Saturday, November 30, 2013

The retirement of "The Other Guy" from music

Word from London is that an illustrious musical career has ended with the retirement of "The Other Guy" - a musical genius whose career is shrouded in anonymity.

Having begun his career in the mid 1960s as one half of the duo Peter and Gordon - although it was unclear whether TOG was Peter, or Gordon - The Other Guy moved to America after 1967 to start a musical group with singer/drummer Karen Carpenter. While in that group, he branched out to join a second musical duo, this time with Daryl Hall.

Returning to his native England at the end of the 1970s, The Other Guy became an important part of the country's "New Music Scene," simultaneously holding positions in Soft Cell, Wham!, and the Pet Shop Boys. Due to the magic of video and makeup, TOG achieved his greatest accomplishment by holding three positions in the popular band Culture Club.

This set the stage for the rest of TOG's career, as the digital revolution allowed him to hold down multiple positions in a variety of bands, including Oasis, Take That, Coldplay, and Gorillaz, while still maintaining his presence in Pet Shop Boys and in various other bands.

Tiring of the grind, TOG recently abandoned his professional recording career and entered a more lucrative profession, performing as a lounge singer in Cannes under the name John Baldwin.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Via .@martynware, I discover that my favorite Lene Lovich song wasn't a Lene Lovich song

Many, many decades ago, I was a disc jockey on Reed College's former radio station, the powerful 10-watt KRRC. One of the songs that I played was Lene Lovich's "The Night," a dramatic and mysterious piece that you could find in those punk/New Wave days.

Fast forward a few decades, and I'm poking around on Songfacts after (U.S.) Thanksgiving dinner, and I happen across an interview with Martyn Ware. Toward the end of the interview, he was discussing a British Electric Foundation release called "Dark." In response to a question about the album's title, Ware responded:

Well, the original idea was to do dark, electronic versions of previously happy pop songs, but the idea kind of evolved over time. It's not quite as focused as that. So some of the songs were originally dark, yeah, like "I Wanna Be Your Dog" just ended up being a reinterpretation in a different way. I was fascinated initially with the idea of recontextualizing lyrics into a different context. So the thing that inspired me and gave me the idea was originally a song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons called "The Night." I don't know if you know that song. Do you know it?

The Songfacts interviewer wasn't familiar with it, and neither was I - or so I thought. But since I had been listening to some Four Seasons recently - both "Beggin'" (a song that was recently remade by Madcon) and "Who Loves You" (which, as far as I know, hasn't been remade yet), I figured I'd seek the song out on Spotify. I found it on a collection of songs from the Four Seasons' time at Motown, and I was listening along to it, and then I heard the chorus...

...and realized that I had heard this song before.

Just with another, very different artist.

Hear them both on my recent two-song Spotify playlist:

Incidentally, Ware said that HIS remake of "The Night" didn't make the album. Now I'm curious.

And now I'm going to have to figure out how many bands have remade Four Seasons songs. "The Night" itself was also recorded by Pulp, among other bands.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The seventeenth minute of the "Girls" video - GoldieBlox's so-called "apology" - and its estimated revenue

As I just noted, GoldieBlox has pulled the "Girls" parody video (actually they just made it private), and replaced it with a video with different audio.

According to the New York Daily News, GoldieBlox "caved to the Beastie Boys."

I'm not so sure.

Normally when party A apologizes to party B, party A says they're sorry, and doesn't dredge up old issues with party B.

But take a look at GoldieBlox's letter to "Adam and Mike". The following is sprinkled through the "apology."

When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls....

Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves....

We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours....

[W]e are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.

Some people would claim that I've quoted selective portions of the letter. Actually, the "selective" portions are the majority of the letter.

While the letter begins with the statement "we don't want to fight with you," GoldieBlox carries on the fight. We took your sexist song and made it into something worthwhile, but then your lawyers threatened us, and how were we supposed to know Adam Yauch's position on using Beastie Boys songs for commercial gain? We have the right to post this video, but we've withdrawn it, and now you'd better promise not to sue us.

Some apology.

Oh, and there's one more thing that Todd Wasserman calculated. For the period of time that the original video was on YouTube, Google ads were displaying next to and within the viral video - and GoldieBlox was earning money from those ads.

Before the company pulled the first version of the ad, it had racked up 9 million views. While it's hard to say what the value is of such a viral video, a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on ad revenues from the song Gangnam Style (about $1.7 million for 1 billion views) reveals that the figure is around $156,000.

Assuming a similar arrangement (with Google getting about half the ad dollars), GoldieBlox should make about $78,000 in ad revenues from the viral ad.

Even if Wasserman's estimate is high, that's not the only revenue that GoldieBlox received. Let's say that the GoldieBlox people, all big Beastie Boys fans, HAD respected Yauch's dying wish and had NOT created the video. Yes, the video would have received some views because of the Rube Goldberg stuff, but it probably wouldn't have received 9 million views.

I have no way of knowing how many product sales resulted from those 9 million views - the so-called "like economy" doesn't necessarily translate to real dollars. But GoldieBlox certainly got a bump in sales.

And, of course, there are those sales that will occur BECAUSE the video was "suppressed." Assuming that GoldieBlox and the various parties (the Beastie Boys and the various record and production companies) can come to an agreement, the next task for everyone involved will be to track down all remaining copies of the video and slap a DMCA warning on them. GoldieBlox will claim that the Beastie Boys are doing this. The Beastie Boys will claim that the record company is doing this. And interest will heighten in the product that is being suppressed.

I don't understand why girls would want to grow up and become engineers. It's obvious that it's much better to be a viral marketer.

GoldieBlox - Mission accomplished? Video with "Girls" parody now private, replaced by new video

A new wrinkle in the GoldieBlox story, that I learned about from Dan McDermott:

GoldieBlox does the right thing: Pulls ad w/ Beastie Boys song, replaces audio

The original viral YouTube video is now marked Private...

McDermott believes that this is a case of GoldieBlox doing the right thing. (Note that in McDermott's opinion, use of parodies to sell a commercial product is not a good thing.)

But now I'm beginning to wonder.

In one of my posts from yesterday, I quoted from a Felix Salmon piece about GoldieBlox's request for declaratory relief.

Given the speed with which the GoldieBlox complaint appeared, indeed, it’s reasonable to assume that they had it in their back pocket all along, ready to whip out the minute anybody from the Beastie Boys, or their record label, so much as inquired about what was going on. The strategy here is to maximize ill-will: don’t ask permission, make no attempt to negotiate in good faith, antagonize the other party as much as possible.

And now, just a few days after GoldieBlox asserts its right to use "Girls" in a parody withdraws the parody video from public view?

Paraphrasing Salmon - given the speed with which the revised GoldieBlox video appeared, indeed, it's reasonable to assume that they had it in their back pocket all along, ready to whip out the minute anybody from the press, the blogosphere, or the likers/commenters, so much as inquired how GoldieBlox could do something so negative as sue the Beastie Boys. The strategy here is to maximize good-will: after the 15 minutes are up, play nice and pretend that the whole thing never happened.

Perhaps that's a cynical view, but there are two questions that remain unanswered:

First, why did GoldieBlox decide to withdraw the original video? I doubt that it was done for legal reasons. Perhaps it was a public relations move to appear nice. Or perhaps GoldieBlox had gotten all of the mileage that it could get from the original video.

Second, when was the "new" soundtrack actually assembled? Did GoldieBlox audio engineers rush through the weekend to come up with this new soundtrack? Or had there been two versions of the video all along?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Beastie Boys and copyright infringement? "Say What"?

In its coverage of the GoldiBlox-Beastie Boys dustup (see my two previous posts on the topic), the Hollywood Reporter made a point of noting that the Beastie Boys themselves have been on the other side of copyright disputes.

One of the reasons why the [GoldiBlox] video has captured the cultural imagination is its choice of music from the Beastie Boys, who it must be noted are still defending a copyright lawsuit alleging illegal sampling on the album Paul's Boutique.

The Hollywood Reporter then linked to its own September article on a recent lawsuit. While several claims of copyright infringement from TufAmerica (regarding songs by Trouble Funk) have been thrown out, two claims still remain to be litigated.

Just to illustrate how detailed copyright decisions can be, here's the Reporter's account of one of those samples.

There's a one-second sample of the Trouble Funk song, "Say What," that is used on the Beastie Boys' "Shadrach," and even though it's just a second, the judge notes, "This is not simply a phrase in the song, but rather the title phrase of the song." In other words, it's qualitatively significant.

Of course this still hasn't made it to an actual trial.

You gotta fight for the right to be transformative

Watch this.

What's that, Brooklyn Dolly Llama? You're saying that this is an obvious rip-off of the Beastie Boys?

But wait a minute. Weird Frankie over here is saying that this song is a direct commentary on, and rejection of, the original song.

Did you say it's for commercial use, Brooklyn Dolly Llama?

Well, the company that created the video above, Goldieblox, is going to get this settled, one way or the other, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Goldieblox is now going to a California federal court to get declaratory relief that the video is not a copyright infringement.

In my layman's understanding, Goldieblox is engaging in a pre-emptive strike, before the Beastie Boys sue Goldieblox (although it's unclear whether the Beastie Boys actually were going to SUE Goldieblox).

Once it gets to court, the case should be cut and dry, right? Well, in a piece entitled Goldieblox and the Three MCs, Andy Baio notes that it may not be all that cut and dry.

Courts frequently reverse decisions on appeal, only to have appeals overturned by higher courts....If even judges can't agree on fair use, what chance do the rest of us have of understanding it?

One thing that struck me when reading Baio's piece is his use of the word "transformative," especially in regard to Leslie Nielsen's movie advertisement and 2 Live Crew's song. This relates to the first of four factors to be evaluated when "fair use" is claimed. These four factors are briefly listed on (which, in a delicious irony, is not itself protected by copyright):

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

(This fourth factor has an interesting ramification. What if a parody - say, Goldieblox's parody of "Girls" - is so effective that music buyers decided that the Beastie Boys' original is sexist, odious, and not worthy of purchase?)

Both the Nielsen and the 2 Live Crew cases, and many, many others, were also discussed by Stanford University on a page that listed a number of fair use cases, accompanied by the final court determination. Two examples, one of which includes, "novel" attempt to use the t-word:

Fair use. A person running for political office used 15 seconds of his opponent’s campaign song in a political ad. Important factors: A small portion of the song was used and the purpose was for purposes of political debate....

Not a fair use. A defendant in a music file sharing case could not claim a fair use defense since he had failed to provide evidence that his copying of music files involved any transformative use (an essential element in proving fair use).

In the course of writing this post, I had occasion to revisit a post that I had written in 2004 about the JibJab-Woody Guthrie thingie - a post that primarily consists of quotes from other publications.

Hey, I had only been blogging for less than a year at that time....

P.S. For more information, see the Beastie Boys message board thread on this topic. The "boys" are so old, the URL includes "bbs." For a slightly more modern presentation, see Goldieblox's Facebook page. Oh, and if you search the WHOIS database at, you'll find that "" (no "e") is registered to someone other than Goldieblox.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Another "miscommunication" regarding underage attendance at a venue - but this one wasn't corrected in time

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

A few of you may remember a story that I shared last April about the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Initially, the venue was going to charge adults $15 to attend a particular show, while people under 21 would be charged $17. A friend of mine - who is a musician and the father of an under-21 musician - was not pleased with this pricing policy. A few days later, my friend posted the following:

There was apparently some miscommunication between the agent and the venue. The price is now the same for minors and adults alike.

Ah, "miscommunication." It can happen. I've worked in large businesses and small businesses alike, and there can certainly be all sorts of miscommunication. And in the music bookings industry, where you have artists and agents and promoters and venue owners and venue managers and venue employees, the opportunity for "miscommunication" can mushroom.

My friend's story had a happy ending - the pricing snafu was resolved well before the event took place.

The story that I'm about to share isn't quite that happy.

I had previously mentioned that Phildel is touring North America, and had a performance date in Los Angeles at the Hotel Cafe. I was unable to attend, but reports are that the performance went very well, and that everyone had a good time.

When Phildel planned this trip, she also planned a second date in Los Angeles, for the night after her Hotel Cafe performance. This second date, at a different place, was specifically intended to be open to those under 21. Since Phildel is like English and stuff, she doesn't exactly play El-Lay every week, so I'm certain that this was a big event for her fans - especially her under 21 fans.

On her official Facebook page, Phildel described what happened:

We had an utter catastrophe of a night tonight and I've spent most of this evening in tears. We booked our show specifically for under 21s at The Standard for tonight and instead - most of you who were under 21 were turned away by venue staff that were unaware of the agreement we had with the venue management for our all ages show. I and my team were assured by the venue management that this show was specifically designed for all ages. We weren't even alerted to the fact that guestlist audience were being turned away by door staff until we happened to walk past the door and see two girls being turned away - it took for me to breakdown in tears before the venue allowed our remaining under 21 guests in - but by then, I know they had already turned away most of you. Honestly, I'm just so incredibly heartbroken and distressed by what's happened here. I know many of you will have driven for hours to get to this show. We created this show specifically for our under 21 fans. And I'm utterly appalled by how this huge mistake could've been allowed to happen. I promise to make it up to you all who were turned away, in any way that I can...again, I'm so, incredibly sorry and upset over this. To the very few of you who managed to get into the show tonight - thank you so much for coming, I'm glad we could at least perform to you Xxxxxxxxxx

She's trying to make it up to her under-21 fans - read the thread for details - but it's obviously disappointing nonetheless.

I checked SPIN Standard's Facebook page and saw no official reaction.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Four songs on a #spotify playlist (sequel to my 2008 post)

I've done a little bit of marketing of the Empoprise-MU music blog outside of Blogger. There's a Facebook page, a Google+ page, and...well, that's about it.

Geek Dimensions has a slightly more aggressive marketing strategy. The website lists a number of services where Geek Dimensions has a presence, and there are some services that aren't even listed on the website. For example, Steven Hodson recently mentioned (just to his Facebook friends, so no link) that he has a Rdio playlist for Geek Dimensions.

A Rdio playlist...for something that isn't even directly related to music.

Meanwhile, I've had this music blog for several years now, and how many playlists have I created?

A grand total of one - my 60+ song playlist that was linked to my Oracle OpenWorld Unconference presentation on biometrics. I included songs such as "Wrapped Around Your Finger," "Eyes Without a Face," "Police and Thieves," and so forth.

But I'll let you in on a little secret. I've been creating "Empoprise-MU" Spotify playlists for the last several months now. It's just that I never got around to sharing any of them on...well, on Empoprise-MU, which would seem to be the logical place to share an Empoprise-MU playlist.

Well, I'm going to rectify that now, and share a Spotify playlist with you that includes a few of the songs that I've mentioned in recent posts.

Since many of you probably aren't on Spotify, I'll share a picture of the playlist so you can see what songs are on it.

For my blind users, the songs on the playlist are the following:

Angel Jasmine, "So Free" (see this post)
Flash and the Pan, "Lights in the Night" (see this post)
ILL Mitch, "Hux" (see this post)
Phildel, "Moonsea" (see this post)

For Spotify users, the playlist can be accessed via And this may also give you access to dozens upon dozens of "Empoprise-MU" playlists that I've created for my personal listening pleasure.

So I hope you enjoy the fact that I'm actually using A MUSIC SERVICE in conjunction with Empoprise-MU. It's about time. (Whoops, wrong blog.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

So perhaps Phildel may stay at your house

Over two years ago, I blogged about Airbnb in my Empoprise-BI business blog. If you haven't heard of this service, it allows people to temporarily rent their houses to others.

My 2011 blog post concerned a rental gone awry, because one of Airbnb's houseguests trashed the place where they were staying. This is a potential concern of anyone who rents a place via Airbnb - or, for that matter, anyone who rents a place via any method for any length of time. You want to check out your potential renters, and Airbnb lets you do just that. For example, here is a profile of one of Airbnb's renters (you'll note that I'm not referring to this person as a "customer," for reasons outlined in my 2011 post).

Hey, I'm Phildel!

I'm a friendly and polite, non-smoking, 28 year old born and raised in London, but now happily living in the rolling valleys of the Chilterns, Buckinghamshire. I create music (some of which you might have heard on tv), I film music videos and work creatively for Warner Chappell Music Publishing as one of their artists. I live with my boyfriend, Chris Young (who works in IT) and our two cats. We love walking, peaceful holidays and being creative.

Yes, she loves being creative. If you don't recognize the name, I've blogged about Phildel before, most recently here. A lot has happened since I blogged about Phildel last - she released her album The Disappearance of the Girl, she came to North America for a tour that went awry when she couldn't get a U.S. work permit, and then she straightened all that out and is headed back here again (she'll be in Los Angeles in a few days, but I'll be working on a project and unable to attend).

And if you ever get a request from Phildel to rent your place, rest assured that she is a well-recommended houseguest:

Phildel and her boyfriend were two very sweet and interesting guests as well as being tidy and clean. We have enjoyed their company as far as our busy schedule let us so and do highly recommend them to come back anytime they want ;) and also to all the other hosts out there!

October 2013