Showing posts with label Marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marketing. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

XTC Go2 and Go+ Covers




XTC's Go 2 album and the "extra" EP factored in as well. XTC were a prolific band, always laden with great songs and never at a loss for tracks or brilliance.

After Barry Andrews left the band, they carried on with Dave Gregory.

Wikipedia:

UK LP: V 2108

Side A

No.

Title

Writer(s)

Length

1.

"Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)"  

2:36

2.

"Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"  

4:37

3.

"Buzzcity Talking"  

Colin Moulding

2:41

4.

"Crowded Room"  

Moulding

2:53

5.

"The Rhythm"  

Moulding

3:00

6.

"Red"  

3:02

Side B

No.

Title

Writer(s)

Length

1.

"Beatown"  

4:37

2.

"Life Is Good in the Greenhouse"  

4:41

3.

"Jumping In Gomorrah"  

2:04

4.

"My Weapon"  

Barry Andrews

2:20

5.

"Super-Tuff"  

Andrews

4:27

6.

"I Am the Audience"  

Moulding

3:48

[edit]2001 Remastered CD: CDVX2108

No.

Title

Writer(s)

Length

1.

"Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)"  

2:36

2.

"Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"  

4:37

3.

"Buzzcity Talking"  

Colin Moulding

2:41

4.

"Crowded Room"  

Moulding

2:53

5.

"The Rhythm"  

Moulding

3:00

6.

"Red"  

3:02

7.

"Beatown"  

4:37

8.

"Life Is Good in the Greenhouse"  

4:41

9.

"Jumping In Gomorrah"  

2:04

10.

"My Weapon"  

Barry Andrews

2:20

11.

"Super-Tuff"  

Andrews

4:27

12.

"I Am the Audience"  

Moulding

3:48

13.

"Are You Receiving Me?"  

3:06

[edit]Go+ (Bonus disc included on initial pressing)

  1. "Dance With Me, Germany" [dub version of "Meccanic Dancing (Oh We Go!)"] – 3:17

  2. "Beat the Bible" [dub version of "Jumping in Gomorrah"] – 2:06

  3. "A Dictionary of Modern Marriage" [dub version of "Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"] – 2:27

  4. "Clap Clap Clap" [dub version of "I am the Audience"] (Moulding) – 2:17

  5. "We Kill The Beast" [dub version of "The Rhythm"] (Moulding) – 2:05

And there you have it. White text on a black background, courier type, but very much a send-up of the marketing of music and bands. By the late 1970s, album art was in its heyday. XTC couldn't be bothered, even thought their subsequent records came with fantastic covers.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mojave 3 Puzzles Like You Digipack Covers




This is a wonderfully packaged album from Mojave 3 called Puzzles Like You. I can't believe it has already been ten years. 

All of the Mojave 3 releases that I have are a treat to behold. This one is a fantastic example as to why their stuff is special.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The House of Love Babe Rainbow Covers





This album is a masterpiece.

Babe Rainbow

has a fantastic cover--a real winner, if you ask me. I have a soft spot for this album because, back when it was released, I completely missed it. I had the 1990 album, aka, "Butterfly" and, after that, nothing. This was because the House of Love sort of fell off the world for me, but, really, it was just a case of not knowing about this album and what the band was doing. To say that they were underappreciated is an understatement.


They were neglected to death, in other words. And

Babe Rainbow

is one of the most neglected masterpieces of the 1990s. Lost in the sucking swirl of grunge, it ran into a marketplace that wasn't ready for beautiful guitar music. Had Guy Chadwick, et al, simply droned on and screamed about mother, they might have had a chance. Instead, they gave us

The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes

, one of the purest pop songs ever written. Every track on the album is a keeper, by the way. I could mix this whole album up on an iPod and never wonder why those tracks are there.


Acquire this one. It should--it deserves--the reissue treatment, as do all of the other House of Love albums. I would love to see these put back out there with B-sides and live tracks and all, simply because this is crucial music.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Replacements Tim Covers




The Tim album by the Replacements is pretty much the apex of the band--the high point that happened at exactly the moment when they were recorded about as poorly as possible while making the best music of their lives. If this album sounds bad, that's because it does. Tommy Erdelyi was a terrible choice for a producer and the fact that Tim sounds worse than Hootenanny is, well, one more thing to bitch about.

It was the end of the Bob Stinson era and the beginning of the corporate sell-out era, but the drinking and the shenanigans would continue well on through to the end. The songs would never be as good.

The real crowning glory of this era of the band is found on two of the cuts contained on this album. Bastards of Young and Here Comes a Regular are two sides of the same broken heart, and you could build the quintessential novel of the Eighties around those two songs, weaving them in and out of whatever plot full of fuckups and failed glory you could imagine. There are brilliant songs scattered throughout their career, but these two are the two best songs they ever did.

I have never been able to figure out the cover, though. It has an industrial feel to it, with the band portraits designed to make them indie darlings. There were ideas behind it, but how do they match up to the words "a picture on a fridge that's never stocked with food?" And why didn't someone just put that image on the front and call it a day? 

Primal Scream Country Girl Covers




This is where I really, really started to get into Primal Scream again.

This single has a fantastic cover. Country Girl is a classic rave up. Live, this song brings down the house. The cover here is classically presented with a dark and sinister top and bottom bar, just like a scene from a letter-boxed film. I love what they did with this package.

Ten years? Really? It feels like it just came out.

Monday, December 12, 2016

James Laid Cover




The single from James called Laid was easily one of the best things to come out in 1993; I would say that it was definitely a high point for the band that experienced so many highs and had so many great singles.

The design for this one somewhat mars the impact of the single; the cover is difficult to read and I would definitely have flipped what's on the back for the front. I love the close up stitching as a motif and I like the detail in the cloth and the colors. This is not the first time I have liked the back cover more than the front cover, but it won't be the last, either.

Oasis Live Forever Cover

This single broke Oasis wide open, and helped vault their debut album into the stratosphere. Live Forever was more than just some Britpop throwaway. It rose above the genre and defined the Oasis phenomenon. Every subsequent single rode this wave of optimism in the face of bullshit, lies, and blank stares.

The sleeve features the childhood home of John Lennon on Menlove Avenue, and it is one of those fantastic collaborations between Microdot and Michael Spencer Jones. How many singles put the lyrics on the back? Am I right?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Echo and the Bunnymen A Promise Cover

Another old favorite, and why not?

The cover for the 45 rpm single for the song A Promise borrows from the cover art and theme of the album Heaven Up Here. This is an excellent use of the method of tying in the single to the album.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Psychedelic Furs Forever Now Reissue Covers

























I would like to do something on the first five Psychedelic Furs albums because they're all very vital pieces of rock and roll history. I realize that there were seven major label releases, but I think they could have ended before Book of Days. Really, after Mirror Moves, what was left for them?

The third release was Forever Now and I'm going to get this one out of the way because I think it has one of the most God-awful covers of the 1980s. It has always sort of bothered me, and I realize I'm probably the only one who has this issue with it, but, oh well.

The music inside? Excellent stuff. The cover? Bleh.

I just think the patterns and designs that mar the cover photo are too much. The stars and diamonds are too distracting. Pink and green isn't an awful color motif but when you lay that over a blurry black and white photo, it just doesn't work for me. There is probably nothing wrong with it, but that's how I see the cover. I see it as too busy and too distracting. Their other album covers are all much more appealing. I think All of This and Nothing is probably the best cover. Nothing could be more different than this one.


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Johnny Marr and the Healers Bangin' On










This is a great way to package a single and promote something and give fans a pretty good value. The idea of the CD single often ends up going south for a lot of bands. But Johnny Marr and the Healers have a great thing going with this, the Bangin' On single.

The elements are very simple. Three songs are fine (I consider anything with four songs an EP, or extended play single, but that's not a hard and fast rule--that's just my rule), and there's over fifteen minutes of music here. The cover is artsy, and gets a little busy, but when tied into the artwork for the back (and the band photo) as well as the CD labeling itself, well, we're talking a home run here.

So many singles fail to find these simple elements and make them work. They either get the cover and design wrong (a tendency to go cute or gross or shocking comes to mind) or they fail to offer anything worth buying. I tend to prefer this kind of single--anything with B-sides is perfect. Occasionally, someone will stick three live tracks on a single--I like that, too. I'm not too keen on remixes, never have been. A single with seven remixes is not as interesting to me as something with B-sides or live tracks, but, again--that's just me being weird.


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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Middle School








The music business used to feature adults who sang songs about adult issues and rejected the idea that it couldn't be art.

I know--what the hell happened?

Who are these people and why do they tweet at each other as if no one else has anything better to do? Better yet, why are they so enamored with an award from MTV that recognizes the shitty, overpriced promotional video they made to promote a song they didn't write?

I guess when you get to the rare level of having actual revenue from streaming and physical sales and have an actual record label to promote your work, there's no where left to but back to school, bitches.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Robbing Zoe Keating






Only a very few classical artists have been outspoken on the issue so far: San-Francisco-based Zoe Keating — a tech-savvy, DIY, Amanda Palmer of the cello — has blown the whistle on the tiny amounts the streaming services pay musicians. Though she’s exactly the kind of artist who should be cashing in on streaming, since she releases her own music, tours relentlessly, and has developed a strong following since her days with rock band Rasputina, only 8 percent of  her last year’s earnings from recorded music came from streaming. The iTunes store, which pays out in small amounts since most purchases are for 99 cent songs, paid her about six times what she earned from streaming. (More than 400,000 Spotify streams earned her $1,764; almost 2 million YouTube views generated $1,248.)


So, 2,400,000 plays or clicks on Spotify and YouTube in a single year equals $3,012 dollars for an artist like Zoe Keating? 


Come on. That's obscene.


She clearly has listeners. She clearly has an audience. She is not a "fringe" artist in terms of her appeal on just two--two!--of these services. And yet, they're making money. They're making money hand over fist at Spotify and YouTube.


Zoe Keating isn't making anything. Three thousand dollars for that kind of exposure and that many plays is theft of artistic property. If someone came to your house and stole that, it would be a felony. There would be a perp walk out the back door, and a rep from Spotify would be frog-marched to a squad car with no t-shirt and a back full of sweat and weeds, just like on Cops.


Good God. Nobody is going to make music anymore if this keeps up. Why would they?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Give it Away





If there's one thing that living through the "aughts" instilled in me, it is a deep and abiding hatred for the self-assured smugness of people who think you can make money by giving away something for free:


"NME will dramatically increase its content output and range, with new original as well as curated content appearing across all platforms, including print. Other highlights will include an expansion in live events, more video franchises and greater engagement with users on new social platforms".

Writing on NME.com, Editor Mike Williams said: "The cat is out of the bag, and I couldn’t be more excited. For the past few months we’ve been working in secret here at NME on the next phase of our evolution. The goal, throughout all of our research and development, has been to find new and inventive ways to connect with you, our audience, better than ever. In the 63 years since NME launched we have evolved and transformed plenty of times. The evolution of 2015 is our boldest ever move, and I’m delighted to be able to share the news with you at last."


What the NME is going to do is what those free "alternative" newspapers tried to do decades ago. They're going to run lots of ads, where possible, and give their content away for free in the hopes of developing a readership that will spend money on the products being advertised.


Precious few of those publications still exist, by the way.


Oh well, give it away for free. Don't pay anyone a living wage. Hope someone throws you a bone. That'll work.


You'll note that I regularly blog about online content from the NME and nobody gives me a darned thing. Nobody gives me a link back to my site or says thank you when I send them readers. I wish I was in it for the money because then I'd be in something else already.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Gibson Guitars and Wishful Thinking





I get why Gawker is going after Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz--he's an asshole who is completing the mission of ruining a venerated American company. That's their take on it, and they have been beating that drum for a few years.


The story of any American company that is being run into the ground in similar to this in some way--lack of innovation, poor leadership, declining values, outsourced employees, and mismanagement of enormous proportions. Companies are being bled dry. Companies are making shoddy products and trying to appease stockholders. Companies are just plain useless. Many others are just going in the wrong direction and can't get any traction.


Gibson, like Harley Davidson, and like anyone else you want to mention, are companies that are simply  going away because the culture is changing. So, you can rag on Juszkiewicz all you want, but fewer and fewer people are getting invested in what Gibson is selling, and that's music performed by a person after years of study and hard work. As a product, the guitar is losing value because we are caught up in nostalgia.


There is only one kind of person who is interested in paying more than $25,000 for a guitar, and that person is aging rapidly and has a lot of money and isn't interested in anything other than acquiring a status symbol. If you explained to them that a $1,000 Epiphone guitar is just as good, you're never going to hear the end of it. If you pointed out that Paul Reed Smith is making better instruments, all you're doing is confirming the fact that people are not interested in facts. They want something they can put in their house that will make others envious. 


I have four cheap guitars that I love to play. I switch between them, put new strings on when I can, and I play when I can. I'm not interested in playing live in front of people--I just want to have the experience of playing an instrument that will respond to what I put into it, which is not a lot, to be honest with you. I don't care about the Les Paul guitar because I'm never going to own one. I've been priced out of the market.


Now, it used to be that Gibson would make models that appealed to people like me--music used to be affordable. Greed drove up the prices and the notion that there was something in the wood, something in the laquer on the surface of the wood (bullshit), something magical that science couldn't verify took hold. The need for people to create exclusivity with owning a wooden box with strings on it has driven affordability into the ground. 


Gibson has priced people out of their market. They have a failing business model and the culture is abandoning this thing we call music because no one can make a living at it anymore. The number of people who will order a custom Gibson guitar and pay a huge amount of money for it is dwindling every day because we devalued the music business to such an extent that you're going to see the ripple effect. 


It's all disappearing and dying, and when the Baby Boomers are done, a slew of companies that appealed to them and milked them for all of their cash will go with them into oblivion. Everything that you can say about a Gibson guitar you can also say about Corvette cars and Harley motorcycles--they're now overpriced, they're not as good as they once were, and the one I own is better than yours.


American culture now values video games and music created by DJs more than it does the creation of music with hands and amplifiers and recording studios. There's no money it and it's never coming back. It's like the era of wooden ships--sure, there are people who know how to sail but nobody retains the knowledge and skill necessary to do it the way it was done two or three hundred years ago. If you want it all to be like it was, that's just nostalgia and wishful thinking.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Social Media is an Obstacle, Not a Panacea



It takes a special kind of talent to be interesting, relevant, and fun on social media. There are relatively few bands that have members or management that can procure this type of skill. Therefore, Noel Gallagher is right--everyone is shit scared of offending people (look what just happened in Paris) and thus, no one wants to be controversial unless they're just trolling for fun.

The solution is to hire a social media professional to run things. The problem is, no one is making any money to pay a social media coordinator and who even knows what that really is? How rock and roll is it to have a social media coordinator anyway? Shouldn't that have been the job of the A&R person who doesn't exist anymore because record labels are either gone or broke or going broke?

Maybe Spotify can kick in some money for social media coordinators. That's rock and roll, baby.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Last Ship




As an artistic achievement, The Last Ship ranks fairly highly among the more ambitious Broadway musicals. This particular effort, which draws from Sting's Soul Cages album, probably isn't going to get the kind of respect it deserves.

I'm still annoyed with Sting, but not because he's trying to do things like this.

As his albums go, the Soul Cages is perhaps his best. It's the least annoying and has actual rock tunes on it, you know, with guitar and things like that. It's the one show of his that I saw that didn't make me wonder why I was there.

They should make this into a movie. That'll work.

Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm Still Annoyed With Sting













And this is entirely my problem, of course. Artists that I really respected when I was younger have annoyed the hell out of me in recent years, Sting being chief among them (and U2, of course).

The "winter" album that Sting put out has fantastic artwork, suggesting meticulous planning and marketing. The thing is, this isn't marketed for me. It's marketed for the easy listening crowd. That's probably the demographic that he's chasing with all of this new music he's been putting out, which ranges from remakes to stage tunes to classical music. Now that the Police reunion is behind him (and it was awful, I have to admit, to hear the Police play slow and to a level of indulgence well beyond anything reasonable), Sting doesn't give a shit about anyone or anything.

Does that make him an actual artist? Yes, it probably does.

Friday, December 12, 2014

All About Eve




This is incredibly unfair, I know, but here's what you need to know about this photo.

First, it's of the band All About Eve.

Second, it's a promotional photo so everyone has been styled, dressed, and made up. Their record label probably spent a large sum of money on this photo.

Third, these are not miserable people, but they are posed in such a way as to appear miserable. When the man said, "no mardy bums," this was what he was talking about. But All About Eve were excellent and talented so it all worked out in the end.

Fourth, whoever took the photo did the band a disservice and should have opted for something else. As in, anything else.

When there actually were record labels and photographers who did this sort of thing, the promotional photos were used to help the A&R people "sell" the band. Not much of that happens anymore. But, if you're in a band and if the person trying to take your picture does this to you, beat them up.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Neil Young's Pono is a Fraud




Really, who's surprised to find out that the reason why Neil Young is selling the Pono player has everything to do with appealing to a need to feel different and special from other human beings and nothing to do with actual science?

CDs, and digital-to-audio converters, reproduce pretty much everything better than vinyl. To say so is to spit on the holy writ of many audiophiles, but there's science behind it. Nyquist-Shannon's theorem is a neat piece of maths that shows how quickly you have to sample an analogue signal to turn it faithfully into a digital one. Every sound is a combination of multiple frequencies at different volumes. To digitise sound, you have to capture all the frequencies. The theorem shows that, to capture a sound at frequency X, you need to take a digital sample double that frequency. Now mix in that the absolute limit of human hearing is 20kHz (and for most people more like 14kHz or less), and you realise the 44.1kHz sampling rate for CDs is fine. It will capture everything, assuming your sampler is any good.


Then there's the question of 16-bit audio. Really, is 16-bit enough to capture a sufficient range of volumes in what began as a smoothly varying analogue signal? This isn't so easily settled; 16-bit gives you 65,636 possible sound levels, while 24-bit increases that to 16.7m. It's conceivable that using more bits to encode the audio (while sticking with the same sampling rate) will improve the sound – if you have wonderful hearing. But most of us don't. Studios tend to record in 24-bit because they don't want to lose any data. But that is then mixed down to 16-bit. It's possible, if you're a mad-keen audiophile, to get 24-bit audio mixes – but they aren't cheap. And it's highly unlikely that in a blind test you would hear the difference.


So given that Pono is going to play music where the sampling rate and bit depth won't improve reproduction, why do people want it? Simple: those extra numbers are a specification, and if there's one thing certain groups of men (it's always men) love above all other things, it's a specification on a list. So Pono offers you a feature – for a premium – that you can't actually perceive. It's like invisible clothes or odourless perfume. Marketing people must be looking at it with envy.

If you can trick people into paying $700 or more for audio equipment that reproduces sound in a way no human being can fully hear or appreciate, then you're pretty smart. Getting them to buy the old vinyl albums everyone threw out for twice the price and then a sound system worth $40 grand? Yeah, you're on your way to being immortal. Convincing them that they need to spend $100K for a forty year old guitar that doesn't play better or sound any different than a $3,000 Paul Reed Smith made last month? Damned fine marketing. Getting them to pay $3 million dollars or more for a Stradivarius? Genius.

In my own travels and experiences, music appreciation is subjective. People will only pay so much and then they will get tired of the bullshit. The iPod existed and the MP3 exists now solely because this delivered a massive amount of free music that people could manage and control. That's all. The best thing I have ever heard is a FLAC file played through the Winamp application on a Microsoft XP machine. Winamp and XP are long gone and so is the idea that music can only be appreciated by white men with lots of money. Your best experience with music is yours and yours alone. Mine is mine. We need not agree for all of this to be true.

I love Neil Young. But we are never going to have nice things until all the Goddamned hippies and their crazy, unverifiable, exclusive ideas are dead and gone. It all comes down to these counterculture-inspired nonsense concepts that were born out of bullshit sessions held long ago. Yeah, there's a magic tone in the timber of that Stratocaster, dude, and it can't be reproduced or copied or improved upon because shut up, that's why.

What other generation relies on resume inflation and tallying the amount of money they spend on bullshit as an indicator of how much "better" they are than everyone else? Sheesh.

The bottom line is, you don't have to buy the same albums you already own in a new format. You don't have to feel bad about using an old iPod. You don't need a $20,000 turntable. You don't need to buy all of the music you want in the FLAC format, although FLAC files do sound pretty good. You don't need to own $300 headphones.

I mean, good God. Is everything just a ripoff now or what?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oasis Promotional Single Covers From 2009










Here are three samples of the covers used to market the singles from the last Oasis album, Dig Out Your Soul. I have a feeling this will be the last proper Oasis album for quite a while, but I could be wrong about that.

These have always bothered me. I hate the white text in the middle; I hate that font with a passion. Love the music, love the colors and the overall design ethic used here, but that font was and is a disaster.