Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

MUSIC: THIS YEAR’S MODEL

April 20, 2010

We do live in exciting times for music.

Everyone knows the current industry “model” isn’t working. No-one really knows the definite path forward. Lots of people are looking for their version of the path forward. We may hit on THE path. We may set off on a number of paths.

On one hand the major record companies are still blaming downloading for their woes while some artists see ready access to their music as a promotional tour for live performances and the sale of merchandise. To offset their losses the record companies want a share of the live revenue and merch, as well as the music. Some artists are forming their own record companies. Everyone’s busy taking care of their own interests, some for survival, some selfishly.

 When Madonna got into bed (not literally) with events company Live Nation she potentially sidelined the careers of future Madonnas. The way things “used” to work (in theory anyway) was that when a label landed a superstar like Madonna, that allowed them to invest in new talent. Madonna’s action took away that revenue stream from her connections.

I must admit, the “business” probably hasn’t operated that way for some time. Now when a label finds itself with a major artist the money seems to go into that artist – money begets more money. Every high profile video is potentially another artist’s album. Money spent demands more money to be earned. Tomorrow’s artists are left waiting on the doorstep.

Instead of waiting for their turn, they’re starting to take matters into their own hands. Perhaps they’re in the process of creating a new model and the major record companies will lose their control.

 The old A&R (Artist and Repertoire) function at the major record companies isn’t what it used to be. Independent labels are left to make the discoveries and take the risks. Then the major labels step in and offer their services to take those artists to the next level. What happens to the original risk-takers? Some of the major record companies in America have rewarded major artists by allowing THEM to discover, nurture and sign new artists. It becomes a case of who you know.

Conversely the Jack Whites of the world find themselves in a position to make the best of both worlds, major and indie. Jack’s formed his own label, Third Man Records, where he records his sideline acts like The Dead Weather, gives a chance to new artists (The Black Belles) and furthers the careers of a legend in Wanda Jackson. And he’s got White Stripes. Hopefully Jack’s Third Man activities are profitable, but in effect he’s doing what the major record companies used to do but don’t do any more, using success to invest in the careers of others.

The danger is that we lose a structure, a logical ladder artists climb. At the moment some of the rungs of that ladder are broken. Some go nowhere. We need to ensure that whoever starts the climb can go as high as they possibly can.

What’s been missing in all of this is the end product. We’ve been encouraged to consume music rather than “own” it. We download because CDs largely aren’t worth having. They just occupy space. Since the advent of the CD we’ve been given little to “treasure”. Physical releases are just carriers of music, not part of the experience.

Times have changed, and you can’t hold back the tide of time, but for a moment let me take you back to the experience that was The Beatles’ “Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.

 There were no singles. The title of the album was part of a concept which extended to the cover art. Inside the packaging were “cut-outs” to enable you to become part of the “Sgt.Pepper” band. The album opened with the song “Sgt.Pepper” and closed with “A Day In The Life”, which itself ended with that famous extended piano note .. and then as the needle ran off into the end groove some sound “junk” repeated over and over until you lifted the needle off.

Download that!

What I’m Listening to: The Tallest Man On Earth (The Wild Hunt), Celibate Rifles (Sideroxylon), The Killers (Hot Fuss)

WILL EMINEM SAVE RAP FROM THE BLACK EYED PEAS?

April 16, 2010

Eminem’s timing is good.

We’ve yet to hear what’s in store for us when he releases his just-announced ‘Recovery’ album, but it’s bound to clash head-on with the friendly rap rethink the Black Eyed Peas’ success represents.

No matter what you think of Eminem he both popularized rap and revolutionized it. While his fellow rappers tended to romanticize, dramatize and glorify “street life” or boasted about what was hanging around their necks, bling and women, Eminem took his tracks somewhere we could actually relate to, sometimes uncomfortably violent, sometimes even tender and compassionate. There’s been a lot of fiction in his work as well, but there’s been the glimmers of real life, his own life. He’s been inventive, funny, confounding, compulsive.

It’s amazing when you think about it that this trailer trash white rapper has had such a profound impact on rap. He consistently leaves his black brothers in his wake as a recording artist and as a producer, and the next significant white rapper is … virtually non-existent. Eminem is, black or white, the biggest selling rap artist of all time.

We weren’t supposed to get ‘Recovery’. We’d been told to expect ‘Relapse 2’ a continuation of that earlier album most of which was created while Eminem was under treatment for sleeping pills. As he worked on he realized that the songs he was creating didn’t fit the ‘Relapse’ mood any more. That’s what makes Eminem relevant. He’s governed by what he’s feeling, not by what he wants us to think of him.

Will Enimen’s ‘Recovery’ be rap’s recovery as we knew it after the Black Eyed Peas intrusion, or has the scenery already been changed forever?

What I’m listening to: LCD Soundsystem (This Is Happening), Sonic Youth (Goo), Sly And The Family Stone (Stand)

Keith Richard : DEAD OR ALIVE?

April 14, 2010

Ronnie Wood is probably being more than a little mischievous with his revelation on his new Absolute Radio show, that Keith Richard has trouble remembering how to play ‘Paint It Black’.

What are we supposed to think – that Keith’s mind has gone the way of his looks? How could Keith possibly struggle with a song we have all known intimately for decades? Easy.

 Long ago I realized that a musician’s relationship with his/her music isn’t the same as ours. I was at a performance where a much loved singer and songwriter took “requests” from his audience. The show consisted of whatever songs his fans wanted to hear from him – and there were a number of occasions during that show when our hero had to be reminded and prompted about songs and lyrics that he’d forgotten, but the audience obviously hadn’t.

When we love a song, or in the good old days, loved an album, we the fan have listened to it over and over again, many many times. The creator of that music doesn’t do that. He’ll imagine that song, refine the idea to the point of recording it, and then maybe perform it live, at most a few hundreds of times compared to our thousands. The artist can also move on and never think about that song again. Or if they do play it, the creative musician will play that song differently every time in order to stay interested.

We might expect our musician heroes to be human jukeboxes. If they’re half way decent musicians that’s exactly what they can’t or won’t allow themselves to be. The minute they become robots on stage their careers may not be over but their creative relationship with music is definitely over. That musician will never write another song we’ll want to hear.

If Keith Richard can’t remember how to play ‘Paint It Black’, that just tells me he’s still thinking about the next song he’ll write, and not consumed by a song he wrote 40 years ago. We might be but he’s not. If the truth be known it’s Keith Richard who’s kept the Rolling Stones’ musical spirit alive all these years. Without him they might have become the Rolling Bones a long time ago.

What I’m listening to: MGMT (Congratulations), Stone Roses (Stone Roses), Cream (Disraeli Gears)

Powderfinger: THE DAY YOU LEFT

April 12, 2010

 Powderfinger, Australia’s most successful group of the last decade and a half, are ending their career the way they’ve conducted it throughout, with grace and dignity.

The announcement that the upcoming ‘Sunset’ tour will be their last is no bombshell. We’ve been expecting something like this for some time. There’s no controvercy, no bitterness, no recriminations. The same line-up has seen Powderfinger through its 20 years of life. Bernard Fanning’s solo album ‘Tea And Sympathy’ came with the band’s blessing, and despite its success Bernard happily returned to the band’s fold. We’re not seeing the end of Powderfinger because its outstanding lead singer is leaving.  When Powderfinger told us they were shutting shop because they’d achieved everything they could we can believe it.

They found a “sound” and once successful with it, Powderfinger did everything possible to keep themselves and us interested, experimenting at the edges without going off the rails.

Powderfinger leave after all that time, after all that success, without having become media identities, without really reaching superstar status. They didn’t become celebrities because of the kind of people they are – happy to the music do the “talking”, happy to establish personal lives at home in Brisbane  away from the hub-bub of big city life. Despite their sales they won’t be given legendary status, because Australian music  will never see the days of Cold Chisel or Midnight Oil or Hunters And Collectors again.

Powderfinger didn’t see “alternative” airplay from Triple J for a long time.  They were never particular favourites of commercial radio stations either. Despite the fact that they have sold around 2 million albums they only managed four top ten hits – nothing to do with the music. If anyone justified across the board airplay it was Powderfinger, but that doesn’t happen any more. As radio programmers carve up music into their demographic niches a lot of music you MIGHT hear falls through the cracks, and Australian music in Australia has been the main causality. Powderfinger prove it. Their sales status was never reflected justly by media support.

Internationally Powderfinger could never gain a toe hold, and again that’s no reflection of the band or its music. Australian music has a long history of its biggest acts “missing” out on global impact. Inxs were the exception. Men At work was a happy fluke. Midnight Oil was Midnight Oil. Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham, Skyhooks. Australian Crawl and even Silverchair, some of the biggest artists Australia has ever known  for one reason or another never found offshore audiences.  Or sought it.

 In today’s world we might wear the same baseball hats but we don’t listen to the same music. Music’s still a tribal experience. But increasingly less so. Powderfinger represents the end of an era. Australia may never have a band of its own with that measure of popularity again.

What I’m listening to: Eddy Current Suppression Ring (Rush To Relax) , Midnight Oil (10-1), The Drones (Havilah)

The Beatles: AND IN THE END

April 10, 2010

Forty years ago on this day Paul McCartney announced to the world that he was leaving the Beatles. It was an arrogant and audacious action on his part. McCartney was in fact the only member of the Beatles who hadn’t quit by April 1970.

Ringo Starr and George Harrison had both already left on different occasions – largely because of Paul McCartney – and been encouraged to stay. John Lennon was gone in spirit, his attention elsewhere. He’d long ago not bothered to work on any of George Harrison’s songs and probably would have just concentrated on his own Beatles’ contributions if it wasn’t for the intense creative competition between Lennon and McCartney which had driven the group throughout their career.

When McCartney was first invited to join Lennon’s Quarrymen group – John didn’t do it himself but royally had a mutual friend extend the invitation – Lennon made a mental note not to let McCartney take over. At that stage, in 1957, John Lennon was just making it up as he went. Paul McCartney however could sing like Little Richard, could play guitar properly and was writing his own songs. John Lennon knew Paul McCartney was going to be an asset.

As well as singing like Little Richard Paul McCartney also introduced Broadway songs like ‘A Taste Of Honey’ and ‘Till There Was You’ to the Beatles’ repertoire. He was always in danger of pushing the Beatles’ music in that direction. John Lennon recklessly rushed to see what new thing was around the corner. That difference was part of the Lennon-McCartney magic.

The Beatles started dying in 1967, when their manager Brian Epstein committed suicide. After a period of grieving the band met and decided not to replace him. They weould make career decisions themselves. They went to work on the “White” album, and the rot started to set in. Their next significant project was then something Paul McCartney dreamed up during a plane trip between America and England, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. Paul McCartney was starting to assert himself over the group, in the studio telling Ringo and George how he wanted things to be done, sometimes even just sidelining them and playing their parts himself. That was then the backdrop to ‘Let It Be’ and ‘Abbey Road’, recorded in that order, but released the other way.

Complicating relationships even further was the recognition that they DID need business guidance. Paul wanted his Eastman in-laws’ legal firm to take care of things. Lennon in the same cavalier way he’d handed the ‘Let It Be’ tapes to Phil Spector to “fix”, talked Ringo and George into signing with Allen Klein. Oh-oh.

Paul McCartney didn’t just quit on this day. He didn’t just issue a statement. He hijacked the Beatles. His announcement came with the press release revealing the release of McCartney’s first solo album and came in the form of a Q&A where he was both the interviewer and the interviewee. After discussing the new album with himself McCartney came to the heart of the matter.

 Q: “Is this album a rest away from the Beatles or the start of a solo career?” PAUL: “Time will tell. Being a solo album means it’s ‘the start of a solo career…and not being done with the Beatles means it’s just a rest. So it’s both.”

 Q: “Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones?” PAUL: “Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know.”

Q: “Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?” PAUL: “No.”

The rest of the Beatles begged him to delay the release of his album, so it wouldn’t get in the way of ‘Let It Be’. They knew it would be the Beatles’ last official release and wanted to do it with dignity. They sent Ringo as emissary, but it did no good. As Paul had told us it was the end, although the legalities of it all took many years to resolve, and then, when the rights to the Beatles records came up for renewal McCartney negotiated a higher royalty for himself.

Now there are just two. John Lennon was assassinated. George Harrison died of lung cancer. Ever since, McCartney has done his best to channel to himself all the good will music fans still have for the Beatles. He wants us to believe that relations with him and the others were “friendly” in the end, but throughout the whole journey the “cute” Beatle has been too cute by half.

What I’m listening to: Slash (Slash) , the White Stripes (Elephant) , Morphine (Yes)

McLaren : LOSING THE BULL IN OUR CHINA SHOP

April 9, 2010

“Be childish. Be irresponsible. Be disrespectful. Be everything this society hates.”

Malcolm McLaren said and did many things in his colourful life. He put those words together long before we ever heard his name, as the manifesto for an unfinished film while he was still at college. He added another unspoken aspect to his mission statement. Get others to be childish, irresponsible, disrespectful, everything this society hates.”

Malcolm McLaren was a minipulator.  As the world attempts to eulogize this unique cultural provocateur in the wake of his death from cancer in New York what will emerge is a picture of a man who used people, media and the art for his own end, no matter what the consequence to others. McLaren is famous of course for creating and managing the Sex Pistols, punk icon but also the Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle. He swindled them and us, and walked away richer, still sane and able to get on with his life. The same can’t be said about others he encouraged to live by his manifesto. They weren’t as clever as McLaren. Clever he certainly was. He knew exactly what he was doing. The consequences for others were incidental.  They were collateral damage.

He lived by another creed, which he applied in his post-punk life – “Stealing things is a glorious occupation, particularly in the art world.

The era of sampling and mash-ups was made for Malcolm McLaren. He appropriated other musical cultures, interposed them and put his own name of the music he “created”. He was still at it just a couple of years ago when the former failed art student – by academic “society” standards of course – had his ‘Shallow 1-21’ shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The series of 21 segments consisted of just a few frames from obscure sex films slowed down and repeated to match the length of pieces of mashed-up music.

Malcolm McLaren didn’t play life according to anyone else’s rules. It’s up to those who knew him personally to judge him as a person. From our point of view, as outsiders, he ran riot, and when someone deliberately spoils  something we think we admire and forces us to reassess it, we actually turn out better for the trauma of the experience.

Heaven or hell, Malcolm McLaren will make himself a nuisance.

What I’m listening to: Black Francis (NonSTopErotik), The Dandy Warhols (Welcome To The Monkey House),  Jimi Hendrix Experience (Electric Ladyland)

Nirvana’s producers : TAKING CREDIT

April 8, 2010

You could immediately feel the excitement created by the announcement recently that the Foo Fighters are recording a new album with Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ producer Butch Vig. Immediately the expectations are high.

No matter what we will eventually hear it’s a good move from the Foo Fighters’ perspective. In an earlier blog I “predicted” 2010 might be a watershed year for Foo Fighters. I was expecting the end. This development represents a tantalizing continuation. I thought it might be the end because I wondered what more the Foo Fighters could possibly offer Dave Grohl. Has he outgrown them?

The Foo Fighters has been one of the great rock music adventures, starting out as a bunch of recordings made by Grohl virtually on his own as a way of coping with the downward spiral Kurt Cobain was on, becoming Grohl’s survival when Kurt didn’t survive. Under the Foo Fighters banner Grohl gradually mutated his project from its solo beginnings to a group with a fluid line-up finally arriving at the permanent line-up we know as Foo Fighters today.

Musically, carefully or deliberately, he’s avoided anything which might have brought a Nirvana comparison. Foo Fighters have won their place on their own merits. So it’s interesting to see Dave Grohl heading back into the studio with Butch Vig. Maybe Dave feels strong and confident enough to cast the Nirvana shadow aside once and for all.

Nirvana has also loomed largely over Butch Vig’s production career. At the same time as defining and shaping Nirvana he was defining and shaping Smashing Pumpkins. Maybe he also sees this as an opportunity to cast Nirvana into the past. It’s very possible that this new Foo Fighters record will not take us back, but take this whole adventure another step forward.

The producer label on a record has always been an ambiguous one. Butch Vig is a “legitimate” producer, what we tend to understand by that term, the next step up from an engineer, someone who knows what the studio equipment is capable and uses it to help the artist on the other side of the studio glass panel get what they want from the studio A producer can be a trusted set of extra ears in the recording process. Butch Vig seems to be that too.

Some “producers” however are simply in the studio to minimize arguments between band members. Some make absolutely no positive contribution, but through an association with a previously successful record still find themselves a valuable asset from the record company point of view. A name producer is always preferable to a no-name. Their name alone might earn them that germinant royalty from the sale of an album.

Steve Albini’s is another name we look for on the credits ever since his association with Nirvana. Kurt Cobain found Albini’s name on his favourite Pixies album and Steve was put in charge of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ follow-up ‘In Utero’. He didn’t do what the band’s management nor the record company wanted of him. They were so unhappy they tried (unsuccessfully) to drive him out of the business.

Steve Albini was a maverick before his association with Nirvana, a maverick then, and a maverick still. His name on a record guarantees extra sales, but he recently upset the rest of the producers fraternity with this statement – “Royalties are a means to pay producers in the future — and in perpetuity — based on record sales. If a band does a show, blows a whole bunch of minds and a bunch of people become fans and go out and buy millions of records, the producer gets paid. I think that’s ethically unsustainable. I don’t think you should pay a doctor extra because a patient doesn’t die. I think the doctor should be busting his ass for every patient. I don’t think I should get paid for someone else’s success.”

What I’m listening to: Erykah Badu (New Amerykah Part Two), Harper Simon (Harper Simon), Big Brother and the Holding Company (Cheap Thrills)

SHOULD CHINA BE AFRAID OF BOB DYLAN?

April 6, 2010

Not only is China afraid of the Brave New World – Google – the world’s most populated nation is also is also seems to be afraid of the Old New World. Bob Dylan’s planned tour of east Asia later this month has been called off after Chinese officials refused permission for him to play in Beijing and Shanghai. From where we stand in the rest of the world, Bob long ago lost his mantle as the Voice Of A Generation.

If the truth be known it wouldn’t be Bob’s classic protest songs “The Times Are A Changin’” or “Blowin’ In The Wind” Chinese authorities are afraid of, but Bob himself. They’d be afraid that Dylan might use his visit to make some statement on the issue the Chinese government is MOST afraid of, Tibet. China’s trying to wear the rest of the world down through the passage of time. The longer their autocratic rule of Tibet is allowed to run, the harder it will be to unscramble that “egg”. Once the “real” Dalai Lama’s roaming the world ends by his inevitable death, China’s appointed Dalai Lama will hold more authority.

The Dalai Lama not Bob Dylan is the Voice Of A Generation China want to keep silent. The Dalai Lama represents the hopes and dreams of a generation of Tibetans. Once he’s no more, the hopes and dreams of that generation go with him. Every day, every month, ever year the old Tibet is being swallowed culturally and politically by China.

Bob Dylan long ago lost his mojo for leading the revolution. Read his book ‘Chronicles’ and you find out with what distain he regards that aspect of his career. What Dylan is today, what he’s become, is the character he invented for himself way back in the beginning. He didn’t want to be Robert Zimmerman, Jewish son of a furniture store owner. Even before landing in New York from Minnesota Bob was inventing his own history, telling everyone who didn’t know his true story that he has a drifter who had been wandering America for years. He was singing a mixture of traditional folk songs, some country and hillbilly. Then he read Woody Guthrie’s ‘Bound For Glory’, about poor people displaced by the depression. Woody was a writer, cartoonist AND entertainer. His guitar carried the words ‘This guitar kills fascists’. For a while the drifter Dylan became the “new” Woody Guthrie, never imagining the impact his songs in that vogue would have.

But that was never the “real” Bob Dylan. Dylan has spent years getting back where he started out. He’s really happier as that drifter he invented at the age of 19. He’s been on his Never Ending Tour for years now, performing some 100 shows every year. He wanted to “drift” to China, probably no more or less than  just that, but the Bob Dylan WE invented still haunts him.

 What I’m listening to: John Butler Trio (April Uprising), Hall And Oates (Abandoned Luncheonette), Billy Bragg (Life’s A Riot With Spy V Spy)

ROCKERS LIVING WITH MONEY

April 2, 2010

It’s always gratifying when a high profile person lives by the principles they espouse, especially when they put their money where their mouth is – Lord knows some of them end up making a lot of money.

(By the way, what HAS happened to the money THEY asked US to donate to the Haiti earthquake victims?)

Pearl Jam has announced the band has invested $210,000 to plant trees in Washington in a bid to offset the carbon footprint left behind by their 2009 US tour. The group’s investment covers their own travel and hotel contributions, as well as the emissions by fans who travelled to dates on the 32-date jaunt. “Pearl Jam is a band but we are also a business,” guitarist and co-founder Stone Gossard told Reuters. They hope other musicians and businesses will follow their lead. Pearl Jam made a similar investment in 2003 and are continuing to look at ways to minimise their footprint.

Money becomes a (happy) problem for successful entertainers. Most musicians and actors start out starving for their art, sleeping on other people’s floors, living subsistence lives. Then, what they hope for becomes a reality for a few, keeping the hope alive for the rest. Money. They buy cars, they buy big houses, and if they’re smart they invest. How long will it last? 

It’s not always easy to live up to public expectation, as U2, for one continually find. Last year, their tour promoters were fined for U2’s excessive sound levels at Dublin’s Croke Park.

The richest Irishmen in the world, they’re tax exiles. They’re also property developers, not always meeting with approval for their proposals. In 2008 Bono found himself described as “behaving like just another private-jet-addicted property speculator feeding on Ireland’s greedy zeitgeist” over the renovations for Dublin’s then 177-year old Clarence Hotel. Bono and The Edge purchased the 49-room hotel in 1993 and in 2008 put together a consortium for a $220-million redevelopment which would triple the hotel’s size and top it with a panoramic glass bar. It meant tearing down four adjacent Georgian buildings, gutting the hotel and expanding it to 140 rooms. Preservationists were not happy. Elswhere in their Dublin hometown, the rockers were also embroiled in controversy over their backing of a new 394-foot building – popularly dubbed the U2 Tower. It would be the tallest building in Ireland, an apartment building, with a recording studio owned by the rock group U2 in a “pod” at the top. Construction was to begin in 2008 and end in 2011. In October 2008, the project was suspended indefinitely because of the economic downturn.

The Edge is currently still facing fierce opposition from his Malibu neighbours over a proposed 156-acre development overlooking the Pacific Ocean which would include five houses, his own among them. Locals insist the plans are out of character with the area and are resisting The Edge’s proposal with all their strength. It’s the “other” world Bono lives in now, aside from his music and the humanitarian activities which have seen him nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Just last week it was claimed that Bono’s investments into Elevation Partners, which has offices in New York and Menlo Park, have helped make him the “worst investor in America” after “an unprecedented string of disastrous investments which even bad luck could not explain”.

Writing hit records and standing on a stage must be a lot easier.

Incidentally, U2 recorded their first single 30 years ago today.

What I’m listening to: Lifehouse (Smoke And Mirrors), Shapeshifter (The System Is A Vampire) The Doors (Strange Days)

NO.1* (*MAYBE)

April 1, 2010

The American music bible Billboard magazine has launched a new series of digital music sales charts, which will track the top songs in 21 specific genres based on Nielsen SoundScan data.

It’s another sign of where the music industry’s at. Too much research. Too much pigeon-holing. Not enough intuition. Remember the days when a radio dj (even that term has to be explained now) turned a single over and made the B-side a hit? What’s missing from the almighty Nielsen SoundScan figures and their world-wide equivalents is the qualification “where surveyed”. Obviously their coverage is extensive, but they’re not EVERYWHERE, and what’s not counted might just be the most telling figures of all, specialist boutique outlets rather than supermarkets. Take notice of all the facts and figures we’re fed, apply them to whatever your interest or involvement is, but ALWAYS leave room for that other ingredient so vital to music’s health, intuition. Read AND listen.

 As far as genres go, we build too many fences around the music that’s made, expecting people to stay within those boundaries. When you go to someone’s house and cast an eye over their CD collection, or get a chance to browse their iPod playlist, how many times to go find that collection genre specific? Yet, that’s what the industry says happens. And that limits the possibilities. Could a Beatles happen today? How many genres are the most popular artists of the day allowed to cross over? It also means that soft-rockers like Nickleback and Matchbox 20 become “hated” and tough rockers get whipped off rock radio playlists as soon as they’re not “cool” any more. Blandness rules, because that’s what all the facts and figures generate.

The best thing about download sales surveys is that The People are (temporarily?) back in control. Music charts were also about finding out what was happening in the marketplace so the industry could respond accordingly. But slowly music charts became a reflection of what the industry wanted to US to know, not a measure of consumption but a measure of how much was shipped or hyped. It’s information we basically already know before the Nielsen SoundScans gives that information validity.

If we line up No.1 records – especially albums – against total sales achieved will we list the same music?

What I’m listening to: Allison Moorer (Crows), Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (I Learned The Hard Way), Christ Whitley (Living With The Law)