Aerosmith – Lotteries and Imposters

Aerosmith - trying to make sense of it all

Aerosmith - trying to make sense of it all

We get pretty excited when we think about Aerosmith. Definitely one of the most decadent bands of all time, they turned it around in the 80s, cleaning up and became one of the biggest rock bands in the world – a promptly stayed there.

It was the first sign that these louts had some balls – and were willing to work hard and take risks for their music and their careers. It led to the groundbreaking ‘Walk This Way’ with Run DMC. We want to shed a tear and do the devil symbol just thinking about it.

The digital era has been funny to Aerosmith, but by no means bad. They signed onto the Guitar Hero franchise well before any other Johnny come lately. They have a new record due out, and rumours are they will follow the Eagles, AC/DC, Guns ‘n’ Roses and others with a retail exclusive (possibly with Wal-Mart).

But two things have really tickled us about Aerosmith lately.

First is the Aerosmith branded lottery scratchie. Yes, really.

The scratchies come with your standard chance of winning a million bucks, but some of the consolation prizes include tickets to shows and backstage passes. All tied in with Aerosmith‘s songs and images. Brilliant!

Full story from Billboard here – http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/aerosmith-hits-jackpot-with-branded-lottery-1003972115.story

The second is lead singer Steve Tyler‘s futile attempt to sue anonymous bloggers. Apparently Fake Steve Tyler has gotten around, posting on forums, Facebook and Youtube, talking about Real Steve Tyler‘s private life. So Tyler decided to sue, as is the American way. Funny thing was, the anonymous bloggers decided to stay anonymous and the court day came with no one turning up.

Techcrunch has the best summary we could find – http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/22/cryin-aerosmiths-steven-tyler-fails-to-sue-anonymous-bloggers/

This second bit is way more interesting than the lottery story. Fake celebs are everywhere, especially on Twitter. People like Tina Fey and Seth Rogen have to take a hard line to say they are not on Twitter, although you can find fakes of them on that service. Good on Tyler for trying something. Maybe Darth Vader will sue this site.

We bring all this up, not to poke fun at all the crazy things Aerosmith does, but to make a point that it must be confusing to be in a band these days. All these side deals, imposters, new technologies, games, retail exclusives… how can a bunch of rockers from Boston keep up?

The world is getting more and more confusing. We hope Aerosmith keep rocking right through the madness.

Spotify/Cloud Computing – it's our forecast

Spotify - now in the clouds

Spotify - now in the clouds

Spotify, a European streaming/subscription service, has been making quite a bit of noise in the last year. Still in Beta, it’s been greeted with critical acclaim. We’ll discuss it in more detail in one of our upcoming Wednesday Web columns. This week, Spotify announced their latest innovation – their first App.

It does everything you’d expect. You can access music from your phone, streamed. It has all your preferences saved, including all your playlists. Also, the thing looks great.

Currently demo’d on a mobile phones that runs on the Google Android OS, an iPhone version has long been in the works as well. We can’t imagine it’s too far behind. Neither are available yet.

The ramifications are clear. As phone data services gets better and better, smartphones becoming more ubiquitous and more music becomes available online – you can almost see that sci fi world where anyone can listen to anything, any time, anywhere. The ultimate music library.

Which brings us onto cloud computing – THE buzz idea for the internet this year. People are holding less and less on their computers, and more in the mythical cloud. The Spotify App is a big win for those who believe this is the future. We are almost in that boat ourselves.

That ties in nicely with the biggest model for could computing there is – Gmail. Gmail (and Yahoo Mail and Hotmail et al) keeps all your emails online for you to access from your phone, your home computer, your work computer, your friend’s phone, the free net access at the library – just about anywhere. And ever so slowly, we’re moving our music, videos and documents into this cloud.

Gmail‘s owners are of course Google. It’s Google‘s I/O conference in the last few days that have sparked off all this news. And today they added some of their own – Google Wave. It’s almost too big for us to digest. It’s mail, it’s Twitter, it’s IM, it’s cloud computing – and it’s blowing our socks straight off into the washer. We can’t wait to see the real thing next year.

Find out more about Google Wave here – http://mashable.com/2009/05/28/google-wave/

Video demo of Spotify App after the jump.

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New Zune HD – US only

The new Zune HD

The new Zune HD

We don’t hate the Zune. Actually, more accurately – we don’t want to hate the Zune. But Zune don’t make it easy for us. Firstly, they don’t make the thing available to us.

According to the press release this week for the latest one called Zune HD, the 7th model in 3 years, looks like they are sticking to American shores.

Giving it a chance, lets have a look. The new hook is the touchscreen. It’s Zune‘s challenger to the iPod Touch. Throwing in wi-fi capabilities and a browser is a good move. The final touch is the HD functions – access to HD radio and the ability to output HD video to other devices (like your TV). No word on capacities, but we assume 16 or 32GB. We’ve not heard on price either but Zune has a habit of following Apple here too.

It’s an interesting match for the iPod Touch. But we don’t think it’s enough to beat it, or even dent it. The big one is the radio function. But HD radio is small beans. And will it be enough to tear someone away from Google maps, or the 40K apps that are available to Touch users? iPod Touch‘s message these days is all about the apps – the funnest iPod ever. Zune have not announced anything in terms of games, but one can assume they will.

We like the iPod Touch design better, but the Zune doesn’t look too bad either. We could go either way depending on the functionality. Price is the big unknown. If Zune undercuts Apple significantly in this economy, it could finally get Zune into the game.

It’s all a moot point as outside of the US Zune is a joke and will continue to be. There is no excitement, no vibe. And if Zune continues to simply try to match, rather than exceed Apple, then they are going to lose. There is no vision. Nothing to be excited about or to believe in. A joke.

Slightly more interesting was the announcement that Zune is selling videos internationally on the Xbox platform. This could mean big things if they could follow it with music.

We’re not writing the Zune off just yet, but they have a long way to go.

Official Zune HD site – http://www.zune.net/en-us/mp3players/zunehd/default.htm

MySpace's latest CEO speaks

All Things Digital has been covering the D7 conference, one of the big digital business conferences. Our hero Walt Mossberg has been putting up some great interviews. He’s such a cool old coot who can get away with saying just about anything. “People are buying iPhones despite of AT&T”.

But we thought we’d quickly post this. An interview with the two new heads of MySpace – News Corp’s Jon Miller (ex Facebook) and MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta.

Click on the image to watch video - we couldnt embed.

Click on the image to watch video - we couldn't embed.

Very interesting things in the first couple of minutes where Mossberg reveals the result of his polling (and ambushes his subjects). And then around 6 minutes in when they finally talk frankly about music, how they ever hope to make money, and how they feel about MySpace.

More cool videos here – http://video.allthingsd.com/

Wednesday Web: Aquarium Drunkard

aquariumdrunkard.com

aquariumdrunkard.com

When one mentions the ‘blogosphere’, one imagines a badlands full of noise, colour, bluster and little value. The thousands of thousands of unsolicted opinions, all posted up for the world to see, or get lost in. The blog world has made few superstars, and are mostly the same. Some like Perez Hilton may get canonised. But for every Hilton there are possibly ten thousand nobodies, doing very little that is creative.

Enter Aquarium Drunkard, a role model for blogs everywhere.

Lets talk about what AD is today. Based out of LA, it’s a blog that slants towards to roots and country side of music. But they adore new music, and support it wby sponsoring gigs. They do exclusive interviews with the acts they love. They write passionately and thoughtfully about classic records. There are regular columns and contributors. Buckets of fantastic Mp3s. There is also a radio show version on Sirius. It’s not Perez Hilton, but it’s the digital age version of the cool indie roots rock record shop.

This wasn’t always the case. AD grew from a Blogspot site, and then took it to the next level. It built a solid audience. And the writing – utterly fantastic. We came across it early, and followed it as it started sponsoring gigs. It got it’s own URL. The bands being interviewed were the big bands. But they never forgot about the small ones either. The fantastic Off the Record column started. We can’t find where the quote was from, but we read somewhere that AD lifted the bar for music blogs – and we agree.

What kills us, with frightening regularity, is the writing. Two that still sticks with us – a great, personal look at 80s indie that sent us back to Flying Nun records and Grieving Angel -where the writer makes a claim for the death of the golden age of alt-country (marked by both Whiskeytown’s reissue of Strangers Almanac and the death of the No Depression magazine).

This is miles above your regular “OMG new single by so-and-so”.

Above all, we have discovered much great music, on this site. From tasting a track or two on a classic artist we have heard of but never known, to fantastic bootlegs, demos and unreleased material and, of course, new awesome bands. Which is what a music blog should be all about.

Aquarium Drunkard is a big inspiration for this site. In the strange world of blogs, it’s good to have something to aspire to. We wish we could say that AD was one of many blogs that operate so well, but the truth is we can not think of another like it. Maybe we’re not looking hard enough – we would love to know what we’re missing. But in the meantime, when blogs are still considered something of a joke, at least one site is making something seriously great.

http://www.aquariumdrunkard.com

Tuesday Tunes: Ash – Return Of White Rabbit

Ash - Return Of the White Rabbit

Ash - Return Of the White Rabbit

Even those most hardened Ash fans would admit it’s all about the singles. They started at the time of grunge with the sparkling, timeless Jack Names The Planets. They survived Brit Pop with a strong of hits from their 1977 album. And even if some of those later albums were a bit uneven, the singles like Burn Baby Burn still ruled.

So Ash may have come up with a solution to those uneven albums. They are giving up on the album completely, and will only release singles from now on. Even more ambitiously, they will put out 26(!) new singles this year. The first taster is now free on their website. It’s called Return Of White Rabbit.

This Tuesday Tunes column was a challenge from the start. Could we find a new song a week that was offered for free and legal? It hasn’t been a problem so far. In fact, the last column was for a full album. But with bands taking risks like this, we don’t think it will be a problem now.

The experiment starts in September with True Love 1980. And then there is a new song every two weeks. Surprisingly, a CD version will be released alongside a digital and vinyl version.

The song itself is a bit of a departure. It’s got a strong leaning towards Depeche Mode style dance beats. It’s not our favourite Ash song but maybe it will grow on us. If not, we’re going to have a lot more music for them to make it up to us.

You can get the free mp3 from the official Ash website – http://www.ash-official.com. Price of admission is an email sign-up.

5 music tips for Twitter's founders

Twitter bird - we hope its listening

Twitter bird - we hope it's listening

Billboard published a piece by Twitter founder Biz Stone. In it, Stone gives musicians and bands five tips to make Twitter more effective. We can swallow the arrogance of this (bands have been dealing with fans all their lives) – but we agree that there is something very frustrating about being a music fan on Twitter.

So, in response, here our 5 tips from us. Here’s how Twitter can improve it’s service for the music fan.

1. Tagging profiles by genre. Imagine you can search or just browse for music Twitters? Or news. Or movies. Or anything. Adding one simple field would make the mess that is Twitter seem more manageable. There could well be hundreds of bands I love on Twitter that I have not been able to find.

2. Sorting tweets by genre. Imagine at the press of a button, you can see what your favourite musicians are up to, without having to sift through all the news and friends and anything else.

3. Trending topics by genre. You can see what people are talking about, in the field that you love. With just ten Trending Topics on display, it’s impossible to see what people are loving in just music.

4. A better profile page for graphics. Trying to squash an image as background pic around something – that is so Myspace in the 90s. Allow bands who actually have a strong look and feel to make it their own.

5. Get involved. Put your money where your Tweets are. Go out and sponsor some gigs, run some events and do more. Don’t just ask us to drive your traffic. Promote yourselves as an entertainment possibility. If you really want to be there with the fans, then get there with the fans.

You can read the original article here – http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/5-twitter-tips-for-bands-from-co-founder-1003976197.story

Oh yeah, why not follow us on Twitter @yauami.