Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chansonsobit: Tim Hauser

Tim Hauser, founding member of Manhattan Transfer, has died.

Hauser was born, and formed the band, in New York. The original Manhattan Transfer didn't take, but Hauser persevered and met members of the classic line-up while driving a yellow cab to make ends meet.

The official statement came, as official statements do these days, via Facebook:

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Tim Hauser’s passing with you all... As many of you know, Tim was the visionary behind The Manhattan Transfer. We spent more than 40 years together singing and making music, traveling the world, and sharing so many special moments throughout our lives... It's incomprehensible to think of this world without him.
We join his loving wife, Barb, his beautiful children, his family, and the rest of the world in mourning the loss of our dear friend and partner in song.
Janis, Cheryl and Alan

For those of you with tickets to our upcoming shows, we will continue to tour as scheduled and continue to share Tim’s incredible legacy...
Incomprehensible to think of the world without Tim, but not, apparently, honouring the tour dates without him.

Tim Hauser died following a cardiac arrest on October 16th; he was 72.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Judge suddenly changes US copyright status on pre-1972 recordings

There's no copyright on recordings made before 1972 in America. Except now there is, as a judge in California has told Sirius that it needs to pay when it plays such recordings.

Sirius aren't happy:

SiriusXM disagreed. "I think everybody should get paid, and I think everybody should pay," David Frear, the company's chief financial officer, said during a banking conference, as quoted in the New York Times. "But to get there, there needs to be a change in the laws. And it shouldn’t be coming from the bench. It should be coming from the legislature."
You might wonder if David Frear really wants to pay everyone why he chose not to pay everyone, but instead fought a legal case to stop paying anyone. 'I really want to pay but think there ought to be a law compelling me to pay' isn't a coherent position.

The record companies - who, rather than musicians, will pocket most of the cash - are happy:
"It's increasingly clear that SiriusXM, Pandora and other digital music firms who refuse to pay legacy artists and rights holders are on the wrong side of history and the law," Cary Sherman, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the labels, said in a statement. "It's time for that to change."
The RIAA are charmers, aren't they? Every time a business finds a way to help them hold onto revenue streams in the 21st Century, rather than work with them, they're there, demanding more and effectively calling those businesses crooks.

If Sherman was ever in an accident and needed a transfusion, you suspect he'd be demanding to know where the blood taken from him was and why he wasn't getting the usual donation fee for it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bono apologises, in a Bono way

Having foisted the dreadful new U2 album on everyone, now Bono is apologising.

Not, obviously, saying sorry. But doing one of those 'hey, baby, if I'm guilty of anything it's just loving too much' apologies:

The questioner on the Facebook session said: "Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to peoples playlists ever again? It's really rude."

Bono replied: "I had this beautiful idea and we got carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing.

"A drop of megalomania, a touch of generosity, a dash of self-promotion and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn't be heard.

"There's a lot of noise out there. I guess we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it," he said.
Oh, man, I've just written this song. What if nobody hears the song? I know, I'll force the shitting song down their throats, whether they want it or not. Repeat ten times.

You know that at some point, in one of the meetings, someone - and it will have been Bono - said "look, guys, it's better to do something and say sorry rather than ask for permission and get a no". And he would have been wrong.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tom Watson pushes for 6 on FM

It's great that Tom Watson is such a strong supporter of 6Music, but his calls for the BBC to move the network to FM, booting Radio 3 to digital only, are flawed:

Watson said: “It does strike me if the Radio 3 audience continues to diminish and 6 Music continues to grow its audience, the BBC should seriously consider it, they must put it on their agenda.

“6 Music is a huge success story for the BBC. They tried to close it down and its audience doubled, they now have more listeners digitally than Radio 3 has got on both digital and the FM network.

“On those terms 6 Music should be knocking at the door for that FM slot and they would have an even bigger audience [on FM]. There are a lot of discriminating music listeners out there, they have built a very powerful brand and a strong offer. They only way they are going to expand is getting an FM slot and I think it’s worth the BBC considering.”
Maybe worth considering, but much more worth rejecting.

Part of the original reason for the existence of 6Music was to help drive digital listening - something that it's done rather well. Moving it across to analogue wouldn't really help with that.

Given there's a hope that the FM and AM radiospace can be handed over to other services in the not-too-distant future, any tenancy on FM would be short-lived anyway.

The idea that 6 can only grow by transferring to FM is flawed, given that it's still growing its audience on digital.

And then there's the question of what would happen to Radio 3 if it shifted to digital-only. It already has a fragile audience; even if you generously assume that half its listeners transfer across to find it - and that we can put up with the resultant drone of audiophiles complaining about sound quality on DAB forever - that low level of audience would appear to be incompatible with the current level of funding Radio 3 receives. So while Tom Watson might say he's not calling for Radio 3 to be closed down, that would effectively be the effect of moving it across before we're at the stage of analogue radio switch-off. (How it will thrive after that, of course, is another question.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

People who like guns like Rihanna's gun bag

A short while ago, Rihanna carried a handbag shaped like a gun. This led to a very small smattering of tutting on Twitter of a 'don't do that, it's not even a practical shape for a purse'; this, in turn, has brought out a rash of over-excited people who enjoy shooting things:

Some Liberals Are Freaking Out Because Of The Harmless Things Carried By This Pop Star
Oddly, the Western Journalism's claim isn't backed up very well - rather than 'liberals freaking out' it offers a couple of tweets of 'people who use celebrities as linkbait going "look, this is controversial"', but that isn't what should detain us here.

Because, although poorly laid out and badly argued, these gun-toting men's feature on chi-chi catwalk accessories does offer something of a classic case of the blowyourfaceoffophile's logic. Hidden amongst its claims that carrying a bag shaped like a gun is somehow empowering is a glimpse behind the curtain.

How would you describe Rihanna? Pop princess? The Umbrella hitmaker? Grammy Award Winner?

Not if you're writing about guns; then, she's just a victim:
Nevertheless, some anti-gun activists used the opportunity to criticize the domestic abuse victim for her ostensible glorification of firearms.
All the talk is about how empowering carrying around the ability to take away people's lives like a capricious god-toddler, but whenever a justification is reached for, it usually turns out to be about focusing on victimhood.

Man visits McDonalds; front pages held

Congratulations to the Western Telegraph, for no newspaper, surely, can be said to cover their patch in more depth than they do. Why, even Kian Egan going into a branch of McDonalds in Merlins Bridge is covered as a news story.

With eyewitness accounts, no less:

McDonald's customer care assistant Stephen Hughes said: “He was down visiting a Pembrokeshire attraction with his family.

“You hear all these myths about celebrities, but he was really down to earth and quite shy really.

“He was kind enough to pose for pictures with staff and customers.”
'You hear these myths about celebrities, but he really wasn't a diva. He didn't demand onion rings; he made no request to eat in a VIP area. He didn't even insist on getting Smurfs in his Happy Meal.

You hear these myths about celebrities, but he didn't embark on twelve tasks requiring superhuman effort while he was here. He didn't arrive on a winged horse and - although I didn't watch him the whole time - he didn't appear to change shape into a swan or a bull and have his way with all and sundry.

You hear these myths about celebrities, but he ingested his burger by biting off chunks, chewing it in his normal-sized mouth, swallowing and then using stomach acids to break down the meat and bread to allow his body to absorb the nutrients.'

The best thing about this story, though, is that I don't need to worry about trying to find a punchline, because Stephen delivers his own:
Stephen added just a few weeks ago they were pretty sure they had Boyzone’s Keith Duffy in the restaurant.

Chris Brown: very much the Malthus of our age

Chris Brown has taken some time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts on ebola:

The Kiss Kiss hitmaker posted the controversial comment to Twitter on Monday, writing, "I don't know... But I think this Ebola epidemic is a form of population control. S*** is getting crazy bruh (sic)" before adding, "Let me shut my black a** up!"
To be fair - to Thomas Malthus rather than to Brown - it's not clear if Brown really was suggesting that ebola was somehow balancing out population growth as a natural corrective, or if he was instead floating some sort of conspiracy theory that an unidentified shady force was using ebola to get numbers down.

And to be fair to the sort of people who believe in the 'lizards faking moon landings to cover up 9/11' school of thought, Chris Brown hasn't probably thought anything through at all.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bono: Low tax will save us all

Our old friend Bono granted a lengthy interview to The Observer at the weekend. It appeared in the New Review section, but really should have gone on the business pages it appeared to be marking the point where Bono shifted from apologist, to spokesperson, for capitalism.

Most notably, Bono attempted to justify Ireland's low tax regime as providing a route to prosperity:

"Look, Ireland is not going to back down on this,” he says. “We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known. That’s how we got these [tech] companies here."
Trying to use the lure of tiny corporate tax rates to build a prosperous nation is a bit like hoping to find a lasting, loving relationship by sticking your cock through a glory hole.

The companies opening their headquarters aren't actually headquartering there - generally, these tax-efficient operations consist of a bored person on minimum wage answering the phone with "no, we're not expecting Mr Cook in today" and a really, really huge shredding machine. (Although to be fair, Apple also have a room where they've stored all the unsold U2 limited edition iPods.)

The only local businesses who experience an uplift as being part of a low tax economy are brass plate engravers as the multinationals arrive, followed by a similar boost for carpetbag manufacturers.

U2 themselves are a pretty good example themselves - Bono, busily defending the idea that low corporate taxes are brilliant for Ireland did, of course, shift huge chunks of his own money over to mainland Europe when a more eye-catching low corporate tax rate waved a come-hither finger.

On that point, Bono is amusingly slippery, as he ignores the central problem - that he's shafted the country that he professes to love in order to save himself a few quid - by pretending that what's really upsetting people is the secrecy:
It isn’t a clandestine offshore tax haven, Bono insists. “All of our stuff is out in the open. How did people find out about it? Because it’s published. The sneakiness is when you don’t even know what’s going on.”
No, Bono. If someone livestreams themselves pissing through your letterbox, so you can watch as they do it, it doesn't make it alright.

It raises the alarming idea that when Bono watches a movie where the villain tortures the hero, but the villain starts by detailing what that torture will involve, Bono isn't horrified but reaches for the popcorn going "well, the cutting off of the arm and beating around the head has been publicly declared so I don't see there's a problem here."

Apple might be comfortably at home in Cork now - although the most generous headcount is 4000 Apple people, less than one-in-four of all their European staff. But people with longer memories will recall the tremor that ran through the area in 1999 when the globally nimble business realised it was better off making iMacs in Wales, taking two-thirds of the jobs across the border.

And Apple are probably amongst the most generous of the companies who have headquartered in Ireland - the Financial Times visited Endo, a pharmaceutical company who are now based in Dublin:
The global headquarters of Endo International is so new that, apart from a few desktop computers, the most visible purchase to date is the Nespresso machine in the kitchen. Located in the basement of a Georgian house in central Dublin, the company, which makes branded and generic medicines, does not even have a brass plate on the door.
Not even the brass plate engraver got a call.

Maybe the glory hole metaphor is the wrong way round, as Ireland isn't the one shoving its cock through the wall. It's on the other side, providing the service. And, sure, it's getting something out of the arrangement as long as it lasts, but everything could be pulled out without warning, leaving Ireland with a mess to clean up. And never able to look into the eyes of the person making the decision.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Douglas Carswell invokes HMV to explain UKIP popularity

Douglas Carswell reckons the Tories are struggling because, effectively, they're HMV:

Douglas Carswell, who made history as the first elected Ukip MP last week, said he hoped more Tories joined him but insisted the party was "not the Conservative party in exile".

He likened the Tories to failed music store HMV. "The way the Tory party is retailing politics is like the way HMV retailed music. It's a defunct retail model," he said on the Andrew Marr show this morning.
Somewhere, David Cameron is punching the air and going "not Our Price. At least we're not Our Price."

Let's just leave aside the suggestion that retailing is a good metaphor for politics, because it's almost certainly depressingly true.

Carswell's wrong, of course. When it looked like HMV might vanish from the high streets of Britain, everyone thought that would be a bad thing.

This week just gone

Hot back then: The most-read things twelve months ago today:

1. One reason why Penguin Classics isn't the best home for Mozzer's biography
2. Radio One prepares to cull older acts; Muse on a warning
3. Dreadful Spice Girls musical taken to the vets
4. Lostprophets call it a day
5. Victoria Hart returns. You don't remember her, do you?
6. Radio 2 re-edit Kenny Everett
7. Nick Drake's death raked over
8. Pete Doherty's war on the upper middle classes
9. Video: Stereolab live on Jools Holland, 1997
10. That time Perez Hilton called Will I Am a "faggot"

This was new released out this week:

Allo Darlin - We Come From The Same Place

Download We Come From The Same Place

Claudia Brucken - Where Else?

Download Where Else?

Anais Mitchell - xoa

Download xoa

Vic Goddard & The Subway Sect - 1979 Now

Download 1979 Now

Caribou - Our Love

Download Our Love

Johnny Marr - Playland

Download Playland

Jackson Browne - Standing In The Breach

Download Standing In The Breach