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MyWTF?!: The Rise and Fall of MySpace
02.07.2011
09:44 am

Topics:
Media
Music
Pop Culture
R.I.P.

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Image by Adam de la Mere.

Ah, it seems like only yesterday when MySpace was the biggest and most important website in the world. I remember attending a music biz pow-wow about five years ago and being told by a manager that as an artist I would not be taken seriously if I didn’t have a MySpace. Well, five years on and the opposite is almost certainly true—if you are a new artist and all you have is a MySpace, you are not going to be taken seriously.

There is an almost bewildering array of sites now dedicated to artist-uploads and legally sharing music. The biggest of these is probably Soundcloud, which this Wednesday is organising its first ever “meet-up”. Users of the site are gathering in cities all over the world, to meet face to face, and also to engage in jam sessions and round table discussion forums.  This kind of pro-user approach is something that MySpace could have done with 2 or 3 years ago, extending its reach from the e-world into the real world, and bringing together its most active users. But, for whatever reason, it never happened. Now potential users are spoiled for choice, with the likes of Mixcloud, Bandcamp, Fairtilizer, ReverbNation and more vying for their music hosting.

For my money, MySpace in its prime was the best music based social networking site. Perhaps I am being nostalgic, but it gave great access to the visual and blog cultures that surround and hugely inform modern music, more so than the sites mentioned above. It was open to hacking and adjustment via code, so you could make your profile look the way you wanted. However, they fumbled the ball badly. I have to say it - you fucked it up guys. Majorly - and this is coming from someone who at one point had roughly 20 different MySpace profiles on the go, representing different acts, production aliases, and a couple of hard-to-hear soundtracks that deserved to be on the web. I haven’t logged in to my primary profile as the Niallist since last autumn.

So why the downturn? While it would be tempting to class this as yet another example of fickle generation Y, the truth is much more simple. MySpace treated its music uploaders like shit. I don’t know if this was a deliberate move on their part, or the result of not understanding a good thing when they had it. I guess it could be something to do with the site being bought by Murdoch, and any avenue of profit being bled dry. As a site of cultural importance it is long over, to the point where I think it is never even going to see a Bebo-style ironic/nostalgic resurgence.

MySpace constantly felt the need to model itself on Twitter and Facebook, sites which serve vastly different purposes. MySpace was never about fast flowing streams of information, where the profile itself is largely unimportant. Quite the opposite, MySpace was all about the profile, and being able to browse through lots of them at your own leisure. Now, the current staff can claim they are merely moving forward with the times, but this is at the expense of the functions that MySpace was originally great at. It just comes across as, at best misguided, and at worse desperate. Talk about killing the goose who laid the golden egg.

Some specific examples: the “download” function was disabled at some point around 2007, making sharing of music through the site impossible. Yet, the button remained on the music player, goading us with a function we couldn’t use for a good year or more, and giving other sites the chance to supersede them with much easier sharing and monetizing functionality. Also, it makes less than zero sense for a social networking site that claims to be trying to combat spamming to change their friend-adding process so that you can no longer screen friends’ requests. Anyone who requested you as a friend after Dec 2009 was automatically added to your friends list and able to message you and post on your comments wall, a huge boon for porn and spam bots everywhere.

The British music/new media blogger and lecturer Andrew Dubber started a campaign called “Happy Quit MySpace Day” that has grown in popularity hugely since its launch in 2009. Incredibly, one year later (when Dubber had asked people to delete their profiles) MySpace itself had a massive relaunch which simply made the site much, much worse. Aside from re-branding it as “My_____” (which is just asking for trouble), it now looks a confusing mess. The music content has become secondary. Old codes which could be easily manipulated by the user to their own desire don’t work anymore, meaning that some profiles, which had taken a long time to cultivate a certain look or a vibe, are now blank. Logging in reveals the true extent of the damage. It seems as if no-one at MySpace heeded any advice from musicians, bloggers, or respected insider voices like Dubber. They have blindly stuck to their guns of trying to turn it into a fast flowing info stream like Facebook, and as such have killed it.

Oh well, maybe this whole thing is just me getting old. Maybe a new generation of kids will re-discover MySpace, hack it and make it look good again—but you know what, my feeling on this is “why would they bother?” Their needs are better served by other networking sites. MySpace, for a while you were on to something amazing. But you blew it. Sorry.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour Episode 15: The Return of Nate Cimmino
02.07.2011
09:26 am

Topics:
History
Music
Thinkers

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Climb on and join your tour guide and now regular tri-weekly host Nate Cimmino for another virtual journey from point A to point B, where ever that is for you.

Or to quote Mel Lyman:

This is CONTEMPORARY music. In this new age whose keynote is the destruction of old forms and the birth of new spirit our ears are still constantly insulted with the musical establishment’s attempts to “hold on” to the old traditions whatever the cost.

Or to quote a myriad of different people, “It seems like a nice way to spend an hour.”
 
Playlist:
 
01. Bimbo Jet- El Bimbo
02. Klaus Doldinger- Sitar Beat (Nate-O-Phonic Edit)
03. Cristina- What’s A Girl To Do?
04. Ursula 1000- Urgent/Anxious- (Ladytron Remix)
05. Shocking Blue- Fireball Of Love
06. Hamilton Bohannon-The Pimp Walk
07. Act One- Tom The Peeper
08. Slim Gaillard- How High The Moon
09. Jocko Henderson- Blast Off To Love
10. Margaret Leng Tan- Suite For A Toy Piano Pts. 1&2
11. Rockabye Baby- Enter Sandman
12. Norah Guthrie- My Illness
13. The Lyman Family with Lisa Kindred- James Alley Blues
14. Fairport Convention- Matty Groves
 

 
Download this week’s episode
 
Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at Alterati
 
Video bonus: The Lyman Family + Mel Brooks = An interviewer’s hell
 

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
The Black Eyed Peas’ Wikipedia entry after their halftime show
02.07.2011
09:04 am

Topics:
Amusing

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“The group is currently performing at the Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show where a lack of post-production effects has revealed their stage show to be of inferior quality to a high school talent show.”

Click here to see larger image.

(via Super Punch)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
This just in: Reagan presidency recalled accurately!
02.07.2011
07:46 am

Topics:
History

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Paul Slansky is guest blogging at Dangerous Minds about life during the Reagan era.

This is the first in a series of posts reminding those who lived through it – and informing those who didn’t – that contrary to relentless media efforts to portray Ronald Reagan as a great President and his reign as an era of national bliss, he was actually a lazy ignoramus who couldn’t tell fact from fiction, and whose eight years of callous actions (and inactions) had disastrous and ongoing consequences for the country.  And here’s how it started:

11/4/80 At 8:15pm EST, with a mere five percent of the vote counted, NBC declares former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan the 40th President of the United States.  “I’m not bitter,” says President Jimmy Carter, who concedes the election hours before polls in the west have closed. “Rosalynn is, but I’m not.” Adds the First Lady, “I’m bitter enough for all of us.”

11/20/80 President-elect Reagan arrives at the White House to receive a job briefing from President Carter, who later reveals that Reagan asked few questions and took no notes, asking instead for a copy of Carter’s presentation.

11/27/80 At halftime during its Thanksgiving football game, CBS interviews President-elect Ronald Reagan, who reminisces about his days as a radio sportscaster and fondly recalls his penchant for enhancing the events by “making things up.”

12/11/80 Presidentelect Reagan’s first eight Cabinet appointments – including Donald Regan (Treasury), David Stockman (Budget Director), Caspar Weinberger (Defense) and William Casey (CIA) – are announced.  Reagan not only doesn’t attend the half hour ceremony but he can’t even be bothered to watch all of it on TV.

12/12/80 Denying a report that Nancy Reagan “can’t understand” why the Carters don’t move into Blair House during the transition so she can have a head start on redecorating the White House, a spokesperson explains that the First Ladyin-waiting merely suggested that she might do that favor for the next First Family.  Says one Carter aide, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to fend off the moving vans.”

12/18/80 Washington Post: REAGAN ON THE SIDELINES / HE OFTEN SEEMS REMOTE FROM TRANSITION

12/19/80 Washington Post: REAGAN ‘IS REALLY RUNNING THINGS,’ MEESE TELLS PRESS

12/31/80 Nancy Reagan is reported to be insisting that whoever is hired as her husband’s press secretary must be “reasonably goodlooking.”

1/17/81 The most expensive Inaugural celebration in American history – an $11 million four day parade of limousines, white ties and mink that prompts Reagan partisan Barry Goldwater to complain about such an “ostentatious” display “at a time when most people can’t hack it” – gets underway in Washington.

1/20/81 At noon, promising an “era of national renewal,” Ronald Wilson Reagan becomes the oldest man to take the oath of office as President of the United States.  In a stunning coincidence, just as he completes his speech, the 52 hostages held in Tehran for 444 days begin their journey home.  Suspicion lingers to this day about whether behind-the-scenes machinations by the Reagan transition team – machinations which would have been nothing less than treasonous – might have played a part in delaying this moment for days or even weeks in order that it might provide this spectacular opening to the surreal movie about to be filmed.

Later, President Reagan visits Tip O’Neill’s office, where the House Speaker shows him a desk that was used by Grover Cleveland.  Reagan claims to have portrayed him in a movie.  O’Neill points out that Reagan in fact played Grover Cleveland Alexander, the baseball player, not Grover Cleveland, the President.

All entries are excerpted from the “Reagan Centennial Edition” of my 1989 book The Clothes Have No Emperor, available here as an eBook. Much more to come.

Posted by Paul Slansky | Leave a comment
Salty sea water: now we know…
02.07.2011
07:37 am

Topics:
Amusing

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O boy…
 
Via Planet Paul
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Cairo, Egypt travelogue from 1938 in ravishing Technicolor
02.06.2011
10:50 pm

Topics:
Environment
Movies

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Director James A. Fitzpatrick visits Cairo in this 1938 short movie he produced as part of his Traveltalk series for MGM studios.

Cairo, City Of Contrast has no pretense of being anything other than a lighthearted travelogue. Colorful and quaint in its optimism.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
John Cale performs ‘Pablo Picasso’ at the Melbourne Festival Of The Arts
02.06.2011
01:34 pm

Topics:
Music

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John Cale performing a scorching version of ‘Pablo Picasso” at The Melbourne Festival Of The Arts in October of last year.

The Melbourne Festival Of The Arts asked some of the world’s finest singers to reflect on our theme of spirituality and mortality with the question: ‘Which seven songs would you leave behind?’

The festival criteria was that the musicians had to include “the first song they wrote, one that switched them on to music, one they covet, one to share, two of their own, and one from the songbook of legendary Leonard Cohen.”

Cale’s list included “Pablo Picasso,” which he wrote with Jonathan Richman, “Letter From Abroad,” “Dirty Ass Rock and Roll,” “Magritte,” “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend,” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and “Heartbreak Hotel.”

This is so fucking hot it turned Cale’s hair pink!
 


“Letter From Abroad” and “Heartbreak Hotel” after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Egyptian sound & visual artist Ahmed Basiony dies in Cairo during revolution
02.06.2011
10:06 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Politics
R.I.P.

Tags:

image
 
Cairo artist and electronic musician Ahmed Basiony died at age 32 on January 28, the fourth day of major anti-government demonstrations in his home city.

Basiony’s rather remarkable music is being played continuously on 100radiostation, an arm of Egyptian experimentalist Mahmoud Refat’s now-offline 100copies organization, which organizes the annual 100live electronic music festival in Cairo.

Here he is performing at the 100live festival in 2010:
 

 
Basiony leaves behind a wife and son. Let’s hope this revolution is worth all the lives and creative talent lost. Peace, justice, power and freedom to the people of Egypt.
 
Hat-tip Marc Weidenbaum at disquiet.

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Leadbelly at the Super Bowl but nobody notices
02.06.2011
01:08 am

Topics:
History
Music

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In all the hype surrounding Volkwagen’s Super Bowl commercial airing later today and featuring Jon Spencer’s Negritic take on the song “Black Betty,” there is no mention of Leadbelly. It’s as if “Black Betty” never existed prior to Ram Jam’s hit version of the song—the 1977 recording the press keeps referring to when discussing the Volkswagen commercial.

In my opinion, Volkswagen would have made a better (and hipper) impression had they opted to use Leadbelly’s original recording of the tune. But maybe using a Black bluesman singing a traditional Negro work song called “Black Betty” in a commercial featuring a black automobile and black insects might have struck some folks as being a bit racist. Better to go with the white guy. Or change the name of the car to the Volkswagen Boll Weevil.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Little Gary Ferguson and The Mothers Of Invention freak out!
02.05.2011
11:33 pm

Topics:
Music

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There’s not much information on the Internet about Little Gary Ferguson—just a few videos and a handful of posters announcing some gigs in the mid-1960s where he shared the bill with The Mothers Of Invention, The Count Five and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. At one gig, The Mothers were his opening act!

Little Gary was being groomed by Nashville talent agents to be the next Stevie Wonder with James Brown’s moves, but alas it was not to be. He disappeared from the public scene as quickly as he had materialized. Washed up at seven years old.

You may have to squint to see it, but in this poster Little Gary gets top billing over The Mothers Of Invention! Freaky indeed.

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Here’s some rare footage of Little Gary on DJ William “Hoss” Allen’s Dallas-based TV show The !!!! Beat. Sadly, there’s no lightshow or Zappa.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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