HOT: U.K. Venue Heroes
The “selfie stick” (literally an elongated stick narcissists can place their smartphones on to take better pics of themselves) is a hot item right now, but if you’re in the U.K., there are a handful of big music venues that won’t let you in with them. London’s The O2 and the SSE Arena Wembley are among the heroic British music venues that have banned the sticks, citing safety and obstructed views as reasons. Sadly, regular selfies and general smartphone overuse are still permitted, so if you’re headed to England soon and plan to catch a concert, rest assured that you will still be annoyed, just like in the States.
WARM: Playlist Diss
Last year, two San Francisco radio stations “banned” Lorde’s song “Royals” during the World Series because Kansas City’s baseball team, the Royals, were playing the Bay Area’s Giants. Perhaps because the Giants won the series, a Milwaukee radio station recently took things further and nixed all Seattle-spawned music from its playlist as the nearby Green Bay Packers prepared to play football against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. That meant everyone from Nirvana and Pearl Jam to Heart and Jimi Hendrix (reportedly all normally in regular rotation) were forbidden on the airwaves. Seattle radio responded by not playing any artists from Green Bay. Or maybe those stations just don’t play Soul Asylum anymore (Dave Pirner is by far the most famous Rock musician from the city). This time, the superstitious playlist stunt backfired and the Seahawks emerged victorious.
COLD: Tale of the Tape
The odd return of cassette tapes, which began a few years back with underground musical acts offering them as unique merch items for fans, is continuing. According to Nielsen’s numbers, overall sales of cassette albums were down slightly last year, but now big corporate labels are getting in on the action. The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (based on the cassette mixtape the film’s star clings onto in the film), was released by Disney and ended up the second highest-selling cassette of 2014 with just 2,300 copies sold. (A 2002 album by late Mexican singer Cuco Sánchez somehow managed to top the soundtrack in sales, shifting 2,600 units.) Not huge numbers, but U.K. retailer Argos recently reported a boost in the sales of cassette players in recent months; a spokesperson said they believed older music fans were buying them in order to listen to tapes from their past. Meanwhile, dusty 8-track tapes are screaming from basements and attics across the world, “What about us?!”