Sunday, 28 June 2015

Auntie, It's Time To Do The Right Thing.

This time, we didn't say it. Our MPs did.

Lots of discussion, since I last posted on the BBC's continued and very deliberate under-funding of broadcasting in the Midlands; not a lot of action. Well, not if you ignore what Cameron and Milliband both said at election time.

There's few signs that BBC powers that be are thinking of changing. But the issue won't go away. It's another elephant in the BBC room, lurking darkly, ignored in the hope that it might quietly leave. But this week, there's been a major development. MPs have stepped forward. Parliament has debated the issue. 

This was prompted by the Birmingham Post campaign, led by the extraordinary Graeme Brown, who picked up on the work done by the Campaign For Regional Broadcasting.

I went to the debate. It was fascinating.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Mahalia. Four years of development, and she's still only seventeen. Crikey.

Ridiculously young and talented, with a major label deal... that might suggest you got it made. Great expectations then.

Four years ago, Mahalia played a Tea Room Tent debut slot at Moseley Folk. It was a gentle but excellent start, in front of some major Brum music faces. 

Four weeks ago, Mahalia made her BBC2 Later debut, fronting the irrepressible Rudimental. No build-up: the camera panned directly to her from Joan Armatrading. No pressure, then. To see how it went, scroll down for the video. Mahalia is still only 17. She is being guided by her parents, who were both active in the music business in the 80s, and have the scars to prove it. She already has a deal with a major: Asylum/Atlantic. This is not usually how things get done these days. Not anymore. But then again, Mahalia is unusual.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Today's musicians, a vital part of Birmingham's Music History... and you

The Highbury Studio pledge campaign. It's different.

If there's one brutal fact to take from musicbiz posts on this blog and elsewhere, it's that the old model is broken. Now? There's no mid-ground, no comfortable living to shoot for, no clear path to take you from promising, brilliant and unknown to big and successful.

This gulf is everywhere. Record companies seek surefire hits and quick returns; careers can go hang. Huge numbers of name acts have been turfed off their rosters. Online? Apple's bombastic launch of their new music service had fine words, but the small print shows they will pay artists nothing for the three months of free trial each subscriber signs up for - this could not be a clearer example of the mighty exploiting the vulnerable.

And that brings me to crowd-sourcing - a natural development for working music businesses and beyond to tap into support, now that the previous providers have lost interest. Now, there's a very inventive campaign, freshly launched, that you really ought to know about. It ticks boxes - a lot of boxes. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

You think you've got choices? The Musicbiz would rather you didn't

FIFA may be dodgy, but try looking at the hype industry

There's a fantastic, possibly apocryphal, story of how one record company rep made quite sure that only his company's stuff was played at US R'n'B radio in the 50s. This was in the days of 78s. The rep simply, accidentally on purpose, cracked all the other records in the library, leaving them unplayable. Oops, sorry 'bout that. 

The Music business has a long and unsavoury history of dodgy deals. Back in the 30s, song pluggers would pitch songs for their publishing company bosses, first when selling sheet music in music shops, and later pitching material to record companies and band leaders. Even Gerschwin, when he wasn't banging out hits, worked as a song plugger. Such territory is ripe for manipulation. And before radio killed jukeboxes, there was intense competition to place songs on the right machines.    

You may ask what that ancient history have to do either with today's relentlessly, um, transparent music industry, or even music on our patch? Well... quite a lot.