Who would have thought that receiving a free record by U2 from Apple would be so universally fobbed off as being manipulative, choreographed corporate hype, dated, corny and totally misunderstanding the mood of consumers, in general, and, especially, the changing tastes and attitudes of music fans who are no longer prepared to be sucker-punched by anyone- not even iconic brands and artists.

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What we have witnessed, and are continuing to witness as the fallout gathers momentum, are a number of brands losing their gloss and looking withered and goofy- not Apple, but the “brands” and credibility of CEO Tim Cook, Bono and U2.

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Frankly, can anyone remember U2’s last recording? Did it matter? And when exactly did Bono and his band start to unravel and be as relevant as Noddy and Big Ears in Toyland as opposed to an Irish bloke who was almost running for sainthood and some papal candidacy with his band being his devout disciples?

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It all shows just how little music matters today for which the blame should be squarely placed on all those misguided buffoons with their self-serving agendas who, under the pretext of “saving the music,” devalued it by advocating all this “rocking in the free world” crap, and advising artists- those desperate for a break- to give their art away for free to “gain a wider audience”.

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You flim flam men in Hong Kong, the UK, India and the US- know who you are- and, finally so do others as you try to tap dance away from the mess you’ve created, and now embrace other industries using that withered chestnut about how THESE now “matter” when it’s the same old con gift wrapped in different bandages.

The Save The Music bandwagon has had its wheels drop off, and so it’s on to the next con.

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As for music, the genie was let out of the bottle a decade ago, and it would be interesting to know which act has benefited from playing for free “in front of some of the biggest names in the music industry” at those banal music conferences that dangled this carrot in front of acts too naive to see the bullshit?

The music industry still has “big names”? There is still a “music industry”? Really? Ever worked with a music company recently and experienced, first hand, total incompetence and creative and marketing boffins?

The Department of Really Stupid Ideas: 'Most people think they just appear out of thin air! But the truth is, there's a great deal of very hard work involved!'

What’s laughable was when an act that’s very much part of my team were approached last year to perform at a music conference in Singapore.

These people “LURVED” the music, baby. Name cards were handed out, pleasantries exchanged, and when the name of the organiser of the event was mentioned, I cringed.

Ask them who’s paying for the travel and accommodation, I said, and how much they’re paying for the performance, which they did and the reply was exactly what was expected: A roaring silence. They expected another free lunch in exchange for the dubious “honour” of- altogether now- “some of the biggest names in the music industry”.

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Con artists, their groupies and cheering squads like these are everywhere. They are parasites- but worse- and are suddenly there for you when they smell an opportunity, or need a helping hand to stop the truth from getting out there and damaging their “brand”.

Yes, they’re users, abusers and full-time losers who have bought into their own bullshit.

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It’s like the bloke bouncing around the Twitterverse saying he works for Simon Cowell, and is the man responsible for finding acts for UK’s X Factor.

Call his bluff and he disappears along with those online “talent scouts” supposedly representing this and that music company.

Jeez, at least find a decent con as who, in this and age, trusts a music company, or wishes to sign their life away to become a performing monkey on a television karaoke competition and be judged by failed artists like Hong Kong’s Coco Lee, who has made more comebacks than the very dead Michael Jackson.

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Don Henley might have sung about “The End Of The Innocence”, but looking at what’s going on now- like the scant regard for one-time untouchables like U2- we are witnessing The End Of The Plastic Fantastic.

No longer are many of us impressed, or gullible enough, to be taken in by “big names” in the entertainment industry who approach us.

Names are just names, and these people are often the geographically-challenged, trying to get into Asia with some daft ideas for movies, or yet another conference or television show idea by coasting on past glories and looking for investors in this region.

The point is that we have seen their inability to deliver anything other than a laundry list of broken promises littering roads from Mumbai to Hong Kong to Mainland China.

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Remember all that talk from these “big names” about turning so many artists from Asia and Greater China- always females- into “international superstars”, and all the excitement of those ubiquitous “East/West collaborations” that never happened for the simple reason that they were daft ideas that would never have attracted an audience?

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Sticking some tablas, sitars and erhus onto a Rock track and dragging in dear old Asha Bhosle to collaborate with some Western artist for “ethnicity” might have been the curry de jour a decade ago. But, where did any of this lead other than wasted time and money down the vindaloo?

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Didn’t all that East-West chop suey start and stop with the two “One Giant Leap” recordings?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA26XwqKA8Q

So, when one sees the utter contempt by the media, and, especially, consumers for Apple’s Tim Cook and U2’s Bono, it offers hope that we are no longer impressed by names, and that, perhaps, the DIY world will be revived, and where we never ever give our art or ideas away for free, that we won’t be bullied or chump-changed by flim flam people, and we grow massive balls to tackle sacred cows- and win- without needing those other parasites known as “entertainment lawyers”, “managers”, “agents” and “promoters” and all the two-bit Bernie Madoff’s out there.

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The key is for us Asians to stop being fawning sycophants doing somersaults like middle-aged groupies at every has-been that comes out to this region with a pocketful of mumbles that are promises.

Surely, we’ve now learnt the hard way that depending on these shuck and jive merchants and their sidekicks out here is a futile exercise in singing, I never promised you a rose garden?

Dear old Coco Lee, Karen Mok, Tata Young, Jolin Tsai, Tia Yuan, Sa Ding-ding, and so many others were promised so much by one-time big name musicians and “entrepreneurs”.

But, after years of sleepy hollow words, it all became a clutter of of empty Deepak Chopras and some goofy attempts to tap into the India and Mainland China markets.

But why and what for?

Here was that long tail of two different worlds wagging the dog and making loud sucking sounds at each other.

India is an impossible market to enter into unless prepared to dance the Bollywood Shuffle and pay several different pipers with outstretched hands needing their palms greased.

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Same goes for Mainland China or Korea or Japan and where everyone from Rain to Wong Lee-hom and Jay Chou were going to be the new “International superstar”.

What worked for a short while was K-Pop- but disappeared just as quickly as it had no legs and when the goings on surrounding ageism, severe plastic surgery, and depression prevalent by those trying to be K-Pop stars was revealed. It was as bad as child labour in Nike sweat shops.

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The Apple-Cook-Bono-U2 balls-up shows arrogant corporate manipulation gone very wrong. It also says calling time on all those empty vessels making the loudest noises as their gravy trains are finally being derailed and those duped into investing in companies and ventures are now calling in their favours along with their chips.

The gig’s up.

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Hans Ebert
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance and Fast Track Global Ltd
www.fasttrack.hk

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