Category Archives: internet

Has the Isle of Man solved the problem of the illegal music download?

The Isle of Man

In the past, hearing a government official from the Isle of Man say “We are not going to stop piracy, so let’s embrace it” would be very strange. But the self-governing island in the Irish Sea is not encouraging the lawless ways of some band of Jack Sparrow types. Well, not quite.

What the principality is proposing is legalizing the unlimited download of music, by making the internet service providers (ISPs) pay a ‘nominal’ compulsory tax.

This idea is not new. At a music conference in 2007 I heard former Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner propose this very model as the only viable way of making music profitable in the 21st century.

It makes a lot of sense. Young downloaders are now so accustomed to getting their music for free – remember the stats involved in Radiohead’s In Rainbows stunt? – that the only way to ensure artists and labels get their slice of the pie is to charge a negligible, inescapable fee at the ISP sign-up stage.

The witch hunts don’t work. The internet is open, and to criminalize a whole generation is absurd. And although much-hyped free streaming services like Spotify and Last FM are all very well if you’re sat at your computer all day, we still value ownership, and the ability to take music with us on our MP3 players.

Apple won’t like it, but the ISP charge model is the only solution. Who would have thought it would take the Isle of Man to lead the way?

Leave a comment

Filed under internet, music

A list of bands, musicians, pop stars and rappers on Twitter

Calvin Harris' tweetsRemember a few years ago when every cultural commentator and his uncle was heralding a new age of direct communication between artist and fan via the wonder of MySpace? Well Twitter takes this trend to its ultimate conclusion, so now we know exactly when Nick Cave is “drinking my eleventh strawberry daiquiri and talking to Tracy Pew via Ouiji board” or when Calvin Harris is simply asking the world, “am I a cunt?”

Yes… and they’re not the only ones. The music world is gradually discovering the ultra-immediate, 140-character realm of inhuman contact that Twitter provides. Admittedly, many bands and singers have started accounts only to leave them vacant after a few posts (Lily Allen), some are guilty of spamming you silly with endless whimsy (MC Hammer), while others are clearly just façades for the stars’ marketeers/web monkeys (Britney Spears, Oasis).

But despite all this, I still find it fascinating (especially when it goes wrong) and I reckon we’re gonna see an upsurge of artists joining in the next year. So I’ve made this list of bands, singers and rappers already on Twitter as a reference for anyone else who’s interested. Please leave a comment if you’ve come across anyone I’ve missed. And of course, feel free to follow me @NickMitchell.

Calvin Harris

Tom Waits

Bloc Party


We Are The Physics

Broken Records

Nick Cave

Roots Manuva

Britney Spears

Kanye West

Boom Bip (from Neon Neon)

Notorious BIG (from beyond the grave, obv)

Kurt Cobain (ditto)

Trent Reznor (NIN)

Robert Smith (The Cure)

Tokyo Police Club

Michael Jackson (OK, maybe not)


Erykah Badu


Lily Allen


Port O’Brien

Ghostface Killah

Gnarls Barkley

The Teenagers

The Raconteurs

The Duke Special

Questlove (The Roots)

Bondo do Role

Jay Reatard

Peter Bjorn and John

The Wombats



Funeral For A Friend

The Subways

Hot Hot Heat


Lil Wayne

Chris T-T

Snoop Dogg

MC Hammer

Jack Penate


P.S. It’s not very rock’n’roll though is it? I can’t imagine Keith Moon tapping away at his laptop: “drove Rolls into hotel pool, woopsy!”


Filed under internet, lists, music, thoughts, etc

Poll of polls, or, Best of the best-of-2008 album countdowns

A music writer casts his voteConfession: I’ve had some free time lately.

I had to use up the rest of my holiday entitlement before 2008 was out, so I now find myself with nine days of welcome but unproductive home-time in mid-December.

My internet browsing is on the high end of the scale at the busiest of times, so inevitably my modem has been working overtime as I endlessly, inanely surf the web in search of… what?

News, snippets of useless information, Wikipedia facts about minor film actors, the mindnumbing allure of Facebook, the still mystifying appeal of Twitter… and best-of-2008 music polls.

And so I’ve been wondering about year-end polls:

Are they reliable barometers of the very best music created over the past twelve months?


Are they totally whimsical, subjective, indulgent, show-off lists by various cliques of self-important critics who sneer at mainstream taste?

It’s the latter, of course. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t completely bloody addictive. I have found myself scouring music websites from the other side of the Atlantic desperately seeking out that essential album that somehow escaped my attention.

So to take the poll theme to a whole new level, here’s my poll of the best and worst polls of the year!

The Best

5. Rolling Stone: Props on TV on the Radio, but otherwise a bit tokenistic along the beardy rawk/hip-hop/legends lines. Turned me on to Blitzen Trapper though.

4. Pitchfork Reader’s Poll: Can’t really argue, other than point out its obvious American folksy prejudice.

3. Times: Surprisingly well-informed for a Murdoch rag.

2. Drowned in Sound: Friendly Fires should never be in the top ten, but good to see my #2 choice M83 top a poll.

1. The Skinny: OK, maybe I have to say this, but we really hit the nail on the head again this year, even if my nomination for Late of the Pier unsurprisingly missed the cut! Year of the Rabbit indeed.

The Worst

3. musicOMH: I don’t care how well-intentioned the poll is if they put Elbow at the top.

2. Last FM: Coldplay. Best album of the year? Really?

1. Q magazine: Kings of Leon. Best album of the year? Really?

And is this really the definitive poll of the year, with the top three comprising artists I’ve barely heard of? Surely not!

(I still have a few more days off. Maybe I’ll compile a poll of the best Poles of the year now…)


Filed under internet, music, thoughts, etc

The ongoing genius of The Onion

The Onion

The Onion is probably the only website that can be consistently relied on to make me laugh. Others, such as The Daily Mash, have made a valiant effort at importing its news satire to a British audience, but The Onion is the original and best – and has perfected the art of turning mundane reality into mock news.

A couple of pieces this week really hit the nail on the head. First, for anyone who has left a small town behind to live in a city and is planning to return home for Christmas (or Thanksgiving), the tale of Jordan McCabe will ring eerily true:

“Early reports indicate that the mingling of assholes will likely trigger a fight between the hours of 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.”

Secondly, any James Blunt bashing (and bashing of those who buy his records) is always welcome on this blog.

Got any other Onion favourites? Care to share?

Leave a comment

Filed under internet, satire, thoughts, etc