Sunday, April 20, 2014

Prince Finally Settles With Warner Bros, But Why?

Remember back in 1996 when Prince famously changed his name to a weird symbol, following a protracted dispute with his record label, Warner Bros?  He wrote the word "slave" on his cheek and vowed to release his new music himself over the internet?

I'm always intrigued by the epilogues to famous events.  Well, yesterday Prince settled his 18 year dispute with Warner Bros., it was announced.  You can read more details HERE. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Prince regained the ownership of his back catalog, and Warner Bros. will soon be releasing "previously unheard material" from Prince's tenure with the label, as well as a 30th anniversary edition of "Purple Rain." 

In the end, Prince, now 55 years old, was not able to match his prior, chart-topping successes releasing his music on his own. He said in a statement yesterday that he's "pleased," and that he looks "forward to a fruitful working relationship" with Warner Bros.

Why did this happen?  And why now? Billboard provides the answer HERE. It's rooted in changes to U.S. copyright law, as it turns out, not in reconciliation and healing. "This deal marks a new era as the ability to terminate master recording copyright after 35 years was granted in the Copyright Revision Act of 1976 and became effective in 1978, the year that Prince's debut album came out... As 2013 loomed, record label executives and artists managers said that they were unsure how copyright terminations and ownership reversions would play out as they expected a precedent-setting court case to decide whether the 'work-for-hire' clause in standard recording contracts could successfully be challenged by artists."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Have Seen The Future... At Chili's

I went to a Chili's recently for lunch, for the first time in a long time.  As soon as I sat down, I knew something was very different. There was some sort of tablet-like digital device at every table. I opened the menu and the first appetizer I saw was not, say, nachos, but rather fresh tableside guacamole.  And then was also an entire page of specially-priced Lunch Combos, featuring lighter options like salads and grilled chicken sandwiches.  The whole place was lighter, too, and less cave-like than I'd remembered.  It was like seeing an ex-girlfriend after a few years, and being surprised that she'd lost 30 lbs. and bought some new clothes.

Clearly, something was up.  I was conscious that I was experiencing some sort of  carefully calibrated, grander corporate wizardry, probably the result of painstaking quantitative analysis of lots of expensive consumer research. But what did this all mean?

I couldn't puzzle it out until I read THIS article in Forbes this morning, about how so-called Millennials are now critical drivers of the fast food and 'fast casual' restaurant businesses.  In an instant, I got the vision.  I had glimpsed the future at Chilis.

"For all the endless discussion over how terrible Millennials are.. this over-generalized generation represents a quarter of the U.S. population, [and] holds $1.3 trillion in spending power... Roughly defined as young adults ages 18 to 33, Millennials have... cut back annual restaurant visits by 21% over the last seven years... Ultimately, Palmer concludes, if Millennials’ current choices — higher-quality ingredients, better-value food, entertaining casual restaurants and a preference for digital engagement — are indicative of future consumption behavior, 'it will be critical for restaurant chains to assess their competitive position and adapt to these new realities.'”

"Walkman" Perplexes Today's Kids

Any adult who has ever watched in jealous amazement as a child intuitively operates an iPad with casual ease may enjoy watching THIS one minute segment from Good Morning America where a series of kids were handed a Sony "Walkman" from the 1980s  and asked to make it work.

Test For You: Lindsay Lohan's Lovers

As part of her recent stint in rehab, Lindsay Lohan apparently had to write down a list of all her former lovers.  Perhaps predictably, that list has now leaked to the public. 

Seeing THIS headline in the New York Daily News,  about how many of the names on it were Hollywood celebrities, suddenly confronted me with an unexpected test that would give me insight on my very soul. Do I click on that link to view the photograph of the actual list, handwritten by Lindsay Lohan herself? 

There are two types of people in the world, I think: those who eagerly view a purloined list like that (hoping for a scandalously long list of famous names), and those others who don't bother, who genuinely don't care.

Which type are you?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Real History of Easter

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays.  But I never knew much about how (and why) all the secular traditions, like Easter bunnies and Easter baskets and egg hunts, evolved alongside the religious festival.

This 3 minute piece from the History Channel addresses a lot of that in a quick, whimsical way. 

1906 San Francisco Earthquake: Four Days Before

A massive earthquake famously struck San Francisco on this day back in 1906, an anniversary that brought to mind this excellent 60 Minutes piece about stunning, digitally-restored movie footage of San Francisco taken just four days before that earthquake (and subsequent fire) nearly destroyed the city. The camera is mounted on the front of a streetcar rolling down Market Street, vying with horse-drawn carriages and automobiles and pedestrians. "The film is a time traveler's glimpse of a joyous city on the brink of disaster," explains Morley Safer."The odds are, some of the people you see have just days to live."

Al Jazeera America's Low Ratings

"Al Jazeera America is averaging just 15,000 total viewers, roughly half those who tuned in to its predecessor, Current TV, according to Nielsen figures... The channel draws fewer than 6,000 viewers in the 25-to-54-year-old target audience for news."  You can read more in the New York Post HERE. "The network’s financial backer, the government of Qatar, paid a hefty $500 million in January to purchase Current TV and gain US distribution."