Author Archives: Alan Cross

I Get Mail

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

I love it when people leave comments on this page, but sometimes I get email regarding stories I publish elsewhere--the Ottawa Citizen/Vancouver Sun, for example, or from my weekly columns in the Metro papers.  

(Should you ever want to send me an email, either use the "Talk to Me" link to the right or just use

Here's a sample of some recent correspondence:

Pelting the Vegetarian

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

One of the world’s most famous vegetarians is Morrissey, ex of the Smiths.  He was vehemently anti-meat to the point where he insisted on naming a Smiths album Meat is Murder.  He never, ever, every touched meat, let along ate it.

There were those who agreed with him–but then again, there were those who had opposite views.  On March 6, 1985, the Smiths played a venue called the Poole Arts Centre.  

Midway through the show, someone threw a chain of link sausages towards the stage with the words “meat is murder” printed very carefully on them.

Oh, Okay. Here Are Some Grammy Nomination Predictions.

November 30th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Did you hear about the televised Grammy Awards spectacle tonight?  No?

In an effort to goose sales through the Christmas shopping season, the Grammy people have conspired with CBS to turn the nomination announcement event into a prime time special.  Jeezus, talk about making something out of nothing.  Even the uber-bloated Oscars don't do something like this.  I guess there's a hole in the Wednesday night schedule.

I've got a Christmas party to attend to tonight, so I won't be watching. But lemme throw out a couple of no-brainer predictions.

Weekly Music Sales Report: 30 November 2011

November 30th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Yes, Nickelback debuts at #1.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

With less than a month before Christmas, artists, managers, labels and retailers are really hoping that they can hang on to make 2011 the first year in a long time when sales ticked up.  And at this point, it's looking good.

There are six debuts in the Canadian Top 10 and for the first time in...well, forever, all Top Ten records sold more than 10,000 copies each.  This means that 2011 sales are still pacing head of last year by 1%, even though 8% fewer CDs have been sold.  All the growth comes in digital, which is up 40% year-over-year.

Secret Dossiers

November 30th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Governments like to collect secrets.  There are dossiers on thousands of things like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy Assassination.

But get this.  Back in the 70s and early 80s, MI5, the British secret service, became very concerned about the political and social effect some bands were having on the young people of Britain.  

They compiled secret files on bands like the Sex Pistols and UB40 under the heading “Subversion in Contemporary Music.

A VERY Worthwhile Cause: The Unison Benevolent Fund

November 29th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Many musicians and people within the music industry work without a net.  No medical benefits, no health insurance beyond medicare, no place to turn in time of financial crisis, addiction or mental health issues.  

Over the years, many people have tried to set up a fund that can be accessed by these people in times of need.  But it's very, very difficult--and expensive.  Yes, there are some who are part of a musicians' union, but there are far, far more people who aren't enrolled or aren't eligible.

Happily, Canada now has something almost in place.  It's called the Unison Benevolent Fund, a registered charity that will act as an assistance and referral fund created and administered by the music industry.

More Music from the Inbox

November 29th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

As we get closer to the end of the 2011 and all the big releases are out in time for Christmas, it's best we look at the cool music that's not getting the attention it deserves.  

Thanks to Juliette Jagger for helping sort through the submissions.

Major Timesuck: Welcome to AllSongsBy

November 29th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Like millions of others, I use iTunes to keep my music library in order--and I use it reluctantly.  It's become a bloated pig of a program that has many, many shortcomings, but that's a rant for another day.

Instead, I'd like to introduce you to AllSongsBy, a service that uses iTunes and its API as well as YouTube to make shoppring for music in the iTunes store much easier and much more fun.

1.  Pick an act from the list.

2.  AllSongsBy scours YouTube and elsewhere to list every single song by that act that's available.

3.  Start listening/watching.

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