Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Kickin' it...

I'm just kickin' it, you know 80's urban street talk for relaxing - in Alloa and Dunfermline the equivalent is 'getting down with my neebs' I believe - I am just so 'street'.

Unlikely as it may seem for one so hip, I'm listening to Johnny Cash, courtesy of we7 and it's perfect. Johnny Cash is so counter-intuitively cathartic when your life is falling around your ears; skint, ill, frustrated by idiocy and depressed by the dark evenings.  Try him some time, you'll be pleasantly surprised - it's a bit like your first cigarette...

If you haven't tried we7, I can also recommend them - it's another one of those free ad-funded music services, with a great selection of artists and dare I say it, not being a natural idolator of the-latest-internet-fad, a service that is easily as good as Spotify (better actually).

Go underdog go...

The we7 venture is based in the UK, Milton Keynes to be precise, and they get my thumbs up after their CEO Steve Purdham was one of the few industry executives who had the balls to hit out at Mandelson-dark-lord-of-the-night and his governments new policy on illegal filesharing (it is HIS government - don't be fooled) - branding their plans for a “three strikes and your out” as “missing the heart of the issue.”
Purdham went on to say “Piracy is a reaction to an unsustainable situation, where reasonable, legitimate access to music has struggled to match demand. File-sharing sites have risen in the gulf between what consumers wanted and what has been available. Internet users don’t want to use p2p networks.”
He also said that punters shouldn’t be expected to change their habits in order to find ways for artists to make money. “People want to support the music they care about,” he said. “But it is not for them to find a way to do that; the onus is on the government and the industry to monetise music instead of demonising and punishing the general public.”

Hurrah for some uncommon sense, I have worked in and around technology all of my life and have witnessed the same hand wringing over the end of one 'industry' or another, wheeled out at every advance of technology.  From Gutenberg's printing press, through to still photography, cine photography, wax cylinders, wire recorders, reel to reel tape recorders, compact cassette tape, video tape recorders, video cameras, recordable CD media, recordable DVD media - and on, and on - all considered a threat that heralded the demise of a 'traditional' information monopoly. That's what good technology does, replacing what went before with something better - and along the way liberates and empowers, enabling in this case access to previously inaccessible or expensive information - whilst engaging new consumers.

The problem is not the new technology, but the incumbent industry and it's outdated technology; technology moves quickly and poses new challenges to lumbering unimaginative corporations whose raison d'être is the mass exploitation of the consumer, through control of supply.  It is they who have to adapt, not the consumers or innovators, and in time they will - change is painful for all of us, but invariably worth it.

Since Ug managed to fashion some iron ore into a rudimentary blade and attach it to a piece of wood with his best friend's upper intestine to make the first chib the Captain caveman who owned the blunt stone sharpening business has been complaining about advances in technology - "What will become of my stone sharpeners, who will trade with me now?"

Without change what is there? Without advancement what is there?

Stagnation and more of the same?

What's the point in a world like that?

Time for another song, one of my all time favourites - Change (in the house of flies), courtesy of those nice people at we7 and the sublime Deftones.


  1. I grew up with Johnny Cash and Elvis(My mum, she also liked the Clancy Brothers, but that's another story)).Then of course I hated them as any good rebellious teen hates the music their parents love.
    Then Mr Cash brought out Man in Black, and his cover of "Hurt" stopped me in my tracks when I heard it first.
    And it still does.

  2. Yeah, I am a late convert also - thought he was bad country singer for years. I'll be voting Conservative next...

  3. My son-in-law, who's in the biz, has seen his (band's) albums being downloaded on p2p before they're even in the shops. His choices seemed to be to add additional content to the CD to motivate sales, or to increase ticket prices at gigs. As his audiences are mostly poor art students raising ticket prices didn't seem a good way to go (he rejected the idea as well because he remembered as a kid not being able to afford to see his favourite bands).

    His solution was to add content, avoid high cost recording studios as much as possible, and to branch out into soundtracks. So far he's doing okay. But for bands trying to break into the biz it's going to be tough.

    As for Johny Cash - hated him until he recorded "North Country Fair" with Dylan on Nashville Skyline. His cover of "Hurt" blew me away as did his "Sooner or Later God Will Cut You Down". That last one gives me hope.

  4. Johny Cash was an early favorite, especially Singing Vietnam Blues with his wife.

    There was a very sensible chap on BBC Radio 2 yesterday making much the same points about legal/illegal file sharing who also said that he had approached the regulator for a license only to be told "go away small fry, come back when you have some volume ".
    ie Be A Pirate !

    Might have been your Steve Purdham.

  5. @scunnert - It is tough on young musicians, but they can still do it - if they are good enough, irrespective of sharing. It isn't really much different from taping vinyl, just easier. Real talent shines through, people will pay to listen to and attend concerts. I hope your son-in-law sticks with it, and gets something back (would love to hear him).

    @banned - That's your inner child talking there, we all fancy being a pirate don't we?