Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NME prepares to join the free sheets

Tomorrow is the last day the NME will be trying to charge people money for their services; to mark the occasion they are inviting users to add page impressions wildly ("click through 50 best covers to vote for the best").

They've found space for Simon Cowell's 2009 cover. That's the standard we're going with.

Personally, although I always think the much-hated Youth Suicide issue was the best NME cover ever, and I have a soft spot for the Motorcycle Boy one which was a by-product of corporate meltdowns, I think the occasion should be marked with this one:

Yes, it was awful. But it's a key cover in the NME history, because it was the point where the magazine passed its point of no return.

Not just the WK cover choice - or that they added a second cover because they believed him to be so brilliant. But that does tell its own story - a magazine which would have once seen through his schtick desperately trying to laugh along, hoping it would catch up with the joke.

It's the rest of the stuff on the cover - you could argue what you're looking at it is an eclectic title offering a range of delights. But it's not, is it? It's a rudderless ship throwing not-very-interesting bits of every flavour in the hope something will catch. Travis. Oasis. ODB well past his best.

It wasn't a question of who is this title for, but why is this title here? And over the subsequent 14 years, there have been fluctuations in quality - the magazine got a lot better, and more interesting, and then less so, and then more so again. But that cover - Andrew WK, so good that he needed two covers that week; so poor he never got near the cover again - feels like the point where the paper moved from making the weather, to sheltering from it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A small round of applause

Hadley Freeman sticks up for Kate Moss in today's Guardian, and in the course of it says this:

I’ve heard and read plenty of tut-tutting about Moss’s alleged former drug use, with much headshaking about the global damage done by drug users and so on, and that’s just grand: well done on your “virtue signalling”, to borrow a useful term coined by the New Statesman’s Helen Lewis. Strangely, though, I very rarely hear such qualms expressed about, oh, let’s say, Noel Gallagher, who has talked frequently about his former cocaine abuse and yet now seems on the fast track to national treasure status, despite writing songs so boring I honestly believe they should not be played on the radio out of concern for drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Helly Luv is actually an edgy pop star

Time to catch up with Helly Luv, who makes most so-called edgy acts seem like the soft options they are:

She's Iraqi. That song is a direct attack on ISIS. And she insisted on making the video for it in Iraq.

All Things Considered have been to Iraq to find out how she's gone down there:

This week just gone

The top five stories last week:

1. Savage Garden's Daniel Jones seems quite lovely
2. Tim Worthington's guide to terrible protest songs
3. Music your neighbours like best
4. Three Doors Down are looking out for their fans
5. Lily Allen hires a trainer for her face

Last week's new releases:

Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals

Download Instrumentals

Samanthan Crain - Under Branch & Thorn & Tree

Download Sing Into My Mouth

Ben Bridwell & Iron And Wine - Sing Into My Mouth

Download Sing Into My Mouth

Tame Impala - Currents

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chris Brown: now free

Disappointing news for schadenfreude fans: Chris Brown is out of the Philippines:

Journalists saw Brown and around 10 others boarding his private plane parked at an airport hangar, with one taking a selfie before going into the plane.

Tan said Brown obtained the departure clearance at the bureau's extension office and not at the main office in downtown Manila where dozens of journalists were staking out.

She said the clearance was given after "verifying that Chris Brown has no other derogatory record apart from the (immigration lookout bulletin)" that was issued Wednesday.
No other derogatory records? Has she not heard Fortune?

It turns out Jar Jar Binks could have been even worse

According to Ahmed Best, who played the most universally despised figure ever to appear on film (and, yes, that's including Triumph Of The Will), his part in Star Wars nearly went to Michael Jackson:

"Me, Natalie Portman, and George's kids - we were at Wembley Arena at Michael Jackson's concert. We were taken backstage and we met Michael.

"There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. George introduced me as 'Jar Jar' and I was like, 'That's kind of weird.' Michael was like, 'Oh. OK.' I thought, 'What is going on?'

"After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big afterparty. I'm having a drink with George and I said, 'Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?"

"He said, 'Well, Michael wanted to do the part but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and make-up like Thriller.' George wanted to do it in CGI."
Best's theory is that Lucas didn't want to have Jacko in the film because his presence would have overwhelmed the movie. Which is a bit like someone taking a poo in the kitchen sink but moving the dishcloths first so it doesn't get too unhygienic.

How's Chris Brown getting on in the Philippines?

It sounds like he's not doing well, being held in the country over a contract dispute:

in his third video the 26-year-old was filmed on his knees and saying, "Please, please, let us leave, please,” suggesting Brown was becoming increasingly concerned about his situation. The video was captioned, "OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!" but has since been removed from his page.

Brown also published a series a panicked tweets denying any wrong-doing and claiming he was trapped in a “serious situation” that someone needed to be held accounted for.

I have nothing to do with anything going on right now. I came back to Manila to do a make up show for New Years. I did the show 3 days ago

This is a very serious situation and someone needs to be held accountable for mixing my name up in all this. I've done nothing wrong!!!
If only Chris Brown wasn't such a reprehensible person, it might be possible to feel sorry for him. Instead, it's just amusing. I'm guessing the plan is for him to be held in the country until he's given the nation entertainment to the value of the million dollars they say they paid him for the gig he never played.

Friday, July 24, 2015

No apology needed

There's no need to apologise, Seattle Times. Just no need.

Taylor Swift makes amends. A bit.

Shortly after Taylor Swift called out Apple on their attempts to make artists cover the costs of the three month Apple Music trials, Jason Sheldon pointed out that the terms she imposed on photographers weren't entirely fair, either.

While Apple crumbled overnight in the face of Swift's attacks, Swift has taken longer to respond to Sheldon but her people have just launched a new contract which goes some way to addressing Sheldon's worries.

The new contract does make clear that the camera people keep copyright on the pictures and will be credited if Swift or her team choose to use them on social media but it's still pretty restrictive.

Someone doesn't want Chris Brown to go

This must be a strange feeling for Chris Brown - normally, whenever he turns up people can't wait for him to bugger off again. In the same way the Queen believes all public buildings smell of paint, Brown must assume that everyone in the world is just about to go to bed at every point in time.

But at last, someone is saying 'don't go, Chris Brown. Don't go."

Unfortunately for Brown, it's the Philippines authorities and they're pretty much holding him because of a legal dispute.

Ironically, the dispute that's keeping him in the country is as a result of a time when he didn't turn up before:

Brown’s visit to the Philippines had appeared to be going smoothly after he performed a concert Tuesday evening in front of a crowd in Manila, the capital.

But that same night, authorities issued an order to stop any attempts by him to leave. It was put in place to compel him to pay money that promoters said was owed to them after he failed to appear for a previous appearance scheduled for last New Year’s Eve.
Brown is apparently confused by it all. That's not entirely surprising, though.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Leave it to Bieber

Tori Kelly is gathering on the horizon, with so many US entertainment franchises invested in her (Ameircan Idol, Star Search et al) we're probably not going to be able to avoid her.

I know what you're thinking - how will one so young cope with a sudden rush of fame?

Don't worry, she's got a sponsor:

At least Kelly, 22, doesn't have to feel overwhelmed – she has friends in high places who are eager to help guide her on her journey to pop super-stardom. Unsuspecting role model Justin Bieber took it upon himself to offer the burgeoning pop star – whose first album, Unbreakable Smile, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 – some advice on handling fame.
Yeah, advice on handling fame from Justin Bieber. I'm presuming we're looking at something along the lines of 'when you egg a house go at least two blocks down and don't do your neighbour' and 'when you're on the live link to give evidence, try and blink a bit so you look normal'.

Actually, here's what he said:
You've just gotta appreciate all these people here supporting you and like that's what it's about. It's about the people and it will go by so fast.
Is Tori sure that was Justin Bieber, only it sounds like my Aunt Maureen after the third Christmas sherry.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Is there any role in life which we can truly say is without value?

Yes. Yes there is:

Pop Star Lily Allen Hires A New Personal Trainer For Her Face
I'm opposed to fracking, but starting to think that anything which hastens the end for a species which has personal trainers for faces might have something going for it.

Three Doors Down - two thumbs up

There's not many occasions Three Doors Down deserve a standing ovation, but this time they do:

Three Doors Down singer Brad Arnold kicked a fan out of a show in Colorado on Tuesday after he spotted him pushing a woman in the audience.

The frontman halted the gig in Broomfield and urged security to escort the rowdy fan out of the venue.

He raged, “Hang on, hang on, hang on. Hey, hey homie. You don’t hit a woman. You just pushed a woman out of the way to get in a fight, you d—!

“Get him the hell out of here.”
It's not cool to hit anyone making your way through a crowd, of course.

Up until today, I'd have argued that being ejected from a Three Doors Down gig would be a badge of honour. Not any more.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bookmarks: Protest songs

Oh, Edwyn Collins, you might believe there's not enough protest songs, but Tim Worthington is disproving you all over town with his guide to ten of most ineffectual protest songs of all time. It somehow misses off Back To The Planet's Please Don't Fight, but does corral everyone from Bill Oddie to Bros:

Matt and Luke attempt to reverse their Dumper-wards trajectory with an impassioned gospel-inflected ecological plea delivered to some bloke eating crisps, warning that there will be no birds up in the sky unless 'we' stop 'it' now. Presumably the minor landslide of vinyl, cassettes, 'Postermags', badges, t-shirts, leather jackets, pilfered bottle tops and Summer Specials containing bizarre text stories about kidnappers plotting to hold Matt to ransom in 'our 'oliday 'ome' that they had left in their wake did not constitute part of the 'it'.

Do you wonder what music your neighbours like?

Not what music your immediate neighbours like, of course - that, thanks to poor building materials and high density housing you can't help but know as the dull thud of Heart FM trickles through the party wall.

But what music do the people of your town and/or city like? Spotify have created an interactive map which spits out a playlist of tracks favoured by people at any given postcode, and over at Quirker Michael Moran has been looking at it with his beautiful eyes:

For example, Hull's music selection shows quite a lot of love for local band The Beautiful South while down the road in Lincoln they're more promiscuous in their taste, taking in the likes of Spanish DJ Dr Kucho and Bristol duo Blonde.
If I were Spotify, I'd nip over to Hull and check that it's not actually members of The Beautiful South with a room full of iPads trying to boost their royalties, to be honest.

The Quirker piece has the full map, so you can decide - once and for all - which is the most godforsaken musical toiletbowl on the face of the planet.

This week just gone

Hotter than July - the most popular stories from any July:

1. Mariah Carey blames 9/11 for Glitter flopping
2. Noel Gallagher: If I was gay, I'd be the best gay
3. Tony Thompson: Cause of death
4. Mel B drops claims over 'sexual hijinks'
5. Pete Doherty runs to papers over loss of Kate Moss
6. Nick Lachey tries to block pap sex pix
7. Lee Ryan isn't gay
8. Ben Lee only wanted you to look naked
9. Panic At The Disco split
10. Sweden change 'free to copy for personal use' law that 90% of people weren't using anyway

These were last week's new releases:

Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes

Download Ghost Notes

Ezra Furman - Perpetual Motion People

Download Perpetual Motion People

Lucy Rose - Work It Out

Download Work It Out

Four Tet - Morning/Evening

Download Morning/Evening

Little Boots - Working Girl

Download Working Girl

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Daniel Jones seems quite lovely

news.com.au has caught up with Daniel Jones, the half of Savage Garden who didn't pursue a solo career. And he seems lovely:

Lucratively and uncommonly, the pair own the rights to their own music, which they haven’t put on streaming sites, and have remastered their albums and released a new singles compilation.

That has got Jones doing his first interview in many years, but he’s politely declined to send updated photos of himself, still happy to live off the radar.
Thankfully, the website resists the temptation to try and do one of those computer-aged photos which police use to try and track down missing people years later, allowing him to enjoy both his anonymity and what being in Savage Garden did for him financially:
I remind myself of the guy in that Hugh Grant movie Music and Lyrics where he inherited royalties from some old songs. Sometimes I feel like that character in that I’m still getting paid for something I did nearly 20 years ago. That in itself is quite amazing. But it’s how the beast works, it’s how residuals and royalties happen. I’m so appreciative of the fact I’m still getting paid today for something I did so long ago. I did it not to get paid, I did it because I loved doing it. It was that innocent. For someone today to still be putting their hands in their pocket and buying our music, I’m so honoured by that.
(About A Boy rather than Music And Lyrics, surely?)

So, what is he up to these days?
I still enjoy [music], I still write and record and play around with it purely for fun, the same way I did 20 years ago with Darren. But I don’t take it as seriously any more as far as the dream I dreamt. Which I realised wasn’t really my ideal dream. The dream I’m dreaming now is another one I’ve dreamt but I’m happy and that is a family.
I'm sorry, I think I stopped following that around the sixth or seventh dream. I think he's saying he's trapped in an Inception-like nightmare. (Actually, he's working in real estate.)

Although bands still working twenty, thirty, even fifty years in to a career is fairly inspiring, I think there's something a lot more impressive about musicians who have gone on to do something away from the glare of publicity and are quite happy about that.

Simon LeBon has sympathy for One Direction

Simon LeBon looks at One Direction. He know what they're going through. That was him, once. (Except Duran had to come up with ideas and make records and play instruments, but... you know what I mean).

Simon feels for them:

"They are a cash cow for so many people," he said. "There's a huge pressure to never take a break."
I'm not sure they're cash cows, are they? They're more golden-egg laying geese, which will be worked to death. And not slowly. Maybe battery hens.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Maroon 5 no longer heading for China

Maroon 5's planned dates in China aren't going to happen now. There's speculation as to why:

No official explanation has been given with a statement from Live Nation, the band’s promoter, alluding only to an unspecified “reason”.

The cancellations sparked speculation that a tweet sent by Jesse Carmichael, the group’s keyboard player, was responsible.

In the message, posted on July 4, Carmichael sent birthday wishes to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The musician reportedly attended a party celebrating the Buddhist leader’s 80th birthday in the United States.

The tweet, since deleted, linked to a photograph on Instagram that was also later removed.
It could be the tweet was the reason. What I suspect happened is someone in power actually heard Maroon 5 and started combing the social media output of the band looking for an excuse.

The Times used to be a serious newspaper

The horrible death of a child in an accident can be difficult. What's the correct way to react? How do treat the parents.

Here's a clue: you don't treat the parents the way The Times has just treated Nick Cave following the death of his son.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

50 Cent? He WISHES he had 50 Cent

50 Cent has declared himself to be bankrupt:

In papers filed with the US bankruptcy court in Hartford, Connecticut, on Monday, 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, reported assets and debts in the $10m to $50m range. According to the petition, 50 Cent holds primarily consumer debts, which are debts “incurred by an individual primarily for a personal, family or household purpose”.
If you'd like a full Ozymandias moment, might I suggest you turn your attention to 2009's Business Insider piece, 50 Cent's Massive Business Empire. There's a parade of the piles of cash which, it turns out, 50 Cent has managed to lose:
50 Cent, you'll recall, is the raised-from-the-dead, shot-9-times rapper, produced by Dr. Dre and Eminem.

But fame did not make him the big bucks, smart business moves did (Just ask Gary Coleman).

Once you're it, says 50 Cent, there is no time to rest on laurels. It's time to market the hell out of yourself – thus, getting more exposure.

Most importantly, you have monetize your popularity. From book deals to vitamin water to moisturizers, 50 Cent is dabbling in almost everything.
It's probably all that vitamin water which accounts for how he's pissed it all away.

Although is this bankruptcy quite all it seems?
The bankruptcy report arrives three days after a jury ordered the rapper to pay $5m to Lastonia Leviston, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, for buying her sex tape, editing it with his own narration and posting it online without her permission.
Nah, 50 Cent wouldn't file a bankruptcy claim just to avoid having to pay the money he owes to a woman who he humiliated "for a laugh", would he? Because that would be even harder to swallow than his foul-tasting Street King energy drink.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Who says boyband members aren't bright?

Faced with a demand for a £45 baggage fee when he tried to get on Easyjet with too much hand luggage, Rewind's James McElvar did what any sensible person would do.

He paid the £45 fee and got on board, deciding to take more care packing next time
He put all his clothes on.

Ha! That'll show Easyjet and their not-actually-unreasonable attempts to stop people cluttering up overhead bins with bags that don't fit, right?

How did it work out for him?

Not well, actually:

The Sun reports that McElvar wore 12 layers of clothing after facing an additional charge of £45 for having too many bags.

The newspaper states that McElvar "became violently ill and suffered a fit" with "an off-duty paramedic treat[ing] him as passengers looked on".

"I thought I was a goner and that I was having a heart attack," the singer told The Sun.

"The woman said either one bag went in the hold or we weren't getting on. The rest of the band had gone through so I couldn't give them any of the clothes. I was told I’d either have to pay a £45 fee to get it on the plane, get the flight the next morning, bin the clothes or wear them."
God help us if he ever gets let lose at an All You Can Eat Pizza Hut buffet.

This week just gone

Flashback: What people were reading on No Rock tenfive years ago today:

1. R Kelly video to be shown to jury
2. RIP: Daniel Cho
3. McFly take their clothes off
4. Torry from The Donnas has to retire
5. RIP: Sugar Minott
6. Rush unable to play in a storm; "fans" launch lawsuit
7. Ryan Adams gooses John Mayer
8. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling turn The Prisoner into a concept album
9. Won't someone think of the children?
10. Music versus porn

This week's releases were these, and they appear to be pulling double-duty with the shift to Friday:

Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes

Download Ghost Notes

Ezra Furman - Perpetual Motion People

Download Perpetual Motion People

Lucy Rose - Work It Out

Download Work It Out

Four Tet - Morning/Evening

Download Morning/Evening

Little Boots - Working Girl

Download Working Girl

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bookmarks: Wolf Alice

There's an in-depth interview with the lovely Wolf Alice over on DIY:

“Everything else is practice, in a way,” agrees Ellie. “I think those early years are so important. When we look back to our first few tours, when it was playing to ten people in Warrington, that’s really special to me.” What’s led them here, though, is a sense of belief. Even when members were coming and going, when Theo wasn’t taking to his chosen instrument and when Joel was playing live drums for the first time, Wolf Alice only happened because every member realised it was going somewhere.

Grande apologises again; might have more work to do

We've tried to stay aloof from Ariana Grande's whole 'licking doughnuts while saying I hate America' incident; and the botched apology.

But we can't sit idly by while she apologises for the first apology:

She says: ‘I feel like in the apology I posted, I missed my opportunity to sincerely apologise and express how I was feeling because I was preaching about my issues with the food industry.

‘Seeing yourself behaving poorly is such a rude awakening. I was so disgusted at myself.’
You could have seen yourself behaving poorly by watching the video through before you slammed it up on to YouTube. Just a thought.

Still, she's contrite now, right?
She goes on to say she behaved out of character, and that she understands she is being judged for her actions.

The singer ends with 'I’m human, I’ve still got a lot to learn and I still make mistakes.

‘I’m not making excuses, I am here to apologise’.
You might think "I'm only human and learning" is making an excuse, but I suppose we can consider this as close to a proper sorry as we're going to get. She doesn't actually apologise; she just says she's here to do it, but you have to take what you can get.

And let's be fair to her - her actions were driven by her disgust at the American food industry and its promotion of unhealthy lifestyles.

I wonder why she started with doughnuts, though? She could have started with the soda companies, the home of empty calories.

Why would she not have started her campaign with, oooh, let's say Pepsi?
Ah. Okay, so that might be a little awkward. How about the takeaway business, though? Maybe Grande could say something about how terrible all those fried chicken joints are. Perhaps she could do that on stage at an upcoming date. She's got some dates coming up, right?
Okay. Fair enough. Maybe licking doughnuts is all she can do without harming her bottom line.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Blur hanging around

The real disappointment about Damon Albarn having to be dragged off stage is that nobody actually pulled him off stage with a giant hook, along these lines:

On the other hand, as Blur have just launched an own-brand ice cream which you can buy in actual shops, maybe a gentle hook is too good for him.

Actually, judging by the unimpressed reaction to his Alice musical, it's possible a gentle hook is beyond Albarn these days.

65daysofstatic won't be your project

Catching up with a couple of stories from earlier in the week. First, the mighty 65daysofstatic were surprised to see themselves being named on a government press release:

So recently 65days received some funding from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). This is no doubt a good thing for us. It’s appreciated and will be put to good use.

The funding was announced yesterday in a press release over at gov.uk, in which we are named along with 18 other bands or artists, as beneficiaries of this public funding to help “export [our] music abroad”.

Sometimes when you list things alphabetically, numbers appear before ‘A’, and so 65daysofstatic is at the top of the list of bands and artists, and not far below a quote from Business Secretary Sajid Javid declaring that this Music Export Growth Scheme is the government “banging the drum” (see what he did there?) for music and the UK’s culture industries.

The idea of 65daysofstatic being held up in any way as evidence that this hyper-Dickensian, fucking nightmare of a Tory government is apparently supporting the arts, when in actual fact they are destroying any kind of infrastructure for future creativity at the grassroots level and plunging the most vulnerable parts of society into further misery, leaves a bad taste in our mouths. So here are some notes from us, just for the record:

• Spending public money on the arts is clearly not a bad thing. It’s better than spending it on Trident, bailing out banks, subsidising sketchy right-to-buy tactics to help private landlords get richer, and so on.

• Arts-based public spending is so often justified, as it is again in today’s BPI press release, as being ‘good for the British economy’ (“an approximate return on investment of £8.50 for every £1 invested”). This entirely misses the point of why we need to support arts and creativity in the first place.

• The press release mentions that this public funding will be matched by the music companies behind the acts. This is the first we have heard of this. Either this is accurate, which seems unlikely at least in our case because if any of the music companies we work with were actually giving us money for nothing, they’d presumably have told us about it. On the other hand, it could be that the idea is music companies ‘match’ the funding figure, but then that money is actually added to the band’s ‘recoup’ with them via a record deal or whatever. This also seems unlikely, as it would mean that, on paper, if it is ultimately the artist that is required to match whatever funding they get, then actually they’re not getting any help at all. (Unlikely, but this is the music industry we’re talking about). The third option would be that this ‘matching’ is entirely fabricated for the purposes of the press release, which would suggest that somebody, somewhere, is so scared of the wrath of the Daily Mail, or whoever, for having wasted money on something as frivolous as the arts, that they literally invented non-existent extra funds from The Music Business to give the illusion of an industry that is growing in rude, capitalist health. To make it clear that this is A Sensible Business Decision and not Commie-Liberal Hippy Indulgence. No idea which of these, if any, is true. But it is odd.

• Similarly, if they think that they’re gonna get 65 to “attend writing camps overseas to help boost the revenues that come from publishing and sync deals” they’ve got another thing coming. Presumably this is more empty press release wrangling; a well-intentioned arts-funding-proposal-writer somewhere knew what business-friendly buzzwords were needed to catch the ear of a business secretary who might understand that ‘publishing and syncs’ as opposed to ‘record sales and touring’ are the remaining deposits of wealth that need pillaging mining in the world of music. But how patronising and wrong-brained this patronage is, whereby acts are given song-writing classes about how to better grow and focus their ‘product’ in order to help grow the British economy. WHO THINKS LIKE THIS? Probably Mumford & Sons. In fact they probably run the writing camps on the grounds of their L.A mansions or something.

• The proposal that 65daysofstatic put in for this funding was based on a hypothetical budget for a hypothetical American tour. It is very expensive to tour in America, but we’ll be eventually be putting out a new album in the shape of our No Man’s Sky soundtrack and we would like to be able to afford to play shows in a country where that game appears to be receiving a huge amount of attention. (To ‘grow our brand’, in music industry parlance). This BPI funding covers maybe a third of the deficit of the budget. Meaning that this hypothetical tour still costs, rather than makes, a lot of money. Furthermore, the majority of these costs are travel-related, so almost all this ‘music’ funding will actually be going to airlines and oil companies. The rest will go to pay our crew (which is obviously right and proper) and to musical equipment hire companies. The only part of it that would come to 65 is what are called ‘PDs’ (per diems), a daily allowance for each of us to be able to buy food, coffee and sometimes, debauched rockstars that we are, extra beer and wine.
They also bring Taylor Swift into it:
But still, until musicians do start getting paid fairly (which will be never), you fear that the conversation will never move on. Thanks to Taylor Swift, 65daysofstatic will now collectively earn approximately £40 for the three months of free Apple Music streaming than we would have earned otherwise. And really, thanks Taylor, that’s cool, it’s honestly better than not-having £40, but did you know Apple only paid £12 million in tax in the UK last year instead of the estimated £400 million that they should have? If you could take that up with them next time you fancy fixing things for struggling artists, it’d be really appreciated. We’ll even do you a remix for cheap in return.
In passing, I think we'd all love 65daysofstatic doing a Taylor Swift remix. I'm not sure we'll get Apple to invest £360million for it to happen, though.

Ryan Jarman defends Courtney Love

Ryan Jarman launches into a spirited defence of Courtney Love in a blog for the NME freesheet.

There are a lot of grounds to call out people who attack Love - some are motivated by sexism; some forget that she has had a stack of challenges to deal with; just waving Celebrity Skin should be enough. Jarman's case, though, seems to rest on her being a chum:

I stayed at her place for a bit and it was such a fun time because Courtney is a total star and when you live with her she absolutely shows you that proper side of being famous. It's kind of trippy and amazing. To a newer generation of people, she still wields a lot of power because of who she was when they were growing up. She still conducts herself in the same way - she hasn't mellowed in any way. Absolutely, she is exactly as you'd expect and the way she presents herself in the public eye is not put on whatsoever.
That's lovely, but... it's not really a defence, is it? 'Don't slag her off because she's the same behind closed doors' would only work if the Love-Haters suggested she was fake, and I don't think even Courtney's strongest detractor has ever accused her of putting on an act. Indeed, many pops at her are motivated by concern that she doesn't change her behaviour when she's in public. Courtney Love has never been a woman with an Outdoor Voice.

The trouble with Jarman's defence of Courtney is that it simply ignores the missteps Love has made. Those - the throwing of bottles; the battles with Courtney Love the band; beating up David Gedge at Reading because he'd worked with Albini; tussling through the courts with the rest of Nirvana; the list goes on - are fair grounds to question some of her decisions. And those fair grounds have, over the years, become fairgrounds on which more extreme whack-a-Hole games have been established.

If you want to say 'it's gone too far' or 'she doesn't deserve all this', that's fine. But to do that effectively, you have to understand where it began.

If you love Courtney Love for who she is, and what she is, you have to understand that she's always been uncompromising.

And you have to understand that not being willing to compromise isn't going to endear you to a lot of people.

Ryan Jarman knows Courtney Love. I'm not convinced he knows people, though.

Monday, July 06, 2015

NME for free

The NME has confirmed, or admitted, that it is going to turn into a freesheet. It's a move that seems to be mashed up in some nonsense:

NME has today announced a major brand transformation.

As well as a new look NME.COM and new digital products, in September the famous NME weekly magazine will go free, with more than 300k copies distributed nationally through stations, universities and retail partners.

A statement to the media confirmed that music is "firmly at the heart of the brand" but there will also be "film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology".

The statement goes on to say that "NME will dramatically increase its content output and range, with new original as well as curated content appearing across all platforms, including print. Other highlights will include an expansion in live events, more video franchises and greater engagement with users on new social platforms".
You could see this as an announcement that, from September, NME will become a logo.

The idea of the magazine doing more than just cover music is interesting - obviously, it did that sort of thing very well back when it was about 75p a week, until people further up Kings Reach Tower saw what they were doing and locked them back down to just music. But we'll wait and see what they actually mean before we get too excited. I'm not expecting many 'Pat Kane on the semiotics of chocolate' style pieces laying around in a pile on the counters of Superdry.

Ben Cardew, who writes for the NME currently, isn't entirely convinced the magazine can pull off the trick:
The new, free NME faces significant challenges to reinvent itself as a musical gatekeeper for the digitally-enabled mass market. But the wave of emotion online – both positive and negative – in response to the news that it was going free shows that the magazine does at least continue to occupy a particular place in the British musical heart.

Then again, so did Smash Hits. And we know what happened there…
It feels like a radical change; much more radical than anything that's happened to the magazine since it abandoned newsprint. The first question is 'where will these magazines be available from'? The second is 'have they left it too late for this move?' The third is 'are they just going to be chasing the same advertising as the free Time Out with a similar sounding product'?

The fourth is: what is this doesn't work?

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: The stream flows uphill

Our old friend, Gennaro Castaldo - now chief insight-piper at the BPI - has popped up in Silicon Republic making excited noises about how streaming might help turn the decline of physical sales:

“The whole streaming thing, I think, has been a bonus that hasn’t been anticipated,” [he] says, suggesting that these UK results may well equate to similar findings in Ireland.

“It was thought it would carry on the digital trend. It has in one way, as more and more of us are doing it, but it has also permitted the idea that some people can buy music, too.”

Castaldo suggests streaming can actually be looked at as a shop window of sorts, pushing people towards actual purchases, although not to the level of before.

“No, it won’t be the mainstream activity, all of the time,” he said, “but there is potentially a new narrative where you can stream and buy physical. It’s allowing us to think of a new form of music consumption that might not have seemed possible when digital downloads had a decade of growth, fuelled by iTunes.”
The idea that people listening to music they don't actually own could lead to people going out and spending money on music isn't a crazy one. In fact, it's the same thing that most people spent telling the BPI would happen back in the days of the Napster Wars. The BPI wouldn't have it then, so it's nice that it's finally catching up to where everyone else was in 1999.

Obviously, there's a difference in a legal streaming service and a digitally sourced unlicenced track; the latter, the artist made absolutely nothing from the transaction, but with Spotify et al, the artist has to wait for a lot more transactions before their earnings reach even that level.