Archive for November, 2007


Doug Morris Is Easy To Bullshit

Wired’s December issue has an insightful interview with Universal CEO Doug Morris in which the embattled executive readily admits to being so ignorant about technology that he didn’t even try to learn how to capitalize on the digital music revolution at the turn of the century. The interview isn’t posted online yet Read the interview here, but this choice excerpt sums it all up:

“There’s no one in the record industry that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”
Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.”


It boggles my mind that an entire industry of “business savvy” executives were so myopic, egoistic, and just plain stupid as to not even learn who to talk to about the impact of digital music. I imagine Morris is exaggerating a little bit here. Out of the thousands of employees that worked for the majors in the golden age of 1.1 million first week *NSYNC CD sales, there were at least a handful of people who saw what was coming. Nay, the real problem was the music business’ stubbornness in adapting to the times. In an industry where you’re only as good as your latest numbers, there was no incentive for anyone to look at any sort of long term growth or stability. It was (and to an extent, still is) all about hitting your quarterly numbers no matter the cost. The more likely scenario is that prescient employees drafted up hundreds of pages of meticulously researched reports that were placed in the inboxes of various record label executives only to be summarily ignored and trashed because they had nothing to do with making the 4th quarter margins.

The interview goes on to talk about Universal’s Total Music venture and how Morris’s primary objective nowadays is to unseat iTunes from power. Again, Dougy is missing the point here. Guy, we’re in 2007. No one cares about you trying to show that you have a bigger dick than Steve Jobs. What you should be trying to do is creating a service with the music fan in mind. Make something that puts both Napster circa 2000 and iTunes to shame.

In other words, clone OiNK.

Update: Wired now has the interview online here 


Trent Reznor Is Being Kept Down By The Man

Nine Inch Nails’ official site for fan produced remixes of Year Zero was supposed to launch last Monday. Unfortunately, according to a post by Trent Reznor on the band’s website, legal issues brought upon by Universal Records, the band’s former label, are the cause of the site’s delay.

Universal feels that if they host our remix site, they will be opening themselves up to the accusation that they are sponsoring the same technical violation of copyright they are suing these companies for. Their premise is that if any fan decides to remix one of my masters with material Universal doesn’t own – a “mash-up”, a sample, whatever – and upload it to the site, there is no safe harbor under the DMCA (according to Universal) and they will be doing exactly what MySpace and YouTube are doing.

While Universal’s legal concerns are legitimate, the overall situation is, in one word, bullshit. Doing exactly “what MySpace and YouTube are doing” is building your consumer base. It’s nice that Universal isn’t so myopic as to prevent Reznor from launching the site, but by taking this course of action, they are implicitly condoning “what MySpace and YouTube are doing”.

Situations like this are exactly why the major labels are fading into irrelevancy. Like the Napster situation before it, if only someone saw user generated content as an opportunity to evolve the way their business instead of futilely trying to stop the juggernaut of technological evolution, they might not be in the situation they are in now. Unfortunately, they tying their own nooses with legal red tape.

Read Trent’s Post []


Indie Game Spotlight: Undertow

Welcome to the inaugural entry in a new ongoing feature series highlighting gaming’s best independent titles. If music and movies can have their “indie” titles be cutting edge and hip, why can’t games? The advent of digital distribution and micro transactions in the gaming industry has allowed more independent developers a shot at producing quality titles without a huge budget. While you may or may not have heard of the titles featured in these spotlights, rest assured that they come wholly recommended and are solid purchases for your gaming library.

Undertow is a new Xbox Live Arcade game from Chair Entertainment available for purchase today for 800 MS points ($10). The developer is best known for employing many of the driving forces behind the 2005 adventure game Advent Rising. They are also involved with Ender’s Game author, Orson Scott Card, in developing games based on the author’s Empire universe.

The game is essentially a 2d Battlefield 1942 that plays like Geometry Wars. Players use the left thumbstick to move their character and the right thumbstick to shoot in 8 directions. In addition, players can drop depth charges (read: grenades) with the left trigger and dash with the right trigger. Each team starts off with a certain amount of “tickets” with the goal being to deplete the other team’s ticket total. To accomplish this, teams vie for the control of several “bases” on the map. The more bases your team controls, the faster the opposing ticket count will decrease.

Read the rest of this entry »


Angels Trade Cabrera For Garland

Apologies for the tardiness on writing about this, but I’ve had other pressing things to do lately.

A couple of days ago, the Anaheim Angels traded Gold-Glove winning shortstop Orlando Cabrera for Chicago White Sox starting pitcher, Jon Garland.  As an Angels fan, the only way this deal makes sense is if this was to acquire trade chips to flip a bigger deal down the road.  I’m clinging onto that belief, because as it stands it does nothing to fix the problems of the team, namely hitting.  The Angels aren’t getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs every year because of terrible pitching, they’re getting bounced because the dudes simply can’t hit in the postseason.  Watching the games last season, Cabrera was the second most clutch guy in the lineup last year behind Vlad.  He batted .302 and won the Gold-Glove at shortstop.  Don’t get me wrong, Garland is an above average pitcher, but the Angels have a gaggle of above average pitchers.  Between Lackey, Escobar, Weaver, Saunders, Santana, and Mosely, there just isn’t room in the rotation for any more pitchers.  Especially at the expense of a key batter.

If this deal gives us what it takes to land a Miguel Cabrera that’ll be perfect.  I can deal with Erick Aybar at short if it means a huge bat like Miguel Cabrera is batting behind Vlad.  On the other hand, I sincerely hope Tony Reigans isn’t thinking about Miguel Tejada as the power solution because he is as powerless as the Queen of England these days.

(Also, my mind is trying to put the names of these players in a transitive Frankenstein.  Orlando Cabrera Cabrera Miguel Miguel Tejada.  Is there a player named Orlando Tejada?)

Angels Trade Cabrera []


Review: Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy is the best Mario title in over 15 years. It may very well be Nintendo’s finest achievement in video game creation. It is certainly the best game available on Nintendo’s Wii and is reason enough to justify owning the system. The game adeptly captures the essence of what makes video games fun and does so without compromising gameplay variety, difficulty, or control scheme.

I wasn’t originally planning on writing a review for this game, but my time with Super Mario Galaxy last week quickly transformed from a perfunctory interest into a burning desire to fully complete every level and obtain every star. And obtain every star I did. I write to you now the triumphant collector of all 120 stars in Galaxy and feel adequate enough in writing a review on the game.

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Marvel Comics Joins The Digital Age

Last week, Marvel comics unveiled its new digital comics service, “Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited“. Users who pay the $9.99 monthly fee (or $4.99 a month with a 12-month contract) will have access to full-length digital scans of over 2,700 comics from Marvel’s illustrious catalog, including such iconic titles as Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. The comics will be viewable only in your web browser via flash. So far, though, only the first 100 or so issues of those titles are available. The publisher promises to add new comics every week, albeit only older titles. It has instituted a rule that only comics older than six months will be available online, presumably to not draw the ire of every comic retailer on the planet.

I applaud Marvel for dipping their feet into the digital distribution arena. Piracy is a serious problem in the comic industry, more so than the music industry because a majority of a comic’s value comes from the first read. Digital scans of comic books proliferate p2p sites everywhere and are more likely to represent lost sales because once you have read a comic once you are a lot less likely to read it again and again, whereas a large part of a music file’s value is being able to play it whenever you want and wherever you want. This is a big reason why I am not too perturbed by currently being limited to reading the comics only through your web browser. More often than not, when you’re reading your comics you’re sitting in a home or place with a computer anyway. Reading a comic on an iPod or even an iPhone would be pretty painful given the medium’s reliance on large art panels and carefully crafted page breakdowns to tell a story.

Where it would get interesting, though, is if a portable e-book reader like Amazon’s Kindle were to get an upgrade with full color and maybe a larger screen. That would represent a full-fledged paradigm shift in the industry if you could take and buy your comics wherever you wanted. You could pay a subscription fee or even buy the comics a la cart and have them downloaded via a 3g or 4g network. This would probably result in the demise of the brick and mortar comic book store, so some compromise (such as a paper copy + digital copy bundle) would have to be worked out.

But goddamn. Just thinking about that gives me a huge geek boner.

Check out the service [Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited]


Bono Talks About And Sings Along To Unreleased U2 Song

Well it’s holiday shopping season again and you know what that means. Bands/record labels re-releasing old albums with a smidgen of new content in an attempt to get people to re-buy their favorite albums. I had thought U2 to be above this sort of thing but apparently they’re not. In fact they’re taking it one step further and going CAPCOM on us by re-releasing The Joshua Tree in a 2 CD deluxe edition and also a 2 CD/1 DVD box set Limited Edition Super Deluxe.

Fortunately, this re-release seems to have some substance as it contains 14 unreleased songs from The Joshua Tree recording sessions. The Limited Edition Super Deluxe will also have a DVD of a 1987 gig the band did at the Hippodrome de Vincennes in Paris. Since I’m a sucker for high quality video of live U2 performances, I plunked down my $47.99 to pre-order the Limited Edition Super Deluxe. I can’t help but feel shitty for doing so though.

The video above is Bono explaining and singing along to one of the unreleased tracks, Wave of Sorrow. I’m not terribly impressed by the song, but then again, it’s pretty hard to get a good impression from an embedded video of Bono singing along with a tape in the background.

Waves of Sorrow []


Radiohead Cover The Smiths, Joy Division, Bjork, Also Engage In Hilarity

Yesterday evening, Radiohead turned on the webcams for a sexy striptease show another one of their zany webcasts. Every few years or so, the band fills the interweb tubes with silly skits, band member DJ’ing, and live performances.

Performance highlights included covers of The Smiths – Headmaster Ritual (which is the embedded video above), Bjork – Unravel, and Joy Division/New Order – Ceremony. The band also played a few songs of their own, including a couple from their new album In Rainbows. By far the most memorable skit for me was the edit of the ending of the movie Se7en. Morgan Freeman opens the box at the end of the movie to find… a Thom Yorke head singing 15 Step! wat.

Pearly * from the Mortigi Tempo boards has up an excellent compilation of highlights from the broadcast with downloadable mp3s and videos to boot!

Download and watch the highlights [Mortigi Tempo]


LOLinator Translates Websites To Normal Internet Speech

This fun little site will take a website and make it a necklace a page full of deliciously funny lolcat speech.

Something I discovered is that this wondrous invention actually makes Lefsetz Letters into readable posts.


Michael Jackson is White on Both Sides


Ebony has scored the first interview with Michael Jackson in over a decade.  The interview will be run in the December 07 issue of the magazine, with Jackson on the cover.  Honestly ‘d be surprised if Jackson is even coherent throughout the interview.  The dude has been the butt of many a South Park episode/SNL Skit/one liner since the turn of the millennium.  He hasn’t made relevant music in well over a decade.  His appearance at the World Music Awards last year looked positively awful.  And now there are rumors of him working with and 50 Cent on a new record? Come on.  Yes, I know he made Thriller, but that was over 25 years ago.  He went crazy about 15 years ago and now it’s too late to recapture the talent he had.  Just give it up already MJ and leave us with the memories.

Judging by that headline and that cover, though, there is a shocking secret part of Africa filled with native white men wearing white suits.  I’m pumped to read this issue, because this is the first I’ve heard of this phenomenon.  How did they keep this hidden African oasis secret for so long?

Michael Jackson in Ebony [Reuters]