Is X Factor good for music industry?

Having been invited to guest edit the Radio 4 Today programme recently,  Damon Albarn cited the instant celebrity culture of tv shows such as X Factor as the source of society’s ills.

“You have to get rid of things like the X Factor immediately” said Albarn, “It sends out all the wrong messages”. He believes that it sends out the wrong messages by suggesting that you can get something for nothing and that it is easy to acquire status and fame “which is rubbish. It should be one of the hardest things to do.”

Albarn’s comments caused a stir in the music industry who have become somewhat reliant on the X Factor to bolster record sales.

Record giant HMV hit back by saying that “X Factor does raise the expectations of some people with no talent, but it is a way of introducing genuine talent  direct to the public.”

Is X Factor to blame?In another era it would just be simple entertainment. I believe that the press and magazine’s that promote the instant celebrity culture are as much to blame by printing endless crap about people that I don’t know and don’t want to know.

Sky Arts Centre Stage music show

For those of you with Sky cable TV, there is a stripped down no nonsense music show called Centre Stage on the Sky Arts Channel (253).

Centre Stage started on 1 December with From The Basement, a brand new groundbreaking music series with intimate live performances, allowing the artists to really take centre stage. The first of the series saw performances by The White Stripes, Neil Gannon  (of The Divine Comedy) and The Shins – who get my vote for best album of the year. There are no annoying presenters, no Top Of The Pops like rent-a-crowd and no dizzy camera effects.  Each week artists old and new play a few songs in the studio basement flanked only by the production team and roadies.

Tonight’s performances include PJ Harvey and  the wonderfully fabulous Super Furry Animals.

The Centre Stage series will also include legendary live footage including Stones In The Park film of the Rolling Stones 1969 concert in Hyde Park that took place just days after Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool; and David Bowie in Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars, in their last ever show at the Hammersmith Odeon from 1973.

You can watch video clips of previous performances on the Centre Stage Microsite

Here is the line-up so far:

1 December 2007: From the Basement: The White Stripes. The Shins & Neil Hannon
8 December 2007: From the Basement: Thom Yorke, Albert Hammond Jr (The Strokes) & The Envelopes
15 December 2007: From the Basement: Beck, Jarvis Cocker & Jamie Lidell (Super Collider)
22 December 2007: From the Basement: Sonic Youth, Jose Gonzalez and Laura Marling
29 December 2007: From the Basement: Super Furry Animals, PJ Harvey, Operator Please and Free Blood
5 January 2008: From the Basement: Damien Rice, Autolux, E (Eels) and Architecture in Helsinki
12 Jan 2007: Queen and Paul Rodgers – Return of the Champions
19 Jan 2008: The Stones in the Park
26 January 2008: Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night
2 February 2008: Eric Clapton and Friends: Band du Lac
9 February 2008: The Pixies Acoustic
16 February 2008: Eric Clapton: Crossroads
23 February 2008: Elvis Costello Live in Montreal featuring Allen Toussaint
1 March 2008: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
8 March 2008: Elvis Costello and the Impostors: Live in Memphis

Broadcast times
Sat 29 Dec 2007 9:00pm – 9:50pm
Thu 03 Jan 2008 10:00pm – 11:00pm
Sat 05 Jan 2008 1:00am – 2:00am
Sat 05 Jan 2008 11:30am – 12:30pm

CSS & Feist sales rocket after iPod adverts

CSS have an 18 year old political science student at Leeds University to thank for Apple using their song, Music is My Hot, Hot Sex, in their latest iPod Touch advert. After listening to their debut album Cansei de Ser Sexy Nick Haley heard the song and because of the line My music is where I’d like you to touch in their song Music is My Hot, Hot Sex he decided to make an advert for the iPod Touch and uploaded it to You Tube.

Apparently, Haley’s advert came to the attention of Apple employees which resulted in Apple flying the UK student to Los Angeles and creating a professional version of the advert.

Matthew Ingram reports that before the launch of the Apple iPod Touch advert, the CSS album was selling approximately 340 copies per week. After the ad was shown on MTV, the record sold more than 2,000 copies in two weeks.

Apple have helped the careers of other less popular artists by introducing their music to a wider audience via iPod adverts such as the wonderful Feist. Her album The Reminder also rocketed after the song 1,2,3,4 was used for the Apple iPod Nano advert.

The alternative folk artist Leslie Feist certainly benefited from the exposure as well as the added sales of having their song introduced to millions of new listerners, worldwide. reported in America the record sold 31,000 its first week and 21,000 the next. On Sept. 9, when the Feist song 1 2 3 4 was aired for the Apple iPod video Nano, the band was averaging 6,000 record sales weekly for a grand total of 216,000.

in the coming weeks Feist’s sales continued to grow in America. Weekly sales for The Reminder by Feist improved to 14,000 the first week, 19,000 the second, 28,000 the third and 20,000 four weeks into the ad campaign.

“I would contend that anything above 6,000 in those weeks was driven 100 percent by the iPod ad,” said Phil Gallo, a music industry expert and Variety associate editor. “That’s eight grand the first week, then 13,000, 22,000 and 14,000. (In all) nearly 60,000 bonus sales in one month.”

This isn’t the first time the music of Feist has been used for a tv advert. The awesome Mushaboom was used for the Lacoste advert.

My favourite introduction to a band via a tv commercial was when John Lewis used a little known and very rare b-side called Loose Nuke Attack by J.S.T.A.R.S. back in 2004.

A great source for songs used in tv commercials is the Commericl Breaks and Beats website.