The Apple Watch

It’s overpriced.
It doesn’t do anything.
It’s a me-too product.
I don’t need it.
I don’t want it.

Sound familiar?

That’s exactly what we heard about the iPod back in 2001. And that went on to change music forever! You overpaid, the price came down, you replaced your original, you owned multiple iterations and you never played your CDs again.

I find the Apple Watch backlash hysterical. It’s as if we’ve got to repeat the movie endlessly, unlike in “Groundhog Day” never learning our lesson. Meanwhile, the press echoes our concerns and truth doesn’t out.

Bottom line, wearables are here to stay. I go nowhere without my Fitbit, soon I’ll replace it with an Apple Watch.

There goes my Rolex! Yup, the concept of wristwatch as jewelry is about to go out the window, that is if the only thing the watch does is tell time. Switzerland should be very afraid. Because youngsters have rejected it, high-priced timepieces cater to the elder classes, young people find them unnecessary.

But young people need to know the time. And for this they remove their mobile devices from their pockets in excess of a hundred times a day. You mean you don’t want to eliminate this behavior?

And they’re not only looking for the time. They want to read their messages, whether they be e-mail, texts, iMessages or… How convenient would it be to have all that information just a glance away?

Furthermore, applications unknown are on the horizon. What made the iPhone so great were the apps. As will be the case with the Apple Watch. It’s gonna do stuff you can’t contemplate.

Because you’re not a techie, you can’t see the future.

But you do want to be a member of the group.

So am I guaranteeing the Apple Watch will be a success? No, although I think it will be. I find it especially interesting that it only works with the iPhone for now, this is what boosted Apple to begin with, the ecosystem, sure you could eventually buy your MP3s from Amazon but why would you when iTunes featured seamless integration. Once again, Apple is going for a monopoly, and if that word scares you you haven’t read Peter Thiel’s recent screed, you probably have no idea who Peter Thiel even is.

So it comes with the ability to monitor your health, and to read and respond to your messages. The Apple Watch will do so much more, just wait and see.

So ignore the blowback. Ignore the press ginning up an uneducated story. Wearable devices are the next front in computing.

Oh, that’s right, you didn’t need a computer either. Until everybody was on AOL and you wanted to play.

It’s always about the killer app. Hardware is just a gateway to software. And it’s the integration of the two that ends up winning. Which is how Apple got to its vaunted position to begin with.

Sure, Samsung and Motorola can make watches. But they’re ugly and hard to use. The Apple Watch improves upon them the same way the iPod improved upon the Rio and the NOMAD. You don’t always have to create to break the model, sometimes redefining is just fine.

So who cares if Android ultimately competes. Who cares if Luddites don’t see a need. Who cares if you can buy a digital wristwatch for much less.

You should care that you live in an era where educated people are harnessing technology to make your life easier. Sure, they’re getting rich along the way, but you’re the one who’s paying them.

Because you need to have it. The same way you needed that Beatles album. You don’t want to be left out, you want to be a member of the club. And before long, you can’t live without it.

As for battery life… Let me see, my old Nokia lasted weeks and my smartphones just make it through the day. Am I really that worried that I’ve got to plug my watch in every night?

Pull back the lens. We’re at the advent of a whole new paradigm. One in which all our information is just a glance away and we’re monitoring our systems 24/7. Yup, your car’s computer will tell you not only your mileage, but how far you can go until empty. Don’t you want to know the same thing about your body?

You will. And so much more.

Guy Oseary/U2

“U2’s Manager Responds to Backlash: If You Don’t Like This Gift, Delete It”

Speaking of tone deaf scumbags…

The spam problem is all over the news, I have to delete hundreds of messages a day, but when U2 does it it’s legitimate.

Ugh.

It’s almost like they don’t live in the real world, like they think their crap doesn’t stink, like since their intentions are good, we can’t question their actions.

Ever think of the consequences?

Meanwhile, they’re spinning plates at warp speed. They get “Rolling Stone” to write about old U2 music climbing the iTunes charts and then trumpet this b.s. all over the Internet. Give me the volume, not the chart number. If you think being on the sales chart counts today, you probably don’t have a Spotify account, never mind children addicted to YouTube.

But there you have America in a nutshell. If I just say something long enough and loud enough I win.

Used to be our favorite acts were part of the solution, not part of the problem, but that was back before they were all emulating Silicon Valley titans and their main goal was to get enough money to get away from their fans.

Meanwhile, at least Apple got the message:

“Apple Lets You Preserve Your Musical Taste With A U2 Album Removal Tool”

Make a mistake and correct it, don’t double down and say it’s the user’s fault.

Then again, tech is about improvement, tweaking while you go along, U2 is about making a full-length album in an era where no one has time to listen and trumpeting they’re getting paid, as if they didn’t have a rich deal with Live Nation and weren’t rolling in dough.

Come on, is that the big issue here? That no one will pay for art?

The truth is they are, via both YouTube and Spotify and its clones. And with the Internet distribution is cheaper and there are more ways to reach people and monetize. Because in every revolution something is gained and something is lost, but what’s gained is more important. Like my ability to speak back to the machine.

And don’t tell me you love U2, I could give a flying… Every band has fans. But does that give us them the right to demand our attention, to invade our devices? When Obama speaks is it illegal to tune out, does he push his words to our devices, HELL NO!

But I want to thank Oseary and U2. Because the result of their stunt will be that no one will ever do it again. Yup, it took an act this big for the public to raise its head and complain in unison that we don’t like push, that we want to pull the content we want when we want it and it’s the responsibility of distributors to heed our wishes.

So we’ve got power, rejoice in that.

And know that the issue is bigger than U2.

But it’s representative of the music business at large. Which has doubled down on its old paradigm, turning up the hype machine to a level so high most of us laugh. Every week they trumpet something new and desirable that we’ve got no problem living without. We don’t care about U2, we don’t care about Tom Petty, and we don’t want to hear their new music.

Most of us, that is.

And these ancient acts can’t get over the fact that the game has changed, that they used to have most people’s attention and now they don’t. It’s like they’re lost in the eighties and refuse to remove their blinders.

So either live in your niche or create something the rest of us want to pull from obscurity, that we want to luxuriate in and tell everybody about.

But viral is too hard for these people. Stunt videos no longer work. Buckling down and putting it all into the music is a challenge, especially when your lawyer is calling about your real estate or you want to buy an NFL team.

So now we’re in a game of who can shout the loudest. My inbox will fill up with naysayers, believers in U2. Bono’s team will keep the spin machine humming.

But they’re no match against the army of millions. Yes, the public that truly runs this world. Once distribution is flattened, once everybody can play, it’s truly a race not to the bottom, but of quality. And Guy Oseary and U2 just don’t get it.

Make a track that speaks for itself. Cut YouTube covers. Hell, I’ve gotten more e-mail about Miley Cyrus covering Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” than I have about U2’s new music.

Come down off your throne and interact with us.

It’s a whole new ball game.

And it requires a hell of a lot of work. There are no shortcuts. And too many old people just want to cry in their beer and lament the game has changed.

The game certainly has. And someday someone will harness this Internet and deliver something that speaks to everybody and means something.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to give props to Madonna. She needs a hit. So she’s working with Avicii and Diplo and the rest of those who understand the modern game.

To live outside the law you must be honest. U2 forgot this mantra. They want to straddle the fence, live on both sides. But either you sell your soul for a hit or you do it your way.

Then again, McDonald’s is floundering, because they thought burgers were for everyone, recession and trend-proof, just like Coca-Cola. But today’s young consumers have rejected both, just like they’ve done with U2’s new music.

One Direction At The Rose Bowl

It was incomprehensible.

Furthermore, if you weren’t there you probably didn’t know it happened, despite the act selling out two dates and nearly a third, on a Thursday, a school night.

And that was who were there. Students. Girls. Wanna get laid? Go to a 1D show. You won’t see odds this good at the prison of “Orange Is The New Black.” An endless sea of barely pubescent girls, screaming their heads off. You’d think it was the new Beatles.

Only it wasn’t.

Maybe these kids know the Beatles. But they’ve got no idea who U2 is, never mind want to hear their music. And U2 didn’t sell as many tickets in Pasadena. Because the generations have changed and those in charge don’t want to admit it.

You’re done. History. Kaput. Your children have replaced you. Because they’ve got one thing you do not, PASSION!

There wasn’t the endless stream to the bathroom. The constant walla-walla. The girls were paying attention. Because they needed to. This was everything to them.

The opening act was Five Seconds Of Summer, and I kept listening for the hard drives, but there were none. Yes, the popsters faking it should be very afraid, because 5SOS could actually play! And sing! And harmonize! I was nearly flabbergasted. This is not how it’s supposed to be!

But they’re Australian. The Aussie acts have always been superior players. Because down under you earn your stripes gig by gig, if you don’t deliver live, you’ve got no chance.

But 5SOS were not the Beatles. That’s the problem with both the youngsters and the oldsters, there’s nothing new. That’s why there’s hysteria for the iPhone 6 and shrugs for so much music. So you can replicate what’s been done before…once upon a time music was about pushing the envelope! There was no Jethro Tull before Jethro Tull, never mind the Ramones!

But 5SOS delivered. In front of a set particularized to them. Yup, open for a monster rock act and they’ll ask you to beg for the privilege, treat you badly, keep the sound down. But 5SOS had their own backdrop.

As for 1D…

Here you’ve got an act with just a few hits selling beaucoup tickets. And you may think you’ve seen it before, but New Kids On The Block was not this big.

I started asking questions. Lisa told me that she’d worked both, and in the case of 1D all the members were appealing, every fan had her favorite.

And sure, Harry Styles is an international icon…

But what did impress me about Harry was how nonchalant he was. Just before he went on he was offering us cupcakes. Isn’t he supposed to be in his dressing room, angsting away?

Cynics might say it’s because he doesn’t play an instrument.

But that’s part of the act’s success. That it’s kind of a lark. And they and the audience are all in it together.

And the production was spectacular. And the girls knew every word and sang them. And if you’re somebody who lives in Ferrari/gated community culture you’d be completely flummoxed. As you would be if you’re into retro vinyl, if you haunt club gigs, if you listen to people with bad voices sing their plaintive songs and then bitch that they can’t make any money.

Money? One Direction does over $20 a head in merch. And if you don’t know merch numbers, that’s like someone in major league baseball hitting .650. Positively unheard of.

So I’m not sure what it all means.

I will tell you that radio is not as powerful as it keeps saying it is. Because 1D has not dominated radio. This is the power of the Internet, where kids can discover acts and interact with and talk about them and feel connected in a way we never did when we were addicted to the transistor.

And with music so available, even if you don’t own the album you can play. It’s extremely democratic. Sure, you can beg your parents for the download souvenir, but you can play these tracks on YouTube to your heart’s content. You can sing cover versions that you post on the same service. You can own the act, you can participate.

And you can fantasize about one of the five.

Let me tell you, despite being one of the lone males in a sea of tens of thousands of females, what stunned me is nobody was radiating any sexuality, nobody was dressed like a slut, nobody was making eyes trying to get ahead. This was more like puppy love, even if dirty old men would say some of these girls were fully grown.

1D were their hope and dream. Seeing them completed a circle. And how momentary can it be when tickets went on sale a full year before the performances?

So these girls will grow up and…

I don’t know. I don’t see them just jumping into the usual pop arena.

And look at Five Seconds Of Summer, they’re nothing if not a band. Makes you want to go into the garage and practice.

And the girls got all this. They were not complaining.

And believe me, those backstage weren’t either.

Because the truth is it’s a new music business. And the only way to get ahead is to wipe the slate clean and start over.

Like One Direction and Simon Cowell and Modest Management.

Credit Cowell for having the vision to put this together. Forget criticizing his on screen personality, that’s faded in the U.S. anyway. Cowell might have been caustic, but first and foremost he was smart.

And Modest is run by those who’ve lived through the years you reflect upon so fondly. But wanting to continue in this business Richard Griffiths and Harry Magee are not wedded to the past. And let’s also credit their partner Steve Barnett, who helped make both acts big in the U.S. Barnett and Griffiths go way back.

So in some ways it’s no different. It’s about relationships. It’s about experience. It’s about mania. It’s about music.

But I still can’t wrap my head around it. Exactly why were all those girls there? Exactly why were they all so rabid? 1D is cute and the songs are catchy but does that equal three stadium dates?

Today it does.

Sunday Thought

Why is everybody a scumbag?

I think it started with Bill Clinton, who lied under oath. If the President doesn’t care about the truth, why should I?

But a good case can be made for going back to Reagan, who legitimized greed. The baby boomers went from love one another to screw one another over the course of his Presidency, and our society has never been the same since. Income inequality began with his tenure, and now the gulf between rich and poor is so deep, those on the wrong end have no hope, they don’t believe they can get to the other side.

But the 2008 economic crash put a stake in the middle class’s heart, well, what was left of it. Not only did the bankers rape and pillage, they got off scot-free. Financiers encouraged falsehoods in order to get rich, that’s what the mortgage crisis was all about, and the working man who was blamed ended up upside down in his house, if he still had one at all.

So no one wants to pay taxes. You see fat cats like Mitt Romney paying less than you do and you have no desire to contribute to the coffer. People flee to other states to avoid sales taxes and Amazon fights paying them at all. And you want me to do the right thing?

Doing the right thing. That’s what the so-called “Greatest Generation” was all about. Even if it delivered no riches, even if it granted no fame, even if no one was paying attention, character counted, you had to live up to a moral code, which also included taking care of your brother.

That was the ethos of the sixties. Don’t be too hard on the baby boomers. Yup, they broke away from their parents who they considered to be old-fashioned and hopelessly out of touch, but they instituted hippie culture, which was based on the precept that we were all in it together, that we had to look after each other, that we had to love each other. The older generation was stunned when there were no deaths at Woodstock.

But then the elixir that drove the movement succumbed to greed. Yup, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead were all about giving back, Led Zeppelin was all about lining its pockets. And corporations bought the labels. And music became first and foremost a business, until it was eclipsed by tech and ran out of gas, because the best and the brightest abandoned it the same way white people flee when African-Americans move into their neighborhood.

Now the rich have flown. Literally in their own private jets, but they also reside behind gates or doormen and even vacation at different spots.

But what bothers me is the way lying has been legitimized. We throw our hands up at e-mail spam, it’s something we have to live with. We’re stunned when Target loses our credit cards. We never turn the spotlight upon ourselves, ask ourselves about our behavior, what we can do to make things better. And primarily we don’t do this because it doesn’t pay. In today’s society, if there’s no economic benefit, people are out.

The same way they refuse to sacrifice. That was another tenet of the Greatest Generation handed down to their children. You had to sacrifice for the greater good. But today no one can lose their job, no one can lose a step in order to help those at the rear. It’s like people want to live in a museum, populated by record stores and book stores. As if they hadn’t studied the Middle Ages and were unaware of the penalties of stagnation.

And even the states are in on the act. Not only do they refuse to provide infrastructure, with Chris Christie dooming a tunnel into New York, but they compete against each other to bring corporations to their states with tax incentives. Hollywood is no longer a hotbed of filmmaking, producers go wherever it’s cheapest, bitching about piracy all the while. Huh?

And Elon Musk builds his battery factory in Nevada because that state gives more incentives than Tesla’s home base of California. Screw what’s good for workers, for my home economy. Hell, didn’t that Facebook guy move to Singapore to avoid paying taxes?

Give Paul McCartney credit. Unlike the Stones and U2, he stayed in England, he paid, because he realized that without your homeland and your friends, wealth is nothing.

But the shenanigans of the rich and powerful have infected the rank and file. People feel fine having handicapped placards, even though they’re fully ambulatory. They feel no duty to fill out forms accurately. And then, without million dollar lawyers, they’re the ones who go to jail, because they don’t understand culpability and intent.

And the goal is to sell out to the corporation, as if it were your rich dad, as opposed to a soulless entity looking to merge with a foreign enterprise to avoid paying corporate taxes all together.

And public schools often suck, so you lie to get your kid into a better one, saying they live with a relative, or you work the angles to get into a private one.

And once you’ve got it rigged, you want to shut the door. Pull the plug on public schools you’ve left behind.

Acts scalp their own tickets.

Legislators care about lobbyists, not constituents.

Political campaigns are about disinformation, who can yell inaccuracies loudest.

It’s every man for himself in America today. And since those lauded in the media are shaving points, those further down the economic totem pole believe this is legitimate and do so themselves.

So today life is a pinball machine wherein you must be fully aware, recover from being banged around by the bumpers, and avoid falling into holes and tilting.

We’ve got no leaders, no one speaking to the regular people telling them to do the right thing.

Jay Z sells out to Samsung. U2 sells out to Apple, and then forces its wares upon us. And we’re powerless, we’ve got no choice and no rights.

So when these fat cats screw us do you really expect us to be honorable? Even though Samsung never knocks on your door, even though the corporation doesn’t want to sponsor you?

Of course not.

So it’s the same as it always was…

Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parking meters

Yup, Bob Dylan told us to wake up and reject those in power.

Today we emulate them, they’re just like us. Out for themselves.

And the parking meters expire when one car leaves, another doesn’t get the benefit of the overtime, the city sold out to the man who guaranteed revenue, and you’re furiously pumping in quarters, knowing that if you don’t keep it up, not only are you gonna fall behind, you’re going to be kicked out of your spot, your home, your school. In a land of desperation, everybody’s desperate.

Welcome to the club.