Friday, November 02, 2007

Users of "free" music buy more music, too - study

There's long been a defense - moral, if not legal - of people sharing music on peer-to-peer networks on the basis that they're probably the sort of people who buy more music than average anyway. Sure, it might be soft-stealing, but it's still your best customers.

Now, a survey has confirmed that to be true - at least in Canada. The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada has studied 2,100 Canadians and concludes:

our analysis of the Canadian P2P file-sharing subpopulation suggests that there is a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing. That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing. We estimate that the effect of one additional P2P download per month is to increase music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year

It's important to note that they don't find filesharing increases CD sales as an absolute, but filesharing appears to make filesharers more likely to buy more music.

In effect, it's something the labels should at least see as a positive good, if not actively encourage. Based on this survey, anyway. And anecdotal evidence. And common sense.

Avril Lavinge "surprisingly popular in Europe": MTV Europe awards

The MTV Europe Awards were mostly notable for the tale of two screw-ups: Winehouse and Doherty. Amy barely managed to make it through her song:

She accepted her award with a brief "Thanks" before walking off stage. Minutes later she stumbled through her song with a thin, wailing voice instead of the rich growl that has won her so many fans.

Winehouse appeared to have trouble remembering the words to her own song, her dancing was stilted and out of step and she was unsteady on her feet.

Babyshambles, though, were as polished as the Osmonds:
Pete Doherty, in the headlines for his self-confessed drug addiction and affair with supermodel Kate Moss, led the Babyshambles in a haunting rendition of "Delivery".

Asked what was behind this apparent change, he told Reuters: "Yeh, it's all different now. I don't know ... God, and melody."

Munich music fan Ina Rousseau and her friend Ana Jordan particularly liked Doherty's performance. "He was here. He was singing and not falling down," said Jordan, 26.

Not falling down isn't exactly setting the standard that high, though. Even Amy didn't quite fall down.

For European awards, the prizes went to a surprisingly surburban American idea of what's good music. Avril Lavigne won two, for example, despite her near-eclipse on this side of the Atlantic.

The winners in full:


- 30 Seconds to Mars

BAND OF 2007

- Linkin Park


- Nelly Furtado - Loose


- Rihanna


- Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend


- Tokio Hotel


- Muse


- Avril Lavigne


- Justice - D.A.N.C.E


- Amy Winehouse

Any prize ceremony in which 30 Seconds To Mars leaves clutching a trophy has contained within itself the detail of its own failure.

Shape up, musicians: EMI crack the whip

The new approach to the music industry from Terra Firma is now starting to roll out to the artists, as Guy Hands issues a memo calling on his roster to work harder. Presumably if they don't, Robbie Williams will find his job offshored:

Guy Hands, chief executive of Terra Firma, promised “fundamental change” in how EMI approached the music business, but warned that artists would have to meet their side of the bargain.

“While many spend huge amounts of time working with their label to promote, perfect and endorse their music, some unfortunately simply focus on negotiating for the maximum advance . . . advances which are often never repaid,” he wrote in an internal memo this week.

Once EMI’s own standards had been raised, he said, it could be more selective: “It will be open to us to choose which artists we wish to work with and promote.”

Of course, there's no reason why EMI shouldn't choose to work like this - dumping the model of signing as much as possible, and cross-subsidising the failing artists from the monies made by the top acts. But whenever the RIAA complain about filesharing, they always stress how their labels need to sell the big artists in order to pay for the ones who don't hit. So that'll be a line they need to drop, then.

More importantly, if EMI aren't chasing new, young artists and choosing only to work with "hard-working" (i.e. proven) acts, where do they propose to find them? The only attractions of signing with a major have been the advances and the distribution - clearly, you don't need EMI for its network of CD plants and warehousing any more; if they take the support for artist development out of the mix, why would anyone want to do a deal with them?

Led Zep give gig the finger

The long-awaited Led Zeppelin reunion gig is going to be slightly longer-awaited: Jimmy Page has broken a finger.

It's all a bit strange, though:

A spokesman said the band had not revealed which finger was affected or how the fracture occurred.

They're not even revealing if Page has broken one of his own fingers, or one on someone else's hands.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mills dumped by PR advisor

You know, it's kind of curious that Heather Mills should rail quite so strongly against Rupert Murdoch's papers when she'd been paying for PR services from Phil Hall, who had worked for Rupert as News of the World editor.

Had been paying, mind: Hall has walked away now, opting to not be part of the current campaign:

"We are still mates but I am not working with her any more," Mr Hall told

"Yesterday, she said she wanted to do this TV campaign attacking newspapers, but I have a good relationship with newspapers and my business depends on feeding that good relationship," he added.

"She wanted me to orchestrate this campaign and make calls to newspapers but I have got friends and mates in national newspapers and it didn't seem right to make those calls and attack them."

Interesting he was there in the first place, though, isn't it?

Heather Mills, sobbing on GMTV about how she was an "ordinary person" while having a former tabloid editor advising her on media relations?

Heather Mills, disgusted by the Sun, while employing the former editor of their sister paper.

Heather Mills, comparing her treatment by the press to the way Diana Windsor was treated, while employing a man who told ITV he felt he had a "huge responsibility" for what happened to Diana?

Heather Mills, crusader for public protection from the worst excesses of the tabloid press, while having her PR handled by a man who cheerfully admitted using pretty girls ("Hall's angels") in entrapment set-ups to "expose" the behaviour of Tom Parker-Bowles?

No wonder Hall is backing off from the latest campaign. As humbug goes, this is something of a gobstopper.

Rockies settle ticket claim

The Colorado Rockies had a few problems with their ticketing for their World Series run when they put them on sale last week - in a disaster that recalled the worst days of Glastonbury, the server fell over (or, if you believe the baseball team, "fell victim to a malicious DOS attack") and there was great upsetment.

Jeff Sobieck was one who was upset; he'd got a confirmation that his purchase of 12 tickets had been successful before the system went down and he launched a lawsuit. The Rockies have settled this out-of-court. The size of the pay-off hasn't been revealed, but Sobieck had been seeking money to cover the amount he could have sold the tickets on for as damages.

In other words: despite the resale of tickets for higher-than-face-value being illegal in Denver, the club has paid off a scalper for loss of earnings on tickets he never received.

Even more curiously, the team has done this despite a 1917 law in the city which would have made it illegal for them to grant entry to anyone who they knew had bought Sobieck's tickets from him:

Denver's ordinance also has prohibited the operator of a ticketed event from selling tickets to anyone who would resell them at a premium, and has made it operators' responsibility to refuse to honor tickets purchased from scalpers, brokers or speculators if the operator "has knowledge of the unlawful purchase of such ticket."

And Harvey Goldsmith thinks the UK ticketing system is unworkable. Surely by revealing that he intended to resell them, Sobieck had effectively made the tickets he hadn't bought in the first place totally valueless?

Not in Nottingham again: Arcade Fire bottled

Nottingham is unlikely to see a gig by the Arcade Fire in the future, after the band were hit by bottles during their Nottingham Arena show. Although it's possible Win Butler was hit by a shoe rather than a bottle, but the point remains the same.

More on Mills...

Heather is currently on NBC, complaining about the way the media rips into people's reputations while - simultaneously - suggesting that Paul McCartney is a bit mean when it comes to his charitable donations and hasn't done enough to protect her from the beastly press.

Meanwhile, does Mills really think that You Care is the best way to air her grievances against The Sun? It's somewhat histrionic, calling the paper "the so-called Sun", as if - amongst the real problems with some of its content - it's somehow passing itself off as a giant fireball at the heart of a solar system.

It's been put together by Mills' sister, and finds time to buff Heather's halo a little on the way:

It is high time we took a stance and made a decision not to accept modern day stoning of anybody, never mind someone that has only tried to help the lives of animals and men, women and children for the last 17 years.

More to the point, if you're claiming the moral high ground and calling for unbiased reporting, shouldn't you at least mention that The Sun has apologised for its coverage of the Hillsborough deaths? You may wish to add you feel it was an economically-motivated apology, you might also choose to say it was too little, too late. But not even mentioning it might look a little like... oh, could it be misrepresentation?

Mills - she doesn't even speak proper, either

A slightly bashful Times explains this morning why it couldn't find the website Heather Mills was talking about:

— Thanks to GMTV for providing soft southern journalists with a transcript of yesterday’s interview with Heather Mills. We were all, obviously, confused by her continual reference (in her thick, Geordie brogue) to the “” website. “Please note,” says a press release, “the website Heather Mills refers to in her interview with GMTV is actually”

And, a slightly bashful No Rock and Roll Fun thanks the commenters who pointed out that Jonathan Ross did - jokingly - call her a fucking liar. But at the Q Awards, so it's not like it was in public.

Rock and roll and... oh, soddit

Meat Loaf seems to have grown tired of himself, leaving the stage in Newcastle halfway through a song last night. The audience insist he said he was quitting, by the man who's booked him on his current tour is desperately denying that:

"I've spoken to his doctor, and it's clear it's just exhaustion and stress," said Andrew Miller. "It's not his last ever gig, that's for sure."

"He'll be fine," he said. "We hope that 24 hours rest will get him better."

He added that claims the singer had told the audience it would be his "last ever gig" were "totally unfounded".

"I was backstage with him last night and he apologised, saying 'I'm just exhausted.'"

We know he's got to remain upbeat, but if Loaf is so "just" exhausted he's walking off stage half-way through a song, is it entirely fair to expect him to complete the rest of his dates on this tour? Won't that increase his levels of "just" exhaustion and "just" stress?

Managerobit: Linda Stein

The former Ramones manager Linda Stein has been murdered.

The former wife of Seymour Stein - they met on a blind date - Linda co-managed the Ramones during a period when she and her husband worked together on the Sire roster. After the pair divorced (they remained close friends) Linda reinvented herself as an estate agent, earning the sobriquet "realtor to the stars" after rehoming the likes of Sting and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

New York police say Stein was bludgeoned to death in her home on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday night.

Borrell moves onto your screen

The news that Razorlight's Johnny Borrell is set to appear in a movie with Robert Carlyle called The Meat Trade makes us wonder: whatever happened to Damon Albarn's acting career, then?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Prep for lashes

A visual treat over on the Creative Review blog: a look at Dougal Wilson's sketchbooks, showing the process of creation for Bat For Lashes' What's A Girl To Do video.

Oasis prepare a new collection

It's funny, you know, although Oasis have only just gone into the studio, it's like we can hear the album already.

Oh, hang on. That's a bunch of bored teenagers playing Obla-di, Obla-da in the next room.

Noel has much to impart about the new record:

"We all write separately, but for some reason all the songs sound like they've got a common thread," he said. "We've been focusing 'round the grooves more this time."

Goodness, everyone in Oasis writes stuff that ends up sounding the same. Whoever would have thought? And "round the grooves"? Good... however horrific that may sound... horror... halloween... pumpkins...

The dark side of equity EMI

While the approach to the customer-facing business of Terra Firma's EMI has been encouraging, the nasty underbelly of private equity buyouts is still there: hundreds of jobs are being threatened as the company looks to balance its high-debt buyout; it's also seeking a range of partners to spread the risks across.

If only Snoop could save us

What is responsible for the rise in gang violence in the UK? Apparently, the ban on Snoop entering the country:

"I really wanted to be a voice to stop gang members ‘cause they respect me enough to get into a room with me. By not permitting me they're saying they just don't want me to solve this situation.

"It's not the fans, it's just a few people in white wigs and members of parliament. They got a problem because the judicial law is from the 1800s."

Oddly, though, America - where Snoop lives - also has a problem with gang violence which, oddly, Mr. Doggity Dogg hasn't been able to "solve". In fact, if memory serves, Snoop was unable to stop his own entourage from attacking staff in the BA first class lounge at Heathrow, the reason he's banned from the UK in the first place. Perhaps if Snoop solved some problems closer to home, the white wigs might be more amenable to giving him a chance to try to sort out England?

Mills: The media is just beastly

Sobbing on the GMTV sofa, Heather Mills tells how terrible the media has been to her:

“I have been offered nothing, OK? Nothing! We go to court over my daughter. I’m not allowed to talk about it because it’s a criminal act if I talk about my daughter. You have no idea what’s going on. These figures are made up. £100 million, £50 million, £20 million … How do you know if I even want any money? I’m £1.5 million in debt in lawyer’s fees. And that’s as much as I can say or I go to jail for telling the truth. So I’m gagged at the moment because I’m not allowed to say a word while the media are fed this spin by a certain corner.”

How do we know if she wants any money... hmmm, perhaps because if you didn't, it's unlikely that there would be constant deal-or-no-deal meetings in court. Unless we're expected to believe that McCartney is trying to force money on Heather and she's trying to argue her way out of it?

So, there's a big court order banning Mills from "talking about her daughter", then. Only, when she's asked if Paul is trying to enforce a permanent ban on her doing media interviews, she snorts:
“It’s rubbish! I could sell my story right now. I’m trying to protect Paul and our daughter.”

So, she could sell her story right now despite it being a "criminal act" if she talks about her daughter. That makes sense, then.

And then Mills just gets weird:
My sister was crying her eyes out because that awful Jordan and Peter Andre did a joke on Sunday and I’ve had six amputee girls crying their eyes out because they’re getting bullied at school because people are joking about the loss of my limb. Jonathan Ross said, ‘She’s such an effing liar. We’ll find out she’s got two legs instead of one'.”

Ross called you a "fucking liar"? Really? When? Or are you, you know, making things up in the media? And even if the "crying amputee girls" are being bullied because of you (and are there really children who wouldn't bully kids different from themselves until Mills started divorce proceedings?), isn't there something horribly cynical about throwing them into a GMTV interview?

But that's not as low as Mills sinks: she then compares herself to the dead of Hillsborough:
“I’m not fighting the press, I’m going to the European Parliament. And we’ll change the law like I did with a group of like-minded people where they have to have responsible journalism! They’ve pushed so many people over the edge. Extraordinary people have written to me. Look at Hillsborough; look at them saying, ‘They looted the pockets of the dead bodies’ when they were trying to find IDs to find out who they are! They urinated all over them.

She went on to say: “My plan is to change the law in the European Parliament and I will do it. I’m fed up with a specific portion of the media. Some of them are still supportive, but some of them that are abusing me. I will investigate every single one of those journalists.”

Every single one, eh? Blimey. You're going to be busy.

The Times isn't exactly quaking in its boots:
She directed viewers to the website to find out more about her petition. Times Online was unable to find any reference to the campaign on the site.

We can understand Mills being frustrated by the way the media portrays her, but this isn't the correct response. Comparing herself to, say, the McCanns - and she does - and the attempt to elevate her victimhood to martyrdom has the net result of leaving herself looking absurd.

Oddly, despite the media being so terrible, she has, you know, used it to her advantage:
For six years, when I lost my leg, I was the model that overcame adversity, inspired other amputees to get on with their lives. Front page of all the newspapers. The Sun, "Model of Courage". They serialised my book. I told my whole life story in my book. It all went to charity. The Sun had it there. I talked about my glamour modeling when I was a teenager.

Ah, but apparently, this doesn't count because she was doing it for charidee:
I haven't used the press for anything except my charity. When did I promote a record? When did I act for anything?

Um... Dancing With The Stars? Guest-hosting Larry King Live? Doing, ooh, GMTV interviews?

[UPDATE: Thanks to all the commenters who pointed out that Ross did, actually, call Mills a liar. Sorry we didn't believe you, Heather. And the Times has explained the website]

Reznor: We are the pigs

Amongst the evil, evil music-hating users of the OInK filesharing network - and, indeed, outing himself as a user - is one Trent Reznor:

I'll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often. At the end of the day, what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store. Pretty much anything you could ever imagine, it was there, and it was there in the format you wanted. If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn't the equivalent of that in the retail space right now. iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great.

It's a fair point: who isn't tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up? Perhaps Steve Jobs should be looking at inviting people to create an iTunes store front that feels more like, say, a Fopp than a Zavvi. At the very least.

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]

Liverpool lands third-most important MTV promotional exercise of 2008

The MTV Europe Awards - second only to the MTV Video Music Awards, if you don't count the MTV Movie Awards when it comes to promoting the declining MTV brand - is coming back to the UK for 2008, when it'll form part of the glittering Liverpool Capital of Culture year:

"Not only is it the European Capital of Culture next year but the influence of its rich musical heritage is still felt today," producer Richard Godfrey said.

It's obviously those reasons that Liverpool has been chosen. Oh, and because the host city pumps money into the event - the last UK staging, in Edinburgh, saw costs spiral out of control and a large chunk of the money paid by the city clumsily hidden from the initial figures. Not, of course, that the Liverpool Culture Company would find itself in such a situation.

Leona Lewis doubles up

Curious: A company called UEG has got hold of a bunch of Leona Lewis demos and is planning to release them at the same time as the "official" Lewis album. Cowell and his team aren't happy:

Last night a source in Leona’s camp said of the compilation: “These are unfinished tracks and UEG are clearly attempting to exploit Leona’s success.

“Our team is looking into this. We are concerned that her fans could be ripped off by a bootleg product.”

UEG, for their part, say the tracks were ones Lewis had been working on with them before she won X Factor and said goodbye to them; they're just trying to make back their investment.

That's not what's curious, though. What is curious is that Bizarre is running a taster of the UEG record, The Best Kept Secret, and Victoria Newton is providing positive reviews of the product. Is The Sun really backing a product which will cause upsetment in the X Factor camp? Or is there something all a bit stunty going on here?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. Again.

Britney has got enough on her plate already, and now she's gone and annoyed God. Or at least the Catholic League, who are upset by the pictures on the sleeve of Blackout. They're miffed that she appears to be taking something a lot of Americans have held dear for a long time, and is trying to twist it to her own ends.

"She shouldn't be doing this", said one. "Clumsy photos of half-naked women cavorting about churches with confused priests have a deep and spiritual meaning for Madonna fans. For Britney to try and take these images and use them to promote her own album is demeaning not just to Madonna, but to all who still believe in her."

Oh, hang about... they didn't. They said this:

"This girl is crashing," League president Bill Donohue told New York's Daily News. "She's not even allowed to bring up her own kids because she's not responsible enough. Now we see she can't even entertain."

Kiera McCaffrey, the League's director of communications, told MTV News on Tuesday (October 30, the album's release date) that the League considers the photos a "cheap publicity stunt that is a way to get people to talk about Britney Spears' album without talking about her music, which is what they should be focusing on. All we see is how troubled this girl is now, especially with her family, losing her kids, with her career on a downward slide. And now she's put out this album and this is her tactic to promote it? She should be focusing on singing and dancing and trying to be an entertainer without mocking a Catholic sacrament."

Frankly, if you could get Britney to focus at all, on anything, it'd be something of a minor miracle in itself.

Still, well done, Kiera - you spotted that the photosession was little more than a cheap way to get people talking about the album and generating a publicity buzz. Well done for not falling into Britney's trap by talking about it to the media... oh.

Prices drop off a Cliff

You wouldn't have had Cliff Richard down as a man desperate to embrace the new - especially with his battle to try and preserve copyright on recordings he made back when he had motile sperm. But he's dipping his toe in the water by offering his next mainly-back-catalogue collection at a price which will become smaller the more people who sign up for it.

Of course, this is almost the same mode of pricing used by PriceDrop TV, and we imagine that many Cliff Richard fans will crossover with the television shopping crowd, so it makes some sort of sense.

Once again, it's EMI who are experimenting:

EMI Catalogue director Steve Davis said: "We feel this initiative will not only encourage them to download the album but also encourage their friends and peers to do the same because the more they do, the cheaper it becomes."

Unfortunately, there is a basement price set beyond which the cost will not fall, presumably to discourage people from signing up for several thousand copies to push the price down to a penny.

More top talent for commercial radio

The Welsh branch of XFM has announced which local presenters will be called upon to provide a semblance of not being beamed from a London HQ when it goes live at the end of next month: two of Goldie Lookin' Chain and Stuart Cable. Who, you know, are nice enough people but further confirm that XFM has long since abandoned any semblance of being in any way associated with new-edge music and are, instead, content to cater to the Young Dads market.

Chill words for the music industry

Commercial radio in the UK is looking to cut its costs - and is targeting transmission and copyright costs. Especially copyright costs, says Radio Centre chief executive Andrew Harrison:

"Copyright fees total around £60m for the sector. The current arrangements are up for renegotiation as from 2008.

"This will be a tough negotiation but, from drawing comparisons with how copyright fees are levied in other countries around the world, it may well be an area where we are able to find a more favourable balance."

In other words: they don't want to pay as much for music anymore.

Mind you, the record companies might feel they have a slightly stronger bargaining position on this one - Capital Radio can't suddenly swap to putting out more speech if they suddenly lose rights to music.

Harrison also hopes that the BBC licence fee settlement might work in their favour, too:
"The BBC now finds itself under considerable cost pressure. Their ability to buy the biggest and best in terms of talent is significantly reduced," he added.

"Most of the on-air BBC talent started in commercial radio before being lured over by big salaries. Our biggest competitor has been tamed - slightly."

"Most" of the on-air talent? Is that true? And of the names - like Moyles - who did leave the commercial networks to join the BBC, how many had a Jonathan Ross style package dangled in front of them compared with the numbers who just fancied working for a broadcaster who doesn't use such strictly formatted shows?

NBC admits: Hulu is designed to gouge cash from viewers

It's always been hanging in the air, of course, but as NBC/Fox's Hulu service finally dribbles into private beta mode, it's refreshing to see a senior NBC executive admit that the whole point of Hulu is to do little more than to try and extract more money from consumers.

The network's Chief Executive Jeff Zucker told a breakfast meeting:

that it was “a relatively easy decision” for NBC to walk away from the Apple download service because it had only earned about $15 million from the service last year in spite of accounting for about 40 per cent of the videos sold on the store.

He said NBC routinely propositioned Apple to breach its standard pricing model and experiment with higher pricing for one hit show such as “Heroes” by raising the price from the iTunes standard $1.99 to $2.99 on a trial basis.

“We wanted to take one show, it didn’t matter which one it was, and experiment and sell it for $2.99,” he said. “We made that offer for months and they said no.”

In other words: the only reason why Hulu exists is because NBC doesn't like you getting your video for a a price it can't dictate. $2.99 isn't a pricepoint that would be achieved in a free market; NBC is trying to create a monopoly. And for that reason alone, we should all hope Hulu flops.

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Always happy for a new way to blacken the name of Heather Mills - dubbed Lady Mucca because of the desperate need to rubbish her at every turn - The Sun is now claiming she kills dogs.

Or, at least, they've given space to one of Mills' neighbours who claims the death of her dog was caused by Mills' firework party:

The 20 minutes of bangs and flashes — which came without warning in a quiet rural area — also caused 15 of her horses to stampede in terror, as animal rights activist Mucca and pals sipped champagne.

See? Sipping champagne while she went round killing dogs and upsetting horses. Does the woman have any shame?

Although, of course, the dog died from bloat on Sunday morning, rather than "from fear" during the Saturday night, and canine gastric dilation-torsion seems to be caused more by breeding and the way the animal eats than by the creature being stressed. It is, of course, horrible to lose a pet; it may even be that the fireworks played some role in increasing the discomfort of the animal's last hours. But it's surprising to see a national newspaper working a terrible coincidence up into a story of this sort.

Britney: Now Kentucky intervenes

As her management, record label and family have failed at helping Britney sort out her life, who will now stand by her side?

Southland Christian Church in Kentucky, thats who. Their pastor, Jon Weece, has asked members to send a brief letter to Britney:

"Take a few minutes and write a note to Britney Spears. No preaching. No criticizing. Just love. As a church, let's love Britney the way Jesus loves her."

Or at the very least, try not to hate her the way God would appear to, judging by the way He's treating her these days.

Bombing back: The B-52s

There hasn't been a B-52s album for 16 years. That's forever, of course, if you're still too young to get a driving licence.

However, inevitably, the inaction is about to give way: they'll be releasing Funplex on February 26th. We presume the name is intentionally awful.

Yikes! Don't let me get me...

Pink is having a try at acting, dipping a cautious toe into things by taking a role as a horror movie victim in FearNet's Catacombs drama, an online treat for Halloween.

As the victim, though? Surely Pink's more the sort to be kicking butts rather than being the prey?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Last night, Jackie Chan came round

Who knew - besides, you know, the Entire Population of China - that Jackie Chan was a successful singer as well as good at making movies with kicking in them? It's made him the natural choice to record the official song of the Beijing Olympics which - smog permitting - take place next year.

Here is having a crack at something from Disney's Mulan:

He appears to be more powerful than mannered in his delivery, but that might be appropriate for the Olympics.

Stars go out

Filling up the 2008 calendar, Stars have announced a UK tour:

Thursday 24 January – DUBLIN – Tripod
Saturday 26 January – ABERDEEN – Moshulu
Sunday 27 January – GLASGOW – Oran Mor
Monday 28 January – BIRMINGHAM – Barfly
Tuesday 29 January – LONDON – KOKO
Wednesday 30 January – BRISTOL – Thekla Social
Thursday 31 January – MANCHESTER – Academy 3
Saturday 2 February – NOTTINGHAM – Rescue Rooms
Sunday 3 February – SHEFFIELD – Leadmill
Monday 4 February – BRIGHTON – Concorde 2

Get a degree in Mellow Yellowing

It's one thing for Donovan to decide to launch an "international meditation university". But quite another to decide to call it The Invincible Donovan University, which places the idea firmly on the ridicule-agenda.

Invincible Donovan seems to be aware this might leave him open to being scoffed at by small children in the street:

"I know it sounds like an airy-fairy hippie dream to go on about '60s peace and love. But the world is ready for this now, it is clear this is the time."

So... the world is now ready for the 1960s. Which means that we'll be just about in a position to accept the Clash by sometime in the early 2020s.

Invincible Donovan is basing his idea on the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:
"The Maharishi told me during that 1968 visit that I should build a university in Edinburgh. I went to my room and drew a beautiful dome-shaped place of learning," he said Friday.

"I didn't know what to do because I couldn't do this on my own. But then I met David Lynch, who told me about the positive effects of TM in education. Although it's taken me 35 years, I will do what the Maharishi told me to do."

Oh, yes. David Lynch. For some reason, Lynch doesn't get above-the-line billing for the university, but he does stress how it's going to be good news for the Scottish Parliament:
"For a country the size of Scotland it would take only 250 students meditating to protect Scotland from its enemies and to bring peace, to stop violence and drug abuse," Lynch said. "That is just a byproduct of the students meditating together."

It's unclear if English border towns, like Berwick, will also benefit from the overspill of meditation, or if they're going to have to wait for Martin Scorsese and Tom Jones to open an operation south of Hadrian's Wall.

Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood

Roisin Murphy has had eye-socket surgery after banging her head on a chair during a Moscow gig.

Spokespeople attest to how yukky the accident was:

A spokesman said she lost "a lot of blood" and had severe concussion, but her vision was unaffected and she was "recovering well".

As a result of the need to rest - presumably to stop her eyeball falling out onstage - this week's dates on her European tour are being re-arranged.

Departing the web

Music-and-movie webzine Stylus has gently announced its closure after six years. It's wrapping up on Halloween.

Lost Virginity

The now-no-longer-part-of-Virgin Virgin Megastores have snuck out a glimpse at their new, Zavvi branding. The corporate look is living up to the new name, then.

[via DJ Martian]

Shake Appeal reunite

This band reunion comes from the list on the side of the groups we're actually quite excited to see back: Adam Franklin has confirmed that Swervedriver are doing some touring next Spring, with a possible Coachella swing-by on the agenda.

In case you need an audio prompt, here's Sandblasted:

Morrissey doesn't appreciate a joke

Kristeenyoung, who had been enjoying support slots on Morrissey's US tour, are enjoying the slots no more. Kristeen from the band made a little gag about Mozzer, he heard and didn't crack a smile:

"Morrissey gives good head, I mean, er, cunnilingus..."

That, apparently, was enough for the band to be kicked off the tour.

Kristeen blogs about the event:
My band, KRISTEENYOUNG, have been asked to leave the Morrissey tour. Although I have been advised not to respond or issue a statement, my feelings are that I must. We have been asked to leave because of something I said on stage at The Hammerstein Ballroom, in New York City, this past Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the statement has been perceived as being profane (when, actually, one of the two words in question is a scientific term found in junior high, health class text books, and the other word, I feel most would agree, is lightweight slang) or defamatory. What I said was part of a thread of stage statements I made throughout our set. They were metaphorical and overstated to make an artistic point. The "offending" statement, in particular, was in no way a literal statement, and was very much in keeping with the tone of my writing in general. I reach for beauty and intelligence in my lyrics, but try to retain a bit of the everyday in them. Maybe the statement was a bit TOO everyday. Maybe I misjudged… but I meant no harm. I love Morrissey with all of my heart, soul, body, spirit, to the core of my existence and always will. These will be the only words I will ever write or speak on the subject ever again. Please don't ask for an interview or e-mail me with questions. Thanks to those who understand and who are brave enough to say so.

The band's fans are responding with suggestions that Morrissey was behaving in a homophobic - rather than humourless - fashion, which is clearly misguided; the real scandal is the "advice" given to Young that she keeps her mouth shut on the subject. Mozzer comes out of this looking rather pathetic

Download the Love

Helen Love's next album has been shoved back - somewhat comprehensively - until February 2008; unless you live in Spain where it'll still appear in November. The rest of the world will have to make do with a single on November 19th, and a members-only-online-download special, which has been explained in the forum mailout as working thus:

Sign into the website forum, and click on the members only section. There you can download the vinyl appreciation society that is our new song - JULIES GOT A NEW 7INCH SINGLE (SID JAMES DEMO VERSION).

OK, so this isn't on vinyl either, but it does come with the added bonus of a DIY print-it-out and colour-it-in cd sleeve. You can't say fairer than that.

Looking into the eyes of the Big D

Adding his voice to those worried about the future of Amy Winehouse - Simon LeBon. Did she not listen to his warning when Duran covered White Lines? How could she ignore such a message?

"Any kind of drug conviction can get you banned from America and Amy has the potential to be massive over there.

"This is her time, her moment, and I'd hate to see her waste it."

Yes. It'd ruin her chances of winning a Grammy, if she died from a crack-smack-overdone-overdose, wouldn't it?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Simon Cowell owes a shedload of chld support

There can hardly be a moist eye in the house as Simon Cowell reveals he's the world's father figure:

"I've got about five million kids in the world at the moment - all the kids that watch our shows."

Oddly, this makes Cowell something of a bad parent - one who empties the kid's piggy banks when they're not loooking, what with more than 1 in 10 votes for the X Factor 2005 final having been charged and ignored.

Universal call in the army

It's been bad enough having record labels behaving like, and apparently instructing, law enforcement agencies. Now, they're cutting deals with the army. Although Universal have signed the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards on a strict record deal.

Like all record deals, ever, it's being touted as a million-pound deal. Presumably any cash they make will flow into the Ministry of Defence coffers; we fully expect George Osbourne to be earmarking the funds for tax cuts under a future Tory administration.

The iPod killer

The Sunday Telegraph has got a somewhat eye-catching headline this morning:

MP3s 'may interfere with pacemakers'

Blimey! So that's what the protection is for in those non-mp3, DRMed files. We thought all along it was something to do with the big entertainment companies, but instead... they were saving people's broken hearts.

It turns out they mean mp3 players rather than the actual mp3s:
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, will start extensive tests on how four different brands of MP3 player affect children and adults fitted with pacemakers.

Still... blimey. People being killed by their iPods, eh?
Research undertaken at Michigan State University earlier this year found that when an MP3 was held two inches from a patient’s chest for five to 10 seconds it interfered with pacemakers in half the 100 people studied.

The pacemaker was unable to effectively monitor how fast the heart was beating and was unable to regulate its speed, causing concern that it could lead doctors to mis-diagnose heart problems.

But, surely, the problem of misdiagnosis would only come if a doctor was checking a patient who had their player balanced on their chest while they were being checked up? And there's a strong argument that a patient who continues to listen to their music player while their doctor is trying to help them - if such patients exist - might have other, more pressing, social problems to deal with first.

The Telegraph concludes with an expert who, effectively, ruins their story for them:
June Davison, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said pacemakers have metal cases to shield them from outside interference.

She added: "On rare occasions, some electrical gadgets can potentially interfere with pacemakers, so it is sensible to keep these devices directly away from pacemakers.

"If you have a pacemaker and are sitting next to someone with an MP3 player it is extremely unlikely that it will interfere with your pacemaker."

In other words: like other electrical equipment, it's probably best if you don't carry it in your shirt pocket, just to be doubly safe.

In other research, the giving of Zunes as gifts has been directly linked to the breaking of recipients hearts.

Mathew Street report being "amended"

Liverpool City Council's report into the expensive screw-up which saw the Mathew Street Festival being axed a couple of weeks ahead of the event has been completed.

So, what does it say?

Erm... we don't know, as Council Leader Warren Bradley is sitting on it while he makes 'amendments' to the findings. It probably doesn't matter much - Bradley's refusal to allow an independent investigation into the PR and financial disaster that befell one of the key events of the city's 700th birthday party means it probably doesn't make much difference if he changes every word of the report.

Brian Harvey: He's like Neil McCormick, in essence

For a cold, clear eye on the current music scene, we need look no further than Brian Harvey. Yes, that Brian Harvey. He shared overmuch with the audience at Liverpool Empire:

"Simon Cowell is solely responsible for fucking up music. I feel sorry for that Leona girl - she's a mug."

I suppose he has a point. East 17 playing the Liverpool Empire in 2007? Music really, really is in a bad way.

Showbiz Zoe doesn't appear to read other showbiz columns

If you hadn't access to any coverage of pop music besides the Sunday Mirror, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the future was bright for Britney Spears, as Showbiz With Zoe's Zoe with the showbiz counts her blessings:

LOOKS like Britney is back from the brink... I can reveal she has made friends with top Hollywood agent Steven Huvane, who represents Kirsten Dunst and Jennifer Aniston.

Britney has been bending his ear about a movie role - a follow-up to Crossroads. I was also blown away when I heard her comeback album Blackout - out tomorrow - with its personal lyrics. Britney's back!

Yes. She's going to be a movie star. Despite the fact that Crossroads was dreadful, and she made that when her life wasn't like a three-ring gin-sponsored circus.

Crossing the Bond

Rav Singh, the tireless showbiz blogger from the News of the World, pants excitedly that the producers of the next Bond movie have "dumped" Amy Winehouse in favour of Leona Lewis for the theme to the movie which they haven't even given a name to yet.

Leona Lewis? Really?

Of course, the "dumping" of Winehouse is a moot point; to believe she's been canned you'd have to believe she was in any way confirmed to do the thing in the first place.

Bowie takes a soaking

How very 2004 of him: David Bowie is taking on a guest role with Spongebob Squarepants, thereby positioning himself slightly behind the loop for the first time since, ooh, Tin Machine. We were surprised they're still making them.

[UPDATE: 08-01-12]

Here's the trailer for Bowie's appearance:

New new Xiu Xiu

Xiu Xiu will brighten the dark early days of 2008 with a new album: Women As Lovers includes some work from Michael Gira, which makes it even more of a tantalising prospect. It's out January 29th, so to keep you going until then, here's Bishop, CA from the Air Force album:

Bush on screen

With Stefani has been busy adding cloying clothes lines and unnecessary perfumes, Gavin Rossdale has offered little in the way of new delights. Beyond unexpected children, of course.

Now, though, he's decided it's time to get some new employment, and like many shunned musicians before him, he's having a crack at acting. Or, rather, another crack, as he's already pulled up a few credits. None of which have exactly troubled the various Academies of Dramatic Arts.

This time round, though, he's got a role in a film which - by virtue of the presence of James McAvoy - people might actually go and see. He's going to be in as much of Frost Flowers as he can keep off the cutting-room floor.

Sniffing around OiNK: what now?

There's a curious attempt to sound reassuring in OiNK arrestee Alan Ellis' interview with ZeroPaid:

the logs we store aren't enough to incriminate users

This, of course, is the same Ellis who told the Telegraph that he didn't believe OiNK did anything illegal in the first place.

Now, obviously providing the means with which people can commit a crime is distinct from being involved in the crime, but it's still perhaps unwise to suggest that your users were behaving criminally.

Elsewhere, the Idolator has spoken to copyright lawyers, who shake their heads and warn that - had you been using OiNK, you should be very worried indeed:
As far as money goes, remember that "commercial advantage or private financial gain" can include the benefits of barter and the like. So the fact that, in your [description of OiNK's ratio rules], "they had to assist in infringement in order to keep infringing" might be enough.

The Idolator's brief then speculates that, should there be any action in the US, it'll take the form of RIAA moving through civil courts rather than criminal prosecutions of OiNK users; of course, the RIAA might well be happy enough with the cyber-freaking being bred in the vacuum of knowledge about what happens next to actually bother throwing money after brining real actions.

If they've learned anything from their filesharing prosecution adventures, the RIAA should know that they're more effective when people don't know what the labels might do, rather than when they show their hand and demonstrate how short their arms actually are.