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by Robert Celli

10 Feb 2009

Will the myth hold true as merger between giants is announced?

Will the myth hold true as merger between giants is announced?

Woke up this morning to this potentially game changing news in the concert promotion industry. Ticketmaster and Live Nation have announced plans to merge. In a Financial Times.com story appearing this morning, Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation and the proposed CEO of the merged group, said the combination would produce “measurable benefits to consumers”, noting that “current inefficiencies in the system result in higher costs and confusion over access to seats”. 

These two giants in the concert promotion industry could potentially have a stranglehold on venues, artists, and ticket buyers. According to the piece there are still a lot of particulars to work out but it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

A recent conversation I had with a source in the concert promotion industry, said advance ticket sales for premium seats at venues are sagging considerably. Perhaps this merger is designed to shore up ticket sales in a bad economy. Will this also mean an increase in 360 deals, a trend started by Live Nation. I’m sure much more will be written about this in the coming months.

by Sarah Zupko

10 Feb 2009

Hot Panda, a new Canadian pop band, releases their debut today on Mint Records. Entitled Volcano… Bloody Volcano, it’s a dose of off-kilter, spastic pop. Case in point, check out “Cold Hands, Chapped Lips”. The boys have four SXSW appearances lined up so far (dates and times below).

Hot Panda
“Cold Hands, Chapped Lips” [MP3] from Volcano… Bloody Volcano [10 February]
     

SXSW APPEARANCES
March 18, 3 pm - Beauty Bar (Breakthru Radio Party)
March 19, 3 pm - Headhunters (Mint/Venus Magazine BBQ)
March 19, 4 pm - Room 710 (Pirate Promotions party)
March 21, 8 pm - Habanna Calle 6 (Mint Records Showcase)

by PopMatters Staff

10 Feb 2009

Scottish twee-poppers Camera Obscura release their latest album My Maudlin Career in the US on the 21 of April. Those on the other side of the pond can pick it up on April 20th. The band is offering a free download of “My Maudlin Career”, yep same name as the album. This is just a taster though as the first single will be “French Navy”, releasing in April as well.

Camera Obscura
“My Maudlin Career” [MP3]
     

by Joe Tacopino

10 Feb 2009

Coming off a tour of India where they caused all sorts of trouble, lo-fi rockers the Black Lips give us a taste of their forthcoming album 200 Million Thousand, due out February 24th. “Short Fuse” displays the band’s signature jangle, wacky lyrics and general old-school rock aesthetic. Take a listen before it “blows up like an atom bomb”.

The Black Lips
“Short Fuse” [MP3]
     

by Rob Horning

10 Feb 2009

Amazon has released a new Kindle. It costs $359. I don’t know why anyone would buy that piece of crippleware when you can buy a netbook for the same price or cheaper and get unlimited functionality. (I suppose if I had experienced the magic of the Kindle’s no-backlight technology, I wouldn’t dismiss it so glibly.) Even in his effort to champion the device, Joel Johnson reveals its inherent limitations: “While the new model now has 2 gigabytes of memory onboard, seven times as much as the old Kindle in storage terms, it no longer has the SD flash memory card slot that made it possible to keep a library of tens of thousands of books on the device at once. While my library never really grew that big (having even a few hundred books began to make getting around in the menus somewhat awkward), knowing it could went a long way towards tickling my desire for the world’s entire written history to be in my pocket at all times.” The Kindle is not apparently meant to be the book that subsumes all books; it appears to become clumsier to use the more you load onto it. In practice, it seems a novelty gadget for travelers who want respite from their laptops, but are too indecisive to settle on what book to bring on the plane.

At the Guardian’s blog, Bobbie Johnson makes this apt point about the Kindle’s modest success (via PSFK):

Everyone’s looking at the pattern they’ve seen in music and video - an old medium changed radically by technology - and waiting for it to hit the book world. But the chances of that happening right now are very small indeed. Why? It’s fairly straightforward.
The real reason that the music industry came around to the idea of downloads wasn’t because they had a startling insight into the future, or even because Apple forced the issue by building a clever ecosystem around the iPod (it didn’t launch the iTunes store until 2003). It was because customers were choosing to pirate instead.


That seems right to me. And the reason people aren’t pirating books isn’t because the opportunity isn’t there—you can probably find torrents for pdfs of Harry Potter and those Twilight books if you wanted them. It’s that people have other more convenient ways to share books. As Johnson explains, “the average book reader isn’t turning to legally dubious sources for their novels, or meeting up with book dealers on street corners to pick up copies of the latest bestseller. If they want to share files, they can get somebody to lend them a copy, or go to a place for sharing this information that’s wholly supported by the industry (you might know them as libraries).”

Basically publishers have no incentive to encourage people to read books on screens and every incentive to get them to enjoy the fetish of the object. The preference consumers have shown for digitized music and iPods doesn’t seem to translate to books. The usefulness of the iPod derives from its ability to shuffle songs that many people enjoy as background, more or less passively. On the subway I hear about a dozen songs each morning, and it pleases me that they are randomly selected from a list of several thousand. But I wouldn’t want my reading material served up that way. Generally I’m reading one thing at a time, and I benefit from the finality of that decision, when I leave home with one book. Books have the great built-in advantage of preventing me from surfing away elsewhere when the reading becomes arduous or requires an effort of concentration.

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