Posts Tagged ‘scott pilgrim’

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eMusic and Sony: a rocky start, a risky move?

June 2, 2009

bruce

As you may have heard, eMusic inked a contract with Sony to make the label’s back catalog available for download (with a moving wall of two years), including albums by Bruce Springsteen, Modest Mouse and, um, Michael Jackson. I don’t have an MBA from Harvard, and I’m not a self-described ‘Internet (insert buzzword) guru’. But I can’t imagine that any business strategy that starts by alienating your most loyal customers is the way to go, and that’s exactly what eMusic did. Not in the nebulous, ‘the cool kids won’t like it’ way (which they may also have done), but in the real, live ‘hits you in the wallet’ way, as long-term subscribers are losing their grandfathered-in plans at the end of July and getting fewer tracks for the same price; in my own case, dropping from 50 downloads a month to 30. Needless to say, people are unhappy.

So after that fairly shaky start, what’s going to happen? At this point, eMusic is the place to go to easily find obscure indie songs; it’s always my first stop when I hear about a band for the first time. While the pricing structure facilitates this – it’s easy to give new bands a chance – I’ve mostly just been happy that they have ever-increasing amounts of cool stuff (like my most recent find, the Haligonian band Plumtree, who wrote the song that was the inspiration for Scott Pilgrim). But if the idea is to attract a vast new audience by adding Sony’s back catalog, they are differentiating themself not on what they sell, but how much they sell it for; Amazon currently lists over 500 Bruce Springsteen MP3s, for example, which surely includes most of his releases. eMusic only makes economic sense if you are a very consistent downloader. If you are just an occasional purchaser, it makes more sense to just buy MP3s à la carte. This suggests that their shiny new subscriber base would be sensitive to anything that closes the gap between eMusic pricing and ‘regular’ pricing, such as iTunes dropping their prices further. As well, if streaming services continue to improve, casual listeners will have less incentive to download. I guess that’s a risk that eMusic decided was worth taking, and I hope it pays off, especially since they are probably going to start by losing customers.

MP3: Plumtree – Scott Pilgrim [buy]

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Music venues with good food

April 30, 2009

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A recent article in Gourmet, “Eight Great Rock Venues With Great Food,” combines two of my obsessions, food and live music (three if you count travel) The article is written by Mia Clarke, guitarist of Electrelane (who are now on indefinite hiatus), and is gleaned from her years of touring with the band. Cambridge’s own Middle East made the cut for its fare, as did the Bite Cafe at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. Nothing made the list from Seattle, sadly (although the Triple Door got a shout-out in the comments). While not on Clarke’s list, the reputation of Stubbs Bar-B-Q in Austin has reached the barbecue-deprived north, and I’m looking forward to checking it out this summer (SXSWers, any feedback?). I’d also add Toronto’s Sneaky Dee’s for its Mexican fare; it frequently appears in the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, and his band, Sex Bob-omb plays there (inevitably, the performance is interrupted by a homicidal robot, which Scott fights off with his bass guitar).

Check out the list, and then tell us what you think it’s missing. Where do you go in your ‘hood for good food and good music?

MP3: Electrelane – To The East [buy]

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Read: Scott Pilgrim

October 13, 2008

If you haven’t been spending any time in your local comic book store recently, you might not have heard of this series of comic books (or graphic novels, if you must), written and drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley. They follow the adventures of twenty-something bassist Scott Pilgrim, who’s trying to figure out his life. Enter Ramona, a sexy courier who has access to shortcuts through space and time, closely followed by her ‘seven evil exes’, whom Scott must defeat in battle. The books follow Scott as he deals with the quotidian (getting a job, finding a place to live), the fun (his band Sex Bob-Omb’s rehearsals and live shows, hanging out with Ramona), and the surreally action-packed (fighting the evil exes, who draw on an arsenal of mind-bending weaponry). The books draw from anime, from videogames, and from the great tradition of indie comics about slackers. They’re amazingly well-written, and great fun. I also get an enormous kick out of the fact that they’re set in my native Toronto – it’s fun to see my old stomping grounds translated into comic-book form. There’s also (unsurprisingly) a movie in progress, and it looks at least somewhat promising – Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) is set to direct, and Michael Cera (Juno, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) is in the lead role.

Four volumes are out, and the fifth one is scheduled for a February 2009 release (six are planned). Go check them out.

Amazon link