A quick round of applause, please, for the Herculean live-blogging efforts of Mr Steve Lawson.
Steve came along as an invited guest to today’s Fresh on the Net seminar for London Songwriters Week and captured the whole thing – Tom Robinson and I presenting, the thoughts of the crowd and the mood of the day.
I received an email from my friend Mark, who runs Iron Man Records. He forwarded me a petition that’s doing the rounds, and while I’m usually reluctant to play the ‘Forward this on’ game – this is pretty important:
The 696 Form compels licensees who wish to hold live music events in 21 London Boroughs to report to the police the names, addresses, aliases and telephone numbers of performers, and most worryingly, the likely ethnicity of their audience. Failure to comply could result in fines or imprisonment.
We believe this places unnecessary and frankly Orwellian powers in the hands of the Metropolitan Police, an institution which does not have the best record of racial fairness. The 696 form can only serve to deter the staging of live musical events – a positive form of activity in London and all cities – stifle free expression and quite possible penalise certain genres of music and ethnic audiences. It is an intrusion too far. Pass this on.
Names, addresses and genres of performers? Well, there goes the whole tradition of Open Mic nights in the London area. As if it’s not hard enough with over-zealous noise abatement enforcement and all the other disincentives for a thriving live culture in the inner city…
After receiving a bit of encouragement (let’s not call it nagging) from a bunch of musicians who love the SoundCloud service, I’ve added a Dropbox to my sidebar. There it is, just under the Search bar. That way, if you want to send me one of your songs, you can just click it, upload – and I’ll get it in my Soundcloud Inbox.
I quite like the service – even though you can only upload 5 tracks a month without paying. It’s useful for promo-ing, for sharing tracks with people you’re working with and also for putting songs on your own site (though Bandcamp does that one better).
When I was growing up, I used to love a series of albums called Solid Gold Hits. They were compilations of the hits from the year gone by, and they came out just in time for Christmas shopping. The first one I owned, if I remember correctly, was Volume 11 – and it had Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce on it, which kind of dates me. I was six years old.
I came to like compilations, and gravitated towards ‘Best Of’ albums as I grew older. I wore out my copy of Queen’s Greatest Hits (the first one with their good songs) and even today in my jazz-loving older years, I love a well-curated collection of best tunes from a scene, an era, a label or a single artist.
So in the tradition of the industry whose activities I describe and discuss, and like every good mid-career artist, I’ve decided to compile a greatest hits album.
The purpose of a Greatest Hits is to do three things:
1) to encapsulate and summarise the highlights of a career to date and provide a benchmark document that celebrates past successes;
2) to provide an entree for new fans by collecting together a representative sample of work that has proved popular and thereby give a user-friendly way into exploring the back catalogue;
3) to save the effort of having to come up with any new stuff for a bit.
So, using PostRank.com as my guide, and with a bit of judicious executive producing, what follows is my greatest hits collection, complete with brief liner notes. It’s not a top-10 list and I haven’t ranked them in any order. Think of this as a compilation track listing, and imagine – if these were songs on an album, this is the order in which I would suggest ‘listening’ to them.
I did an interview by email for a website called Content Agenda. Some really great questions too.
I decided in advance that my answers should, for once, be succinct and to the point rather than try and go into too much depth and end up writing entire essays on each point – but I feel like I just come off as a bit abrupt and irritable. Oops.
CA: The music industry has gone through format shifts before, as well as shifts in how music is consumed (i.e. sheet music to recorded music), and emerged intact but changed. Is the current upheaval likely to follow the same pattern, or is their something fundamentally different about the digital revolution?
This is not a format shift. It’s not like when we went from records to CDs. This is more like when we went from printed sheet music to recorded music. It’s a change in the whole media environment as it relates to music. Recorded music will still (obviously) exist – but it may not end up being the main way in which we engage with music economically.
One caveat: when Jay Smooth says “music industry” he means “record business”. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on out there in the music industry which has nothing to do with making and selling recordings.
There are people teaching music for money, people making and selling instruments, people booking gigs and people putting music into movies. Lots of other stuff besides. But the record business has tricked us into using the phrase “music industry” – like they’re the whole deal.
But the record business claiming to be the music industry is like the lions claiming to be the zoo. They’ve got the biggest teeth and can make the most noise, but actually, the music industry is a vibrant, interesting and diverse place where lots of cool stuff happens.
My bet is that this party he’s talking about will be happening over where the monkeys hang out. Probably the code monkeys at that.
By the way: I knew Jay Smooth was cool. Didn’t realise he was Mahavishnu Orchestra cool…
Its aim is to provide useful resources, advice and strategies for innovation and success in the independent music sector in a rapidly changing technological environment.
NMS examines emerging technologies (and buzzwords) such as AI, blockchain, metaverse and 'Web 3.0', but focuses primarily on sustainability, music as a tool for social change, participation, equality and inclusion, and the ways in which music technologies can build better worlds.