Killer Bs

Oasis by Michael Spencer Jones/ The Hell Gate- image is copyrighted, not for use without permission

Been meaning to blog about this for a while now…. Interesting article from the Independent UK on B-Sides. Insane to think that songs such as The Rolling Stones “Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys were both B-Sides.  The packaging impacting the listener’s experience is the same sort of thinking that David Byrne brilliantly delivered in his TED speech were the venue dictates the sound. The “freebie” on a vinyl, cassette or even CD single…. Very simple and power- the journey of discovery.  Here’s a gallery of acts mentioned in this most enlightening article.

Pissing In A Stream

All you Netflix followers will have noticed that streaming is very much in the news these days. Don’t worry, no apologies here (no completely shanked share prices for neglecting your base and having no faith in your core business either)

Feel free to take a dive into this Billboard article on the merits of streaming to the artist. A few things to ponder here on how this impacts download revenue & revenue period. The Uniform Motion link just underlines what I guess is the history of music monetization. These days you don’t even need to be under label contract to be screwed over.

Talking of bases – Bandcamp offers something very reassuring here. Making that direct parallel to my own business in this crazy world of photography. Lets just find a way to support the guy who hasn’t found the best way to screw the guy with the talent over.




Black Magic

From Google Chrome– in honor of The Man in Black.  Global user-generated re-imagination that doesn’t suck. A very new way we get to relate to our artists.

To see the latest incarnation of this video go here



Longtailed- Music For People Who Don’t Like Music

This very interesting article in the WSJ last week throws up a lot of interesting questions. Kudos to X5 and their money ball approach to competing hard with major record labels-David takes on Goliath with a digital only strategy that repackages a long tail and gets smaller label work out there- we like that part.

Some nagging issues though – Wasn’t the digital world meant to help the small label get the material out themselves? & doesn’t this business model simply sell the long tail back to us in the same top down, reductionist, hit heavy way that the Top 40 would?  You take from the long tail the lowest common denominator.

There’s no debate that digital downloads will dominate music revenues in the next few years. If this kind of approach really does take hold there is the danger that music that’s already been out there for a while will get repackaged into a LCD corner. Kind of reminds me of the Steve Coogan character Alan Partridge, who’s response to the question “what is your favorite Beatle’s album” was “The Best Of”. Do we have that warping of musical context to look forward to? Why create or re-tell a story of an artist when you can just repackage…

This is not our kind of mix taping but is it a sufficient entry point for an Itunes/MP3 user to discover a label, an underrated artist or a lost album? Maybe. Maybe not.


Metal Up Your Ass

James Hetfield of Metallica, photo by Peter Anderson/ The Hell Gate- image is copyrighted, not for use without permission

An interesting article and even more insightful comments were published on the Guardian UK last Friday about the Mercury Prize basically overlooking the genre of Heavy Metal. This is not really surprising nor news. Metal has never been embraced by music taste makers/critics, especially in the UK. To basically have The Darkness as one of the only hard rock/metal nominations in the past 11 years for the Mercury Prize pretty much says it all.

Metal remains outsider music that has a tribe mentality. Many Metal acts have decent album sales and do great on the road without the support of airplay or conventional media coverage- even in the blogsphere Metal is not nearly covered at the same rate Indie Rock and Hip Hop are.

The “us against them” attitude that is a cornerstone of Metal has its distribution roots in word of mouth and trading of bootlegs. Now with the boom of social media, Metal has diversified even more with a mind-boggling array of sub genres that go way beyond Nu-Metal and Death Metal (Grindcore anyone?) The insular community of Metal does not need outside accolades such as the Mercury Prize for validation. The fans are the most fickle critics Heavy Metal will ever face- what would be refreshing is if the media acknowledged and respected the musicianship.

Audio Socket Has The Right Idea

Audio Socket – “Stock Music is crap & we don’t represent it”

Impossible not to flag such commendable logic (we feel the same way in a slightly different field of music content licensing.)

Another extremely interesting glimpse into a digital future. Ostensibly this is about music rights but clearly the logic applies to other licensing businesses.

The explosion of digital platforms, the need for those users to create & create with quality & to do so legally. We like this democratization business…..

Digital Overload

Photo by Jackie Roman/ Hell Gate Exclusive- image is copyrighted, not for use without permission

The past couple of weeks have been a full on assault of new social media and digital music subscriptions/ revamps. It’s enough to make our heads explode. Sifting through all the news (you can read about the US launch of Spotify elsewhere) has lead us to concentrate on one idea— Who will win the battle when it comes to music connoisseur’s tastes?

In one corner we have Last FMwho has recently revamped their model to include more social media, such as a friend finder button, and a partnership with MTV.

In the other corner we have the highly viral, highly hyped about Turntable FM, which gained 140,000 users in its first month and has celebrity DJ sets as its de rigueur.

You can get to them via Facebook and there are pluses and minuses for both.

Last FM was criticized for yanking its on demand streaming and only getting 30 seconds of listening time for new tracks. What it does nicely is music recommendation for the listener and allows them to listen to track what they listen to on the Last FM site and other players as well.

Turntable FM is a different beast as it is “Alive Web” (real time). It sounds cool and democratic with users voting on their favorite DJ sets, but with its ratings and avatars it reeks of online gaming. With the engagement required of the user, it may be addicting and time-consuming, demanding way too much attention of users that are already implementing a myriad of social networks and apps into their daily lives.

Don’t know about you guys, but we are feeling stretched thin when it comes to keeping up with all this. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.

For some real reporting on Last FM and Turntable FM check out the articles here and here.

Now if someone created and avatar of a dick-ish independent record store employee that recommended good tunes we’d get behind that.