Thursday, June 09, 2005

The $peed of $ound
The New York Times has a look at the music industry in this recent editorial, on the release of Coldplays 'blockbuster' (via No Rock'n'roll Fun) ...

"Today new albums from Coldplay, the Black Eyed Peas and the White Stripes hit the stores. If you needed to be told that, then you are probably not part of the target audiences for these very popular bands. Just how big those audiences are is a matter of some concern in the music industry, which is showing unmistakable signs of languishing. Some sources report a drop of 15 percent of total sales since 2000; others say it is a 7 percent drop over the past year alone.

Record companies and retailers alike are hoping that today's sales are a blowout for all three albums - Norah Jones times three. That would be good for the weekly figures and the bottom line, but it would really do nothing to change the feeling that something is terribly wrong in the music business. The unease was palpable a month ago when the Warner Music Group went public, to a lukewarm response from Wall Street. Perhaps there was something about seeing Jimmy Page, guitar in hand, in the gallery above the trading floor that made even hardened traders queasy. But it was probably the performance of Warner Music - and the sector as a whole - that gave investors second thoughts.

The music industry loves to blame its problems on digital piracy, a case that has yet to be fully proved. The real problem is an addiction to blockbusters, and that is what today is all about - feeding the monster this industry has become. These days there are more musicians and bands than there have ever been, and there are still plenty of music-buying fans. Together, they are discovering alternative means of connecting with each other.

The big record companies continue to insist that the only route to profitability is blockbuster sales of a few titles, and the result is all too predictable - music that matters more for how it sells than how it sounds."

Growing up Goth.
Via Boing Boing: "Two high school girls in Livermore, California ran a social experiment on preppy retailer Abercrombie & Fitch and mall punk outfitter Hot Topic. Shannon Nichols, 18, is blonde, bubbly, and has perfect grades. So she dressed like a goth and applied for jobs at the stores. Nichols's friend, Sarah Adams, stuck with her preppy look and also sought employment at the shops. From Inside Bay Area:  Live Media Site181 2005 0606 20050606 052023 Shannon-And-Sarah
"The most dramatic was how the Abercrombie employees treated Sarah in comparison to how they treated me," Nichols says. "As soon as she walked in, the cashier started talking to her and told her she could meet with the manager."

Adams explained that she had no retail experience, and really no job experience. That didn't matter, she was assured by a young man identifying himself as the store manager. In fact, she didn't even have to fill out a job application, she just needed to come to a group interview being held in the next two weeks.

Nichols experienced a far different response from store employees, who basically made it clear: Don't let the door hit you on your gothic backside on your way out.." Link.

GOING BANANAS
Tze Ming Mok's roundup of the 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Banana' conference is well worth a read. Some of her highlights...

"Yuk King Tan talking quiet mellifluous iconoclasm, in front of a video of her artwork, which consisted of burning down art galleries. Stunning.

Mua Strickson-Pua, pointing out (and I keep saying this without anyone ever believing me) that Tana Umaga is Chinese.

The snippet of Roseanne Liang's documentary on her parents' ruling that she can only marry her Pakeha boyfriend if he asks for her hand in marriage in Mandarin (screening at the International Film Festival).

Mayor of Gisborne Meng Foon, in between talking a fair amount of assimilationist nonsense after the conference dinner, coming up with an absolute gem that I've been waiting a long time for someone to say: that Chinese people really need to chill out and relax."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005



New Zealand hiphop stand the fnck up
Congratulations to Gareth Shute for being nominated as a finalist in the non-fiction section for the Montana NZ Book Awards for his book Hiphop in Aotearoa. Winners anounced July 25 - good luck, fella!

You can vote for his book in the Reader's Choice section here. Click on 'Readers Choice' tag on the lefthand side of page. Get in there!


NZ Idle
I bought the latest Listener at the weekend, wanted to read the interview with NZ Idol judge Paul Ellis. Unfortunately, some idiot at the Listener thought it would be a great idea to get Pam Corkery to do the interview, and she spent the entire conversation (over lunch in a trendy Ponsonby restaurant) getting all excited over Ellis and his famous meetings with various celebrities while he worked for Sony Music in New York. She was especially excited that all those diners sitting around them were also eager to hear their conversation. Poor star-stuck woman.

There is no mention of Ellis role as manager for Ben Lummis and Michael Murphy which is surprising, given the former has just been dropped by his record label, and the latter has vanished off the face of the earth after releasing his album last Xmas. Lummis or Murphy's names don't even come up. It's a slice of journalism worthy of those other weekly rags, like Woman's Day. Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?


George Clinton gets the funk back
Musician George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic won possession of four master recordings after a 12-year legal fight involving previous business associates.

U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real returned to Clinton masters for the albums "Hardcore Jollies," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Uncle Jam Wants You" and "The Electric Spanking of War Babies." Undisclosed royalties for the albums are expected to be paid to Clinton from an escrow account." (source: LA Times)


NME Editor Conor McNicholas has just been named as Editor of the Year.

"I'VE NEVER been called a twat so many times in my life," says Conor McNicholas. "I've been painted as this bogeyman figure. But there's no grand conspiracy, there's nothing to hide."

These don't sound like the words of a man who's just won the industry's Editor of the Year award and been credited with turning around the fortunes of 53-year-old music weekly New Musical Express. But for the editor of a legendary music magazine like NME, there's a far more demanding, critical and, well, emotional audience to please than his fellow hacks."