Sean O'Connell - Reviews editor, Rip & Burn, music download magazine

17.03.05

First day back post-deadline means the day is spent sorting out the
200 or so CDs that have been sent in over the past couple of weeks. The
Rip & Burn colour-coding and alphabetical filing system is cranked
up and the next eight hours are spent listening to music. A few too
many singersongwriters with an intimate knowledge of Van Morrison for
comfort, but it looks like being a good month.

Pick of today’s postbag is the new album from Liverpool
psych-rockers The Coral. Unfortunately, the copy protection on the CD
means that we can’t get it to play in any computer in the office and we
don’t have a proper stereo.

It would be nice to say that this is
us making a statement; adopting the mindset of the hardcore (legal)
downloader who sold his CD collection on eBay and cackles into his
Bluetooth headset at the very idea of ‘”physical product”. But it’s
not. We don’t have a stereo because What HiFi?, who occupy the floor
below, have spotted the gap in their cupboard and requested we don’t go
stealing from them again.

18.03.05

All music magazines are finding it increasingly difficult to get
hold of advance music for review, and every month there is a list of
major albums which are embargoed until the day of release – a massive
problem for a title working six to eight weeks ahead of release dates.

Such is the fear of piracy that record companies are willing to
forgo advance press. Playback sessions at record company offices are
becoming common too – not exactly the ideal circumstances for
critically appraising an artist’s work.

This month we won’t be
getting to hear the new Stevie Wonder, Black Eyed Peas or decrepit
metallers Nine Inch Nails. That last one really hurts.

In
response to these restrictions, 100 freelances have signed a letter
addressed to the heads of press at all the major labels. Angus Batey,
who has co-ordinated the letter via freelance web group
www.londonfreelance.net/nbt, gets in touch to see if I will help draft
a similar letter signed by reviews editors.

I am happy to get
involved and spend the afternoon roping in signatures. Most people are
fed up with the current system and are keen to sign up.

Read
though Mylo’s cuttings. We’re doing a feature on the Scottish dance
sensation in Miami next week and spend the afternoon brainstorming
ideas for the photoshoot. Can he roller skate in a kilt? Is there an
agency that will rent out silicone- enhanced ladies by the hour? Do we
have access to those small dogs you carry under your arm? Let’s hope so.

Motorola
is paying for the trip (hello Moto!) and is launching its
iTunes-equipped handset at M3, a spin-off event from the main Miami
Winter Music Conference. This should throw up a few good gadget stories
for us, which we’re always keen to push forwards.

Finish off the
day with some research into the rise of mobile music. In order to pay
back their 3G license fees all the operators are desperately hoping
that iPod-meets-mobile devices will be the next big thing. Most people
remain unconvinced about the demand for MOM (Music Over Mobile), and
that acronym isn’t helping matters.

21.03.05

Get a lot of positive feedback on a piece I did for the Observer Music Monthly at the weekend, which is nice.

Reviews commissioning gets into full swing. The twenty or so
reviewers pitch what they are interested in doing and I send them
things I want them to cover.

Take a look over the singles chart
in Music Week and see that my hot tip for 2005, MC Lady Sovereign, went
straight in at number 73. Phew! The power we command through the pages
of Rip & Burn.

Trawl around the MP3 blogs in the afternoon.
These are legally “grey” sites, which see fans uploading tracks on to
the net for limited periods. They are an invaluable tool for spotting
things you would have otherwise missed. Today, a leaked track from the
forthcoming Coldplay album is doing the rounds and a fierce debate has
kicked off due to its remarkable resemblance to Kraftwerk’s Computer
Love. No bad thing, is the general office consensus.

22.03.05

Work on a proposal for the Rip & Burn website, which I’m going
to edit when it launches in a blaze of glory later in the year. Lots of
good ideas floating around and the promotions people are very keen to
get behind it. Fingers crossed we get given some proper money for it.

Answer the ninth call of day for Classic FM. One of the directory
enquiry services has my direct line as the general switchboard number
for the station – the confusion is probably because Classic FM magazine
is published down the corridor (they have a stereo). This would
probably get very irritating were it not for the fact that all the
people who ring up Classic FM are mental: “I want to know what is
playing on the radio right NOW! Come on! It will be finished in a bit!”

The
next issue is coming together nicely, with strong records from
Gorillaz, Oasis and Four Tet and a whole raft of “next big things”
including Vitalic, Maximo Park and The Duke Spirit.

What Hifi? cave in and deliver a stereo. Result.

Finalise Miami preparations and agree to meet up with a few PRs who are also going out there. Leave early in order to pack.

23.03.05

Catch the Heathrow Express from Paddington just after 7am.

The flight leaves at 10am and I spend most of it catching up on
reading. Robert Sullivan’s book about rats in New York is excellent and
packed with great pub facts. Did you know a male rat will continue
mating with a female rat even if she’s dead?

Give Mylo’s album
another listen and make some more notes. Am met at the airport and
whisked away to the hotel for what should be a productive three days.

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