Author Archives: Alan Cross

How to Roll Out an Album: The Story of Madonna’s MDNA

April 6th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

It hasn't been flawless, but the end result--a #1 debut in countries around the world--meant that the plan worked.  

Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary--certainly one of the smartest managers in music--was the chief coordinator in the roll out of MDNA.  And along with careful planning, there was an awful lot of good luck, viz. MIA's errant middle finger during the Super Bowl performance, the Twitter dust-up with Deadmau5 and the permanent ban placed on Madonna by Piers Morgan.

The result has been plenty of headlines--and headlines can be turned into sales.  From Billboard:

Indeed, Oseary and his client of 22 years can explain away each one -- the title has multiple meanings and came about like this, according to Oseary: "[Madonna] told me one day, 'Here's what I'm calling my album.' And I went, 'Cool.' She had a vision."

Top Ten Most Depressing Alternative Rock Songs

April 6th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

In his most recent newsletter, radio consultant Sean Ross asked for nominations for the most depressing hit song of all time.

It began with a discussion with a program director about a song that tested well, but happened to be incredibly depressing. In Thursday's ROR, we'll revisit some of radio's biggest downers. And we'll look at whether radio can still find love with a hopeless lyric in the tempo-loving PPM era. And we're taking your nominations for most depressing hit song now.

This got me thinking:  What are the most depressing alt-rock songs of all time?  Specifically, what songs from the alt-rock canon can (1) kill any good buzz; and (2) provide the perfect soundtrack to your sad, depressed state? Let me begin with a few thought-starters:

1.  The Smiths, "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"

If someone has been able to express self-pity and whininess better than this song, I haven't heard it.  How many kids have sobbed along with this song in their bedroom?

RIP Jim Marshall, The Creator of the Marshall Stack

April 5th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Listen up, guitarists:  the man who invented modern rock'n'roll guitar amplification was actually a drummer.

Jim "The Father of Loud" Marshall got into the music business as a drum teacher.  Once the 60s dawned and that rock'n'roll thing looked like it was going to stick around for a while, his music shop in west London became known for building big, sturdy speaker cabinets.  A few years later, Jim expanded into building amplifiers.

His gear was so tough, so versatile and so loud that everyone from Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend became customers.  In fact, it was Townshed who asked Marshall to mate a "head" amplifier with some big cabinets, thereby creating the first Marshall stack.  Life was never the same for guitarists.

Dr. Jim OBE passed away at the age of 88.  

The Fight to Put a New FM Radio Station on in Toronto

April 5th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

If you live in southern Ontario, you'll know how crowded the FM dial is.  In fact, it's full.  All the best frequencies are taken up by stations from the GTA and the surrounding area which extends to Western New York, Northern Ohio and even the extreme northwest of Pennsylvania.

But then the CRTC revoked the license of CKLN.  After years of silly and stupid infighting, the community station prove itself utterly incapable of living up to the terms of their extremely valuable license.  With 88.1 Mhz now available, a land rush was set off.

Gary McDonald of Frontside offers this overview of the battle for what will be the last new radio license granted in Toronto for a long, long time to come.

Never Seen the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine? Soon…

April 5th, 2012 | by Alan Cross


Truth be told, I've only seen it all the way through once.  That's why I might have to get the new Blu-ray.  From the press release:

The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray release on May 29 in North America.  The film’s songtrack album will be reissued on CD on the same date.

Currently out of print, the film has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc.  Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements.  This was all done by hand, frame by frame.

Weekly Music Sales Report – 04 April 2012

April 5th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

[Sorry for not posting this yesterday.  Being out of the hemisphere, I'd forgotten what day it was.  -AC]

This past week was pretty good, thanks to the Bieber.  But I'll get to that.

With five albums selling over 10,000 copies, album sales are up 8% from last week, pushing year-to-date pacing to a nice +5%.  The only real downside is the sale of physical CDs, which continue their slow-motion crash. They're -6% from 2011.  

On the plus side, digital album sales are up by 33% from last year which individual digial tracks are pacing 36% ahead.

Who gets the credit?  Madonna, for one.  She managed to move 32,000 copies of MDNA, making it her third straight #1 album debut and 7th #1 album since SoundScan started counting things in the 90s.

Shazam 5.0 Has Arrived

April 5th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

One of the more useful apps I have on my iPhone is Shazam.  Can’t identify a song you’re hearing?  Crack

I Like This: Nerds With Guitars

April 5th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Brent is back with another recommendation - AC

Nerds With Guitars are a duo hailing out of Toronto and like many other bands, have done bars and clubs but unlike many other local bands, they also perform at comic conventions, comedy clubs and comic book awards shows. But behind the nerdiness there lies a set of really solid musical chops.

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