The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

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?

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