Saturday, November 09, 2013

I collect, I reject: Bobbleheads

A message arrives from a retailer of bobbleheads, announcing a new toy in the range:

The [name redacted] figures have finally arrived (we just took this photo on the right). We apologize for the delay, but Drastic Plastic did an amazing job with her likeness and details.
Ah, yes. The delay while the bobblehead manufacturers were doing such a great job.

Here's their work:
Any ideas?

Apparently meant to be Debbie Harry.

Christmas lights left to carry season alone after Brian McFadden is a no-show

Heartbreaking times at the Trafford Centre in Trafford, as Brian McFadden gets stuck in traffic on the motorway and fails to turn up to do a couple of songs at the Christmas lights switch-on:

He was due to take the stage at 6:20pm bosses said but didn't arrive at the centre until shortly after 7pm by which time the lights had been switched on and bosses said it was too late for him to perform.

He has now apologised and pledged to return in the near future.

He tweeted: "Sorry to everyone at the trafford lights. Took 6 1/2 hours from london. Arrived 3 minutes late but trafford centre wouldnt wait. Sorry"
It's almost as if the management of the mall didn't really want McFadden to play - presumably if he'd turned up on time, a caretaker would have been sent down to suck teeth and say 'no, sorry, mate, not in those shoes on this surface'.

Still, the evening wasn't a total washout:
The lights were switched on by Coronation Street Natalie Gumede who is currently appearing in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing.

She was joined at the event by her dance partner in the show Artem Chigvintsev.

Earlier there were performances from bands The Hoosiers and The Overtones as well as Richard and Adam from Britain's Got Talent.
You can imagine once you've sat through The Hoosiers and The Overtones you might start to be cooling on the idea of hearing anyone else sing again, ever.

Metal fans like new things; don't like themselves

The journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts has just published a report which explores what people who like "contemporary metal" are really like.

The conclusion?

A multiple regression showed that stronger composite preference for the heavy metal tracks was associated with higher Openness to Experience, more negative attitudes toward authority, lower self-esteem, greater need for uniqueness, and lower religiosity. In addition, men showed a significantly stronger preference for the tracks than women
I think that last sentence means that men, rather than women, showed a preference for the tracks, but given that the survey seems to be 'everything you sniggered about metal fans is true', it could mean that male metallers prefer Girlschool to girls.

[Finder's fee: Brooklyn Vegan]

Friday, November 08, 2013

I collect, I reject: Looking for somewhere to store your Joy Division oven gloves?

Ian Curtis' kitchen table is up for sale on eBay.

At the moment, it's over £6,000, which means its already three times the original budget of the ruinously expensive Factory Records boardroom table. And with five days to go, it might wind up costing more than that table eventually did...

Did Twitter remember Twitter Music in its IPO?

Does anyone, to be fair, remember Twitter Music?

So when Twitter went to market this week, did the company make anything of the super-duper service that has literally revolutionised how we ignore new music discovery channels?

Yes, but you have to read through to page 110 to get to it:

#Music. #Music is a mobile application that helps users discover new music and artists based on Tweets. #Music is available on the iOS platform. #Music uses data from the Twitter API to surface trending music artists in a variety of genres, and allows users to browse through artists based on social relationships on Twitter. We do not currently place, or currently plan to place, ads on #Music.
"Not currently planning to place adverts" seems to be a face-saving way of saying that the service is of use to neither man nor drummer, doesn't it?

Oooh, Betty: Whitey asks TV company why he should work for nothing

Betty TV are making one of their exciting new TV series - probably something about someone young and sexy being sexy, or possibly about someone not young and sexy having their insecurities exploited for an hour on the telly - and thought Whitey might like to be part of it.

Obviously, they weren't going to pay. Whitey was, understandably, unhappy:

"I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line 'unfortunately there's no budget for music', as if some fixed law of the universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget. So you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week – from a booming, affluent global media industry.

Why is this? Let's look at who we both are.

I am a professional musician, who lives from his music. It took me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard-earned property. I've licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on earth; from Breaking Bad to The Sopranos, from Coca-Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.

Ask yourself – would you approach a creative or a director with a resume like that, and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing? Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.

Or would you walk into someone's home, eat from their bowl, and walk out smiling, saying, "So sorry, I've no budget for food"? Of course you would not. Because, culturally, we classify that as theft.

Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question pay everyone connected to a shoot – from the caterer to the grip to the extra – even the cleaner who mopped your set and scrubbed the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.

Now let's look at you. A quick glance at your website reveals a variety of well-known, internationally syndicated reality programmes. You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognised company with a string of hit shows. Working on multiple series in close co-operation with Channel 4, from a west London office, with a string of awards under your belt. You have real money; to pretend otherwise is an insult.

Yet you send me this shabby request – give me your property for free. Just give us what you own, we want it.

The answer is a resounding and permanent NO.

I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to reblog this. I want to see a public discussion begin about this kind of industry abuse of musicians … this was one email too far for me. Enough. I'm sick of you.

NJ White
Betty - which is part of Discovery - has found time between shooting episodes of 'Look How Poor People Live' and 'Look At How Rich People Live And Do The Sex' to issue a statement of their own:
A Betty spokesperson said: "We use a collective licensing system that ensures both the recording artist and composer are paid. We apologise for any confusion and we have contacted the artist to clarify this. We would never use music without permission and going through the proper procedures."
Odd that; Whitey clearly understands the licensing business, yet Betty thinks its request has "confused" him. Odd.

Robin Thicke gets people shouting at him in the street

I'm not surprised that people yell stuff at Robin Thicke in the street.

Oddly, though, he seems to think they're confusing him with someone else:

The 36-year-old singer - who is 18 years younger than the 'X Factor' boss - often gets heckled in the street by people shouting ''Simon'' at him because they think he is the music mogul due to their similar haircuts.

He said: ''I went through a hippy phase when I started out in music and said I would not cut my hair until I heard my song played on the radio. Now I do get called Simon Cowell because of my hair.''
(Lets be generous, and assume that quote was merely poorly edited rather than quite than incoherent.)

"I mean... it must be that people think I'm Simon Cowell, right? That's why they're calling out 'exploitative little wank biscuit' and 'soulless crumb-tray on the end of a life-sapping stick', right? They think I'm Cowell, yeah?"

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Softcore porn is business

Ah, we hadn't heard from Gennaro Castaldo since he left HMV. He did leave HMV, although he hasn't updated his LinkedIn profile. Perhaps like other parts of the HMV social universe, the password was handed to an intern and never surrendered?

Anyway, you can't keep a good thought-wrangler down and we've got the first sighting of him in his new home, defending porny pop videos for new employers, the BPI.

He appeared on ITV news:

Explicit music videos should be made available to the public in a responsible age-appropriate way but should not be banned completely, Gennaro Castaldo of the British Recorded Music Industry told ITV News.
Now, obviously, there are music videos which are explicit because the music they represent is explicit - and banning things is bad. I guess that far we can go with Gennaro.

The problem, though, is that the music industry is using sexist sexy videos for songs they're aiming largely at kids. That's what we need to talk about, surely, and the conversation Gennaro didn't seem interested in having:
"We have been speaking to digital service providers about whether they could introduce age-based filters. That could be one way of solving this problem," Mr Castaldo said.

"Rather than trying to stop content by banning or censoring it, it’s about how to make it available in a responsible fashion."
You see? The problem isn't the music industry selling Robin Thicke by getting women to show their tits, it's the fault of "digital service providers" for not stopping kids from seeing it.

This is similar to the way that guns don't kill people, it's people failing to have bulletproof skin that kills people.

But, hey, just to drift further from the point, maybe a spot of meaningless cultural relativism could help?
Mr Castaldo said the industry takes the issue extremely seriously, but pointed out that "values move" on and that "back in the 50s, people were scandalised by Elvis Presley."
Yes, Gennaro. Values move on. Back in the 70s, people thought it was okay to sell any product - cars, nuts, shock absorbers - by sticking a woman in a bikini into an advert. We've moved on from there. When will the BPI join us?

Eminem doesn't do social media

You won't find Eminem on the social networks, you know:

Asked if he is on social media platforms, Eminem jokes: "I am on social media all day. In front of a computer, blogging constantly. Yo, does someone got my laptop?"

He then explains that he tries to avoid social media in order to avoid confrontations. "I really try not to pay attention," he says. "Put it this way, I want to keep my finger on the pulse of what's going on, so I don't want to be ignorant in that sense. But at the same time, I can't pay attention to what everyone is saying. I would never be able to make music, I don't think, if I got caught up in that. Because I would probably get caught up in some ugly arguments with people. 'Yo, drive to my house now.' It would consume a lot of my time and it would be very counter-productive for me to do that. But I still do, and that's what's fucked up."
Yes, if there's one thing we know about Eminem it's that he hates having his arguments in public.

Here's a philosophical question, though: There's an Eminem verified Twitter account which is quite busy. But if Eminem happily admits that he doesn't get involved in social media, in what sense is the identity of the Eminem account "verified"? If someone takes that blue tick as a sign that it's really Eminem, are they being misled? Ought there to be a different symbol to show it's really the brand, not the man?

Bob Geldof and Bono: Perhaps they spent the interval talking truth to power

I know we don't need any further evidence that Geldof and Bono's outsider act is, well, an act, but in case you're still looking to be convinced, who turned up for Matthew Freud's birthday in what for most people would be the 'clown making balloon animals' slot?:

Guests thought to include Davina McCall and Jimmy Carr were treated to a performance from Bob Geldof and U2 frontman Bono. The duo joined forces to perform a rendition of Martha and the Vandellas’ Dancing in the Street.
Amongst the revellers were the Blairs, Cameron and Osborne.

But I'm sure Bob and Bono were thinking about the poor the whole time they did it.

Monday, November 04, 2013

YouTube Music Awards

There are rush-hour Underground Circle line trains which are less overcrowded than the music awards season, so the arrival of yet another set of prizes is less a cause for celebration than the organisers of The YouTube Music Awards might think.

Here, lifted from Hypebot (who sat through the live-streamed event and deserve a medal of their own for that dedication to duty) are the winners:

Breakthrough of the Year
WINNER: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kendrick Lamar
Naughty Boy

Response of the Year
WINNER: Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix, "Radioactive"
Boyce Avenue (feat. Fifth Harmony) "Mirrors"
Jayesslee, "Gangnam Style"
ThePianoGuys, "Titanium/Pavane"
Walk Off the Earth (feat. KRNFX), "I Knew You Were Trouble"

Innovation of the Year
WINNER: DeStorm, "See Me Standing"
Anamanaguchi, "Endless Fantasy"
Atoms For Peace, "Ingenue"
Bat For Lashes, "Lilies"
Toro Y Moi, "Say That"

YouTube Phenomenon
WINNER: "I Knew You Were Trouble"
"Gangnam Style"
"Harlem Shake"
"Thrift Shop"

Video of the Year
WINNER: Girls' Generation "I Got A Boy"
Demi Lovato, "Heart Attack"
Epic Rap Battles Of History, "Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney"
Justin Bieber (feat. Nicki Minaj), "Beauty and a Beat"br> Lady Gaga, "Applause"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Mary Lambert) "Same Love"
Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"
One Direction, "Best Song Ever"
PSY, "Gentleman"
Selena Gomez, "Come & Get It"

Artist of the Year
WINNER: Eminem
Epic Rap Battles Of History
Justin Bieber
Katy Perry
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Nicki Minaj
One Direction
Taylor Swift
The most notable surprise here is that Harlem Shake was only this year - and yet already mention of it sits alongside 'chocolate coming off the ration' and 'that bloke blowing the candle out on the first night of BBC Two' in the distant past.

The silver Orb

The Orb are 25 years old - and if that doesn't make you wince like the onset of an arthritic knee, you were probably born after them. To celebrate, they're doing a box set.

The box set will consist of four discs, which kind of implies they'll only have space for A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld.

Radio One will be saved by, er, rebranding 60 Seconds on BBC Three

Radio One is suffering something of a decline in listening - in part because Chris Moyles' departure took a chunk of audience who weren't core, but still counted; in part because young people have their phones and Twitter Music and cassette tapes and have no need to listen to radio at all.

Time for a fightback. MediaGuardian's got the plans:

The BBC's director general, Tony Hall, has also indicated he wants to see more collaboration between the station and its similarly youth-oriented TV sibling, BBC3, including the rebranding of BBC3's news as a TV extension of Newsbeat.
"Hey, kids, put down your Spotify playlists, because this radio station has a news bulletin the same as the one that interrupts American Dad marathons."

Here's what Hall said when in front of the Commons media select committee:
"One of the areas I want to develop is how BBC3 and Radio 1 can work much more together, with Radio 1 concentrating much more on music and BBC3 on other genres," Hall said. "We have a news service on BBC3. We don't call it anything, yet we have Newsbeat on Radio 1. Why not take Newsbeat and run that across the two? The controllers of BBC3 [Zai Bennett] and Radio 1 have more work to do to see how together these two channels, stations, can [find] a younger audience."
Pssst, Tony... your news service on BBC Three is called "Sixty Seconds". It's been called that since before there was a BBC Three. Still, twelve years isn't much time for that name to stick, is it?

The other big plan is for a Radio One channel on iPlayer. This idea - that digitally, a Radio One TV service would be possible - is even older than Sixty Seconds; it was part of the original proposals for BBC Digital services back in the early 1980s. Still, baby steps, eh?