Archive for March, 2010

March 23, 2010

Fan club members get first choice on Gorillaz tickets

Tickets went on sale today for the long anticipated London Gorillaz gigs, the first in the capital for 9 years!   The only trouble is you need to be a paid-up member to purchase one!   Becoming a member of the Gorillaz G club isn’t really the problem – its paying the £25 fee that feels a bit too much like daylight robbery – sure you get a free Gorillaz toy and a few unreleased tracks that weren’t good enough to make the album, but the real and only incentive is to have priority booking surely!  This type of inclusivity feels a little bit like a tier system that favours the more affluent.

I’ve tried to think of many reasons why Albarn would generate such a corporately flavoured ticket scheme?  Maybe he sees it as a way of creating clans among music fans , creating a type of fan loyalty – in a world full of music fragmentation, unlimited access and decreasing musical tribes.   Maybe this is his idea of reconnecting with the teenage sub-cultures that were once seen roaming the record stores in Blur’s early years.  Although Gorillaz are very much a band of the pop mainstream, a band that straddle genres and epitomise modern-day eclecticism.

Maybe Albarn feels that Gorillaz have been a victim of these tough unit shifting times.  He may feel that due to a lack of touring commitment over the last ten years that they’ve lost they’re revenue potential and that he needs to recoup some of the lost funds!   However, looking at Gorillaz CD sales for the first two albums it is hard to see where they fell short?  7 million and 12 million worldwide sales for the albums respectively are not too bad for a so-called side project.  With Plastic Beach hitting the top spot in many countries it is unlikely that it will fail to follow in the footsteps – this of course generates royalties-a-plenty for the Gorillaz gang – a collective where no one is short of a bob or two?

So why the G fan club for what is already a massively succesful formula?  Is it a need to provide and guarantee for the most committed fan?  Even though Albarn is a constant advocate of musical independence and diversity?

Something around here has the faint smell of corporate bullshit!  The same kind of stench that is often found lingering around the corporate behemoths of U2 and The Rolling Stones.   It would be somewhat forgivable if the desperate EMI (Gorillaz record company) were behind this cynical idea and not the liberal, idealist Albarn!

March 17, 2010

Gorillaz caught stealing Eddie Grants tunes

Another week goes by in the music world and yet another musician complains of having their tunes stolen by another artist. This time its electro- reggae recluse Eddie Grant who is enraged about Damon Albarn’s lack of respect for his melodic copyright. His 1983 single, ‘Time Warp’ does sound vaguely like Albarn’s latest single, ‘stylo’, albeit with a quicker tempo, but in the age of pro tooling and mass sampling, unless the song is a complete identical rip off, no artist should be able to stake any claim to complete ownership.  After 60 years of modern pop recordings there are only so many different variations of melody and beat that it is humanly possible to create.  Music is a universal and free expression, unless a song is blatantly making money off the back of someone else’s hard work, then it should remain that way.   Florence and the Machine was recently accused of stealing Gang Gang Dance’s ‘House Jam’ for the melody in Rabbit Heart, although the exact similarities are dubious, as are Joe Satriani’s claims that Coldplay ripped off ‘If I could Fly’ in their single ‘Viva La Vida‘? In fairness Gang Gang Dance said that they just wanted a bit of gratitude from Florence Welch and didn’t expect any copyright rebate.  Although the sheer mention of the story instantly found them a whole new audience.   Something Coldplay don’t need if they were to ever question the authenticity of Jay Z’s ‘New York’ chorus and its similarities with ‘The Scientist’!

March 12, 2010

Pink Floyd win battle with EMI

Pink Floyd won a court battle with EMI yesterday to preserve their right to sell the album in its complete format rather than selling songs on an individual basis through services such as iTunes. This is yet another shot in the arm for the beleaguered record company and a legal endorsement of the album format – the judge said there was a written clause in the contract ‘to preserve the artistic integrity of the album’.

This is an interesting development on the battle between artists and record labels over the distribution of songs.  The industry, encouraged by new media platforms and digital distribution is pushing in the direction of individual tracks,  whereas the artist is clinging onto the conventional and creative art form that is the album.   However much we hear and read about the unstoppable cultural shift of single track listening the backlash of album creativity never seems to be more apparent, especially now EMI and iTunes have received a warning shot.

Three albums that have been released over the last month have rekindled love and appreciation for the long player.   Gorillaz, Joanna Newsom and Field Music ‘s albums are all epic and creative explosions of ideas and deeply mined emotions that are too grand and simultaneously too nuanced to encapsulate into a single song.

March 6, 2010

V Festival popularity provides income for the touts

With V festival selling out in less than 1 hour 30 minutes it provides even more financial impetus for the ticket touts to operate while pushing up the prices for the punters.  Almost straight after the tickets were sold they are now advertised on secondary ticket outlets such as eBay or seatwave for at least 100 pounds more.   This racketeering of the live music market is wholly unethical and creating widespread desperation among music fans who are having to spend beyond their means to see their favourite bands.   This artificial price hike is swallowing up large amounts of consumer money that would be spent in other areas of the industry, i.e: CD sales, downloads and merchandise.  The government needs to introduce tighter regulation of the live ticket market by wrestling power away from the ticket mafia and putting the control back into the hands of the promoters and punters.   Sure, it is a free society where people choose to spend what they want/or can afford on tickets, however most people aren’t even given the option to buy from the official source because of block purchases and huge buying power and influence from these secondary ticket outlets.   It is not entrepreneurship it is blatant profiteering through unfair and unethical means that needs to be acknowledged by the government.

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