Tuesday, March 21, 2017

for crying out loud

howdy pop pickers

and so the year thus far might not have been so awesome or so dramatic in terms of vibes as 2016 was. things are, however, picking up. we've had Depeche Mode release or if you like "drop" a most splendid new album on us. that Ed Sheeran bloke has, whether you like his music or not, shown that people will go and buy an actual record or CD of music if you make what they like. Liam Gallagher, for better or worse, is going to be letting us hear his solo album soon.

but first, Kasabian. the ever lovable rogues out of Leicester were widely believed to be just about ready to release a new album this year. nothing was confirmed to this extent, which makes it something of a surprise that they've gone right ahead and announced a new album will be with us towards the end of April. it is called For Crying Out Loud, and it also seems they are referencing it as "Episode 6", what with it being their sixth album.

some traditions do not die, they just change. releasing a single or two before your new album is a tradition, and Kasabian have steadfastly stuck to that in releasing You're In Love With A Psycho, as of Friday March 17. this year.

the above is indeed the "single" artwork, presented in the preferred mode of Commodore 64 style with the scan lines most determinedly on. this cover would, of course, look smart on a 7" single or even one of them CD singles, but this has been taken off the screen as the digital format played away on my computer.

what's the single like, then? quite smart. no, Kasabian have not gone full on Spinal Tap yet, so there's no "hope you enjoy the new direction". it's all the guitar of the 70s and synth of the 80s they so dearly love, melded together to make something obviously reminiscent and familiar yet, at times, quite their own thing.

as the title somewhat alludes to you being encouraged to assume, this is indeed a witty ditty, so to speak. it's a song which Serge has assured everyone is not "meant to be dark at all", but it is a playful romp through the world of the stalkers and the obsessed. no in depth look at such a subject, of course.

yes, the above is indeed how i "bought" the single. i have had a look around, and there's no physical release of this single. the official website does not have it for sale as anything but a download, and none of the usual retailers have it listed. as per this blog post,  i accept that these "digital downloads" are the only way to actually buy a single as such, and even then few do. we need to be careful, though, as to how we measure and value all this "streaming" business, but we will get to that.

those readers of this blog that i speak to suggest that it is seldom, if ever, that they are able to play back the videos that i post here from time to time. invariably the problem comes in for those who use so-called "mobile" devices. if you are looking at this on a computer or laptop then you should be able to play the below snippet, if you're on a tablet or smartphone then, alas, probably not.

a question to be asked about Kasabian releasing a single is whether or not it will chart. the answer is perhaps, possibly not, probably not. it should, and probably would, if there was a level playing field. however, there isn't one. the system has been corrupted.

in the post i linked to above, and again here if it's easier, i looked at the inevitable happening with "streaming" counting as "sales". it was a system wide open to being corrupted, and by releasing his album on key streaming platforms Ed Sheeran was able to claim virtually all of the top twenty places in the singles chart, despite only two tracks from his album actually being put out as singles.

the non-single dominance of the singles chart has carried on for a second week, then. as you can see below, all that's happened in the top ten is that the Ed Sheeran non-singles have swapped around a bit within the chart, and this one band called Chainsmokers seem to stand alone in preventing him having the whole thing to himself.

i have absolutely no idea whether or not Kasabian have released the You're In Love With A Psycho album on the two streaming services which count for the charts, which as far as i know are Apple Music and Spotify. even if they have, though, it will take some doing to get it into the top twenty. it's possible it could scrape into the top forty.
i am not implying or saying that Ed Sheeran has "rigged" the chart, for i have absolutely no evidence that they have. that said, the chart company has no evidence that they have not. there is a bit of a maths lesson coming up, for those interested, but first a history lesson in "plugging" and corrupting the charts.

back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and indeed 90s labels "rigged" the charts. not often, but sometimes. to do this took work, dedication and money. basically, the labels would send people off - with record label money - to buy a couple of copies of the single they wished to boost from stores that they knew or at least had educated suspicions counted their sales towards the chart. a couple of thousand bought could see you get it into the top forty, after which hopefully the track caught on and others went out to buy it.

this you had to do carefully. these things were monitored, and if you got over zealous buying too many copies at once from the same store then the stats showed it, and all sales from that contributing store were disqualified. in exceptional cases, the single itself got disqualified all together. this safety check is not in place with streaming, but more in a bit.

what did the record store do with all the copies they bought up? let the people who bought them keep them, gave them away to people, bunged them at people to sell off of market stalls, or had them melted down so they could use the vinyl again.

for a bit of a break, a  peculiar anomaly in the album charts. here, look at what has re-entered the charts at the lofty position of number 21.

yes, that is indeed Abbey Road by The Beatles. the penultimate album by the band, and one which whilst not bad is not one that is routinely or regularly celebrated.

as we are nowhere near an anniversary of anything related to the band or this record, why has it all of a sudden re-entered the charts? i believe i know. DeAgostni, the masters of "collection" magazines, have recently launched The Beatles Vinyl Collection, with Abbey Road as the first release at a special price of £9.99. future single albums will be £16.99, with double albums coming in at £24.99. the standard prices are actually really rather good for what new vinyl sells for these days, and i suppose many have found the idea of owning a Beatles vinyl for south of £10 irresistible. as they have for decades. so, then, this album has effectively re-charted off magazine sales.

i think that's wonderful. and i wonder if there's not a way to re-chart certain 7" singles by selling them with magazines too. it can be no worse than the way they currently work them out.

right, maths. and a lesson in why streaming is corrupting the system. it turns out, in the interests of being "fair", that they have elected to count 150 streams as being equal to 1 sale. not unreasonable, if admittedly arbitrary. sadly, no one has put a safeguard in to check that they are all unique and different streams. so yes, you could set it up to cheat the system. how? let me show you....

but first the full chart from Friday 17 March 2017 for those of you who want to see how Ed Sheeran continues to dominate it.

right, here's how you, never mind a record label, can manipulate the singles chart. and, if we take as a given that you already have the devices and internet connection, it won't cost a penny in terms of coins of money, but the price in sanity might be another matter.

let's assume that you have at least 5 devices capable of handling the two main streaming services that count for the charts, Spotify and Apple Music. examples of devices are smartphone, tablet, pc, laptop, space invaders computer games machines, Smart TV sets, Google Chrome, Apple TV, Amazon Stick, etc.

on this basis, set up five different accounts, linked to five different email addresses, on whatever streaming service works on the device.pick a pop song that you want to get into the top forty.

if we assume that the average pop single is no longer than 4 minutes you can play that song 15 times in 1 hour. so far as i know Spotify and Apple Music have a "repeat" function, so it's not like you even have to go to the effort of pressing a button or touching a screen more than once to do this. your 5 devices are playing the same song 75 times per hour.

let's take into account that your internet connection might get disrupted, and the fact that Spotify from time to time will play an advert. let's shave 6 hours off of a 24 hour day, then, and say that you do the above for 18 hours each day. that means you have streamed the song 1350 times in one day, give or take.

the chart works on a 7 day cycle. so, multiply that 1350 by 7 and you get 9450. "sales" are calculated at a rate of 150 streams equalling 1 sale, so in 7 days you have contributed 63 "sales".

admittedly that does not sound like much. although it fluctuates, bear in mind that it only takes some 8,000 sales to get a single into the UK top forty. you "only" need 127 people with 5 devices doing this for a week to get any song they pick to get in the chart, then. as you would suspect that record labels have far more people and devices at their disposal, the mind boggles as to why the singles chart isn't rigged beyond any rational recognition.

this could be prevented by limiting it to 150 srteams from one source or ISP counting. after all, if we are going to say that every time someone plays a record then that playing of it contributes to the charts then i would have single handedly been responsible for Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Crockett's Theme by Jan Hammer being in the chart every week for the last 30 or so years.

so yes, anyway - the new Kasabian single is really smart, and if we lived in a decent era of how charts were calculated then it would place in the top forty, easily where it belongs. check it out!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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