Monthly Archives: March 2015

Digital Music Executive on Tidal Launch

Former digital music exec on Tidal:

“Tidal is offering nothing new. They have exactly the same catalog, product, features, even names of tiers the same as everyone else, with the exception of the $20 “lossless” feature. Even that’s not defensible, because every other service can and will offer it (and probably for less), and the $20 is not reflective of any real costs. It’s totally arbitrary pricing.

Aside from being audio overkill, lossless isn’t even a new or unique idea. This has been on every service’s roadmap for a while…but streaming lossless is pretty dumb, at the moment. Many people don’t have data connections fat enough to support it, and on mobile it’s silly.

Tidal can claim somehow they’re ‘more fair’ in paying artists, but they’ve been completely opaque about what that actually means. Given Tidal’s deals are almost certainly identical to every other service out there (Rhapsody, Spotify, Beats, etc.), it’s hard to believe their payment structure is going to be any different either.

The only difference as I see it is the presence of the select celebrity co-owners, who are either silent partners (in which case they’re just like any other investor, likely to be disappointed in Tidal’s returns) or are actively involved in development and management (in which case I pity the poor teams at Tidal that have to work with them).”

Full discussion

How Lesbians Cared For And Fought For Gay Men During the AIDS Crisis

From a powerful Reddit thread conveying what is was like to live as a gay man during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s-90s:

“Lesbians who came to the aid of gay men at that time would be acknowledged as every bit as heroic as soldiers on the front lines of any war. … I can tell you now is that these women walked directly into the fire and through it, and they did not have to. And that they did it even as some of the gay men they took care of treated them with bitchiness, scorn, and contempt. …

When the AIDS crisis struck, it would be many of these same women who would go straight from their jobs during the day to acting as caregivers at night. …

These women walked directly into the fire. They came to the aid of gay men even when it was unclear how easily the virus could be transmitted. Transmission via needlestick was still a concern, so they often wore two or three layers of latex gloves to protect themselves, but more than once I saw them, in their haste and frustration, dispense with the gloves so that they could check for fevers, or hold a hand that hung listlessly from the edge of a bed whose sheets they had just laundered.

They provided aid, comfort, and medical care to men withering away in hospices, men who’d already lost their lovers and friends to the disease and spent their last months in agony. They’d been abandoned by their own families, and were it not for lesbians – many if not most of them volunteers – they would have suffered alone. And when there was nothing more medicine could do for them and their lungs began to fill with fluid, it was often these same women who’d be left to administer enough morphine to release them, given to them by the doctor who had left the room and would return fifteen minutes later to sign the certificate (a common practice at the time).

I knew a woman around that time who’d had at one point been making bank in construction. But at the outset of the AIDS crisis she had abandoned her career to pursue nursing instead, and was close to her degree when we were hanging out. She was a big, hearty drinker, and fortunately so was I. We’d been utterly thrashed at a bar once when someone whispered a fairly benign but nonetheless unwelcoming comment about her. Middle fingers were exchanged, and afterwards, furious and indignant, I asked her, Why do you do it? Why did you abandon a career to take care of these assholes who still won’t pay you any respect?

She cut me a surprisingly severe look, held it and said, “Honey, because no one else is going to do it.” 

During that time, I did what I could. But nothing I did then or have ever been called to do in my life puts me anywhere near the example set by the lesbians I knew in the 80s and 90s. I’ve felt obligated to remember what they did, and to make sure other people remember it too. So, thanks to the OP – this is as good a place to start as any.”

Full discussion on Reddit.

Image from the amazing documentary We Were Here.

Why New Coke Failed

It wasn’t a conspiracy:

“The reason why coke changed it is a simple one, Pepsi happened. Whilst Pepsi had existed for practically the entirety of Cokes history they were never a large threat to the dominance of Coke after WWII. However this changed in the mid 70s with Pepsi running two well known ad campaigns. The first was the Pepsi Challenge with featured a blind taste test which showed that people preferred Pepsi to Coke. The second was an aggressive celebrity endorsement with the likes of Michael Jackson which pitched Pepsi as The choice of the new generation. As these campaigns were successful and the market share for Pepsi grew Coke knew they had to hit back. So they got food scientests to look into what was it that made people say the liked Pepsi and the answer they came up with was that Pepsi was sweeter then coke. So once they knew that they came up with a new sweeter version of Coke called New Coke that according to their own tests was preferred to both Pepsi and Old Coke.”

Full commentary New Coke Failure: What caused the New Coke campaign in the 80s to fail so spectacularly? What is the rationale for changing the Coke formula in the first place? : AskHistorians.

Why Tesla’s Bombing in China

Tesla has only sold 120 cars in China:

“The product offering is way off. Chinese rich want instant gratification more than anything – way beyond rich folks anywhere else in the world. Super chargers and waiting 4 hours to charge doesn’t make sense in for these people. That is what poor people who cant afford a car in China do with their electric scooters. Rich folks in China do not want to be associated with that, especially seen in public charging their car or spending that time. Don’t get me wrong the rich in China are frugal where it is not seen, so they love saving money. Story goes that when high-end luxury cars like ferrari/porsche etc.. entered China their cars saw an abnormally high problem with their cars engine. Apparently the rich folks wanted to be seen with a flashy car, but was fueling it with the shittiest sub-par gasoline that did havoc on the engine, because no one can see the gasoline that they put inside it. It is all about the saving and building ‘face’.”

Read the other reasons: HistoricaDeluxa comments on Tesla only sold 120 cars in China in January, CEO Elon Musk Threatens to fire Executives.

The Difference Between Marvel and DC Comics

Comic nerds outlines the difference between the two major comics publishing houses:

“Marvel was about people trying to be heroes. DC was about heroes trying to be people.

Wonder Woman, Supes, Bats… They all come from a place that makes them outsiders to different degrees. I think Bats can be played several ways successfully, and that’s contributed to his popularity. Superman will always be the adopted son of humanity due to his own feelings and experiences. WW could reach a point where she hits “Western society average”, but Western society has a long way to go. Her frustration about that is pretty great.

But Spider-Man will swipe a hot dog from a vendor then come back after defeating Rhino and drop money to pay it. Pre- ~2000’s I can’t imagine the aforementioned DC characters being concerned with food unless it was part of a plot point, yet Marvel makes it both location-enforcing and character development.”

via Jeffool comments on TIL that Iron Man was created by Stan Lee as a challenge to create a hero no one should like and force people to like him..

Image from the Marvel/DC cross-over series.

George Lucas’s Bitter Legacy

From a discussion about the quality of the Star Wars prequels:

“Here’s the thing. George Lucas has been simmering with anger for most of his career. His wife was one of the most talented story editors in the business. Bar none. She made concrete changes to the story that really saved the first movie, and had a significant impact on the entire franchise.

Credentials? She worked on Taxi Driver. She worked on two other Scorsese films. She helped Lucas with THX 1138 and American Graffiti and all three Star Wars films, and even pitched in a bit on Raiders. Of the six Oscars Star Wars won, one was hers for editing Lucas’ mess.

But she left George for another man, and somehow he got Hollywood in the divorce. She flips property now.

George Lucas didn’t even direct anything between A New Hope and the prequels. (My theory is there was a divorce settlement that ended around 1996 or so.) In between, his entire career has been milking Star Wars and Indy, both gifts to him from his wife.

So the prequels (and the changes he made to the original) were supposed to prove that he was the genius. To undo some of the influences that Marcia Lucas had on his films and show the fans “the movie I wanted it to be” . In his mind, he had to show that Star Wars belonged to him, and him alone. But the fans hated it. They hated the changes. They hated the Prequels.

Lucas was so salty that he retired and blamed the fans for it. He flat out said there’d never be another film, because he had no ideas. He claims that he always wanted to make documentaries anyway.

Then along comes an even better solution. Disney comes up with just stupid money for the entire fucking thing, so much he can’t pass that up. It’s perfect, sell it all… lock, stock, and barrel, and then give away all the money. Forget passing Star Wars down to his children.

For almost 20 years, this has been his life. And when he finally did “choose to run”, he just ended up proving to the world what he’d known in his heart all along. He was a better filmmaker when he was working with the woman who ripped that heart out.

No. It’s easier to burn it down and salt the earth. To disavow any interest (personal or vested) in the franchise and pretend like the entire thing was a lark he never cared about.

via jayman419 comments on Nicholas Cage Praises Hayden Christenson’s Acting In The Star Wars Prequels.

Image of George and Maria Lucas from The Secret History of Star Wars and Marcia Lucas.

Anti-Vaxers and Racists Obsession with Purity

From a discussion about this video of a parent saying they don’t care if anybody else’s kids get sick:

“There is a strange and terrifying human obsession with “purity,” and it manifests itself in so many different forms:

  • For the anti-vaccination brigade, it’s the delusion that an immune system free of “toxins” will recognize and destroy unknown pathogens based on raw strength alone.
  • For racists, it’s the delusion that one ethnicity is superior to others and can only be bettered by isolation from their lessers and minimizing the latter’s political influence.
  • For demagogues, it’s the delusion that compromise with a different belief system corrupts your principles and weakens your argument.

And nothing could be further from the truth. The healthiest children are the ones playing in the dirt, getting slobbered on by their dogs, and full of antibodies from vaccines. Populations with high rates of intermarriage between ethnic groups can effectively breed out generations of inherited problems. Diverse groups solve problems and predict the future better than those comprised of a sole demographic.

I don’t know why “purity” is such a seductive concept, but it’s a dangerous one.”

via Cenodoxus comments on Anti-Vaccine Doctor: I Don’t Care If My Kids Make Others Gravely Sick.

The Music Industry, Post-Payola

Secrets from the music industry:

“[A]ny citizen could walk into an airport and buy plane tickets with cash.

A common ruse was to have the A&R guy ( Artist and Repertoire) use company cash, buy tickets and give them to Local PDs at radio stations. These tickets were as good as cash but not a direct payment. The PD could either take a nice vacation or return the tickets to the airline at the airport. The friendly ticket lady would then refund the cash price of the ticket in full. Bingo! The PD “just got paid today.”

Gosh! If you have access to a wealthy and connected producer plus a steady supply of cocaine to stuff disk-jockey’s faces, there no telling how high your career might fly! It might fly like an eagle! You could buy a stairway to heaven!

That sounds hard to believe in today’s credit card world, but that’s how it was done. This was WAY before 911, so airports were more like train stations. You could just walk in and buy two tickets to paradise with cash; no ID, no record, no surveillance cameras, no traceability. That was how hits were made.”

via Nozame comments on What is a “dirty little (or big) secret” about an industry that you have worked in, that people outside the industry really ought to know?.

Inside Heroin

From a Reddit discussion drug abuse:

“It’s fun, it felt good, it made the night seem more exciting, made you feel like the social butterfly you always wanted to be, all of your problems quickly fade away.

The next day (following a mild hangover) you think to yourself, “That was fun, maybe I’ll do it again next weekend”.

Fast forward 2-3 months later. You’ve been doing painkillers every weekend now. The days between start to drag by. They feel dull and you just can’t wait for that “Friday night feeling” once again. So you know what, it’s a Wednesday but who cares. You’ll only do one and save the rest for the weekend, after all, YOU know what’s best for YOU.

Jump ahead another few months. Now you’re done with the illusion that this is a weekend thing. It feels good. Why wouldn’t you do this everyday? Drug addicts are irresponsible bums that you see on the streets. That’s not you, you’re not a drug addict. You just like the way they make you feel. Besides, all of your friends are doing them and obviously we aren’t ALL drugs addicts. You just like to have fun…also you get a little sick/depressed when you don’t have them.”

It gets worse, read the rest...

Critical Thinkers vs List People

From a Reddit discussion about parents realizing their kids aren’t that bright:

“One group is like your first two kids, critical thinkers, self empowered types. Show them the concept, talk about the goal and they’ll pick up the pieces and run with it. … Group 2 I call the list people. The didn’t want to hear about concepts. They didn’t want to have too many choices. Too many choices frustrates and confuses them. They will actually tell you that YOU are the stupid one because you made it too complicated by having too many ways to do the same thing or you are drowning people in too many choices. These people you would have to approach training as a list. … The List People outnumbered the Critical Thinkers by about 10 to 1 at the “I at least have a high school diploma or GED” level. When you get out numbered like that. They gang up and call everyone else stupid. If a List Person is in charge and you are a Critical Thinker, beware and be careful how you phrase things.”

Full discussion: jaeldi comments on Parents of reddit, when did you realize your kid was stupid? Not just simple-minded but downright stupid; and how did you feel about that?.