Monthly Archives: September 2010

Ambitions are already starting to fade

Quite an appropriate lyric from the new Joe McElderry single.

Normally I don’t post about stuff I don’t like – life’s too short – but I just don’t get this. A big label has a popular guy with an up-for-it fanbase. They make a website for him which looks like a Myspace page, complete with banner ad for himself just above his own logo, and another ad for himself just below, festooned with shop logos, just so you don’t forget where you can buy music. It’s a mess. And then the song. Hmmmm…. Is it just me, or does it not even sound properly mixed when it gets to the chorus?

And as for the video… A very random collection of music and showbiz types on a film set which looks a lot like they had NINETY different ideas for how to style Joe into some sort of understandable look, couldn’t decide, and eventually went “sod it, let’s just put them ALL in and get them to wiggle about a bit, that’ll do for the kids.”

My favourite bit of the “storyline” is around 1 minute 10, the bloke who looks a bit like Will Young who is carrying around some important documents, possibly the Joe McElderry Master Plan, drops them and scrambles around trying to get things back together. Joe comes over to help, and almost instantly the guy gives up, throws all the paper in the air and flounces off.

Just about sums it all up. Joe – you might be very good, I want you to be good, but this isn’t helping. If you and your mentors are trying to make a statement about who you are, the answer seems to be “dunno, who cares?”

Who knows, it might be number 1. I just don’t get it.

Tune of the Day: Missing Andy – Sing For The Deaf

I wasn’t expecting to start loving a band from a Sky 1 talent show. But “Must Be The Music” has been really fresh and exciting, my X-Factor loving wife and I have been looking forward to all the live shows, and it’s so good that someone had the balls to believe there is another way to show off talent. It doesn’t have to be covers (nice as they can be), it can be brand new unknown songs and they can SELL on first listen… if (and it’s a BIG IF)… the talent is really, really good.

How good is Dizzee Rascal? Could he be the next generation Simon Cowell? He’s sharp, he makes sense, and he’s got great ears for talent. If I were ITV, I’d be getting ready to make him an offer. He’s played a big part in making this stupidly ambitious programme work.

It would be brave to plan on finding even one or two acts good enough to go into the top 40 off no radio play and virtually none of the other coverage record companies expect to need (music TV channels, This Morning, online campaigns, gigging, TV advertising…). I can see three in iTunes’ top 30 right now, plus a second top 40 song by Missing Andy which wasn’t even on Sunday’s show.

There are acts which have been plugged and marketed to perfection over months and aren’t selling as many songs as these people who do brand new, never-before-heard songs one night on Sky.

Must be the music? Must be TALENT to do that. I hope lots of them do well, and that they find good partners (in record companies or elsewhere) who get them and can bring the best music out of them, long term.

I’m thinking Missing Andy should have LOTS of hits (they already have two), and I’m very happy to pass on this clip of them doing their thing.

95-106 Capital FM. Really??!

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When I first saw this logo, I thought it was someone with Photoshop having a clever satirical swipe. Turns out, it’s real!

I do LOVE Capital, they’re fun, musically savvy, very authoritative and reliable when it comes to pop and pop culture, they love their listeners and have lots of fun with them, and it shows.

Apart from a few weird years when they thought they needed to be “fashion forward” r’n'b lite, they have always been the very model of a modern, metropolitan, big, kickass, pop station, the kind which is envied and copied around the world.

The winning strategy, as rediscovered by the under-credited Scott Muller and since affirmed on steroids by Paul Jackson is very simple – play the big current hits, have fun, and totally, 100%, make listeners identify you as the sound of London. Capital. London. The clue is in the title. So simple, you probably don’t even think about it. Capital = London = Capital = London = Capital.

Adding the “95.8″ back into the name probably didn’t hurt either. It was dropped in the wilderness years, but came back to remind people “we’re back, like we were!” and – very handily when trying to get lots of people to flick an FM dial or search back to you – 95.8 was where they could find you. Good to know.

So now Capital goes national (-ish, in lots of regions and cities currently covered by Galaxy anyway). And it’s going to be fun to watch how it all goes down. Hit music? Tick! Good presenters and fun? Tick! (Assuming they keep the best guys from Galaxy to do local stuff, and there are lots of good Galaxy people to choose from – my old colleagues Sally Hudson and Ben Glover among them…) So what could possibly go wrong?

Well, if Capital = London = Capital = London, the further you go out from London, the more the brand is likely to stink. Good luck in Scotland! Capital already considered this stuff when it chose to do “Beat” as a brand instead, which then became XFM Scotland (which took great pains to be as Scottish as possible), then Galaxy Scotland (growing a decent audience), so now… Capital Scotland. From London. Really?? Ditto in Wales, perhaps worse as heritage brand Red Dragon has to go to make way for Capital Wales, live from Leicester Square. REALLY??!

Where else is London going to be Capital of? How about the North of England!

OK – this might not be an unsolvable problem for a talented team, but talk about giving yourself a big challenge. Not for the first time, either. What happened when Capital rebranded its AM stations across the country as Capital Gold? They didn’t become any more popular.

As for the “95-106″ bit – who is that for? What’s the message? “We’re really big!!”, I’m guessing. It’s an in joke, surely. How is it helpful to the listener in any way? IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE TAKING THE P*** – and I would be careful about doing that in Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire, Manchester and the midlands when you declare London to be their Capital.

Tune of the Day: Nadine – Insatiable

Now this is a pop song.

Nadine has set up her own label to make this record and, weirdly, the CD is only going to be available in Tesco’s. But I guess that’s progress. If you don’t need a major label to take its major wedge for handling the business the way they have for decades, if you only want to be in the single biggest music retailer, knowing most people will find you online anyway, and if you already have a fan base who will stretch out a bit to meet you where you are, why not?

Marketing / “future of music” debates aside, it always helps if the song is good. And it is. Hooray!

What is a social network worth to you?

Here are the five stages of Facebook grief:

1. Confusion. What’s it for? How do I use it? Why would anyone want to post here? Who’s seeing this?

2. Discovery. Hey, my high school friends are here. Reading my News Feed actually makes me feel more connected to people. This is actually pretty fun. I look forward to checking Facebook every day. I love this.

3. Utility. Facebook helps me stay connected to former colleagues, which could help me find a job in the future. I learn things about my own kids that is valuable to me that I wouldn’t otherwise hear. It’s easier to communicate with everyone on Facebook than e-mail, phone calls or any other means. I need this.

4. Embarrassment. Whoa! I did NOT want my co-workers to see the picture of me someone else tagged. Too much personal information in that post! Whoops! I did not mean to offend someone — I forgot who would be listening.

5. Withdrawal. To avoid problems, I’m going to have to assume that everything I say is public, not private like I used to think. I’ll minimize my posts or stop using Facebook altogether.

Facebook has lived through many predictions of doom. Some expected it would decline a year after it started being market leader, because everything before it did (Friendster, Myspace…) But the next bigger thing hasn’t yet arrived.

Now that everyone and their mum seem to be on Facebook, it’s squarely in the mainstream, no longer an exciting novelty but an everyday utility, like banks and bins – the sort of thing the Daily Mail loves to moan and scare about.

But will Facebook become a nuisance to you, or will you just get fed up of it? If so, what’s next?

Pete Lawrence emailed me today confirming the details of his new “Pic-Nic Village” for creative types. He’s hoping it can avoid privacy concerns and advertising, and instead be based on community-sourced funding and development. This means the main functions of the site, due to launch next year, will not be free. I’m pretty sure there will be a passionate crowd of supporters. The question is, will that crowd be big enough to make it all go in a satisfying way, and not so big that people feel insignificant or even threatened by it all?

Would you pay to join a specialist social network?

Souvenir shop solicits sacrilege

Found in “Gay’s Creamery”, which is more innocent than you might think.