Saturday Summary 021 This is the main actual industry news this week (as opposed to the usual ‘major label x is involved in futile and unethical activity y’). As far as I’m concerned, extending the copyright in sound recordings to seventy years is a depressingly retrograde step. The argument usually advanced is that royalties on recordings represent an important income source for aging session musicians who failed to make any provision for their old age. Well, I also have failed to make any provision for my old age, but when I’m old I won’t be asking anyone to carry on paying me for work I did in my 20s and 30s. The ethics of the situation, in my view, are that everyone involved in making a recording deserves to be decently paid for their labour: where musicians are involved, that means quite a high hourly rate, since every hour spent playing conceals several spent preparing, but regardless, once they have been fairly compensated for their time, that’s it. Nobody is owed a living. In my view, copyright should expire when everyone’s been paid, or on the death of its beneficiaries if that happens first: the idea that record companies (or other ‘rights holders’) have some kind of moral entitlement to keep charging people for hearing a sound is patently ridiculous. Mastering is a subject on which a lot of hokum and misunderstanding is circulated. It’s an important part of making a recording, and this blog post outlines the facts very clearly. Google alerts (basically saved, automated searches) are a nice way of monitoring your web presence (among other things). Here’s a guide to their use. This is a good roundup of some useful tools to turn you into a Twitter power-user, and get this important but specific channel properly integrated into your overall promotional strategy This tech story illustrates the dangers of accepting pre-digested statistics at face value. Although it’s about app downloads, rather than music downloads, it contains some object lessons for musicians, and makes for an interesting read. This is an article about the fabulously successful, less-is-more marketing strategy employed by Led Zeppelin for their untitled and uncredited album that subsequently came to be known as Led Zep IV. Anyone promoting their own music should read and take note. The author of this blog is a patient and effective teacher, who taught my daughter piano at an extremely tender age, and taught me to shut the fuck up and play in time. His insights into the learning process are always illuminating, but this one is an essential lesson for anyone who hopes to play their instrument to a professional standard. Too complex to summarise, this interview gives an original musician’s insight into the death of music at the hands of the industry, and follows on from a very interesting earlier article, to which said muso is responding. Here’s a video with some very useful lessons on merchandising. Don’t let yourself think ‘oh, this doesn’t apply to me, I’m not involved in some big-shot event like the Warped Tour’: the repeated points about relevance and proactivity are always important, and musicians should all take heed of the possibility of taking credit card payments by means of a smartphone app. Here’s a humorous (and brilliantly drawn) infographic timeline about rock music, of the ‘what goes around comes around’ persuasion: it’s hilarious, and also true. Forty years ago piracy was a serious issue, and the industry was lobbying for legislative firepower because it was already ‘costing them money’. Arseholes. Here are some interesting perspectives on crowdfunding, which I think is likely to become more and more important to the independent, self-promoting musician.

My albums on heavy rotation this week are as follows:

Alun Vaughan – ‘The Kindness Of Strangers’

Dialect – ‘Stupid O’clock’

Hope And Social – ‘Sleep Sound’

Karda Estra – ‘New Worlds’

Meadows – ‘Meadows’

Breaking News!

This just in: the idiotic live music licensing laws, that mean if someone pulls out a guitar in the village pub, the landlord is breaking the law, are getting some overdue revision. This is the first thing Britain’s idiotic coalition government has done that makes any sense: they are actually talking about totally scrapping entertainment licenses for small venues, and leaving existing safety and nuisance legislation to regulate them. If this happens it will be the best thing government has done for music in living memory, and it will be of particular value to independent, grass-roots musicians of the sort I usually champion. This makes me happy (if it doesn’t get derailed by some idiot).

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