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Archive for November, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blackroc feat. Mos Def + Jim Jones “Aint Nothing Like You”

Blakroc: Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) Ft. Mos Def and Jim Jones
Blackroc is a collaborative album between former Rocafella head honcho, Dame Dash, and the Akron based duo, The Black Keys. The first single finds Mos Def and Jim Jones jumping on board

The King Khan & BBQ Show: Invisible Girl (Album Review)


Before he donned his gold lamé hot pants and played wild shows like the unholy offspring of Little Richard and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, King Khan made a pair of loose, lewd, lo-fi albums with fellow Montreal ex-pat and former bandmate BBQ—a.k.a. Mark Sultan. Three years after their lip-smacking What’s for Dinner?, the duo re-teams for another set of R&B-inflected, ’60s-influenced garage rock with its juvenile-delinquent charms and dirty minds intact.

“Tastebuds” is both ridiculously raunchy and insanely catchy, while “Anala” only hints at deeper indiscretions with its lascivious doo-wop backing vocals. “Third Ave” is a girl-group ballad writ small, but the limitations of the line-up—just Khan’s skuzzbucket guitar and BBQ’s primitive drums—make it sound bigger and more immediate than a retro retread has a right to be. More than just revivalists, the duo plays these decades-old styles like they never went out of fashion, which makes Invisible Girl a satisfying and strange record.

Jack White Produces & Plays Drums, Guitar on New Smoke Fairies 7″


When Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire spotted Jack White among the crowd of a London bar, the pair were determined to catch the ears of the famous Third Man Records CEO, White Stripes, Dead Weather, and Raconteurs member, and worthy candidate for the “Savior of Rock” title. According to God Is In The TV, Davies and Blamire, the singer/guitarists behind folky duo the Smoke Fairies, convinced the DJ to spin one of their tracks before passing Jack White a CD and glass of Whiskey. Well played, ladies.

Jack called them up later, offering plane tickets to Nashville to record with himself (on drums, guitar, and timpani), “Little Jack” Lawrence, Corey Younts, and Shelby O’Neal as a backing band for what would become a “Gastown”/ “The River Song” 7” due out on iTunes and limited vinyl Dec. 7th.

For more details go here and to stream a preview (that went live on their MySpace while I was writing this post), go here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

RIP TECHNICS… PRODUCTION STOPPED ON 1200S AND 1210S…


In the Mix
The DJing community and the greater dance music scene mourns the loss of a clubbing staple today. No, Steve Aoki hasn’t hung up his record bag, but rather news has emerged that iconic turntable manufacturers Technics will be stopping production on their universally loved Technics 1200s and Technics 1210s.

In a statement re-posted on dance board Global Hardstyle, the company behind the production of the Technics turntables Panasonic announced that they would cease the manufacture of Tehcnics turntables in February next year, citing an increasing decline in sales as the motivation behind the line’s demise.

The Australian arm of Panasonic issued a similar statement today, expressing their disappointment that the brand’s 35 years-and-running legacy was to be put to bed.

“It is a sad day today but due to low sales globally in analogue turntables a decision to stop production has been made on Technics Turntables,” Panasonic spokesman Ian North explained. “For Australia this means we will receive our last shipment in March.”

Pocket Lint:

We’ve seen a couple of reports on message boards that seem to indicate that the iconic Technics SL-1200 and SL-1210s may be about to be discontinued. If true, it would be a surprise, as both models represent iconic turntables and are widely considered the industry standard in nightclubs.

The rumours appear to originate from a New Zealand DJ shop called DMC World, which says on its product page: “Panasonic (the manufacturer of Technics) have announced that production of the world famous Technics SL-1200 and SL-1210 DJ turntables will stop at the end of February 2010”.

The turntables have been around for more than 35 years, and are featured in the London museum of Science and Technology as an important step in how music has been played and presented over the last century. Their popularity has ensued due to their tank-like construction, high torque and effective insulation from acoustic feedback.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pixies: “Hey” Live on Jimmy Fallon

Open Auditions for Robert Zemeckis´ Animated Beatles Film


Are you a struggling actor who keeps getting rejected due to your uncanny resemblance to Ringo? Or perhaps you’ve been growing a massive beard whilst practicing unofficial college dorm room bed-ins. We’ve got just the gig for you: The folks who turned Jim Carrey into Scrooge and Tom Hanks into a train conductor are casting their remake of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

This Saturday and Sunday, an open call audition will take place in Stamford, CT, which claims to be for an animated feature film called The Fab Four, “a motion-capture feature like the current Disney release of A Christmas Carol.” That title is just a ruse, though, as the reliable /Film reports, “this is Robert Zemeckis‘ remake of Yellow Submarine.”

There is some speculation that these auditions, which are going down at a Beatles convention called BEATexpo, are some kind of publicity stunt for the film and Zemeckis did claim recently that he hadn’t “gotten the word yet on the two surviving Beatles, whether they’re interested in doing it or not,” but that would only account for half of the lead roles anyway.

Still want to give it a shot? Check out all the details, video references for scenes you’ll need to play, and more here, but be sure to read the fine print: “IMPORTANT: We are looking for the vocal quality they had from 1967-1970.”

Hahaha… Good luck with all that.

Polvo- Right the Relation (Music Video)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fair Play? A Million Spotify Streams Earned Gaga $167


How much money do artists really make from Spotify? According to Swedish paper Expressen, 2009’s standout breakthrough artist Lady Gaga and her songwriter Redone made just SEK1150 (£100.76; $166.56) in songwriting royalties from one million Spotify plays of her hit Poker Face in Sweden in the first five months after Spotify’s launch in October 2008, according to figures from the Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM).

STIM told paidContent: UK that Universal Music-signed Gaga actually generated SEK 2,300 (£201.53) through plays of Poker Face—she keeps half while the other half goes to STIM, which handles songwriters’ copyright payments in Spotify’s native Sweden. STIM points out to us that Gaga has her own separate deal with her label when it comes to streaming—I asked Universal to tell us what that relationship is, but have yet to receive an answer. Spotify has also yet to answer our questions.

Update: Spotify told us in a statement that any STIM payment “would only represent a fraction” of the money that goes to rights holders from the service. The company stresses that it pays “not only collecting societies, but also publishers and the record company to play their music.” It also argues that the $167 is from “way before we’d established ourselves as a music service and built up a large user base”. Actual payment amounts for individual artists remain confidential but Spotify calls this one “certainly wide of the mark”.

So that’s royalties, but by how much are artists reimbursed in total for plays on streaming sites? As with much of the murky world of on-demand music rights, it all depends…

Mark Mulligan, VP and research director at Forrester, says digital platforms should give artists the same ratio of rights revenue they get for CD sales—for most indie labels it’s a 50/50 split between artist and label, for the majors it’s skewed more towards the company than the performer.

But there’s another problem: “When you start getting into situations where record label has taken a stake in the service—as is the case with MySpace Music and is heavily rumoured to be the case with Spotify (N.B. Spotify categorically denies this)—once you’re in a JV scenario, the label can take another revenue stream.” So the label gets paid twice: once through its revenue share of the JV and once for its rights payments, while the artist gets a reduced share of the overall pie.

Mulligan also doubts that US music chiefs’ reluctance towards Spotify’s freemium model is down to a mistrust of free music and more to do with an industry-wide fear that streaming sites have failed to convert enough users to paid accounts and haven’t yet had a meaningful effect on still-rampant P2P piracy.

But it’s not all bad news for established artists online: Gaga’s Poker Face was earlier this year declared the UK’s most downloaded song ever is now on some 800,000 PCs and mp3 players (her Let’s Dance is number three), while Universal says she sells far more digital tracks than physical CDs.

However, for emerging acts waiting for their breakthrough, who have to pay back their recording costs before their contracts allow them to start making any decent money, could find themselves out of pocket for a long time if the audience’s primary mode of listening is services like Spotify.

Warner Bros. Down $18M for the Quarter, Revenues Down 9% for the Year…


Digital Music News:
Warner Music Group posted substantial quarterly and fiscal year losses Tuesday morning, thanks largely to recorded sales declines and restructuring costs. According to details shared ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street, losses at Warner Music (WMG) reached $18 million (12-cents per share) for the period ending September 30th, a reversal from a year-ago quarterly gain of $6 million (4-cents per share).

Analysts, as polled by FactSet, had expected a quarterly gain of 4-cents per share. Separately, a group of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters called for profits of 5-cents per share. The difference between analyst expectations and actual returns will probably drive share-price declines during Tuesday trading.

A substantial portion of the losses were attributable to severance costs, a downsize that will ultimately minimize losses and overhead. That is inline with efforts at other major labels.

Other indicators were mildly positive. Quarterly revenues edged upward one-percent to $861 million, and 5 percent on a constant-currency basis. That actually beat analyst expectations, which hovered around $820 million. Digital revenue topped $184 million, up 10 percent over the previous-year period, and 12 percent on a constant-currency basis. Digital assets accounted for 21 percent of overall quarterly revenues.

Warner Music Group’s quarterly report
Loss from continuing operations was $18 million, or ($0.12) per diluted share, for the quarter, compared with income from continuing operations of $6 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, in the prior-year quarter. The current-year’s quarter included the Severance Charges, which amounted to $0.09 per diluted share.

The company reported a cash balance of $384 million as of September 30, 2009. As of September 30, 2009, the company reported total long-term debt of $1.94 billion and net debt (total long-term debt minus cash) of $1.56 billion. Net debt at September 30, 2008 was $1.85 billion.

For the quarter, net cash provided by operating activities was $36 million compared to $119 million in the prior-year quarter. The decline in operating cash flow was largely related to our anticipated back-end weighted release schedule, which resulted in negative working capital due to an increase in accounts receivable. Free Cash Flow (defined as cash flow from operations less capital expenditures and cash paid or received for investments) was $20 million, compared to $100 million in the comparable fiscal 2008 quarter. Unlevered After-Tax Cash Flow (defined as Free Cash Flow excluding cash interest paid) was $20 million, compared to $122 million in the comparable fiscal 2008 quarter (see below for calculations and reconciliations of Free Cash Flow and Unlevered After-Tax Cash Flow).

Adam “MCA” Yauch Starts DVD Subscription Service


Still no release date yet for The Hot Sauce Committee Part I, but in a hopeful sign that Adam “MCA” Yauch is recovering well after having a cancerous tumor removed from his parotid gland, the Beastie Boy is back to work at Oscilloscope, the indie film company he started with ex-ThinkFilm executive David Fenkel.

The Hollywood Reporter reports (via Flavorwire) that Yauch and Fenkel have launched “The Circle of Trust,” a direct-mail DVD subscription service, just in time for the holidays. As their official site states, here’s what you get for the $150 asking price:

Next 10 Oscilloscope DVD releases
DVDs will arrive about one week before official street date
All shipping and handling charges included
Ability to purchase one of each previous Oscilloscope DVD release for half price (plus shipping & handling)

Sounds like a combination of Jack White’s Third Man Vault and, yes, those Columbia House deals from back in the day. Actually, Yauch embraces the latter comparison:

“It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and get a magazine and you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get, but that’s what makes you so excited about it,” he told THR, joking later on the subject of Columbia House, “Hopefully we can reach that level of harassment.”

As a part of the subscription, future releases may include the Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster-starring drama The Messenger (currently in theaters) and many more interesting films. Check out their back catalog here or go here to join the “The Circle of Trust.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spotify US launch delayed by record labels’ concerns


Spotify’s hopes of launching its online music service in the US are being held up by record labels’ concerns about its ability to convert users of its free service to paying subscribers, according to music industry sources.

The company, which has attracted glowing press and strong interest from venture capitalists in Europe, said last week that a US launch now looked unlikely until early next year because of the complexity of the US market, where it would need agreements with thousands of music publishers.

However, sources in three of the four largest music companies told the Financial Times that record labels’ financial concerns were the greater hurdle. “We think Spotify is a great service but they’re going to have to convince us they can convert enough people from free to paid subscriptions to make it worth our while,” one label said. “As an ad-supported service the economics don’t work at all.”

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s co-founder, acknowledged at the Monaco Media Forum last week that subscription revenues would be critical, saying: “It’s not about the ad service and not about the subscription business, it’s about the two working together.”

However, Spotify has also played up the rates it can charge advertisers, saying that its ability to determine a listener’s mood based on the beats per minute in the songs they are listening to has helped it achieve high click-through rates of as much as 6-7 per cent.

Music industry executives told the Financial Times that they needed to see evidence that Spotify could achieve a mooted conversion rate of about one in 10 users paying for a premium service such as its iPhone application. The number of free users who convert to subscribers is currently well below that figure.

“We’re not asking them to show us a better conversion rate but to at least tell us how they’re going to do it,” another label insider said. The stalemate comes as Spotify is looking at using its relationship with Li Ka-shing, one of its investors, to enter the Chinese market. “In China, the number one thing people do online is listen to music. But it has a minuscule [legal] music industry,” Mr Ek said.

The industry’s disagreements over digital strategy emerged again yesterday when EMI announced it would start putting videos from some artists, starting with Norah Jones, on Hulu, the online video site backed by NBC Universal, News Corp and Walt Disney.

Hulu’s first music industry deal comes as YouTube, Google’s online video service, is planning to launch Vevo , a Universal Music-backed music video site, on December 8.

Universal has support from Sony Music, but is still in negotiations with EMI and Warner Music.

The Strokes to (Possibly) Hit the Studio (Again) in January


Julian Casablancas sure hasn’t been alleviating fears about the fate of the Strokes’ 4th LP in interviews of late, candidly admitting to “disagreement[s]” over “whether the songs are ready,” saying that “a band is actually a great way to ruin a friendship,” and that—like Noel and Liam Gallagher before Oasis split—”apart from when [they]’re rehearsing, [they] don’t see each other.”

Things got a bit more hopeful, however, when he told Pitchfork, “We’re supposed to get back together in January but don’t hold me to that. We’ve been trying to do it for years.” And now it looks like those January plans are actually coming to fruition:

“While the guys are in LA, I went to scout some studios in NYC with Ryan today for what looks like Jan recording!!! mood = f***ing excited!” bassist Nikolai Fraiture tweeted on Friday. This is just speculation, of course, but if “Ryan” is manager Ryan Gentles and “the guys” are the Strokes, then next year just got even cooler.

Winning “Album of the Decade” by NME and others must be a pretty good motivator, I suppose.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spoon Reveal First Transference Dates


Hitting the U.S. and Europe in coming months

Spoon’s next album, Transference, is due January 25 in Europe via Anti- and January 26 in North America via Merge. And in the coming months, lucky folks in the U.S. and Europe will get a chance to hear Spoon play some of these songs live. Spoon’s catalog of spiky new wave jams is already pretty huge, and they’ve always been totally smooth and on-point onstage, so you’re pretty much guaranteed a good night out if you hit up one of these shows.

All dates are below.

Spoon:

12-03 Kansas City, MO – Midland Theatre
12-04 Boston, MA – Orpheum Theatre #
12-11 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom *
12-12 La Jolla, CA – RIMAC Arena
12-31 Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theatre !
02-14 Glasgow, Scotland – King Tut’s
02-15 Manchester, England – Academy 3
02-16 London, England – Electric Ballroom
02-18 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
02-19 Cologne, Germany – Luxor
02-20 Berlin, Germany – Frannz Club

# with Phoenix, Passion Pit
* with Black Joe Lewis
! with Jay Reatard

Charlotte Gainsbourg And Beck Video “Heaven Can Wait” (Music Video)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Arctic Monkeys planning fourth album


Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders has revealed that the band have already discussed the recording of their next album – although they plan to take time out before gearing up work on it.

The drummer told BBC 6music that the band, currently on tour in the UK, plan to whittle down potential songs for the album further down the line.

“We’re already talking about when we can record again, but I still enjoy being on tour as well,” he said.

He added: “It’s good to have time to work stuff out, then at least you can start doing the quality control before and actually record what you think is decent, rather than recording hundreds of songs to then find out you only like 10 of them.”