Subscriptions are winning

New digital services are turning the UK into a country of subscribers rather than entertainment buyers as music follows video and games to become a majority ‘rental’ market for the first time, according to figures revealed in the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) Yearbook, published today (March 5).

Revenues for paid-for music subscription services rose 38% in 2018 to £829m with the result that subscription now accounts for 62% of total recorded music revenues. Ownership formats like CDs, vinyl LPs and downloads now only account for 38% of revenues… More here.

This doesn’t surprise me because potentially they offer better value than buying media individually.

BritBox is not a Netflix rival

The BBC and ITV’s newly announced BritBox – a joint streaming service – is a bizarre example of British broadcasters deciding “to work together in the national interest”, to borrow a phrase currently popular in Westminster.

Facing potentially ruinous competition from US streaming giants, led by Netflix and Amazon Prime, Britain’s oldest broadcasters are trying to claim a Blighty stake in the increasingly global, but largely American-financed, TV market. The venture submerges (if not necessarily suspending) decades of rivalry between the BBC and ITV so intense that both sides keep their schedules secret until the last minute to avoid giving the other any advantage… More here.

I understand why these two broadcasters see the need to do something about the changing ways we consume content, but there are significant problems ahead.

The first two I see are that it will be tiny in comparison to the current big boys and the second is the fact that we in the UK have to pay a licence fee to watch TV and to get the BBC without adverts. So, we pay for the BBC content to be made already so how likely is it that people will want to pay again for the same content?

25 scenes 25 years

Sometimes, all it takes is a single scene to change moviemaking for good. (“Rosebud . . .” comes to mind.) And while many of the last quarter-century’s films have awed, inspired, and offered up iconic entries into the cultural canon, only some—and particularly, only a few individual moments—have genuinely influenced how future films were made. So, what makes that list? To mark the 25th edition of the Hollywood Issue, Vanity Fair’s film critics pinpointed 25 film scenes since 1995 that changed the industry, the art form, and even the culture, and our reporters spoke to the performers and filmmakers who made them happen… More here.

If you can, go to the link above on your iPhone. The site looks and works fantastically on mobile.

Bohemian Rhapsody (film) thoughts

As you know, Queen are the best band that ever lived. They are better than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and even Boyzone…

When I was 11 I was playing snooker round a friend’s house and he asked me if I liked Queen. I had never heard of them, but after 30 minutes of the Greatest Hits I was intrigued, excited and clamouring to hear more.

Over the next few years every birthday and Christmas would bring me new Queen albums until I owned them all, and then the collecting continued until they numbered in the hundreds.

I know every Queen song inside out, I could tell you the month each album was released and I could tell you the track listing for every album, and which which member of Queen wrote each song. This is not deliberate, this is just the way it is when you grew up with a passion to make up for the standard anxieties of being a teenager.

Of the plus 500 songs Queen have recorded there are probably three that I do not like and more than 100 that I believe to be exceptional. The rest are on the whole better than any other artist could manage and so the band is very important to me and always will be.

I wasn’t expecting much from the film and indeed was expecting to be letdown. This is Queen, how could a film come close to what I already know. I was expecting to criticise the factual nature of the storyline, but on the whole I couldn’t. A couple of parts felt twisted to be more interesting, such as the way the band were excited about John Deacon playing Another One Bites The Dust for the first time. My understanding is that the song barely made the album it ended up on.

Rami Malek is both brilliant and annoying as Freddie Mercury. He mimics his onstage persona brilliantly and looks like him most of the time. However, I struggle to believe that Freddie spoke the way Malek does in the film – at times he almost makes Mercury sound simple and barely human which seems strange.

The plot is quite shallow with the characters of Brian, Roger and John not being fleshed out in any way and leaving them as bit parts against the overpowering personality of Mercury. It highlights how they all wrote the music, but here we have an astonishing collection of people capable of writing huge hits that no other band has collectively managed to do. Brian May (We Will Rock You, Who Wants To Live Forever), Roger Taylor (Radio Ga Ga, A Kind of Magic), John Deacon (Another One Bites The Dust, I Want to Break Free), Freddie Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody To love etc) – they all wrote wonderful songs and it was not fleshed out enough in the movie to highlight this, and the collective nature of their writing was also largely ignored.

The growing popularity of the band was also very simple with a seemingly unhindered route to success just happening without any real problems, apart from the problems Freddie faced being controlled by the evil Irishman. Even then, a couple of the lines were not factual, but it didn’t get in the way.

As the film gains momentum near the end we reach the Live Aid performance. That Live Aid performance which is still considered by many to be the best 20 minutes of live music ever.

The way it is filmed and the audio that runs in the background, the original audio of the performance, is extraordinary. My wife and daughter thought the same and we all had tears in our eyes as it played out. Not through sadness, but through the sheer immersive nature of the production. I can’t explain it, you will have to see it to understand what I mean, but that last 20 minutes is worth the price of admission on its own. It is quite amazing even if the rest of the film is slightly confusing. The film is, however, still the best I have seen in 10 years, and marginally better than A Star Is Born which is also a superb offering.

Little-known facts about all of our favorite movies

Whether it’s all the Easter eggs in the most recent episode of “Riverdale” or a fan theory that connects all the kingdoms in the Disney universe, behind-the-curtain trivia is undeniably fascinating.

That’s why a Twitter thread of little-known movie facts is totally blowing our minds right now… More at Insider.

David Amador has posted a selection of facts that really are surprising. It shows that when you dig a little deeper, there is a lot to learn.

app: the human story

App: The Human Story is about my people. It’s a loving portrait of a culture that I adore and the people who make it go. The film deftly threads together stories and ideas from the communities and craftspeople who dedicate their lives to the common goal of empowering humanity through software. And by the end, the viewer senses a rich tapestry of tension and triumph that make up the universe of this new cultural unit of progress—the app—and the reasons why it will propel us into a better future.

Can see this appealing to a few of you.

SEAM – The Film

In the not-too-distant future, a tenuous peace between humans and remarkably humanlike “machines”—some don’t even know they’re not real—is tested when synthetics begin spontaneously exploding. A military-led search for these unwitting suicide bombers begins, sending a terrified machine woman and her human partner on the run.

Superb. Thanks to Bob.