Category Archives: Music

Everything Everywhere? More like I WANT IT NOW!!!

This week a Twitter user took on a big corporation and won. One man, @Terry_Finnegan,  whipped up a storm against big brand @EE, who had back tracked on the “money can’t buy” prize of Glastonbury tickets that he’d won and made them look SMALL.

Or …

This week Twitter user @Terry_Finnegan found a loophole in a competition and used the current appetite for David vs Goliath stoning of big corporations to his advantage to secure a prize to which he was not entitled.

It’s a lesson in the power of social media. It’s a fantastic channel to reach young people with money to spend. It’s also a tool that can easily spiral out of control in the wrong (or maybe the right) hands.

Glastonbury’s mobile media partner, Everything Everywhere, ran a cute little competition – offering 10 pairs of Glasto tickets to winners of a Twitter competition. The ten winners were picked. As far as I can gather, some of these winners came via Facebook. Ouch. Not Twitter only then. To appease the (not really kicking off at all) masses, @EE sent a tweet out to five more entrants telling them to get in touch as five more prizes had been awarded and winners should contact them to see what they’d won.

This prize was £400 in Ticketmaster vouchers. Amazing. I’ll take that. Oh, except …. the prize these five had narrowly missed out on was a pair of tickets to Glastonbury – the Holy Grail of festivals. Now there was no suggestion of Glasto tickets in the tweet that was sent out but you can’t blame people for getting their hopes up. Every time the awesome West End Show ‘Book of Mormon’ retweets me (they even posted a photo of my cat one day!) I’m waiting for the direct message offering me tickets … but no, the Glasto tickets had run out.

Not good enough for one Twitter user. Terry saw the tweet, presumably replied only to be told his prize was a lowly £400 of vouchers (that’s 4 tickets to Book of Mormon with change to buy a souvenier magical “love” frog in case you were wondering) and then he decided to unleash hell. He saw it as a crusade against Corporate Britain. I saw it as a foot-stamping temper tantrum straight out of Nursery School.

I think initially Terry had genuinely misread the tweet and decided he had a top five prize. As reality dawned he didn’t back down or shut up like most people would – he did his research and found a loophole. The competition was for TWITTER users. As some of the winners had actually come via FACEBOOK, he was actually top ten so #GiveTerryhisGlastotickets was born …

The clue however is in the wording. @EE had said that entries must be submitted via Twitter, not that it was a “Twitter only” competition. So no, it wasn’t clear. But equally no, he hadn’t won.

Us Glasto fans are a determined bunch. We sit on computers and phones hitting refresh and redial for hours on ticket day, resale day, look out for random secret resales and enter every single competition in the hopes of getting that elusive golden ticket to what is frankly the best 5 days of anybody’s year. So why, if the Ts&Cs were misleading or wrong, was Terry the only “winner” to kick off? Why didn’t the other four feel equally aggrieved? Probably because it was a tenuous (aka not real) complaint.

The Ts&Cs also said a prize of equivalent value could be offered so actually no “laws” were broken even if you do accept the Twitter loophole.

I’m all for sticking it to the big corporations who try to screw us little guys over. But in this case, @EE only backed down because Terry managed to whip up a sense of injustice and outrage that threatened to cause them reputational damage. That’s not fair and that opens the floodgates for all sorts of disgruntled customers to abuse the whole “customer is always right” cliche. Terry’s original statement was a bold one – @EE were refusing to honour prizes – a tasty bandwagon for a lot of people who can’t be arsed to read a little deeper.

So eventually @EE miraculously “found” five more tickets for their runners up.

Since then, Terry has been tweeting his massive excitement about going to Glasto. On one level I’m delighted for him – in the way that I’m delighted for anybody who gets a ticket against all odds at the last minute. It must be an amazing feeling. But on the other level, it’s totally against the rather magical “spirit of Glastonbury” – something for me that implies honesty, truthfulness, consideration, humility, empathy … it’s a place where everybody behaves a little bit more nicely towards the people around them. It’s not somewhere to turn up in a T-shirt with a slogan shouting out that you “BEAT THE BIG CORPORATES”. If I was Terry I may well have been tempted to try my luck with the loophole but, having “won”, I like to think I’d have said thank you, let it lie and concentrated on the big issues of carrying alcohol on trolleys and whether the Mumfords will perform or not (God willing …) – instead there has been a stream of bravado, retweeting congratulations on being a PROPER LAD and nothing that makes me want to share a cider with Terry ten days from now.

That said, after all this fuss, I hope you have a good festival Terry and I hope some of the amazing people you will meet in ten days have an influence on you. Failing that – I hope your phone blows up in the @EE re-charge tent and you camp next to a group of even bigger LADS than you think you are …

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For Amy

Amy Winehouse died on Saturday 23 July, at some point during the day. I found out via Twitter, actually through a tweet from Michael Owen saying he hoped the rumour wasn’t true. My first instinct was that it was another stupid hoax. But of course we know that it wasn’t.

I didn’t know Amy. I am a huge fan but, like most people, I am guilty of watching some of her dodgier performances on You Tube in the same way that people watch a car crash. I was lucky enough to see her play live 3 times at Glastonbury – twice in 2007 and once in 2008. In 2007 she did a professional and compelling set on the Pyramid Stage in the afternoon, compelling enough for us to go and see her in the evening on the Jazz World stage. And that is one of my most memorable Glasto experiences. Not yet a huge enough star to pack the place to a claustrophobic level, a little bit pissed, she held us all in the palm of her hand and made the sun shine on a festival that was full of rain and mud. 2008 was the year when she famously (or infamously) hit out at a fan. But there were still moments of genius.

I was so shocked on Saturday. But I had to ask myself why. Amy’s addictions and demons were well documented in the tabloids and the media in general. We all knew she was on a destructive path. But to have such a presence and talent taken away so suddenly was still a massive shock. I think we imagine our idols immune from the real world. The only comparison I can make is the death of Michael Hutchence, the most charismatic man I’ve ever met (yes, met), but he was a decadent rock and roll singer, not a little girl lost with it all ahead of her.

Amy’s death is a huge waste. We hear from her parents that she was all about love. I can see that. We hear from the Camden locals that she was their girl, part of the scene and somebody they felt massively protective towards. Not really the lonely addict then. And, of course, she was a huge talent – as a singer, a writer, a performer – I’m not easily impressed but her presence just blew me away and still does. When she mutters a little aside on a live recording, I feel she’s talking to me. We’re in it together. She was a star but she was accessible. She was in a crazy world but she was normal.

I’ve done a lot of thinking. And I’ll admit there’s a little “there but for the grace of God …” in it. I know I have an addictive personality. I don’t do anything by halves. Why drink a glass of wine when you can have 3 bottles? Why record one episode of Sex and the City when you can buy the box set? Why give up drinking when you can also cut out chocolate, crisps, takeaways, cheese, carbs and go to the gym 5 times a week? At some point I’ve been in all of those phases. If I’d made it as a singer (and yes, in my genre, I probably could have done if I’d set out on that path), would I have joined the 27 club with a messy overdose? Or would I have become a clean living gym bunny afraid to eat two sticks of celery in case I put on half a pound.

I am almost thankful for my mediocrity. There are two things in life at which I excel. I am a singer and I am a writer. Certainly not to Amy’s prolific ability as that’s a once in a generation thing. But I had the potential once upon a time to do a little more than I’m doing now, had I grabbed the opportunities (I didn’t). I find myself torn. Am I wasting my potential in a different, but equally sad way? Or is it a good thing that I’m still here, still with potential, even if it is a potential I am unlikely to realise?

Amy’s death has left me sad for her that she couldn’t find the peace to enjoy her gifts, sad for her loved ones and sad for all of her fans. But it has also maybe given me a bit of a kick to make my life count, even if it is on a small scale.

I haven’t sung for over six months. I’ve hardly written in three years. I think it’s time for me to be the best I can be as that’s what Amy did and her best was bloody amazing.

RIP and thanks for the ride.

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