Aqua > Radiohead


In response to a comment that Sebastiaan from the band Ridinghood made elsewhere on this site today, that “the cultural significance of Aqua far outweighs that of Radiohead”…

It’s an assertion that warrants a lot more careful consideration than the typical and instinctive knee-jerk WTF response that most people will have when confronted with such a suggestion. Personally, I wouldn’t have chosen these acts to make this point if I was him. Perhaps I’d have gone with Rihanna and Melt Banana. Or Take That and Art Brut. Still…

I should say for the sake of openness here that I know Sebastiaan. That is to say, I met him once with his bandmate Rhiannon over coffee and sandwiches in Cardiff once, and I’ve had dealings with Rhiannon since. I have an enormous amount of respect for his level of craft when it comes to pop songwriting. He knows his stuff and is far and away one of the UK’s best hidden pop production talents.

But that doesn’t stop him being fundamentally and monumentally 32-flavours-of-wrong in this instance.


Globalised localism: Fat Northerner

I gave a seminar presentation this week about the ways in which local identity can be leveraged to promote music on the world stage. The following day, I received an email from someone who was already doing that.

This is a sponsored post.

Digital NorthernerFat Northerner is a record label based in Manchester. Their artists are Manchester artists. The music is the music of Manchester. Their audience, however, is largely elsewhere.

Having released a series of digital-only compilations, to their surprise Fat Northerner have found a degree of success that was both entirely international, yet clearly tied to their notions of localism. Which is something they did not expect.

Of course, Manchester has an international music reputation. Whether you’re into The Fall (best rock band in the world ever – period) or you have happy, baggy memories of the Madchester scene, there’s history there — and Fat Northerner are well placed to capitalise on that.


Let's test that theory

Will Hodgkinson says Radiohead’s recent efforts make it harder for independent artists to do well. I hereby offer to make his day by proving him wrong.

In today’s Guardian Music Blog, Will Hodgkinson has opined that the recent efforts of Radiohead and Prince (to name a few) have altered consumer expectations to the point where they now expect music to be pretty much free.

And, he says, that’s an unsustainable model for a band like Thistletown, who have released what sounds to be a gorgeous record, but (Will fears) with little hope of returning satisfactory income to the band who have worked so hard to create it.

In a generous move, Hodgkinson has more or less donated the rights to the recording over to the band. Once the bills are paid, it’s all theirs. Nice man.

But he worries that the means by which they can earn from that recording have been irrevocably damaged by new, ‘free-ish’ strategies becoming a norm amongst artists with a high profile. I think he’s wrong about that. I think it’ll just take a bit of time and a spot of cleverness.


Miss September

I’ll get back to the things I learned from the Dutch shortly. Some things are just interesting, and deserve your attention. This turned up in my email inbox this evening…

Calendar GirlHi Andrew,

I’m a big fan of your New Music Strategies and I wanted to tell you about a website that I’m running.

It’s called Calendar Songs. It all started when, after I’d written a few demos of songs, I kept ending up at the awkward stage of nearly-done but not-finished-yet.

So I started thinking about making a website for my songs (some people won’t see any romance left in the anonymity granted by going online and giving yourself a new name and a specific realm to inhabit, but for me it was a very simple escape from this weird teenage crisis my songwriting had hit).

Once I’d made the decision to do something online I knew I should write original material for it. I wanted a scaffolding and a framework for this music to live on, so I decided to write a song a month, produced to my demo standard of minimal production and very simple backing tracks.


Case study: A decade lost in Argentina

As global as the internet might be, it’s not very international. As part of my series of case studies of the online music world, I thought a visit to the land of Tango might be in order.


I was recently talking online with Federico Novick, proprietor of record label / production company Labil Musica.

Federico had just finished reading the 20 Things e-book, and was wondering aloud what it must be like to be in an online music environment that includes all the things we assume it includes for everyone.

But without trucking out that tired old ‘Digital Divide’ thing, there’s still disparity between different national environments when it comes to commerce, politics, technology — and music.


Case study: Indonesian Hip Hop

The internet may be global, but geopolitics still make a tremendous difference to music business. In this connected world, the nation state still exerts its influence over the popular song.

Herdi'ofloHere on New Music Strategies, we’ve looked at quirky geek-pop from a country of 4-million with a high internet takeup.

What about mainstream hip hop in a nation of 250 million but with relatively few online?

I’ve been having an email conversation this week with a rapper and professional basketball player based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He’s in the process of setting up his own label, and has been reading New Music Strategies to pick up a few ideas along the way.

Herdian Mohammed, aka Herdi’oflo dropped me a note and asked me to give a bit of specific advice. I liked the music, we got chatting, and I thought it deserved a case study on the site.