U2 album giveaway “as damaging as piracy” says ERA

U2 Band Crop

The Entertainment Retailers Associated has branded U2’s recent album giveaway “as damaging as piracy”, and says that all it has succeeded in doing is devaluing music further.

Said ERA chairman, Paul Quirk: “Giving away music like this is as damaging to the value of music as piracy, and those who will suffer most are the artists of tomorrow. U2 have had their career, but if one of the biggest rock bands in the world are prepared to give away their new album for free, how can we really expect the public to spend £10 on an album by a newcomer?”

The ERA statement also notes that aggregate sales of U2’s catalogue amounted to 697 albums across Great Britain and Northern Ireland the week before the band announced it would give away 500m copies of Songs Of Innocence. Last week they amounted to 6,744, an 868% increase, but worth less than £50,000 at retail prices. Of those sales, 95.4% were digital downloads, as physical retailers were not briefed in advance to order in extra stock.

U2 and Apple “gifted” their new album, Songs Of Innocence, to 500m iTunes users last week, but many of those users complained about the album being downloaded into their music collections without their permission. Apple very quickly released an online tool that allowed users to remove the album from their devices should they wish to.

“Some customers asked for the ability to delete Songs Of Innocence from their library, so we set up itunes.com/soi-remove to let them easily do so. Any customer that needs additional help should contact AppleCare,” Apple spokesman Adam Howorth told the BBC.

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Under The Skin: Tommy Lee’s Massive Rig

Motley Crue The Final Tour

I’ll defend hard rock and metal music to anyone who will listen; fighting the Spinal Tap Stone Henge stereotype all the way to the Winter Solstice if needs be. But I’m not sure even Beelzebub can help me now…

Having recently argued that rock and metal does not need to rely on spectacle to make up for the awful music on show, I have been presented with this:

Tommy Lee Cruecifly 2014

And no, your eyes are not deceiving you. That IS rock berk Tommy Lee playing the drums whilst hanging all but upside down on something resembling The Viper ‘coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

In a spectacularly Spinal Tap moment, Lee has been forced to take to Twitter this week to explain why his rig – dubbed The Crüecifly – didn’t make an appearance at a recent show in Milwaukee.

After fans who attended the 4th of July gig left disappointed at the no-show, they kicked up the proverbial stink across the web, prompting Lee to Tweet: “Hi guys! Want you to know certain venues cannot handle The Crüecifly! It’s not our fault their roof cannot hang the rig! It’s massive!”

Indeed, Tommy, indeed.

The Crüecifly forms part of the stage show for Crüe’s current US jaunt, titled “The Final Tour.” Speaking to Music Radar, Lee once explained how the idea of mounting his drum kit on to a roller coaster track came about: “Every tour we do, everybody’s always wondering, ‘What’s Tommy Lee going to do next? What new, wild and crazy thing is he going to come up with?’ And what’s funny is, the thrill-seeker and the amusement park fan in me took over this time. Whenever I go on a roller coaster, I always say the same thing: ‘Man, I have got to find a way to take the cars off this ride and put my drums on the track!’ That’s basically where it all started. One day, I drew a design for the whole thing on a cocktail napkin.”

*sigh*

If only Tommy and his Mötley Crüe bandmates had put as much thought into their last album…

If you’re so inclined, you can watch fan-shot footage of Tommy and his massive rig in action at the Vanandel Arena, Grand Rapids below:

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Under The Skin: Dear Ben Nichols, what’s in a name?

Ben Nichols 001

So, you fall in love with music. Then you fall in love with a particular style. Then you fall in love with a particular artist. And hell, you’ve always liked great writing and being able to share your musical passion with others.

Pursuing your passion, you set up a Facebook community to share that love and provide a place where like-minded folk can congregate online. There you build up a following, all discussing, sharing, entering giveaways, posting videos and favourite songs; essentially, doing all the cool and awesome things that music fans like to do in the online space.

And having spent years building up that community and providing and sharing quality content, what happens then?

Why, Facebook destroy your community in one fell swoop!

So found Michelle Evans, founder and owner of the Dear Ben Nichols Facebook community.

A page dedicated to all things Ben Nichols and Lucero, and often legitimately sharing music from other artists working in a similar vein, it had built up to a group of over 3,000 people discussing and engaging with what they loved the most; the music of Ben Nichols and his Lucero bandmates. Ben himself was involved with the gang and often shared their activity via his and Lucero’s own media outlets.

Facebook’s beef?

That the community had been set up as a Facebook profile in Facebook’s early days, as though it were a personal page. Contacting Evans, Facebook said they had noted that the profile had a registered first name of “Dear”, that this couldn’t possible be anyone’s first name, and that the details needed to be changed.

“They said it wasn’t my real name and that I had to change or remove it,” says Evans, matter of factly.

Dear Ben Nichols Page Cap
Michelle Evans’ Dear Ben Nichols community on Facebook

Not wanting to put the community that she had spent years building up in jeopardy, Evans looked to comply with Facebook’s sudden and surprising edict. She tried using Facebook’s tools to convert the “account” to a “page.” However, bizarrely, the tool wouldn’t let Evans make the change. At least, not unless she removed the “Dear” part of the community name.

WTF? If it was no longer an “account”, what difference does a “Dear” make? What’s in a name?

Everything it would seem.

Ultimately Evans managed to create a page on Facebook called “Dear Ben Nichols”, using the name that she had struck upon and that so many people had engaged with and become a part of. But the issue didn’t end there.

Facebook, in their wisdom, deleted Evans’ old page before she had an opportunity to send a message out to the community members telling them what was going on, and where they could find the new community page. She was left with a new page, with few members, and no real means of communicating with the thousands who had “liked” and helped build the old community.

“They deleted the entire original account without giving me a chance to message anyone, save it or download a backup,” says Evans. “Fortunately I’ve managed to set up the new page, but now I have to get the word out and build up those followers all over again.”

Years of hard work. Years! Wiped out by nefarious Facebook in a few moments, seemingly on a whim, and for bizarre reasons. Goodness knows, no-one wants to be duped by Facebook profiles purporting to be someone or something that they are not, but that was obviously not the case with the now deleted Dear Ben Nichols page.

So, along with Facebook’s reprehensible experiments involving the emotional manipulation of over half a million of their users, their mind-boggling feed algorithms that keep you from seeing the content of the pages that you’ve actively chosen to “like” and receive messages from (unless, of course, the page you’ve liked has paid to have it’s content promoted in your feed), you can now add the brazen and willful destruction of an online community who were doing nothing more than innocently and legitimately sharing their love of the arts on a social media site.

Motherfu**ers.

Michelle Evans 001Michelle Evans is a music fan, social media consultant, writer and promoter based in Kentucky

You can find and “like” the brand new Dear Ben Nichols Facebook page here!

Find out more about Lucero and the actual Ben Nichols here!

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Dolly brings mud, fire and Richie Sambora to Glastonbury

Dolly Parton_Glastonbury_Jonathan Short
Photo: Jonathan Short/Invision/AP

All eyes may have been on Metallica’s set at Glastonbury last weekend, but in the end it was Dolly Parton’s appearance the following day that seemed to generate all the headlines.

Whilst the California thrash kings’ show went off in style and largely without a bad word, Parton’s set seems to have unexpectedly attracted conflict and controversy.

In a pre-show press conference, Dolly was quoted as saying: “This is a very exciting day for me and we’ve got all kinds of things going on.”

“I don’t have a bit of mud on me!” she continued. “When I was coming in this morning I was looking at all the mud and thinking, this is not that different from where I grew up in the mud. My daddy was a farmer in East Tennessee and I grew up on a farm — mud is mud wherever you go.”

When Dolly took to the stage, her set included a cover of Alicia Keys’ hit single “Girl On Fire”, and a guest appearance by sometime Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, who duetted with Parton on the New Jersey stadium rockers’ song “Lay Yours Hands On Me.” A studio version of the song features on Parton’s new album, Blue Smoke.

Nevertheless, whilst all seemed to be going well on stage, accusations started flying across the web that Parton was in fact lip-synching her set, rather than performing live. The first suggestion seemed to be made by Sky News’ Kay Burley via Twitter, labeling the country megastar’s show “disappointing.”

Actor Stephen Fry was among those coming to Parton’s defense, saying it was an “HD live processor issue” which made her appear to be miming such legendary hits as “Islands in the Stream” and “Jolene.”

In a statement, a Parton representative has strenuously denied the miming claim, saying, “Some people don’t know an amazing singer when they hear one.”

Watch Dolly Parton and Richie Sambora’s duet below and decide for yourself!

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Metallica at Glastonbury: The Verdict

Metallica Glastonbury Header Image

So after all the rhetoric and bluster of the past couple of months, Metallica finally headlined the Pyramind Stage at Glastonbury on Saturday night. As they took to the stage of the festival that Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson recently called “the most bourgeois thing on the planet”, did the world stop turning? Did the tens of thousands of people who had been enjoying sets from Robert Plant and Jack White leave the field en masse? Did the sky crack, the ground tremor and plagues and pestilence cover the earth?

Well, hardly.

The band did at least acknowledge the furore that had built up around them since the announcement of their booking. 15 minutes later than planned, a video by Julien Temple crackled in to life showing footage of Eli Wallach in The Good The Bad and The Ugly, along with scenes of English fox hunts soundtracked by Colonel Bogey and The Sweet’s “Fox On The Run.” As the film came to its conclusion, four bears popped up out of the undergrowth and shot the hunters, just before taking off their masks and revealing the four members of the band beneath. So far, so tongue in cheek. Check the video out for yourself:

Seconds later, the band burst on to stage for real, ripping straight in to “Creeping Death” from their 1984 thrash metal classic, Ride The Lightning. If there was anything at all surprising about the set’s opening song, it was the number of people in the assembled throng who seemed to know the tune. Albeit they were being aided and abetted by a group of Metalli-fans that had been invited on to the stage, standing behind the band waving flags and singing along, it was clear for all to hear that when James Hetfield indicated he wanted the audience to join in and help him out, the crowd were all too willing and able to do so.

The sheer force and power of the band’s sound seemed to whip pockets of festival-goers into a head-banging frenzy. Impromptu mosh-pits could be seen the audience over, lit by flare light during second song “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, followed in quick succession by “Wherever I May Roam.”

From there, Hetfield took to the microphone for a few words that struck just the right tone, managing to be both humble and headstrong: “We’re very proud to be here and represent the heavier side of music. I know it’s all represented here so why not heavy? This is dedicated not only to the crowd but to all the British heavy metal bands that have been dreaming and still dream of playing this stage here. Do you want heavy? Metallica gives you heavy!”

Some observers noted that the audience didn’t seem to be quite as big as for the previous night’s headliners, Arcade Fire, but the thrash pioneers were still a huge draw. All too aware of what the festival crowd wanted from them, what was essentially a greatest hits set followed, focusing on music from their most well known albums and singles.

The majority of the material (“Wherever I May Roam”, “Sad But True”, “The Unforgiven”, “Nothing Else Matters” and the classic “Enter Sandman”) was drawn from their 1991 monster, the multi-million selling Black Album. The rest was largely taken from either the aforementioned Ride The Lightning, or what many still consider to be the band’s most accomplished work, Master Of Puppets.

Indeed, just one song from their most recent studio album, Death Magnetic, made an appearance in the form of “Cyanide”, and it was perhaps one of the only missteps of the evening; particularly when introduced by Hetfield with some ill-considered questions to the crowd, presumably intended to endear him and the band to the “peace and love” “bourgeois” fraternity out front.

If anything else detracted from the spectacle of the Californian metal titans in full flow, it was a couple of rare slip-ups from this most polished and experienced of hard rock bands. Kirk Hammet’s fingers seemed a little less nimble than some of his ultrasonic solos required, as he occasionally fell behind the beat or hit a couple of bum notes. Equally, Lars Ulrich, one of the most accomplished drummers in rock, seemed to slip out of time on at least one occasion, but quickly recovered his position. Minor quibbles at most, and ones that majority of the audience probably didn’t even notice in their revelry.

Metallica Glastonbury Lars Ulrich

After the rapturously received “Enter Sandman” closed out the main set, the self-styled four horsemen of the apocalypse returned for an encore with their cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Whiskey In The Jar”, and the high octane thrash of “Seek and Destroy” from their 1983 debut album, Kill ‘Em All. Hetfield introduced the latter with the words: “If you’re a fan or not a fan, it’s a song you can get into,” and as the band set about getting into it themselves, a slew of black beach balls were released into the crowd bearing the band’s logo. They looked like the ammunition from Metallica’s proverbial sonic canon as they were beaten into submission by the now noisy and ecstatic Metalli-cised horde.

For a band who have been ridiculed for their challenging artistic choices in recent years, and for a genre that Skin Back Alley has seen very recently be accused of relying on theatrics to make up for the awful music being made, Metallica relied on very little other than their skill, experience, energy and commitment – their best known songs and sheer force of will – to carry the audience with them into heavy metal Mardi Gras.

Naysayers be damned. Far from ruining the most sacred of British music festivals, Metallica reigned supreme, delivering a heavy metal masterclass and, I shouldn’t wonder, adding a few more converts to their already millions strong fanbase across the globe.

A clearly ecstatic Lars Ulrich took to the microphone at the close of Metallica’s set, summing up thus: “I came down here last night and I’ve walked every corner of this festival, and let me tell you, there is no place like this on this fucking earth. Thank you Michael, thank you Emily, thank you Nick. Metallica loves you and we hope to see you another fucking time!”

Watch Metallica’s performance of “One”, from their album …And Justice For All, at Glastonbury below:

Metallica played:
“Creeping Death”
“For Whom The Bell Tolls”
“Wherever I May Roam”
“Sad But True”
“Fade To Black”
“Cyanide”
“The Unforgiven”
“The Memory Remains”
“One”
“Master Of Puppets”
“Nothing Else Matters” (with intro from “Bleeding Me”)
“Enter Sandman”

Encore:
“Whiskey In The Jar”
“Seek And Destroy”

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