Funny thing about industrial music is that, by nature of its reliance on heavy bass, it tends to be bloody awful when bootlegged on video cameras. The little microphones just can't cope very well.
So there are acres of Nitzer Ebb live performances on YouTube, but they don't all show the band off at their best.
For Saturday night, though, here's a spot of shirtless action - steady, people - recorded in Montreal in 2008:
[Part of Nitzer Ebb weekend]
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Funny thing about industrial music is that, by nature of its reliance on heavy bass, it tends to be bloody awful when bootlegged on video cameras. The little microphones just can't cope very well.
Here's a funny thing. When someone like Courtney Love turns up to address the Oxford Union, the press dutifully treat it as if it somehow confers a confirmation of intellectual rigour on the guest. The BBC do it tonight:
Love, singer in rock band Hole, followed in the footsteps of Michael Jackson and former US president Bill Clinton by speaking at the forum.
Michael Jackson might just give a hint that sometimes having an act which pins you in the tradition of a bear riding a bicycle can be enough to get you in. They've also had Gerard Way, Sally Gunnell and Kermit The Frog.
As bookings go, it's a bit like being invited to talk to Clive James. While you might find yourself sat in a library talking about Heidegger, you're just as likely to be sat doing a pretend satellite link-up with a humorous singer.
Courtney, though, clearly feels she's been called in for her brain and not her likelihood to fall in the trifle, and - at least on reports so far - managed to come across like a teenage girl trying to impress the technical college lads with the breadth of her knowledge.
From a personal perspective, though, what really matters is the likely effect on Milton Keynes house prices. It's not good news:
Love, who went to Summerhill boarding school in Suffolk and later lived in Liverpool, described herself as "Amglish".
"This is where I want to live, either Oxfordshire or Buckinghamshire," she said.
Try Bedfordshire, Courtney. Or Northamptonshire. Leicestershire, maybe?
In other Courtney Love news, the other half of Frances Bean's trustees, Laird Norton Tyee Trust Company have subpoenaed the records of the trust fund. They appear to be investigating if Love has "misappropriated" funds.
Well, she did seem quite convinced that someone was dipping into the money.
Nobody, as yet, has made any formal allegations, and Love has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Continuing his one man protest against the banks, Billy Bragg went to the HQ of RBS today for a gathering.
Alright, it's not a one man protest. He's got a massive Facebook team behind him. But everyone knows friends on Facebook are imaginary, right?
Seriously, though, Bragg had a fair point to make:
After the event, the singer-songwriter said: "I'm doing it to draw attention to the fact the bankers seem to think it's business as usual now.
"They're starting already to talk about paying the kind of excessive bonuses that got us into all this trouble in the first place, whilst the rest of us are being softened up for public service cuts.
"Considering that this hole in the public purse has been caused by the bailout for the banks, the bankers should be leading the way in making economies."
The bankers have been busy economising, though: if they hadn't carefully cut back the amount they were lending to individuals and small businesses, cut back the interest rates paid on savings products. Why, bankers have simply cut everything they possibly can.
Apart from bonuses.
Hello, if you're a young person joining us through the Facebook for the first time. We're grinding the terrible, out-of-touch, decision the Grammys organisers made in dumping polka from the awards in their faces.
(A moment's pause as the young persons joining us through Facebook scramble for the exit again.)
If you need further evidence of just how huge polka is, though, look no further than The University of Oklahoma's Academy Of Contemporary Music. For who should turn up there to play a polka masterclass than Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips:
When Steven Drozd was growing up, his father led a polka band called Vernon Drozd and the Texas Brass, which recorded several songs in the late 1960s. Sitting behind a drum kit, Steven Drozd pounded away to “Juarez, Mexico,” a 1969 recording by his father the younger Drozd had on his iPod Nano.
“I remember my dad bought me a little toy drum set when I was about 5, and I tore it up in just a couple of days,” Drozd said. “But I loved it, and I think my dad saw that and thought, ‘Maybe there’s something here.’”
In other words: banish polka, and you banish the whole world.
In order to help Google Buzz out a bit, No Rock is making Facebook a little bit less good by launching what you have to call a 'presence' on Facebook. You can become, in some way, a fan. Should you wish.
A request from @dillpickle, in the shape of Nitzer Ebb's 1989 collaboration with Die Krupps:
Join the rhythm of machine
Feel the power while you learn
Join the rhythm of machine
Sweat and pain is all you earn
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!
[Part of Nitzer Ebb weekend]
This is the sort of promotional email that I like:
The attached song Self Assembled Martyr is from our new ep Apathy Is A Girl With A Penis 2nd Version
Do what you want to it.
It's that kinda song.
It's that kinda song. It's also a droning, chopped-up, look-over-there, no-over-here, hide! kinda song.
This is the sort of promotional email that I like.
[Make friends with Oreaganomics on MySpace]
This was the one that cracked Nitzer Ebb into my skull, on the much-missed BBC Radio Sussex Sunday night indie show Turn It Up. This version is recored live on the 1989 Technoclub Blive tour:
This track has been the subject of fevered debate over on SideLine, you know.
[Part of the Nitzer Ebb weekend]
Well done Time Out picture caption writers: Pete Doherty is 'the Mr Bean of hard drugs'
It's not actually news that Status Quo are ardent royalists and tend to fawn when they stand down wind from anything from a Duchess upwards. But seldom has Francis Rossi been quite so explicit about it:
Rossi, dressed in a dark pinstriped suit, said: ''This is the most exceptional moment of our careers. There's no two ways about it.
''Live Aid was contrastingly very different and important and there was a great euphoric feeling on the day but nothing can make you forget this.
''It's part of the establishment which is everything that's been around us since we were little and it's something to aspire to.
''Whether you're a royalist or not you cannot take away what the Queen and the Royal Family do for us.''
... before knuckling his forelock and walking backwards in a half-crouch.
I suppose it's true. Even if you're not a royalist, you can't escape the millions wasted on keeping one family in total luxury and undermining the whole principle of democracy by having government carried on in the name of the monarch instead of the people. I expect that's what Rossi meant.
There's something a little odd in the Telegraph's piece:
Status Quo launched the first Prince's Trust concert in 1982 and three years later they opened the original Live Aid concert with Rockin' All Over The World.
The original Live Aid concert? How many have there been since, then?
... but in case a free Nitzer Ebb download isn't enough for you, how about some sweat-dripping video action?
If you're anything like me, then you probably have Nitzer Ebb neatly packaged as the darkside Depeche Mode; starting in the same place, but taking a very different path. Gorgeously refreshed after a quiet ten year break and an equally quiet comeback in the middle of the last decade - not often 'quiet' fits in a piece about Nitzer Ebb.
Somewhat uncomfortably, Wikipedia describes the comeback album as having a lot of work to do:
[I]t remains to be seen whether the band can recapture the innovation and aggression of its early days and take on board the advances in production made by contemporary techno acts influenced by Nitzer Ebb
Nobody's even popped a 'citation required' on that. Are you allowed to write entries in the tone of voice used by a dubious bloke watching football on a pub TV?
Let's kick off with Murderous, for the strong editorial reason that it's the first return you get if you search Google for Nitzer Ebb videos:
Industrial Complex - the new one
Industrial Complex download version
Catalogue - containing, erm, the Nitzer Ebb catalogue
Ebbhead download version
More on Nitzer Ebb
Official Site in English
Nitzer Ebb on Spotify
Nitzer Ebb on Last.FM
Nitzer Ebb on MySpace
More to come across the weekend
Join In The Chant
Machineries Of Joy with Die Krupps
Monday sees the release of Nitzer Ebb's new album, Industrial Complex. We're nearly there.
In the mean time, keep your inner, slavering industrial noise beast happy with Never Known [Richard Clouston/Cosey Club remix]. That should get you through to Monday morning.
It's a very, very quiet day over at Bizarre. This quiet, in fact:
LONG before MARVIN HUMES was landing No1s or winning my Caner Of The Year crown, he was a MICHAEL JACKSON impersonator with a nice sideline in fancy basketball skills.
I've uncovered footage of the JLS star singing his heart out as a talented kid...
Instead of that, though, Gordon's slapped up video of him pretending to be Michael Jackson.
I love the idea that Gordon himself uncovered this, with the implication that he spends his days sat in his office Googling "Marvin Humes AND child AND video".
The reality, you suspect, is that the office that controls JLS have just biked the footage over as the stack of interesting things to say about them runs desperately low.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Our Love Was Saved By A Spaceman. They're back, and they're giving it away for free.
John Mayer has just done an interview with Playboy. As if that wasn't enough to turn your stomach, the magazine handed him enough rope to hang himself. To which he added a big bottle of pills, a knife and a gas oven that ran on the old town gas.
Still, at least let's give him credit for not having a publicist sitting in stopping him from talking.
"What is being black? It's making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that's seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you'll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude's"
Ah yes - who wouldn't see the immediate parallel between a two-hundred-year long struggle for rights and recognition and a middle class kid turning from clarinet lessons to dating Jennifer Aniston?
It does get worse, though. Playboy asked if black women liked him.
"My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I've got a Benetton heart and a fuckin' David Duke cock. I'm going to start dating separately from my dick".
In a separate interview, John Mayer's dick denied being a white supremacist, but did express interest in the idea of being separated from John Mayer.
Shortly after the interview started to circulate, it looks like Mayer's publicist woke up and now Mayer and so the damage limitation starts. Mayer took to Twitter:
"I think it's time to stop trying to be so raw in interviews."
You see? He wasn't revealing himself to be a douche - he was being raw. It's not that he's a splashback - it's simply that we can't handle his very, very rawness.
But he'd got his explanation in first. He told Playboy:
"Maybe I’m so meta-aware that it’s off-putting to people."
You'd have to wonder just how meta-aware you can be while announcing that your cock is a bit like the National Front.
A press release with the heading "The Return of The Buggles" can only be opened with a sense of trembling anticipation. And, being a press release, can only lead to a slight "oh" of disappointment.
They're not returning. But Trevor Horn's post-Geoff Davis Buggles album, Adventures In Modern Recording, is getting a spiffed-up re-release. With extra demo stuff. Including Videotheque being demoed by Buggles, who were going to do it orignally. Before Horn gave it to Dollar. It would make a bit more sense as a Buggles track, when you think about it.
This is all out on the 19th April, on the Salvo label. Salvo are working their way through the archives of ZTT:
This album is part five in the Element Series, a brand new stream of reissues of classic albums from the Zang Tuum Tumb label. Look out also for Element 06: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (Deluxe Edition) by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (out 26.04.10) and Elements 01 to 04: deluxe, double-CD reissues of 808 State's ten year legacy of dance innovation (out 22.03.10).
Can this mean a reissue of Das Psych-Oh Rangers stuff is in the future?
Dave Frey is the manager of Cheap Trick, and he's upset.
Neilsen Soundscan collates the data which goes into the Billboard charts, but - at the same time - sells the data it collects to anyone who will pay. Whether you want it to or not.
Cheap Trick are currently self-releasing, but they have a problem:
So, every couple of years when the band releases a new CD we hustle, work, and pay to promote it. This activity always raises their profile. And like clockwork Cheap Trick's former record company(s) release repackaged budget Special Products to cannibalize the new release. Once they buy this information [from Soundscan, and other sources such as Ticketmaster and Amazon] they can better target their predatory product.
The idea being that the record label knows who likes Cheap Trick, waits until Cheap Trick have reminded their fans they're around, and then sidles up and says "rather than buying this new Cheap Trick stuff, why not purchase this album of stuff from when they were popular?"
There's a weakness in Frey's argument here - it's totally possible that the promotional work for the new material does exactly the same job without the need for executives to be buying data: "Ooh, Cheap Trick are on the television. I liked them back in the day - maybe I should buy their new stuff? Oh, it's not as much fun as the old stuff. Perhaps I'll buy that instead".
Still, the extent to which pie charts and data sales and targeted spoilers actually influence sales nothwithstanding, there is murky behaviour afoot:
So it was decided “The Latest” would not be registered with Soundscan. Maybe the former labels would have a harder time trying to trick the fans. But keeping information from Soundscan so that it can't be sold to competitors is impossible.
It seems that if you don't want the information shared, you should have that decision respected. Oughtn't that be the same whether it's an individual not wanting his purchase of sixteen feet of rubber sheeting shared with the world, or a business who don't want its corporate data being pimped out to competitors?
Gordon splashes this morning on the terrible news that Brit nominees are turning down invites like they're "come to the disemboweling" requests:
Brit Busy That Night?
The idea of Earls Court being empty except for those stage-school kids they parachute down the front is an amusing one, but a caption on the photo illustrating the story makes it clear that we're not actually talking about that:
Possible no-show ... Dido
The 2010 Brits without Dido? Unimagimable! The last thing you need is the bar understaffed on a night like that.
Yes, the cards being returned are amongst those being invited for the anniversary category:
THERE could be an awkward moment next Tuesday night when the winner of the best Brits Album Of 30 Years is announced.
Acts including COLDPLAY, DIRE STRAITS and TRAVIS are nominated - but organisers are having a nightmare persuading any of them to turn up.
OASIS, KEANE, DUFFY, SADE and DIDO are also in the running but none of them have agreed to attend yet either.
Imagine that. It's almost as if the whole event is nothing more than a giant marketing opportunity that nobody would be arsed to attend if they had nothing to sell.
It's not all bad news, though:
PHIL COLLINS and THE VERVE's frontman RICHARD ASHCROFT will be there - but unless they win it could be a little embarrassing.
To be honest, if Phil Collins gets a prize for having made the best record out of all those released in the last thirty years, that might be a little bit more embarrassing than the recipient not being in the room.
But the chances of winning and prize and being on the television - surely that must be tempting?
Radio 2 listeners have already decided the outcome in a public vote and the winner will be announced on the night.
Hey, let's hope the lack of people picking up the invites isn't down to conversations along the lines of "did we win? But you must know... did we? did we? We didn't? Sorry, busy that night..."
The good news: Cerys Matthews will be returning to 6Music at Easter.
The bad news: She's going to be doing a single Sunday show. Which makes it look like Nemone will still be on daily lunchtime duty for the foreseeable future.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It's a head-over-to-some-other-site deal, but at least ABC aren't blocking it to viewers outside the 50 states: Editors do Papillon on Kimmel.
The We Are The World effort for Haiti is clear-sighted. Egos put to one side, pulling together for the common good. Not losing sight of the victims. Not forgetting what it's all about.
It's all about Michael Jackson:
The singer who passed away in June last year will not only be featured on the hook but also make a cameo on its accompanying music video. The late King of Pop will appear posthumously in a split-screen with his sister Janet Jackson joining him. The idea of putting him in the project comes from Michael's mother Katherine Jackson and Janet herself.
Thank god they thought of that - after all, otherwise the focus of the exercise might have been the people in that country with the earthquake, instead of being just another adjunct of the Michael Jackson Industry.
"To have Michael's presence singing his part is the best gift we could ever get," Lionel told Access Hollywood. "His original image and him seeing his part."
Really, Lionel? A bit of tatty old footage is "the best gift" you could get? You don't think, what with how this is meant to be a charity fundraiser for people who have lost everything a better gift might have been if the Jackson family had said "here, we'll sign Billie Jean over to UNICEF for as long as the copyright lasts"? Or, you know, something that didn't reduce the dead and injured into a sideshow?
On Michael's duet with Janet, he said, "It was all put together with fabulous choreography. It's magical."
If Jacko actually dances, that would be magical.
There are some things that should not be done, even if they are possible. I mean, I can't think of any way in which they could have made We Are The World II any more tawdry.
It's filmed in 3-D
It turns out they're more imaginative than I am.
[Again, thanks to Michael M]
Celine Dion took part in the Grammy mawkathon in honour of Michael Jackson. But she wasn't happy. No, no. She was angry:
[She] admits it was a "difficult" performance for her because she wanted Jackson to be there. She says, "I was mad that he (Jackson) was no longer with us and I wanted so much to make sure that his message... was going to be heard. All of us, we didn't really want to perform; we just wanted to carry his message. I was very honored that I was part of it. I will always love Michael Jackson very much."
It's not entirely clear what Michael Jackson's message was - to be honest, Celine, Derek Acorah was a lot more direct in getting across what the late Jacko was trying to say.
Of course, Acorah was making it up, and just sticking words into the no-longer-present mouth, but at least he was pretty clear what his made-up message was meant to be.
Dion isn't done being mad, though:
She adds, "I thought at one point that Michael was sick and I said, 'Y'know, it's not fair to go through this, being sick like that,' but when I saw the movie I was very mad because he was in top shape and I was very mad that he was no longer with us."
Dion is starting to sound more like she's scripting a witness impact statement than paying tribute to a dead colleague.
You've got to love the way that Celine would have been quite relaxed about Jackson dying at the age of 50 if he'd been unwell. That almost certainly isn't what she meant.
[Thanks again to Michael M]
Ortise Williams, one of JLS, nearly got himself all beaten up. Or so he says, anyway:
, "It was quite unsettling. I was in Currys. I could tell a gang of guys was watching. Outside, they started muttering behind saying, 'Just grab him, mug him!' and daring each other on."
I'm sorry, surely the most fascinating thing about this is that he was in a branch of Currys. Perhaps checking they were still keeping his job open for him.
So, we're picturing a man in a branch of Currys, with a group gathering outside the shop window. Peeking past the kettles and washing machines. And then muttering threateningly behind him.
Whatever did you do, Ortise?
"I was on my own and thought, 'I have to do something.' So I charged up to them looking fierce and they looked a bit shocked. They stepped up and I ran away. I was shaking."
The trouble with this tale is that you've only got Ortise's word that the crowd were muttering anything. It sounds like he was already scared before he left the relative security of Currys, so maybe he just imagined that they were going to attack him?
In which case, what you'd be left with is a young pop star running up to a bunch of youths looking like he's going to punch them. And then turning and running away.
Not that he had to run away, of course. Oh no, he could have beaten them all up. If only he was allowed to:
"I like to think I can take care of myself. But management told me I can't practice martial arts now because I might damage my face. A black eye wouldn't look good."
No, a black eye probably wouldn't look good. But your rotten hat and back-to-front trousers doesn't look good, either.
I'm still puzzling over whether his management really has told him not to defend himself if he gets attacked. If that's true, it's surely only going to be a matter of time before they start suggesting he goes kite-flying near the national grid.
[Thanks to Michael M for the story]
It's just not a song about ping-pong. In fact, it's something totally new from Operator Please. Download Logic, which will be the first single off new album Gloves.
Q's surprisingly long reign as biggest-selling paid-for pop magazine has come to an end, with latest ABC circulation figures seeing it drop behind Mojo.
Mojo has managed a tiny uptick in its sales over the last six months, but really claimed its crown by virtue of declining more slowly than its stablemate: Mojo lost 2% (to 98,484) year-on-year, while Q is down 8% (94,811).
Classic Rock - the worthy-but-dull option - is the only title showing an increase over the last twelve months, up 1.5% (71,242).
Over at the weeklies, Kerrang has lost 21.3% of its readers over the last 12 months (41,125), but still manages to be ahead of NME. The NME is down to 38,486, having misplaced just over one-fifth of the readership during the last twelve months.
IPC will be hoping that Krissi Murison can turn things around fairly quickly - surely the title can't afford another year of losing one-out-of-every-five readers?
Acting at the behest of unknown forces waving DCMA notices, Google has wiped music-hosting blogs off the net:
"We'd like to inform you that we've received another complaint regarding your blog," begins the cheerful letter received by each of the owners of Pop Tarts, Masala, I Rock Cleveland, To Die By Your Side, It's a Rap and Living Ears. All of these are music-blogs – sites that write about music and post MP3s of what they are discussing. "Upon review of your account, we've noted that your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger's Terms of Service ... [and] we've been forced to remove your blog. Thank you for your understanding."
Naturally, what Google have actually shut down are not unlicensed mp3 farms, but passionate blogs promoting and sharing and - for the most part - publishing legal mp3s, often provided directly by the record labels.
Let's just be fair to Google for a moment: there is an argument that, by responding quickly and generously to angry letters sent under the DCMA, they can argue that they're good digital mayors. When the RIAA push for more powers from The White House, Google can legitimately show what they've done on occasions like this, and say "the current rules are working, there is no need to tighten them further."
You can see that argument.
The only problem being that the rules aren't working, and the way Google are implementing these rules is haphazard and unfair:
In a complaint posted to Google Support, Bill Lipold, the owner of I Rock Cleveland, cited four cases in the past year when he had received copyright violation notices for songs he was legally entitled to post. Tracks by Jay Reatard, Nadja, BLK JKS and Spindrift all attracted complaints under the USA's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, even when the respective MP3s were official promo tracks. As a publicist for BLK JKS' label, Secretly Canadian, told Lipold: "Apparently DMCA operate on their own set of odd rules, as they even requested that the BLK JKS' official blog remove the song." It's not clear who "DMCA" is in this case, as the act does not defend itself.
Google have tried to explain:
"When we receive multiple DMCA complaints about the same blog, and have no indication that the offending content is being used in an authorised manner, we will remove the blog," explained product manager Rick Klau. "[If] this is the result of miscommunication by staff at the record label, or confusion over which MP3s are 'official' ... it is imperative that you file a DMCA counter-claim so we know you have the right to the music in question."
This is a curious explanation, though: if you want a blog closed down, all you have to do is send multiple complaints? And what does Google mean by having "no indication that the offending content is being used in an authorised manner", exactly?
If the music is being used in an allowed fashion, then it is not - clearly - offending content, is it? And given that Google don't always tell you what the track in question might be, how do you counterclaim?
Google should make sure that the DCMA claim is a valid one, certainly before pulling an entire blog - but that would take time, and money, and be a faff, and suddenly turn a publishing platform into some sort of copyright arbitration court. And you can see why that's not a role Google would relish.
So, yes, Google have been heavy handed and - once again - besmirched their 'don't be evil' pledge. But the fault isn't really theirs - they shouldn't be having to police content in the first place. It's the DCMA which is broken, and railing against Google is missing the mark.
(Besides, come on: what self-respecting blogger is on Blogger anyw... oh.)
Having had everyone troop into court last week to sentence his attacker, only to insis through his lawyer that he wanted to appear to give a witness statement, yesterday the court was told that Noel had changed his mind:
Mr. Justice Richard Schneider reluctantly agreed to the delay, but at a hearing to set the new sentencing date of March 23 yesterday, prosecutor Ruth Kleinhenz told court Mr. Gallagher no longer plans to attend.
I'm not sure if the Canadian courts take a dim view of having to hold three separate sentencing gatherings on a whim of a rock star, but let's hope this doesn't mean that Noel can never set foot in Canada ever again for fear of being thrown in a jail.
[Thanks again to Alice P]
Gordon's work promoting pop acts is picking up a gear with, for some reason, Bizarre pushing a Brrrap tour of Britain. They're travelling with Gordon's blessing, although apparently without his presence. Chipmunk is the headliner and:
The tour includes a host of other hot, upcoming Brrrap Packers such as MCs TINIE TEMPAH and SKEPTA along with teen singer DAISY DARES YOU.
Daisy Dares You? Well, you wouldn't expect a rap tour underwritten by Mr Murdoch to be bringing you anything close to Public Enemy or Michael Franti, would you?
It's either a desire to not be seen to be overselling their own product, or else a sign of lack of deep support for the event that the tour takes fifth billing on the website today, behind even the news that Vernon Kay won't be on the radio this weekend.
When I saw that a "shamed Vernon Kay" wasn't going to turn up at Radio One this week, I'd assumed he'd got round to listening to one of his programmes on the iPlayer, but it turns out he's been "swapping sex texts" with as many as five women, like a kind of penpal version of Tiger Woods.
It's hard to measure the cultural effect this story is having on Britain. Not only will we somehow have to muddle through without Kay on Radio One, but also:
Yesterday as Kay stayed at home in Beaconsfield, Bucks, Tess pulled a newspaper column due to focus on their happy marriage.
As ever, we, the innocent public, are the ones who suffer.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
More interesting than Bronfman's honking about how people giving him money in return for listening to his products isn't a viable business model was his greasing of the cake tin for a possible merger with EMI.
Assuming Guy Hands loses his bid to stop the effective owners of EMI from selling up, Bronfman certainly isn't ruling out a hook-up. In fact, he's spraying breath freshener, kicking the dirty pants under the bed and putting on a sexy CD in preparation:
“We feel consolidation certainly is possible,” Edgar Bronfman Jr told analysts on a conference call to discuss Warner’s first-quarter earnings, saying the regulatory climate had not hardened since the European Commission’s 2007 approval of the merger between Sony Music and BMG.
Mr Bronfman tempered his remarks by saying he hoped EMI would be able to “resolve its difficulties” in a way that strengthened the music industry.
"But" he continued, "you know the way two friends will do that thing where they agree they'll marry if neither has got married by the time they're forty? Well..."
Guy Hands is pulling the same face he made when Bronfman muttered "have you ever heard the phrase 'friends with benefits'?"
It might be out of Hands, erm, hands, though, reckons the FT:
“They are marching towards a transaction of some sorts,” said Richard Greenfield of Pali Research. Warner had been “hoarding cash” over recent quarters and could find “hundreds of millions of dollars” in savings from such a deal, he added.
The potential for savings by only having one bunch of clueless accountants bumbling around wishing it was still 1985 is certainly huge. Somehow, I'm betting those aren't the costs that get taken out.
Warners' Edgar Bronfman Junior has been doing some thinking aloud about advertising-supported music. He doesn't like it:
Warner chief executive Edgar Bronfman Jr said: "Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed.
"The 'get all your music you want for free, and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price' strategy is not the kind of approach to business that we will be supporting in the future."
The funny thing is, while Bronfman was talking, the public was also holding a press conference:
"The 'ratchet up the price point and slather stuff in DRM, and hope that the public won't give up on legal music and go back to illegal stuff' strategy is not the kind of approach to listening to music online that we will be supporting in the future" said the public.
Bronfman has seen the future, and it's just full of people who aren't giving his company loads of money who are desperate to do so:
He said the focus would be on promoting streaming services that require payment, which he said could appeal beyond those who currently pay for downloads in stores such as Apple's iTunes.
"The number of potential subscribers dwarfs the number of people who are actually purchasing music on iTunes," Mr Bronfman said.
Well, yes. That's true. The number of people who fancy something to eat dwarfs the number of people who are currently getting organic veg boxes, but only a dreamer would picture a world in which everyone is waiting for a farmer to drop off a carton of muddy celeriac and two dozen leeks.
Edgar is just letting off steam. Presumably. He knows that if you take away the advert-supported services, you'll increase demand for non-supported services far faster than you'll persuade people to start handing over large sums for a subscription. I don't know for certain that Bronfman delivered his speech shortly after throwing a coin in a well, or once he'd blown out all the candles on a cake, but he's wishing, isn't he?
Spotify are just rolling their eyes and pulling a 'bless him' face:
To be clear WMG is not pulling out of Spotify. Media is taking things out of context. So don't worry-be happy :)
Of course he's not pulling out. Bronfman might be deluded, but he's not dangerously deluded.
You'll know Jonsi - hitherto, as the singer from Sigur Ros. Now, Jonsi's going solo - and this is the first forbidden fruit:
There's a website which, as you'd expect, doesn't go into very much detail.
It's now a pretty well-rehearsed routine: Large celebrity gets invited to play Israel for large sums of money; celebrity accepts; human rights campaigners point out the moral grey area of going to have fun in Israel while it's behaving as it does; celebrity keeps head down, banks cheque.
Your partners for the latest waltz: Elton John and The British Committee for Universities of Palestine.
Bad news: Kaiser Chiefs are writing a new album.
Good news: They've chosen a slow way to go about it:
Ricky Wilson said: "We're playing around at the moment.
"I'm sending him words and lyrics in the mail. He's sending me CD's in the mail. "We're actually utilising the Royal Mail quite a lot - it's quite nice because you find you're a little bit less embarrassed about what you send each other."
Yes, anything that makes you not have to look ashamed when you say "how about this time we just bellow 'Lucy' over and over again? Or 'Leslie'?" has to be embraced. And with the British postal service, there's every chance that the next Good Days Bad Days gets totally lost in the post.
Gordon has been playing out again:
IT'S not often you go to bed in Paris and wake up in Amsterdam.
It's not often you read an opening line like that. Unless it's been written on lined paper and is accompanied by crayoned picture of the Eiffel Tower.
Last year I went to Salt Lake City with COLDPLAY and ended up on their private jet as they kidnapped me for the week. And on Monday I was in the same boat again.
Of course, you don't quite mean this, do you?
I say boat... it was KASABIAN's tour bus to be precise, as they took me on a tour of Europe.
Oh. I was thinking you meant "I say kidnapped, I mean gone on a pre-organised press jolly".
Confusingly, Smart seems to think that he's a groupie and not a senior member of staff on a major British newspaper:
I've never had a kip in a tour bus, but it was more comfortable than the hotel corridors I'm used to in this job.
The showbiz editor of the Sun really wants us to believe he sleeps in hotel corridors? He's going to be telling us next that he has to shag a roadie in order to get into the gigs.
Funny thing is, despite all this access Kasabian have given him, and twenty-four hours with the band, Gordon comes up totally empty-handed. There's no story here, except the 'hey, you guys, you'll never guess who I was hanging out last night" one, which feels like it belongs more in a scrapbook than a newspaper:
I woke up yesterday morning in "Amsterdamage" after a night of carnage I'll never, er, remember.
That's bloody useful for a journalist. Perhaps you should see if you can get your next set of, erm, "kidnappers" to let you stop off to buy a notebook.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
There seem to be about sixty-squillion versions of Massive Attack's Hope Sandoval voiced Paradise Circle floating about at the moment. But there's always room for one more: RCRD LBL are offering a Gui Boratto Remix which is worth a ctrl-click.
Back before the Simon Cowell charity single in aid of a good cause was released, Gennaro Castaldo was preparing himself for something big:
Gennaro Castaldo, of HMV, said: "We've seen a surge in demand for the Helping Haiti single online, where it's our No1 music pre-order, and you get a real sense that a groundswell of interest is building.
"Everybody Hurts could dominate the charts over the next few weeks and looks set to be one of the biggest releases of the past decade. Like everyone else, HMV will be donating profits from its sale."
That's pretty unequivocal. How's it working out?
According to The Sun:
THE Sun's Helping Haiti single has become the fastest-selling charity song of the century so far.
Which is impressive, and does mean a few hundred thousand for the campaign - more or less what Cowell could have given straight by handing over one pay cheque from American Idol, in other words.
But it's quite a drop from 'one of the biggest releases of the past decade' to 'fastest-selling charity song of the century' - like going from 'Premiership title hopeful' to 'hoping to avoid the drop to the Championship', isn't it? What's it really competing with? Peter Bloody Kay? The One World Project?
How are Messrs. Cox and Drummie going to mark twenty five years in the business, you might have been wondering.
Oh, pretend you have. Play along.
Luckily, a press release brings news:
Legendary British pop duo “Go West” will embark on a rare 11-date UK tour in April 2010.
It's not entirely lying - sure, they did two sets of dates in 2009, and toured in 2008, but specifically eleven date UK tours by Go West are pretty rare.
Although "legendary" is stretching it a bit.
They're also going to re-release Call Me, which is a single that isn't the one that people remember.
More from No Rock on anniversary
This is what MGMT are dressing like these days:
Yes, out goes the dayglo, in comes a serious-faced new direction for the new album. It's called Congratulations, it's out in April and there's a press release:
Congratulations is a collection of nine individual musical tours de force sequenced to flow with sonic and thematic coherence.
On the other hand, Sonic Boom and Jennifer Herrema have both been involved - producing and singing respectively, which makes you feel a bit more confident than the press release does.
Most of the UK dates Brokey Social Scene have announced to support their May new album have sold out already, so rather than getting all Jim Bowen on your ass, let's just note that they've booked themselves in to the Brighton Corn Exchange for May 15th. Rush, rush, and you might just get tickets.
Surely the most curious thing about the American Air Force using Fell In Love With A Girl, without permission, for a Superbowl recuritment advert is... well, that they were using a White Stripes song at all.
Obviously, given that the USAF is in the business of dropping things on people's heads, it's not really the sort of organisation which is good at getting sign-off on its ideas: "hi, I'm from the American Air Force; we were going to sprinkle your land with depleted uranium - could you sign and date this approval slip for me?"
But The White Stripes? Is that the demographic they're really targeting now? You know, when you're pitching your sign-up ads at slightly fey thirtysomethings, that's surely an indication that you're having trouble filling your (service) boots.
As Churchill once said: "I fear not the arrival of the German cruisers on the beaches of Kent, nor the landing of Soviet parachutes on the hills of Yorkshire. But the thought of the Royal Navy using The Field Mice to recruit men? That, there, is what I fear the most."
It's meant to be the most wonderful time of the year, and with all those stockings just waiting to be stuffed with CDs, wanted or not, you'd have to be a massive bungler to lose money at a major label in the last quarter of the year.
Warners have managed it though, while managing to rake in nearly a billion dollars in revenue.
At Warners HQ, though, they're just impressed with how well they've done:
"As our stable margins show, we carefully manage our costs and regularly work to adjust our business in order to minimize the impact of a transitioning recorded music market," Steven Macri, Warner Music EVP and CFO, added. "Similar to last year, we expect our release schedule in fiscal year 2010 to be back-end weighted."
You lost seventeen million dollars, Macri. I don't want to go all Micawber on you, but if you're splashing out more than you're bringing in, you don't really have much in the way to boast about carefully managing your costs.
You put a billion dollars in your pocket, but ended up having to borrow the bus fare home. Were I a shareholder, I might not be going "these guys have stabilised margins at a point where we end up with less money than we started out with."
"We are pleased to have delivered stable revenue and OIBDA in our core Recorded Music and Music Publishing businesses despite ongoing recorded music industry pressures and macroeconomic headwinds," said Edgar Bronfman, Jr., WMG Chairman and CEO said in statement released with the SEC fiiling. "Our goals remain focused on delivering strong returns on A&R investments while we develop new business models, diversify our revenue mix and fortify our digital leadership position."
New business models, you say, Edgar? Yes, the idea of cutting albums into bits really will work, just like you can diet simply by taking smaller mouthfulls of cream cake.
The obvious, screaming question, is why Warners are pumping cash into A&R at all. They're not very good at it, it's costly, much of what they do loses money and it all hangs on a hope that sooner or later they'll find an artist who will make ten albums which sell more than a million or so.
Even if they did, as Bronfman admits, they haven't actually got a business model which can produce the returns they need to justify their current structure. So why bother?
Seriously, Edgar: it's like you opened a bed and breakfast on a mountainside, and a mudslide has washed away the only road in. But you're still having helicopters come round delivering eggs and bacon and Corn Flakes - sure, you're filling the cupboards with food nobody will eat, but you better keep on stocking up while you work out a new business model.
In fact, that should have been what Warners announced today: a massive pile of bacon slowly rotting in an empty guesthouse.
Great news from @everetttrue:
All 46 issues of Plan B magazine 2004-09 - to download FREE (PDF format): http://www.planbmag.com
Yes, that's the greatest music magazine of the 00s, in its entirety, and for free (although you might want to feel guilty about not having bought them when you could. Unless you did.)
Exciting news from the Creation Records blog: Apple Boutique's Love Resistance is getting a re-release.
Highly limited to 59 copies, and only on three inch CDs (so happy hours to be spent there trying to fish the thing out of your iMac). But even 59 copies is probably going to double the number of copies available in the world.
You know what's more dull than the sports pages of The Sun? Kasabian turning the showbiz page into the sports pages:
[Tom Meighan says] "Capello has come in and, without going into too much detail, he's disciplined them and sorted things out.
He then goes into too much detail. For no apparent reason.
Let's hope we get JLS on the curling tomorrow.
In other news, Dappy from N-Dubz has been "hit in the face". By his girlfriend:
DAPPY fears his voice has been affected after he was allegedly hit in the face by girlfriend KAYE VASSELL.
Don't worry, Dappy. There's every chance that nobody will notice if your voice has been "affected".
His bandmates are there for him, though:
TULISA has jumped to her bandmate's defence after the incident.
She said: "It takes a lot not to hit a girl back - I wouldn't have been able to control myself."
Well, it probably takes a lot of Dappy not to, what with his record of attacking women and sending threatening texts to people he's never met.
Monday, February 08, 2010
This is what the internet does incredibly well: Kathleen Hanna has set up a Bikini Kill archive blog. She's requesting people to whom the Kill meant something share their thoughts and memories of the band and the times.
And all my friends just might ask me, they say 'Martin one day you'll find true love'. And I say I'm not called Martin, but, you know, cheers. And maybe one day, you'll be able to visit the Basement Jaxx site and download a free remix of The Look Of Love. Yes, the ABC one.
Enter Shikari were going to do a gig at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, until The Man got involved.
In this case, The Man was the Health And Safety Executive, who decided the building wasn't safe enough to be holding no sort of gathering, never mind no rock concerts, and so the gig is off.
They said they were, “Gutted... It looked and sounded incredible in there, and indeed it would have gone off big time, were the show to go ahead as planned."
There's something brilliant about a gig in the Empress Ballroom. I do like a venue where Jack Jones and Harold Wilson have played as well. Sadly, Enter Shikari aren't going to be added to the list, as they're looking for somewhere else to hold the date.
Last week, the guy who pushed Noel Gallagher over on stage was due to hear his sentence.
In the end, though, there was no sentence passed, as Noel Gallagher announced that he wanted to make a witness impact statement.
But prosecutor Ruth Kleinhenz on Friday requested an adjournment that would allow Mr. Gallagher to travel to Toronto from the United Kingdom to read his statement. As well, Ms. Kleinhenz said she needed to study a pre-sentencing report.
Reluctantly, Mr. Justice Richard Schneider agreed, calling the delay “unfortunate in the extreme.”
It's far from clear why, if making an impact statement was so important to Gallagher, he couldn't have turned up on the day.
The pushing man, Danny Sullivan, is now left hanging - not literally, the Canadian courts aren't that illiberal, while Noel gets his butt over to Toronto. The prosecution had been seeking a delay until April, when Noel was hoping to fit turning up in court into his busy schedule of... well, all those things that Noel fills his day with.
Interestingly, Liam hasn't asked to share with the court how he felt when he went running away like an elephant spying a mouse.
Noel is apparently planning to try and sue Danny Sullivan for two million dollars - money that he knows Sullivan can't possibly have, and which would be better supporting his family with. (If Gallagher really must sue someone, wouldn't the people who were supposed to be providing his security be a more obvious point for the lawsuits to be heading?)
Everyone - except Noel - will be back in court tomorrow to set a new schedule.
[Thanks to Alice P for the story]
Andrew Norman, organiser of the Thimbleberry Music Festival has been charged with - wait for it - permitting the use of cannabis at his festival.
The curious decision to prosecute has already lead to the cancellation of the next festival - Norman has had thousands seized under the Proceeds Of Crime Act. Not for selling drugs, but allegedly letting people use cannabis at a festival.
Contactmusic is delighted by the wit of Liam Gallagher. He, they remind us:
is known for his caustic put-downs
So let's prepare ourselves for an onslaught of wit as Gallagher turns his attention to Florence Welch, shall we?
Ooh, it's going to be a quip...
"I'm not having someone with ginger hair making music."
Oh, ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, please, give me a moment to pull myself together.
Just in case this brilliant witticism is a little too clever for you, it's a reference to the fact that Florence Welch has red hair, and that... um...
Liam Gallagher is 36 years old.
He does actually manage to be unintentionally funny when he suggests no band has taken Oasis' place:
"People are far off being the best band in England or the best band in the world. There are some good bands out there but there's no one claiming that mantle."
Obviously, there's the humorous belief that Oasis were some sort of pinnacle of achievement in the first place, which is onyl made better by Gallagher's strange belief that the vacuum they've left behind is so huge, it means that there isn't even a best band any more; as if the very concept of being the best band has been abolished in the same way some shirt numbers get retired in sports.
You've got to hand it to the British music industry - just when you think they've exhausted ways of making the Brits look fusty and out of touch, they come up with a whole new level of fustiness:
OUR music aristocracy will have to doff their caps at the Brit Awards - as real-life Royalty will be at the show.
Doffing caps? Really?
PRINCE HARRY, the most rock 'n' roll Windsor, will deliver a special happy birthday message.
If by rock and roll, you mean 'tends to get drunk and dress up like a Nazi', then perhaps. Although, you'd have to add the rider "since his Aunt Wallis died".
Though since the BPI thinks that rock means sitting in a room listening to an awkward speech by a member of the aristocracy, that would suggest Charles is the most rock & roll Windsor.
(Seriously, though: Eugenie, surely? If you must have someone with a bit of the divine right sloshing about their veins, wouldn't you go for Eugenie?)
Could the organisers make this decision any more awkward and embarrassing?
A Brits spokesman said: "The only previous time the show's had anything to do with royalty was when PRINCE accepted an award with Slave scrawled on his cheek."
If you're going to go for such a weak joke, wouldn't the multiple award wins by Queen trump a single prize by Prince?
According to Gordon, this is part of Harry trying to reposition himself:
Harry lining up with the Brits is a clear sign he wants to be seen as an ambassador for UK music.
Well, that would make sense. Musical performers are such shy, retiring types they'd hardly be up to going around the world drawing attention to themselves, would they?
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Having screwed up EMI, loaded it with debt and sent it churning towards oblivion, you're unlikely to see Guy Hands outside Abbey Road studios anytime soon.
It turns out he's so mean, to avoid paying tax he won't even go and see his family:
Guy Hands, who moved from Kent to Guernsey last April in protest at higher income and capital gains tax rates, says he has "never visited" his school age children since he left the country. They have remained with his wife at their former family home in Kent and they now have to travel to Guernsey to see him.
Neither has he visited his mother and father – and wouldn't unless there was a family crisis: "I do not visit my parents in the United Kingdom and would not do so except in an emergency."
You wonder what would constitute an emergency large enough to shake Hands into a trip to the UK? Because, clearly, family ties are so much less important than keeping as much money as you possibly can.
Hands, by the way, is boasting about how much of a selfish moneygrubber he is - he's using this example of his extreme selfishness as an argument to try and stop Citigroup being allowed to hold the Terra Firma court case in London:
In a personal statement lodged in New York's southern district court Hands says he faces a top tax rate of 64% on earnings from employment from April, plus 18% CGT. He says he has been an "outspoken" critic of UK tax levels and fears that the Revenue will be watching him closely to ensure he does nothing that could threaten his move to obtain non-resident tax status.
Hands hasn't actually been able to explain why a country that has given him so much should be denied tax revenue that everyone else has to pay, nor why his meanness should be a determining factor in where a court case is held.
How would it be if someone facing court tried to argue the hearing shouldn't be held in, say, Liverpool because he doesn't fancy stumping up for the train fare?
Still, on the bright side, Hands, if you do have to come to the UK to fight your case, you might be able to pop in and see your parents. If they'll open the door to you. Not that they wouldn't want to, but they might be trying to save the cost of wear and tear on the hinges.
An unnamed track, played live on the fifth June 2004:
[Part of Intro5pect weekend]
I'm From Barcelona have embarked on a generous-to-a-fault giveaway of one song per member, with a new track everyday.
They've got 27 members, so that's no mean trick:
While touring around the world with their two latest releases “Let Me Introduce My Friends” (2006) and “Who Killed Harry Houdini” (2008) the members of I’m from Barcelona have been working on the upcoming “27 Songs from Barcelona”. Inspired by Kiss’ simultaneous release of four solo albums in 1978, “27 Songs from Barcelona” features one solo song for every member in I’m from Barcelona.
That's almost an insane giveaway.
What, would you say, is the most important facet of a story about BBC2 making a drama about Boy George's early life?
The NME knows:
Shockwaves NME Awards host to star in BBC Boy George film
He hosted them two years ago, though, didn't he? And Matthew Horne is only playing Jon Moss:
Horne will play Culture Club drummer Jon Moss, who had a relationship with the singer in the 1980s, in the 90-minute film, titled Worried About The Boy.
What? Jon Moss had a relationship during a film? Or was Worried About The Boy Jon Moss' title?
To be honest, I think a film about Moss would be more interesting than yet-another-churning through the Boy George story. But probably be harder to get funding for.
Although it has coloured, filled, flipped and generally mucked about with its logo over the years, MTV has, basically, had the same logo since 1981. It's a tribute to the original design that it managed to keep itself looking fresh while all around it changed.
As if to indicate how much the channel has lost its way, though, it's now redesigning itself. The M is getting stretched, the TV is getting tidied up, and faces of the lugheads who pepper the network with their cribs and limos and skinny-dipping will now loom through the logo.
Perhaps most significantly, the words "music television" have been dropped. Well, at least there's a degree of honesty there.
John Dankworth, one of the leading figures of British jazz, has died. His wife, Cleo Laine, announced his death at The Stables, the live music site the pair established in Milton Keynes, at a party celebrating 40 years of the venue.
Born in 1927, Dankworth took inspiration from both the UK and the US, with Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker shaping his sound. Dankworth was Britain's Musician Of The Year in 1949, signaling the start of a glorious two-decade period which would see him hailed as a composer, arranger and band leader. Constantly in demand, he worked with Duke Ellington, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Houston Ballet, the National Theatre, Karel Reisz and Ella Fitzgerald.
He picked up an Ivor Novello award for his theme for The Avengers; he invented the Summer Pops for the London Symphony Orchestra back in 1985 and in the nineties added a big band, the Dankworth Generation Band, to the quintet he was already leading.
His work making music would have been enough to fill a career, but working with Cleo Laine, Dankworth also spent much of his time on musical education and charities supporting the development of other artists. In 1969, the couple created The Wavendon Allmusic Plan, designed to help people expand their musical boundaries; this was followed by the development of The Stables as a performance and educational venue; and, in 1999, The Wavendon Foundation. This most recent charity supports musicians in need of financial aid and organisations providing musical education.
John Dankworth was knighted in 2006. He was 82.
The most-read stories so far this year have been:
1. Sunday Express gets all confused about Twitter
2. The 3D Michael Jackson
3. RIP: Leon Villalba & Tim Kenelly
4. Reports - investigation into Jay Reatard's death
5. Criminal prosecution of Oink man fails
6. RIP: Kate McGarrigle
7. Wyclef Jean's Haiti charity under scrutiny
8. MP3 download: Brian Jonestown Massacre
9. Kings Of Leon take up golf. Really.
There was a lot of interesting stuff released last week:
Husky Rescue - Ship Of Light
Download Ship Of Light
Los Campesinos - Romance Is Boring
Download Romance Is Boring
Race Horses - Goodbye Falkenberg
Midlake - The Courage Of Others
Download The Courage Of Others
Hot Chip - One Life Stand
Download One Life Stand
Jessca Hoop - Hunting My Dress
Download Hunting My Dress
Chew Lips - Unicorn
Various - Rough Trade Counter Culture 09
Tom McRae - The Alphabet Of Hurricanes
Download The Alphabet Of Hurricances
The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack
Download The Soft Pack
The Sunshine Underground - Nobody's Coming To Save You
Download Nobody's Coming
We Are The Ocean - Cutting Our Teeth
Download Cutting Our Teeth
The Mary Onettes - Islands
More from No Rock on this week just gone