Sentric Music’s blog history inc Writers Block, Music Awards, Touts, North/South Divide
Stifled er, erm, y’know, creativity 26/02/2007
Sentric Music Blog – Stifled er, erm, y’know, creativity
I’m currently 1 hour 30min into my working day here at Sentric and usually my Monday morning blog is one of the first things that I do but alas, I have no idea on what to do it on. Britney Spears going mental? The Oscars? (Little Miss Sunshine should have won more awards but this is a music blog not a movie blog), Morrissey confirming that he won’t be doing Eurovision this year? (like he would ever do it anyway! Imagine him moping around the stage singing about cutting his wrists whilst Latvia’s entry sings ‘Happy Happy Kittens and Rainbows’) so I thought I’d take my blank mind and turn it into a subject: How to overcome writers block.
So, after a bit of research the marvellous and always reliable Wikipedia states that “Writer’s block can be closely related to depression and anxiety” Can it really? So this morning I suffered from 90 minutes of depression and/or anxiety? Jesus, I better call my mum at lunch.
During my time as a student I had a masterclass with Amy Winehouse during the time she released her first album, when asked the question ‘how do you cope with writers block?’ by a nervous music student, she paused. Looked at her manager. Paused for thought once more. Looked once again at her manager. Then said “Well I smoke a lot of weed”… Baring in mind Ludwig van Beethoven produced such pieces as ‘Music, Love, Wine, Opium 108/1, sounds like a good Friday night to me but in them days opium was more like we’d see Tizer in the modern world: “I know I shouldn’t but…”
And I could open up all kinds of conspiracy theories here for example the Beatles with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which contains lyrics such as;
Follow her down to a bridge by a fountainwhere rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies,everyone smiles as you drift past the flowersthat grow so incredibly high.
I suppose the counter argument here is even if you do have writers block would you want to take drugs if you end up writing tripe like that?
Another way to stir some creativity from a sober brain? In the words of Suggs “It must be love, love, love”
Random radio check shows:
Radio 1 = James Morrison: Last request.
Smash Hits = Christina: Dirrrty.
Galaxy = Akon: I wanna love you.
So there you’ve got heartbreak, lust and bleedin’ Akon proving yet again that he is ever the wordsworth and so beautifully displaying his emotion for a girl with, no doubt, a big booty.
And finally the 2 biggest selling UK singles of all time? Elton John: Candle in the wind and Band Aid: Do they know its Christmas?
So short of knocking off a member of the royal family, you could sing about anything that will tug on the heartstrings of the Great British public.
So I’ve narrowed down defeating writers block to Drugs, Love and Death. And remember, however bad you think your writers block is, spare a thought for Henry Roth who’s writers block apparently “persisted for sixty years and was caused by a combination of depression, political problems, and an unwillingness to confront past problems”. Gutted.
What I’m listening to this week: Freemaker and The Gossip
p.s. I said I’d talk to John Webster who set up the Mercury Music Prize about awards ceremonies this week. I did, and after I asked him basically what my blog was about last week ‘Do awards ceremonies care anymore’ he replied;
“You tell me.”
And the winner is… noone. 12/02/07
Brit awards, NME awards, Q awards, MTV Europe awards, MTV video awards, Mercury Music Prize, Digital Music awards, World Music awards, MOBO’s, Urban Music Awards, Kerrang awards, Grammys, Music Week awards etc etc oh… and don’t for get the Smash Hits Awards.
With the Brits seemingly passing us by on Valentines Day, this week I ask ‘Do music awards matter? And if they do, which ones?’
With the Brits going live for the first time since Sam Fox and that massive bloke did it in the 80’s with disastrous consequences, ITV felt getting “Faux Victorian Piss Merchant” Russell Brand to host the ‘edgy show with an edgy host’ would pay dividends to this once British institution and alas, it didn’t, receiving 5.3 million viewers compared to BBC’s 6.2 million watching the gooners give Bolton the once over.
I personally like the Brits, and I like Russell brand (I know a lot don’t, but I admire a man with an extended vocabulary, init) but why are they becoming less popular? I reckon its 2 reasons, firstly, saturation. There are so many of the bloody things these days that an ‘in’ band could be winning an award for something or other every fortnight and thus people progressively begin to care less and less. 2ndly is because of the DIY model (every week this thing pops up but hey, lets push things forwards). Simply put: Before you used to be told what to buy. People respected music press much more then what they do now, the magazines still sell as much if not more than they’ve ever done, but because of the ‘long tail’ (the crazy amount of choice we have now and the easy access to it) we can pick and choose exactly what our ears like. So if the Arctic Monkeys win best British band at 12 award ceremonies this year, chances are then consumer already knew they were the best British band about a year ago.
There are arguments that some of the awards mean more then others, for example you rarely see the 3 words ‘Mercury Music Prize’ in a sentence without the prefix of ‘Prestigious’ before it, but again, I think award doesn’t have the same oomph that it used to (but I’ll be meeting Jon Webster who is responsible for starting the award on Thursday so I’ll see what his feelings are towards this).
Although I’m bashing these awards ceremonies, I still think there is the need for them if anything just for the stories in the press the day after. And I’m sure all the big wigs who get drunk on behalf of the company they’re ‘representing’ would be rather ticked off if they had no where to go practice their lines midweek…
Get Well Soon Tony Wilson.
What I’m listening to this week: Quartershade and Kid Carpet
12 Feb 2007
“Ain’t Talking Tout Love”
Auntie Beeb report =
Ticket touts could face tighter controls on big events like the Concert for Diana under new plans being considered by the government. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has praised moves to combat touts, such as clearer resale information and exchange facilities.
Good old Tessa Jowell looking out for us all, protecting us against them touts who take all our money, exploiting our passion for some extra money because they know someone will pay 4 times the face value to see their favourite band in a specific venue. But are touts the rogues we make them out to be?
In my time I’ve bought tickets off ebay for a couple of gigs, Green Day at Milton Keynes and Maximo Park in Sheffield. With Maximo Park I bought a pair of tickets for my sister and brother in law as they liked the certain trigger album I leant them a month earlier. For them I paid 60 quid for 2 tickets, which was double the price of the face value (£15 a ticket), after a couple of listens to the album I thought ‘sod this, I want to see them too’ even though I’d only seen them a few months before on the NME tour. So back I went to ebay and got 2 tickets for £40! I was chuffed, my sister wasn’t.
With the Green Day tickets I got 2 for a fiver less then what the seller originally bought them for, so what’s the problem? Isn’t it just simple economics?
When demand outweighs supply then the prices will increase, it happens across the board, it happened with the Xbox 360 and you can bet your house it’ll happen with the Playstation 3. So why does everyone get shirty when it’s over gig tickets?
I think it basically comes down to sour grapes. Don’t get me wrong, when I miss out on tickets for something I really want to go to (especially when you get up hungover at half 8 so you’re ready for the 9 o’clock sale) it’s damn annoying. And yes, the thought that someone’s just bought 4 extra tickets then he/she doesn’t need to flog on to probably me at double the price is frustrating but fair is fair, he/she got there first and made a nice little profit for themselves.
And don’t forget the people who had tickets for a gig but then something came up and they couldn’t go anymore? They get chucked into this ‘rogue’ category as well although there is no malice in what they’re doing.
So lighten up everyone. I do believe the true fans will be able to get the tickets they desperately want, and every so often they might have to pay a little bit extra, but that’s life eh?
What a depressing line to end on
What I’m listening to this week: Maximo Park and Bongo Fury
It’s Grim Down South 4/2/07
It’s grim down south…
The Sentric blog comes a day early this week as I’m off down to the big smoke tomorrow for a couple of meetings, this gave me the inspiration for my next topic: Is London really that important with regards to the music industry?
As we deal with mainly unsigned and independent artists here at Sentric, we often get asked “Should we go to London?”, “Can you get us gigs in London?” etc and it is often viewed as the holy grail when it comes to getting signed and becoming the next big thing. This is simply not true in my opinion, the majors have scouts absolutely everywhere around the country and simply if you’re good enough then they will come to you. Now I’m not saying you should ignore it, on the contrary if your at a level where you gig around the country then you should definitely get a few gigs down there but lets face the facts; its expensive which is something that unsigned artists simply do not need.
Look at the artists who’ve come out in the last few years; Kaiser Chiefs, Sunshine Underground, The Music all from Leeds. Arctic Monkeys, Bromheads Jacket, Milburn all from Sheffield (note: I didn’t say Little Man Tate on purpose as they’re shite). Maximo Park and the Futureheads are from the North-East and Manchester’s continuously coming up with the goods. And lets face it, the North is both cheaper and friendlier! As a Sheffielder working in Liverpool, I fucking love the north. Don’t get me wrong, I like London but in small doses. Whenever I pop down for pleasure or business I like to take in the sights and sounds and all that malarkey but the train home (or if I’m really skint: The Mega bus) is always a pleasure to be riding.
With venues like The Leadmill in Sheffield, Night and Day in Manchester, The Faversham in Leeds and The Magnet in Liverpool, who needs Coco’s? I couldn’t give care less if Pete Doherty occasionally pops up to do an impromptu set
What I’m listening to this week: Clipe Sexo Amadors new E.P and The Happiness
“This is our last gig, honest… Well, if you put it that way” – 29/01/07.
Take That, All Saints, Pink Floyd, Rage Against The Machine, Crowded House, Van Halen, James, Jesus and Mary Chain, Genesis, The Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Sugarcubes etc etc
All the above have reunited recently, but why?
So the Sentric Music blog enters its 3rd week with week 2 receiving a massive 83 views (an increase of over 200% for all you fact fans out there) and even 1 comment! Still, not enough to get Aztec Camera back in the charts though, I obviously don’t have the power of Mr Chris Moyles… Yet.
This weeks topic comes from inspiration thanks to the BBC
so shed loads of bands are getting back together which raises a couple of questions in my mind. Firstly, does it matter? 2ndly why are they doing so? Is it as predictable as cash? Or are they doing it for the music?
So firstly, does it matter? I’m going to say yes on this one – for the positive. No one who claims to be a music fan can deny that Take That’s comeback single ‘Patience’ is a great pop record. Now I’m not saying I went out and bought it, but Gary Barlow’s a brilliant songwriter and knows what he’s doing (for example, to write a song such as ‘A Million Love Songs’ when you’re only 15 or 16 years old is quite an achievement. Actually, didn’t George Michael write ‘Careless Whisper’ when he was only 16 also? Lil Chris has got some homework to do…) and my sister said that they were nothing short of ace live, a statement which was confirmed when I watched their ‘Audience With’ on ITV (albeit ignoring Barlow’s cumbersome dancing). Allsaints’ comeback single was also a strong pop song, they’d probably admit themselves that they’ll never ever do a song as good as never ever again but that’s a fecking hard song to top. So if Take That and Allsaints can continue making good quality radio 1 fodder, then surely that’s a good thing?
When the genres change I believe is where the grey spot becomes apparent. Rage Against the Machine were/are a great band, and quite foolishly I was quite keen on Audioslave (who cares what the band is as long as you’ve got morello’s riffage?!) who were also ace live (but I do believe that’s where the similarities between Take That and Audioslave end). Before we went to see Audioslave, myself and a good friend of mine had nothing short of a full row at our local over whether or not they should play some RATM songs in their set. I was against this, as even though RATM are/were a great band, I’ve paid to see Audioslave and I don’t want to see them playing Killing In The Name of just to please the crowd. My friend (who I shall call ‘Dave’) went mad at this statement and a row ensued. It turned out they did play some RATM songs and some Soundgarden songs in fact, and although disagreed with it… it was bloody enjoyable.
I feel I’ve gone off on a tangent a bit here so I’ll shoot forward to question 2, why are they doing it? John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) said on the Sex Pistols reunion tour “We have found a common cause, and it’s your money,” Can’t argue with that now can you? But on the contrary, ‘big’ Phil Collins states “We’re all loaded enough not to worry about where the next million or two is coming from,” and claimed it was all about the music. It seems the fence is being well and truly precariously balanced on between financial gain and artistic expression and in my opinion it might’ve taken a punk to state it but I think he wasn’t rebelling this time. They love the cash. (btw, did Lydon lose his punk status when he got covered in seeds and feed to the emu’s whilst Forehead and Dec watched on?)
I’ve no idea if I’ve answered the questions I set out to at the beginning of this blog.
What I’m listening to this week: Ian Britt and Eugene McGuiness
Billie, Koopa, Moyles and me Current mood: pensive Category: Music
So the Sentric Blog enters its 2nd week after receiving 39 views! Who were those people who read my grammatically incorrect ramblings?! I obviously spurred no passion in any of them as no comments were left, nor any kudos received. Something I must work on…
So, topic of the week: Honey to the BBC (clever title nicked from Music Week)
So Billie Piper gets to number 17 in this weeks chart due to the new rules that downloads are eligible even if there is no tangible counterpart available to buy. Now I’m all for this new ruling, in fact, I think it’s the best thing that’s happened in the music industry for a while. The opportunity for unsigned or independent artists to get easier access to the charts is great, further adding to the current DIY model. Like this Koopa lot, proof that tenaciousness pays off; play a shedload of gigs, get a fanbase, be aware of your target audience, use a clever technique of roping in fans to buy your single (they told all their fans to pre-order the track via text during their gigs, over half of their sales where done by this) and watch your single fly in at the dizzy heights of the top 40. They may not have got in the top 10, but the press they received from achieving this will have most labels in the country thinking “if these lads can get this far on their own, how much could they sell if we chucked some cash at them?”
The hot topic that’s been flying around our office is the Billie issue. She’s got to number 17 thanks to ‘roly-poly, motor mouth’ DJ Chris Moyles trying to ‘influence’ the charts. Now I’m a fan of Chris ‘marmite’ Moyles but is this abusing his power? The BBC is a publicly funded body which should be impartial, is Moyles getting everyone to buy a classic 90’s track because he probably fancies her morally correct?
DJ’s have been championing music for years, John Peel – undertones, Zane Lowe – Arctic Monkeys, Jo Whiley – anything Zane Lowe told her to champion, and that is generally accepted across the board, but is what Moyles’ doing really that different? Does he feel the same passion for Billie Pipers music as what Peel did for the undertones?
I’m really not too sure about this as I write (what a conclusion eh?) but it’s interesting to hear other peoples perspective. Our office seems to be pretty anti Moyles but I know plenty who are the polar opposite.
So who’s next to get a cheeky re-entry to the charts? I hope it’s the B52’s or, and this would be amazing, ‘Aztec Cameras’ classic track ‘Somewhere in my Heart’. (if you don’t know it then go get it, then compare it to ‘The River Runs Wild’ by The Killers on their new album)
See, I’m doing it now! GO BUY AZTEC CAMERA… I look forward to seeing the charts on Sunday.
What I’m listening to this week: The Wombats and The Twang
15 Jan 2007
Everyone’s talking about them, everyone’s doing them, everyone thinks people want to know what their opinion is about ‘stuff’ so here we are, giving in to current trends and beginning the Sentric Music blog (current? I know we’re already 3 years behind)
So what is ‘blogging’? I think it’d only be sensible to start with a definition:
intr.v., blogged, blog·ging, blogs.
To write entries in, add material to, or maintain a weblog.
So according to the lovely people at Collins English dictionary (who may I add, have a Scrabble indicator on their website which informs you if the word you are searching for is valid or not in the family fun game, a little homework for you type in ‘Quat’ and see if you can understand why it isn’t found in the dictionary, but is valid for scrabble?!) the Sentric Music blog should be something to both write entries in and add material to, should be easy yeah?
But then a morale battle begins to brew in my simple head, do I give my personal opinions about the world and more specifically, the music industry? Possibly raising both issues and opinions that would be both unprofessional and could possibly cause legal action to be taken against the company I work for? Or do I just go on about how fucking grand the artists are that are signed to Sentric?
The Alphites are grand! Currently in the studio preparing their EP for digital release to coincide with an appearance on one of the nations favourite soaps (debate below)! Check out www.myspace.com/thealphites for pop-punk-filled-tasticness.
Seriously though, my opinions will be expressed throughout the course of this blog and some people may find them interesting, others not. I’m just not sure on how it works at the moment. Do I write about something in the news? Do I write about something that’s happened to me recently? About any new music I’ve discovered? Maybe I need to do some more research, but maybe I don’t! maybe that’s the whole point!
I’ve just realised that last paragraph sounds like a verse from a bromheads jacket song so I should probably ease up now…
What I’m listening to at the moment? The Alphites (no joke of a lie!) and Wolfmother (I know its not exactly finger-on-the-pulse up to date but you gotta love that albums riffage)