Consolidation’s final frontier

I watched practically all of Glastonbury over the weekend (on the TV, obviously) and I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong with the music industry: there are too many bands. There are bloody thousands of them. It’s insane. No wonder the biz is unravelling: there’s such massive fragmentation. Look at the record labels: there used to be hundreds of them but they wised up years ago and now there are three.

The bands need to do the same thing. I expect a massive wave of artist consolidation. In ten years there will be five or six bands (one for each major music genre, basically. Really good bands could double up). Think about it. Do we really need The Kooks and Babyshambles? The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs? Editors and The Automatic?

See what I mean? Couldn’t Amy Winehouse (who can really sing) get together with that Hot Chip crowd (who can’t)? There appear to be dozens of people in Arcade Fire, most of whom do no more than jiggle about or hum. Surely there’s some excess capacity there?

It’ll be hard to begin with, especially for the bands who are phased out or downsized, but once the acts have got their… erm… act together and merged to form half a dozen mega-bands (we could call them ‘super groups’) the industry’s economics will all start to make sense again. Sanity will prevail… Come on guys!


So I’m reading all the fuss about The Guardian and Operation Clark County and Charlie Brooker out there in Nastyland and it’s all very interesting and then it dawns on me: I write for The Guardian (sometimes, anyway). So now they’re attacking my paper. In fact, they’re attacking me! Lousy rednecks.

Weird American politics and technology standards

In the current NYRB Joan Didion mixes bile and incision beautifully in a long and detailed analysis of the simultaneously etiolated and hyped-up language of ‘the new normal’ in post-Iraq American Politics. Brilliant writing.

I learnt a lot from this really meaty VoIP special issue and from this equally meaty essay about standards in ACM Queue (Gordon Bell link from this Slashdot thread).

Better than the Oscars

Michael Moore at the Republican Convention
I’m dizzy with American politics. I’ve been watching C-Span’s coverage of the Republican Convention (via BBC Parliament). The convention’s a kind of collapsed super-dense cloud of rhetoric, sentiment, aggression and fear. Organised and cynical but also mawkish, naive, humourless and a bit slow-witted – lots of yearning for something simpler and older, lots of directionless patriotism, lots of Stetsons and hilarious hair. It’s pure Hollywood too – obviously elaborately-stage-managed – Sinatra singing New York New York on the Jumbotron, glamorous TV presenters roaming the crowd and interviewing photogenic delegates, slick televangelists delivering nightly benedictions… In hours of coverage though, I’ve observed not one moment of wit or self-knowledge or irony (Giulliani had some pretty good gags, though, when he wasn’t revising post-war European history for the neo-cons).

When John McCain greeted Michael Moore from the podium (Moore was in the room – how does he do that?) as a ‘disingenuous film-maker’, the wave of hatred was palpable and the chants of ‘four more years’ deafening (that must have been quite a moment for Moore). It’s amazing TV and pretty strange politics…