Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
By JAKE COYLE
AP ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
Metallica's Kirk Hammell, Left, and James Hetfield perform at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas on Friday, March 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Invading South By Southwest, Metallica attempted to pose as one of the hundreds of smaller bands there just hoping to get a record deal.
"We're a young band from Norway and we want to get signed," Metallica frontman James Hetfield told the audience at the heavy metal band's SXSW performance Friday night.
It was a widely expected but not officially announced show at a venue (Stubb's) that for a band like Metallica is downright minuscule, holding about 2,100 people. The band played for slightly more than an hour, performing both classics and, as Hetfield called it, "new stuff" off their 2008 album "Death Magnetic" - a disc widely considered a return to form for the 28-year-old group.
But despite Hetfield's mock camouflage (and poor Norwegian accent), Metallica stood out on the SXSW landscape Friday. With more than 50 million albums sold, Metallica has probably outsold the other 1,900-plus bands at SXSW combined.
Droves of die-hard fans, catching wind of the rumors, lined up all day outside Stubb's, where Metallica 18-wheelers parked outside.
Metallica was in Austin for the day to promote their new "Guitar Hero" video game. To be released March 29, it's the latest rock star simulator dedicated to a single band following last year's "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith."
It may seem like a lot of fanfare for a videogame but "Guitar Hero" and its rival "Rock Band" have proven to be one of few growing revenue streams in a declining music industry.
In an interview before the show, Hetfield said the band wanted to play at SXSW - an old-school, small live show - to balance the promotion of the very contemporary, tech-savvy "Guitar Hero: Metallica."
"Here is the grass roots. Here is the basis of why we like music. Artists are getting up in front of 2,100 people and giving it what they got," Hetfield said of SXSW. "We've always wanted to support live music. We've been road dogs since the day after high school."
Now, Hetfield laughs at the idea that Metallica - who, in one of their most popular songs, sing: "Master of puppets, I'm pulling your strings" - have effectively been made digital puppets for kids to play with.
"When (drummer Lars Ulrich) and I were sitting in a garage in Norwalk, California, bashing out a horrible version of `Hit the Lights,' we were not thinking that this was going to be happening anytime soon," Hetfield said. "I've watched people play us. They're pretty good at us."
Hetfield has been more interested in observing his three children - ages 7,8 and 10 - play their father.
At the prospect of playing the game as Ulrich, Hetfield laughs and groans: "Good Lord. We've done some role-playing swapping in therapy already." (In the 2004 documentary "Some Kind of Monster," the band famously resorted to therapy sessions to heal rifts between each other.)
Instead, Hetfield will stick with real performance.
"Have you seen some good bands here?" Hetfield asked the crowd Friday before exiting the stage. "Hope we're one of them."
On the Net:
Monday, March 16, 2009
EMI has broken a new low, by suing founders of startups personally in an effort to thwart innovation so that they can hold on to their broken business model a few months longer. Warner music is also suing a developer that was using the API. It is amazing to me that the writing which is so clearly on the wall is just completely ignored by the music industry.
RollingStone magazine carried an article on the decline of the music industry back in 2007, and it seems like we have been stuck in a timewarp. The decline has been constant pretty much since 2000, when bandwidth became more freely available to start paving the way for a multimedia internet.
The problem with the music industry is that it has constantly tried to focus more on the industry part, and less on the music part. Despite revolutions in technology and tools that help more and more people make all kinds of different music (and actually spread it to people who would enjoy them), the labels have been living in denial, opting to find ways to keep making money the same old way instead of trying to keep up with the turning tide and find alternative business models.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Introducing Snap Shots from Snap.com
I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon products, display inline videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.
Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.
Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009