening for free or on a paid subscription).
That overlooks the reality, which is that the internet's openness means that if you can't get your music for a low cost in one place, then you'll find someone ignoring the rules and offering it for free somewhere else.

It also ignores the reality about the effect Spotify has on digital revenues for the music business. It's the second single largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe, according to IFPI's latest report. And last week, Billboard magazine reported that countries where Spotify is licensed saw an average digital revenue growth rate of 43% in 2010. By contrast, neighbouring countries – including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland – saw only 9.3% digital growth last year. That's based on IFPI data too.
Spotify insist the move isn't about trying to transition free users to paid, nor to cut back on costs. Indeed, in its blog, Spotify stresses that if this was the idea it wouldn't really have much effect:
The changes we’re having to make will mainly affect heavier Spotify Free and Open users, as most of you use Spotify to discover music – on average over 50 new tracks per month, even after a year. Plus, the average user won’t reach the limit on plays for 7 out of 10 tracks, after a year of using Spotify. For those of you using Spotify to find new tracks to enjoy and share with friends, these changes shouldn’t get in the way of you doing that. Rest assured that we’ll continue to bring you the biggest and most diverse music catalogue available.
They might as well have called it Project Empty Gesture To Stop Freaking Out The Old Guys.

Gordon in the morning: I never promised you a Roses garden

Gordon returns to his story from last week where he announced we were more-or-less a signature away from a Stone Roses reunion.

The story has been roundly kicked to pieces by Mani since, so Gordon might feel he has some sort of explaining to do.

He sort-of explains:

After Bizarre broke the story last week Mani denied a reunion would take place - after being bombarded with calls in LA by everyone he had ever met asking if it was going to happen.

He was getting his head together after losing his mum and that was the last thing he needed.

The story was only ever written with genuine excitement about old wounds healing.
Aw, Gordon was only trying to help. But his story wasn't about "old wounds healing"; it was claiming there was going to be gigs. He even speculated about how difficult buying tickets would be.

And Mani didn't just "deny a reunion". His exact words were:
"I'm disgusted that my personal grief has been invaded and hijacked by these nonsensical stories," he told the NME, referring to the meeting of Brown and Squire at his mother's funeral.

"Two old friends meeting up after 15 years to pay their respects to my mother does not constitute the reformation of the Stone Roses. Please fuck off and leave it alone. It isn't true and isn't happening."
That's pretty blunt. Mani was angry that Smart had used his mother's funeral to create a fake reunion story.

And so what is the hook upon which Gordon hangs his "explanation"?
HERE'S the picture every music fan has wanted to see for over ten years - THE STONE ROSES reunited.

This is the moment in The Nelson Tavern, Failsworth, Manchester, shortly after IAN BROWN and JOHN SQUIRE finally buried the hatchet.

The shot was taken by pub staff, who couldn't believe their eyes as the band got together to pay their respects at bass player GARY "MANI" MOUNFIELD's mum's funeral.
Yes, he's run a photo taken at Mani's mum's funeral to explain why he ran a story exploiting Mani's mum funeral. Classy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Google: The major labels are disgusting

It's only a rumour, but Wayne Rosso is reporting that Google have lost patience with the record labels.

The majors and the search engine are trying to come to an agreement over licensing for Google's supersecretcloudmusicservice. But even although Amazon have just stuck two fingersup at the RIAA cartel and said that people no more need licenses to store music on a server in a distant building than they do to store them on their own hard drive, the labels are digging their heels in. And Google are disgusted.

On a scale of disgust, at the top, is Warners:

[T]he label’s head of digital, Michael Nash, is said to be convinced that Google should be charging users $30 a year for the cloud. Google, in response, is said to think that is way too much and wants the first 500 tracks stored by users to be free of charge.
Nash is probably blissfully unaware that you can currently store 1,000 megabytes of music, in the cloud, via Google, without payment, right now. (Google Docs will let you store any digital files up to that limit for free.) Charging $30 to do the same thing, with the only difference being that you're paying $30 for it, makes no bloody sense.

Google are, claims Rosso, thinking of giving the labels an Amazon-style response, and launching without their blessing.

MySpace: It's not only Murdoch's newspapers that makes stuff up

Obviously, as Rupert Murdoch attempts to drag whatever money he can out of the MySpace storm drain, there's going to be a certain level of positive thinking put on the pitch. But now that Techcrunch has seen how far the brave face is being put on, the mystery is why they don't go the whole hog and try and pretend to a hapless tourist/businessman that they're going to sell them Facebook:

After 2011 the pitch book turns to pure fiction. After losing $165 million this year, they expect to actually have $15 million in ebitda in fiscal 2012. How? Revenue will decrease to $84 million, but expenses will fall from $274 million this year to just $69 million. The company will then be profitable, says the pitch book.

That means about $205 million would need to be found in operating cost savings in the next 14 months. That means even more massive layoffs. And yet somehow News Corp. argues that revenue will only fall 23% in the next year. Costs will decrease 75%, and revenue will fall just 23%.

Believable? Nope. But at least on paper it makes MySpace profitable.
I'm sure they've got some solid evidence to back this up, though. Perhaps it's "a pal of Rupert Murdoch says". Or simply "a source".

Lady GaGa rentsaghost

What's that, Lady GaGa? Alexander McQueen is controlling your career? But you do know he's dead, don't you?

Oh, you do.

"I think he planned the whole thing. Right after he died, I wrote 'Born This Way'.

"I think he's up in heaven with fashion strings in his hands, marionetting away, planning this whole thing."
Surely there's more pressing things to do in heaven than planting the idea that there's no difference between a sewing machine and a bacon slicer in people's heads?

McQueen's estate are currently considering what percentage of GaGa's earnings are due for ghostly management.

New Zealand uses death and destruction to rush through file sharing laws

A couple of years back, you'll recall people on Twitter turning their avatars black to protest against heavy-handed laws targeting New Zealand file sharers.

That was a success - the planned clause was toned down and paused.

Now, though, the law is back in front of the New Zealand House, with a still-overwrought punishment regime. This time, people who the copyright industry feel have infringed them will be banned from the internet for six months.

What's particularly shameful about this is that there's been no debate of the proposals for months, and the bill is being rushed through a House which is stretching itself to rush through legislation required for the clear-up of the Christchurch earthquake.

Now, there are some pretty mean stunts pulled by the copyright lobby, but using the pressing need to help after a natural disaster which killed dozens as a slipstream to speed unpopular copyright laws through is possibly a new low. I guess what's a bit of reconstruction compared with the chance to properly protect the works of Black River Drive, eh?

[Thanks to @zaichishka

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

EMI: One lot

More misery for Warners, as the New York Post claims that Citigroup won't be selling off EMI in chunks. It'll be the whole lot or nothing.

Presumably because Citigroup knows nobody would be interested in some bits of the business, so it's going to offload the offal packaged with the prime cuts.

Why is this bad news for Warners? As the company tries to sell itself, the attractiveness of the offer is based mostly around dreams of combining a chunk of Warners with a chunk of EMI; publishing to publishing, recorded music to recorded music, ass to ass. If EMI is sold a single entity, that's going to be harder to pull off, and thus the value and interest in Warners falls.

[via The Loyalty Firm]

Warners: EOS to go?

Cisco is causing a bit of a flap tonight as it axes most, or possibly all, of its non-network-focused subsidiaries. The highest profile corpse is the Flip minicamera division, but Digital Music News is reporting that EOS might be wound down, too.

EOS is currently the system powering most of Warner Music's artist websites. Cisco tried to interest the other majors in joining Warner on the platform, but they said no. Because, after all, what sort of company puts its main business onto a third-party service which could vanish overnight?

DMN speculates that the contract would have been drafted so that screens won't suddenly go blank overnight, but if you work at Warners and know how to code up a website, you might not want to book any non-refundable tickets for the near future.

The Mitch pitch

Nothing says that PRs have confidence in their product like them sending out a press release announcing the imminent release of an album eight days ago.

So it is that an email arrives heralding last week's debut of Mitch Winehouse's album, Rush Of Love.

Mitch Winehouse, former cab driver and father to one of the UK's biggest music exports is about to prove the critics wrong with the release of his debut album 'Rush Of Love' on April 5th 2011.
Well, yes. The critics who said 'he'll never be allowed to release an album' will be proved wrong.

Father to a big music export. Is that really the best way they could think of to introduce the 'he's Amy's dad' bit? Not 'one of the UK's favourite singers', not even 'one of Britain's biggest-selling acts'. But focusing on her appeal to the export market, like she's up there with Rolls Royce aircraft engines and cluster bombs.
At the age of 59, Mitch is turning a life-long ambition into reality, showcasing his in-depth knowledge and sheer passion for jazz and swing music with this 11-track debut featuring a host of rarely uncovered classics as well as four brand new tracks.
Showcasing his knowledge? Isn't that something better done in a pub quiz? You'll note the release doesn't suggest he's showcasing any talent. Just knowledge and passion.

I'm not sure you turn ambition into reality, either - don't you achieve an ambition, or turn a dream into reality? Ambition, surely, is real in its own right - look at people going on Big Brother; they have ambition, and they have reality. But they don't always achieve their reality.

And, no, I have no idea what a "rarely uncovered classic" is, apart from a phrase that you'd have removed if you proof-read the email before sending it out. Surely they didn't mean to boast that Mitch has turned in an album full of songs which are always being rerecorded? ("At long last - the sixteenth cover of Mustang Sally this week...")
"We love singing in our family" Mitch explains, "I was always singing at home. But this is a dream come true and musically, it's a great album."
Again, this is worded oddly. The singer is saying that, musically, it's a great album. What other criteria would you be judging it by? "From a geometric point of view, the circularity is excellent."
Despite his own undeniable music talent, Mitch is also realistic about the assumptions that will be made about his newfound career choice:

"If Amy wasn't my daughter I wouldn't be given this opportunity. I'm not stupid, I know that. But if I couldn't sing I wouldn't have been given the opportunity either."
If Mitch is admitting it as a fact, then it isn't an assumption, is it?

Still, fair play to Mitch for admitting he's got the job on pretty much the grounds that he's famous-by-reverse-injection, although he's on shaky ground with the belief that people only get to make records if they're great at singing. To be fair, he's not bad, but... well, the 'being Amy's dad' swung the project, not the 'able to sing a bit' part.
Teaming up with old family friend Tony Hiller, writer of 'Save Your Kisses For Me' and hundreds of other jazz and pop standards...
Too many others to list, or even mention. Should we assume that Save Your Kisses For Me was the highpoint?

That would be unfair. The man who wrote the England World Cup Squad's Whole Wide World At Our Feet and, erm, rewrote Save All Your Kisses For Me for Pepperoni? He's got a catalogue.
... was another logical step for Mitch who has, quite obviously, had the time of his life researching and compiling his music debut.
That's sweet. Seriously, I might be a cynical old hector but it is clear that this is something Winehouse is really passionate about. It's just a bit like late period Fred Dibnah, though; why do we have to be drawn into his hobby?
Mitch also pays homage to Frank Sinatra with 'Close Your Eyes', "...a beautiful jazz song, but a less known Sinatra song," Mitch enthuses, "Stacey Kent does it, but I've never heard anyone else and it's just wonderful."
According to Wikipedia, it's also been done by Harry Belafonte. Oh, and Doris Day. And Vic Damone. Queen Latifah did a cover, as did Nancy Wilson, Liza Minelli, Peggy Lee, Betty Carter, Tony Bennett, Oscar Peterson, Humphrey Littleton and Ella Fitzgerald. And the Commedian Harmonists had a go, too. Somehow, Mitch seems to have missed all those versions in his research.
The album also features the 1931 Bing Crosby classic 'I Apologize', and 'Day by Day', also later recorded by Crosby in 1946 as well as by Doris Day in the same year.
You know what? I'd pay to hear an album where that sentence was read out loud.
'You Go To My Head' has been re-worked by such fans ranging from Billie Holiday to Rod Stewart.
That one doesn't even make any sense. To be fair, you know what they mean, but you shouldn't have to rework a press release into English.
Finally, the popular 'April In Paris,' taken from the 1932 Broadway musical 'Walk A Little Faster' and later performed by the likes of Louis Armstrong, is given the Mitch makeover.
It's not meant to sound like a threat. Honestly, it isn't.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: HMV stands aloof from the nuptials

While all of Nottingham is going crazy for Chinless-Wonder-Wedding promotions, HMV will hold itself aloof. Head of Turn That Noise Down It's Only A Bloody Wedding for HMV, Gennaro Castaldo, explained:

HMV is selling wedding-related products but no stores are holding events.

Gennaro Castaldo, press officer for the chain, said: "Companies are just conscious of not looking like they are cashing in and doing it for the sake of it."
A massive thought bubble, reading 'let's hope they don't realise it's because we couldn't afford a yard of bunting, never mind a lifesize cutout of Kate Middleton' appeared briefly above his head.

It's nice to know that the wedding stuff HMV is selling isn't an attempt to "cash in" on the wedding. Presumably those downloads and CDs Gennaro is excited at shifting are being sold at cost, as a public service?

Democrats enlist White Stripes to make a point

Meet US Congresswoman Donna Edwards.

Yes, she's showing Congress The White Stripes Effect And Cause. As part of a debate about government shutdown.

This in no way is like that girl in your class crowbaring in some reference to "sucking the life out" of something in order to use posters of R-Patz during her class report on the Banking Crisis. Because the girl in your class isn't an elected representative who should be able to get through one of the most important debates in recent American history without needing to pep it up with a tune or two.

Korn man: Math is hard

Jonathon Davis out of Korn has been having a crack at DJing. But, oh, it's not easy:

: "Dude, it's so fucking hard. When I get done doing a set, I'm just fucking drained. I'm matching BPMs and I'm counting out bars when drops hit.

"All of this math and weird shit is going on in my head the whole time I'm doing my set. So, when I'm done, I'm fucking exhausted."
It does at least explain why his rider includes a chalk board and a scientific calculator. But he has a point, for without doing quadratic equations, how would he know when to "drop" the Toy Dolls doing Nellie The Elephant.

Talking Heads cut a deal with Crist

Charlie Crist had used Talking Heads music without permission in a political advert.

Now we get a grovelling apology from a former Florida governor:

Do you suppose David Byrne signed off the line "for using his famous song and unique voice"? He wouldn't have actually suggested that wording, would he? It can't have been the record label, though, as the phrase "available at Target, FYE and online record stores" would have been jackhammered in, too.

I guess that's just about the most humiliating thing a politician has done since... well, Nick Clegg popping up on Daybreak this morning.

Gordon in the morning: In the bunker

Last year, you might remember that Gordon Smart had a golf contest - which is fine - but then he wrote about it in a newspaper. Which was embarrassing, especially as he was wading under the delusion that he was hosting a celebrity event.

Has he learned his lesson?


The really funny thing is that, while a bunch of vaguely-familiar-with-a-prompt-names playing golf could turn into a lightly amusing article, but Smart writes it up as if it was an actual sporting event people might care about:
Soccer AM star MAX RUSHDEN came close but next year could be his year.

Former West Ham and Scotland ace FRANK McAVENNIE rattled the longest drive of the day, just edging out swimming giant MARK FOSTER.
One of Hurts turned up towards the end, which doesn't help them shift the feeling they might be a 21st century remake of Tears For Fears.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Warners: People queue up to join the downward spiral

The New York Times are suggesting ten buyers have expressed an interest in buying Warner Music:

The Warner Music Group includes recorded music and publishing divisions, and among the potential buyers — for all or part of Warner — are music companies like Sony, Live Nation and BMG Rights Management, a joint venture between Bertelsmann and the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts; the Yucaipa Companies, led by Ron Burkle; Platinum Equity, led by Tom Gores, and the Gores Group, led by his brother, Alec Gores; Permira, another private equity company, which last bid for a major music company in 2006 with EMI; and the Tamares Group, led by Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish-born real estate investor whose past includes work as an arms dealer.
An arms dealer? Oh, imagine how much fun it would be if a man splashed his money made from helping kill people spent a bit on buying Warners. Zabludowicz is also a big contributor to David Cameron's campaigns, so those bit of Warners' roster which features bland, eager to please acts like Jet and Dannii Minogue will probably be quite happy with such a name over the door.

There are some clouds over the possibility of a deal - the NYT quotes analysts who suggest the company is over-priced; they're looking for three billion dollars. Which is only a smidge under all the company's revenue from 2008.

Gordon in the morning: Hello? Hello?

With News International (or "the publisher of The News Of The World" as the Times described its parent company on Saturday) admitting it had been involved in repeated criminal activity at the Sunday paper, presumably Gordon will have something interesting and contrite to say this morning about the claims that the Bizarre team also indulged in hacking their way into people's phones and listening to stuff they shouldn't.

Oddly, can't find anything this morning. Perhaps there's a delay as his Photoshop boffins try to create an image of a former member of the Bizarre desk indulging in nefarious activities.

I'm always delighted to help out, so here's a picture he can have for free:

Obviously, I should point out that Andy Coulson has denied any and all knowledge of phone hacking and it was nothing to do with him and how the hell can you expect someone to know what their staff are doing. After all, if he was lying there what would that say about David Cameron's judgement?

What Gordon does has space for is a story about the Catholic Church getting all upset over Lady GaGa's plans to play Mary Magdalene in a pop video.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights have branded the forthcoming effort, due to be premiered on April 19, as a stunt.

The pressure group's president BILL DONAHUE stormed: "People have real talent, and then there is Lady Gaga. I find Gaga to be increasingly irrelevant.

"Is this the only way to jet up her performance? This isn't random, we are getting closer to Holy Week and Easter."
It's odd that Bill Donahue is running around giving interviews to major media outlets about how irrelevant Lady GaGa is. I suppose it's lucky that she isn't doing this as yet another hackneyed move filched from Madonna's descending years and would have been desperate for some bunch of swivel-eyed loons to take uber-offense and run around making a fuss, otherwise you'd have been playing straight into her hands, Bill. Imagine that.

HMV to be given support by other stumbling, failing giants?

The BBC Business News on Today was just reporting that "record companies" were going to try and keep HMV afloat.

The image is one of the drunk in the back seat leaning over to try and help the drunk in the front seat steer a bit better.

Obviously, the labels aren't talking about giving HMV money - only a crazy person would do that. This weekend's Observer had asked HMV investors about the possibility of them protecting their investment by pumping in more cash, and got this response:

One shareholder said: "It is questionable whether HMV has a business model that is sustainable, and we would need some convincing to support a cash call." Another investor said: "Everyone is asking the same question: 'Would we be prepared to throw good money after bad?'. Fox would have to undertake the mother of all charm offensives to persuade the City a rights issue was a runner."
Even George Osborne, who appears to understand finance less than anyone else over the age of sixteen, has kicked the sickly body round a bit:
"An industry has sprung up and it has quite an impact on high street music stores and I think that is unfair," he said. Quite right. Sue MacGregor, the BBC broadcaster chairing the conference, then remarked: "But it is too late to save HMV, though, perhaps?" The chancellor replied: "Unfortunately that is the case."
Curious, though, that Osborne thinks that his tax changes to try and close the tax loophole which allows Amazon and others to sell CDs without paying VAT if they ship them from the Channel Islands won't help HMV. So was this a move designed to help the already not-that-disadvantaged supermarkets, the only other companies flogging this sort of item in any numbers? Or, as we suggested at the time, does Osborne know the mild change to the cut-off point where VAT kicks in on imports is a pointless piece of gesture politics that makes no difference at all?

So, the record labels are going to "help" HMV, but they're just talking about changing the terms of supply for CDs. Not cheaper, just longer repayment times. Because HMV needs a bit more debt on its books. A bit more on sale or return.

These ideas seem to be bubbling up from people who haven't set foot in an HMV since the mid-1980s. It would be like trying to prop up a greengrocers by focusing on the supply of the draft vinegar. HMV isn't really selling that many records at all right now, having shunted those embarrassing old things to a corner to make room for DVDs, t-shirts, games and god knows what other vaguely-entertainment themed products they've loaded in over the last few weeks.

And HMV is drowning in the debt from its rush to buy cinemas and venues and - did I dream the HMV Camera Obscura? I think I probably did, but can't be sure. HMV's ill-funded dash into everything but CDs shows that even a company grabbing at anything doesn't see escape there. It seems unlikely that making it a bit easier for them to stock a product they don't really want to sell is going to turn the company round.

Although it might be good news for their Fopp stores.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

NME goes cold on Olympic anthem story

Paste are running a story based on an NME piece, trumpeting that Chris Martin, Damon Albarn and Matt Bellamy would be writing an anthem to open the Olympics.

It does sound unlikely, doesn't it? To be fair, the NME didn't make it up, and were just churning something they'd read in the Mirror, but they had joyfully run the story as fact without showing any critical thought at all.

Someone seems to have finally got round to reading what they were telling their visitors, though, as the news story has since vanished, leaving only a version in Google's cache:

Coldplay, Muse and Damon Albarn have reportedly been approached to write the official anthem for the London 2012 Olympics.

According to the Daily Mirror Chris Martin and co are the organisers' top pick for the job, and have been asked to write "something inspirational" for the official song of the event.

A source told the paper: "Chris is at the top of the list to front the official record. We're pulling out all the stops to get Chris, ideally with the rest of Coldplay involved too."

Joss Stone has also reportedly been approached to take part in the games' opening ceremony, as well as Coldplay - should they agree to write the song.
For god's sake, did nobody even twig when typing that Joss Stone was being lined up for this? Joss Stone? Were they thinking 'well, that makes sense, they probably left it too late to book Alex Parks'?

Longpigs Weekend: Tendresse

When She Said got a re-release, part of the fattening up for market included this b-side, which is actually a solo bit by Richard Hawley:

[Part of Longpigs weekend]

Neil McCormick: Not suitable for mixing

Ben Barnes, who played friend of Bono Neil McCormick in the movie Did I Tell You About That Thing That Happened When I Was With Bono?, was told not to meet him:

Barnes said: "I wasn't allowed to meet him. The director Nick Hamm said, 'He's so annoying in real life and so irritating that if you actually meet him and play him anything like he is in real life, the film will be unwatchable'."
There's not many biographical films which set out to make the central figure as unrealistic as possible, are there?

Longpigs Weekend: Jesus Christ

This seems to be a homebrew video for a record from a mixing desk:

Live in London, 1995, says the YouTube page.

[Part of Longpigs weekend]

Pete Doherty: What is he like?

Two possible Pete Dohertys presented their face to the world yesterday.

The Guardian had a little fawn over him, as the promotional work for the film he's in starts to roll:

Now the enfant terrible of British rock has reincarnated once again as Doherty the actor. The singer has just finished shooting his first film in France, where he has attained cult status, not just as a musical star but as a poète maudit, a tragic literary figure and tortured soul.
Doherty is extraordinarily popular in France, where fans queue for hours to see him perform, and forgive him when – as frequently happens – he does not show.

Verheyde believes it is because he is seen through his lyrics as a "literary figure, a poet". Others liken him to the Gauloises-puffing, hard-drinking Serge Gainsbourg, seen as a talented but ultimately tragic figure. "Charlotte admitted Pete did remind her a bit of her father," said Verheyde.
It should be pointed out that Verheyde is not merely trying to promote her film, but to persuade Doherty's fans to cough up cash to finish off the making of the movie. Playing into the myth that Doherty is a tortured soul who only you understand is as much a part of her pitch as Tescos sticking up Half Price Beer signs is part of theirs.

But could it be true? Are we in danger of pegging Doherty as some sort of Mr-Bean-reads-Rimbaud figure when, in fact, he is really the greatest mind of our age?

Let's look at yesterday's other Doherty story, on Holy Moly:
Pete was at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday on charge for cocaine possession, to which he pleaded guilty. He's probably on his way to jail - for the third time - but doesn't really seem to give a shit about that, larking about outside the court and stealing his barrister's wig so he could take a hilarious photo of himself on his phone.
But, hey, apparently people queue up to see him in France, right?

Longpigs Weekend: Lost Myself

So, back to helping Google destroy music as we know it. Here's a fan video - that might be being a little over-generous - for Lost Myself, the fifth single (and sixth release) from the debut album The Sun Is Often Out. Although it didn't come out until 1999.

[Part of Longpigs weekend]

Daily Mail claims Google is robbing Adele, gets it very wrong

There's a great piece on MailWatch this morning looking at Alex Brummer's piece in the Mail which droned on about how Google is evil.

Google threatens to destroy not only pop sensation Adele, but Britain's film and music industries. So why is No.10 in thrall to this parasitic monster?
You might be surprised to hear that Google is threatening to destroy Adele. Sure, Twitter has issued a death threat against The Vaccines, and Bing insists it will start to remove one of The Saturdays every hour unless its demands are met by midnight, but Google threatening to destroy Adele seems to be something we've missed.

Brummer told his readers:
Nine out of the first ten websites which pop up on Google’s search engine are run by pirates who have downloaded Adele’s output and offer it online far more cheaply than official copyrighted sites and High Street retailers.
Mailwatch takes this surprising claim and grinds it into dust:
From this sample it seems that Google seems very adept at putting Adele’s fans in touch with official sources of information about her. Only the lyrics page seems unofficial or unapproved – and do lyrics really count as piracy?

There's a couple of other surprising claims in Brummer's article which are deserving of a closer look. Remember, by the way, the Brummer is not a generalist hack trying to froth up a piece; he's a former British Press Awards financial journalist of the year and a former city editor of the Mail.
The music and books retailer HMV and the music giant EMI are two of the grand old dames of Britain’s music industry. But the future of both these historic enterprises, with a pedigree of recording talent going back almost a century, is in doubt.

Together with other UK-based creative champions such as Warner Music as well as a host of imaginative, independent record producers, they are in danger of extinction — as is this country’s extraordinarily successful music business.
Where do you start? HMV has a "pedigree of recording talent", does it? Admittedly, there was an HMV label but that business has nothing to do with the shops.

More importantly, Warner Music are not "UK-based". Their headquarters is on Rockerfeller Plaza in New York.

Brummer suggests that the woes of the industry are related to Google - which is such a narrow view of what has happened since music went online as to be laughable. His subs make an explicit link in an image caption:
Grand old dame: But the future of recording giant EMI is being undermined by Google
Really? EMI still turns profits; the future has been undermined by loading the company up with unsupportable debt and a management regime ill-equipped to nurture the legacy of the company, and uninspired to cope with the future. Even if you want to take the RIAA line that unlicensed file-sharing is part of the problem, Google aren't putting the files there and work over-strenuously to take-down when their users have ignored the licensing regime.

There's a massive clunker from Brummer when he turns to HMV:
In Britain, some 70 per cent of music sales are still in the form of CDs and come through the High Street, where HMV is now the main retailer following the collapse of Woolworths and Zavvi in the early part of 2009.
Woolworths and Zavvi both collapsed at the end of 2008 although some stores were still being wound down in early 2009, but that's a minor quibble.

Oh, and HMV was already the main retailer before Woolworths and Zavvi collapsed as its sales outstripped both of them. But that's another minor quibble.

The bigger problem is the claim that 70 per cent of music sales "are still in the form of CDs and come through the High Street". Is that by volume? Is that by value? Brummer doesn't say, although the difference is important.

But if we accept his claim that most music sales are still on CD, does he really think most of those CDs are being sold through physical stores?

Does it not occur to him that a large chunk of HMV's problems are down to supermarkets selling large numbers of CDs as loss-leaders alongside the Mum's Day flowers and BOGOF baked beans?

And has he never heard of Amazon, which is selling quite a large proportion of those CDs, without the need for anyone to go near the High Street?

Although I suppose you can find Amazon by using Google. Clearly that's Google's fault, too.

Google aren't targeting Adele. It does sound rather like Brummer is using dodgy arguments in some sort of attack on Google, though.

Longpigs Weekend: The Frank Sonata

Their last single, and possibly the point where careful wordplay gave way to being just a touch too Gyles Brandereth. Frank Sonata? Really?

[Part of Longpigs Weekend]

This week just gone

Geek-stat special: Here's the most popular mobile devices used to read No Rock during the first quarter of the year:

1. iPhone - 63%
2. Android - 15%
3. iPad - 10%
4. iPod - 6%
5. Symbian - 5%
6. Blackberry - 1%
7. Windows - 0.2%
8. Nokia - 0.08%
8. Samsung - 0.08%
8. Sony - 0.08%

These were this week's interesting releases:

Sarabeth Tucek- Get Well Soon

Download Get Well Soon

Bill Callahan - Apocalypse

Download Apocalypse

Keren Ann - 101

Download 101

Alela Diane - Alela Diane & Wild Divine

Download Alela Diane & Wild Divine

Singing Adams - Everybody Friends Now

Download Everybody Friends Now

Mark Kozalek - What's Next To The Moon

Download What's Next To The Moon

Micachu & The Shapes and The London Sinfonietta - Chopped And Screwed

Download Chopped And Screwed

Glasvegas - Euphoric Heartbreak

Download Euphoric/Heratbreak

The Kills - Blood Pressures

Download Blood Pressures

Tim Booth - Love Life

Download Love Life

Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck

Download All Eternals Deck

The Raveonettes - Raven In The Grave

Download Raven In The Grave