Well, it is the time of year where everything is put on hold - so I can wade through dozens of student essays and creative projects. However, last week, I took a break from marking madness and presented two at two conferences in a week – both related to my research project for the Higher Education Academy on the relationship of Higher Education and Live Music in Wales.
The first conference was at Kingston University, and entitled 21st Century Musician: Essential Skills for Making Music Today. It was hosted by Moke bass player Alex Evens – and featured a really interesting range of academic and music industry speakers. As you will see from the programme – my paper was followed by a talk by Sandy Swaw – a lovely lady – who provided an interesting insight into her career in the music industry.
After getting home for one night, I set off for Leeds for the two day Live Music Exchange conference. As you will see from the programme, this event was more directly related to live music, and for me the initiatve is really making a contribution to the ways in which the live music industry can work with academics such as myself. I will upload my paper at a later date, but for the moment, the event confirmed that as a nation, Wales could learn much from what is taking place in Scotland – and this is something I intend to explore more after I have completed my live music research for the Higher Education Academy.
With this project I am currently documenting the critical report – so more info on this later.
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Posted in Academic, Live Music, Music Industry, Musicology, tagged composers, identity, Music Industry, musicology, paul carr, performing musicians, welsh music on January 14, 2012 |
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I have a new Journal article coming out in the next week which discusses some askpects of the Welsh Music scene. It will be published in the Journal ‘Popular Music History’ – a short abstract copied below.
This chapter intends to explore current issues surrounding the opportunities and limitations inherent within the Welsh music scene, for composers and performing musicians within the popular music industry. It is apparent that Wales currently presents a number of prospects to obtain exposure within national boundaries, with BBC Radio Cymru, Gwyliwch Y Gofod, Bandit, Sioe Gelf and Gofod all being indicative examples of Radio and TV specifically targeting Welsh talent. Indeed, Welsh music and artistry has long been internationally prevalent through popular artists like Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey during the 1960’s, rock bands such as Man, Budgie and Badfinger during the 1970’s, The Alarm and The Manic Street Preachers emerging during the mid and late 1980’s, and Super Furry Animals and Catatonia during the Brit Pop influenced Cool Cymru period of the 1990’s. However, it could be argued that many of these artists compromise their Welsh identity by singing in English, with Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals and Catatonia being particularly interesting examples of ensembles originally part of a Welsh-speaking scene during the 1980s–1990s, who were later to perform their music in English, often for commercial imperatives. As outlined by David Owen, Welsh speaking bands such as Crumblowers and Ffa Coffi Pawb“realised if they were ever to make a successful career they would have to sing in English” (2006) – this is a politically contentious decision facing Welsh-speaking ensembles to this day. The financial imperative to gain exposure outside of Wales can be considered more important of late, due to the recent reductions in Performing Rights Society (PRS) royalty rates, a factor which has made it significantly more problematic for musicians to operate professionally within Welsh boundaries. This chapter investigates the sometimes opposing political, commercial, and nationalistic pressures on Welsh musicians to sustain a living. Furthermore, it considers how these factors can potentially affect their Welsh identity, a term which was identified by Hill (2007) as being inherently problematic. After documenting a brief contextualisation of the history of Welsh popular music and its dialogic relationship with the construction and portrayal of identity, the chapter will proceed to outline how opportunities and threats are impacted by this construction. It argues that both the government and the music industry need to negotiate the gray area between economics and cultural authenticity, leaving musicians free to portray their ‘Welshness’ as they see fit. The necessity for a unified industry that facilitates musicians to exploit their intellectual property rights inside and outside of Wales is also emphasised as an important factor regarding the capacity of the Welsh music industry propagating employment for its workforce.
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The funding I recently obtained from the European Social Fund to develop a Foundation Degree for the Convergence Areas of the Welsh Music Industry is now been put to good use. The structure is now more or less fully developed, enabling practitioners to gain academic credit for up to half of the qualification. This is complemented by enabling the attendees to learn about the various structures of the modern music industry, in addition to the means through which they can exploit their creative talent. Unlike other Foundation Degrees that usually take two years full-time, this qualification will take around 15 months part-time, and is largely delivered by distance learning. There are 75 full bursaries over the next three years, with the first cohort starting in September this year. The pedagogical model for this was developed a couple of years ago in a paper I wrote for the Journal of Research into Higher Education, and is now ready for the testing stage.
The subject of if qualifications such as these are worthy contributions to academia is well covered, and during the time I have been living in Wales have discussed it a number of times on Radio and TV. In fact the BBC recently covered the start-up of the course in a short article, and I was surprised to see the same old approach – are popular music qualifications worthwhile? I would argue that on a number of levels they are.
Firstly – the government are informing us they are. University degree courses are about to become more flexible (in terms of delivery) and will have to have explicit links with industry due to the understandable expectations of students. Thus far I have managed to build a number of important links with industry for this course, and this is something that I hope will continue in the months to follow. The idea is not only to get feedback from these important stakeholders, but also to provide potential experience for the students on the programme. As I now have to consider myself an ‘academic’ as opposed to a professional musician – it is essential that full use is made of colleagues who are currently earning their crust within the profession.
Secondly, why does the word ‘popular music’ or ‘music industry’ signify that it is a ‘Micky Mouse’ course? When I developed the original Popular Music Course at Glamorgan 8 years ago (After moving from Bournemouth) – this was covered in the Daily Telegraph – who actually accompanied the article with a picture of Walt Disney’s favourite character (I kid you not). As I stated at the time, popular music is responsible for generating a huge income for the UK, something which has prompted people such as Tony Blair to recognise the importance of music to the economy. The live music industry alone generates over 1.5 , billion, so why should we not study the means that make this possible? As outlined in a recent report I done for the Welsh Music Foundation into the live music in Wales – Popular Music generates by far the most money for the Welsh economy – so to repeat myself – it makes sence to study it!
As with all of my posts, I limit myself to around 15 mins, and I have now reached this point. If anyone is interested in the Foundation Degree in Music Industry Entrepreneurship – please get in touch. And please – don’t call it a Micky Mouse course!!!!
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The research I have been doing recently for the Welsh Music Foundation into live music over the last few months has made me think – how relevant and important are Foundation Degree’s to the music industry? This is part of a two-part post, where I will address ‘relevance’ first.
I have written a number of Foundation Degree’s over the last 10 years (For both Bournemouth University and Glamorgan University), and I think the original idea behind these qualifications was theoretically sound. The concept of a qualification reflecting the skill requirements of the music industry is useful, and although Foundation Degree’s have worked well in other sectors, there have always been factors that prevent this qualification from being relevant for music.
For example, an important ingredient of all FD’s is the work placement. As the qualification is vocational, it makes sense to facilitate practitioners to obtain part of their credit via the work place.The vast majority of institutions teaching FD’s find this difficult with music, something which results in many devising ‘work related assignments’, where students are accessed via ‘real life’ scenarios. Although this is the next best thing, like myself, many lecturers find it difficult to keep up with current industry practice (How can you do both?). Although it may be easy to organise a work placement to a local builders firm or Tescos (who now have their own FD), it is far more difficult to enable students to work as part of a successful touring act, or a major publisher.
It seems to me that this has resulted in the music industry (whatever that means) generally not relating to the qualification. Having being part of this process over the last 10 years, I recently decided to develop a Foundation Degree that is not aimed at school/college students, but at people already in the industry. This leads me to the 2nd part of my post – how important are qualifications to the music industry.
More on this later ……………………..
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Open Letter to Lord Mandelson, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (UK)
The Digital Music License (DML) – why and how a new public license for the legal consumption of music on the Internet would provide a solid alternative to the proposed ’3 strikes’ legislation
Update: Greek Translation here
Dear Lord Mandelson,
The proposed “3 Strikes” legislation is flawed in many more ways than I could hope to outline in this letter, and many of these issues have already been addressed in many other places. Therefore I shall provide only a quick summary of some of the key issues, and then move on to describe what a fruitful, realistic and decidedly more pragmatic alternative could look like.
Share this cow gerd Unauthorized use of music on the Internet is not a technical problem but a business issue. The reasons why the global ‘free’ sharing of music via the Internet (whether streamed or downloaded) is growing exponentially cannot be nullified by technological means. Rather, the digital music (r)evolution clearly poses a myriad of business and socio-cultural problems that require us to devise a new social contract that legalizes what people actually do, and then build new business models around it.
To read the rest of this excellent post, go to MediaFuturist: Open letter to Lord Mandelson: here is how to solve the Internet Music Problem – Legalize It!.
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There was a time when songs were songs. When there were the albums that you owned and those that you did not. When there was a distinct difference between the music that you liked and the artists that you didn’t care for at all.There was a time when the music you that collected was actually a physical thing; it represented your identity and served as a mirror of your taste. When the albums you had access to, beyond those that you owned, were limited to that of your friend’s and family’s. When the only way you could expand your collection was to purchase more music or temporarily borrow a copy of theirs.There was a time — one I barely remember — where these boundaries defined my music experience, but those days are gone now, and we can never get them back. Once the album format fractured and individual songs became the focal point of music consumption, companies like Pandora, iLike, Last.FM, iMeem, and others began the process of discerning the unique characteristics of each song, and building recommendation engines around them.
To check out the rest of this post go to The Barriers of Music Consumption: Past & Present – hypebot.
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