Electric Picnic has come and gone, but it not’s quite all over yet for the year’s music festivals: iTunes is currently staging its month-long extravaganza in London’s Roundhouse Theatre and streaming it to more than 100 countries.
Two major events will take place during iTunes Festival. One is the launch of the super-dooper new IPhone 6, which is expected to come preloaded with The Beats headphones music app (Apple bought Beats for $3 billion earlier this year). The other is whichever big names will fill the September 19 and September slots. The smart money is going on Adele for the former and an outside bet on U2 for the latter – both have new albums they want to get out early in Q4.
With a line-up that includes Deadmau5, Calvin Klein, Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams, Paulo Nutini, Jesse J, Mary J Blige and Ed Sheeran, there’s something for most everyone one in the iTunes audience. The Roundhouse only holds 2,000, but iTunes has linked up with Live Nation to stream all the shows globally.
Next Tuesday, hours before Sam Smith takes to the stage of The Roundhouse, Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine will be in Cupertino to do the shill for the iPhone 6. If the new device does indeed come with Beats, it will have major impact on the music streaming service. iPhone 6 is predicted to shift 10 million units in the first three days of sales and 50 million sold by the end of the year.
Apple’s digital musical supply
An Apple a day: Will Adele show up at the iTunes Festival?
chain has been severely battered by Spotify and YouTube. Apple didn’t pay $3 billion for Beats because it’s a great way to hear music (in fact, it isn’t), but for Dre and Iovine’s considerable musical expertise and the “coolness” of the Beats brand.
It all comes together nicely for Apple this month. The primary value of the iTunes fest is that artists use the globally streamed shows to announce their new albums, which is sure a lot easier than a traditional territory-by-territory marketing spend).
During past iTunes beanos, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Arctic Monkeys and Avicii all used their iTunes shows to plug their new albums. Adele will release in September; if, as a company, you’ve just spent $3 billion on a new way to hear music over your phone, then, of all the artists in the world, you’d want the new Adele album to showcase your flashy new sound.
It’s an open secret that Apple has been increasingly working with major labels to sync important new album releases. It’s ironic that, post-Napster, Apple was often accused of “killing” the album due to opening up all the tracks as individual downloads (meaning people don’t buy too many albums over iTunes – they just pay for the three best songs on it). But as the cliché goes: content is king. And with labels only making money from album sales (singles are usually a loss-leader), Apple has had to take one step back to the album to go one step forward with its preloading of Beats.
By the evening of September 19th, we should know an awful lot more.
Don’t worry, Timmy. Screenwriter isn’t dead. It’s being sent to a nice farm in the country where it can play with the horses, roll in the sun and chew lazily on bones torn from Michael Bay’s bloody limbs. But you may never visit.
Obviously, facetious film commentary will continue in various bits of The Irish Times. This particular incarnation is, however, set for dismantlement. It’s been a strange, turbulent time. Over the past seven years, we have speculated on the stupid Oscars, whined about sequels, bemoaned the ubiquity of superheroes and generally behaved like an embarrassing street lunatic whose apocalyptic views struggle to fit on one generous sandwich board.
Has anything changed since this column began in 2007? Less than we might have hoped. The biggest hit of that year was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Well, I hear you laugh, at least we’re shot of that atrocity.
Not a bit of it. This very week we hear that, thanks to generous funding from the Australian government, yet another Pirates film is set to lurch depressingly into production. Astonishingly, Johnny Depp, who really should have better things to do with his time, is returning to essay his increasingly decrepit amalgam of Tommy Cooper and a bad “Johnny Depp” stripogram.
The second biggest hit was whatever stupid Harry Potter film emerged that year. (Look it up for yourself. This column already has one foot in the exit.) Now that’s definitely gone the way of all flesh. Right? Every last sentence of JR Rowling’s saga was translated with depressing faithfulness.
Steady on. David Yates, who directed the last four wizard films, is set to helm an adaptation of Ms Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The Potter spin-off will investigate unexplored corners of the franchise’s universe and, no doubt, offer one more golden-years bonus to several lucky RSC alumni.
No 3 was Spider-Man 3. That franchise, also, went away and came back again. Then it was Shrek 3, which ultimately spawned Puss in Boots and – coming your way in 2018 – Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves.
The only surprise triggered by the appearance of Transformers at No 5 concerns its relatively low placing. Why, the first film made a mere $700 million at the world’s box office. The latest incarnation, released earlier this summer, has gone past a billion and, for all the effort of Hobbits to come, looks set to end the year at the top of the pile.
“Oh, what’s the bloody point?” So ends the published version of Kenneth Williams’s diary. Shortly after scribbling those words, he died of an apparent barbiturate overdose. They will do as well for the last words in this column.
We can moan all we want. But, boasted by huge takings in China, Michael Bay’s awful, awful films will continue to get made. We may die, but no profitable franchise will be allowed to lie unmolested in its bed.
What’s the bloody point?