December 28, 2009

And they let kids listen to this?

Hopelessly unfashionable as I am, I’ve recently been listening to Steeleye Span’s Commoners Crown, and thought it was worth tabulating the events of the first three songs.

Infanticides 2
  -- of which grotesque and ritualistic 2
  -- corpses used to pollute water supply 1
Murders, other 1
  -- rooms covered in blood as a result of         3
Executions 2
  -- of which barbarous 2

If this is not sufficiently impressive, consider that of these three songs, one is an instrumental.

After this the album does come off the boil rather and the remaining six songs deal only with relatively minor moral errors such as theft, drunkenness, transvestism, abduction and Peter Sellers playing the ukulele.

I am not sure how this level of depravity and destruction compares to Grand Theft Auto on a per-minute basis but I feel that there is surely a youth marketing opportunity going begging here.

December 28, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 18, 2007

A great Patti Smith story

Dave Winer reports a great Patti Smith story: "Patti's mom ... told her, on the day she died, that when she was inducted [into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] she should play her favorite song, the one she played while she was vacuuming. Smith told the story so sweetly, so you had to wonder what the song would be. She turned around, put the mike to her mouth and screamed: 'I don't fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future.' Mom's favorite Patti Smith song, it turns out, was 'Rock & Roll Nigger'."

I love Patti Smith too.

March 18, 2007 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2005

Differential pricing

Joel Spolsky:"The reason the music recording industry wants different prices has nothing to do with making a premium on the best songs. What they really want is a system they can manipulate to send signals about what songs are worth, and thus what songs you should buy."

The problem with Joel's analysis is that the music industry has had differential pricing for ages, and it doesn't work the way he says it does. Differential pricing is essentially time-based: new albums appear at an introductory price, then rise to full price as they go into the back catalogue, then either get deleted or are re-issued at "mid" price. (Except for the Beatles, and even they have started turning up on "special offer" increasingly often.)

In fact, for new albums, differential pricing works exactly opposite to the way Joel says it does. Chart albums -- which, by extension, means any album the record company wants to be perceived as a chart contender and to be positioned at the front of the record store -- are actually priced cheaper than non-chart, non-promoted albums. Compare the week-of-release prices of the new Madonna album and the latest 77-minute Norwegian death metal opus. In the UK, with supermarket discounting, front-of-store records would typically be at least one-third cheaper in the week of release than records that went straight to the main racks.

Joel's theory that the record industry wants differential pricing as a means of leverage doesn't hold water either. When a musician gets uppity, all the recording industry has to do is threaten to release their next album with no promotion. No plugging on the radio, no video, no adverts in the music rags, no interviews, no purchasing of front-of-store space, no in-store displays. That may kill it stone dead. Threatening musicians with promotional discounts? Er, I don't think so.

November 20, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2004

The new music industry

Fantastic, forward-looking discussion over at the Guardian between Feargal Sharkey and Jem Finer of how music and the music industry can move forward in the Internet environment. Realistic about the dangers, excited about the opportunities, and very much focused on working musicians.

September 4, 2004 in Music, Web | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2003

Music in miniature

Brian Eno (via The Old New Thing): "'We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,' this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said 'and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long.'" I love reading Eno's thought processes. He's so open to inspiration. Everything is a source of ideas, a chance to explore the seemingly impossible.

September 9, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 11, 2002

Weirdest pop lyrics

"Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads."  Frankly unsubstantiated market research from They Might Be Giants, We Want a Rock.

"The image of the female self subverting the male dialogue with his dick."  Sex, yes, violence, yes, angst, yes, but post-structuralism?  Pop enters unknown waters in Katell Keineg, Leonor.

September 11, 2002 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2002

Why music does or does not sell

New Scientist: "Last year, two big music markets bucked the global sales trend: Britain and France.  How come?  Both countries have produced home-grown, non-manufactured acts that have committed fan bases built up through the traditional virtues of performing and regular new songs.  Instead of expending all its energy stamping out piracy, some observers believe that the industry should stop pushing manufactured, anodyne music that many feel no compunction about stealing, and rediscover the art of nurturing bands worth paying to hear."  (I've linked to the home page as the article is currently available only in the 6 July print edition.)

July 9, 2002 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack