Despite reservations from SF Weekly columnist (and prominent tech reporter) Dan Mitchell, Pandora appears to be doing well since going public today. Like, really well. It's generated $235 million to investors, thus far, and the company is now valued at $3 billion. The New York Times reports that shares opened at $20 and rose as high as $26 over the course of the day. Still, the Weekly's music editor Ian S. Port has his doubts. He and Mitchell both pointed out that the cost of music royalties will probably always exceed the company's ad revenue, and that Pandora is always doomed to be a profit-losing operation. But try telling that to its underwriters — Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorganChase. Or any other investors enjoying the contact high of fast-growing Internet companies, many of which are defying expectations on the stock market. No one's forgotten the dot com bubble, but for now, shareholders are remarkably sanguine.
So tomorrow is Record Store Day, which means that despite the fact that scores of vinyl/cassette/CD purveyors have closed in the last decade or so, we should rejoice in the fact that many are still open. To celebrate their most-cherished existence, indie record stores across the country, and right here, will host live in-store performances and sell all kinds of special, limited-edition releases by your favorite artists. Here’s what’s going down:
What’s happening around the Bay in music? Lots! Let’s recap, shall we?
1. New Club Night in Oakland: When it comes to nightlife, Oakland is definitely on the come-up. But Starr Piwowarski says the city still lacks a “great dance night.” Which is why she helped start a new club night in Oakland called “Club Drama.”
Held at the Uptown on the last Thursday of the month, the event features “familiar indie dance tracks all while offering a large selection of electro and dance remixes to really give you that dance-club feeling that you can't find unless you make your way across the bridge,” wrote Piwowarski in an e-mail. Sample artists include Marina and the Diamonds, The Gossip, Dragonette, Martin Solveig, Ke$ha, Ladytron, The Presets, Amanda Blank, Crystal Castles, MSTRKRFT, Goldfrapp, Simian Mobile Disco, Peaches, and more.
Club Drama is also “queer positive,” she says. “With a full lineup of gay DJs, we welcome gay, straight, bi, transgendered, queer oriented and people of all ages over 21.” Club Drama had its first event last month. The next one will be held Thursday, April 28. $5. For more info.
2. Tonight, local rap duo Foreign Legion will premiere its new movie Night Moves, in tandem with the release of its new album of the same name (release date April 12). “It’s a sitcom about two struggling rappers who have just inked their first major-label deal, and are trying, against all odds, not to screw it up,” according to Express music editor Rachel Swan. Check it out the screening tonight at 8 p.m. at Disco Volante (347 14th St., Oakland), followed by a live performance by Foreign Legion.
Speaking of hip-hop and movies, check out the trailer for the Beastie Boys’ new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (release date May 3), featuring a redonkulous amount of celebrity cameos, including Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Ted Danson, Jason Schwartzman, Elijah Wood, Will Arnett, and others.
1) Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder is embarking on a solo tour this summer in support of his forthcoming album, Ukulele Songs, according to the Contra Costa Times, which likens Vedder's effort to Tiny Tim. Vedder plays the Paramount Theater July 11, tickets go on sale April 1.
1. Berkeley tech company Mog is bringing its web-only subscription music service to the car and TV. This week, the company announced that LG, Samsung, and Vizio will incorporate Mog into their Internet-ready TVs and other devices, according to the New York Times. Mog’s on-demand streaming will also be available in BMW’s Mini line.
Mog offers 10 million songs at rates of $5 a month for music on PCs, or $10 for additional access through mobile devices. On new TVs and home theater systems, Mog will be preinstalled, and in Minis it will be activated by plugging in a smartphone.
In another blow to entertainment and nightlife in Berkeley, Beckett's closed its doors earlier this month for good. According to the Daily Cal, the transfer of ownership to new owner Jean-Yves Duperret, who apparently plans to open a bistro in the space, began back in early May.
Martin Connolly, who owns Beckett's as well as Johnny Foley's Irish House in San Francisco with his wife Mary Connolly, said the decision was the "toughest" he's had to make in his life. Though he said the business had ample support from the community, the main problem was that they had too big a space for their needs. "We rent 6,000 square feet but we're only using 2,000 square feet," he said. With that extra floor of space came the added overhead costs, such as insurance, which is what ultimately became too burdensome, he said. "The business wasn’t profitable."
The Connollys opened Beckett's in 2001 and helped rehabilitate the building, which was designed by Bay Area architect W. F. Yelland and once housed the music instrument shop Tupper and Reed. In addition to being an Irish pub, Beckett's also featured regular live music, including the popular singer Nicole McRory, who has been battling cancer. "It became a real community center over there," said Connolly, who added that he has no plans to close Foley's in San Francisco.
Burners are all a-twitter today over allegations by a mysterious person that Burning Man was started by rapper Dr. Dre, ne Andre Romelle Young. Posting on Tumblr, the accuser uses as proof a handwritten letter (clearly hard evidence!) from Dre to his now-wife Nicole Threatt , stating that he stumbled upon some "crazy, naked motherfuckers" while scouting locations in the desert for his "California Love" video. Dre remarks in the letter that the event was free, and he was going to have his office look into it because "someone should get behind this shit and make some loot of [sp] these fools...."
The poster says that "Dr. Dre is financially behind the Burning man Festival. Since 1995 he has paid the permit fees to the Nevada Bureau of Land Management and thus he collects the money from ticket sales sans some costs that go with the organization of the event itself. To avoid having to deal with scrutiny or show his participation in this event Dr.Dre does all burning man related business under a limited liability corporation called Black Rock City, LLC." Clearly perturbed by the rising costs of sales of what was once a free event, the poster says, "By 2010 tickets ranged between 210-360 dollars depending on the type of participant and there was over 51,000 festival goers. On the low end of this equation Dre would have made 10.7 million dollars before expenses."
Despite all the recent turmoil at San Francisco's now-purgatorial college radio station, KUSF, the annual Rock ’n’ Swap music fair will go on as planned. Held this Sunday, February 13, at the University of San Francisco's McLaren Hall, the event will feature a wide variety of vinyl, CDs, DVDs, posters, and collectors items. It runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and costs $3 admission. Incidentally, a whole spate of other "Save KUSF" events are also slated for the near future, including a block party this Wednesday at Borderlands Cafe (870 Valencia St., San Francisco). That one starts at 7 p.m.
Last September, we predicted that Rudy's Cafe, a popular Emeryville comfort food joint co-owned by Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt, would be the next addition to a newly refurbished downtown Oakaland. And lo and behold, our wish came true. An article in the December issue of Diablo Magazine confirmed that indeed, a new iteration of Rudy's will move into a large commercial space that abuts the Fox Theater. Managing partner Douglas Smith told Diablo that he can't dish out too many details at this point, but he did promise that the new Rudy's will be much like the old Rudy's: hip and cheap, its menu stocked with classic American cuisine.
The prognosis looks good for a nascent "Coliseum Redevelopment Zone" just past 70th Avenue in East Oakland. A new public library will open this weekend at 81st Avenue, just a couple blocks away from the Tassafaronga Village affordable housing complex with its 157 apartments and mini-townhouse units. Habitat for Humanity has 22 more townhouses in the works, according to Oakland Tribune columnist Tammerlin Drummond. That's not to mention the prospective aquatic sports center, which will open this spring in a venue that meets LEED green building performance standards, Drummond reports. Petfood Express will also jump on the redevelopment bandwagon, moving its headquarters and distribution center to the same neighborhood. Drummond argues that so-called "deep East Oakland" is on the brink of a magical transformation, and that all the revitalization efforts will help erase the stigma of homicides and prostitution. Indeed, if that sports center pans out, we might wind up with a completely different hood.