Thursday, June 25, 2015

What to do with the new space opened up by the moving Chart Show

With The Chart Show disappearing down a hole round the back of old Mel's place ("moving to Friday teatimes"), Radio One suddenly has a two hour gap in its schedules on Sunday nights.

How would you fill such a space in the schedules?

I can't think of an idea.

Nor could Radio One, it turns out:

Radio 1 has announced a new Sunday show which will replace the current Official Chart slot when it moves to Fridays next month.

Hosted by CBBC presenter Cell Spellman, the new show will split into two parts, one devoted to new pop music with the other playing number one hits.
Spellman said: "The best station on national radio has been responsible for introducing me to so much incredible and varied music over the years, I just hope I can return the favour and help make those car journeys a little more memorable for the listeners with a mix of fun, top tunes and a little bit of cheeky chat!"
The reference to car journeys is a little odd - six on a Sunday is hardly prime Drivetime, is it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The music industry stands behind Taylor Swift

Funniest sight of yesterday was a spokesperson from UK Music popping up on BBC News to praise the actions of Taylor Swift.

Almost as if they weren't representing the very music business companies who, when Apple demanded the three month free trial deal in the first place, just nodded and signed the paperwork.

Photographers versus Taylor Swift

After Taylor Swift won the battle with Apple to ensure that artists get to make money from their work, a photographer asked why her photographer contracts were okay, then:

“You say in your letter to Apple that ‘Three months is a long time to go unpaid,'” Sheldon writes. “But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity…”

He goes on to say, “How are you any different to Apple? If you don’t like being exploited, that’s great… make a huge statement about it, and you’ll have my support. But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else?”
Some people have been quick to defend Swift, saying it's unlikely that she's written the photographer contract. Which is true, but a person who is clearly in control of their career would at least have signed off on it.

The most egregious part of the Swift contract (itself not uncommon in the modern music industry) is that it gives Swift's management the right to smash people's cameras and equipment for non-compliance.

Now, the idea that a minor fracas over copyright could result in anyone deliberately destroying cameras might seem extreme, but it's not unusual. For example, if you purchase a ticket to a gig at, say, Southend's Cliffs Pavilion, the terms and conditions are written to allow staff to destroy your stuff:
The use of equipment to record or transmit audio and/or visual material inside the Venue is strictly forbidden. Unauthorised recordings, tapes, films or similar items may be confiscated and destroyed. Any recording made in breach of these conditions shall belong to the Venue and/or Promoter of the Event. Neither the Promoter nor the Venue will be liable for the loss, theft or damage to confiscated items.
As, increasingly, video and audio is being published to the web as it is consumed, either the Pavilion intends to march on Periscope servers with bats and torches; or else this is just basically a way to punish transgressors by smashing their stuff without any comeback.

Is Swift a hypocrite? Probably not - there's a wide difference between making musicians subsidise a major multinational's promotional campaigns and a photography landgrab, but it would be nice to see her take a lead in the question of photographer's rights in the same way she's taken on Apple.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Twittergem: Niles Rodgers

Some people's commutes this morning are substantially better than yours:

D'Angelo wants music to get smarter

You might not have thought D'Angelo was ever going to change the world, but he might yet surprise us all. He's returned to music in the last few months, and is disappointed how detached it's become from modern society:

"I grew up on Public Enemy, and it was popular culture to be aware,” D’Angelo said."People were wearing Malcolm X T-shirts and Malcolm X hats. It was a very cool thing to know who Malcolm X was. It was all in the lyrics. It was trendy to be conscious and aware. Now the trend... it’s just [expletive]. But to tell you the truth, there are a lot of people who feel the same way that I feel and that are making great music, conscious music."

"But for some reason or another it seems like the gatekeepers are not allowing that stuff to filter through to the mainstream. Kendrick Lamar, he’s an example of someone who is young and actually trying to say something. Who else? You got Young Jeezy and Young Thug. You know what I’m saying? It’s stupid. It’s ridiculous," he continued.
The is D'Angelo. Whose biggest hit had lyrics that went like this:
You're my little baby, my darling baby
I swear you're the talk of the town
And everybody wants to know what's going down
Babe, I know they've seen us before
Maybe at the liquor store, or maybe at the health food stand
They don't know that I'm your man
The man who is known for a song about how people might not realise he was in a partnership even although they'd go to buy quinoa together is calling you out for being empty and stupid, modern music. He's suggesting that writing a song about holding hands in a Trader Joe's would be better for society than your current output. And you know what? He's kind-of right.

In which Taylor Swift has a point, and wins the day

You'll have read this elesewhere, by now, but Taylor Swift's gentle-but-firm open letter to Apple (alright, open Tumblog) does gently nail Apple and leave them hung out looking like greedy butt-danglers:

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.
The historically generous company which, for example, could have quite happily offered a discount on iMacs to educational institutions but chose instead to create a lower-spec model.

But could a flattering approach, even from Taylor Swift, work?

Actually, yes. It worked:
Now Apple says it will pay artists for music streamed during trial periods.
"We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," tweeted executive Eddy @Cue.
Of course, it's not so much the candy coating of Swift's letter that worked. It was the greed-shaming of putting right in the front of people the idea that it was musicians and songwriters who were actually paying for that three month free trial, not the cash-rich Apple.

Being shamed by a popstar. Thank god that can still happen - but it's still shabby it took Taylor Swift for Apple to understand they were pulling a shit move.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Charlotte Church: "Woman has accountant" shocker

Let's turn to Guido Fawkes. Guido persists in using his pseudonym as if we don't know he's Paul Staines, like a crap unmasked superhero still booking hotel rooms as "QTipMan" even although the receptionists always reply "okay, Mr. Staines, that's booked for you now." And he's managed to parlay his blog into a column in the News Of The World - the paper which still uses the pseudonym The Sun On Sunday. It's from this let's pretend world that he's tried to attack Charlotte Church following her appearance at the anti-austerity march yesterday.

Staines lives up to his chosen pseudonym, of course. Much as Fawkes was a dupe who got to do the dirty work of richer, more powerful types and ended up looking like a nasty piece of work, so too Staines trots out an attack line to try and deflect criticism of the government.

His problem with Church? Why, she calls for closing of tax loopholes, and yet... sorry, what was the pisspoor attack line again?

After joining the People’s Assembly against Austerity – whose aims include ‘increasing taxes on the super-rich’ and ‘closing tax loopholes’ – perhaps the Cardiff crooner turned campaigner should look at her own economy.

Church is the director of five companies that are all registered to the London address of Thomas Harris Accountants.

“Lowering and deferring tax is, of course, a key aim” boasts the firm’s website, by “taking advantage of allowances and reliefs of which many people are unaware.”
I don't think that there's a single major accountant which doesn't offer to minimise tax for its clients, and I don't think there's anyone who has a company that doesn't require some sort of accountancy service. So, really, this is on a par with going "well, David Attenborough calls for a reduction in fossil fuel use, but he has a car which uses petrol."

If Forkstaines has something solid - Church deliberately booking gigs in Bratislava for tax write-offs; a massive scheme to use foxes to channel cash through Nutwood; something like that - maybe there's a story there. But going 'oh, she wants tax loopholes closed and yet she has someone do her taxes for her who knows tax law' is weak, even from someone who clings to an outdated pseudonym.

High Court has just turned your iPhone into a crime scene

Remember when back in 2014 the government realised that having a law against people ripping their own CDs to put on digital players was absurd, and tidied up the law?

The High Court has reversed that change, and believes that if you own a CD and wish to listen to the music on your iPhone, you will meekly go online and pay for the thing all over again:

The ruling says that governments can't make exceptions to copyright law without compensating rightsholders for the "harms" from the changes; because the UK government didn't demonstrate that ripping CDs doesn't cause harm to rightsholders, and because it didn't impose a levy to compensate for "harms," the legalisation of ripping (which, incredibly, only took place in the last Parliament) is now invalid.
Yes, lawyers from the Music Industry have convinced judges that when Person A slips Now That's What I Call Music 56 into their drive, if they weren't doing that, they'd be somehow buying the tracks instead.

Obviously, it's a stupid decision, made by a legal system that has apparently never met a person, but it's also a ruling that will be completely ignored. It's not as if prior to 2014 people looked at their pile of CDs, looked at their iPod, and thought "well, if only the law recognised that I own the music and the only distinction is whether the digital playback is instantaneous or later, I could pop those on my device."

And it's probably for the best that the world will ignore this rule - the police force has been so hollowed out under Theresa May's rule that they can barely manage to turn up to a crime in progress, much less pop round on the rumour that someone has put their Clean Bandit single on their Galaxy G4, so it's going to make scofflaws of most of us.

But if the law was applied, the logical behaviour would be to say 'if I have to pay twice, well, screw that. The more flexible choice is to go with digital, so I shall stop buying CDs altogether, and instead go with cheaper digital versions. But hang on, as I'm not buying a physical album I only need to buy the two tracks I really want. Actually, come to that, why am I going to buy anything? I can just use my Spotify account if all I want to do is listen digitally."

Effectively, the big brains of the Music Industry have gone to court to argue that the added value of their premium product be outlawed. Maybe the judges aren't so out of touch - perhaps they've just come up with a smart way to fine an industry for its vexatious lawsuit.

This week just gone

The most popular search terms bringing people to No Rock this month:

1. "share some of your bookmarks with the world, and keep"
2. lil url generator
3. glyn jones arctic monkeys
4. erica lahn
5. salt and vinegar crisps
6. sam butcher
7. no rock and roll fun
8. simon bates
10. meg white net worth

Bubbling under: jaime harding, the value of university education, jason donovan tshirt iphone 4 case

These were this week's interesting releases:

Sarah Cracknell - Red Kite

Download Red Kite

The Selecter - Subculture

Download Subculture

Kathryn Williams - Hypoxia

Download Hypoxia

Keston Cobblers Club - Wildfire

Giorgio Moroder - Deja Vu

Download Deja Vu