Posts by Stephen D. O'Hoy
Hard News: Friday Music: Electric Dreams,
The music of Chapman & Chinn and Vanda & Young is the music of my childhood.
I love this 1979 video of Stevie Wright (in a rare "clean" period) performing Vanda & Young's Evie (Pt 1, 2 & 3)
Hard News: Friday Music: Going Large,
Russell did a Media7 about comparing MP3s to higher quality audio to see if anyone could tell the difference. It's on YouTube somewhere. Sam Flynn-Scott, Peter Baker and I were on the panel.
I think Pono will struggle. The margins on digital music retail are very small. To release the catalogue the majors demand some fairly high percentages and large advances. This means that to be a financial success you have to have a very large volume of sales. I just don't see there being that much of mass demand for hi-fidelity digital audio. The market, and by that I mean "youth", are more than happy to listen to poor quality MP3s, AACs, Spotify streams or even (shudders) audio on YouTube.
The other option for success for a digital music retailer is for the music to effectively be a loss leader to push another product. Apple do it very well with using iTunes as a lure for iPad, iPod and iPhone sales. Telcos with music stores are using it as a method to push bandwidth uptake. I can't really see there being anything beyond a niche market at best for the Pono Player.
Hard News: Friday Music: The First Time, in reply to
I saw Dire Straits play in Sydney in 1991. I fell asleep about 5 minutes into Knopfler's first guitar solo and woke up as they played their final song. It's still the only gig that I've managed to sleep most of the way through. Thankfully we didn't pay for the tickets. A friend of mine had been sleeping with the manager of the support act, who I think were Hothouse Flowers, so we got comped.
Hard News: Friday Music: The First Time,
First gig: 1985 The Hoodoo Fuck Buckets at the Court House Hotel, Bendigo, Australia. It was a mate's band. They sucked. Cool name though.
First Concert: 1988 Pink Floyd, Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour, Melbourne Tennis Center. Just found someone has put some images and audio from this gig on YouTube
Hard News: Friday Music: Little, but…,
I seem to remember lots of garage rock bands from around that time. Besides The D4 and The Datsuns there was Rock n' Roll Machine, The Accelerants, PanAm, The Have and I'm sure there were several others. Anyway in a week that Lorde and Rhys Darby appeared on Letterman it's nice to look back over 10 years ago to when The D4 were on it
Hard News: Friday: A happier place,
If you like a bit of gay disco then this takes some beating. Bronski Beat and Marc Almond covering a Donna Summer & Giorgio Moroder song. Always puts a smile on me dial.
Hard News: Friday Music: History, motherfuckers,
I've seen a lot of people get upset by Simon Sweetman's reviews over the years. I've also seen bands pissed off by what Duncan Grieve has written (to the point that Opensouls even wrote a song about him) and others by GSG/BSB on The Corner. Fair enough too. If you're creating art, which is what music is, then any criticism is going to be hard not to take personally.
What I've come to realise over the years though is that mostly these music critics are irrelevant. Firstly they're not about music.
A lot of things that at first glance might appear to be about music aren't. Music stores for one. iTunes is about getting you to buy hardware. The music stores run by telcos are about getting people to consume bandwidth. The Warehouse might sell CDs but they're using it as a lure to get you to buy other items that have a higher profit margin.
TV's the same. X Factor and Idol aren't about music. They're light entertainment that's designed to gain audience share and thereby increase advertising revenue. They're about TV.
And often the same goes for modern music critics. It's about getting traffic or building their own personal brand. It would have been easy for Simon Sweetman to write a positive review, or even a dismissive one, about Lorde, but where would have the traffic been in that? Rather he was able to stoop low, be offensive, upset people, and turn it into quite a successful brand development exercise.
Secondly what does a music critic actually do? A good or a bad review these days, regardless of who writes it or where it appears, doesn't make a jot of difference to an album's commercial success or failure. Getting played on commercial radio makes a difference. Performing on the Graham Norton show definitely makes a difference. Even having Jim Mora interview you on a Friday afternoon makes a difference. The days of people looking to music critics to decide what to buy though has gone. Music discovery is more important than opinion. It's too easy for the consumer to use services like YouTube, Spotify, Rdio etc to try before they buy and therefore make up their own mind. The full blown review in a national newspaper or on a high traffic website is largely an irrelevance. You only need someone to point you in a direction and you can then form your own opinion.
Personally I do most of my music discovery by keeping an eye on Twitter to see what people like Martyn Pepperell, or Chip Matthews, or Peter McLennan or Russell are listening to. I'll then go have a listen to see if it floats my boat. I couldn't give a toss if someone gives a release 1 star, 5 stars or 1.7/10. I'm a big boy and I am happy to make up my own mind.
And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all music critics are like this. There are some who I know have a deep knowledge of music and are passionate about what they do. People like Nick Bollinger, Sam Wicks, Graham Reid and a handful of others do care about music and are happy to put the music first rather than their own interests. I have a lot of respect for them and like the aforementioned people on Twitter I'll always use them as a source of music discovery.
But when Sweetman goes off on one I'm happy in the knowledge that it's no reflection on the music or the artist that created it. Occasionally he'll scrape the bottom of the barrel and be particularly odious to someone like Tali or Lorde and that's why I choose to not read his blog, or his pieces on Stuff, or follow him on Twitter or FB. He can stand in the corner of the room and beat his chest and pull faces and good luck to him. When it comes to determining whether people actually listen to music or purchase it, he's impotent.