Wildly Popular ‘Iron Man’ Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Length Film

16 04 2008

Wildly Popular ‘Iron Man’ Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Length Film

Via The Onion



2 04 2008

The Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern resigned from office today, let us all boogie.

Although, I just found out he has the same birthday as me, I feel filthy…

The Day The Music Industry Died

7 10 2007

Just thought this was an interesting enough read.



The day the music industry died

There is no money in recorded music any more, that’s why bands are now giving it away

Having waited four years for their heroes to finish another record, Radiohead fans were understandably excited last week to learn that the band’s seventh album, In Rainbows, will finally be released on Wednesday. But what really rocked the fanbase – and heightened the air of gloom enveloping the global record industry – was the news that In Rainbows could be preordered and downloaded perfectly legally for as little as 1p at Radio-head.com.

Currently out of contract and thus entitled to dispose of their recordings as they see fit, one of the most popular bands in the world had decided to let the fans decide how much their latest album was worth. An MP3 file of In Rainbows would have no price tag. Honesty boxes, it seemed, were the new rock’n’roll.

If the Radiohead faithful appeared somewhat nonplussed by this move – “The danger is that people will stop seeing their music as important,” one fan posted in a blog; “I will gladly pay $20 knowing the artist will get the money,” pledged another – the band’s strategy was anything but mad, and not even that revolutionary. Last week the Charlatans announced they would be giving away their new album as a free download. Earlier this year another rock band, the Crimea, did the same.

In July Prince arranged for 2.5m copies of his new album to be cover-mounted on a Sunday newspaper and issued several hundred thousand more free of charge to anybody attending his London concerts in August. The scale of this charitable epidemic can be measured by a quick browse of the Free Albums Galore blog that lists more than 800 albums by a range of artists – from the Beastie Boys to some unsigned metal bands – all of which are free to download.

What looks like commercial suicide is, in today’s reality, sound business sense. Records, CDs or downloads now have all become downgraded to the status of promotional tools – useful to sell concert tickets and fan paraphernalia. While there is still good money to be made in music, and particularly on the concert circuit, the record business – blame it on piracy, too many CD giveaways or the advent of the recordable CD – is a busted flush.

A revealing story doing the rounds in America tells of a young rock band who decided to stop selling their CDs at gigs after they discovered that by offering their CDs for $10 they were cannibalising sales of their $20 T-shirts. The truth now is that a rudimentary cotton garment with a band logo stamped across it that has probably been manufactured for pennies in a Third World sweatshop costs about twice as much as an album recorded in a state-of-the-art western studio. And even at that price, recorded music isn’t selling.

Album sales are currently in freefall all over the world. The 10% drop in the UK over the past year is dwarfed by a 15% slide in the US, 25% in France and a whopping 35% in Canada. The bankruptcy this summer of the CD retail chain Fopp, HMV’s announcement that its profits halved in the first six months of this year and Richard Branson’s recent decision to dump the Virgin Megastores – which have reportedly lost him more than £50m in 2007 – are only the most visible signs of a crisis that has rocked the music industry on its axis.

The point isn’t just that people are buying fewer CDs; they are paying as much as two-thirds less in real terms today for the music they listen to on their iPods than they used to when the compact disc first took over the market. Twenty years ago a chart CD cost about £14. Today you can buy the same in a super-market for £9.

The online market may have grown recently, but not enough to fix the hole. Here, too, margins have shrunk. A download of a single track now costs 79p against the £4 a CD single cost in 1999.

The impact on the bottom line of the record labels has been catastrophic. When EMI’s subsidiary Virgin put out the Spice Girls’ debut album in 1996 the company cleared roughly £5 in profit on each copy sold. That margin has since shrivelled to around £2 – and only then for albums that are significant hits. Industry insiders estimate that only one of the new British acts that has “broken” in 2007 – the pop diva Mika – will actually make his record company any money.

This has not gone unremarked in the City. When the private equity firm Terra Firma bought EMI recently it paid about a third, in real terms, what the company nearly fetched 10 years ago when a sale to its competitor Universal was mooted. That decline mirrors what has happened over the same period to the retail price of new CDs, and it also reflects the scale of the cull of EMI’s workforce, which has shrunk in 10 years from more than 10,000 worldwide to about 4,000 today.

The mood of panic is palpable, and there are no obvious solutions in sight. In America the recently appointed co-chairman of the Columbia label Rick Rubin, formerly a record producer by trade, has spoken of his ambition to turn the company around by refocusing it along the lines of a cable TV business – making Columbia’s entire catalogue downloadable to customers who pay a monthly subscription.

Another senior figure at Columbia has dismissed this plan as “potentially the last nail in the coffin”. The recent establishment of a “word of mouth” department at the label reflects the loss of control felt within a business that has lost a grip on its market.

One – fading – hope of the major labels is that they can somehow grab a share of the profits their artists make elsewhere. When Robbie Williams resigned to EMI in 2002 for a reported £80m this new deal guaranteed the label a piece of the action from Williams’s highly lucrative concert tours. But many young artists since have become wary of such composite arrangements. Some have decided to bypass the major record companies altogether.

One of the hottest new names to emerge here this year, the rave metal band Enter Shikari, refused to sign to anybody and in March released their debut album, Take to the Skies, on their own label Ambush Reality. In the past these tiny, so-called indie labels have usually been funded by majors anxious to covertly purchase credibility for their products with a young audience traditionally distrustful of big music corporations.

But that is not how it is with Ambush Reality. The marketing of Take to the Skies was largely down to the band themselves, who have played nearly 700 gigs since forming in St Albans in 2003. Word of mouth, coupled with a band presence on MySpace, has done the rest.

In November 2006 Enter Shikari became only the second unsigned act after the Darkness to sell out the leading London rock venue the Astoria. Take to the Skies entered the album chart at number four in March. In May they undertook a major tour of America – the first British band to do so without the support of a big record company.

This upending of the music business was neatly predicted back in the 1990s by the guitarist of the American hardcore band Anthrax who described their new album as “the menu; our concert is the meal”. This comment recalled the Beatles’ producer George Martin’s observation about his protégés’ first LP, Please Please Me from 1963. It was, Martin said, “just a memento of a concert”. Now, likewise, bands sell CD recordings of their performances at the end of the night.

The reprioritisation in recent years of live music over the recorded variety has been dramatic. Attendance at arena shows rose here by 11% last year. By the time 2007 bows out, 450 music festivals will have taken place in the UK.

Every week brings news of another frenzied assault on the box office. Last Monday Ticket-master reported that 20,000 tickets for the Spice Girls’ first reunion concert at London’s O2 arena in December sold out in 38 seconds, with 1m fans registering to buy. Three weeks back more than a million clamoured for seats at the forthcoming Led Zeppelin reunion. Glastonbury disposed of its 135,000 weekend passes for this year’s event within two hours – taking more than £21m in the process.

Ticket prices, especially for Alist artists, have soared as the price of CDs has tumbled. You could have bought Madonna’s entire catalogue for less than half what it cost to see her perform at Wembley Arena last summer where the best seats in the house went for £160. With the Rolling Stones at Twickenham a view from the pitch would have set you back £150.

Now that live music rules, nobody bothers to complain about what it costs any more. Euphoria at the news earlier this year that the Police had reformed obliterated all concerns that it cost between £70 and £90 to see them play at Twickenham in September. I spoke to many fans at one of those gigs; not one complained about the ticket price.

In the light of these numbers, the probability is that music fans now are spending more money on their passion than they were in the heyday of the CD. They have rediscovered an ancient truth that music is, at root, a communal experience as much as it is something that goes on between your ears.

Interestingly the band now tolling the death knell of the record industry, Radiohead, seem currently to have mixed feelings about live work.

“They probably will be playing some dates next year,” a spokesman said last week. “But Thom Yorke doesn’t like touring much.”

R.I.P. Colin McRae

16 09 2007


THE former rally driving champion Colin McRae was killed and his five year-old son feared dead in a helicopter crash yesterday afternoon. The aircraft came down in Jerviswood, Lanarkshire, half a mile from the family’s home and burst into flames just after 4pm.

Jean-Eric Freudiger, McRae’s agent, said the 39-year-old driver had been piloting the helicopter himself. Also on board were believed to be his son Johnny, another adult – said by locals to be a school friend of McRae – and another child. McRae’s wife Alison and their daughter Hollie, 9, were not on board, friends said.

Strathclyde police said in a statement: “Four people were onboard the helicopter,” adding “The bodies were found within the helicopter which is owned by Mr Colin McRae of Jerviswood House, Lanark. It is believed he was onboard the helicopter.”

McRae became Britain’s first World Rally champion in 1995. He was one of the country’s most successful sportsmen, achieving 25 wins in World Rally events and 42 podium places. He was a flamboyant driver, inspiring one the world’s best-selling computer rally games.

The helicopter came down within half a mile of McRae’s 16th-century home, which has an adjacent helipad. The weather had been overcast, with southwesterly winds gusting to 30 knots and good visibility.

Officers with dogs and torches continued to comb the woodland near the crash into the night.

McRae’s wife, a childhood sweetheart and his former co-driver, was taken back to the house under police escort shortly after 6pm.

McRae’s friend the rally journalist Jeremy Hart, who flew with him several times, described him as a “very good, very measured pilot”.

“Colin regularly flew all over the UK and into Europe,” said Hart. “He knew the terrain and conditions at Jerviswood very well.

“As a sportsman he was a true hero. As a driver Colin was misunderstood slightly as being reckless but everything you saw with him came from pure raw talent as opposed to being learnt. He was the Michael Schumacher of rally driving.

“It’s so ironic that he should die in a helicopter crash when he had competed and had brushed with death so many times as a rally driver.”


Average PC is a smorgasboard for a new MP3-eating trojan

9 08 2007


It’s no secret that people like to collect music on their PCs, with music files taking up more and more hard drive space as time goes on. Recent data from Comscore says that as of April of this year the typical computer in the US contains an average of 880 MP3 files, taking up roughly 3GB of hard drive space. Compared to the average number of Word documents (197), PDFs (100), and Excel files (77), music files make up the single most common type of file found on an average computer by a long shot.

But that very hobby could bite an avid MP3 collector in the butt if a new worm makes its way into their computers. A newly-uncovered worm called W32.Deletemusic does exactly what its name implies—it goes through a PC and deletes all MP3 files in sight. And that’s it. Simultaneously low-threat and highly annoying, the worm makes its way from computer to computer by spreading itself onto all attached drives of a given PC, including flash drives and removable media. If that media is then removed and inserted into another computer, it continues its music-eating rampage on the new host.

This isn’t the first time such a worm has gone after MP3 files. Nopir-B made its rounds some two years ago and posed as DVD copying software, according to security firm Sophos. When users tried to run it, Nopir-B scolded them for participating in piracy and proceeded to delete all MP3s from their computers. Similarly, last year’s Erazer trojan deleted not only MP3 files, but AVIs, MPEGs, WMVs, and ZIP files as well in a “crusade” against piracy.

Of course, these worms don’t take into account the fact that many MP3 files may not be pirated at all—they could be legitimate downloads, ripped from CDs, or even recorded by users themselves. And while losing an entire music collection that you’ve dedicated so much time into ripping, labeling, and organizing can be devastating, there is no real payload for the worm’s efforts. Such foresight isn’t exactly the forte of these trojan-writers, according to Sophos’ Graham Cluley. “The authors of this worm are more likely to be teenage mischief makers than the organized criminal gangs we typically see authoring financially-motivated malware these days,” he said in a statement seen by IDG News Service.

A quick poll among the Ars Technica staff shows that not only do we all have a disproportionate number of MP3 files compared to the national average, some of us would be quite a bit more inconvenienced than others if we were to get bitten by the W32.Deletemusic bug. The number of music files on our computers ranged from the low end of 1,400 all the way up to a staggering 35,000, and we’re sure that some of our readers could probably give those numbers a run for their money. And that’s why Cluley advises that users should turn off any autorun functionalities on their computers to prevent the worm from spreading.

W32.Deletemusic affects computers running Windows 2000/95/98/Me/NT/Server 2003/Vista/XP.

Damn. I need to back up my music collection. x_x And convert all the mp3 files to AAC as well, since it’s only mp3 files it’s after.