All 24 entries tagged Music

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March 12, 2009

What next for Spotify?

I, and I suspect everyone I’ve recommended it to, love Spotify.

It’s ludicrously simple, the adverts are reasonably unobtrusive, and it’s free.

But I can still hear the creaking of the floodgates. Spotify’s a step forward for making everything ‘free’ to the consumer, but I think there’s much more to come.

First up, a simple one: Spoken word. Spotify would be 100% better if it had comedy, drama and classic radio documentaries available. I suspect much of this material hasn’t been released on CD before because it wouldn’t be economic. Now it is. The long tail’s wagging and I hope BBC Worldwide et al will jump on board it soon.

Spotify logoSecond, a new medium altogether: Games. I’ve had a look, and unless I’m mistaken, there’s nowhere to rent PC games online. Even sites like Swapgame and Lovefilm will only let you rent console games. And then they choose to prop up Royal Mail rather than use something more modern like downloads. The idea of spending £35+ on a new game has always baffled me. My attention span isn’t long enough to justify that sort of outlay. And rather than a fee-paying model, why not rent the games out for free in return for some advertising?

Thirdly, a step onto other people’s turf: TV. Project Kangaroo’s skipped off into oblivion, and there’s still a big gap in the market for non-PSB online TV. Some services are on the cusp of getting it right – we have BT Vision and it’s great, if a little expensive. Surely the ad-funded model is the way forward?

The best thing about these ways forward, in my opinion, is that they could bring in much more money than just streaming music. There’s a lot of scepticism that an advert every 20mins will be enough to pay the conservative record companies what they want. Each of these three ideas depend on the support of industries who are likely to be much more open to ‘free’ than the music industry has been.

If I was Spotify, I’d Diversify.


P.S. This article hints at Spotify trying to get on mobile devices. If I were working for Google, I’d be pushing Android to get exclusivity on it – it’d make the Apple. fall from its tree and splatter all over Cupertino.

January 16, 2009

Possibly the coolest invention since the gramophone*

My advice to you if you own shares in Apple:

Sell, Sell, Sell.

No, not because Steve Jobs is stepping back from running the company for a while (I reckon it’s permanent, myself).

But because iTunes’ business model is about to be trounced by the Swedes.

I’m a little behind the curve here, but Spotify is quite simply brilliant.

It’s the kind of invention that only requires around twenty seconds to appreciate, which is a strong indication of its simple genius.

Imagine your hard-drive being linked to the catalogues of the major record companies. And you’ve got free access to all of it. Yep, free. You can stream as much music as you want, and the only down-side is the short advert every 30mins or so.

Oh, did I say it’s free?

So you can’t download the music to your MP3 player… yet.

But this bit of software is so cool, you won’t care.

Hilariously, the Americans can’t get their hands on it yet without being nice to people or handing over some cash.

We Brits on the other hand just need to click here.

Hat-tip: Matt

* P.S. I might be exaggerating a little

November 05, 2008

Musical musings

I don’t write about music much on my blog. There is a good reason for this, which the following, rare, entry will demonstrate. I don’t know that much about it. I like to think I do, but deep down I know I don’t.

So here goes. Don’t hate me.

  • With one notable exception this has been a great year for music. Look at the songs that have got to number one. Ting Tings, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Basshunter (okay, not so much).
  • Perhaps the best track of the year (and probably the best video too) might come from left-field though. Yeah, Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon runs it close, but this is superb. Having – until recently – worked in radio, I heard this quite a while back, and my colleague knew it’d be huge straight away. See if you can spot the film star in the video – everything about it is subtle, except the product placement.
  • If 2007 was the year of The Feeling pastiches, then was 2008 the year of rip-offs of Arcade Fire? Both MGMT and Red Light Company seem to be following a similar (albeit brilliant) thread.
  • Viewing figures for The X Factor are through the roof, right? But are the viewers taking the music seriously? I’m not just asking this because they keep saving Daniel, but because I’m not convinced many of the 13m viewers are likely to pay a penny for the records that the potential winners bring out. Christmas Number One excluded, though.

That is all.

October 29, 2007

Electric Proms

I’m loving the BBC’s Electric Proms. I was half-tempted to get a ticket to something when I heard the line-up, but I just had to make do with the red button and broadband.

I’m watching “Kaiser Chiefs via David Arnold” on my laptop at the moment. I think they mean ”...with David Arnold”, but never mind. It’s still the biggest new British rock band and the composer of the James Bond films.

Needless to say, it sounds like Kaiser Chiefs mixed with a Bond film, and it’s all the better for it.

Bloc Party ”...via the Wessex Singers” wasn’t quite such a success. Some of the singers were desperately clinging to their ear-pieces, and the poor tuning suggested they couldn’t really hear what was going on.

Mark Ronson was really good, with a really great version of Back to Black.

I’ve also just discovered the BBC’s iPlayer. When I say ‘discovered’, what I mean is, I finally got it working after fiddling with my laptop’s DRM controls. If it takes me an hour to fix, I dread to think how many casual users are going to give up before getting that far.

Once it’s working, it’s alright. Very quick and great video quality. But having to switch to Internet Explorer is doing my head in, and the Library keeps going bananas. I hope they fix these glitches before promoting it. Compared with the simplicity of YouTube, it’s a joke.

But it’s weird… the BBC clearly have the online rights to the Electric Proms gigs. I mean, I’m watching it now. Yet it’s not on the iPlayer – you have to open an Electric Proms player. The iPlayer only has the BBC Two edited highlights, which isn’t much.

It all adds up to some unjoined-up thinking.

Someone’s still stuck in a linear, channel-based world, where if it’s not on one of the terrestrial networks, it doesn’t exist.

Hopefully they’ll rectify this by the time it comes out of Beta around Christmas. Especially if the content’s half as good as the Proms.

May 13, 2007


The winning entryOh dear. It gets more ridiculous every year. I swear Yugoslavia keeps dividing like an amoeba just to secure a win every couple of years. The Serbia / Montenegro love-in was particularly daft.

The Eurovision Song Contest is hardly the pinnacle of European musical talent (if it was, it’d be dominated by Brits and Yanks, and if you don’t believe me, check out the charts), but the competition seems to laugh in the face of ‘music’ even harder than it ever has.

Musically, I thought the Georgian Matrix Reloaded-style rave-up song was pretty good, although Mrs Doubtfire’s Ukrainian entry was also mildly entertaining. I thought they had it sown up, to be honest.

Scooch. Crap.The Eurovision party I went to (my first, and perhaps last) did seem to degenerate into a ‘hot or not’ contest, involving the entrants as well as the Fearne Cotton-type voting people around Europe. Iceland didn’t let us down, it was decided, although Sweden went with a man, much to the disappointment of the boys. The girls were just as bad though – if a bloke showed a bit of thigh they were panting and sweating.

We came second-last only to Ireland, and that was entirely thanks to the bias of Ireland themselves (shooting themselves in the foot yet again) and the Maltese. We may as well give the Isle of Wight a vote…

March 08, 2007

Comedy… with a dark side too

Tim Minchin is a very funny man. He’s also a sickeningly talented musician. Rather than have two – I suspect – very successful careers, he’s merged the two. This hasn’t bought him as much success as it should have done. He won a big award in 2005, and has done some modest work on Radio 4 since. But I can hear you saying “Who?” from here.

If his performance at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff was anything to go by, he’ll be a much more familiar name soon.

He’s a physical comedian, but not quite in the same way as Eddie Izzard or Ross Noble. He hides behind his piano, his clothes and his enormous hair! There’s a bit of shyness there, but it’s hard to tell whether it’s genuine.

His musical ability is really very good indeed. Not only is he a fantastic pianist and an amazing vocalist (think a rougher Damien Rice vocally) but his songwriting is really top notch. A couple of his songs are so well written that they’re funny on stage but could be fairly genuine if heard on the radio.

It’s hard to describe him much more than that, so I’ll just list some of his song titles to give you an idea of what he’s about…

  • Inflatable You
  • If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife)
  • Angry (Feet)
  • Some People Have It Worse Than Me
  • Ten Foot Cock And A Few Hundred Virgins

Oh, and there’s Peace Anthem for Palestine.

He also plays a great song about Islam and Bob The Builder…

He’s great, and if he’s on tour near you, I urge you to go.

February 16, 2007

The 21st Century Commandments

I’ve been listening to this new track from an outfit called Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. It’s called Thou Shalt Always Kill and it is, put in simple terms, absolute fricking genius.


Thou shalt not steal if there is a direct victim
Thou shalt not worship pop idols or follow lost prophets
Thou shalt not take the names of Johnny Castro, Strummer, Johnny Hartman, Desmond Dekker, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix or Sid Barratt in vain
Thou shalt not think that any man over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a paedophile – some people are just nice
Thou shalt not read NME
Thou shalt not stop liking a band or comedian just because they’ve become popular
Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry
Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover
Thou shalt not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover
Thou shalt not buy Coca Cola products
Thou shalt not buy Nestle products
Thou shalt not go into the woods with your boyfriend’s best friend, take drugs, and cheat on him
Thou shalt not fall in love so easily
Thou shalt not use poetry, art or music to get into girls’ pants – use it to get into their heads
Thou shalt not watch Hollyoaks
Thou shalt not attend an Open Mic and leave as soon as you’ve done your poem or song you self-righteous prick
Thou shalt not return to the same bar or club week in, week out, just cos you once saw a girl you’re never going to flipping talk to anyway
Thou shalt not put musicians or recording artists on ridiculous pedestals no matter how great they are or were
The Beatles were just a band
Led Zeppelin, just a band
The Beach Boys, just a band
The Sex Pistols were just a band
The Clash, just a band
Crass, just a band
Minor Threat, just a band
The Cure, just a band
The Smiths, just a band
Nirvana, just a band
The Pixies, just a band
Oasis, just a band
Radiohead, just a band
Bloc Party, just a band
The Arctic Monkeys, just a band
The next big thing will be just a band
Thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-English speaking countries as to those that occur in English-speaking countries
Thou shalt remember that guns, bitches and bling were never part of the four elements, and never shall they be
Thou shalt not make repetitive, generic music
Thou shalt not make repetitive, generic music
Thou shalt not make repetitive, generic music
Thou shalt not make repetitive, generic music
Thou shalt not make pimp my ride
Thou shalt not scream if you wanna go faster
Thou shalt not move to the sounds of the wickedness
Thou shalt not make some noise for Detroit
When I say ‘hey’, thou shalt not say ‘ho’
When I say ‘hip’, thou shalt not say ‘hop’
When I say, he say, she say, we say, make some noise
Kill me, please
Thou shalt not quote me happy
Thou shalt not shake it like a Polaroid picture
Thou shalt not wish your girlfriend was a freak like me
Thou shalt spell the word Pheonix p-h-e-o-n-i-x, not p-h-o-e-n-i-x, regardless of what the Oxford English Dictionary tells you
Thou shalt not express your shock at the fact that Sharon got off with Brad at the club last night by saying ‘izzit?’
Thou shalt think for yourselves
And most importantly of all, thou shalt always
Thou shalt always kill.

NB: The lyrics vary a bit each time.

It’s Choose Life by the PF Project. It’s Baz Luhrmann’s Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). Only it’s much, much, better.

February 14, 2007

A Surgeon Required at Earls Court…

Joss Stone, sans head...Joss Stone seems to have got her head stuck up her own arse.

Perhaps she misheard the bit where they told her she wasn’t performing tonight. Because ‘cor blimey, she tried.

And failed.

Once of Devon, Stone now seems to have turned into an annoying strumpet of American descent. She has form. She was also the worst performer at 2005’s Live 8. She royally tanked.

Sod off and grow up, love.

Kids aren't as stupid as we thought they were

University degrees with significant rises in applications (2007 v 2006):

  • Civil engineering 18,605 up 13%
  • Economics: 37,974 up 12.8%
  • Physics: 19,140 up 12.2%
  • Chemistry: 20,786 up 11.3%
  • Fine art: 9,703 up 10.5%
  • Maths: 33,790 up 10%
  • Music: 21,281 up 9.9%
  • History: 6,021 up 9.2%
  • English: 55,581 up 7.6%
  • Biology: 23,367 up 6%

They’ve obviously noticed that if you’re graduating with tens of thousands of pounds of debt, you may as well do something useful.

January 23, 2007

Seven reasons why…

Mika...Mika is the most exciting thing in music:

  • He’s written a song that’s gone to Number 1 in the charts, on downloads alone
  • It’s a Number 1 that’s actually good
  • He wrote it himself
  • A poll of music executives says so
  • The video to his single is pure mad
  • He’s a bit like Freddie Mercury

And my favourite:

  • NME have refused to feature him because he appeals to too many people, which is surely reason enough on its own

January 12, 2007

Goodbye Preston, and Good Riddance!

Preston This gormless individual (right) is Samuel Preston, lead singer of The Ordinary Boys (apt name). He went on Celebrity Big Brother last year, demonstrated a complete lack of personality and started bonking fellow contestant, Chantelle Houghton, who wasn’t actually a celebrity at all (much like Preston).

Since then he’s released a number of pisspoor records, culminating in the abysmal “I Luv U” which challenges Mr Blobby in the musical talent stakes.

Mr Talent was in the news this week for walking off a recording of Never Mind The Buzzcocks after host Simon Amstell started reading from his wife’s autobiography. In it she details just how exciting her life has been. I’ve not read it, but I’m sure it’s great for insomnia.

In an ironic twist, Mr Talent has branded Amstell a “snotty little posh boy”, which is hilarious simply because Preston lives in a large country pile, far removed from his faux-Cockney roots. He’s a direct descendant of Earl Grey (of the tea). He is also rather snotty.

He said Amstell’s career had plummeted since he presented Popworld. Patently untrue. Never Mind The Buzzcocks is a much bigger gig.

Preston, I hope that when you left the studio, you left television behind forever. You won’t be missed. And nor will your stupid wife.

January 05, 2007

Music takes one step forward, two steps back

From this Sunday, ‘old’ tracks will be eligible for the Official Singles Chart, meaning a return to the Top 10 for tracks released over six months ago.

Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars was released in August 2006, but is still going strong online. In fact, with the ‘new rules’ it’s expected to return to the Top 10 this Sunday.

If the rules had been in place before Christmas, Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas (Is You) would have been in the Top 10, as would an ancient Proclaimers track.

So let’s get this straight a minute…

The charts have been lying to us all this time! What was in the charts has only been what was deemed (by someone) ‘new’ music.

When was it decided Snow Patrol was no longer new? (Stop sniggering at the back!).

December 13, 2006

Ray to win X Factor!

Ray from The X Factor Yes, it’s true. I want that precocious, cocky, saccharine tw*t, Ray, to win The X Factor this weekend.

Only by letting such one-hit-wonders-in-waiting win these things will we eventually drive them into the ground. One day Simon Cowell will live in a two-bed semi in Staines because he made one crap TV show too many. And I predict that a win for Ray and his inevitable downfall in 2007 could finally kill the format.

A win for Leona would be thoroughly undeserving. She is far too good for this series, and it would be simply cruel to lumber her with the ‘honour’ of winning such a pile of shite.


December 02, 2006

Radio 1's Live Lounge on Tour

I’m often critical of BBC Radio 1’s output. At times it’s lazy, a bit dumbed-down even for its target audience and its weekend schedule is still rubbish.

But credit where credit’s due. This week Jo Whiley’s been travelling around the country with her Live Lounge while hosting other gigs in the evenings.

The Live Lounge is essentially a cupboard in the bowels of Radio 1 where bands go and play on Jo’s show. But this week she’s been going to the bands’ houses and hosting the gig in their house. It started on Lily Allen’s house boat (which made a long journey down the M6 go quicker) and ended with Noel Gallagher playing in a competition winner’s house.

Live Lounge CDBest of all, they’ve filmed the mini-gigs and put them online. Also in there were the Kooks, Lostprophets and the Ordinary Boys.

It’s a shame Radio 1 doesn’t do more of this sort of thing. The phenomenal success of a Live Lounge compilation CD should show just how popular live music is. Again, their recent gigs as part of the Electric Proms were brilliant, especially Kasabian at the Camden Roundhouse.

Now if they could just get rid of Vernon Kay…

November 17, 2006

Children in Need promoting oral sex

I feel like Mary Whitehouse. There I was, eating my breakfast, when the video to Emma Bunton’s cover of Downtown came on the television.

The lights are much brighter there / You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares / So go downtown

These innocent lyrics, first sung by Petula Clark have been ham-fistedly turned into a piece of filth by Emma Bunton’s video.

"Emma Bunton goes Downtown"Wearing a skimpy maid’s outfit, accompanied by some buff men, Ms Bunton’s eyes and fingers head below her midriff everytime she sings the word “Downtown”.

The dirty ho.

Now in the world of music video, this would be unremarkable. We have Beyonce swimming in champagne wearing little more than a pair of knickers. We have Jay-Z and others smacking their ‘bitches’. And we have Ronan Keating, for whom there is no conceivable excuse.

But this is the official song for Children in Need!

I’m not sure what message Children in Need sends out to our kids. But if Emma Bunton’s video is anything to go by, then it’s:

“Go on kids, give oral sex a try!”

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