Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gordon in the morning: Throwaway line; pointless article

Gordon himself has filed a breathless piece:

NOEL Gallagher has a cunning plan to fill his kids' trust fund – launching an online business naming babies and dogs for cash.
Really? Or is this just a joke that Noel made that you're dredging an entire article out of?
As ever, it's not to be taken too seriously – his head is full of nonsense.
Righto. Well, glad we could clear that up before you started to go into it in any dep... hang on, you're about to go into this in some depth, aren't you?
But if the High Flying Birds singer decided to, he could make a pretty penny from all the fans who ask him to name their pets and children.
Yes, but he won't, as he isn't going to, because it was a joke.

After Gordon has run Gallagher's joke at its full, too-long length, he then ends with this odd coda:
John McClure, from Reverend and The Makers, is supporting Noel later this year.

They should start their own firm – Gallagher & McClure.

It's got a bit of a ring to it...
Presumably if the space Gordon had left had another couple of lines required, he'd have added "Noel Gallagher might buy some beans. Eat them on toast - delicious!"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Falling Idol

There's life left in it, of course, and doubtless Fox will continue to squeeze every drop from it, but American Idol is now firmly on the wane, being beaten in its slot by The Big Bang Theory.

There's a scent of panic coming from the show, scrabbling to bring back Nigel Lythgoe as executive producer and trying to drag interest out of 'look, these people are mad' and 'look, the judges are having an argument amongst themselves that isn't in any way staged, oh no.'

It's not working, though. 30% of the viewers that were still buying it this time last year have vanished; what was once an unstoppable behemoth now resembles more a smoking, stuttering bandwagon.

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Aylesbury fail

The spokesperson who shares HMV's pain at closing the branch in Aylesbury isn't named as Gennaro Castaldo, but we can be sure it is him:

A HMV spokesman said: “We’re really sorry to be closing our store in Friars Square.

“This is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and doesn’t in any way reflect on the fantastic work colleagues that we have there.

“We are working hard to relocate our Aylesbury staff to other stores in the region.

“We would also like to point out that our decision does not in any way reflect on our regular customers who we would like to thank most sincerely for their valued support over the past years.

“We shall be looking forward to perhaps seeing our Aylesbury customers at nearby HMV stores or online at

“Nine members of staff are currently in employment at the Friars Square store, all of whom are currently in consultation."
How can we sure that it is Gennaro? Because this is what he said about the closure of the Cheshire Oaks branch:
HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: “We’re very sorry to be closing our outlet in Cheshire Oaks, which is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and certainly doesn’t in any way reflect on the fantastic work colleagues we have there, who we are looking to relocate to other stores in the region where at all possible, or indeed on our regular customers, who we’d like to thank for their valued support over the past eight years.”
Maybe I'm being oversensitive, but if you can't be arsed to come up with something specific to say about the people you're kicking out of work, it might be best not to bother. Gennaro might as well leave a message saying "The thing being affected by the event under discussion has caused us the correct emotions for a corporation of our type."

[Thanks to Steven from Subsiren for the tip]

Producerobit: Winston Riley

Winston Riley, a major figure in Jamaica's music scene across four decades, has died.

Riley's contribution to bringing reggae to a global audience is unquestionable; his label Techniques was responsible for Dave And Ansell Collins' I Am The Greatest, the second reggae number one in the UK.

He also produced this, amongst much else:

Despite massive success, Riley didn't start to make money until more recently, when his beats started to be sampled. His music runs through the spine of much R&B; a large chunk of it derived from this one track:

Winston Riley had been shot in the head in November; he had been in hospital since. He was 68.

Record Shop Update: Bleecker Bob's Golden Oldies closes

Grim news from New York, as long-standing fixture Bleecker Bobs has announced it's closing at the end of winter.

The space is needed to provide New York with a Starbucks - an understandable; for while most cities the size of New York have record shops on every corner, there's hardly anywhere left you can buy coffee.

The New York Times remembers the good days:

Bleecker Bob’s, which began as Village Oldies Records in 1968, on Bleecker Street, and moved to two other locations before ending up at No. 118, had many rock ’n’ roll moments. Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist, tended the register there occasionally, as did Frank Zappa, according to employees, who said both musicians were friends with Bob Plotnick, the store’s owner.
The same story notes the upcoming departure from the city of the Southpaw live venue.

Gordon in the morning: Winehouse on the catwalk

Gordon leads today with one of those stories in which nobody comes out well. The Gaultier show ripping off Amy Winehouse's style is pretty shabby.

And you can understand Mitch Winehouse being a bit upset:

He said: "The family was upset to see those pictures, they were a total shock.

"We're still grieving for her loss, and we've had a difficult week with the six-month anniversary of Amy's death."
"To see her image lifted wholesale to sell clothes was a wrench we were not expecting or consulted on.
But he added: "No one asked us for permission or offered to make a donation to the foundation."
There's a sense that this isn't just the understandable anger at the shock of seeing your dead daughter being ripped off by a fashion house which has clearly run out of ideas; there's an element of 'we should be controlling what happens to that image'. An upset which could have been avoided by the making of a cash payment - whether to a charity or not - doesn't seem to be a totally genuine upset.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rhapsody buys European Napster rump

Gigaom seems convinced that Rhapsody's purchase of the UK and German parts of Napster will allow Rhapsody to take on Spotify in Europe.

Perhaps. But, given that I don't think many people in the UK had even realised there was an on-going European Napster after the closure of the American service suggests that it's not really going to make a difference in the UK.

Napster is doing a bit better in Germany - it holds 70% of the steaming market, so it's possible that's where Rhapsody sees the value with the UK service thrown in for free.

Napster doesn't face competition from Spotify in Germany yet and its position was boosted earlier this week when Grooveshark quit the country, saying that the higher royalty rates made it impossible to run a business. (The German royalties organisation, GEMA, counters that Grooveshark had a figure of zero in mind.)

Gordon in the morning: Incredibly, Hulk

What's this? Have ITV gone and commissioned another mismatched cop duo drama?

One's an out-there maverick who gets results with macrobiotics and wrestling the moves. The other is a suit from City Hall who has the digital skills to get a jump on the bad buys by hac... oh, hang on, it's not that. It's an awkward visit to The Sun headquarters.

Somewhat surprisingly, this is the lead story this morning. Great, I suppose, if you were ten years old in 1984 and somehow were still ten years old today; bemusing otherwise.

Smart does his best to try and make Hogan's visit relevant to 2012. I mean, he makes films, right? Or at least popped up in a Rocky movie. Surely he's got some gossip?
Sadly, he didn't have any Hollywood revelations of his own to share, except admitting he has a battery in his back to ease pain from all his injuries.
That's right: Gordon's big story this morning is that an old man has got a bad back.

That's not his hook, though: Gordon tries to turn this into a story about, erm, Karabian:
WRESTLING legend Hulk Hogan has a bone to pick with Kasabian after he rumbled the band checking into hotels under his name.

Hulk popped into Bizarre HQ for a chat and a game of darts yesterday. And he roared: "I heard about these guys. They have made a show about UK wrestling in the Eighties, called Walk Like A Panther.

"I know Rollerball Rocco, he's in it. He's my guy. I'll be his tag partner and sort them out for trashing hotel rooms under my name."
Hmmm. Really, Gordon? Did Hulk say that really? Or did you give him a bit of help? Because apart from a somewhat pre-emptive double page spread on the Walk Like A Panther pilot in Q, it sometimes looks like there's only one person in the world outside the production team who has heard of the unaired show. That's you, Gordon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gennaro Castaldo watch: coping with loss

A cold wind blowing through Cheshire Oaks outlet village, with HMV closing its branch there. Gennaro Castaldo is on hand to hug the departing staff:

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: “We’re very sorry to be closing our outlet in Cheshire Oaks, which is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and certainly doesn’t in any way reflect on the fantastic work colleagues we have there, who we are looking to relocate to other stores in the region where at all possible, or indeed on our regular customers, who we’d like to thank for their valued support over the past eight years.”
Closing the store doesn't reflect badly on the customers? Eh? Presumably if you had customers you wouldn't be closing?

It's a bit strange that HMV ran an outlet shop anyway: aren't their ordinary shops the places which they stack high with unsellable product?

Megaupload: Too big for its reboots?

Megaupload has been around for ages. Why, then, did the copyright industry suddenly decide it had to act?

Shauna Myers ran an interesting post on her Google+ page. Linking to a DMN story, Shauna suggests it was less about what Megaupload had done, and more about what they were about to do:

I present to you... MegaBox. MegaBox was going to be an alternative music store that was entirely cloud-based and offered artists a better money-making opportunity than they would get with any record label.

"UMG knows that we are going to compete with them via our own music venture called, a site that will soon allow artists to sell their creations directly to consumers while allowing artists to keep 90 percent of earnings," MegaUpload founder Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz told Torrentfreak

Not only did they plan on allowing artists to keep 90% of their earnings on songs that they sold, they wanted to pay them for songs they let users download for free.

"We have a solution called the Megakey that will allow artists to earn income from users who download music for free," Dotcom outlined. "Yes that's right, we will pay artists even for free downloads. The Megakey business model has been tested with over a million users and it works."
Using the criminal justice system of two nations in order to crush competitors? Could you believe a record label possible of such behaviour?

[Thanks to Michael M]

Warner claims ownership of silence

If you want to avoid getting hit with a DCMA takedown notice, it can be hard. A couple of times now, I've shared a video sent to me by a record company PR outfit - cleared and websafe - only to have the same record company issue a DCMA takedown a few days later.

But if you're sharing your own video, and it has no music on, you're safe, right?

Erm... nope. Crochetgeek makes silent videos showing how to crochet.

Despite the complete lack of music on them, Warner Music Group has hit her with a DCMA takedown. The crocheter, Teresa Robertson, is unimpressed:

They are just coming across as "big bully" companies who want to control the Internet and want to control non traditional, original content on YouTube. There is a redistribution of wealth taking place and it is not going in to their pocket because you can be an independent creator on YouTube.

They have been walking all over original content creators for to long, claiming content they have no right to claim! They really need to get over it and adapt to the change.
I suppose, to be fair, she is using the word "crochet", which is quite close to "crotchet", and the sheet music Warners publishes has got crotchets on. Open and shut case, surely?

Gordon in the morning: Drumming up interest

Tony McCarroll is flogging the drumkit he used when he was in Oasis, and Gordon is happy to help:

He told me: "I've never taken advantage of the Oasis connections over the years. There have been a lot of offers and opportunities but I just never felt the need to.

"I've been living a really normal life, nothing much has been going on.

"I've been looking into DJing with Clint Boon.

"I heard a rumour Wayne Rooney was interested in buying the drum kit and thought that might be better than leaving it in storage."
Tony has never taken advantage of the Oasis connections. Obviously, you have to pretend he never sued the band nor wrote a book called Oasis: The Truth, but it's a pretty impressive claim.

What's odd, though, is the apparent chronology of this story: if you take it as gospel, Wayne Rooney was apparently going round saying 'you know what, for some reason I was thinking I'd quite like to buy Tony McCarroll's old drums, if they ever came on the market'. It's not impossible.

But if Wayne Rooney's interest was the spark which made Tony think 'I could flog them', why would you put them on auction site rather than ring up Wayne Rooney and invite him to make an offer?

McCarroll is lucky, though - according to Oasis myth, he fell out with Noel when Gallagher refused to spend Creation equipment money on bits for the drumkit, making Tony spend his own cash. Had Noel shared that cash, he'd probably be after Tony now for a percentage.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jagger slaps Cameron & struts out of Davos

Ah, this morning's lavish coverage of Mick Jagger turning up at Dave and/or Boris' expensive Davos tea party must have thrilled the Number 10 press office.

The grins have probably faded somewhat, as Jagger has pulled out, fuming at being described, for example, as a Tory by Gordon Smart this morning:

The Rolling Stones frontman said: "During my career I have always eschewed party politics and came to Davos as a guest, as I thought it would be stimulating.

"I have always been interested in economics and world events.

"I now find myself being used as a political football and there has been a lot of comment about my political allegiances which are inaccurate.

"I think it's best I decline the invitation to the key event and curtail my visit."
That's pretty much a disendorsement of Cameron, then. Or possibly of Boris. Or probably both.

Seal: When life gives you lemons, you can sell those lemons

It's obviously a difficult time for Seal and Heidi Klum, having recently announced their divorce. Let's just give them some space.

Space for Klum to come to terms with her changed life. Space for the children to be left alone during this upsetting time.

And, apparently, space for Seal to run around yelling 'hey, if I knew that divorce would suddenly make me a hot ticket, I'd have done it years ago'.

In one of the many, many post-divorce appearances Seal has made, he stared into the eyes of PBS' Tavis Smiley and said:

What one has to do in this situation is remain civil and to retain one's dignity and to be professional.
Nothing says dignity like booking a car to drive you round the daytime chatshows, waving your decree absolute like a backstage pass.
... and to understand that we are not the only people on this planet that go through this.
Yes, you know what Seal? You're not the only people to go through this. So why do you think your divorce is worth giving the sort of publicity you would have once given to an album launch?

Oscars: Madonna suddenly gets a free night in February

The Golden Globes, with their head-patting 'well, your song is quite good', must have been galling enough for singer-turned-director-at-least-in-her-head Madonna.

The Oscars shortlist are crueller still, with no room even for best song nomination. In fact, WE gets just one shortlisting. For best costumes.

To be fair, The Muppets are probably going to be shoo-in for Best Song, for Man Or Muppet, so it's probably a kindness that they're not expecting her to turn up.

Besides, Madonna's not an idiot and must have seen her film, so she was able to get her self-consolation in first:

"Well, the Oscars, the nominations are coming out tomorrow, and fingers crossed, I hope my movie gets nominated for something," Madonna told MTV News on the [Golden Globes] red carpet. "I would be really grateful if it did, but if it doesn't, I got the Super Bowl — keep on going."
Yes, if you've been shunned by the Oscars, knowing you'll keep the cameras ticking over while the Superbowl audience have gone to the john or the bar is the next best thing.

Managerobit: John Levy

John Levy, bassist-turned-manager, has died.

Levy managed jazz acts at a time when being African American wasn't easy; back in the age of segregation, Levy did all he could to ensure his artists were given the respect they deserved. He worked with, and for, Betty Carter, Herbie Mann, Freddie Hubbard, George Shearing, Joe Williams and Nancy Wilson amongst others.

His clients respected him because, as a musician, he understood what they were doing, but also understood that his charges weren't machines. As Nancy Wilson put it:

I wanted a life, and he was a manager who would allow me to have a life because he understood.
John Levy was 99. He was created a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006.

Gordon in the morning: Jagger swagger

Not often the scribbling of Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun's political editor, makes it onto Gordon's pages, but his story today that Mick Jagger is going to help Cameron promote Britain.

Of course, this is at an event overseas; Jagger and The Rolling Stones being famously averse to spending too long in Britain lest they actually pay their fair share of tax.

It's at Davos, which will give Mick a chance to visit his money at the same time.

This, apparently, is a "publicity coup":

The Rolling Stones legend will be star attraction at an event in Switzerland organised by Downing Street to boost investment to the UK in the Olympics year.

No10 is "tickled pink" with the publicity coup, a senior Government source told The Sun.
Hang about, though... what's this further down the story?
The tea party — officially hosted by London mayor Boris Johnson
So it's not actually organised by Downing Street, then?

In case you don't already feel queasy enough at this, somebody has come up with a "No 10's Top 10" of hilariously retitled Rolling Stones songs. It includes Paint It Blue and Little Blue Rooster. No, really.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Piracy actually not that bad, but let's say it is

There's some interesting figures in the IFPI report into digital music, reported by Music Week. You remember piracy, don't you?

According to Nielsen/IFPI figures from November 2011, the percentage of internet users accessing at least one unlicensed site monthly stood at 27% in Europe and 28% worldwide – with around half using peer-to-peer networks.
That doesn't really sound very much, does it? Over 70% of internet users not even visiting an "unlicensed site" (whatever that is) at all.

But that's averages. What's happening in piracy hotspots?
In some countries, the rate of usage of illegal sites is far higher than the global average - for example 42 per cent and 44 per cent respectively in the major markets of Spain and Brazil (Nielsen/IFPI).
So, even where it's bad, fewer than half the people online visit a site which holds unlicensed music.

And America? How are things in America - a country where piracy is apparently so rife, we came within an ace of having SOPA destroy the free internet?
NPD data included in the IFPI report shows that 16% of the US internet population were using infringing P2P sites in Q4 2007, down to just 9% in Q4 2010.

Meanwhile, the average number of tracks downloaded from P2P services dropped from 35 to 18 in the same period.
All this, surely, is brilliant news for the entertainment industry, right?

Music Week isn't so sure:
However, levels of global music piracy won’t bring comfort to labels.
Really? They're relatively small, and appear to be declining. Why would they not take comfort from that?

Let's nip over to the IFPI site, where Frances Moore, CEO, is looking at the figures. Is he happy?
As we enter 2012, there are good reasons for optimism in the world of digital music. Legal services with expanding audiences have reached across the globe and consumer choice has been revolutionised.
Well, that's great news. Treble clefs all ro... oh, hang on. He's looking cross. Why is he looking cross?
"Any complacency now, however, would be a great mistake. Our digital business is progressing in spite of the environment in which it operates, not because of it. In 2012 the momentum needs to build further. We need legislation from governments with coordinated measures that deal with piracy effectively and in all its forms. We also need more cooperation from online intermediaries such as search engines and advertisers to support the legal digital music business."
Moore is, you'll spot, telling a whopper here. His organisation's own figures show that even with their gross over-estimation of piracy, it's in decline - mainly despite, not because of, the work of the labels and their chums in the movie industry.

(Actually, should the labels be worried? Even without any comeback, even when it's available for free, people are scooping up less music.)

To the untrained eye, it might look like the RIAA and their client organisations have bought themselves a fire engine; now there's no fire, rather than getting rid of the uniforms and hoses, they're running round going 'I think I still smell burning'.

They passed from being entertainment companies into copyright farmers long ago; now, it looks like they're going to be permanent copyright lobbyists, too.

HMV gets chance to limp on for longer

HMV has delayed the inevitable by doing a deal with some entertainment companies which sees some of the risk of supplying records and DVDs shift from the beleaguered retailer to the beleaguered labels:

The retailer plans to hand 2.5% of its equity to major suppliers in the form of warrants. Other terms of the alliance are to remain confidential but they are believed to formalise a switch of risks to suppliers at the store chain.
You'll recall part of the problem HMV had to grapple with last year was difficulty in getting credit insurance for the massive piles of stock cluttering up its shelves; this move will help with that.

It does appear to signal another change of direction at the whirling store, though:
. It is not thought to include games console suppliers, leading to immediate speculation that HMV may choose to refocus its product mix, expanding film and music and down-playing games. Shops are also expected to accelerate plans to resurrect vinyl offers.
All that money spent on turning stores into youth club style games drop-in centres was well spent, then.

The trouble for HMV is that not a single person is going to say 'hmm, I hear the discs on sale there are now directly underwritten by the manufacturer rather than a third party insurer; I really must pop into HMV'.

It might make the margins a little more comfortable, but a larger theoretical profit on stuff that has no customers to buy it won't help.

The best hope for HMV is that this will at least give them the cover to keep going until there's an upturn in the economy. Good luck with that.

Gordon in the morning: Breaking the Seal

The news that Seal is to divorce from Heidi Klum is like journalistic viagra to Gordon this morning. Why? Because it allows him to wheel out the tabloid's favourite old trope:

[Other divorcing celebs] may have valid reasons but neither can compete with a national rivalry that's sparked two world wars and two semi-final defeats on penalties.

Seal said: "We certainly have differences of opinion. I mean, she's German and I'm English, so if I said we didn't have differences of opinion, no one would believe that."
I suppose the grinding out of world wars and football is relatively restrained; if Piers Morgan was still in charge of the Bizarre telephones, it'd doubtless be photoshopped pointy helmets and 'for you Fritz, ze marriage is over'.

Seal appears to have been trying to signal the end of the affair during an interview last year, which Gordon reprints for a spot of hindsight:
He said: "One of the things that we disagree over is Christmas, she opens presents on the December 24.

"I just don't see the logic in it, it's Christmas, ie, Jesus Christ? And last time I checked, Christ was born on 25 December. But you know what, pick your battles. That's one I don't bother with."
When Seal last checked Christ's date of birth - he did it online, because the opening hours at Bethlehem Registry Office are really poor - the certificate clearly stated "December 25th 0BC". Which proves that you have to open presents on that day.

It's reported Seal spent Christmas Eve last year refusing to let people in to Midnight Mass, on the grounds that it started the day before Jesus was born. "You're WRONG" he screamed. "Wrong, wrong, wrong." Before breaking into huge sobs.

Sharp observers might note that Seal "doesn't bother" with the Christmas thing, besides telling everyone else about it.

Also going their separate ways: Jai McDowall and Simon Cowell.

Jai McDowall. Of course you remember.

Actually, no, I didn't, either. Apparently he won Britain's Got Talent last year. His first album as part of his prize came out last month. Cowell has already checked his watch, though:
Cowell admitted: "I was disappointed with Jai. He wasn't what I was looking for.

"You want a Diversity or Susan Boyle, someone who is a genuine star. He is talented but the show can do better. None of the finalists were up to scratch."

Cowell blamed 2011 judges David Hasselhoff, Michael McIntyre and Amanda Holden and "possibly" show producers too.
Obviously, the guy had the charisma and talent of one of those small bags of salt you used to get in a packet of crisps, albeit without the versatility. But fair's fair, Cowell: if you make people jump through your hoops, then you should at least give them a fair crack of the whip. You've created a monster; it's your poop to own.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This week just gone

Five years ago today, these were the current stories that were most-read:

1. Pete Wentz wails about leaking ruins his artistic vision
2. RIP: Denny Doherty
3. Jo O'Meara's views on Indian food
4. Jo O'Meara - the real victim
5. Big Day Out bans flags
6. Victoria Newton confused that She's Madonna video features nobody who looks like Madonna
7. Robbie Williams is like an ordinary bloke from Stoke
8. Ofcom investigates racist bullying inside Celebrity Big Brother studio
9. Gennaro Castaldo explains how Chris Moyles broke the charts
10. News Of The World thrilled by MySpace's role in making Lily Allen a big US star (none of those things are ringing a bell... anyone?

This week's interesting releases:

Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood Of Colour

Download A Flash Flood Of Colour

Guided By Voices - Let's Go Eat The Factory

Download Let's Go Eat The Factory

Casiokids - Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen

Download Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen

The Big Pink - Future This

Download Future This

Diagrams - Black Light

Download Black Light

Anni DiFranco - Which Side Are You On?

Download Which Side Are You On?