Saturday, October 24, 2015

Joe Elliott doesn't like streaming services

Streaming services, amirite? They're like the work of a demon. A minor demon, perhaps, but a demon nevertheless. Tell us why, Joe:

"I signed up for the Apple one, Beats. It's kind of semi-evil, because whoever owns Spotify is worth more than 50 times than Mick Jagger, who's been in this business for 50 years. And that's just not right.
Mick Jagger, according to The Richest, is worth 360 Million Dollars. So to be worth fifty times that, you would have to be an eighteen-fold billionaire. 18 billion is roughly the GDP of Honduras.

Just to be clear: Daniel Ek is not Honduras. In fact, according to Time, he's worth 300 Million Dollars, which puts him behind Mick Jagger in terms of wealth.

Obviously, the point Joe was trying to make was that it seems absurd that a person who works in the tech industry is worth a lot of money compared with someone who works in the music industry for fifty years.

Although that doesn't make sense generally: it's not like the tech industry away from music is known for being a place where the bosses take home tiny pay packets.

It also doesn't make any sense in this specific case. First of all, it could be possible that Mick Jagger had just invested incredibly badly, or had been generous with his money.

Secondly, although Mick has been in the industry fifty years, Ek's not exactly a newcomer - he started when he was 14, so nearly twenty years, and he made a fortune selling his first advertising business. So it's not like he's built his money up entirely from not making Mick Jagger even richer.

Also: both these people have obscene amounts of money. Even if Daniel Ek was fifty times richer than Jagger, that would mean Jagger had six million dollars. You can buy a bionic man with that.

But you had a point, Joe, to make:
Because when you read stories about Lady Gaga getting 127 dollars for 60 trillion plays, or whatever, you're thinking, this is bullshit.
Well, yes, there were stories five years ago that GaGag got USD127 for a million streams - it's funny that Elliott was spot-on with the amount there, when so many of his other figures are grossly overestimated in favour of his argument, but then I think we all know people in our own jobs who do that.

But why was GaGa doing so poorly out of streaming? Not because of the semi-evil streaming services, but because of the fully evil record labels:
[In] some explosive comments made by Gaga's ex-manager Troy Carter. Carter states that Gaga's label, Universal Music, cheated the artist out of streaming royalties due to her from Spotify and other streaming services during the height of her pop popularity.

Carter, who is no longer handling Gaga's career but is active as a music and technology entrepreneur and investor, said, "We've always gotten screwed from record royalties ... So when you look at it, the live business and the merchandise business have always been the bigger piece of the pie. And with record labels, I think it's more of just chickens coming home to roost. Well, let's rephrase that: labels made a significant amount of money off of Spotify that didn't match up to the artist royalty statements ..."
How evil of Spotify to, erm, not be party to the main point where artists are getting ripped off.

Anything else, Joe? Do you perhaps have an "I can remember when it was all trees round here" argument to offer?
And when you get on Spotify, it's very insular. Which the whole industry has become. Everybody is on headphones now. It's just Zombieland, and we're all guilty of it. I do it too, but only when it's necessary, like on an airplane.
Yes. People listening to music on headphones. In the old days, people used to go to their bedrooms to be insular and listen to music. How can Spotify have ruined that by, erm, inventing headphones or something or... what?

Rob Halford loves a guy in a uniform

Rob Halford just did an interview with OC Weekly where they asked him, effectively, why he fancied squaddies. Like the Prime Minister at PMQs, he felt obligated to start by paying his respects to people in the services:

"Oh my god, this could be a book. There are two sides of this question to me. One of it is based on all of the things people in the military represent, which is the simple fact of keeping us safe in this troubled world. It's also the mindset of the military which has these virtues that mean a lot to me as a person and believing in the cause, in this case a United States Marine, or a Sailor or a Green Beret. There is something very potent and personal and very deep about that conviction, discipline and dedication which I love about their service. That's not just America, but anywhere in the world, really."
Not entirely sure pro-democracy Chinese or anyone else living in a military dictatorship would agree, but that's not really the question's point, is it?

What happens next is almost balletic as Rob trips and turns and jumps and skips to do the second half of his answer. As you read this, remember that all he actually is trying to say is "I have a type":
'm going to stop there, and go into a completely different direction and tell you that as a gay man, the United States Marine Corps has been very attractive to me. There is something very sensual about that branch of the military and ... this is great because I don't really know where my mind is going.

The fact that there are now gay men and women who can openly serve their country is a wonderful thing.

I think the Marine Corps also has a sense of masculinity. There was a U.S. president that said something about the USMC that really encapsulated these types of guys. I can't remember what it was. I think it's also possible it has to do with my own struggles as a gay man. Being a masculine gay guy, and please don't take that the wrong way either. I love all of my gay friends no matter how they appear, I'm trying to use that as an open reference. In my own journey as a gay guy in a straight band and a gay guy in a straight world and a metal world, I found the connection again through the Marine Corps.
Rob, it's okay to have a type. You really don't have to start invoking former Presidents of the United States because you fancy that sort of man. It's really alright.

Oh, you're back: Ugly Kid Joe

The trouble with the constant now is the sudden reunions of bands which you'd assumed understood that dying of shame was meant to be a once-and-for-all deal. Good god, Ugly Kid Joe have just released a new album. It's 2015, people. 2015. Ugly Kid Joe.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pandora pony up for pre-72 recordings

Before 1972, recorded music in America wasn't "protected" by copyright. Some streaming services have been taking advantage of this to stream vintage tracks without feeling the need to pay for the rights.

The RIAA wasn't happy about this, and so threatened Pandora with court to demand payment.

Before it came to this, Pandora was bullish:

In response, Pandora issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter: "Pandora is confident in its legal position and looks forward to a quick resolution of this matter."
The resolution was pretty quick, but, erm not in Pandora's favour:
Pandora Media Inc. will pay $90 million to record labels to settle a dispute over oldies, the Internet radio giant said Thursday.

The agreement with the group of labels -- composed of Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Capitol Records and ABKCO Music & Records -- resolves yet another major battle over royalties for recordings made before 1972.
So, are Pandora upset? Apparently not. Oh, no. This is, honestly, the outcome they were hoping for:
Pandora Chief Executive Brian McAndrews, in statement, said the company was "excited" to have the dispute resolved. "We pursued this settlement in order to move the conversation forward and continue to foster a better, collaborative relationship with the labels," he said.
Yeah. Thank god, eh? All they wanted to was make a massive payment and knock a fifth off their share price. That was all Pandora ever wanted. All they asked for. They're excited. Real excited.

Managerobit: Joe Moss

Joe Moss, manager of Marion, has died.

Alright, he managed The Smiths too. That might be more culturally significant.

As recorded in The Severed Alliance - Johnny Rogan's Smiths bio; the one which had Morrissey wishing death upon the author - Moss decided to call it a day after The Smiths appeared on Top Of The Pops and did a frenzied date at the Haçienda on the same day:

Joe Moss was also entranced by The Smiths' performance, but a flash of self-awareness prompted him to ponder some searching questions. "I always thought Top Of The Pops was diabolical and there I was jumping for joy because we were on it. What had happened to my standards? And what would happen later?"
For Joe Moss, 24 November was also an epoch, but one in which he could no longer be a participant. Having promised to remain with The Smiths until they "made it", he realized that his bargain had been fulfilled. "The commitment I could offer them was short-term. I'd already said to Johnny 'when I do go, if any questions are asked I'll say I had to get out for personal reasons.' He said 'no, say a little more than that, otherwise they'll think it's personal between you and the band.'
Managing The Smiths wasn't always fun, it turns out:
"It might be exciting being in a band, but it's not exciting to manage them. When I left, I left on what was an absolute high. It was the only way to go. I ran down the street shouting 'it's too late to stop now.'"
Moss was 72; he was brought down by cancer.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Russell Simmons debit cards fall flat

Russell Simmons' post Def Jam career has seen him running a debit card service for people who can't access ordinary banks, Rushcard. The cards already have a faint whiff of exploitation about them - Time in 2013 pointed out that the fees piled up really quickly for users - and now the cards have locked themselves up. Users have found themselves unable to access any of the cash locked into the card for over a week.

Yes, that's right. The sort of people whose hand-to-mouth existence means they can't open everyday bank accounts have been unable to access their money for eight days.

They're blaming a problem with an upgrade to a computer system, which everyone believes because there's no way that they'd have been able to roll that back, right?

Russell Simmons, to be fair, hasn't vanished. But he's... well, he's not exactly helping, either:

Oh yes. Praying. Nothing says "the company is just experiencing a mild technical problem" like the figurehead having to call in favours from God.

The company has promised a fee holiday until the end of February, although that will only become useful if people are able to access their funds before then.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Gene Simmons doesn't hold with all this modern stuff

Gene Simmons took time out from shouting at clouds to have a little rage at file sharing for killing rock. Let's hear him out, shall we?:

"The next KISS of the next BEATLES or whoever it is is not gonna come along, because there is no infrastructure. Here… Let's play a game. From 1958 until 1988 is thirty years. What have we got? Well, let's see… We have Elvis Presley, THE BEATLES, THE [ROLLING] STONES, Jimi Hendrix… the biggest bands of all time. And then in disco, you had Madonna, Donna Summer… all that. The biggest of all. And then in pop, you had Michael Jackson, THE JACKSON 5… all that stuff… and U2. And in heavy metal, you had METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN and all that stuff. Okay. And Prince and all that… From 1988 until today… give me the new BEATLES and the new STONES. Give me just one. You can't. Rock is dead. And the reason for that? Downloading and filesharing. When you stop charging for things, it becomes worthless. And there's gonna have to be a business model that's gonna have to change.
I suppose it's hard to argue that if you don't charge for something, it becomes worthless in a strict financial sense, but I'd have really liked to have heard from Simmons how filesharing stopped bands generating during the 1990s, before it became a thing. Maybe it's just such an evil force that it travels out in time in all directions.

Or, perhaps, rock started to look tired because people who had made some records ten, twenty, thirty years previously stuck around flogging branded merchandise off their reputation and strangled a lot of the creativity in the scene. What do you think, Gene?

Or, maybe, if you're looking for a 21st Century Madonna, and don't immediately think Beyonce, you're just too far from what's going on. Maybe discounting the whole R&B scene, maybe not thinking Kanye or Jay-Z are as culturally relevant as deep-reaching... maybe the problem is that you don't really recognise what the heirs of Presley look like, Gene.

'Cause there are great bands out there, but there's no support system." He continued: "You know, there's a ten-thousand-hour principle [the principle which holds that 10,000 hours of 'deliberate practice' are needed to become world-class in any field]. There's a book about that. Before THE BEATLES went into the studio to become THE BEATLES, they played clubs for ten thousand hours. That's years. You have to do something for thousands and thousands of hours before you get any good on it.
You're right, Gene, there is a book about the 10,000 hours theory. There's also - far more significantly - a study into it. It's bollocks.
Nowadays, instant gratification means you can hum in your shower, then wind up on 'The X Factor' and you're on television and you get a recording contract. But almost none of these singers who get recording contracts become huge. And that's because the taller the tree, the deeper the root that needs to be in the ground to hold up all that weight. So if you have a tree with no roots [makes falling hand motion]." Simmons added: "I love the new pop singers. I love Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. I've met them both. They're all great and talented… What's gonna happen when you're 40 and 50? Will it still work? That's the test of time."
What's beautiful here is Simmons suddenly realising that he's completely undermined his own argument by remembering Taylor Swift, so decides that she doesn't count as we don't known what she'll be doing in twenty years. Swift has been a jobbing musician for eleven years already, which means she's already been going for a year longer than The Beatles managed. Despite her career having happened entirely post-Napster.

But, still, always interesting to hear from you Gene. Good to know the opinions of the leader in the Branded Rock Merchandise Market.

Queensryche wants fans to understand a little more, condemn a little less

Queensryche, if they are anything, are surely uncompromising. Why, look at their new-ish album. It's called Condition Human and has tracks like Toxic Remedy on it. This isn't some hugging-and-learning operation, right?

Well... up to a point. The album, and current iteration of the band, hasn't really been embraced by fans, and that's given Todd La Torre so many feels:

"Everyone evolves, and tastes change, and no one should be faulted for that. So, in Geoff's defense — again, I don't know him personally — but I feel bad that our side and his side and anybody's side has had the harsh criticism… I mean, there's a difference between constructive criticism and unwavering, relentless bashing. I'm a human being, he's a human being… We're all just people at the end of the day, and we do have feelings. And I wish people would just exercise a little more altruism and compassion. Because people just say things with no filter and no regard, without thinking of the recipient on the other side. And at the end of the day, we just wanna write great music for people, and so does he. And, look, if the QUEENSRŸCHE fan base feels they have double the pleasure of music to listen to, then stop bitching and enjoy everybody's music."
This is pretty much the Wizard saying "actually, please do pay attention to the man behind the curtain. He's doing his best, right. Why can't the people of Oz just cut him some slack."

This week just gone

The most-read October stories, from any October:

1. RIP: Paul Walters
2. RIP: John Peel
3. RIP: Taylor Mitchell
4. Edith Bowman sheds clothes in the name of charity
5. When everyone believed Ronnie Hazelhurst wrote S Club 7 songs
6. RIP: Dainton Connell
7. Depeche Mode reunited. Let's hope it's not awkward
8. Brandon Flowers thought American Idiot was unpatriotic or something
9. People moaning about people moaning about people moaning about the Glastonbury ticket system
10. Pop papers: NME on Brody Dalle, Friendster & Pele.

This week's interesting releases:

Penetration - Resolution

Download Resolution

Tori Amos - The Light Princess

Download The Light Princess

Reverend & The Makers - Mirrors

Download Mirrors