by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & From the Wire & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & rom the music news blotter: U2 signs 12-year "brand management" deal with Live Nation, Bono says relax ... Interscope Records buys stake in the company that owns the popular Stereogum blog ... Groove Armada inks deal with Bacardi, performing at branded events on several continents, releasing songs on Bacardi's "music platform" ... A majority of Swedish musicians swap files illegally, 38 percent prefer legalizing the practice ... Corporate sponsorships of tours have grown 75 percent since 2003, topping $1 billion for the first time ever ... Emo gangs engage in street fights in Mexico City, Tijuana, Chile, elsewhere ... Madonna makes millions off Hard Candy commercial licenses before album even drops ... Stephen Malkmus talks about the new Jicks album on FOX News.
This week, the music industry had a cataclysmic beauty to it, a sense that even as old empires crumbled (Interscope buys a blog? I'd have thought records were a big enough money pit), new alliances were being forged (U2 in bed with Live Nation, Groove Armada with Bacardi, Swede musicians with Swede thieves, Madonna with anyone who'll have her) and, more importantly, new industries were born.
Musical trends are now global (and strangely violent) in a way that even the biggest record labels are not. In an odd way, that makes Bacardi as good a musical partner for the digital world as Interscope might have been. Neither has a lot of concert-promotion experience, but Bacardi at least has a built-in, transcontinental audience. It's about reaching out to known groups. Bacardi has a clique: Bacardi drinkers. Interscope doesn't. Even Stephen Malkmus -- the slacker king -- is reaching out (odd in itself) to viewers of Fox News (almost unbelievable).
Yet nowhere, absolutely nowhere, is any of this news spurring cries of "sell-out." Not among elitist critics. Not even among niche-y bloggers. Why? Because in basically every case the allure of these corporate partnerships is the freedom they'll afford artists. Bacardi isn't in the music-making business, it's in the cool-making business. Groove Armada is cool to certain people. Why would Bacardi screw with that?
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.