Dolce & Gabbana’s bad, bad move

D&G have had to pull an ad which seems to portray a man raping a woman while his mates look on.

Well… That’s what the media are saying.

The problems are thus:
1. D&G went on the front foot and tried to claim that Spain and the media of other countries that complained were “behind the times” in their portrayals of lust and seduction.

2. Then they realised that overall, people wre pretty unimpressed with the ad, which led to them having to do a MASSIVE about face – which means they lost face. And they withdrew the ad.

3. Which made them look out of touch.

4. The other issue is that it’s fine to upset old fogeys and traditional media if you want to appeal to the kids, but only AS LONG AS YOU APPEAL TO THE KIDS. If you piss EVERYONE off, then you’ve achieved nothing. If it’s cool and pisses off the oldies, it reinforces the brand. If it’s not cool and pisses off the oldies, you’ve just given the oldies a free kick against your brand, which the kids would HATE, as it makes “their brand” look out of touch.

Now D&G have to face up to a boycott of the company’s products by the Italian Textile union, the CGIL. Big headaches.

Five reasons why Second Life is shit

1. There’s no point to it.

World of Warcraft and other online games and spaces have a point – make friends, complete quests, shoot people, etc. Second Life is like when you were 14, hanging around outside Doncaster Shoppingtown with no money, window shopping. Without Linden Dollars, you ain’t shit.

2. It’s becoming an amateur catalogue of bad advertisements.

When there’s no point but to look around, then you need something to see. Companies aren’t embracing it as a genuine “third place”, they’re simply turning it onto a showroom – look at Toyota et al. TEST DRIVE HERE!

3. Visually, it’s not very good.

It looks like those bad “virtual reality” prototypes from the late 80s, except not 3D. Graphically, it leaves a LOT to be desired.

4. LAG!

Not only are the graphics second rate, but the nature of the “download to watch” means it is bandwidth hungry. I’ve got a whopping ADSL2+ connection but it’s still very laggy.

5. There’s bugger all people on it.

That 2,000,000 people are on it is a furphy. I’ve never seen more than 10 people in any one spot, and that was a very busy area. World of Warcraft and America’s Army has immense areas filled with people. That’s ultimately what these online areas are about about – social interaction. WoW and AA have multiple means of communication – whispers, chats, group chats, party chats. Second Life isn’t about sharing. It isn’t about shared experiences. It isn’t about achievment with colleagues – no matter how nerdy those achievements might be!

It’s a shame because I think conceptually, it could be very, very cool. But right now it’s not.

Jobs’s Volte Face on Music?

Steve Jobs, guru extraordinaire of Apple Computer, has published a very interesting essay on the Apple website entitled “Thoughts on Music”.

It describes how he has always only ever wanted DRM-free music, however the record companies have forced his hand and made him adopt a DRM system which locks people out of transferring music. It has caused some controversy, but mainly a very impressive show of liberal ideology, corporate transparency and understanding by the CEO of this global leader in technology and entertainment.

I would have preferred that he called the essay, “On Music”, which would have been a sexy little homage to John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty“, which was of course one of pioneer theses in liberty and freedom.

U2’s business practices

For many, many years we have admired U2’s business practices. This band has succeeded in not only writing and recording multi-million selling albums and lucrative world tours, but their ability to create corporate structures which allow them stable and quality income streams which can even out the rollercoaster ride which is typical in the music industry.

Today, we read a very interesting Bloomberg analysis of U2’s business operations.

It’s a really good read, but the point is, it outlines that the reality of U2/Bono’s private personae is far different to the pro-charity public face. It’s well and good for him to be asking Peter Costello to give more of Australia’s tax money to charity, but Bono himself minimises paying taxes in Ireland. It’s well and good for Bono to be talking about giving money to the poor, but Bono himself doesn’t have any significant record of donations. Funnily enough, in terms of promoting the welfare of the underprivileged, U2 never paid a cent to the 400 or so extras which spent a gruelling 12 hours shooting the new U2 film clip at the Corner Hotel in Richmond during their recent Vertigo Tour. The best Bono could do is, once filming had finished, yell: “You deserve a couple of beers” and shouted the bar. As Andrew Bolt wrote: “Want to save the world? Yes, yes! Want to pay for it? No, no!

This is the same U2 that sued the PRS in the UK in 1994 in an effort to gain a greater share of publishing royalties and the right to negotiate their own performance licences – getting 80% of the fee from a gig and leaving the remaining 20% to support acts (rather than the 50/50 split which preceded it. That they brought legal action against the PRS to remove themselves from a collectivist organisation is the ultimate in business freedom; their stance should be admired by free thinking people around the world. But how this contrasts with the left’s obsession and heritage in collectivist thought is humerous, to say the least.

U2’s tactics are totally justified in that they are able to do it – they look after their own interests, ensure their talent and work is rewarded sufficiently and well done to them for doing so. They have the power, cache and talent to demand such mechanisms and they are rewarded for it.

But for Bono to claim that others aren’t doing enough for the poor or that countries like Australia and the US should give more taxpayer money to charity reeks of the highest hypocrisy. Again, they should be admired and congraulated for their global capitalism – it has created jobs, wealth and has brought joy to the lives of literally millions. But it is equally as wrong for them to use their position of power to then espouse a philosophy at diametric odds with their own personal actions.

It’s not to say their capitalist behaviour is in general at odds with kindness and charity. Not all all. Personal contributions and donations are a complementary factor of personal freedom and self-interest. If I make money, I should have the right to decide where it goes to and how much should go. It is, however, the notion that a central, collectivist organisation such as a Government (or for that matter a copyright collection agency) should decide and distribute a donation on my behalf which is highly disturbing. It is that element of Bono’s stance which is illogical and downright rude.

EMI = Every Mistake Imaginable

The past few weeks have been somewhat tumultuous in the music industry, with the departure of two of the music industry’s best regarded executives, David Munns and Alain Levy from EMI and the closure of Sir Richard Branson’s V2 record label in the USA (home of the White Stripes, among others).


It’s interesting how a total lack of recognition and adaption of a new business model is slowly killing the recorded music industry from the inside. Live music is still firing, music publishing is fine – but records – oh records, what a sorry state they’re in. A sad state of affairs, but few in that industry are acknowledging the fragmentation and movement from physical distribution to distributed consumption. The former is about a central factory making and distributing artefacts and physical products. The latter is the central factory placing content on a variety of channels and allowing people to consume at will; they choose the time, place and channel.

Every industry will move thorugh these phases:
1. Reduction in the cost of production due to technology and globalisation
2. Increase in number of producers / democratisation of production
3. Increase in number of channels due to digitasation and high cost of physical channels
4. Increase in ability to distribute through channels as internet speeds get higher and computing power gets better / cheaper.
5. Fragmentation of channels and consumption meaning large “culture driving companies” will struggle to impose their products
6. Changes in marketing and advertising – increased personalisation of marketing as fragmentation will lead to a need for greater relevance and “chase” of smaller markets
7. Decoupling of product from time or place (goodbye seasonality, hello songs from twenty years ago randomly appearing in the bottom rungs of charts).

What other ramifications?

Traditional media are n00b5 – gaming is a PHENOMENON

WOW Burning Crusade is out. it’s very, very big. this is bigger than any film release of this year. The traditional media is slow to understand; close to 7 million people pay USD$13 per month to play World of Warcraft. That’s big bikkies, about $80m per month or thereabouts, or close to BILLION U.S. DOLLARS A YEAR.

Bigger than Titanic.

Even in the guy in the little EB Games shop in Elizabeth St, Melbourne, told me in NOVEMBER that he had pre-sold 600 “Burning Crusade” at $10 a pop close to three months before eventual release. Pretty funny eh?

Like I said, the traditional media are SO slow in picking this phenomenon up.

Check it here!

JJJ – The Secret Station

JJJ thought they’d “do a MySpace” and exclusively promote a Jet concert on the banks of the Yarra at the last minute. The concert was held this afternoon, Jet literally played on the Yarra, on a floating barge, in the Sunday afternoon sun, with the Melbourne skyline as a backdrop. What could be better?

The problem is, nobody in Melbourne listens to JJJ, so “less than 200 people” turned up, according to my music industry insider who was at the gig (the band’s manager called her to let her know in fear of nobody turning up).

Jet – very good apparently. Shame nobody knew about the gig.

JJJ – what a bunch of incompetents.

What if the every band in the world could record one album only?

I was reading one of Russell Davies’ excellent blog posts when I found this great, great thought.

What if every band ever was only able to record one album?

When I was back doing A&R and some band would present some cool demo, great songs, good style, etc, the thought would go through my head: “they’ve had their whole lives to write these tracks; how good will their next set of songs be?” Which bands have released a masterpiece debut album and never been able to follow it up?

For that matter, how many film or fiction writers have done the same?