Monday, November 30, 2009

A lost opportunity?

OK, let's talk about a music manager. Actually, a fake music manager. You see, Dave Madden played the manager on The Partridge Family. I was surfing one night and ended up at a Partridge Family website, which included a recent interview with Madden. He's had a varied career, and he told a story that was heartbreaking.

My manager had a little club in Beverly Hills called The Ye Little Club and he called me in one night. I had gone out and worked some Playboy Clubs and I was in town and he called me because the singer was sick and he wanted me to come and perform on a Saturday night. In the audience was a writer for Screen Gems named Jerry Davis and his wife, and Nat King Cole's manager and his wife. After the show, they called me over to their table and Nat Cole's manager asked if I would like to do an eight-week tour with Nat King Cole. And Nat was my favorite singer, so there was no problem there!

At this point, the interviewer said, "That must have been a treat!" But Madden replied:

Well, it would have been. What happened there was the date we were supposed to open the tour at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City was the day they buried him. I never even got to meet him. So that was that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A business-government partnership gone awry - buskers don't want to sing Coke jingles in the London Underground

I live in Ontario, California, which doesn't exactly have the outdoor cafe and entertainment climate that you can find in other cities, such as San Francisco. In other places, you have singers and entertainers on the streets, and the government encourages it.

Some cities have even changed their regulations to encourage such activity. Take London, for example:

The licensed Underground busking scheme was launched in 2003 by London Underground. Before this busking was illegal and completely unregulated. Thanks to London Underground the scheme is now a licensed scheme and is popular with passengers

The quote about the 2003 legalization (whoops, legalisation) of busking was taken from the end of a London Underground Press Release, which also included the following:

From Monday 30 November buskers will be entertaining passengers on new Coca-Cola branded busking pitches across the Tube network.

Around 240 active buskers help brighten passengers' journeys by performing at 21 central Tube stations.

The licensed busking scheme currently includes 33 busking pitches, which are like mini-stages for musicians, however no busker will be required to sing or play on the Tube.

But BusinessWeek noted that the buskers do have one little teeny-tiny requirement to fulfill:

Coke also wants singers to perform its theme tune ‘Holidays Are Coming’ and other Christmas carols as part of the viral ad campaign.

As you can imagine, the buskers embraced this opportunity to sing a Coke jingle with wide open arms...oh, wait, they didn't.

Michael Ball, a 47-year-old jazz guitarist from Tulse Hill who has been busking for 25 years in Tube stations, said: "Not in a million years will I play some Coke jingle. Most buskers make half their annual income in December. Londoners are really up for it and generous at this time and we know what songs and music work. Do commuters really want to hear a corporate jingle from every busker? What a daft idea."

Coca-Cola's response?

"Coca-Cola is sponsoring busking on London Underground this Christmas but we are in too early a stage to confirm the details of the arrangement."

As Bill Cosby would say, "RIIIIIGHT." It's too early to confirm details of the arrangement of something that will happen less than 20 days from now, and for which Coca-Cola has already issued its own press release?

Superb juxtaposition - was ist das Wort für Ringo im Deutsch?

The writer of this November 10 Guardian blog post chose to look at ultra-influential German electronic band Kraftwerk from the lens of another band. You see, the writer referred to Kraftwerk as "the Fab Four." There are several striking similarities between the two bands.

First, at the height of their respective fames, each band had exactly four members.

Second, Kraftwerk had a secretary named Beatle, and the Beatles had a secretary named Kraftwerk. No they didn't - I made that up.

OK, the REAL second similarity is that both bands were EXTREMELY influential, both within their genres and well beyond. Can you say "Joe Cocker"? Can you say "Coldplay"? And there's also the legions of fans who picked up guitars or synths in emulation of their heroes.

One big difference between the two - the Beatles had a ton of hits in my home country of the United States, but Kraftwerk only had one hit here. But that hit certainly affected the band:

The money from the Autobahn hit single – which made the US top 40 after being edited down from 22 minutes to just four – afforded Kraftwerk the luxury of studio experimentation without any outside interference. It also allowed the group to close ranks and jettison all outside ties, a tradition that continues to this day – they have a legendary fear of press commitments and there is no way to communicate with their Kling Klang studios. No telephone, no fax, no reception. And as for letters? They're returned unopened. Kraftwerk evoke the isolation, boredom and monotony of existence by favouring an aesthetic detachment and a reliance on machines.

I would like to interject one thought here - there are situations in which Kraftwerk was influential musically, but not as influential lyrically. Certainly there are many Kraftwerk-influenced artists and bands who have bought into their machine-like isolation - Gary Numan being the prime example. But at the same time, there are other bands who, while incorporating Kraftwerk's musical styles, have chosen to provide a more human lyrical outlook - and right now I'm trying to figure out a way to complete this sentence without having to spell out the full name of OMD. In particular, I'm thinking of OMD's early song "Almost," and their two songs about Joan of Arc. "Almost" in particular sounds like it could have been recorded in Düsseldorf, but the lyrics are light years away from anything that Kraftwerk, or Gary Numan, were doing at that time.

Off-topic postscript - for those who remember old blogs, it appears that the Superfluous Juxtaposition blog is no more. I mourn its passing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Navigating the new rules and non-rules of online music use

I am featured in a video that is available on YouTube. However, I am not posting the video in this blog post, for two reasons.

First, my link to the video would violate the privacy of the person who uploaded the video.

Second, if you were to view the video, your visions of me as an extremely dignified person would be shattered. You see, the video was filmed this summer at the apartment complex where I grew up. The film shows me walking away from the apartment, crossing the street, and walking to the playground - but when I get to the playground, I jump up and down like a loonybird and run to the playground equipment. (The video closes with a sign noting that the playground is only intended for children age 10 and under.)

The interesting part is that the videographer chose to use Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" as background music. (Personally, I would have chosen Madonna's "This Used to Be My Playground," but this is the videographer's prerogative.) Within a day of the video being uploaded, YouTube had inserted an Amazon/iTunes advertisement for the song below the video.

This suggests some interesting things that could be done. Should my YouTube rights ever be reinstated, perhaps I should make my own video, but choose the worst possible background music for the video, just so YouTube will advertise the ability to purchase it.

Feelings. Woah woah woah.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Proving someone's point, I guess - "Won't Get Fooled Again" unavailable on MTV website

I just wrote a post in my Empoprise-BI business blog entitled Meet the new boss, same as the old boss - Tara and Steven, the new middlemen may be worse than the old. Most of you will probably recognize the beginning of the post title; it's a quote from the Who song "Won't Get Fooled Again."

In an effort to spice up things, I figured I'd find a video of the song. Because of my troubles with YouTube, I figured I'd check out what MTV had to offer. So I searched and I found a live performance of the song.

Only one problem - when I tried to play the video, I instead got the message

We're sorry, this video isn't available now. We're doing our best to bring it back.

I don't know if the old boss or the new boss is to blame, but it figures that this song would be blocked by somebody.

So, until gawlerpete's account is permanently disabled, let's go to YouTube.