August 28, 2006

Black and White (is the new Gray)

The paranoia is over. It's fact. The myth that music downloads can happily sit next to traditional sales has been expunged (yes, in NZ). Our world is changing in the way we obtain information, multimedia and consequently: entertainment. It's worth a lot of money, it's worth a lot of careers and recently worth a fair amount of jailtime here in NZ.

"The noose is tightening" as I quote, is how the NZ music police see their progress toward pirated material:

The music piracy watchdog is tightening the noose around the thousands of people who illegally upload and download music - and the worst offenders may face criminal charges as early as the end of the year.

First in line would be those who offer thousands of songs for uploading, says Mark McCall, director of anti-piracy for the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand.

"We are primarily aiming at those who are uploading and, as a consequence, we might find those downloading.

"Uploading" is sending songs to an internet host; "downloading" is taking them from a host.

"If we serve cease and desist orders and they do so, then we could end our action there," Mr McCall said.

That is all good (yes, I'm taking this as a cue, and will not be posting any more full ogg files on this blog), yet my web stats constantly tell me that you are one in a small bunch of regulars, and few of you have ever downloaded the music I've put up here. I will instead only provide a hook, or the interesting part of a copyrighted song I'm referring to. I would seriously doubt I'm a part of this threat and is the exact reason why I don't have a myspace page and never will. I'm much more interested in talking about the music, how something makes me feel, it's production value or subject matter, rather than the politics surrounding it. I got off the "I hate microsoft" thing a while back, and while I still disagree with DRM, I understand it.

I like to promote music. I'm in the radio industry for goodness sake. It's what I do everyday, anyway. As an example, I sample full CDs beginning to end while in the car (proof I hate iPods), then recommend it to some people, and criticise it to others - this often happens here on my blog. Music is an emotional thing, and when used as a promotional tool for artists, it helps deliver the topic and also make light of the artist, prompting purchases of the music through the net (if possible), or at your favourite music store. Does anyone have a 'favourite' music store anymore?

I can see why many other music based blogs are tracking massive hits every day. Promotional releases really should be directed to these bloggers who are credibile and have a passion for their genre, and utilised for this purpose! Word of mouth is very effective. My last CD purchase was the new Tom Petty album "Highway Companion". Why? The net is flooded with bloggers talking about it, I sampled a few tracks and liked it. It's now in my car CD shuttle. I'm using this system too, and it feels really good.

Promotion is a huge industry in itself, and traditionally, the costs are massive to promote anything. Say, to have a billboard promoting an A-List artist/band on a busy stretch of road - those are worth thousands every month. NZ On Air shell out $5000 music video grants every month, which airs on music TV, some CD singles include the video as a compressed mpeg, official websites have the clip to stream - all to promote ONE song, without any real guaranteed return. It's clear that a short lived music file on the net can do the same thing, especially if the site has thousands of "credit card ready" surfers willing to buy it after sampling. I went to the store and bought mine, but the "sale" is not what I'm interested in. I'm only interested in talking about the music, not selling it. The massive difference between sales and promotion.

One thing at a time say the music police. "One thing at a time." If I receive a cease and desist letter, I'd be equally chuffed as I would be obliging. Lets see how things shape out.

However, free press and opinion will remain (as long as Blogger provides it). Hmmmm. The internet is refining itself and perhaps may be shrinking?

That said, its also great to see that the Britney Spears billboard thing [story] pulled itself out of its own arse.

August 24, 2006

Life at the Metro?

We're so far up ourselves we cant see out, and the latest comes from Japan:

Tokyo's subway has refused permission for an advertising poster featuring a nude and heavily pregnant Britney Spears, branding it "too stimulating" for young people.

The picture of the pop singer - nude but covering her breasts with her arms and crossing her legs at the knee - appeared in the August issue of Harper's Bazaar and will be on the cover of the magazine's Japanese edition in October.

The publishers had hoped to display the cover photo for a week at a subway station in a trendy part of central Tokyo, but ran into resistance.

"We thought some of our customers would find it to be overly stimulating", said a Tokyo Metro official.

Harper's Bazaar could not be reached for comment.

Not all was lost. The Metro and the publishers agreed to display the poster after all but masked the picture below the former teen idol's elbow with a statement reading: "We apologise for hiding part of a beautiful image of a mother-to-be". REUTERS

What has society come to, if we are bending over backwards with stupid idiotic "fixups" like this? Perhaps the 12 million Japanese in Tokyo (1.3 million commuters who use these trains) would be more offended than 'stimulated'. Maybe the minority of Japanese men that find this 'stimulating' are the poor saps who work at the Metro everyday not seeing the light of day, just, a pregnant Britney Spears. How the mind must wander...

I also find it interesting that Reuters also call Britney a former teen idol. Yes thats definitely correct - as having babies is not what teenagers should be doing... so who is her market then?

Live On Release - I'm Afraid Of Britney Spears

August 17, 2006


First place goes to Terabyte for the fantastic work on the new Radio Hauraki website. Everywhere you look, you can see representation of their audience. I'm a big believer in doing things right first time, because often in anything, first impressions count. Content is vital and keeping things updated will keep visitors coming back. After being much delayed, I'm glad to see the official Hauraki website online.

I thought this might be a good time to pit the competition against each other using their websites, and see who's in tune. Things you should consider: Does the website serve the listener and visually represent the listener? Is it easy to navigate and have strong appeal?

Each picture has a link to their respective websites.

Radio Hauraki (Terabyte)

The Rock (CanWest?)

Newstalk ZB (Terabyte)

Radio Live (CanWest?)

More FM (CanWest?)

Classic Hits (Terabyte)

Viva (Terabyte)

The Breeze (CanWest?)

Mai FM (Streamweb)

Flava (Terabyte)

Aside from most of the commercial players, it looks a lot of the niche formats have better tuned websites:

95bFM (Cactuslab)

George FM (?)

Niu FM (DMD)

Kiwi FM (CanWest?)

Radio New Zealand (RadioNZ)

Even the Low Power scene has a few standout examples of functionality, and clear branding:

UpFM (Black Knight)

Base FM (modified template)

August 14, 2006

Post #300

How did I get to 300 posts already? Cripes.

The sun is mostly out and I have no idea what to post here for this 300th post. Actually, thats a lie. I have lots, but they're all in draft form.

It's happy birthday to my awesome bank manager today. While I was waiting for my appointment, I noticed they were playing the theme to Austin Powers ("Soul Bossa Nova" by Quincy Jones) from the ceiling speakers in the bank. I saw one of the other consultants wiggling her shoulders to it. She then realised I witnessed this, so told me it reminds her of their Christmas party last year, where "Austin Powers" (Gary Brown) was their DJ on the night and it was very memorable. Memorable? Hmmm, perhaps there was a 'deposit' made that night? Yeah baby yeah!

Meanwhile, Duran Duran are still utilising new technologies way before mainstream does. I hear the guys are performing a live concert as themselves on the increasingly popular virtual reality website Second Life. This is great - as I can now see DD live, without even being there (as such). Download and listen to the BBC interview they had with Nick Rhodes HERE, and if you're online at the time, look for me (as "Retro Bueller") at this online concert!

August 10, 2006

Pleased to meet you

At lunch today, I picked up some fish and chips (the best of NZ), some Ginger Beer (best of Oz) and parked my ass at one of those small reserves in Ponsonby. They are scattered all over the place, between parallel running roads all across the inner city.

It was very pleasant. Sometimes you need to clear your head from work and just zone out, and when I was opening the wrapping of my fish burger & chips, I spotted a small character in the corner of my eye.

A cute little cat named "Shadow" was sitting in the grass looking at me. I glanced over and there was that unspoken moment where somehow I communicated to the cat that "yep, alright then, come over. I'll pat you. Its safe".

Shadow likely lives on Douglas Street or maybe Fitzroy Street, and as you can tell by the picture, he is a very cute cat! Say "Hi" if you ever bump into him.

Aneiki - Pleased To Meet You ogg/1.8Mb/2001
Sam Cooke - Wonderful World ogg/537kb/1960 (mono)
Fleetwood Mac - Albatross ogg/1.2Mb/1968

August 7, 2006

The future of AM/FM radio?

How to keep your radio station's slice, in the ever shrinking media pie.

You remember the Media Pie? New Zealand has been long overdue to move into the digital download domain, perhaps because there's been no firm light at the end of the tunnel. A big unknown, and thats not what you build corporations on. Radio can exist in NZ for now, they way it is.

Portable devices like iPods are set to double in sales by 2009, and by then, Microsoft will have their own device out there as well. Kiwi iPod owners have had half the package so far - that is - we get the device, but not its full capability, namely the iTunes shop. I hope the NZ music industry will wake up when they compare their profits to our neighbours in Australia. Our artists are impacting there, so I'd think that'd be a good place to start comparisons, in relation to potential.

Apple have struck a deal recently with Ford, General Motors and Mazda, in which iPod input plugs will become standard. As you'd expect, Digital Radio in the US are gonna feel the bite, as traditional radio has. When these massive car companies filter their models down through the rest of the iPod capable world (NZ included), we will be able to do away with those shitty iTrip's and plug straight into the dash.

This means less listening time to any form of radio - AM/FM or digital. So how will our existing radio industry survive this, considering that the future is making itself more and more apparent every damn day?

Radio needs to go back to being live. Right now radio. The only way someone will consume radio, is for live events. Breaking news, sports coverage, live social events etc. At the moment, iPods are only capable of playing back files that have been downloaded onto them. I suspect Apple won't take long to build in a tuner and for people to use that, they've got to have a reason to listen.

Radio may only have one real chance to capture an iPod/portable device consumer. Radio has to prove its worth for one to consider it a valuable addition to ones "very personal iPod", otherwise its game over. Music stations will thin out massively and the NZ music industry will very very likely have to bite the bullet, rebuild and go online as its major income earner. Live niche radio broadcasts will be an obvious attraction (the original purpose of radio, really), and just wait till iPods become internet capable and streaming becomes an option, then we'll see who listens to what!

I see myself writing these things, in disbelief. It seems all too far-fetched to ever happen, but every day its becoming a reality, somehow.

Its interesing just how portable media devices like the iPod, have become the catalyst (maybe a baby to something bigger?) in the technology revolution, and how it is changing our traditional media landscape, often faster than we can keep up.

Click here to view Sammy Hagar albums @ Real GroovySammy Hagar - Ether ogg/0.5Mb/1997

August 4, 2006

New Music Aug 4, 2006

I love my late 70s, 80s and early 90s music. All the jams are in there, some of the best written, produced and most inspirational music came through. As much as I like to wear my gray tshirt with "1984" across the neck, I have to break the mould in this post, just to say that there are some fantastic songs out there right now.

Beyonce & Jay Z - Deja Vu
I like how songs like these start - it leads with a false sense of rhythm, then when it kicks in, you get a surprise and your head starts bobbing. Nice.

Clipse ft. Pharrell - Mr. Me Too
Always a fan of Pharrell, and while I haven't got the track he's done with Sleepy Brown (I would have posted that one instead), this is signature Pharrell, and Clipse gels this one together.

Fergie - London Bridges
Perhaps a wise move for Fergie, as she was never an original member of the Black Eyed Peas. Doing a solo project may prove too fruitful and hard for her to return to the Peas. I can hear and see a similarity between her and Gwen Stefani (ex No Doubt) not only with the sound of this song, but both are the female parts of a group, gone solo. It worked for Gwen, Beyonce, heck even Carly Binding.

H.I.M - Killing Lonliness
Pop Rock 2006 styles. Have I grieved enough over the loss of Channel Z? This would have been thrashed, and Im a sucker for dynamic love metal bands. Learn about their Heartagram (very cool)

Lostprophets - Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)
While were on the modern rock tip, this should be a slap in the face to the owners of now folded new rock formats out there. This is class and you are not.

Ice Cube ft. Snoop Dogg - Go To Church
I just like it coz these are two of my favourite all time rappers. Not sure if I like Ice Cube's new album but this track is good enough to hear 4-5 times a day.

Jessica Simpson - A Public Affair
Why the hell is this here?!?!? I'm a retro boy remember... the clip sees Jessica Simpson, Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate rollerskating (its making a comeback in the US). The last time I went rollerskating was 1997, before the Papatoetoe club was closed. Props to Cheapskates for sponsoring it for as long as they did. I'd think NOW would be a good time for a new generation of young kiwis to get into rollerskating as a social event, and this would be the song playing in the rink.

Justin Timberlake - SexyBack
JT. You headline maker, you heroin addict! One day you'll be caught and charged with posession - then you too will be sucked into the gurgler, its just a matter of time. Until then, you keep making that money in advance for your hefty lawyers bills about to come your way. As for the song, I especially like the shout ("yeah!").

Lily Allen - Smile
Thrashed at CHR radio at the moment. Like her logo too - little lightning bolts are way sexy. Oh, and her mum dated Harry Enfield. I suspect she has an awesome sense of humour :)

Panic At The Disco - I Wrote Sins Not Tragedies
To finish up, I quite like this rock track as it reminds me of The Killers who had some great hits last year. Powerful, emotive and young. A band unbound by templates.