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First up in the news is the passing of longtime Beatles friend, manager and business associate Neil Aspinall. The man who many called the“fifth Beatle,”died earlier this week at the age of 66. He grew from childhood friend of the Paul McCartney and George Harrison to CEO of Apple Corps, and was known for his fierce loyalty to the band. But, as Jim and Greg explain, many fans blamed Aspinall for the slow release of Beatles archival materials, as well as Apple Corps' resistance toward moving into the digital age. But, as Jim points out, before launching any new Beatles venture, he had to get Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko on board — no small feat.

Go to episode 122

Music News

Music fans and industry analysts have long been wondering when The Beatles would go digital. Many suspected that a deal with iTunes was in the works. But no one could have predicted that the band's foray into the digital universe would be through a video game. Apple Corps has announced a deal with Viacom's Rock Band to feature the Brits in the hit-selling game series. The Beatles see this as a way to reach a new generation of listeners, but Jim doesn't think the game has much to do with music and is certain that members of the group could reach more fans merely by lowering ticket prices.

There have been two major reunion announcements that both daze and confuse Jim and Greg. The first is an almost confirmed rumor that Led Zeppelin will be going out on tour sans lead singer Robert Plant. This would leave only 2 of the original members, and no one, including the band's former promoter, is sure how they can call themselves Zeppelin. In other bizarre reunion news, the Jackson 5 will be coming to a town near you, only Jackson 4 might be a more appropriate name. Michael will be sitting this one out.

The final news story this week signifies another nail in the coffin of the music industry's glory days. One of the true music-loving record executives, Alan McGee, has announced that he is retiring from the biz. McGee founded Creation Records, which launched acts like My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. More recently he has been managing acts like Oasis and The Libertines. Now on his Facebook page he states, "I think I'm a man of the times, kind of like Tony Wilson really. We don‘t really have a place in the music industry anymore because we actually like music." And Jim and Greg believe that’s the truth. Most of the higher-ups are money men, rather than music men. They are certainly going to miss McGee's passion.

Go to episode 154

Music News

This year's crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated last week at a ceremony in Cleveland. 2009's class includes Metallica, Run DMC, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials. While Metallica is getting its props, heavy metal is consistently unrepresented. Greg would vote to nominate Slayer. Jim agrees and adds that progressive rock music is also due for some representation. Love ‘em or hate ’em, Genesis, Yes and Jethro Tull are certainly as influential, if not more, than Little Anthony.

On the same day that U2 released a second set of tickets for their highly sought-after fall tour, New York Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled new legislation to crack down on the secondary ticket market, or scalping. Schumer is riding the wave of popularity he got after criticizing Ticketmaster for sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, but Jim and Greg don't blame him. Jim calls scalping“a plague”on the music industry, and both critics urge reform.

They may have stopped making music decades ago, but The Beatles' output is still going strong. This fall Apple Corps and EMI will release the band's entire catalog remastered digitally on CD. This is long overdue; their music hasn't been upgraded since songs were first put on CD twenty years ago. But, while fans might be excited for a new model, Jim and Greg see this as a very transparent attempt to keep dipping into the same profit pool year after year.

Go to episode 176

Music News

Fans have long been wondering when the Beatles will finally come to iTunes. Well, according to Yoko Ono, not anytime soon. John Lennon's widow recently said fans shouldn‘t hold their breath, adding “There’s just an element that we're not very happy about, as people. We are holding out.” But, rest assured, that when Apple Inc. and Apple Corps. do come to an agreement, digital sales will start flying. When the Beatles released their reissues last year, they sold 2.25 million copies in the first five days of release.

Lady Gaga has a record breaking 13 nominations for MTV Video Music Awards. But, ironically, her videos will no longer be available on MTV.com. Gaga's label Universal has decided to take all its content off the music channel's website and show them instead on the label-owned Vevo. Jim and Greg think it will be interesting to see what kind of industry influence MTV can sustain without much music content on its airwaves or website.

Sometimes life does imitate art. "If I Was President" singer Wyclef Jean is, in fact, running for president. The Haitian born former Fugee announced his official candidacy for president of the devastated nation last week. While Jean faces a number of barriers on his road to the office, including controversies regarding his charities and taxes and, of course, celebrity, this got Jim and Greg thinking about some other pop politicos including Sonny Bono, who served in Congress and as the mayor of Palm Springs, Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil, who is an Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives and is the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, and The Doobie Brothers' Jeff“Skunk”Baxter who now serves as a defense consultant and chairs a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense.

Go to episode 246