Bored Of Guitar hero, But DJ Hero?

harmonix_logo_largeThe world favourite cheesy multi-player game Guitar Hero has created a franchise, that to start with,  was original, fun, super user friendly and managed to spawn some reasonably good cousins too, Guitar Hero 80’s, World tour and others. DJ Hero is planned to be released in the US for October 27th. Developed by Harmonix Music Systems and published by Red Octain Guitar Hero is decided to be worth around the $275 million mark, while having made sure that they haven’t become too samey and boring. Fighting off the odd critic after the dirty mistake that was Kirt Cobain rising from the grave was a low point, but you have to expect the odd bit if controversy nowadays. If anything it makes their “I am a rock star” simulation game all the more real, ya’ know with court cases and overdoses and erm, zombies……

dj-hero-controller

But DJ Hero, really! We think not. I’m not denying that the sort of songs likely to turn up in a DJ game wont be good,there are a tonne or super dance tunes that would make the idea fun, but it just doesn’t make as much sense as the Guitar Hero or Rock Band Games. How often do you (don’t lie, you know who you are) get caught doing your best “air dj” moves around the living room? Thought so. The game does boast a nice fun, versatile DJ Controller, three buttons (instead of five) sit in what represents your record/scratcher and a slider, for star power no bout. The playlist is quite handsome too with around 100 tunes or more with around 60 different artists.

The artist list is a bit sporadic though with some obvious acts right where you’d expect them, Daft Punk for example with others that make you think are just stoking fillers, like Rihanna and Gwen Stefani, who’s in there with the same song three times! The developers don’t seem to have enough good artists in the bag to make it interesting enough, as well as the original songs being recycled all through the game, the second artists, the ones providing the mash up extras are guilty of this too. A super idea that was rushed me thinks. They could have released it later on, early next year maybe, without the cheeky  re-offenders having to beef up the playlists. We’re not yet convinced.

Digital Music Store Focus – Domino

Domino RecordsDominorecordco.com is the online outlet of the Domino record label – a pretty big indie label as things go, but still tiny in comparison to the big retailers. Their catalogue is also available through iTunes at a significantly reduced price, which seems a slightly strange move. For example, their flagship band the Arctic Monkeys album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ costs £7.99 for an MP3 download on Domino’s store, and only £4.74 on iTunes. Since all the music they sell is available cheaper elsewhere I wonder how they keep running the shop… RouteNote doesn’t distribute to Domino’s store (they only sell their own stuff) but we do send music to iTunes!

Digital Music Store Focus – Bleep.com

Bleep.comA niche indie supplier trading mostly in electronic music – the stars of their catalogue are Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Thom Yorke (of Radiohead)… Principally formed from the catalogue of Warp records, but also featuring the catalogues of over 300 other record labels this site sells both MP3 downloads and physical discs (CD’s and vinyl). Their prices are based on the GBP, £6.99 for MP3’s, £8.99 for WAV’s (nice that they give you the choice) around £9-£13 for a CD, and a few quid more for the black stuff. If you’re in the states you’ll save by not paying the UK tax, but for everyone else they’re pretty expensive. Not really a competitor to the big guys like iTunes and Amazon, more for the enthusiast who can’t wait to get their mitts on a holdable, strokeable copy of their favourite band’s new LP or 12 inch single. They also do merch for some of the bands on their roster, so more and at the same time less than the big guys. RouteNote does not currently distribute to Bleep.

Nine Inch Nails Live With Gary Numan in London

Trent Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails band mates recently performed in London, with 80’s music icon Gary Numan. Numan is best known for being a new wave pioneer with his synthesized tunes. Reznor released two videos from their on stage collaboration, which features the songs “Cars” and “Metal

Take a look at the band in action in HD…

NIN: “Cars” with Gary Numan, live from on stage, London 7.15.09 [HD] from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

NIN: “Metal” with Gary Numan, live from on stage, London 7.15.09 [HD] from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

Digital Music Store Focus – Audio LunchBox

Audio Lunchbox is a DRM free download services based around a 2-million strong track list of independent musicians. They offer both a pay per track and a subscription service, which allows users to buy ‘credits’ to spend on music which would otherwise cost a far greater cash equivalent. They don’t have deals with Universal or the other bigger players, so should you subscribe, you’ll find yourself looking around for new and interesting music to spend your money on, rather than being able to get hold of stuff that you’ve heard on Radio 1.
The subscription plan does work out far cheaper per track than the cash option; depending on which package you purchase you’ll be getting tracks for less than 25 cents, as compared to 99 cents. The month by month plan costs $9.99, for which you get 40 credits a month (enough for 4 albums) plus 50 bonus credits to start you off. This might seem like a pretty cheap way of buying music, especially compare with iTunes basic and inflexible pricing scheme, but if you’re prepared to commit to a monthly outgoing to buy music, you might be well advised to check out Spotify’s subscription service; similarly priced at GBP£9.99 (the dollar is at 1.59 to the pound as I write) you get access to all the streamed music you could possibly want, advert free, with a catalogue that includes artists on both indie and major labels, and a widget for your android or iPhone that will allow you to listen to playlists you’ve created offline.

Digital Music Store Focus – ArtistDirect.com

Artist DirectA smaller independent music store and news channel, offering free downloads and streams on some featured music, and paid for downloads on a swathe of other titles. They’re a smaller player, turning over around USD$12 million in 2008 from e-commerce based mainly from their anti-piracy services, but with a large chunk coming from media sales. As a percentage of the overall digital market, their entire SEC listed media sales represent less than a quarter of a percent, although Alexa list them as being the 3,772nd most visited website among their users, suggesting a fairly large marketing reach. This may all be somewhat academic, however, as the company has recently filed to suspend it’s SEC reporting responsibilities, a move the is compulsarily followed within 90 days by a delisting of the company’s stock.

RouteNote does not currently deal with Artist Direct.

Digital Music Store Focus – Amazon MP3

Amazon.comFirst by reason of alphabetic primacy is Amazon’s MP3 download store. This branch of their $13-billion-a-year online retail business was launched in the U.S. back in September of 2007, jumping straight into the #2 slot behind iTunes in the digital download market.

Market analysts NPD report them as having roughly 8% of the U.S. digital download market, and they’ve successfully launched in the UK, Germany and France since then. Concentrating on the States for the time being, the overall digital music market is reported as being worth 36% of overall music sales at a massive USD$1,783,300,000,  making Amazon’s 8% share worth $142,664,000. A small part of their $19 billion a year’s worth of total sales, but still a big force in the market, and one with a massive user base making a presence on Amazon a serious part of a coherent music marketing structure.

Amazon offers a fully DRM free catalogue from all the majors and a growing number of independent labels, a lower per-track price than iTunes, and a higher bit rate on downloaded tracks. They are also introducing an on-spec CD manufacture service, whereby artists can upload music files and artwork in order to have physical discs manufactured for sale through the Amazon retail site, alongside the same tracks in the Amazon MP3 store.

Bolting on an MP3 download service to their existing customer base meant that they became more or less instantly the second biggest single outlet for pay-per-download digital music in the States, and their international presence will continue to grow.

Thom’s Solo Super Band

thom yorke + band

Rumours that Thom Yorke is starting another  band, that is still left unnamed, were quashed as it was made clear this weekend that, as star studded as it was, it was a mere ‘A’ list of friends making the solo tour that bit more special.

The show, is the first of two appearances with the second held tonight at The Orpheum Theatre, saw Yorke backed by Micheal Peter Balzary (aka Flea), Grammy nominated producer Nigel Godrich, Mauro Refosco and Joey Waronker perform his solo album ‘The Eraser’ from start to finish for the first set. With an encore that saw Thom entertain with a solo acoustic set. With songs including Analyse (shown below), Lotus Flower, Open The Floodgates and Super Collider.

The second set saw the full band return to play a selection of crowd pleasing Radiohead ‘B’ sides including ‘Paperbag Writer‘ and ‘Judge Jury and Executioner’ as well as some of Yorke’s more recent solo material including ‘The Hollow Earth’ and ‘Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses’.

Pramore Knock Madonna Off The Top

paramore

Paramore have knocked Madonna off the top spot of the album charts this weekend (4th October) with their latest album, “Brand New Eyes”. Madonna’s greatest hits compilation, celebration, did exactly what the critics thought it would do in going straight to the top of the album charts, but only for the minimum amount of time. Competition for the charts top spot was in the form of Muse’s Resistance (Booo), Newton Falkner and the US powerhouse that is Barbara Streisand.

The US five piece from Tennessee, seem to be hitting all the right notes. The outfits second record, “Riot!”, although didn’t knock any charts over with immediate success became a slow burner, with sales currently at the 2 million mark. Along with producing what seems to actually be good music, that’s not necessarily my opinion though, but lets face it, Album sales never lie. Paramore are coming are coming up with some nice positive PR for themselves. September saw the band rattle off a nice amount of gigs in London for only £5, 2008 saw them collect a Grammy nomination and NME voted front lady Hayley Williams 2nd sexiest female.

Paramore’s supporting tour for the album sees them start off on the 10th December in Glasgow’s SECC , and climaxing at Wembley Arena on the 18th. All other tour dates are available form the bands official website
(paramore.net)
and from allgig.com.

Digital Music Stores – On the rise

Finchy posted about the NPD report on market share of various digital music stores, over the next couple of weeks we’ll have a focus on each of the main players in the digital music scene, as well as some of the up-and-comers, and round off with a summary. If you’d like a particular retailer to be given the treatment, please drop us a line at mail@routenote.com.