It turns out that Sony who have released Casino Royale and Stranger Than Fiction onto DVD have tried to use a new copy protection mechanism. The net result some sony DVD players among others can’t play the DVDs – story here : Link to EFF: DeepLinks.
According to Digital Music News (article here) Amazon are readying an music download offering that will integrate with the existing store (rather than an independent entity like iTunes etc). The really exciting part is that the downloads will be in MP3 – no DRM! According to the article the will happen regardless of whether or not the majors want to participate.
This of course is all good news for the indie labels who have been selling DRM free content, so shouldn’t have too much trouble striking agreements with Amazon. This can only apply further pressure to the majors to drop the DRM position. At the same time eMusic aren’t going to be happy as it is likely to eclipse their presence on the web for selling DRM free content.
A good review of the new Tom McRae album here – Link to Modern Music: Tom Mcrae – King Of Cards »
The Daily Mail has an interesting little article talking to Richard Branson (of Virgin Records fame) about how the record label was launched with Mike Oldfield as its first artist.
It about time I did another review. Although I prefer not to review mainstream artists, after all they get plenty of press already. I think this album warrants some attention as Jarvis Cocker has released under his own name rather than Pulp.
After Jarvis’ weird off shoot Relaxed Muscle we find this album returning to more familiar grounds. Although this isn’t Pulp it certainly is Jarvis at the top of his game lyrically. In truth the only real difference between this and a genuine Pulp album comes in the shape of lyrical subject and instrumentation.
Instrumentally it isn’t so hook laden and up beat (Do You Remember The First Time for example), so it takes more time to get to grips with it, but repeated listens certainly pay dividends. There are exceptions which are more musically reminiscent of Pulp’s drive such as Black Magic.
At the heart of Pulp and any good Jarvis solo effort of course are his observations through story based lyrics, and this certainly meets that. The difference between this and Pulp are subjects, the focus on the teenage and student views of life (hiding in wardrobes to watch your friend’s sister (Babies), living the life of the less well off (Common People)) has to an extent been replaced by broader issues although songs like Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time (the first single from the album) riff on those old themes, but other songs look at people in power (Running The World) and social climate (Heavy Weather, From A To I).
So if you like Pulp for its smart lyrics, you’ll love this. But if your preference is for pop sensibilities I’d approach with caution and try before you buy. Personally, I think its a fine album.
Relaxed Muscle (wikipedia)
Jarvis Cocker (myspace)
Pulp (official site)
I’ve finally got around to reading Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself To Live, and was struck by a quote that just had to be shared:
“I have more CDs than 99 percent of America, but fewer CDs than 40 percent of my friends; if an acquaintance has more CDs than me, I feel intimidated and emasculated. I think about my CDs a lot“.
Chuck used to write for Spin magazine although no contributes to other publications. The book is a chronicle of an trans-American adventure he undertook for Spin. With a straight forward style, the book feels (at least as far as I’ve got) like an modern Catcher in the Rye.
Given that a number of friends are expecting their first or just had their first baby I thought I’d share the reading that we’ve found useful.
There are dozens of books out there for the expectant mum, which go into the mechanical detail of pregnancy and child birth – a little daunting for the first time father, who really just need a rough guide as to what to expect. I read two books, both relatively light hearted and full if male humour worth reading. Firstly Jon Smith’s – The Bloke’s Guide to Pregnancy, this was probably the better of the two addressing the basics to pregnancy and both the bloke’s likely reactions as well as the expectant Mum’s, along with Marcus Berkmann’s – Fatherhood: The Truth which looked a bit further on from the pregnancy and arrival of junior. Jon smith incidentally also has his own website (go here).
Once the baby has arrived – then what can you use book wise? Well there is Satan herself – Gina Ford. People’s reactions to her books are very polarized. The problem is that her books are very prescriptive mapping out your day from the time you get up until the time you go to bed and if you slavishly followed it you’d never escape the house. From our perspective we used it to simply get an idea for a when we tried to develop a daily routine with our little one.
For the bigger picture over the first year we’ve used the first ‘What to Expect’ book, although probably not an essential read it is certainly a good book to look at in small doses.
For when the little one starts solids we found Annabel Karmel’s New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner really good. The title sounds more pompous than the book is. It suggests meals and provides easy cooking instructions, so even a no hoper in the kitchen like me can cook up baby food rather than resort to expensive bottles.
I’ve been reading the Digital Music News today – with another report of sales declining. I presume that the article is built around press releases of the likes of the IFPI and the BPI. The problem I have with these stats is when I look at the IFPI’s figures (for the UK at least) unit volumes are increasing. Taking figures from 2000-2005 (2006 figures you have to pay for) as you can see here.
Unless I’m mistaken that is definitely an upward trend. Now the relative value of individual CDs could be argued as download on the basis that prices are probably rising at lower rate than your preferred measure of inflation, but so are a large number of things (including simple production costs) – this is simply a reflection of market pressures and the evolving global market.
The other thing is that the music industry is highly seasonal – in part this is the record industries own making. How many high profile artists release a new album in the first three months of the year? Very few – your U2’s REM’s, Coldplay’s either hit the Easter period or are released in the August – November period. So you’ll see seasonal drops and rises – so 6% drop between first and last quarters is to be expected.
But releasing major artists and promoting them all in a shortish period, aren’t they creating a tougher competition between themselves for people’s dollar and pound? I know now we have a little one too take care of, I have notably more limited budget – so more albums get pushed onto my amazon wishlist if I spend my month’s music money before I’ve got all the releases I’d like. Those albums on my wishlist that aren’t purchased soon after will probably get deleted from the list – and that’s lost sales. So spreading releases means I can spread my spending better – means more sales. And I’m damn sure this is a common situation.
So as Disraeli said – There are lies, damned lies, and statistics, and the music industry may have problems but it can do a lot to help itself without resorting to suing the hell out their customers and people trying to sell their product.
I’ve been using Onfolio as my RSS aggregator. As tools for this go – its a reasonably good tool. I like the fact that as a desktop application which means it has all the convenient right click actions etc. The only serious beef was, like most techie people – my computer life is spread across several machines, so I want a consistent view of what RSS entries I’ve read to be in sync on both machines – only trouble is Onfolio doesn’t offer that facility. I used to use Pluck, which although not as good as Onfolio on the desktop it did have that sync capability via their server. But they went through a phase of server problems which caused no end of problems with the tool – it didn’t seem to fallback very well to a standalone tool.
Anyway, with Google having its Google Reader, personalized home page with its portlets and Desktop and Desktop Gadgets the chances of synchronisation for RSS feeds – desktop hooks to my Google Analytics had to be good. However it would seem to be a long way from that situation. Yes the desktop has several gadgets for RSS – but none currently sync with Google Reader, in fact these gadgets don’t come from Google. I couldn’t find any Gadgets to work with the Analytics, although there is a portlet for the homepage – although doesn’t appear to be Google’s own implementation.
Yes Google Reader does have an AJAX front end which means it has a richer interaction, but can’t beat the low latency responses of a desktop application.
I think Google are missing a real killer opportunity here – linking/providing desktop tools that can work through their own APIs to services they provide on the web means the potential for a really synchronised world.
Well its official that Apple will offer a DRM free solution; BUT at a fairly hefty premium of 20p (~$0.39) per track. You could argue you’re being asked to pay more for less!
Ok, so the quality is meant to be higher – although it does leave question begging – does that mean that normal DRM’d tracks are substandard, and that buying CDs and ripping them is still the better option? Oh, and the interoperability issue – well, the files are Apple’s AAC – so to be seriously portable, you’ll need to know how to transcode to MP3 (or Ogg Vorbis or FLAC to avoid quality loss), and how many high street punters know how to do that?
Given the finger pointing and sabre rattling coming from the European Commission and governments, are Apple likely to be out of the woods? According to the Financial Times today (Brussels to target Apple’s iTunes site) probably not as it would appear that Apple are the subject of an investigation for violating EU regulations on cross border purchasing with regards to country restrictions on purchases. Something I find kind of ironic given the successful BPI attack against CD-Wow (see recent posts) for its sourcing of CDs.