Musicals, Soundcloud and yet more Deadmau5

kurt-cobainRecently it’s been announced that someone, I can’t be bothered to find out who, is making a musical based on the life of Kurt Cobain. I imagine this is exactly the kind of legacy that he feared would come with his rapid ascendancy to stardom, the very fear that contributed to the decision to blow his own brains out. So it’s nice the rampant pop culture machine has fulfilled his darkest nightmares.

Whilst I have no problem with the concept of musicals and even rather enjoy it when done in an interesting or unexpected way – good examples being Buffy’s much lauded musical episode ‘Once More with Feeling’ or, umm, Glee. But I fail to see why everything is getting turned into one these days. Once it was just rom coms and the odd animated classic that got the stage musical version but it seems there isn’t a topic that doesn’t get the treatment now. I mean it’s not just Cobain either, we’re also getting a Tupac musical, presumably because gang violence seems a perfect fit for a musical right? Guess it worked for West Side Story so why not South Central? I have no idea where this will end but expect we’ll soon be seeing shows about the lives of Albert Speer, Leon Trotsky and this morning’s bowel movement.

Whilst on the subject of musicals John Lydon is set to appear in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s playing King Herod rather than the starring role but it’s still something of a surprise and really wish that in 1977 I (as an unborn fetus) had put a bet on Johnny Rotten one day appearing in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical – that would have got some good odds.

Moving on from a form of music that often involves singing mice to a mouse who DJs – yes it’s time for our weekly slagging off of Deadmau5. This week we bring you the news that he recently unveiled that he is “going Techno”, heralding it with a “Techno set”. I have no idea if it actually was Techno or if it was any good, I have better things to do with my life than listen to Deadmau5 or Techno. But I do hope it’s a permanent change as it seems to me to be a perfect match of tedious music to a tedious man.

Finally I bring you reports that Soundcloud and the major labels are in talks, or at least I bring you a report of a report that Soundcloud and the major labels are in talks. This conjures a few thoughts in my old and tired brain including of course they fucking are and in fact Soundcloud have been talking to labels, publishers and collecting rights societies for some time about royalties linked to the site as well as it appears Mixmag’s music journalism is about as good as their science coverage we saw last week”. So well done Mixmag you just keep on pushing that insightful, educational journalism.

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Shazam, EDM and VAT

ShazamWith bump back in the anchor’s chair for the week I shall return to my usual duties and inform you of all the fascinating stuff that he’s just too cool and good looking to cover. Indeed I have a fascinating series of updates including the latest developments in music recognition technology; a lively discussion on using science to impress girls on the dancefloor; and if you promise not to get too excited a review of the latest changes to how VAT works. I know, I can’t believe I’m single either.

Shazam going old school – We’ll start of with the news that Shazam are teaming up with Juno (retailer of all things dance-related) to add all the tracks in the latter’s store to the former’s music recognition database. Following last year’s link up between Shazam and Beatport I can’t imagine the digital repertoire will cover much more than a few releases on tiny labels that can’t get a deal with Beatport. But more interestingly this deal also includes their vinyl stocks too so that means all those vinyl-only releases will finally be identifiable on your mobile.

This is a good thing for clubbers and fans trying to track down the obscure track the DJ is trying to keep secret but it’s also a good thing for producers. Shazam is just the kind of music recognition tool that more and more royalty-collecting societies (such as the UK’s PRS and PPL) are starting to use to ensure the right people are paid for music that gets used in clubs, on the radio and online. So the more extensive the repertoire that Shazam has the more likely dance music producers are to get paid for their work. A good thing all around I think.

George-OsborneYour next One Direction single might cost you more – Depending on your interest in politics and the economy you may or may not have noticed that George “Total Fucking Prick” Osbourne revealed his latest budget last week. In amongst the right wing drivel and bonuses for the rich was an update to the way VAT works. I won’t go in detail, I don’t want to bore the three or four of you who continued with this post after I mentioned VAT, but basically it means that digital services based outside the UK will have to pay VAT on sales inside the UK. So even though iTunes is based in Luxembourg VAT will still have to be paid on mp3 sales. Presuming Apple haven’t suddenly become a charity we can assume this will be paid by consumers rather than the the store – so from January next year expect a 99p single track to cost £1.15. Not a huge increase but still unlikely to be a popular change….

More headlines means more funding – Some “scientists” claim to have discovered which dance moves to use to attract the opposite sex. Presumably this is an attempt to get some mainstream coverage which can then be highlighted in bold in their next funding request. Or they might just be total idiots. In any case if it interests you, you can read all the details here thanks to Mixmag – a site which we all look to for detailed and accurate science reporting.

wtcInteresting or ridiculous? – The Wu Tang Clan have a new album in the works. You, however will never own a copy or get to hear it, because only one copy will ever be made which, after a tour of art galleries and museums, will be sold to one very wealthy fan (i.e. not you). This is either clever commentary on the ability of artists to still assert their creative rights even in a world that believes such rights are worthless or a stupid stunt with absolutely no worth at all. I can’t decide which, though I suspect it’s probably both.

EDM is awful – The average EDM fan is now so awful that even the mayor of a city that has long supported dance music has finally had enough after they nearly killed someone. If you want to mark a date that EDM reached it’s zenith and the mainstream started to turn away from it then it’s very likely to be the day, Ultra, it’s most famous event is forced out of Miami, it’s home city, as the crowd are uncontrolable thugs.

On a related note I think it’s time to talk about Deadmau5. I know I should really leave this to bump, our official Deadmau5 correspondent but he’s annoyed me so much I can’t help myself. The Mau5 that is, not bump. He could never annoy me.

Anyway at the aforementioned Ultra festival Deadmau5 was drafted in to DJ at the last minute as Avicii was ill. He then preceded to “troll” EDM newcomer Martin Garrix. Firstly the idiotic online concept of trolling can not be done in the real world – when you do that it’s in fact just being rude to someone. Calling it trolling neither makes it funny or acceptable. Secondly Deadmau5’s main issue seems to have been that Garrix writes popular, dull, EDM – I have no idea what he thinks his own music is but “popular, dull, EDM” sounds right to me. If you can replace Avicii on the bill then you don’t do underground techno. Thirdly it’s extremely rude to diss another artist on the same bill as you – just act professionally you maladjusted idiot. And lastly if you’re going to “troll” someone at least try to be funny. Farmyard noises are not funny unless you’re three years old. The only thing he got right the whole time was describing himself as a “dick”. So congratulations for that I suppose.

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1000 Watt Boom Box and new Traktor Audio

Have you missed me? Of course you have! And I have missed you too.

Anyway, how about this little beauty?

ThingCan you tell what it is yet?

It’s made by Pyle Audio, (makers of woofers since 1960) and it’s a portable stereo of the kind that went out of fashion in the late 80’s. Its size and weight is about right – very portable, it looks kinda nice but why do I mention it, hmmm? BECAUSE IT BLOWS OUT 1000 WATTS MOTHERFUCKER! That’s why. And for $249 it manages to give you a digital amplifier, Near Field Communication and Bluetooth connection with Android and iOS, four hours playback on a single charge, aux in, mic in and GUITAR IN! B1tchin’.

Traktor have updated their DJ soundcard so that now, not only is it tiny (it fits ion the palm of your hand) but it works with iOS out of the box – at last! Not only does it improve the OK-for-a-small-room sound of your iDevice but is also charges it, allowing you to really relax into those 12-hour sets without worrying about your iPhone going too flat to ring a cab home. Perhaps this is just the nudge that DJs like Ricardo Villalobos need to give up their weary dedication to vinyl. No? Oh ok then.

traktor_thingFinally, have a gander at this. Japanese DJ, classical pianist and lead singer of heavy metal band X Japan, Yoshiki gave a BOGOF performance at the SXSW festival last week by playing a piano duet… with a hologram of himself. His hologram came on first, began to play  and then was joined by the real thing for a two minute battle of the pianos. I know what you’re thinking – when will you be able to see my playing back-2-back with myself? Alex assures me he is looking into it…

Read more:; Traktor Audio 2; Yoshiki

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The News (not with bump)…

BezBefore we begin today I must apologise for the lack of updates the last couple of weeks. I was off on holiday (Suffolk, it was lovely thank you) and bump has taken a brief sabbatical (he said something about Deadmau5 being in town, grabbed a sharp stick and rushed out the door – we’ve not seen him since). But I’m back now and in bump’s absence it falls to me to cover the news. It’ll be a bit like when the BBC Southern Counties presenter gets to do the BBC1 news on bank holidays, I’ll try extra hard but ultimately it won’t be quite as good. Still I’m sure we can get through this together.

Mark Berry, MP for Salford and Eccles? – We’ll start off with the rather exciting news that Bez of Happy Mondays, Black Grape and, I think, Celebrity Big Brother fame has decided to stand as an MP in his native Salford. His full platform of policies is still a work in progress though anti-fracking is being mentioned, I also expect the promotion of Freaky Dancin is going to be a key element. And given Bez’s popularity in his native city I think there is a very real possibility we’ll be seeing him in the Palace of Westminster within the next year or two.

The Japanese don’t like music anymore so the whole industry is screwed – A couple of financial announcements this week have seen a few music industry execs worry that their most recent Ferrari/trophy girlfriend/line of coke will be the last. Firstly it was revealed that the Japanese music market shrank by 15% in 2013 – that’s not just CDs but digital too (though weirdly the former is still the main format there). It’s fair to say this was not greeted as a good thing as Japan being the second largest market for music in the world. What happens there affects salaries in New York and London.

Things got a little worse the very next day when similar figures were released for the whole world which revealed a 3.9% drop, to be fair if you took the appalling Japanese figures out the drop would be less significant 0.1% but still many fear that the small amount of growth seen in recent years thanks to the explosion in downloads and streaming is gone for good and a slow slide into total oblivion is all that is left. Personally I think that’s a little paranoid and if these figures had included revenue from performing royalties, live events and merchandising things would be looking a lot healthier. Still probably not a good time to be at a record label.

I’m old – Well at had to happen sooner or later but my youth is finally so far in the past that it is officially retro and therefore deserving of celebration every few years. Yep Britpop, the music of my sixth form days, is twenty years old this year. Or at least it’s twenty years since 1994 the year Britpop exploded on the national consciousness as a nicely package scene despite the fact many of the bands had been around for some years.

Anyway the BBC are celebrating this anniversary with a series of shows filled with the usual reminiscences, exaggerations and total fabrications that such events generate. Personally I’ll probably give it a miss purely because 90% of the music was crap (I mean Menswear? Shed Seven? Sleeper?) and not because I refuse to accept the passing of time and my increasingly ridiculous age.

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