I presented at a music and semiology conference last week – this was essentially a reading of the introduction to the forthcoming Zappa And the And book. Excellent conference, nice city – although I was pleased to get home. Although the proceedings are not uploaded as of yet – details of the conference can be found here
We also have live music based conference taking place in Cardiff at the weekend. Building on a couple of reports I have written on live music over the last couple of years – it is organised by The Live Music Exchange in conjunction with Glamorgan University’s Centre for Small Nations. Details can be found here.
My new job has made finding time to research problematic, but at the moment I am working on a book chapter on music and virtuality. I will however be looking for projects in the new year once the dust settles.
The Zappa book is released in January
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I am starting a new research project in a couple of weeks related to live music. It builds on a number of projects I have done before – but this time is specifically related to how Higher Education can work more productively with the live music sector. Although focused on Wales, the research should be of interest to all. I have set up a specific blog for the project here, and I would very much appreciate any feedback that would assist the research. If you work in live music in the UK, I would also appreciate you doing the online questionnaire – which can be found here. I will be posting updates of this research to the new blog, but will occasionally update progress here – more to follow.
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Posted in Academic, Foundation Degre, Frank Zappa, Live Music, Loop Music, Wales, tagged Frank Zappa, live music, loops in music, loops in popular music, music loop, paul carr, popular music foundation degree, Wales on January 1, 2012 |
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It is so long since I last blogged, so I thought this seemed a good time to set a new year’s resolution to upload a post at least once a week. So – here goes – a brief synopsis of what I have been up to last year (as far as I can remember).
Due to the amount of work I have had to do on the edited collection on Frank Zappa (More later) – I made a decision to not present at as many conferences this year. I did however do a couple. The first was in Liege in March – on ‘Loops in Popular Music’ – a really interesting international discussion at the local university. I presented the paper with my colleague – Dr Ben Challis – and after the proceedings of the conference were processed we were asked to update our work for a book chapter. The book is in the French language, and at the moment is being edited – more of this in a later post.
This was followed by a conference at Edinburgh University, which was organised by Prof. Simon Frith and focused on live music – part of a 3 year project funded by AHRC.. This gave me the chance to discuss the research I had recently completed into the live music industry in Wales, and was a great opportunity to listen to loads of industry professionals and academics discuss their research. An overview of the papers can be found here for those that are interested. The research into the Live Music Industry in Wales also led to a talk at the Institute of Welsh Affairs (which was really well attended), an interview with the Minature Music Press, a talk at the Hay Festival and a couple of radio interviews.
September of last year also witnessed the launch of the European Social Funded Foundation Degree in Music Industry Entrepreneurship I had been working on for a number of years. The idea for this started a couple of years ago with a paper that was published in the Journal for Applied Research in Higher Education, and I hope this course can act as a sort of template of the ways in which the music industry can work with Higher Education.
The Zappa Book has been progressing nicely and is due to be handed into the publishers at the end of March 2012. Although not conferences, I was lucky enough to do a couple of talks at the University of Valencia and Cardiff University this year on some of the thinking behind the book. Although I am really pleased with how the book is shaping up, one of the book’s key contributors David Sanjek sadly passed away just prior to Christmas. He had handed his chapter in just a couple of weeks before and had worked so hard on it. His death came as such a shock to everyone and I have decided to dedicate the book to Dave – he will be sorely missed.
I have also had a couple of other publications released this year on Zappa, but rather than go into specific details – anyone who is interested can get details here.
Finally, thanks to Spotify, I have managed to listen to so much music this year. In no particular order – the best music of the year includes:
The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
James Blake – Enough Thunder
White Denim – D
Beady Belle – Cewbeagappic
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Nigel Price Organ Trio – Heads & Tales
Amon Tobin – ISAM
Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
Radiohead – TKOL RMX 1234567
Happy new year.
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Posted in Academic, Foundation Degre, Music Industry, Wales, tagged convergence areas, esf, Foundation Degree, musici industry., paul carr, Wales on May 28, 2011 |
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Well, my European Social Fund Foundation Degree for the music industry in Wales is due to be launched officially in a few days. In the first year, the funding will enable 15 people who live or work within the Welsh Music Industry Convergence Areas a potential free place. The first year is aimed at the industry in South Wales, and will be followed by places in the North and West over the next few years. As most of you will know, a Foundation Degree is the same as the first two years of a degree, so when one considers the current price of higher education – this represents an excellent opportunity. The course is mainly taught through distance learning, and already has a 3rd year top up written – although students have to fund this themselves if they want to do it. The dedicated website for the qualification can be found here, with an online application form here.
The unique aspect of this course, is that in enables practitioners to gain credit for the experience they have gained in the industry thus far – plus the work they do in the work place once the course starts.
By all means drop me a line if you require more details.
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Here is the powerpoint that has been used in the Forum Meetings for the live music industry research. The presentation has been used as a basis to encourage discussion, which will in turn influence the final report which will be published by WMF. If you have any comments that you think would assist the research, please get in touch.
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Two months without a single post – then 2 in two days – how is that for predictability?? For those who are interested in live music, I am chairing the final two seminars for the Welsh Music Foundation next week in Aberystwyth and Swansea – the details can be found here. SWN Promoter John Rostron will also be doing a workshop at both events – so the sessions are well worth a visit. If you can’t make the sessions to contribute to the research, there is still time to fill in the online questionnaires. The English version can be be found here, and the Welsh version here. If anyone has any thoughts about the live music industry in Wales or would like to contribute to the research in any way – just get in touch with me.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged ATRiuM, bbc radio wales, Cardiff, cath jenkins, jason mohammad, live music, meltdown, paul carr, pete lawrie, radio cymru, sc4, simon price, st david's day, SWN, the globe, the invention of tradition, the point, the welsh music industry, tony etoria, Wales, welsh culture, welsh music day on March 4, 2010 |
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I am currently writing a book chapter for Ashgate on the advantages and disadvantages of the Welsh music industry. Interestingly, there was a ‘Welsh Music Day’ on BBC Radio Wales on March 1st (St Davids’s Day), and selected links can be found below. Jason Mohammad’s show was particularly interesting – with a short synopsis being found here. The music industry part of the show featured Pete Lawrie, Tony Etoria, journalist Simon Price and Meltdown’s Paul Clarke. This was preceded with a discussion about Welsh Culture, including the differences of Irish and Welsh culture, with a specific discussion around the global pervasiveness of St Patrick’s Day compared to St David’s. One of the main concerns of the Welsh Culture discussion focused around what I would describe as an ‘essentiallist’ depiction of what it means to be Welsh, where Mountains, Rugby, Poetry, Coal Mines, Male Voice Choirs, etc are seen as depicting a stereotypical perspective of Welsh identity. This seems to be juxterpositioned against an ‘anti essentialist’ view on Welsh identity – where individuals can describe their identity according to what they are not (IE English). For many, being Welsh seems to focus around the language, with one guest stating that ‘its what makes us different from the English, the Irish, and Scottish’. Ultimately, it is probably a ‘shared experience and heratige’, which for some of a particular generation involves a combination of the above parameters. As with other small nations that have been colonised, it it apparent that tradition can be invented to compensate for factors of identity that have been taken away. For example in the case of Wales, the Acts Of Union was largely responsible for the current dominance of the English Language – so it seems logical to emphasise this as an anti essentialist ‘two fingered’ gesture.
The show progressed to move on to a music industry related discussion, with the loss of local venues such as The Globe and The Point being a particular point of concern. Other factors included the need for an infrastructure (ie recording studios, record companies and venues) and the need for creative people to stay in Wales as opposed to moving to London. This is a particularly interesting point, with artists such as John Cale, Steve Strange, Scritti Politti all leaving for major music capitals. Indeed the above mentioned Pete Lawie had just moved to London 5 days prior to the programme’s broadcast, making this subject particularly ironic. Lawrie also noted that his forthcoming tour did not include a venue in Wales, as Cardiff does not have a mid size 500 – 1000 seater venue. This was a point raised during a recent SWN conference outlined below, and it seems that if many cutting edge young bands are to perform in Wales it needs to be rectified. Another good point made concerning the state of modern Welsh music (as opposed to the essentialist view of Welsh music being Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey etc) is that it has been genuinely succesful in genres such as ‘popular classical’ (Catherine Jenkins, Charlotte Church, etc) and ‘Emo Metal’ (Lost Prophets, Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine). It was also noted that although some venues have been lost or under threat, there are a number of venues to play in South Wales in particular. The loss of BBC Radio 6 was also deemed a problem as it was a station that championed emerging Welsh Bands. It was also noted that it was difficult to place a specific sound to Welsh Music – unlike sounds that have come from places such as Liverpool and Manchester (Madchester).
The Music Academy based at the ATRiuM in Cardiff held a seminar in 2008 which discussed the live music industry in Wales, and my original post and podcast can be found here. There were also two other podcasts, one featuring Scouting For Girls and another discussing the do it yourself business model.
In conclusion, the programme also discussed how the partially financed (via Radio Cymru, SC4) welsh language scene can lead to the ‘big fish in a small pool’ syndrome, in addition to restricting creativity by stipulating specific guidelines to get exposure. It was also suggested that a way of breaking down the traditionalist barriars outlined above is to get up and coming welsh acts like Pete Lawrie to perform at national sports events, as opposed to the usual - Catherine Jenkins etc. Catatonia playing at the opening of the Welsh Assembly a few years ago is a good example of how non traditional musics can be used more traditional events – quite right.
I would appreciate any thoughts anyone has regarding points of interest I could include in the book chapter.
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Posted in SWN Festival, tagged Arts and Entertainment, Cardiff, Donny Osmond, Fleet Foxes, james taylor quartet, Kilimangero, Maes B, National Assembly for Wales, paul carr, Push4, Society and Culture, SWN, The Music Academy, Wales, Welsh Music Foundation on December 17, 2008 |
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On Friday November 14th, the ATRiuM’s Music Academy, Centre For Small Nations and the Welsh Music Foundation hosted a day of music industry seminars as part of the Cardiff based SWN festival. Over the next several weeks I will upload downloadable links to podcasts of each of the four seminars, and discuss the seminar content via this blog. The first seminar featured promoters Dave Driscoll (Push 4), Guto Brychan (Maes B), Steve Tilly (Kilimangero) and moderator John Rostron (SWN co-organiser). For more details about the presenters please click here.
The initial discussion centred around the reasons why many artists don’t come to Wales, or indeed Cardiff in particular during their ‘national’ tours. This was something I had noted during my days as a professional musician, with very few James Taylor Quartet tours of the late 1980’s/early 1990’s taking in Wales. In fact Cardiff was the only venue we played back then. This pattern seems to have continued, with Fleet Foxes being an indicative example of an up and coming ‘buzz’ band not playing a single gig in Wales. The seminar also raised a number of questions that I would welcome responses to:
- Why is it that some agents don’t feel compelled to send their artists to Wales?
- Is there a misconception that there are not enough venues in Wales?
- Is there a lack of mid sized venues in Wales? Once bands get to a certain size, can they continue to play in Wales?
- Are the transport systems good enough to get people to and from Cardiff and some of the more remote venues (should some ticket sales include transport and/or gigs be flexible to comply with trains buses etc)?
- Is the perception that Cardiff people can simply go to Bristol to see a gig?
- What is the infrastructure in Cardiff in terms of generating media coverage for bands.
- Regarding the last point, do potential audiences feel informed in terms of what is happening in the Capital of Wales? The Joy Collective was noted as a good example of a web site that included South Wales and Bristol.
- Should promoters always continue to promote gigs after the venue has sold out?
- Are bands in too much of a hurry to play bigger venues before they are ready?
- How could the Welsh Assembly Government help with some of these issues?
I think the discussion reminded everyone of the central role that promoters play in the UK music industry, and the financial risk they take when acting as middlemen between agents, venues and the general public is considerable. When one considers that a local promoter like Push 4 can be working with around 25 artists and associate venues at any one time, it provides a lucid snapshot of the skills involved. Dave Driscoll did note that the slow speed of ticket sales in Wales generally provide a series of challenges to up and coming promoters that may not be apparent in other areas. It means that Welsh promoters in particular need to have a ‘hook’ when promoting many gigs, and Push 4’s work with Donny Osmond and The Lost Prophets were used as indicative examples. The seminar did illustrate that ticket sales in Cardiff have an idiosyncratic trait of selling very slowly, so there needs to be mutual trust between agents and promoters that can only develop over time.
The fact is that there are more venues in Cardiff now than there was 10 years ago, and it would be interesting to discuss if the city is now saturated. This however does not seem to be the case in mid/north Wales, there been very few venues north of the m4 corridor.
I am very interested in anyone’s thoughts on any of this. An RSS feed to this and other podcasts can be downloaded here. If required you can add to I Tunes and simply update when future posts are documented. Alternatively you can access the podcast directly below:
Please note that the start of this podcast is very quiet.
To subscribe to this post click here
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