The Digital Economy Bill – My Thoughts

Here are some of my thoughts on the contents of the bill, and it’s repercussions on the music industry at large. You can read my previous post about what the bill actually is here. If you only have time to read a little, please read the final section.

We need to control online piracy with firm action (aka, a stick).

And the way to do this is to have legislation that allows ISP’s to work alongside (not on behalf of) the copyright owners to educate, warn, and take firm action against those users not abiding by the law. If people persist in infringing after several warnings and fines, then I see no reason why they shouldn’t have their access to the internet restricted, at least for a short time (perhaps a month). However, there MUST be alternative methods of consuming media, appropriately priced for all demographics (see below). Any IP address that is used as a wifi hotspot by multiple users temporarily (such as cafe’s, libraries, etc) should have extra allowances made, with temporary disconnection simply not being an option.

The Rights Holders have to reimburse all costs involved in false accusations.

If not, Rights Holders will simply accuse anyone they can of infringement, safe in the knowledge that it costs them nothing. They are businesses after all, and ethics do not seem to influence their decisions unless they know the results will go public. A recent enquiry by The Times found that in order to abide these new laws, the ISP’s will be met with costs approaching £500 million. If the ISP’s are to be held responsible for these costs, shouldn’t they also be responsible for the cost of regulating all other parts of the web that do not abide by the law? Not only should rights holders be contributing towards the costs of false accusations, but also towards the sending out of the first few warnings, as it is these that will be the most costly, the most educational, the most affective, and the most important.

The law can never keep up with technology and many will hide their online identities, but this argument is missing the point.

IP addresses (the way the offender is identified), can be easily hidden with the use of DarknetsVPN’s, or many other ways (as explained here), rendering it impossible for the ISP’s to track them. No amount of legislation will ever be able to keep up with technology. BUT, the bill isn’t meant to be stopping those people, as they are determined to avoid the law and have the time and expertise to do so. The government cannot publicly admit this as that would make a mockery of the whole bill.

It is the casual users that the bill is targeting, whose numbers far outweigh those in the opposite group. These are users who as soon as they read the first letter are too scared to continue, whose parents realise the risk they are at and take a more active role in controlling what their children are doing, and those people that simply didn’t realise that what they were doing was wrong. The main point of this though, is that government must avoid turning users currently in the latter group to becoming part of the former. Not only is it unhealthy for national security to have a nation of untraceable internet users, but there are huge repercussions for the rights holders, which is discussed in more depth later.

The illegal distribution of copyrighted material helps good music (or media) to spread, but not as well as services that CAN be launched.

Nobody (who isn’t stupid) is denying that the illegal sharing helps spread the word about good music. But there ARE LEGAL WAYS of ‘spreading good music’ that exist, though they are few in number. The best ways of spreading good music are yet to be imagined or produced, and one of the reasons for this bill is to allow these new services to prosper without the pressures of illegal alternatives. With the support of the government and some forward thinking rights holders, there will be new ways of spreading music that are better than the illegal alternatives. I hope.

Banning the use of web-lockers is more ridiculous than banning your Mum.

Personally, I use web-lockers (yousendit, megaupload, rapidshare, google docs) constantly and have accounts with several, as there are no easier ways of sending large files to people easily and securely (though there are better ways). The essence of these services  is that what I put in them is private. The media industry’s main problem with these sites is that they can’t see what is being shared, which is the whole point of them. To restrict the use of web-lockers is to prevent me from sending anything to anyone else privately over the internet. Also, the costs of preventing UK residents from accessing the sites would be HUGE.

However, news has recently broken that Rapidshare (a weblocker) has began terminating accounts of their users who download copyrighted material. These users will often move elsewhere, but it is still a great sign and almost certainly a direct reaction to Clause 18 of this proposed bill. If they are seen to be attempting to abide by the law, then they could avoid being identified as a site that allows for ‘substantial’ infringement of copyright.

So, banning access to them is ridiculous. But pressuring them to take responsibility of the content they host may work, at least on the surface.

The Open Rights Group are a bunch of idealistic dreamers.

Arguments from this group have been narrow minded, misleading, and often completely false. Read their thoughts on the subject here. Yes, it should be the right of every UK Citizen to have access to the internet. However, when that privilege is abused, that right can be taken away. The right to be free to walk the streets, the right to drive a car, the right to own a house or business, and the right to wear 3 trilby hats at the same time in Shoreditch are all rights that are taken away if they are abused. I do not see this issue as being any different. They have a protest this morning (Wednesday) in Central London. Let’s hire a man who’s had his license revoked for dangerous driving to mow them all down.

Due to pressures from industry bodies, the government are rushing into this without the necessary debate.

Watching most politicians discuss this has been farcical at best. As a collective group, it is plainly obvious that they simply do not understand the wider issues they are discussing, and the repercussions that will be felt. But why should they? They’re busy running the country, and personally I don’t begrudge them for not being experts on these relatively new developments. However rather than admit this, they have been too happy to please the requests of the major industries at threat. The Lib Dems putting forward an amendment originally written by the BPI is simply unacceptable. Blame should not be on the BPI’s shoulders, as they should of course be putting their ideas forward. However it is unacceptable that the Lib Dems are placing such importance on the views of the BPI, to the point where they are willing to literally copy their words. Government should be taking the time to understand the bill, and not rushing into the process of making our country’s laws.

My Recommendations


There will be many results of this bill, and the action that will be taken using it’s new legislation will be broad. The most important outcome to avoid, BY FAR, is the result of converting the casual users of illegal sites to users who become comfortable on the wrong side of the law, safe in the knowledge that they will not be caught. Whether they choose to convert will depend on the options given to them in their initial warning letters. To anyone with even the simplest knowledge of computers, googling ‘hiding your IP address’ will enable you to disappear off the radar in a matter of minutes. Once that happens, it will take huge efforts to convert them back, and they may well be lost forever. Let’s not forget that it is the casual consumers of music that keep the major record labels alive, not the obsessive ones.

The key to not losing them is to make sure the list of services we offer as an alternative are great ones, priced appropriately. There is something for everyone waiting to be launched. For example, you will never win over the student market as they have no money and a lot of time, so why not give them ‘all-you-can-eat’ subscription services subsidised by rights holders, ISP’s, and universities? They will become music fans and start paying as soon as they start earning, develop brand loyalty to the chosen network (reducing churn for the ISP’s), enable transactions to be tracked, and will mean that the universities do not have thousands of students breaking the law in their buildings. A similar solution can be argued for all demographics, which I will try to explore in subsequent posts. The main point is, the services need to be there BEFORE the letters.

My other concern is that this is simply being rushed, and is not the correct bill. There are too many gaping holes in it, and though the amendments have helped (sometimes) it still isn’t enough. There is far more to be discussed that has not been mentioned here, particularly involving the premise that defendants are ‘guilty until proven innocent’, as well as the plight of photographers with the reassessment on the classification of orphan works (read about it here).

Discussion is vital. We, from Torrent Testing Teenagers, Parents, Artists, The Media Industries, MP’s, and the current and future Prime Ministers, are all learning a great deal by TALKING. The more time we take to learn, the better. Perhaps by listening the media industries can also learn how not to lose access to the consumers they still have left.


NB. As I hope you are aware, I have not come to these conclusions by simply reading the bill. I have read broadly on this issue, and taken many different views into account in order to make my own. If you would like to explore this subject further, you can do so by paying attention to the following people and sites.

The Digital Economy Bill – here , The Digital Britain Report – here , The Guardian’s running commentary – here, Techcrunch – here , The BPI – here , Tom Watson MP –  Blog here Twitter here , Lilian Edwards – here , Cory Doctorow – here , and anyone discussing the issues with the #DEB over the past few weeks on twitter.

Please let me know your thoughts below, if you have any. If you are opposed to the bill, you can email your local MP here.

The Digital Economy Bill – What Is It?

This week, The Digital Economy Bill is being passed through the House Of Commons. Though I am aware that some of you have been following it’s progression with interest, most were not aware of it until it was the subject of last Monday’s Panorama documentary. If you missed it, you can watch it here until this coming Friday (March 26th).

Last Monday’s show, entitled ‘Are The Net Police Coming For You,’ was one of the first episodes I’d seen where I was more familiar with the subject matter than I am with the inside of my own nose. This meant that I got angry, with my disgust probably on a par with the disgust of an onlooker as they watch me research my favoured subject matter mentioned above.

BUT I WAS NOT THE TARGET AUDIENCE, and this is the key point when assessing it. It was certainly a FAR more balanced view that Mark Thomas gave in his recent piece on The Culture Show, which seems to be the basis of many people’s discussions with me. You watch it and read about how this bias was achieved here.

This is my attempt at giving you the chance to understand exactly what the issues are, with no opinion from myself. If you’ve been following the progression of this bill and are aware of the below facts, please skip this and take a look at my thoughts and recommendations here.

The Background

The bill first materialised in the Digital Britain Report, and was first announced in the Queen’s speech in Nov ’09. It is a bill broader than most realise, and is designed to enable the digital media industries to tackle the challenges of online piracy, ensure the safety of the broadcast industry (which caused the 6 music repercussions), enhance the digital infrastructure, and many other issues which have been well summarised here. However, it is the issues that most directly affect our use of the internet that I will focus on here.

Few are against the need for a radical update on our laws. However, it is the ways in which government will intervene that is causing concern. Under the laws of the bill, if there are multiple accusations of copyright law infringement at a single IP Address, a copyright owner can ask the ISP to ‘temporarily suspend’ the users connection as a last resort, after a series of warning letters and fines. There are also measures that can be used to block sites that allow for “substantial” infringement, though there is no definition of the word ‘substantial’. These can be seen in full in clauses 11-18, viewable in full here. It is these parts of the bill that have caused the most controversy amongst passionate consumers of media, technology industries, artists, and ISP’s. Human Rights groups have even got involved, who claim that access to the internet is a human right and shouldn’t be withdrawn under any circumstances.

Many amendments have been made in an attempt to react to the pressures applied from external stakeholders, and though there have been improvements many say there are still several points that need further debate. The aim of the rights holders (e.g.. Record Companies) is to get this passed as soon as possible, before the next General Election is called, as they know that a proper debate will simply take too much time and will result in the bill being massively delayed. The counter argument is that in its current form there huge flaws in the practicalities of the bill, that there are too many areas open to wide interpretation and abuse, and that if it is forced through now the bill will simply have to be re-written at great cost to the public in the coming years.

The Details

There has been much talk about Clause 17, which was removed at the start of the month. This clause allowed the Secretary of State to change the law at any time, without having to pass it through parliament, as a way of amending the bill to keep it relevant in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. The clause was met with huge opposition, and has morphed into…..

Amendment 120A (now Clause 18) addresses the inherent problems with Clause 17 and restructures it’s focus. One section enables the High Court to grant an injunction requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to websites that persist in hosting a substantial amount of copyrighted material. The amendment was put forward by the Lib Dems with support from the Tories, but it was criticised after it surfaced that their words were identical to those written in an open letter from the BPI some weeks before. You can view the original letter from the BPI here, and the Lib Dem amendment here (to view the appropriate section search for (by hitting ctrl – F) ‘Clause 17’).

They have since put forward another amendment to this which has been brushed aside, but will be included in the ‘wash up process’ (where unopposed clauses are passed and approved behind closed doors) that’ll happen in the House of Commons. This allows the courts to ask the copyright owner to “reimburse any loss or damages, including costs and legal fees, incurred by the applicant … or by the service provider”. However, they also look to address the 35% of online file-sharing that allegedly takes place on ‘web-locker’ services such as wide ranging as yousendit, rapidshare or google docs. Under this clause, any site that hosts copyrighted material will be at risk, which even affects websites as wide ranging as Wikileaks (which hosts copyrighted documents that have leaked into the public domain and is an advocate of free speech) to YouTube.

For my thoughts on all this, please click through to my next post here.

The Music Video #5

Something silly this week, there have been enough words written here of late.

Oldelaf – le Café

directed by Stephanie Marguerite and Emilie Tarascou

Garrett Davis – Story from North America

by Garrett Davis and Kirsten Lepore

Bin’s Big Adventures

The fabled man appearing so often in my ‘Musical Journey’ posts, Kiwi Bin is an exceptional fellow because he is so keen to understand that which he does not, hear what he has not heard, and see what he has not seen, regardless of how much effort it takes.

He has taken a bike to Damascus and is riding it back to England (with the occasional help from a bus), to be reunited with us at GlastonburyFestival in June. I’ve never seen him ride a bike before this point, probably because he hadn’t much, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little shocked to hear of his ambitious plan. Please read all about his adventures here www.bicyclingben.blogspot.com as they are wonderfully written and reaffirm one’s faith in humanity. Whilst reading do follow it on google maps, starting here in Damascus, through Syria, Turkey, and now into the Greek capital of Athens here. For those that don’t know him, I appreciate there is a lot to read, so here are some highlights.

Ben, I apologise for this obvious theft of your work. The experiences described and the ordering of these words is so wonderful that I felt I had to share it. Apart from the first one. This is just rude, despite it setting the scene nicely.

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Excuse my spelling. I am lazy. Plus I blame cold hands and and a combınatıon of Arabic and Turkısh keyboards. The later ıs responsable for theır beıng weırd i’s ın thıs and few commas. I can’t see a comma key and there are are two i’s. So thıs may start to read lıke Hemmıngway. I hope. Or lıke a news bulletın.

What? No semıcolon eıther? What the fuck? How can I even wrıte a… ok… breathe… Oh and there ıs s and ş. But no comma or semı colon. And c and ç! U and Ü! G and Ğ! But no comma or semıcolon! Chrıst on a bıke! Ok…

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Then the fırst bout of bıkıng to ZENOBIA: More ruıns. These on the banks of the Euphrates. Anyway after speakıng to some kıds who showed me the hyena they shot on the spot I ıntended to camp earlıer that week (pause for pıcturıng Ben’s stunned face) I ended up stayıng wıth some fıshermen ın theır bıg tent. They fed me and asked questıons ın arabıc whıch I answered and dıd not answer ın mıme. Sunrıse over the Euphrates the next mornıng.

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RAQQA and then some lıtte town whıch ıs ıllustratıve of Syrıan hospıtalıty: after 66km one day I thought to myself ‘shıvers Ben you can actually do thıs’ and set a decent enough mark out for the next day: Qalaat Jabar (ruıns). 122km later ıt was 8pm. It had been dark sınce 5 and was pıssıng wıth raın and blowıng a gale over an empty desert. You cannot camp on wet desert: ıt ıs mud. So I had to keep goıng. I had been fıxed on a lıght for some 45 mınutes tellıng myself ıt was only a km away. It wasn’t except for ın the last 10 mınutes. I was hıttıng the wall. I arrıved and knocked at the door. The guy spoke no englısh. I speak less arabıc. I mımed hotel (thıs ıs roof plus sleep for mımes readıng thıs. Presumeably sılently). My mıme was a partıal success as he gave me no hotels but hot sweet tea ınstead. And he went back to watchıng TV. I drank the tea whıch was wet lıke me but hot and sweet and nıce smellıng. Not lıke me. I mımed hotel agaın. To whıch he closed hıs store and took my bıke ınto a garage area. I looked gratefully at the dry concrete floor.

But thıs was not to be. Whıle I had been mımıng he had somehow arranged an ımpromptue banquet ın my honour wıth all hıs male famıly members and mımed ın arabıc that I would sleep ın the luxurıous lounge. The banquent was surreal. The medıum of communıcatıon was the words sımılar ın Romanıan and Englısh. There are few. But ‘fantasıa polısı’ means ‘do you thınk we need to tell the polıce you are here or ıs ıt ok? It should be rıght shouldn’t ıt?’. Left ın the mornıng after breakfast: thoroughly ımpressed and full.

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It was 8km before my carrier broke: the first of many mechanical hacking coughs from the old girl, I’m sure. To the next town in the back of a truck for some inventive and solid repairs, which were later welded by another guy for a few towns on. Both refused payment: Syrians are lovely. Another man then called me off the road in order to give me a free pizza. See? Lovely.

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Arrıved Goreme. An Australıan a South Afrıcan and a Malaysıan walked ınto the bus stop. I hadn’t heard thıs one before so I decıded to go to the place they were stayıng and see what the punch lıne would be.

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I should note that whenever I have been absoltely flat and have been about to get off the bıke and have come around the corner to see (mıstake) another Escher paıntıng of a road I have receıved a strong taıl wınd. Normally vacıllatıng between agnostıc and atheıst I have come to unıformly attrıbute these wınds to an ınterventıonıst and benevolent god.

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They are lovely. Utterly lovely. Forever offerıng tea and lıfts and fıres to dry by. But perhaps less surprısed by a tourıst than the Syrıans. I have taken a lıft through some roadworks ın the dark from a dentıst who then negotıated me a cheap rate ın a hotel. I have been fed soup and slapstıck ın a bus staıon for 7 hours only to have payment refused. I have had strangers see me walkıng ın the raın (sans bıcycle) and pull over to offer a lıft. And old man called me ın on a wet mountaın top and put my bıke under a gutter (perhaps waterıng ıt to make ıt grow) and gave me a soft welcome wınter apple. He wouldn’t let me leave tıll I had eaten ıt huddled by hıs fıre. Nor would I though. He was lıke those tourıst book photos everywhere: sıttıng by a smokey stove at a delapıdated un-customered fruıt stall ın the raın. Utterly lovely. Just nıce people who aren’t afraıd of gıvıng lıfts and kındness to strangers.

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Bellerophon kılled hıs brother (faır. We have all thought about ıt. If not hıs brother then our own) and was exıled (possıbly at the request of hıs other ıncreasıngly and justıfıably nervous brothers). But no one wants a murderous loon around. So he got shuffled along lıke the cheese toastıe maker that keeps beıng regıfted as a 21st present. Then the kıng of Lycıa saıd ‘ıf you kıll lıon-headed goat-bodıed snake-taıled fıre-breathıng Chımera you can stay’. (Prıces have sınce gone down ın Turkısh hotels. Not by as much as you’d expect but stıll…) Bellerophon saıd ‘sounds faır. Wıll do’ and takıng hıs flyıng horse pegasus (whıch he had lyıng around) pınned the monster to the slopes of a mountaın where ıt stıll breathes flames.

For 2600 recorded years flames have naturally spurted from numerous cracks ın the rocks at Chımera. They used to navıgate by them: watchıng them from out at sea. Awesomely they are stıll goıng- the orıgınal eturnal flame. Way before the popsong remıx. The flames gıve rıse to odd rock formatıons whıch are the only ınstance I know of of fıre causıng rock shape lıke water and wınd do elsewhere. Anyway: the ındıvıdual cracks sometımes go out. Whıch means you can relıght them wıth a flamıng twıg. Whıch does NOT get borıng even after an hour or so. I am a huge fan of natural weırdnesses and thıs ıs rıght up there. It kındles a chıldısh glee. Then I strolled back through the ruıns at sunset my face beamıng lıke the whıte sun over the empty beach. Spent a long tıme at the rıver mouth reflectıng on how lucy I am.

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Xanthos: Ruıns. Thıs cıty twıce destroyed ıtself ın the face of destructıon. Faced by ınvaders the women and chıldren were burned and the men went and fought to the ınevıtable death leavıng a bewıldered conqueror. Thıs ıs weırd once. It ıs breath takıngly weırd when they dıd ıt agaın. ‘Well you know what worked really well last tıme? We buılt thıs massıve fıre…’ It was fınally destroyed by earthquake (thırd tıme’s the charm). Thıs was I am sure much to the ınhabıtants’ dısappoıntment. Pıpped by geology: boo.

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The famıly are dıggıng and plantıng crops amongst the cıtrus and olıves. A donkey watches from a pıcturesque cottage up the hıll. The sea whıspers 15 metres away. If I dıe and go to heaven and heaven ıs not lıke thıs I shall come back and haunt thıs poor famıly ınstead. Amazıngly beautıful.

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I am aware I am forgettıng more beautıful thıngs each day that I should allow. My cup runneth over. I hope that ıf the drıps fall on my jeans and shoes I wıll at least vaguely recall them from the staıns ın the future.

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The next day I cycled off to Thermopalye 1st thing in the morning. Cars drove by with an inch of snow on their roof and hood. The sky was that light, hard, pigeon-feather grey it goes when it is settled in to do some snowing. Hmm I thought. It began to rain sharp cold needles of rain. Hmm I thought again. My hands went first numb, then painful at the fingertips. I have thermal gloves and cycle gloves, but need a layer that is water and windproof. And cheap, too. Which means buying yellow rubber dish gloves and putting them over the top. This worked a treat. A rubbish treat, but a frost-bite-smell-of-almonds-and-amputation-avoiding treat. Which is amongst my favorite types.

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Delphi was the centre of the world until losing ascendance to Greenwich. Unlike Greenwich (which was chosen because Britain said so), Delphi won because Zeus loosed two eagles from opposite ends of the world, and they met in Delphi. I know this would no longer be an acceptable method of determination (failing to take account of wind conditions, ornthological necessity, release methods etc) but it was the best that they had at the time. And would we really pick Greenwich again? It is lovely and all but the Jubilee line is a bastard at rush hour. Maybe Bank?

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It was a long and frustrating ride, and further frustrated by the long and frustrating debate over prices at the expensive hotel. However, on seeing a touring bike and hearing what I was doing, a fellow guest took me out to dinner and said he wished he was doing what I was doing rather than holidaying with his wife. His wife smiled the sort of snakes smile and noted the comment for private discussion later.

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On! To Athens! Cycling my own marathon from Marathon to Athens in a day! A long industrial road of frustration. The guy running from the battle didn’t have to wait at all these lights. Cresting a hill and seeing the Acropolis, I stopped and got off the bike and just stared.

Athens put on some spectacular protests at my arrival, complete with molotov cocktails and tear gas. I was touched, though not moved to tears as had obviously been intended.

I heart Athens. I have spent 3 days wandering the ruins (unsurprisingly) and being pretty blissed out. Athens is a lot of what I had hoped it would be.

Like much of the ruined ancient world, it is under construction. There is scafforlding everywhere. Apparently it is a matter of national comment that Athens has spent so much effort maintaining its Erecthion…

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If you enjoyed these PLEASE take the time to read Ben’s blog in full. www.bicyclingben.blogspot.com I have spent all evening with it, and am now retiring to bed with a new found ambition to do something soon the scares the shit out of me. Ben’s experiences are a testament to that age old saying of, ‘The larger the shit, the larger the reward.’

Or something like that.

The Music Video #4

I started this weekly video thing to raise awareness of videos that may have passed you by. This is still the aim, but here are some REALLY obvious ones as they’ve been everywhere in the past week.

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass

directed by James Frost, OK Go and Syyn Labs

OK Go made two videos for this song. EMI funded the first, who consequently won’t allow it to be embedded as doing so means they don’t receive cash from the ads that surround it on YouTube. It’s good and I’d like to share it with you, but they won’t let me, so I won’t. This means most of you will probably never see it, and will never start a relationship with the band, and will never think to listen to their music. Was that the right decision? OK Go didn’t think so, and left the label last week. But then they made a second…..

This video was paid for by the insurance firm Statefarm, who get a mention at the end of the clip, who allow it to be embedded. Brands investing in art, whatever next? I’m so close to typing a 17 000 word essay right now it hurts, but I’ll allow you to develop your own thoughts on this. Watch the video first though.

‘Makings Of’ were leaked online, with each YouTube clip garnering approximately 100K views each (read about it here). By the time the video was premiered 2 weeks ago today (March 1st), these 100K spread the word to the rest of the world with alarming efficiency. Over 8 million people have now viewed this video. The release date isn’t dead, it just needed redefining.

Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce – Telephone

directed by Jonas Akerlund

The Lady Gaga phenomenon largely passed me by, until whilst dancing drunk on a beach in Thailand it suddenly made sense. I’m not sure if I’d have seen this video were it not for the fact that I work alongside those that help build her into the superstar she is. But I’m glad that I did, because it’s wonderful, and it concerns me that I may otherwise have missed out on it.

So firstly, before you start moaning about it’s length, this is the full version and there are obviously edits. Thriller in it’s entirety is 13 mins long, so shut up. Secondly, yes there are hideously obvious adverts that make you laugh at their crudeness, but remember that this album has far exceeded expectations by selling 10 million copies. Thriller sold 110 million. Someone needs to pay for high-end pop videos, and personally I don’t mind that brands are now contributing. Thirdly, these first two points pale in comparison to the fact that Lady Gaga looks and IS and great pop star. She even outshines Beyonce, something inconceivable a little over a year ago when this great video appeared (not in a pervy way, it’s just great).

As an aside, watch the Beyonce video above and then watch this embarrassing,  plagiarized, recent offering from Pixie Lott. Compared to her US counterparts, she is lacking in presence, charisma, personality and talent. It’s so poor that when an advert for Lacoste appears it simply becomes a joke. Mercury UK, sort your feckin’ lives out.

I can’t end on a low note. Despite all the money and effort put into the videos mentioned above, for me none of them had as much of an impact on me last week as when I saw this. Don’t ever be fooled that money will outdo pure talent.

The National – Terrible Love

live on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’

Musical Journey Part 7 – The Ramones

THE RAMONES by Jonathan Odom

For an explanation of what this pretentious rubbish is, click here. Most of these bands are obvious. But then that’s kinda the point.

From: Jonathan Odom
Sent: 21 July 2008 10:56
To: Ben Smith
Cc: Chris Stoneman; John Klein; Bradbeer, Alexander; Nick Maple
Subject: RE: Musical Journey : The Ramones

The Ramones are the first punk band, period. They were emulated by the Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, The Clash, and pretty much every other band in the genre up until it split with Blondie and the Talking Heads branches. The bandSuicide (a little known NYC Ramones contemporary act, who hopefully will come up later, my second favorite punk band) were the first ones to call their music “punk music” on a flier for a show in 1972, but the ramones are widely accepted by the greats as the founders of the genre- the first band to play the signature 3 or 4 chord riff with simple drum beats and raw, angry vocals.

They are comprised of 4 poor, decidedly ugly guys from a shitty neighborhood in Queens with musical technique on par with any 6th grader’s first month of guitar lessons. Dee Dee can’t sing and play bass at the same time, so Joey becomes the singer. Their instruments are shit but it really doesn’t matter because they can barely play them anyway. They sing about Dee Dee unsuccessfully trying to turn tricks in the song “53rd and 3rd”, about the little bastard rich kids that Joey has to deal with at his doorman job in “Beat on the Brat”, about the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, about the Nazis bombing the hell out of europe in “Blitzkrieg Bop”, and so on. 4 guys with shitty lives in one of the worst places in american history (new york in the 70’s) singing about what they know with nothing but their love of music and frustration to float on. Genius.

They grew up listening to pop music on the radio, Beach Boys, Beatles, Motown, etc; and didn’t realize until they were approached by him that Phil Spector had produced the bulk of their favorite music. He then produced End of the Century for them. During the recording session he physically abuses the engineer, curses and insults the band every day, and pulls a gun on Dee Dee and demands he play a riff over and over (thanks wikipedia). The album is probably their worst because spector polishes it so much. The whole point of this band is that they might as well be doing it in an abandoned warehouse in the east village with 1 microphone and a tape player, because there’s not much sonically going on.

They write solid pop music (as seems to be a recurring theme in everything so far) by all accounts. It’s raw, energetic lower class angst and real, unmitigated life experiences set to simple 4-chord riffs. They paved the way for the previously mentioned greats, particularly The Clash who in my opinion surpassed them in many ways, and of course Joy Division – England’s greatest gift to the world. Bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been quoted as saying “… when you heard The Ramones, you thought ‘hey, i could do that…'” The Ramones loosed the fetters created by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Queen, and countless other arena rock bands comprised of oxford educated musical geniuses. The Ramones are the musical equivalent of Marcel Duchamp and his urinal “sculpture”, art can now be anything- now let the rest of the world sort it out.

Like most of the bands on the list so far, you’ll know a lot of the songs when you hear them, you just never knew it was The Ramones. There are a ton of greatest hits records, those are usually the ones to go for since the record as a whole doesn’t really make a difference with these guys. Some favorite tracks:

Cretin Hop
Blitzkrieg Bop
Beat on the Brat
Judy is a Punk
53rd and 3rd
I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue

enjoy-

Spotify Playlist here.

Made Up Memories #3

Made Up Memory:

I was obsessed from the moment the young new supply teacher showed us the internet for the first time during a Year 10 Grography class in 1997. We were in the hub of modern technology that was C Block computer room. It was stunning. We went to Yahoo, and then to some site that showed us the weather. Wow. I pestered my parents to get us connected, and soon enough we had the fastest connection money could buy. Discovering Napster was a revalation, and the loud humming of my PC became white noise in my room. It was never off, and I’d return home from my regular nights out to find a pile of new music to get through. Incredible.

Joining Uni, I was the coolest kid in my Student Halls from the moment I started sharing my huge music collection on the network. I regularly went to gigs with mates all of whom knew the bands from sharing their music. I met a guy on Napster, and continued our relationship through Soulseek, who mentioned how I could look for jobs in the music industry. It soon paid off, and before long I had my dream job. I’ll never forget that Geography lesson.

The Reality:

I was obsessed from the moment the young new supply teacher showed us the internet for the first time during a Year 10 Grography class in 1997. She was stunning. She went to Yahoo, and then to some site that showed us the weather, buy it took forever to load and there were so many of us crowded around the screen I couldn’t really see anything. I didn’t care though, as she was so hot I wouldn’t look at it even if I could. Wow. My parents got us connected, but my brother was the computer geek so I could never be bothered to try it. I accidentally stumbled across Napster, and though I saw the potential I could never be bothered to wait for an hour to download a mis-labelled mp3. Discovering Championship Manager was a revelation, and the loud humming of my PC became white noise in my room. It was never off, and I’d often return home from my regular nights out at all night Champ Man sessions at Gerry’s house with a pile of new tips to get through. Incredible.

Joining Uni I met Jamie, to me the coolest kid in my Student Halls, especially as I could copy tapes from his huge CD collection. We regularly went to gigs together, but most of the time on our own. The internet was a short 15 minute walk across town, and I’d visit once a week to check my emails. We met a guy in the Louisiana, and continued our relationship at the Fleece, who mentioned how I could look for jobs in the music industry. I soon lost touch with him though, and it was to be 5 years before I could earn a liveable wage in the area of work I wanted to be in. I’ll never forget that Geography supply teacher though.