Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: Good ideas and grumbles

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    sorry russell for my patronising post above, didn’t mean to come out like that :/

    No problem! All in the spirit of vigorous and healthy debate :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    Definitely. And to be honest, I feel there is a distinct lack of young bands breaking through in the funny land between total-indie and yucky-mainstream that acts who emerged in the early noughties (Mint Chicks, Brunettes, Pluto, Goodshirt, my band, lots of shitty bands) seemed to operate in.

    This worries me. Other people have written about the widening gap between "hits" and artisan production and I think the move towards streaming models is currently exacerbating that.

    In the other hand, we are seeing these very self-possessed individuals like Daniel McBride, Eddie Johnston and Janine Foster. I think Janine is amazing and I'm so pleased that Andy Murnane is making it work for her in the US -- using the lessons he learned from trying to break Mareko and others. I dunno, maybe the ideal unit is turning out to be a band of one with production chops.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    maybe the ideal unit is turning out to be a band of one with production chops.

    well there isn't any angst about if it's 'real music' or whatever anymore. And anyone who has seen Disasteradio live knows that one person with a laptop and midi keyboard can put on a shows that...ummm... ROCKS.

    And touring with one or two people makes a lot more sense than touring with 6. I was shocked to find out the Doprah's live band is so big. It really works musically, but I assumed it would be Indira and Stephen...and maybe a drummer. Air fares are a huge problem for NZ bands. Huge,

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Loving this discussion. All it needs is someone from APRA to chip in.
    I’ve filled in the forms and paid for video rights. And found APRA pretty good to deal with. But I’ve given it up in favour of pre-paid royalty “free” soundtrack and fx. It’s just simpler and probably a little cheaper.
    I’d love an APRA website that sold NZ music on this basis. Bands would need to opt in tracks and set prices and conditions and it’d probably take a while to pay off the setup costs. But it’d be another small income strand and get music heard.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    All it needs is someone from APRA to chip in

    I doubt we'll hear from them, they've already made a statement on their website and Don has made a statement which is a huge move. They've already committed to making a few changes and haha, in a bizzare move, Don has asked me to do their job for them and come forward with ideas of how to do background music collection better - I have many and am not sure why its my responsibility, but hey...I'm up for it.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    in a bizzare move, Don has asked me to do their job for them and come forward with ideas of how to do background music collection better

    haha...you've made your bed Ian. Good luck to ya.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    They’ve already committed to making a few changes and haha, in a bizzare move, Don has asked me to do their job for them and come forward with ideas of how to do background music collection better – I have many and am not sure why its my responsibility, but hey…I’m up for it.

    You're complaining because they won't change and because they've asked your for your input on changes? Jeez, I know you're slightly joking, but maybe don't be too ungracious Blink ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    APRA’s lawyers sent me a letter threatening legal action, 5 years imprisonment or a 150,000 fine if I didn’t pay my background music fee the second year – and it seems the one thing we can agree on is their background music collection is not 100% accurate. To me this is extortion. If its something else, please enlighten.

    But I totally get how that could shape one's perspective.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You're complaining because they won't change and because they've asked your for your input on changes? Jeez, I know you're slightly joking, but maybe don't be too ungracious Blink ...

    haha, i'm not complaining, i already told anthony a couple of weeks ago I would come back to him with some ideas, just funny them making that "public", when it kinda makes them look like they are unable to think for themselves - which is probably true ;)

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    You are such a stirrer Ian!

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    (but i love you all the same)

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • bmk,

    I have to post my perspective in here - I thought about not adding it. But in my experience gangsters practicing extortion are exactly what APRA are. I have to be careful with details as it relates to an organisation who wouldn't like these matters publicized.

    This organisation pays for a site wide copyright licence at considerable cost. APRA then found a specific area on the site playing music and individually sent them an invoice saying otherwise there would be legal consequences - this area went and paid (understandably). Fortunately, this got discovered when the colleagues were having a work discussion about another matter. The copyright officer was then horrified to find they'd been charged twice for the same thing. They contacted APRA who said something along the lines of 'You are right, you should only be paying once as you have an entire site licence. But it's our job to maximise revenue for our artists so we invoice anywhere we can. We won't do this to you again.'

    It felt like a deliberate unscrupulous ploy. Imagine another business doing a job and invoicing one person then deliberately invoicing someone else in the hopes that they would both pay. So in my limited experience APRA are indeed gangsters practising extortion,.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to bmk,

    It felt like a deliberate unscrupulous ploy. Imagine another business doing a job and invoicing one person then deliberately invoicing someone else in the hopes that they would both pay. So in my limited experience APRA are indeed gangsters practising extortion,.

    To be fair, the kind of gangsters who when contacted say "Shit, sorry, that was clearly incorrect and we won't do it again."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah I guess that's a fair point except I got the idea that it was more that they wouldn't do it again to that specific organisation but would keep doing it to other places until called out on it. Kind of similar to the practice some places employ of not paying invoices until prompted.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Kinda done with the Apra topic, which is something of a diversion. So, try this …

    Thirty years ago, there was a big, busy live music scene not only in the urban centres but the regions. There was a national touring circuit and some regions, notably the Waikato, had their own circuits. Some of the bands playing these pub circuits were quite shit (ie: their names ended in “x” or “z”) but there was a lot of live music being played.

    In Auckland, it was not unusual for a touring band to play three nights in a row at the Windsor Castle (or for punters to turn up on successive nights). It helped that the pubs shut at 10pm on weeknights and 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. In Christchurch, you could see The Gordons sell out the Gladstone and The Swingers sell out the 700-capacity Hillsborough Tavern across town, on the same night. When I was at school in Christchurch in 1979 and 1980, there were fairly regular all-ages gigs in hired halls, some of them quite large. Wellington always had a venue problem.

    It was possible to not only sell records as an independent label, but – thanks in part to a rather dodgy chart returns system – get records by young bands to number one in the charts. The Clean’s early records, especially Boodle, sold enough to get Flying Nun on its feet, even though distribution was pretty basic. There were local record shops in regional centres, and profitable record chains in the cities, and 30,000 copies of Rip It Up went nationwide every month.

    Although New Zealand music other than pop and cabaret styles was absent from commercial radio, there wasn’t as much cultural competition in general for young local musicians, and there was a good sense of mutual support and community within individual scenes. A lot of great music was made and great gigs played.

    On the other hand, what management skill existed was largely a holdover from the entertainment era. Almost no one understood publishing and there was no specialised legal advice available to young independent artists. Flying Nun developed problems maintaining cashflow, paying artists and getting production done in a timely fashion, and had to progressively sell up equity to larger companies.

    With notable exceptions (Split Enz) the only route out was via the onerous Australian industry, which frequently didn’t suit New Zealand artists. It was basically the interest and support of Rough Trade in the UK and Normal in Germany that established a route to Europe and a market there.

    Commercial recording studios were often a problem. While some of the best and most enduring recordings of the era were low-tech, other bodies of work were squandered by inappropriate, expensive production. (The Gordons memorably commandeered Harlequin Studios for a weekend and recorded an album that showed how the place could sound.)

    There was no video funding, but the NZBC might offer to make a probably terrible one for you. Independent DIY clips shot by the band and their friends were fewer but better. Public funding came mostly in the form of the unemployment benefit.

    These days, I’m aware of a far higher degree of legal and managerial competence. Artists themselves plan better and are generally far more in control of what they do. There are different kinds of revenue available to the more ambitious among them, and they seem to understand what they are. And yet it’s sometimes a mystery to me how they sustain themselves, especially when the ability to earn money playing live is so sharply curtailed. Places like the Portland and Golden Dawn are nice, but it must be hard to even cover costs sometimes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Well said. haha, I wish you'd just written the book instead of me.

    Something I didn't really go into in detail but that really rammed home things for me about the current music scene was how difficult it was for me to get people out to the recent Flying Nun 30th anniversary shows I put on. When down at Sammys in Dunedin, I was hearing stories of how that venue in the 80s/90s was packed out with 700+ every weekend with people just to see covers bands. In 2011, I was putting together killer line-ups: The Clean + The Subliminals -- HDU + Dead C -- Shayne Carter etc.. and really struggling to get 250+ along to each show there, even with some pretty significant promo.

    It's what I really try to get the bottom of (though do a bad job of it) in the book, trying to work out how we can get back to that situation where going out to a gig on the weekend is something that a huge portion of our population get into....and yeah, i work on my ideas to fix that - regulated show times, better valued/priced shows, more all ages shows, more shows in smaller towns, better community involvement/broadcasting, less funding on one-off projects and more emphasis on "global"/long-term initiatives.

    I've mentioned in several interviews prior to the book coming out, so didn't want to appear a broken record in that I think the amazing quality of TV available and the ability to stream/download it has really put a dampner on the live music scene in the past years. It's died that fast. There was a time 2004-07 where I felt crap not getting 300 out to see some local acts, now I'm happy with a 1/3rd of that. People are just staying home and watching TV - they are in control of the timing, have amazing quality entertainment, can drink cheaper, are nice and warm and can control the environment - why go out? Downloading of TV, not music is killing the music scene.

    My essay on that theory is called "Fuck Game of Thrones" - and haha, I chose not to run it in the book.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    My essay on that theory is called “Fuck Game of Thrones” – and haha, I chose not to run it in the book.

    Have you posted it online anywhere? I'd be interested to read it ...

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'm sure this isn't actually how the collecting system works, but I've always understood that every time the All Blacks score a try Jordan Luck makes a dollar.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Have you posted it online anywhere? I'd be interested to read it

    there are a whole bunch of essays, and extended parts I chose not to run for various reasons....many things I just felt that I was being a broken record about. Ie: i wrote a big piece about kiwifm in 2006, and nothing much has changed in how i feel about them eight years later - also, haha, pretty hard to fix the TV problem other than making gigs MUCH more attractive to watch than they currently are.

    i talk about the "game of thrones" theory here:
    http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2013/10/09/ian-blink-jorgensen/20401/
    http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/interview/655/Blink-on-Square-Wave-Festival-Puppies---More.utr

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    Thanks Ian.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    People are just staying home and watching TV – they are in control of the timing, have amazing quality entertainment, can drink cheaper, are nice and warm and can control the environment – why go out? Downloading of TV, not music is killing the music scene.

    My essay on that theory is called “Fuck Game of Thrones” – and haha, I chose not to run it in the book.

    I'd run this as a guest post!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I’m sure this isn’t actually how the collecting system works, but I’ve always understood that every time the All Blacks score a try Jordan Luck makes a dollar.

    Kinda. I don't know the exact formula, but it's a small fraction of gate takings vs logged plays of music at sports games.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Kinda. I don't know the exact formula, but it's a small fraction of gate takings vs logged plays of music at sports games

    .

    in part of my research on this, i talked to a songwriter who heard his song played at a sports game, called APRA when they didn't see anything on their statement and was told BY APRA, that they don't collect from sports events - which is totally wrong, they do.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    I'd run this as a guest post!

    Chur. Though yeah, quite a few people read that UTR interview where I explain the crux of it - I can send something a bit more elaborate your way next week. I couldn't really think of any fixes so felt it didn't really fit in with the book even though i believe it is a major issue. I tried to avoid running the essays which were just depressing, :/

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    Well said. haha, I wish you’d just written the book instead of me.

    Nah. I wouldn't have thought about it it if I hadn't read the book.

    I've actually mulled over doing a thing called The Public Address Early Nighter -- $10 on the door for a DJ, an interesting new act and whatever. Could be a good opportunity for the parents of the latest amazing teenage bedroom producer to get their friends along :-)

    We've had 300-500 people at our Great Blend events, but half of them leave after the talking part, which always makes me a little sad.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

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