The impact of Crowdfunding on the Music Industry? ‘A look at Amanda Palmer’

With crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundme and Indigogo growing and becoming increasingly influential in the creative industries, could crowdfunding be the future for music artists?

The meteoric rise of the internet and the rapid digitization of society have clearly had a massive effect on the music scene… however so has crowdfunding and similarly, it’s difficult to determine whether this impact is positive or negative.

Artists have been using Crowdfunding to defy the conventions of music labels

The best example of this has to be the case of Amanda Palmer. The musician whose Kickstarter project closed after it managed to successfully raise $1.2 million, making it the 7th Kickstarter project to reach $1 million and the highest funded music project the site had ever had.

Amanda broke with her label back in 2010; because of this she decided to start a project with a $100,000 goal to fund her album, an art book and a tour. She obviously smashed this goal, with most of the funders donating less than $100 but there were also a small amount of much larger pledges. For example, two people who actually pledged around $10,000 each for a personal art sitting with Amanda, followed by dinner.

Palmer has revealed that she had just shy of $100,000 left from the extremely lucrative campaign after she finished completing the album and the art book; made all of the arrangements for music videos and tours and finally made sure she has paid the featuring artists. This is just one example out of many that proves that when everything goes right, crowdfunding can be very powerful. Although Amanda believes the biggest success is the plain, hard evidence that ‘major label refugees’ can utilise Kickstarter as a primary source of funding.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Fans are using Crowdfunding too!

Artists are not the only ones that are deciding to make the most out of the crowdfunding platform. There has been a surge of fan led campaigns being created, in the hope of convincing their favourite artists to create.

A funny example of this happenend with Run The Jewels, a hip hop duo from America, when they revealed various ways in which fans could buy their new album, Run The Jewels 2. The jokingly mentioned the idea of paying $40,000 for the two to completely reshape the album, taking out all the instrumental sounds and replacing them with cat noises.

Fans, however, could not resist the temptation and so then arrived the ‘Meow the Jewels’ Kickstarter campaign to back this idea. Hilariously, the duo was up for it if the 40k target was met. The campaign managed to gather over $60,000 and attracted other major producers to the project such as The Alchemist and Just Blaze.

Another interesting example of this fan intervention  was back in 2014,  where big Foo Fighter fans from Virginia created a page on Crowdtilt, that sold tickets to a performance that the band had no idea of, praying that the band would see the demand for the show and decide to go ahead and play it. It turns out they saw the page and wanted to do it! It became their first show in the particular town in Virginia for 16 years.

These are just a few examples of successes of crowdfunding, but unfortunately it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Is Crowdfunding good for the industry?

Some people argue that with the crowdfunding model, young artist are able to get the their money way before they have even created any music, so this could potentially deter them from putting in the valuable hard work needed to create a good product. Artists could become lazy.

Although, crowdfunding is helping major label rejects, independent artists and small record companies to grow and be able to raise substantial amounts of money that they may not have been able to before. This sways me to believe that overall, crowdfunding is an asset to the music industry and a potential game changer for the future.

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Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

 

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Hooray for Vinyl! Cardiff Celebrates Music for Record Store Day 2018

Record Store Day. It’s a wonderful day of celebrating music, vinyl, indie-artists and those gorgeous special edition releases. What’s not to love?

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Courtesy of GIPHY

This year, Cardiff celebrated hard as usual. Being the proud home of Spiller’s Records – the oldest record store in the world(!) – it’s not surprising that the day was a hit with music fans in the city.

Cardiff is bursting with creativity, and its music scene is thriving. You may be familiar with the Womanby Street campaign, which had people coming together to shout a big F*** YOU to businesses that threatened Cardiff’s well-loved street of independent music.

With annual events like Sŵn Fest and Xpresstival (to name a few!), it was no surprise that Cardiff got creative when it came to Record Store Day! Here’s what I checked out on the day:

Spillers Records

Spillers pic - Flickr Martin Thomas
Courtesy of Martin Thomas, Flickr

With queues out the door almost all day, Spillers was the place to be on RSD! Jam-packed with musicians, DJ’s and new special releases, the store was a haven for any music fan.

Spillers was even blessed with a special appearance by BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne! Taking her show on the road, Lauren came to Cardiff to talk all things vinyl and chat to visitors of the store about why RSD is such an important event to celebrate.

Once again, Record Store Day was a success for Spillers. Keep on keeping on, we love you!

Kellys Records

Another of Cardiff’s successful and loved record stores, Kellys made sure they were in on the action! Spoiling us with live performances, special offers and even an all-day broadcast hosted by Sounds Like Radio, the vibe was incredible.

And what’s RSD without some turntable action? The following acts got behind the decks to show us their magic: Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) • Don Leisure (Darkhouse Family) • NOTSOEVER • Dj Enzine • The Kellys Staff

Thanks, Kellys – it was a blast!

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Courtesy of GIPHY

Hard Lines

Perhaps my favourite independent coffee shop in Cardiff, Hard Lines is a quirky gem located in the centre of the Castle Emporium. Their ‘Instagram famous’ pink coffee, delicious vegan treats and selection of records for sale have reeled in quite the fanbase.

However, many were disappointed to hear that Hard Lines were not allowed to take part in Record Store Day 2018. While ordering a coffee I asked a barista what it was all about.

Me: you’ve been involved before, right?

Him: yeah, we were part of it last year and possibly the year before.

Me: So why weren’t you allowed this year?

Him: We didn’t sell enough vinyls – or at least that’s how the worded it.

Me: But you still celebrated…

Him: Yeah, didn’t stop us from having a party! A lot of people came down, it was still really busy. I think we did just as well – we still had a good time and people enjoyed it.

When I popped into Hard Lines for RSD (and a piece of vegan pistachio cake) there were lights, crowds, a DJ… the party was definitely still happening. Thanks to a bit of creative work, the Hard Lines staff showed that imagination and spirit are what really makes a modern business thrive!

It’s sad to see Record Store Day 2018 pass already, but I’m glad to have been a part of it. Seeing independent artists share a love of the beautiful physicality that is a vinyl record, the day really symbolises the art and creativity that is so prominent in the music industry. Until next year!

 

Featured photograph courtesy of Goodwines, Flickr

DEPRESSED musicians or DEPRESSING jobs? Demi Lovato on mental health.

Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato speaks up about mental health

We all know how important it is to speak up and reach out for help when things go wrong. When it comes to mental health, musicians are in the number one list for having mental breakdowns… You guys like me may ask… Are all of them crazy? The answer is no.

Irregular cash flows, no contracts, unpredictable payments, and lack of sustainable policies are just some of the main issues musicians have to deal with. The stress that comes with the fame is also a lot of trouble. I bet! Not all is bad news though! I believe creative industries and specially famous people have the power to make a change and raise awareness. It isn’t only the fame that gives them the chance to speak to a wide range of people, but also the globalisation we have experienced in the last years and the emergence of new technologies such as social media and Internet.

The #sorrynotsorry girl is killing it! Demi Lovato has long spoken up about mental health issues. She shares her own struggles with bipolar disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and body image.  Her new documentary SimplyComplicated shows the pressure she’s been dealing with while working for the music industry since a very young age. She also partners with charities and other companies to raise money for people that can’t afford treatments. In fact, she is offering free treatments in her own concerts, funded by an organisation called Cast. Isn’t this amazing? She is also collecting money through selling T-shirts and donations from her Demi Lovato Scholarship Treatment Program where everything goes to this Cast organisation.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented chart-dominating singer, songwriter, and actress Demi Lovato, Honorary Chairperson of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2013, with an award for her advocacy work on behalf of young adults with mental health and substance use challenges during the Awareness Day 2013 press briefing held at the Theater of the Performing Arts at the University of the District of Columbia Community College on May 7

I’m fascinated by the fact that the music industry and popular culture can actually raise awareness about issues that concern us. Just like they can encourage negative attitudes towards children they can also encourage them to have a healthy life. It is not just about making money or sexualising content! Creative and cultural industries have these complex relationships where they work with different sectors in order to save costs and diminish risks. Fundraising and crowdfunding is a good choice when it comes to that! Also if the quality offered for the audience is good, educative and inspiring, then that’s awesome!

I think the best way to battle our own demons is to open up with your loved ones and share your feelings, seek for help. Wellbeing is not like a broken ankle which gets fixed in some days… It takes time to heal! For this reason, I think that if you want to work for the music industry you must be mentally prepared for the pressure and you obviously must love what you do. If not, what’s the point?! (I don’t want to be depressing, sorry) Despite this, I think that it is very beautiful that people can make meaning through bad experiences and become more powerful by sharing their own stories to help others.

Demi Lovato is the perfect example of a person who can live well with mental illness. You can do it too! (even if you are a musician). She also serves as a role model for young people and educate society through meaningful messages. Creative industries must regulate the content they share with the public and make sure it promotes positive attitudes. What do you guys think? Would you be able to go through a lot of pressure despite of doing something you truly love? Is the new creative economy providing optimistic values to our society? Leave a comment below!

 ”No matter what you are going through there is always light at the end of the tunnel”-Demi Lovato

 

The Hitchhikers Guide To Creative Cities

Image credit: Pexels

So, you’re visiting a creative city, are you wondering what to look out for? What really defines a creative city anyways? Heres 4 things to look out for during your visit to a ‘creative city’.

Construct your Concept

What better way to identify a creative city than by the architecture, buildings and structures that surround you? Architecture does more than just look pretty, having distinctive and striking buildings can attract companies and business that want to set themselves up in a city. Moreover, these ‘creative buildings’ have to be technologically equipped to allow for the increasingly digital work experiences that business are increasingly looking to adopt.

Technology isn’t everything, the idea of a cities architecture being entwined with the natural world is becoming increasingly popular, for example the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ structures in Singapore serve a number of creative purposes, they exists as a space for flora and fauna to flourish, as a relaxation and leisure space for citizens and tourists, as an an events space and even as a generator for solar power!

Feed Your Creativity

Quirky cafes, busy bars and gastro-pubs. Food and drink have long been primary definers of a cities appeal, its tough to enjoy a city experience without a belly full of food.

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Image Credit: Pexels

Coffee shops and cafes are great things to look out for, first and foremost because there are often so many of them to choose from! Heres a list of 16 in Cardiff alone! These cafes often sell a large variety of products, including vegan, vegetarian and organic foods, locally sourced produce and imported rarities. Regardless of what takes your fancy, these are great places to try new things and possibly find your new favourite coffee place.

Resonate With A New Rhythm

The beat that a city moves to can be felt like a sixth sense, and a city’s musical scene drives this beat. The music of a creative city is not just one that follows the trends of other cities, its one that is inspired by the local talent that undoubtedly exists. Topping the UNESCO list of the 9 best musical cities in the world was Bogota in Colombia, who have 60 festivals every year and over 500 live music venues for both relatively unknown artists as well as the big names to perform.

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Image Credit: Pexels

Finding music in a creative city is not difficult, and it isn’t always found in a venue, street buskers and cafes also offer a great insight in the music a city has to offer. If you’ve venture as far as Asia then get involved with the culture and head to a karaoke bar where its as common place as local bands are in the Europe and North America. 

Don’t Be An Artful Dodger

Whether its street art, performance art, a cartoonist, a graffiti artist or even that guy who draws faces on your coffee cup (I am this guy), art is a consistent provider of culture in a city, and can often define your whole experience of a city, so get involved!

Art is at the very centre of a creative city, it can be found everywhere you look, it can be argued that everything I’ve mentioned in this post is art! However art is greater than just culture, and is an economic signifier as well. In a survey conducted by the Joint Legislative Committee on Cultural affairs, they found that 99% of chief executive officers stated that cultural and art in an area were an important consideration when choosing a new location. This is why keeping art alive in cities is and always will be, crucial to a thriving city.

So heres the general tip: don’t be afraid to integrate yourself with a city, put in the effort to find new places and experiences and you will surely be rewarded. Have fun!

 

 

 

 

It’s Time to Turn the Tables on DJing

PHOTO BY STEVE SNODGRASS // BAMBOO BEATS

PHOTO BY STEVE SNODGRASS // BAMBOO BEATS

When you look for music on your iPod, you may very well click through to the section named ‘Artists’, which will take you to an alphabetical list topped with Aphex Twin and ending with Zed Bias – should you listen to as much repetitive electronic music as I do.

This is because we, as a general society, define people who make music as creative ‘artists’, and we do this without regard for how amazing or terrible we may think the music they make is. Even Xanax casualties like Lil Pump and co., with their own disregard for real words and a regular haircut, are considered ‘artists’ in today’s world.

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21st Century Mozart? (Image: GIPHY//Worldstar)

However, take that word from the face-tattoo’d mumble-rappers of today and apply it to any of the many talented purveyors of music that we describe as ‘disk-jockeys’, and many people’s faces seem to scrunch up in some sort of confused bewilderment. People don’t see DJing as a proper art. Renowned electronic musician deadmau5 feels the same way. Even DJs are calling out DJs.

How can playing someone else’s music be considered an art form? Your iPod may have a category for ‘Artists’, but that doesn’t make your iPod an artist just because it plays their music, does it? “Don’t you just press play, mate?”

As a DJ, that last question is both one of the most irritating, and most common. And it unfortunately can be true. Especially in the case of the weekly pub DJ or Darren who takes wedding bookings a couple of times a month, playing the latest generic chart music that usually blares from a plasterer’s radio on a weekday afternoon.

But it can also be false. The likes of Jazzy Jeff, Q-bert, and more pioneered the art (at least as Wikipedia describes it) of “turntablism”, and can use turntables in ways that have blown audiences’ minds for around 50 years. They use it to create brand new music and sounds out of their own appreciation for existing music, often off-the-cuff. Meanwhile, some ‘artists’ can’t even remember the lyrics for a song that was written for them.

Other DJs spend years learning skills known as ‘beatmatching’ and mixing, blending a continuous stream of tracks that you either know and love or don’t know and will soon love, ensuring that you spend the night dancing to, and talking about, music. People such as Andy C use three or more turntables, playing over 100 tracks in an hour and timing tracks to ‘drop’ at the same time, creating incredible energy. Sub Focus can take you through the various BPM ranges, on a journey through genres and styles, using musical keys to take you through feelings and emotions. Dj Marky combines turntablism and mixing to create a performance that’s both visually entertaining and keeps the dancefloor moving. He can even scratch while holding a turntable upside down. It’s bloody art!

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DJ Marky at a show in Cardiff (Image: Gethin Ceidiog Hughes)

On a serious note, I know a lot of readers may know all that already, and still fail to see the art behind DJing – especially thanks to stuff like that questionable Zac Efron DJ movie that came out a few years back and the heavily saturated EDM surge that’s overtaken America, which only pushed DJing towards the mainstream “low art” spectrum. It was even officially stated in Chicago, an important area in the original turntablism movement, that DJ sets are not ‘fine art’ compared to orchestras and opera (albeit for tax reasons).

But as we adapt to the new digital landscape we live in today, it’s fair to hope that more people start to take DJing as a more serious art form. Currently, a new DJ is likely to be “offered” unpaid work in return for “promotion” for years before they might get somewhere, because they’re not taken seriously as as a singer, for example. But music is accepted as a pure art form, and as an industry, its heading towards the digital domain. So it’s about time we lost the stigma behind DJing!

Cardiff: City of Music – now it’s official!

In December of last year, it was announced that Cardiff would become the UK’s first ‘music city’. The strategy aims to develop policies which place ‘music at the heart of Cardiff’s future’. In a city with such a plethora of diverse cultures and communities, what are the benefits of focusing on one element?

Scholars like Andy Pratt have noted that a creative city cannot be founded like a cathedral in the dessert: it must be a linked to and part of a pre-existing cultural environment. Cardiff, an ex-industrial powerhouse, which at its peak homed the world’s most important coal port, has experienced massive cultural rejuvenation since. With the Millennium Centre and the Principality Stadium amongst other centres of culture in the city, it has been argued that Cardiff is the place to be when it comes to culture.

Cardiff as a hub for music

Cardiff’s music scene is often viewed as the lifeblood of this culture, nestled in Welsh identity as a beacon of the land of song. Growing up in the Welsh valleys, I never fully experienced Wales as a land of song until I came to Cardiff. The city acted as hub for the South Wales music scene, where people from Bridgend, Caerphilly, Pontypridd and the likes gathered in an environment which facilitated and connected a community of likeminded individuals that may never have met otherwise. I was able to play in a band regularly in venues I loved, surrounded by people who shared my passion; something I may never have achieved in my hometown of Caerphilly.

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Ancestors live at the Full Moon (courtesy of Jordan Adams)

I recently talked to Lucas Woodland, frontman of Holding Absence, a Cardiff based band who recently won ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ at the Cardiff Music Awards. Lucas, originally from Pontypridd, described his experiences of the Cardiff music scene.

“I’ve been playing shows regularly in the Cardiff music scene for nearly 8 years now and it is unparalleled! Very few cities across the UK have such a natural passion and enthusiasm for music”, the singer describes.

Lucas’ admiration for the city is reflective of many Welsh musicians across all genres. “Wales is a nation that very famously wears its heart on its sleeve,” the frontman explains, “and music being so emotion-driven ties in very nicely with that. The facilities at our disposal are second to none too, between the iconic Womanby Street and all the different practice spaces glittered around the city… It’s super easy to make music. With all the Welsh success stories of the 2000s, as well as our generally deep musical heritage, there’s a lot to look up to and aspire to work towards.” The experiences of Lucas and many musicians and music lovers of Cardiff are not too dissimilar: the city lives and breathes music.

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Holding Absence at the Cardiff Music Awards (courtesy of Lucas Woodland)

Here for the community – here to stay

The music scene’s tight knit community has also enriched the city outside of the world of culture; for example, with an upcoming festival planned in the heart of the music scene, Womanby Street, to aid the homeless community in the city.

Cardiff’s music city announcement came over two months after protests to save the hub of the city’s music scene, Womanby Street, successfully encouraged developers to withdraw controversial plans to build flats on the street. These plans were potentially threatening to the existence of live music in the iconic area. The size of the protests and the overwhelming support for Cardiff’s music scene is one indicator of many that the decision to name the capital the UK’s first music city was an inevitable step in the right direction. Against all odds, the city has proved itself to be a passionate hub for music; one it’s willing to fight for.

Main image by Jeremy Segrott

Streaming culture: enriching listeners or damaging an industry?

It has been argued that the culture of consuming music is one that has evolved the most drastically over the past few decades. Flashback to a world before music found its place on the internet; even before the revolutionary release of the iPod in 2001; the average music listener’s household would have been filled to the brim with CDs, records and tapes. These collections may have been purchased from record stores, high street entertainment shops or even handed down through generations. To listen to music, one would have to load up a record (often produced by an artist signed to a major record label) on to a vinyl player – provided it wasn’t warped or damaged – and listen to the record right the way through without the ability to pause or play from a selected track.

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An average music collectors’ spare room before streaming

Nowadays, the avid music listener is able to listen to a wider variety of music than ever before, in larger quantities, whenever and wherever they want at a fraction of the price. The catalyst? Music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, multimedia giants that shape how we consume music, which have split opinion on whether or not their ability to enrich the lives of music fanatics is outweighed by their damaging effects on the music industry.

Music streaming: the pros and cons?

On one hand, streaming has eased the control of monolithic record companies, who would traditionally select the type of music that reaches audiences and ultimately becomes popular. Through streaming, anyone can upload their music and reach a global audience for a small fee, ultimately handing the onus on which genres and artists become popular to those who consume music. Through this scope, streaming is a somewhat liberating tool for reshaping the music industry, handing independent artists full control over their creativity. Streaming also places the creation of value back in the hands of consumers who search for the best quality of music, as opposed to record companies who produce artists they expect to make them the most amount of money.

 

On the other hand, music streaming can be seen as a damaging omen that has become ingrained into the way music is consumed. Whereas popular artists survive and reap the benefits from streaming’s popularity, less recognised artists, despite having the ability to distribute their audience to a wider audience than ever before, take the financial brunt of the deal. Spotify’s system of determining royalties for artists often means that the average stream earns your favourite band/singer around a mere $0.0084. This means that even if you were to stream your favourite band’s new album every day for a year, you would still only be paying them about $3.06 (around £2.26), about £10 less than physically buying the album once.

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Music streaming has had a positive effect on physical music sales

Streaming also has a positive effect on classic models of music production and distribution. Studies have found that streaming has driven an increase in sales of physical music in the UK, such as CD and in particular vinyl. In this respect, streaming acts as a model of introduction to music, increasing the value of physical music. Collectors treat physical music as a badge of honour, legitimising their love for an artist/album. Music fans in the UK purchased over 4.1 million vinyl albums in 2017, the highest number since 1991. These figures emphasise why the model of streaming music is one that is often met with uncertainty and polarisation in the music community.

There is one thing for certain, however: streaming is an ingrained part in the culture of music consumption that show no sign of budging soon. One can only hope that it’s positive effects on the industry are enough to sustain artists in the long run.

Photo credits: http://www.bluecoat.com
                          Pexels

A Cultural Middleground? – Reviewing “A Winter Gala”

Some consider culture to be like choosing from a menu. Consider high culture like a grand, gourmet dish with an expensive price tag to accompany (tasty and you feel an aura of grandeur about you as the waiter calls out for the order of lobster thermidor and you coyly get to raise a hand, yes, yes it is me that ordered that dish) and low culture the equivalent of a burger and a side of fries – just as tasty as the lobster, but instead you feel great about having spent nowhere near the amount as the lobster. This separation of cultures is only present where academics attempt to classify differing degrees of culture – what is cultural, and what is not. This post talks about the origins of these terms, but ultimately what I’d like to take from it is the knowledge that I am ultimately culturally omnivorous.

Personally, my encounters with high culture could be summed up through Ed Sheeran’s inclusion of Andrea Bocelli on his track “Perfect” but that was all about to change…

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Opera is typically considered a “high culture” art. (source)

Last November I had the opportunity to attend “A Winter Gala”, an event put on by Cardiff Operatic Society. I was treated to an evening of highly talented singers, warmed by the exceptional abilities of many of the singers – though it may have also been from the glass of red wine we were offered on entry. A range of different music was sung, from traditional operatic pieces such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden’s Aria to Once Upon a December from the Disney film Anastasia. Stand out of the evening was Lily Taylor’s portrayal of Cupid from Purcell’s King Arthur. The evening opened my eyes to many things, however, whilst being very entertaining and a fantastic showcase of the talent on offer at Cardiff University:

  1. I was a university student at the opera. In my mind, the opera is typically considered as a form of “high culture”. I never believed I’d be welcomed at an event such as this, nor did I expect to enjoy it so much coming from a lower, working-class background.
  2. The mixture of different musical styles helped me to understand that we should be working towards the dissolution of these archaic concepts of high and low culture. Whilst there was traditional operatic music being performed, these were shown amongst pieces from musical theatre and Disney films.
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Soprano Lily Taylor singing “Snow Maiden’s Aria” (source)

After this event, I no longer feel unwelcome at places of high culture. I was able to enjoy this prime, and traditional, example of high culture coming from a background that’d be expected to resort to the lower cultures. Not only that, but musical theatre – typically a “low culture” due to its mass appeal – was being used by the musical and artistic directors Rosie Howarth and Jessica Thomas (respectively) in tandem with operatic pieces. The event almost felt like a statement piece against this concept of the separation and divide of cultures; it was an entertaining, and roaring success.

If we return to where we started with this post, all I’d like to say is don’t feel put off by that lobster dish – it might seem expensive at first, but that might just be because of the accompanying sauce. Everyone can enjoy “high culture”, no matter who they are – and nor should you feel above enjoying “low culture”. Pick that “low culture” burger up and take a big ol’ bite — who knows, you might enjoy it.

 

Luke Bennett

Why are we so scared of punk?

Shame Photography by Holly Whitaker

Can you tell me about your last trip to the opera? How did you feel? Would you go again? I presume majority of you are struggling to answer this. Now tell me about your last live music gig. How did you feel then? I’m sure this one is a lot easier to answer.  The reason why I ask this, is something has recently caught my attention and it’s infuriating me!

 

Today, in 2018, culture is still unfairly being funded based on notions of ‘high culture’ and ‘low culture’. But in the modern day, it is questionable what this even means and under what grounds defines something as ‘high culture’ in comparison to other creative works. Art is art and culture is culture regardless of the product, so why is cultural policy and funding such an issue of ignorance in today’s modern society?

 

‘High culture’ is a culture defined by attributes of sophistication, aristocracy and education connoting to creative realms within society such as opera, theatre and fine art. However, attributes of ‘low culture’ are unfairly categorized and disregarded. Including aspects such as popular music, cult film and comedy.  This unfair categorisation of culture is an outdated concept which is impacting funding to the cultural realms of today.

 

This so called ‘high culture’ is what is receiving the largest amount of facilitation amongst cultural funding in the UK as the likes of opera is receiving 62% of musical funding in comparison to the pop and contemporary music industry which is receiving a mere 8% of this money. An unfair divide between the music genres in the UK.

 

This debate caught my attention recently as post-punk band Shame, who have recently been in the limelight due to their critically acclaimed debut album Songs of Praise, have fallen victim to the biased, right wing words of The Sun newspaper. Recent reports have highlighted that the band have received a government grant to fund their musical endeavours by Export Promotion minister Baroness Fairhead. However, Sun journalist Dan Wootton’s discourse on the matter suggests the societal disapproval that comes with music such as post-punk being funded by the ‘taxpayers’ as he labels Fairhead as ‘blundering’ for supplying the band with a grant whilst criticising them for their ridicule of Theresa May in their EP ‘Visa Vulture’. 

 

Shame- ‘Visa Vulture’ taken from Shame’s official Youtube channel.

 

However, what’s so wrong about offering money to left-wing, post-punk bands? Bands such as Shame, not only contribute innovative, musical talent to the music industry but also invite political conversation to young people. Of course, their left-wing lyricism is biased to a certain view. However, it introduces the conversation to young people. If their favourite band are passionate about a political issue, it encourages young people to become invested in it; it’s educational.

Not only that, but contemporary music such as post-punk creates an immersive community. I recently attended a gig at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach for a similar band called Cabbage. The gig truly echoed the need for maintenance of this music scene. The audience was packed out front to back, with a crowd of all ages and genders, united together in a raucous mosh pit. The gig offered to the audience escapism, as people carelessly danced (or moshed) along to their explosive sounds whilst singing along to the lyrics of “I wanna die in the NHS”. Why should advocating the NHS through heavy guitars and shouty music not be something that is funded by the government?

 

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Cabbage//Swell Publicity

 

Debates against contemporary music being helped by government funding argue that commercial success associated with this kind of music means funding is unnecessary.  However, it’s only those bands at the very top, who have fallen into this financial success but even still, they have to start somewhere. Upcoming artists struggle to financially maintain their projects as aspects such as equipment, transport, recording and time spent travelling does not come cheap. Additionally, with the influx of Spotify and Apple Music, where does the profit come from? Without financial facilitation bands such as Cabbage and Shame will soon cease to exist. This not only would be a huge loss to culture but also to the British economy as contemporary music offers the majority percentage of the £4.4 billion that the music industry contributes to our economy.

Evidently, the state of our musical funding structures needs urgent revision to save these post-punk bands from extinction. Come on Theresa, let them stay.

Xpresstival – How Crowdfunding Saved this Music Festival!

 

Cardiff University’s student radio station, Xpress Radio, throws annual music festival by raising over £2000!

Courtesy of Giphy

As Station Manager of Xpress Radio, planning Xpresstival has been a huge part of the year (we didn’t nickname it X-stress-tival for nothing, folks). We knew that we wanted to strike a balance between hiring local bands in Cardiff and finding acts that would draw audiences from other areas as well. Essentially, we wanted to sell as many tickets as possible so people could relax, have a pint, and enjoy the cracking live music being put on throughout the day – we just needed the funds to do it.

As a student radio station, we don’t exactly have money to burn, so we had to get creative in getting people to donate, especially if we wanted to make Xpresstival everything we had envisioned. We just figured, go hard or go home – and boy did we go hard. Our crowdfunding began by setting up a GoFundMe for Xpress, which we continuously advertised and promoted during our 24-Hour Specialist Takeover where we raised over £2000! This was beyond any of our wildest dreams for the takeover, made evident by my own foolish promise to dye my hair Xpress Purple if we reached £1000… Behold the biggest mistake of my life below:

7puyV4BH.jpg-large(Found on my instagram)

But the ridiculousness didn’t stop there! In order to raise a few more funds at Christmas, we (stupidly) released a Christmas charity single (if you could even call it that) where we wrote the lyrics and sang along to a tune you may or may not have heard before…Just once or twice. All donations went to our GoFundMe, and with this money we were able to produce our best Xpresstival yet!

We held Xpresstival at Buffalo, a local music venue in Cardiff where we occupied the whole top floor and were able to use the gorgeous beer garden as well. Our lineup included local acts from Cardiff such as Papur Wal, who are a Welsh Language band. In fact, Xpresstival had a 50% Welsh Language lineup this year, something I’m very proud of. I think it’s so important that Welsh Language is celebrated in the city of Cardiff, something I’m constantly trying to incorporate into Xpress’ broadcasts and values. Along with Papur Wal, we had SPINN, an up and coming band from Liverpool headline our festival. To see our full lineup, click here.

For Xpresstival, we really wanted to incorporate as many aspects of Cardiff as a city as we could. Along with our lineup and venue, we hosted an independent glitter company, Gloyw, co-owned by Xpress’ own Elin Cain! The girls set up a stall at the entrance to Xpresstival, and charged a few pounds to do amazing glitter art on people, the perfect accompaniment to any festival.

31841544_10156273740678904_6694114110327488512_o(Found at Xpress Radio on Facebook, owned by me)

Xpresstival 2018 is something I’m immensely proud of as Station Manager, but none of it would have been possible without those who donated to our GoFundMe. Being a student radio station, it is so important for us to produce content that all can enjoy, and Xpresstival was such a successful end to the year. We were able to book amazing acts and pay them for their work, as well as hire out a stunning venue and most importantly enjoy the music created by such awesome artists. Though we secretly dubbed this event X-stress-tival, I’m brimming with pride to personally entitle it ‘X-BEST-ival.’ Would you like some pizza with that cheese?

Over and out,

Emma