Wednesday, 30 June 2010

GoNorth - Inverness 11 Jun 2010

Friday at GoNorth was like Monday morning at The Priory. Thursday’s showcases had left the conference goers somewhat worse for wear, but coffee in hand and bags under the eyes, Scotland’s musical community stumbled on.

GoNorth is Scotland’s premier showcase festival, with live performances, workshops, panels and seminars for the Screen and Broadcast, and Music industries – basically the mass entertainment community. The town city of Inverness plays host, with venues all over the city taking part, and the event takes place annually in the run up to the nearby RockNess live and dance music festival.

Edinburgh’s Born to Be Wide, one of this year’s biggest contributors to the music side of the event, hosted the Music Making Money seminar, and the small conference room was overflowing with guests waiting to hear details of publishing and performing rights. The most notable speakers were Will Page of Performance Rights Society for Music (PRS), and Keith Harris of Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), two of the UK’s most important royalty distributing companies. These two speakers explained thoroughly what their organisations were responsible for, and what that meant to the average UK musician. In essence, PRS collects and distributes royalties for public performances of music to the songwriters and PPL does the same for the copyright owners and performers of music and videos. Duncan McCrone of Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) explained the meaning of mechanical royalties, royalties for the sale of music, paid to both the songwriters and publishers, and how his organisation collects and distributes them.

The whole system is rather complicated and the vast majority of the one hour seminar was spent explaining the different types of rights and who is responsible for collecting them, or dispelling rumours of injustice or swindle. But the basic message was that all musicians should sign up and register their songs – it costs nothing and you might get money back you didn’t know you were due.

The explanations took so long that there was barely time to hear from Ron Spaulding of Fontana Distribution, on the panel to explain the differences between our system and that of the USA, and Jamie Gilmour, of the British Association of Composers, Songwriters and Artists.

After a half hour lunch break, Born to Be Wide provided its second panel of the day, titled Sync Panel, to provide information about music synchronisation licenses, or ‘sync deals’, where a fee is paid to use music for TV, film, advertisement, even video games. The panel included Kyle Hopkins of Microsoft Media, representing the video game industry, Mark Davies of The Leith Agency advertising, representing TV and radio advertisements, and Craig Pickles, a producer with ITV, representing film and television. The three described how they discover music for their respective charges, and gave advice to the audience as to how to achieve a sync deal. While there are many different methods the panellists had for discovering music, their advice included providing specific details on the type of music you create, to make their lives easier, and to always have versions of the songs without the vocals, to be used as backing music.

Also on the panel was David McGinnis of Mute Song, who contributed a music publisher’s perspective on sync deals. And better-late-than-never Lee Parson of Sentric Music, a company who fight for the royalty rights of UK artists, and began questioning the other panellists’ motives, as if trying to expose them as money hungry thieves in front of a crowd, creating a more entertaining, albeit slower-paced seminar.

The honour of keynote speaker on Friday was awarded to Steve Krill, the president of US based The Radiant Group, a marketing services company that, in his words “put the ‘r’ in bands”, as it works to partner performing acts with corporate brands to create mutually beneficial marketing campaigns.

The room was about twice the size of the room where the Born to Be Wide sessions were held, but had less than half the guests, so perhaps they should have switched. Nonetheless, Steve Krill spoke about his company in a frank and open way. He did his best to address issues people have with bands ‘selling out’ by getting involved with corporations. As far as he can see, if the deal benefits both sides, there isn’t an issue. If the band damages their relationship with their fans, this is bad for both parties, and it would be a rather large blunder on behalf of the band or their representation and The Radiant Group for allowing it. At any rate, a band whose politics are a big concern to their fanbase is probably not the sort of band that brands would benefit from working with anyway.

Krill also dispelled the notion that corporate sponsorship was the new record companies, and would inject the entertainment industry with the cash flow it needs to survive. They may play a part, for internationally recognised bands becoming associated with internationally recognised logos, right down to brands sponsoring ‘unsigned’ music events and tours for emerging artists, marketing synergy will continue to be a source of income in music, but it is not the be all and end all. Not all bands can benefit, and there simply aren’t enough brands in the world to have the whole music industry resting on their shoulders.

Nonetheless, Krill kept things simple, and entertained the audience with his stories of partnerships he’d set up and their varying successes.
Myke Hall

Saturday, 19 June 2010

News: 19 June 2010

This Saturday, 19 June 2010, is a very interesting day for music in Scotland. As we previously talked about, Edinburgh is hosting two EP launches on the same night.

The OK Social Club play Cabaret Voltaire to launch their third EP ‘That Howden Sound’. Tickets are £5 and available from Royal Mile Tavern or from the band.

Penguins Kill Polar Bears play Sneaky Pete’s to launch their debut EP ‘Dawn’. Tickets are £5 and available from

In addition to these two events, Edinburgh will also see the arrival of Happy Mondays legend Bez’s new band Domino Bones, playing Maggie’s Chamber, above the Three Sisters, followed by a DJ set from Bez himself. The night is brought to us by Colossal Promotions, also who are also actively promoting gigs for Leith Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Support comes from The Vibe, The Stalls, Tams Railways, All at Sea and Kolumbia. Tickets are £8 in advance from any of these bands, or £10 on the door.

And by some strange coincidence (or possibly licensing laws) all these events kick off at 19.00.

Finally, fledgling internet radio station Gap Radio officially launches this Saturday to stream music online 24/7. To celebrate, they have organised a launch party at Harley's in Bathgate, which will include performances from Tango In The Attic, 4 Day Weekend, Fred Astaire's Boots, Bambou Enfants, The Secrets and others still to be announced. Tickets are available on the door.
Myke Hall

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Stephen Malkmus - Stephen Malkmus

The self-titled debut album by Stephen Malkmus, lead singer of recently reunited Pavement, may have one man’s name and one man’s face on the cover, but the band who recorded the album with Malkmus went on to tour with him as Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and fans consider this that band’s first album.

From minute one the technical musicianship, complex production and instrumentation put The Jicks in a different category than Pavement. Retaining Malkmus’s trademark lo-fi and occasionally dissonant guitar licks in places, the use of synthesiser sounds, a variety of rhythm guitar styles and crystal clear bass defined a sound that characterise The Jicks as a band in their own right.

The most striking thing about the album is the lyrical content, rich in stories set in all kinds of romantic settings, such as 19th century Imperial India or Ancient Greek islands, or interesting characters, like Turkish pirates, an Alaska fisherman, and most bizarre of all, actor Yul Brynner. The joy is in the poetic nature of the scenarios, as the stories rarely resolve, and are more like detailed and poetic reflections of people in places, be they modern or during minor historical events. The lyrics flirt with morals, but abandon them, leaving you to write your own conclusions. 'Jenny & The Ess Dog', perhaps the album’s peak, focuses on a strained relationship between a college student and her older boyfriend, in parts told through the eyes of their dog, Trey, who is the only living creature who can witness them alone together.

Well-produced arrangements see guitars pitted against synthesiser, vocals, or more unorthodox instruments like steel drums or xylophone, while installing out of place instrumental or vocal samples in a rhythmic way to add character to an already charismatic set of songs.

Stephen’s voice is weedy, and never strong or confident, and he tries to hit notes that are too low to be heard or too high for him to sing. But his voice fits well atop the overall kookiness of the music. In some cases another instrument will play the melody line along with him, whether this is to reinforce his voice, or just to underline the melody.

Another notable feature is the appearance of ‘mini-songs’ after several of the tracks. A mini-song is about five to ten seconds long and has the same instruments from the track playing an independent little section, treating the listener to a little pace-changing tune between full length numbers.

Malkmus displays his lyrical genius and poetic depths here in ways he never did with Pavement; this album is the flourishing of an artist held back by the limitations of his environment, suddenly unleashed with full studio and musicians who would do what he told them. While it doesn’t have that awkward college radio magic that made Pavement the cult legends they are, it is instead digestible, beautiful, and glowing with a sorcery of its own.
Myke Hall

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

News: June 2010

Edinburgh indie-punk stars The OK Social Club release their third EP, 'That Howden Sound' on on 19 June 2010. The EP will be free on the night of the launch gig at Cabaret Voltaire, tickets are £5 and available now from the Royal Mile Tavern or from the band.

On the same night, Linlithgow based Penguins Kill Polar Bears are set to release their debut EP, 'Dawn', with a 19 June 2010 launch gig at Sneaky Pete's, followed by an EP launch tour across Scotland.

Leith Festival runs from 11 - 20 June 2010 this year. The festival, which celebrates all that Leith has to offer, is a community arts festival that encompasses all art forms, including the theater, dance, comedy, and of course music. Some of the highlights of the festival include Leith Sessions @ The Granary and Colossal Sessions Leith Music Festival at The Yard, both showcases of Edinburgh's best unsigned music.

Inverness's goNORTH starts this week. The event combines numerous seminars, workshops and live showcases in several city centre venues, catering to everyone from musicians in their first band to seasoned industry professionals. All events are free. Edinburgh's own music industry meet-up Born to Be Wide is hosting some of the event's seminars. Among the topics to be covered by the Born to Be Wide seminars are music management and how to get your music used in film, television and adverts. There will also be panels on how to make the most money from music with little additional work and a discussion featuring artists who take care of their own booking, releases and promotion.

Fringe events start tonight Wed 9 June 2010, and the main events, including those hosted by BtBW, run Thurs 10 June and Fri 11 June, as do the evening band showcases.

Edinburgh Mela Festival 2010, Scotland’s largest celebration of cultural diversity through arts and culture is back to deliver yet another full on programme packed with dance, music, theatre, circus, crafts, fashion and food! The festival takes place August 6-8 at Leith Links, Edinburgh. Tickets cost £2 in advance from the Edinburgh Mela website, and £2.50 on the door.
Myke Hall

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Bainbridge Music Interview interrogates Chris from Great Junction Street Music Studios and Bainbridge Music in their church basement rehearsal space, about rehearsal studios, live gigs, rock and roll miners and local bands, and then are interrupted by Alex from Fentek Audio.

 Some strong language.

Myke Hall