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Bebop Spoken There

Jeremy Pelt: "I'm so much into melodies and into sound, and the presence of sound, that I don't necessarily want to try to play in between the cracks of a note." - (DownBeat November 2020)

The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

Postage

11,999 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1139 of them this year alone and, so far, 86 this month (Oct. 26).

Coming soon ...

IT IS ADVISABLE TO CHECK IN ADVANCE WITH THE VENUE THAT THE GIG IS ON.

OCTOBER

THURSDAY 29

Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Abbie Finn Trio - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm. Free (donations). Limited capacity (upstairs). It’s Abbie’s birthday!

Maine St Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside Road, Sunniside NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:00-10:00pm. Free. Note earlier start/finish.

FRIDAY 30

Neil William & Ben Holland - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm-10:00pm. Free (donations). Limited capacity. Jazz standards from the 1920s & 30s.

SATURDAY 31

Alice Grace & Pawel Jedrzejewski - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm-10:00pm. £10.00. Online booking (to book a table). Limited capacity. Alice & Pav join a multi-bill of entertainers (magician etc) to celebrate Prohibition Bar’s fifth anniversary. SOLD OUT!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

A not so brave new world - Latest comments

Jazzwise has an article this month (August) that is deeply disturbing although, well done to Maria Schneider for saying what many must be thinking. That the music industry is in a dire state is an indisputable fact but, although Covid-19 put the boot in that was merely the 9 count.

The internet is now such a part of our everyday lives that the monsters that are Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify and goodness knows how many others have not only decimated the High St. but also the way we listen to music - and for free thus doing away with the need to buy records. It doesn't have to be music, you could substitute just about anything that once you would buy from that shop where the friendly (sometimes!) assistant would help and advise you to make the best choice.

Schneider puts it in a nutshell. "Somebody like me spends hundreds of thousands of dollars making a record. I agree to put it on a streaming service and I'm being paid the exact same rate as some kid who makes a record in his bedroom!"

I asked one of our local singers if he planned to do any livestreams. "What's the point? You can go on YouTube and get Sinatra or whoever you want for free!"

Schneider also made reference to a Stephen Hawking remark: "whenever this Artificial intelligence becomes smarter than we are, that moment of singularity, it could easily turn on us and destroy us."

For many, that moment is here.
Lance

13 comments :

Lance said...

I must admit I'm disappointed. I thought the response to this post would have been enormous as, let's face it, this is the most important issue ever raised within these pages. Perhaps I should have posted it on Facebook where the wise and the wonderful put the world to right - eventually, maybe.

No it puzzled me at the lack of response. If Maria Schneider has the guts to put it into words, why has no one else?

Then it dawned - the guilt complex. And we're all guilty, myself included and, bearing in mind, we're talking about the world before Covid-19 arrived to condone our actions. Is there one person reading this who hasn't gone online to buy a book, a record, a washing machine or a submarine rather than nipping down to the High Street?

Alternatively, you do go down to the shopping area, pick the brains of the salesman who knows what he's talking about and then buy it online from someone who sees your purchase as just an expensive bag of potatoes.

A few days later, you nip out because you need some reeds, strings, sticks, whatever for a gig that night and, you know what?, the music shop is now a bookies, or a beauty salon or an estate agent, or a phone shop.

Maybe I'm just an old Luddite - now, where did I put my abacus? Oh yes, it's next to that rare Jelly Roll Morton record - I think I'll put it on eBay - Jelly Roll's records usually pull in a bob or two.

Ann Alex said...

Lance, Take heart, I think there's a much simpler reason why there was no feedback, at least I know why I didn't comment, and my reasons may apply to other people. I was interested but didn't comment because a/ you didn't ask for comments as such and b/I hadn't read the original article so didn't know how informed my opinion would be. Simple as that!

My general view of the matter is that I, and I suspect some others, use YouTube to find out if something is worth listening to, then I go to a shop to buy it if I want it. I can't be bothered to wait for a delivery. Perhaps I'm unusual.

I don't understand your friend who says people can always get Sinatra so why bother. A person who truly wants to sing will do so come hell or high water. Try shutting me up! Some people perhaps wish I would, but I won't.

Lance said...

You're missing the point Ann and we're not just talking about music. You say you hear something you like then just go out and buy it. Where will you go to buy it and why should you when you've already got it on your device for free?

Regarding a person who truly wants to sing - let them do so remembering we're talking about livestreams on YouTube or Facebook which take time and money to set up in the hope that the end product will pull in enough dosh to cover costs and maybe put a loaf on the table. In other words, it's not about wanting to sing, it's about people wanting to listen.

Away from music, if you want further proof of what's happening to the world - and don't blame Covid - that only escalated things, just take a look at the high street in your own home town. Count the number of boarded up shops...

Ann Alex said...

The high street is going through a transformation as it always did and in time it will return. This is proved by what I've learned at a recent Local History course. In early Victorian times King Street in South Shields was residential. It later became a street of shops and theatres, then shops when I was a child, and now it's a bit lost but there are plans for change. I think social change goes in waves and older things always return. Anything useful never goes. Streaming will eventually become part of the general scene rather than what everyone does and there'll always be live music. That's what I meant about singing.

Lance said...

Ann, the High Street is going through a transformation as it never has. Only you and ostriches can't see that. Forget about Victorian times and your local history society and look to the present and the future. Older things never return, at least not in the way we'd like them to return. We have to face the facts that we have become a lazy - you bring it to me I'm not going to you society and one which I have, ashamedly, on occasion, subscribed to. We all want a cut price apple - as Adam (or was it Eve?) found out - but never look to the whole orchard.

The "dastardly Boris" or one of his sidekicks has spoken of putting a 2% extra vat charge on online' sales. This isn't a sledgehammer to crack a nutshell, it's rather an icepick to topple a glacier!

As regards singing you can sing away to your heart's content but where, are people going to listen? Singers/musicians need an audience otherwise it becomes the Tree falling in a forest scenario.

Ann Alex said...

It doesn't seem as if anyone else is going to join the discussion which is a shame, so there's not much point in continuing and we'll not agree about this. We're going through social change and we don't know how it will end. Very hard for people who want to make a living out of music, but the music goes on anyway, and there are some very talented people out there, who'd prefer to get paid but do it anyway.

Chris Kilsby said...

Belated thoughts to add to the debate. I too read Maria Schneider's article and applaud her for taking a stand, but I don't see how the genie can be put back in the bottle easily.

The free (or at least cheap) access to music offered by Spotify, iTunes, Youtube has fundamentally altered the music business so that (a) only mega-selling artists make any money and (b) the consumer is king, with unprecedented availability of music. For me the turning point was ECM allowing its archive on to Spotify. And by the way, the whole business is still not sorted, as (a) Spotify has never posted an annual net profit, with cumulative losses over €2 billion and (b) what can be gleaned from the opaque accounts suggests the record companies still get paid, while the artists get beans.

While some of us may try to be "honest" and buy physical media after sampling on Spotify etc (with unprecedented outreach for new artists as small consolation), it's clearly not enough to support jazz artists. The only way they can make a living (pre-Covid at least) was by gigging (often supplemented by teaching).

Ann seems to be happy, making the point that the "music goes on anyway": maybe to some extent, but driving musicians into amateur penury is not fair, efficient or conducive to maintaining and advancing the level of the art.

Schneider is right - the "Data Lords" are taking advantage of our greed and laziness and profiting at our expense - not just in music but across all our activities. But what to do?
Streaming is here to stay, but surely it's time that the "free lunch" for listeners ended, and some fairer revenue model is imposed to make sure that the artists get rewarded and not just the record companies.

More widely, surely state action is needed to protect us - the first signs that this might happen are in the US, where the "cyber barons" are being (lightly?) grilled by Congress as I write.

Steve T said...

I've had this written out since the day you put the post on but feel like it's dangerous to say anything these days.

Despite what Bach or Beatle maniacs might claim, there seems to have been music in every human society in all corners of the globe since the beginning of time, suggesting it's part of the natural human condition.
It's tempting to think it's always been the same, but we've only had recorded music for a century, anything longer than 4 minutes since the mid-fifties and anything longer than 20 odd mins for nearly 40 years. Presumably it's now possible to listen to the Ring Cycle right through.
Prior to recordings, you might have had a piano (previously a harpsichord) in the house with somebody playing from manuscripts, somebody (often blind or disabled) singing worksongs, folk songs handed down through families (the Tickells) or - if you were privileged - you might get to hear an orchestra play something by a composer commissioned by somebody wealthy.
Music has always needed to adapt to the times and, for jazz, that meant the emergence of Bird, Diz, Bebop and beyond after the collapse of the Big Bands. A few years later, if bandleaders couldn't afford a pianist and a bass player, they could use an organ, and that changed the music.
Things look bleak for big bands again and maybe singers and horn players but - as Herbie said when asked this question on the BBC recently - anybody wanting to get rich off this is barking up the wrong tree. With scant exceptions (and Herbie may be one of them) jazz musicians have never attracted the ridiculous amounts of money more media friendly styles have had lavished on them.
The emergence of BLM may encourage more people to take more notice of black music genres like jazz and - you never know - we may even get a genuine new golden age, instead of a never ending succession of false starts; but it may require a generation of musicians who can make trios and duos more interesting and exciting.
In all situations, I have to think things will get better in the future, though I'm not necessarily expecting to see it myself.

Russell said...

Maria Schneider's critique of streaming services' shabby treatment of composers is yet another example of the age old struggle between capital and labour. The internet giant (capital) accrues colossal profit at the expense of the composer (labour). The unelected, and largely unregulated, Silicon Valley robber barons call the shots secure in the knowledge that opposition to their activities is, essentially, disorganised/non-existent. The capitalists' globalisation model makes it all the easier for them to sidestep/avoid tax regimes. Meanwhile, the worker/musician (some, inexplicably, choosing to be non-unionised) is, effectively, offered zero hour contracts, the lowest of low hourly rates with the prospect of negotiating better terms and conditions a 'virtual' pipe dream.

Meanwhile, the consumer/music fan (some, inexplicably, non-unionised) turns a blind eye to/is ignorant of, the struggle, ie capital versus labour. Lance and Ann discuss the declining high street, Lance suggesting there is a seismic/terminal change occurring, Ann taking the view that it is evolutionary, economic change. In these strange pandemic times it is interesting to note that the occupant of no.10 (de Pfeffel, a workin' class lad, if ever there was one) is suggesting that the (largely non-unionised) workforce gets back to work. Yes, get back to the office/shop/factory and risk your life. Why's that de Pfeffel? Could it be that your friends/foreign funders (anyone for a game of £t£e£n£n£i£s?) are concerned that their oh-so-valuble London property holdings could be about to take a big financial hit as high street businesses move out, never to return (preferring to have their employees working from home)?

The way forward? Support musicians by purchasing CDs at gigs (remember them?), buy CDs from your local independent 'Record Store Day' shop, buy from the chains (until they go under) and, as far as possible, resist the lure of the robber barons' cyberspace dream. Maria Schneider's comments are timely, a 1930s' folk song - Which Side Are You On? -is timeless.

Lance said...

Well Russell, as a simple person who has no political views - and I have tried to keep this site likewise - I'm unable to comment. To me it's all about music and if this gets into a Facebook style free for all then the post will be closed.

Steve T said...

I'm someone who still likes a solid copy and agree with Ann Alex when she said CDs are the best invention since music. My experience of streaming has been mixed; my long suffering missus scoured the ads for a lease car with a CD player but - when it turned up - had to break the news to me that it didn't.
Availability still doesn't match CDs, though it's well ahead of vinyls and cassettes, but it seems to be dependant on somebody having a phone that's charged (which almost never seems to happen) and being able to get a signal.
Nevertheless it's better for the planet if we can receive music, books and films through the ether, and people are more likely to get past listening to, reading, watching stuff beyond what the white, middle class, middle-aged, square, straight male execs in big business and the media tell us.
Music has not been well served by the advanced/late/high capitalism of the last 60 years or so, with the invention of the 'genius', the power of the media and the focus on extra-musical factors including formats, novelty, gimmick, haircuts, fashion, sex-appeal, androgyny, fake rebellion etc etc etc.
On that dreadful, ghastly thing facebook, I suggested people from the industry with literally more dosh than they could spend in a hundred lifetimes could step up to the plate. When Paul McCartney and co ask the government to get their hands in their pockets, it's our money they want them to spend, yet these people literally have more money than governments right now, who have extraordinary levels of debt. Politicians were quick to invite footballers to do their bit.
There is a lot wrong with the music industry and the pandemic has exposed much that is seriously wrong in society and I'm hoping things will improve with the 'new normal', but I have no doubt that music will find a way; it always has.

Hugh said...

As usual, I am behind with my reading and late to the party. I agree with Schneider's premise and do not understand the music should be free (i.e. gratis) to the listener. Musicians can perhaps help reverse this trend by "monetising" (horrible word) their output through savvy marketing. This is already happening on a big scale due to Covid and could continue thereafter as part of the "new normal". There will always be a place for the live gig, though and, yes, with some "merch", including CDs, for sale.

Hugh said...

Oh, and I forgot to add that, of course the insatiable demand for data, be it streaming, social media use, cloud storage , or any other "virtual" medium has a massive carbon footprint - a consideration which is sometimes forgotten in the physical vs. virtual medium debate.

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