Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Geeky Thursday again

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  • merc,

    Sooner or later you're gonna listen to Ralph Nader,
    I don't want to cause a fuss,
    but fast cars are dangerous, fast cars.
    Buzzcocks.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Columbia signing Rick Rubin to turn around the company

    You can't blame Rick for taking the big cheque (or check in US-speak) but truly this reeks of last act in the play desperation.

    The guy is s record producer whose circus act since the mid nineties primarily consists of rescuing or saving the careers of acts deemed over by the "industry"....with Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Johnny Cash being the most notable examples (Neil Diamond less so, but there wasn't a lot left to rescue I understand). That doesn't translate to corporate rescue services but I guess they've tried everything else.

    But those articles miss the fundamental point, which is that the music industry, and indeed the grass roots record industry is actually in surprisingly good health, its just the way it was done, and all that implies, that isn't.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Adrian Wills,

    Yeah I worked for the CD & DVD Store too. Contrary to what head office often recommended we played our own (good and 'store playable') stuff to try open customers ears to other stuff that was out there they wouldn't have otherwise known about. If we had an extra dollar for every copy of:
    a) The Garden State Soundtrack
    b) Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
    c) anything by Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings or
    d) Ryan Adams - Love is Hell (hard to believe how few people know about ol' Ryan)...
    we sold then we'd have all retired early.
    Apart from the occasional sneaky new bFM gem, the internet and music stores are where I look for my new music.

    Parnell, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Adrian Wills,

    "Why don't they bring out one with a radio?
    I know you're all thinking radio is crap, but it would be nice to tune in for the news and weather at the least."

    For $80 you can buy a thing for generation 4 iPods and onward that gives you a radio (even comes with a new pair of the same standard headphones) that works really well, it plugs into the bottom and has a remote halfway up the cable for attaching to the outside of (in my case my snowboard) jacket. Really handy and a bargain in my opinion.

    Parnell, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    But those articles miss the fundamental point, which is that the music industry, and indeed the grass roots record industry is actually in surprisingly good health, its just the way it was done, and all that implies, that isn't.

    The music industry ie the business of making money from the production and distribution of music isn't in good health at all.
    its in complete disarray and everyone is waiting to see someone really succeed with a new model.
    this downloading mp3s is the saviour of it all is mythical bollocks. really, how many people have actually paid for a music download in this country. Ask amplifier, its F all. and why the hell would you pay for a downgraded overpriced download when you can knick it pretty much without recourse.
    The truth is the cats out of the bag as far as any form of control over recorded music, and no one's found an acceptable solution to it that returns artists their expense and time involved in making music. the whole thing is balanced on a musicians desire to do it for the love of it at the moment, and that means we'll see a high turn over of artists who will do it till they burn out and then move on. there will be no sophomore albums, no long term artists.

    The only way music will be able to pull any sort of return for their effort is if they can make it easier and cheaper than the altrnative (stealing it off the net)
    Thats why I thought the whole one touch purchase at retail would be a good idea if they could keep the price for the transaction down to a reasonable level, and that's actually $1 no $1.99. That $2 price is based on the Cd model but they forgot to factor in that they didn't have to wear any production costs any more, or more accurately they thought that buyers wouldn't figure it out.
    and retailers (itunes amplifier etc take a hefty cut of the pie just for letting you download off their site, as did record stores in their day with their 70% mark up)

    The problem with selling things for $1 is that banks like to take their big cut for managing the financial part of the transaction. fpos per transaction costs what is it, $0.50 cents a go, so if you're buying something for $1 and they hack another 50% on it then it's not a $1 song any more.
    Credit card will tack the expense onto the seller if they'd even deal with a transaction under $20 so the artist gets less for their part of the deal.

    the 'industry' is far from being in good health, but there's hope.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Yeah I worked for the CD & DVD Store too. Contrary to what head office often recommended we played our own (good and 'store playable') stuff ...

    We'd get away with it quite a bit when I worked in the HMV Store in Piccadilly Circus. Except when there was a big, new release where we were told what to play for a week.

    That Springsteen live thing was bearable, just. But the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack - good grief.

    I was genuinely astounded at what terrible, ghastly fucking awful music that was. And I think we actually had to play it in store for two weeks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    this downloading mp3s is the saviour of it all is mythical bollocks. .

    Umm...I'm the last person to state such a thing Rob.......I agree 100% but in the face of all that live revenues globally are soaring, as is the amount of music, whether its paid for or not, being consumed. It's the failure to monetarize that in traditional terms which is the issue.

    But there are people out there who are succeeding and Mp3 stores are not the answer or close to it, although they are a stepping stone to a small part of it.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    this downloading mp3s is the saviour of it all is mythical bollocks. .

    Umm...I'm the last person to state such a thing

    yes , sorry, didn't mean to infer that you were saying that. I was just starting from your comment that the record industry was in good health.

    That's also interesting about live revenues soaring cos based on the nz experience its harder for acts to pull people to their gigs, including international bands who haven't been getting sell out crowds.
    Was the cure a sell out? snow patrol and their eager greys anatomy fans are having trouble selling out their chch show and they're giving away a free disc in the process.

    The reality is people are staying at home more with their computers and play stations. it is no where near the level it was so i'm finding it hard to see the proof to back up those figures.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I didn't realise McD's made their products in-house, I'd always assumed they shipped the burgers in frozen, rather than recycled them at the, ahem, restaurant.

    I guess that's a matter of terminology. The burger was certainly assembled in the restaurant, production line style.

    In Henry Ford Plant style they always said that people who thought of innovations would be rewarded. They neglected to say that the reward would be to have your idea ignored, and you would be given extra shifts on whatever equipment or procedures you thought could be improved. I had the brilliant idea that 'draining the patties' could be done with a utensil rather than your dirty bare finger on scalding hot meat. Perhaps cooked human fingers were an essential part of the McTaste. I wonder if that's still the case, certainly the taste has never changed.

    Similarly, I found a way on one particular workstation to get 25 seconds back every 2 minutes. After being observed slacking for 25 seconds every 2 minutes, I was firmly told that I was not following procedure. So they missed the chance to hire 25% less staff on that station.

    A lot of time was wasted in there trying to find a pen. I suggested putting the pen on a string next to where it was used, but for that impudence I was sent to compact the garbage, where I found my true calling.

    That was one job for which detailed McProcedures had not been written, so I was able to halve the time that it took, and then goof off during the rest, and no manager was prepared to come down there to check on me regularly. Ah, bliss.

    Then they worked out that I spoke good English, and that was the end of my freedom. I got the most fucked job of all, Front Counter. Caught between the bug-ridden procedures, the bitchy staff, the overbearing management and angry customers I finally decided $4.50 an hour was not enough.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I was just starting from your comment that the record industry was in good health.

    I'm not in NZ so it's hard to comment but I was there in July for two weeks and was absolutely blown away by how much was going on in Auckland and how many people I knew who were actively going to grass roots gigs again.

    I know in the USA that live door takes are well up at the moment as is merchandising, and the smart acts are regarding their recorded work as just a part of the parcel (and more and more they're opting out of the label system..take a step back and ask how many of the albums that have made a critical impact this year are major label A&R driven...almost none).

    Here in SEA, a friend who manages some rather successful acts said a few weeks ago "Limewire is our best friend" and he actively works with pirates and the like to ensure the music reaches as many ears as possible. His main act plays to tens of thousands of people weekly and his job is to ensure they have currency (although I'm not sure what his major label thinks of all that). But they put thousands, sell merchandising, get syncs, sponsorship, and it works. Healthy as hell.....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    whoops:
    "But they play to thousand"

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Chockasunday,

    With all the talk of last.fm I thought, let's create a group for Public Address readers.

    last.fm is a website that records what you listen to on your computer (and also supports iPods).

    It then compiles this all into charts so you can see what you and your friends listen to. The social side of it compares what you listen to other people with similar tastes, so you can get recommendations.

    I'm pretty sure it doesn't record anything else nefarious about you.

    The group is
    Public Address System

    Once we have more than 10 members, aggregated charts are generated for the group.
    Please join up, we need more than three members for it to stay alive!

    (PS I don't work there, I just like it!)

    Bevan.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    I haven't seen the live upkick thing but that may just be a matter of location. some cities are dead, some are possibly thriving.

    its interesting what you say about the emphasis for income shifting to live performance. thats great for musicians, especially live ones but for the swell in home recordists who don't play live and record things that can't be done live cheaply with the trad gat bass drums thing.... Those are the people that are left out of the current trend, along with the back catalogue artists, of whom you and I know many.

    I'm personally a little indifferent about live gigs these days. there aren't many bands that deliver much above standing on stage and playing thier songs. Not that music should be theatrics but some thought in that area (lights, visuals) would certainly make the whole standing in a pub for 3 hours thing a bit less of an endurance competition.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Those are the people that are left out of the current trend, along with the back catalogue artists, of whom you and I know many.

    yep, and those are often the innovators too, but I guess most musicians don't do it for the money in the first place and there is an alternative performance stream for non live-performing acts.

    How many acts actually have ever made money out of the sales of their recordings. The money has always been in the composition.

    Then again I've always thought of a DJ as a performing artist, although the concept is a hard sell to many.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    and there is an alternative performance stream for non live-performing acts.

    Do you mean alternative income stream?
    with piracy downloads aside from the cliche evil record companies not making anything off it thing, there is no income from royalties to the artist so the current trend to using the excuse "its ok to have a free for all piracy of recorded works because the artist can pick up income from live performances" falls down if live performances aren't part of the plan.

    It was interesting in the Eskow article on Rick Rubin he correctly identified the need for artists to receive fair recompense for their efforts or they would eventually have to give up their art in order to sustain themselves. Agreed, no artist worth their salt makes art strictly for money, but if they don't get enough to sustain them and their art then they'll eventually have to stop.

    You and I both know hundreds of artists who have had to stop or tone back making art in order to survive and although I like new artists coming through I often wonder what kind of material we've missed out on because our favourite artists had to give up on creative exploits and devote their time to working a day job plastering or delivering post in order to feeding themselves instead of focusing their time energy and talents on what they excelled at.


    on the dj thing I've never seen DJs as performing artists in the sense that Greame Downes or Michael O'Niell is a performing artist.
    I see them more as taste advisers, which is a valid roll, but its nowhere near the level of creative some would wish to take credit for for what they do.

    Those that do write their own tracks to perform with are a different ball game obviously though.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Then again I've always thought of a DJ as a performing artist, although the concept is a hard sell to many.

    Technically, I suppose so, but, sorry, no. Having been a mildy unsuccessful musician and DJ for many years, I have to say that there is no comparison. Sure, it takes some skill in putting a DJ set together, but the idea that (as performance) playing records is on a par with playing music, somehow reminds me of this line from Bad News:

    "I could play 'Stairway To Heaven' when I was 12. Jimmy Page didn't write it until he was 26. I think that says a lot." - Vim Fuego

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    on the dj thing I've never seen DJs as performing artists in the sense that Greame Downes or Michael O'Niell is a performing artist.

    well, you know I'd disagree with that. Many of my favourite recording artists in recent decades are DJs. That they are a DJ is a very much a part of what they do as an artist, part and parcel of their art. Take Carl Craig for example (whom I deem to be perhaps the greatest electronic artist ever), his live performances are his djing (and his gig in Auckland a few years back where he was running from turntable to synths was an example...but even when he just plays records, its a part of the whole). I'm not talking about the wave yer hands in the air big room hit playing glowstick kinda DJ...thats akin to a good covers band playing a good party, but it's impossible to separate Manuel Bundy the Dj from MB the very talented recording artist. It's the same thing, and when he's DJing its' the part of his art where he is akin to a conductor taking you on an often thrilling journey through a part of what makes him Manuel Bundy the artist.

    And there are very very few established DJs for whom making music is not an integral part of what they do.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Sure, it takes some skill in putting a DJ set together, but the idea that (as performance) playing records is on a par with playing music, somehow reminds me of this line from Bad News:

    no you miss my point..see above

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    no you miss my point

    So it seems. What you're talking about is electronic music performance, which is not really what I think of as DJing. So I'll agree. That said, It'd be nice if many in the genre introduced themselves to the concept of a chord change.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Take Carl Craig for example (whom I deem to be perhaps the greatest electronic artist ever), his live performances are his djing (and his gig in Auckland a few years back where he was running from turntable to synths was an example

    They really should come up with another term to describe this sort of performer.
    if he's playing synths he's a musician, that he incorporates turntables into his set..... depends on if he's playing stuff from his own output or someone else's music.
    Its a bit confusing to use the term DJ because originally a DJ was someone who just played records, and not their own.
    but what you're describing is definitely performance art. lets called them mix media artists. (yeah, right, like that's as cool as calling yourself a dj. I won't hold my breath for that to catch on)

    an aside
    I worked on a Grooverider gig in CHCH managing the pa. it was a laugh. not much to do really once its all been set up.

    I stood behind the guy and got to watch what he was doing.
    yes he was playing a lot of his own recordings (I think) which is fine, and he was hunching over his decks and impressing the crowds, but being technically savvy I could tell when he was actually doing something and when he was making movements to look like he was doing something. it was mostly the later, and fair enough to I suppose, its a bit boring to watch a guy put on a disc and stand with his arms folded for 5 mins while he waits for the disc to finish,
    but a lot of the 'show' which was impressing the punters ("loved it when he dropped the bass in there", um, that was on the record he was playing, he did it in the studio 6 months earlier, not live) was in the audiences imagination.

    The MC guy was retarded, stood right next to his monitor put his head (and the mic) into and said,
    -louder without the feedback,
    - then don't put your mic into the monitor speaker and it won't feedback,
    -yeah, but I want to hear it so I'm standing as close as I can to it,
    -yeah, but just don't shove your mic into the speaker
    -ok, yeah but I want to stand closer to it so can you turn it up louder, -not if you put your mic into the speaker,
    -yeah, but louder, (and so on) not that some musicians are any smarter.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    They really should come up with another term to describe this sort of performer.

    Well, there's the term turntablist. Wikipedia defines turntablism as: "the art of manipulating sounds and creating music using phonograph turntables and a DJ mixer."

    There are plenty of DJs out there who are doing really innovative stuff. The cool thing is that there is new technology out there like Serato's Srcatch LIVE that let DJs scratch MP3s using vinyl. Innovation ruling the nation!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Well, there's the term turntablist.

    That's a different thing again.
    I've had the good fortune to see a couple of turntablists at play.
    The japanese guy who came through and used the turntable and various apararti to make all manner of weird noises.
    one trick that really impressed was he had a record sitting on the turntable with stylus resting on the vinyl not spinning. he got a violin bow and strocked it across the edge of the record which was picked up through the stylus and made an amazing noise.
    downside was a couple of DJ's were there and sampled it and put it in their next track claiming credit it for it (kidding)

    I'm pretty bored with the sound of a record scratching these days, very few people do anything with it more than a knowing nod to the one trick pony of a sound it is.

    I did have the good fortune to catch a live set by dj shadow in NYC about mid 98. now that as interesting, really messed up, hardly cohesive mixing of sounds from all sorts of sources. not dancable in the slightest, more like collage work, I'd call that creative and artistic use of other peoples music (excluding his own fine musician ship) leading to new and original works. if only they all could be that innovative.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    What you're talking about is electronic music performance, which is not really what I think of as DJing

    No I think for many its the same thing. The DJ set performed by, say, Derrick May or Kevin Saunderson is as much a part of him as an artist as the record he made. It's a part of the whole whether he uses an synth or anything else as a part of it.

    I sat in DJ booths for years, as a (shabby) DJ and as a tutor and observer and the best DJs are always performing musicians. The Mixer, the effects used, the various players etc, are simply tools, are instruments in their own right.

    Are we to write off Grandmaster Flash as simply a guy playing tunes or elements thereoff (and he only used turntables and a mixer), or give him, and dozens of others credit as musicians for advancing (and creating) the genre we call hip-hop.

    The dominant musical force in the world today (and it still is), house and its varied forms, was created by DJs in booths in Chicago playing records and seeing how far they could push the elements.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    With you there, Simon. Have you seen a three-part doco called Pump Up the Volume? It really illuminates the original Chicago house scene and what made it tick.

    You might also add the reggae sound systems (the original hip hop DJ, Kool Herc, was a Jamaican), which were the source of ideas about sound that predated hip-hop and house.

    Oh, and I do still love standing in front of a guitar band that has something happening ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Have you seen a three-part doco called Pump Up the Volume? It really illuminates the original Chicago house scene and what made it tick.

    OMG yes! That is an amazing doco. I'd never completely got house until I saw it.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

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