Playoffs Update: Performance and Digital Royalties Trounce Mechanicals in Pivotal Series Win

Boy, oh boy, what a win, folks! A real barn-burner! If you're just joining us, the collecting arm for U.K. mechanical and performance rights societies MCPS and PRS reported last week that combined revenue from those lovable underdogs, broadcasting and digital uses, have out-performed revenue from recorded physical product for the first time in league history in a dramatic, come-from-behind win in the late innings!

Yessiree! The MCPS-PRS Alliance, which collects performance and mechanical royalties from broadcasters, online service providers, record companies, and other performance businesses, dug in deep this post-season and announced that online royalties have managed to put up some big-time numbers! How big? Try L10 million ($20 million), an increase of 54% since last year. Oh, doctor! Can you say "triple crown?"

This year's MVPs? We here at TMT are attributing it to both a 20% increase in royalties from live pop concerts and improved licensing activity among leisure and industrial premises for their unmatchable contributions to the increase in overall public performance revenue.

But let’s take a look at the losing team this year. What went wrong for the Mechanicals? Many coaches and analysts are pointing fingers from the 11% decrease in royalties from the worldwide downturn in physical unit sales to £151.8 million ($303.9 million) squarely in the face of what they call "improvements in licensing other new formats," such as pre-loaded USB sticks and musical novelties. In other words, this is a classic example of a franchise being too interested in packing the seats and marketing t-shirts than with signing winning players. Are you listening, Chicago Cubs?

Still, the general managers of both teams seem pleased with the league's overall exposure as of late. "Much is written about the state of the music industry, but these results show a healthy story about the increased use of music in almost all areas of our business," says Alliance chief executive Steve Porter. And before we get carried away with Performance/Digital fever, this reporter would just like to remind our readers that, while the number of transactions processed by the Alliance increased by 40% since the prior year, the cost of collecting and distributing royalties was just over 10% of total revenues. So, you know, don't go doing anything stupid like flipping over juke boxes and torching CD racks. We are trying to live in a civilized society, after all. You listening, Boston?

Broadway Bloc Party: STS9, Islands, Sebastien Grainger Offer Up New Production of Jesus Christ, Superstar?

Broadway Bloc Party? That’s right! All your favorite bands have apparently taken a break from music to pursue their true passion of musical theater, right on the Great White Way. (I'm guessing Nick Thorburn/Diamonds/Whatever the Fuck His Last Name Is Now will portray Our Lord. Not sure who’d be a good Judas, but my suggestion is that it will be a reunited Unicorns. That’ll really throw old Nicky off; though I guess in that situation, Nick should be Judas to the betrayed Unicorns’ Christ. I’m tempted to make more music/Bible comparisons, but I’d probably get shot.)

Wait, what’s that you say? Broadway Bloc Party is in Oregon? And it’s a music festival? Oops! Sorry, folks, I thought "Broadway" was referring to Broadway Broadway...

Okay, let's clarify: The Broadway Bloc Party is NOT a theater production and IS in fact a fabulous two-day music event in Eugene, Oregon on June 13-14. The first night will feature STS9 and Pnuma Trio, while the second includes Islands, The Devil Makes Three, Sebastien Grainger, and others. Although I originally advised you to buy tickets for an apparently nonexistent production, I now advise you to get refunds and instead buy admission for this shindig.

Keep your hopes up though for a theater production. Maybe this just wasn’t the right play. I can personally imagine a long run of Phantom of the Opera starring Spencer Krug as the gifted but shy titular character. Lord knows that man needs another side project.

RIP: Definitive Jux Artist Camu Tao Dies At 30 Due to Lung Cancer

From El-P's Okay Player blog, posted May 25, 2008:

"Today, at around 2pm, our dear friend, family member and musical collaborator Tero ‘CAMU TAO’ Smith passed away in his home town of Columbus, Ohio. Tero had been quietly fighting for his life for the last year and a half after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

To those who knew Tero, he was an almost uncategorizable force of nature. Wild, hilarious, proud, loving, tough, outspoken, spontaneous and brilliant. He wore his heart on his sleeve and he dripped creativity, leaving inspiration and awe in the hearts and minds of anyone who was fortunate enough to see him work.

We, his friends and family, have truly had our collective hearts broken by his passing. Not only because of the loss of our friend, but because of the loss of his contribution to those who never knew what we knew about his talent and his potential. He was the secret that no one wanted to keep and we always knew that one day his vision and his heart could change music forever the way he changed all of our lives.

His departure from us all 1 month away from his 31st birthday is nothing less than a tragedy… nothing less than a crime. he was a gift to us all and he is irreplaceable. Rest in peace, Mu. We will love you forever. May god bless you and your family."

- Camu Tao's MySpace
- Definitive Jux

[Photo: Definitive Jux]

Alabama 3 Rock Dancefloors, Release Retrospective, Inspire No Clever Headline

Do you enjoy looking back to the past? Do you enjoy nostalgia*? How about the late 1990s? If you answered yes to any or all of these things, then perhaps you will be excited about One Little Indian's upcoming release of an Alabama 3 retrospective (or A3, as they are called in the U.S., due to the absolute chaos that would ensue if they were confused with the pop country artistes behind "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You"). Entitled Hits & Exit Wounds, the album is expected for a late summer release, and will include tracks from Exile on Coldharbour Lane, Power in the Blood, Outlaw, and La Peste, along with the previously unreleased tracks requisite for any retrospective -- oh, and "Woke Up This Morning," that song from the opening credits of The Sopranos.

Alabama 3's characteristic blend of hell-and-brimstone gospel, blues, and country, along with that old UK dancefloor standby, house music, made fans out of dudes like Stephen King and Irvine Welsh, not to mention tons of sweaty ravers. In support of Hits & Exit Wounds, Alabama 3 will be playing select U.S. cities and more U.K. festivals than you can shake a stick at.

*No, not that old time-y magazine where Florida seniors write in about the good old days of sockhops and nuclear families. Although that magazine is pretty kickin'.

Built To Spill Reveal HUGE Perfect From Now On Tour, New Album in 2009: Beards Included, Old Technology Excluded, I’m Deluded…

... with happiness, that is! You in Reverse was all well and good, but that album is so 2006, and now you're telling my ass to wait until 2009!? WHERE IS THE HUSTLE, MARTSCHY!? You think you're so cool because you're using ProTools instead of analog recording now to make your recording sessions "more collaborative than ever"? That's code for LAZY, brother! Stop plotting to run all over the globe and play that Perfect From Now On garbage to any audience that'll listen... those shows won't be sold out; they're gonna be full of hostages! I don't know what kind of racket you think you're running here, but I can see riiight through you, Doug Martsch, SIR.

Excuse me, someone appears to have thrown a bucket of water over my head. Mr. Martsch tells Billboard that about 15 songs will make the cut for the new album, which has no title as of yet, and a few of the tracks have already made their live debuts ("Nowhere Lullabye," "Done," and "Good Old Boredom"). A few songs dropped from You in Reverse will find a new home on this album as well, and Martsch lets us in on some dirt about a shiny new one called "Planting Seeds": "[It's] a real conventional kind of pop/rock song. It reminds me of a Tom Petty song or something, but it probably doesn't sound anything like that." Isn't he a dear?

Please ignore my previous allegations and feel confident in your choice as to whether or not you should catch Built To Spill on their Perfect From Now On tour -- which will see John McMahon bringing his cello to make sure those Perfect From Now On dates are just perfect -- but you have to tell them Mr P sent you.

Summer dates:

Daniel Johnston Gets Backup from Jad Fair, Yo La Tengo, Sparklehorse for European Dates, Adds U.S. D

- Official website
- Official fansite
- Digital download site

$ The Capitol Years

# The Hymns

* "An Evening with Daniel Johnston and friends": Daniel will be supported and backed by Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, Scout Niblett, James McNew of Yo La Tengo, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, and Jad Fair of Half Japanese

Press Release Quote Analysis With The Crystal Castles’ Upcoming Tour

While preparing to write this story about the Crystal Castles upcoming tour, I noticed the various pull quotes about the band that were attached to the press release and how amusing they were. Here are some of the best ones:

- "Fuck you motherfuckers!!!" -TMT
- "It's brutal, it's violent...it's a pleasure" - The Guardian UK
- "It's always memorable when Toronto's Crystal Castles deliver their tweaked-out eyeliner-soaked Nintendo-core to gawking crowds" – Spin

It’s clear that the TMT quote is the best one by far (okay, so I may be biased), because it makes absolutely no sense and made me laugh out loud. The Guardian UK are going for a more direct approach, likening the Crystal Castle’s electronica grooves to brutal violence, which still making no sense on some level. Still, Spin manages to go even further off the deep end of music journalism with their ridiculous description of “tweaked-out eyeliner-soaked Nintendo-core.” What does this all mean exactly? Not a whole lot, but you read this far, so you might as well check out the tourdates below:

* Thanks Sam!

The Times They Are A-Changin’… Back To How They Used To Be? Universal Music Group Posts Improved First Quarter Earnings

Not so fast, suits. Although a recent blog post over at the music industry news website Coolfer has taken notice of the improved Universal Music Group's Q1 earnings in 2008, it would be nothing if not premature to say that the nightmare is over for our favorite major labels. Undoubtedly a step in the right direction, the increased profits may have some at the top breathing a little bit easier, but music fans remain well aware that little, if anything has been done to combat the ever increasing schism between corporation and consumer that has plagued the music industry since their heyday in the mid-to-late 1990s. Business buffs can pour over the report themselves, but the highlights outlined on Coolfer are as follows:

- Digital sales have increased 33% year over year
- Fiscal 2007 saw a 51% increase in digital sales (totaling 14% of total revenue)
- A 54% increase was seen in digital sales from Q1 of 2007
- Revenue increased 0.6% with operating profit rising 94.7%

So, while showing signs of life, the numbers remain far from ideal. In fact, many are pointing toward UMG's recent business acquisitions, not increased sales, as the reason for higher, somewhat flashy top line numbers. Snappy statistics may be pleasing to the ear and the bank account of a few, but what's clear is that the growth of digital sales is nowhere near great enough to account for the rapid decline in actual CD sales. We hear chatter of new business models aimed to simultaneously help artists and labels, and innovative solutions for piracy that will finally usher us all into the digital era together (and without lawsuits), but walking into our local music retailer, we're still too often met with increasingly outdated, lackluster product and a system of marketing with the same bloated price tag. Improvements? Maybe next quarter.

The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming AGAIN: UK Post-Punk Band These New Puritans to Invade U.S.

There comes a time in every young person's life when he/she must set aside his/her schoolwork, take up his/her angular guitar jams, and take to the road in order to promote his/her new post-punk album on Domino Records. Okay, so obviously "every young person" might be a stretch, but if you were, say, one of the gifted members of UK four-piece These New Puritans, you would understand. Jack Barnett, George Barnett, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson, and Thomas Hein are about to take on the mighty U.S. market with an upcoming summer tour in support of their recently-released full-length Beat Pyramid (TMT Review).

If you're one of those people who hears about 21st century post-punk bands and thinks "glossy production, The O.C. soundtrack, matching dress suits -- ICK," then listen up. These New Puritans make complex, forward-thinking, intense rock ‘n’ roll music that doesn't seem stuck in the past or too intent on making it into an iPod commercial. In short, they keep it real, and real loud. Check them out on tour and regret your misspent youth.

Best known for accidentally breaking Screech's mom's Elvis statue and throwing a party to raise funds to replace it, Sigur Rós are set to release their fifth album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust -- translation: "With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly" -- June 23 in Europe on not-doing-so-great EMI and June 24 in North America via XL. The album, co-produced by Flood (Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave, NIN), is being released "just one month after completion," according to a press release. It continues:

The album glows with the perfect imperfection of live takes, the sounds of fingers playing guitar strings, cracked notes, and a stark, upfront presence not found in previous Sigur Rós recordings, moving away from the reverb-induced guitar sounds of old to something altogether more fragile and affecting. It also contains some of the most joyous music the band has ever recorded.

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust also features the return of string quartet Amiina, the first appearance of the Mellotron, a five-piece brass section, Jón Thor Birgisson singing his first song in English, and a track featuring 90 musicians, including the London Sinfonietta and the London Oratory Boy’s Choir. A deluxe version, comprised of a book, film, "Making Of...," and more, will see release later in the year.

Pre-orders for the album and book begin June 2, with a full stream of the album starting June 9. You can catch the album's first track, "Gobbledigook," tonight on Radio 1 or when it becomes available as a free download at 7:30 PM GMT. All this can be found at Sigur Rós' website. More information on the Elvis statue here.

As of press time, Sigur Rós have "Online Now!" status at their MySpace.

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust tracklist:

  

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