Radiohead, Bat For Lashes, The Prodigy, Neil Young, Animal Collective - More news from Nowhere

Simon Jay Catling 19/01/2009

In his second news round up Simon Caitling looks at the implications of the IFPI's legal download figures, Radiohead re-releases, plus release news from Bat for Lashes, The Prodigy and Neil Young. Plus he treads the boards with the Animal Collective's much lauded new album Merriweather Post Pavillion, the subject of much praise.

Music Biz

95% of downloads illegal:

Bad news consumers: we've been pissing off the Music industry again. IFPI's 2009 report on the Digital Music say that 95% of all downloads in the last year were unauthorised despite claims that “the music industry has transformed its business models, offering consumers an increasing range of new services with leading technology partners.” Other debatable stats include IFPI's belief that some 40 billion files were illegally shared throughout 2008, whilst in the UK Jupiter claimed that 180 million had been lost due to online file sharing. Sticking with our green and pleasant for a moment, EMR claimed that 71% of file-sharers chose to do it for “free music”. Well, duh.

So what to make of these figures? Digital sales grew by around 25% last year and made up 20% of total recorded music purchases- up from 15% in 2007. This success has obviously been somewhat overshadowed by the perceived loss of up to $40 billion or so more yet I for one find it extremely hard to believe that the IFPI can accurately claim such a figure, and even if true, every one of those downloads would not have been bought instead; a $40 billion shortfall seems wildly over exaggerated. Yet there is no doubt that at some point there needs to be a compromise between the music industry and consumers; the industry is rightly pissed off at seeing the music they put their money into being swapped around for free, and yet on the other side, the consumer has long since lost patience with a music hierarchy that stubbornly refuses to move with the times; this has led to a clear wall between the two.

So far suggestions of how to combat this problem range from ISP taxes, where an internet user pays an additional charge on his internet connection for unlimited downloads; after all why does BT and co. think we're after high speed broadband connections? Others suggest sharing sites like Megaupload, Z-share et al. be shut down completely; such a heavy handed approach however would surely serve to alienate the majors even further from a consumer market that's already agitated with the heavy-handed treatment the likes of the RIAA have employed on certain blog users. The main problem however seems to be an increasing number of music listeners who just expect to be able to get free music from the internet, and as immoral as the music industry may perceive that, it's that puzzle that they must solve if they're to make any headway.

For the full report head to http://tinyurl.com/8fyq8e

Release News

- Following the release of Radiohead's Greatest Hits last year and the recent announcement that they'd be re-releasing the band's singles, EMI will no doubt be sending Oxford's finest into a snivelling rage of epic proportions with the announcement this week that they're due to re-release the band's first three albums- Pablo Honey, The Bends and Ok Computer. The releases (out on March 24th) will be double-CD editions, each including the original record plus b-sides and live material. They're also planning a collector's edition of each one, which will include bonus DVD footage, in particular a 1994 performance at the London Astoria split over the first two albums, so these collectors will have to buy both editions to get the full thing; and they think it's the consumers who are out of order?

- Bat For Lashes announced the date of release for her second album, the follow up to 2007's Mercury-nominated Fur & Gold. Two Suns will be released on April 6th.

- TThe Prodigy have brought the release of new studio album Invaders Must Die forward a week to February 23rd.

- Neil Young has announced a new album for the spring- entitled Ford In The Road - and has uploaded the title track to his website- www.neilyoung.com

See ya then!

The Zutons have been dropped from label Deltasonic. Despite the band's third album reaching number 6 in the charts last year, single releases have seen diminishing returns and the group are still best known for Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson covering their hit Valerie; still at least they can live off the royalties of that for a few years eh? That's what I call fulfilled ambition.

Treading the boards

What have the internet's musical twitchers got to say for themselves this week then? The Line Of Best Fit have found themselves coming over all weak-at-the-knees at Animal Collective's much lauded new album Merriweather Post Pavillion (http://tinyurl.com/7nu6x6) whilst continuing their excellent thread of finding LEGAL free downloads (http://tinyurl.com/98l97z). Kudos chaps! Over at the good ship Stereogum, users seem to be getting all up in a lather over the announcement of Sonic Youth's upcoming album (http://tinyurl.com/9aukjg); not all however, as a heartily enthused “snooooore” emanated from the keyboard of one unimpressed user. Of course no one does an online music community quite like Drowned In Sound, and this week the owner Sean's found himself facing the backlash over comments related to the IFPI's Digital Music Report (http://tinyurl.com/99ksv7); it doesn't take much to rile those DiSers and the fallout still shows no sign of fading some 72 hours onwards. Animal Collective ended the week as The Hype Machine's most blogged artist, pipping Franz Ferdinand to the post.

Until next week!