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The Case to Define our Industry: Fighting for a Better Economy

You may have heard the news spreading regarding the fight for a more equitable music economy with a greater emphasis on the economy of music streaming to artists…

.. aaand another one has been added to the roster. A UK artist, who goes by the name of Kieran Hebden (artist alias of Four Tet) has instigated legal action against his record label, Domino Records for 20 years. Many contracts associated with music artists often precede streaming services and – more importantly, the power role they’ve come into the 21st Century.

According to Hebden’s 2001 contact agreements, Hebden is entitled to an 18% royalty rate from physical sales and a 50% cut from licensing income. However, the music streaming moguls of our Internet bonanza have become ambiguous and less considered to their artists whom they “provide” for and as such, has allowed record labels to apply the same 18% rate as their physical counterparts in sales. But, like many, artists simply don’t believe that physical sales and streaming are one and the same and should be placed in the licensing income bracket – worthy of a 50% cut.

While many other artists before Tet have brought forward the case of music moguls tearing the legalities of artistry independence – the likes of Ye and Taylor Swift to name a few – it may be the first discussion that brings it forward to a full public hearing, which is a huge development in changing the course of royalty revenue on streaming platforms.

As such, after Hebden’s litigation, Domino records have responded. The declaration of what he owes transpires to the albums that Domino own the rights to, which is another 50 years or so. With that in mind, the record label have simply removed three of his most popular albums from streaming services altogether thus giving him no royalties in streams .. and no leg to stand on. Their recent move has solidified what we already know about the monopoly of record label in our industry – callous and greedy.

But it has also widened the scope into the survival of the music industry and whether or we not we can simply do without these record labels with their outdated and out of touch legally-binding contracts: which do nothing but bind the artist to the industry devil.

Hopefully, we’ll hear more about this as news progresses into the Spring of 2022.

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ISLAND: “Yesterday Park” – Album Review

We’re no strangers with the work of ISLAND on here.

Encompassing the soothing tones of underground indie/alternative rock scenes in dingy London studios, we have felt at one with this band before with their eclectic debut, Feels Like Air in 2018 – a story directly inspired from the time on the road.

Following their success story from Feels Like Air, enters an unlikely follow-up of Yesterday Park. With the debut embracing the feeling with freedom, this one couldn’t be more of the polar opposite. Recorded within a semi-lockdown of sorts, Yesterday Park is a self-reflective and a more emotive visioning of our music industry during a time where there wasn’t technically an industry to wave the flag under.

Wishing for longer days in our lifetime (“They’re telling me the world has caught on fire/But I can’t see a single frown outside/Where did my young days go?”) to reflecting on when forgotten moments were “simpler” (“Hey, yeah, do you remember the times?/we said that the city was yours and mine/Hey, yeah, do you remember the times? /We’d forget the world and just stare at the sky,”) is nothing for a longing to dream again.

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Grandson’s Until I Come Home: Singles Review

Reclaiming the title of incorporating elements of all kinds of eclectic genres, grandson returns in spectacular fashion with a collaborative side-hustle with Until I Come Home. This comes after his debut album of Death Of An Optimist in 2020. The darkened urgency of Dirty and Identity took the Canadian/American alternative artist, Jordan Benjamin, to new heights.

Another artist to blossom further from the trappings of COVID lockdown, grandson has harnessed a young and keen following ever since his glorified work of blood//water that has now amassed almost over 400 million streaming listens. With his next chapter featuring the addition of Two Feet, will we see more exciting charting artists to come? Worth a listen.

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Adele and The Vinyl Delay: What’s the Problem?

Ever since Ed Sheeran spoke about him having to push his new album out quicker because of Adele booking every vinyl factory for her release of ’30’ this week, there has been a huge delay in production getting shifted out of the factory gates. But it’s not solely Adele’s fault.

The huge waiting times for vinyl production – and music production in general – is due to the fact that since the pandemic struck our industry, every avid musician and producer out there is making albums between the dates of September 2021 to 2022. With no avenues to tour and no discernible income from new, hot records – the time to push is now. With record labels setting high standards of lead times and deadlines, it’s come at a cost of getting the music to the consumers.

The real problem lies why this is a real issue. We wouldn’t have to necessarily rely on the manufacturing of vinyls if vinyls weren’t the only thing musicians relied on to earn any aspect of money. Therein lies the problem – the monetisation of the music industry.

If it weren’t for the hideous regimes of streaming services providing ill-health to the pockets of the musicians, the only real way of earning any equivocal value is via merchandise and vinyls (and cassettes, for some.)

It seems that the exponential growth of vinyls since the pandemic has caused the huge spikes in new vinyl releases, classic legacy albums and remastered editions to peak in production and value.

Whether or not this will be subside is another question. One thing is for sure though – this will continue long into next year. The resolution is the issues of music streaming, and certainly not those within the vinyl factories. Where are you at with this one? Let me know your thoughts!

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World of Music Licensing: Field Visit to London

Trepidation, fascination and in-depth insight, field visits for work within the realms of music licensing is certainly no easy feat – but they are exciting.

By fully understanding who we’re working with as venue owners, what we’re working with in terms of venue scale, allocation of music events and spaces, it is a marvellous idea to visit venues in-person. Not only for maximum efficiency in terms of client reports but maximum accuracy in terms of music licensing the venue to the best of our knowledge. All because we’ve seen the venue with our own eyes!

Quite simply, it puts a face, a name and an icon to the black and white data-entry accounts. Above all, it makes it personal, natural and far more enjoyable enjoyable in terms of what we do for music licensing – which really, is all about for the working musician.

For my first field trip as a Live Music New Business Advisor, it was extremely insightful. When we travelled past Knebworth and it’s mighty park – which was put on the map from Oasis’s iconic performance in ‘96 – before we headed into Central London, I knew I would be in for a treat. If such a staple in musical history is dotted just outside the capital of London, what cultural significance is tucked away in the centre of the capital?

First, we headed down within the shadow of the Shard via Amazing Grace, a newly refurbished church-now-turned bar nightclub, it had all the qualities of a fantastic and elusive venue for underplays and musical vibes perfect for a relaxing Friday evening. After that swell visit and a talk with the owners about everything to do with the music licence, we swiftly headed west to Hammersmith. An often quaint but equally illustrious as the glorious amphitheatre of Apollo greets you in the vast stretch of culture, as you step out of the underground station. At Hammersmith, we had the privilege of attending a tour at one Riverside Studios, a circular space for multi-art performances, theatre shows, cinema screenings and a magnitude of musical events. First popularised for its feature filming of Doctor Who during the first couple of series (and the use of stage doors as the noise for EXTERMINATE) it is now a Jack-of-all-trades swivelling circus of party tricks. If you’re around London between Christmas and New Year, I recommend diving in to check out the 360 AllStars variety show they have coming in.

Grabbing a mocha to go, we headed back to the realms of underground during dreaded rush hour. Fortunately, with working from home a viable option for many commuters, it didn’t necessarily seem that bad for a Friday.

Now here I am, lodging notes in my phone as the train heads back to familiar territory. My familiar territory.

It would be an advantageous decision to do more field visits in the future. Covering the scope of the UK, live music new business is ripe for the taking. Especially after the horrors of a pandemic, the opportunity for growth in live music and the entertainment sector is colossal. With ample drip-feedings being delivered from the Government, establishing the premise of music licensing via a friendly face is all-the-more-important for maximum efficiency and accuracy in today’s current industry.

More to come I hope. As always, thanks London.