Category Archives: Music

Musicians: brace yourselves for the hidden costs of EU touring the Brexiteers never mentioned

Festival: if you’re a musician who regularly performs at EU events, you can kiss those big crowds goodbye – unless you’re getting paid big bucks for your performance.

As a musician myself – even though I’ve never toured in Europe – this is infuriating.

I know musicians who do gig on the Continent, and the new costs triggered by Brexit are likely to make it impractical for them to continue.

Wasn’t Brexit supposed to make it easier for us all to ply our trades? Do you know anybody who actually and materially benefits from January 1 onwards?

Here’s Howard Goodall to explain the bad news:

Last summer, the arts/culture charity I currently chair – Radnor Fringe Festival – ran an online version of its annual event because Covid-19 made a physical festival with thousands of people standing around shoulder-to-shoulder impossible. It was a huge success.

We’re currently working on making the online festival an ongoing thing, with new content by musicians, artists, actors and so on, to be funded initially by donations.

Personally, I see this as one way for UK musicians to get their sounds out to the Continent while the Brexit insanity holds sway.

It won’t be the same as being there at a gig, but it might be the only cost-effective way of being heard.

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The big Tory ‘Rethink Reskill Reboot’ blunder that has backfired badly

Boris Johnson should have known better but he didn’t. Neither did his Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who is more directly responsible.

You see, after he announced that he was re-focusing government support to concentrate only on “viable” employment, Sunak had to answer questions about what was to be done with people whose jobs were “unviable”, according to his reckoning.

His answer? “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.” He wanted people to re-train for different jobs.

No doubt he is now left wondering why people in some employment sectors have taken his words as an attack…

… especially after a government advert that appeared today:

It specifically targets entertainers – “Fatima” is a ballet dancer, and therefore belongs to a highly-exclusive corner of the live entertainment sector.

And it suggests that her time would be better-spent working at a desk, in front of a computer, making money for somebody else. Hence this response:

(Of course the reference is to the fact that the government lost more than 16,000 positive Covid-19 traces because it was recording them on an Excel spreadsheet that ran out of fields.)

Others have responded equally bitingly – and often amusingly. I’ll intersperse what follows with some of these.

But it is important to mention the elephant in this particular room: the fact that entertainment is a multi-billion pound industry that deserves government support that Sunak and Johnson aren’t providing.

The case was made very well by Rou Reynolds. If you’re not familiar with the name, he’s the lead singer of the band Enter Shikari – a personal favourite of This Writer’s stepdaughter, before you all start labouring under illusions that I’m suddenly “with it”.

In an open letter to Sunak, published by that venerable pop periodical Kerrang!, he made the case for entertainers to receive support – and he made it well:

Musicians rely on live performance for their main source of income.

The music industry has been one of the most drastically hit industries throughout the whole [Covid-19] crisis. And as the government furlough scheme ends in a few weeks, your government has decided to give the least amount of support for one of the hardest hit industries.

Like a fish writhing in the dust at the bottom of a drained lake, in losing the option of gigging, those in the music industry have been deprived of their life-source.

And the government is standing on what was once the shoreline, suggesting to the fish that it retrains as an elephant.

Most people in the music industry are now being told they no longer have a “viable job” and must retrain or otherwise adapt. There is to be no financial support for them. This, from the same government that wasted £2 billion on helping businesses that are actually thriving during the pandemic. From the same government that wasted millions painting planes, handing out dodgy coronavirus contracts to its ill-equipped pals and employing inept private companies to do jobs they aren’t trained for.

Lots of people are rightly focusing on the economics, pointing out that the music industry adds £5 billion a year to the UK economy. Live music specifically adds the same amount as the whole of the UK fishing industry.

But I would argue that even more important than the economics, live music creates community, friendships and it brings people together indiscriminately – something that this country desperately needs. It is a reliable tonic for our mental health, both for the performers and the listeners. It heals, it unites, it gives hope, it provides escape, it motivates us and it connects us.

Of course, these things are not measured in our economic statistics. Nor do they seem to be acknowledged at all.

Telling artists to diversify, retrain, or simply get another job is even odd in itself, to be honest. Most artists do have other jobs already. Most artists juggle multiple aspects of their own career already. Many could attempt to get more hours in the jobs they have outside of the music industry and just what…? Leave it to rot? Leave it in the safe hands of the well-funded, “establishment-approved” mainstream, and lose all the beautiful diversity and nuance of the underground, the alternative and the more esoteric scenes? The very scenes that have made UK music the world’s most inventive and leading cultural force for decades.

And it’s not just artists that are going to struggle either without support, is it? It’s not just whinging, complaining singers like me!

You remember those iceberg diagrams? The musicians are the little bit of the iceberg we see above the water. Look below the surface and you witness the true extent of the colossal size of the industry: it’s huge.

It’s the stage technicians, lighting designers, engineers, management and production teams, agents, press teams, media, photographers, videographers, promoters, venue staff, security, bus and truck drivers, caterers, even the kebab shop near the venue that relies on the gig-goer’s custom to keep its doors open. What happens to them?

And if you remove an artist’s main source of income, how are they then supposed to afford to record new music? You’re then impacting the record producers, the studio engineers, the mixing and mastering engineers, the session musicians, the video directors and music video production teams, the labels and the publishers.

You and your government must reconsider.

Yours,
Rou Reynolds (unviable content creator, awaiting retraining)

Source: An Open Letter To Rishi Sunak, By Rou Reynolds — Kerrang!

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Band calls on fans to help the homeless. Will you?


This Writer has always liked The Levellers and now I like them more.

The band is using its current tour to help homeless people in the towns where the tour will be stopping.

Here are Charlie and Matt to explain how it works:

I’ll be seeing the band at Llandudno at the end of this month and I intend to help.

If you’re a fan, check the lists on this Facebook page to see what you can bring.

Levellers have a new album, called Peace, out on August 14.

Here’s a taste of what it is and what they’re about:

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Buy the latest Christmas charity song, with a naughty title – and a serious message {EXTREME LANGUAGE]

“What a lark”: Jarvis Cocker is thrilled that his song is the centre of the campaign – and all proceeds will go to Shelter.

Campaigners are hoping to rebuild an atmosphere of “inclusivity, representation, love, acceptance and kindness” – by getting a song to the top of the Christmas charts called C*nts Are Still Running The World.

A Facebook group has been launched to get the song to Number One and it seems that people are joining the campaign in a big way – as a comment on the Conservative general election victory earlier this month.

And the great news is that all proceeds will go to Shelter, to help relieve the huge homelessness crisis that has been created by Conservatives like Boris Johnson.

If you’re unfamiliar with this particular opus, here it is (be warned: the lyrics feature one word that many consider to be extremely strong language):

Did you like that?

If so, buy it here: https://uk.7digital.com/artist/jarvis-cocker/release/running-the-world

And hurry!

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More on the Madness election song – check out what they’ve done with the artwork!

Even the cover of the new Madness song, Bullingdon Boys, is a jab at Boris Johnson and his colleagues – including former PM David Cameron.

Mr Cameron is depicted in the mask worn by serial killer Michael Myers in the Halloween movies.

And Mr Johnson’s face is replaced by that of Porky Pig.

Other club members are depicted as a red-eyed reptile, the Devil, and an S&M fetishist (as far as I can tell).

According to NME, the song is the first Madness have released in three years, and is described as a “barbed swipe at the charlatans, rotters and chancers at the top of the tree who have done their best to take the shine off 2019.”

Inspired by the fact that 19 of the 54 UK Prime Ministers have come from Eton, the new song takes aim at Johnson, who was educated at Eton College before going on to study at Oxford, and his peers with anti-Tory lyrics.

The tagline on the artwork is a clear call for those of us with good taste in music to use our votes against Mr Johnson and his Tory cronies: “Don’t get bullied by the bully boys.”

If you haven’t already heard it via This Site’s previous article, here’s the song itself, again:

Source: Madness take barbed swipe at Boris Johnson on first new song in three years

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New song by Madness attacks the Tory elite – and it should be a chart-topper

The real Bullingdon boys: Boris Johnson is seated, to the right of the image; former PM David Cameron iss standing.

Chart veterans Madness have just released a new song. It’s called The Bullingon Boys. Can you guess what it’s about?

I’m guessing the band is asking us not to vote Conservative in this year’s general election, with a warning about what we can expect.

Or is the lyric about being taken off life-support too complicated?

It’s a terrific song, in the mould of the great Madness hits of the 1980s. Share it – and its message – around.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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