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

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

Is London the ULTIMATE Creative City?

Image: Pixabay

As a (very proud) resident of South London, I thought I’d explore some of the reasons why the English capital is so great – particularly in the creative sense. Although London is often associated with dull, corporate bankers all competing in the rat race in a faceless, polluted city, I want to prove that it is a vibrant and diverse cultural hub that has more to offer than anywhere else in the world.

Whether it be the sophisticated Saatchi Gallery, or securing a whine at the Notting-Hill Carnival, London has something for everyone.

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But wait… what is a creative city?

A ‘creative city’ is a modern buzzword with various definitions. Some say it is a city with a strong cultural presence, whereas some academics, such as Richard Florida, emphasise the idea of economic creativity, focusing on the entrepreneurial side of creative pursuits. London has both.

  • The creative economy in London now makes up 16.9% of all jobs in the capital, compared to 7.9% of jobs in the rest of the UK. That’s over double.
  • In 2015, the money generated by the creative industries in London was estimated at £42 billion, accounting for an estimated 11.1% of London’s total GVA (gross value added.)
  • The £42 billion makes up for 47.4% of the UK creative industries’ total gross. That’s just under half of all the money made by cultural industries coming from the capital.
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Image: Giphy

No, we’re really not! These figures come from the most recent creative update from the  London Assembly, and they don’t even take the informal creative sector into account. Professor Ian Hargreaves says:

“a huge amount of creative work is done by people who don’t expect to be paid for it […] This type of work usually doesn’t get counted, either as jobs or economic output. The scale of this informal creative economy has also been boosted significantly by the internet.”

I really believe that this really highlights the cultural significance of London –  let’s go into just a few of the things that make London such a unique, dynamic place!

Food, glorious food

What better place to start than with food? If you’re hungry, you might want to skip this section.

London’s food is AMAZING. Although places like Paris have more Michelin-star restaurants, that certificate is becoming somewhat dated now. I mean who wants to spend £50 (plus) on a meal that looks like this?

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Image: Imgur

If you want innovation and diversity in terms of what’s gonna be filling your stomach, London is the place to be. 37% of the London population were born outside the UK, and the sheer variety of mouth-watering food proves that. Whether it’s Asian, Carribean, or standard British grub, London’s got you covered. 

 

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Images: Dip & Flip, Now. Here. This, Detox Kitchen, and Min An

Music

Where do we even start?! This could cover an entirely different blog post. Grime music sticks out as each rapper is a character with a different story to tell, and they’re not afraid to tackle controversial issues. Take Stormzy, who boldly called out Theresa May and her government’s way of dealing with the Grenfell Tragedy. Although the mainstream media often creates sensationalised headlines, grime is a well-respected art form – after all, Dizzee Rascal performed at the Olympic opening ceremony. It’s a part of London culture that we firmly wear on our sleeve.

Theatre & Arts

One of London’s strongest assets is its Theatre. Not only is London home to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre but it also hosts a vast array of productions in the West End.  Speaking of variety, the art scene is undeniably varied. The V&A is the world’s largest gallery of decorative design, The National Gallery hosts more classic art, and the Tate Modern focuses on more contemporary pieces.

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The Globe is like a portal back in time
Images: Pixabay

 

Multicultural, lively and oozing with charm. Watch London come alive.

 

 

 

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

Don’t Upset The Rhythm: How Secure Is Cardiff’s Independent Music Scene?

After living and studying in Cardiff for three years it would be impossible not to recognise the popularity of the city’s independent music scene. So much so, the Welsh capital has been declared the UK’s first “Music City”. Independent music venue’s such as Gwdihw, The Moon and Clwb Ifor Bach (or Welsh club for short!) are central to the city’s independent music landscape and regularly host performances by local, independent musicians.

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(Independent venues are key in supporting potential talent, Credit: Pexels)

The independent music scene’s value was highlighted during this year’s Independent Venue’s Week. The event was supported by the Arts Council England together with Arts Council Wales. It aimed to “showcase” independent music venues whilst “Celebrating the spirit of independence & culture of live music.”. The week-long event has been hailed as a vital tool in the fight to “protect and nurture such culturally valuable locations”.

However, this value hasn’t been recognised in recent years. Point, a popular independent music venue located in Cardiff Bay, was forced to close “due to the financial burdens brought on by a combination of the credit crunch and the cost of soundproofing the venue”. Dempsy’s, another popular venue also closed last year for “substantial redevelopment”. Critically acclaimed, Welsh musicians Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Vaccines had previously played at Dempsy’s before they found stardom.

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(Many successful musicians have emerged from Cardiff’s independent music scene, Credit: Pexels)

The rocky ground that Cardiff’s independent music venues has recently been on raises a question: how secure is the city’s independent music scene?

The Welsh Government’s recent approval of development plans to “build flats” on Wombany Street incited the ‘Save Wombany Street’ campaign. The campaign was spearheaded by local residents who feared that “the future of the street as the home to a number of live music venues was at risk if planners allowed residential dwellings”. The campaign’s demonstrations and petition eventually lead to withdrawal of the development plans. Securing the future of many independent music venues on the iconic Wombany Street.

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(The Save Womanby Protest, Photo Credit: Wales Online: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/remarkable-scenes-support-music-fans-12965207)

But, the approval of the plans in the first place highlights how unstable Cardiff’s independent music scene is. The number of people who pulled together to secure the future of Wombany Street shows how valued the independent music scene is to the city’s residents. But the man-power behind the campaign is not sustainable. It would be challenging to regularly organise and implement such strong campaigns. Regardless of the success this campaign enjoyed.

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(This street could look very different if Cardiff’s independent music scene is not protected, Credit: Pexels)

So, it must have come as a massive relief for campaigners to hear that Cardiff had recently been declared Britain’s first ever music city. The honour will see new strategies put in place to “protect Cardiff’s music scene and boost the city’s international profile”. The move could see an influx of new interest in the city’s independent music scene, and shows a newfound awareness of its importance from the powers that be.

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(The iconic Wombany Street is at the heart of Cardiff’s independent music scene, Credit: Pexels)

But I can’t help but wonder how influential the community’s show of solidarity was in securing the city’s new title (and the added security to Cardiff’s independent music scene that goes with it). It just shows how powerful the voice of the people can be. And something tells me that the support of the people is exactly what will be needed to make sure the city’s independent music scene continues to thrive.

So, do your bit by commenting below. How important is Cardiff’s independent music scene to the city’s cultural landscape? And what impact would any further closures have on you?

 

Does Apple’s HomePod Represent the end of Human Creativity?

As an Apple fan, I was watching with anticipation when the company announced, in typical grandiose fashion, the HomePod, a smart speaker powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that can send text messages, play music, receive calls and adjust your heating.

Now, the HomePod isn’t the first smart speaker, but when Apple gets involved you can be sure that the industry will be changed forever.  Apple’s Smartwatch has only been on sale for two years, and already it’s the most popular watch on the planet.

At £319 I don’t think the HomePod is likely to be a mass market product, and sales aren’t as high as expected. But smart speakers are now the new battleground for technology companies. One in six Americans now own a smart speaker. Even if you don’t, the digital assistants inside them can be found in almost every smartphone. Shout ‘Hey Siri,’ or ‘Okay, Google,’ in a crowded place to hear a cacophony of AI voices answering you.

So, what does this mean for creativity?

Well firstly, I think smart speakers represent a growing trend of robotization. Almost every aspect of our lives is becoming automated, and smart speakers are a natural evolution of this. When you want to send a text, just get the robot to do it for you. And I don’t mean relay a message for them to send, Google is literally working on ways for AI to predict what you want to say, and imitate how you would say it.  

Blogger Chris Measures fears that this means human creativity will become redundant, as machines take care of everything for us. By 2025, 40% of jobs will be carried out by robots.  I can’t help thinking of the humans in Wall-E.

Video source

But despite existential fears for the future of humanity, I think robotization at the moment is more of a help than a hindrance to creative people. A  NESTA report found that creative sector jobs are least likely to be threatened by robots. New technology helps creative people, with sophisticated software able to help create more impressive video games, movies and music.

I believe robotization, as it is currently, is much more of a threat to manual labor industries. A 2015 study found that new technology has increased inequality over the last few years, likely for this reason.

But what about if the AI itself starts making music?

Algorithms can look at what music you listen to often and suggest songs you might like. If I ask Siri to play some music, she will play me a personalised radio station, based entirely off what my listening habits suggest I’m into (mostly Africa by Toto).

This has implications for the creative industry all on its own; how will new musicians break into an industry when everyone is stuck in their filter bubbles, listening to genres they already know they will like and not trying anything new?

But it also begs the question, what happens if technology companies decide they may as well cut out the middle man, and have the AI make music themselves, personalised for each user specifically?

Art created by AI has been around since 1973, but I think smart speakers show a new way in which the technology could change the creative industries forever, and perhaps even replace it.

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Image source

Now, I don’t think artificial intelligence is quite there yet; the tech is unable to understand humour, or truly innovate, stuck remixing old styles fed into its algorithms. 

But the technology is getting better all the time, and companies are putting billions into improving them. I don’t think human creativity will ever be fully replaced, but the HomePod is definitely a step in that direction.

Header image source: Image source

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

How Spotify introduced me to the Anonymous Nobody…

Credit: Wikimedia commons

In the modern, digital era of music, it is sometimes easy to get wound up in the mainstream and what is new. However, although music streaming giants such as Spotify have helped to create this buzz around anything new and popular, they also employ mechanisms and technologies that ensure that other, less mainstream and even older music still gets the listens, recognition and love it so often deserves. I believe this is one of the major positives surrounding the digitalization of the music industry as it provides a platform for these less mainstream artists, an opportunity that may not have been available to them under the previous (non-digital) regime of the music industry.

The Spotify radio feature for example allows listeners to listen to different artists, albums and songs based on their existing tastes, and also allows the listener to personalize their own individual radio station according to their preferences.

Spotify radio
Image: Spotify radio             Credit: Ian Dick (Flickr)

It is thanks to this feature that I originally came to meet ‘the Anonymous nobody…’ . Now I don’t profess to be some sort of Hip-Hop or Rap guru, but having been a fan of the genre all my life, I found myself seeking something different to the same old mainstream artists that I had always listened to. This was why I initially decided to (hip) hop on to the sound waves of the Hip-Hop radio station on Spotify.

It was shortly after this that the Anonymous Nobody kindly introduced itself to me. After traipsing through some of the sometimes quite obscure music I was being fed, I was eventually quite relieved to hear the familiar sounds of Snoop Dogg featured on a track I had never heard before. The song was “Pain” from the 2016 album “and the Anonymous Nobody…” by ‘old-school’ Hip-Hop group De la soul.

De la soul
Image: Hip-Hop group De la Soul          Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As I mentioned earlier I am no Hip-Hop guru. So I am ashamed to admit that prior to this, I had never heard of the apparent Hip-Hop royalty that is De la soul. Having listened to the Anonymous Nobody and being completely captivated by it, I wondered WHY this was the case. Eventually I realised that it may have been because the group had not released an album in over a decade, and also, most of their older work was not available on streaming services. Again, I wondered… WHY?

It turned out that most of their back catalogue was not available on streaming services as contracts that the group signed in the past for the samples used on the albums was only valid for vinyl and cassette mediums (What are those?). Although, I believe the digitalization of music has largely been a positive thing, this outlined to me one of the apparent drawbacks of the technological advancements made in the music industry and especially for De la soul themselves.

De la soul album
Image: 1989 De la Soul album artwork: ‘3 Feet High and Rising”  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As most artists would be if their music was trapped in an outdated and obsolete medium limbo, the group were extremely frustrated that fans could not access their work and also became frustrated with their label Warner Bros who the group felt were not making enough effort to rectify the situation.

Read more about the struggle here.

So after over a decade of frustration, the group decided they needed to do something different when making their new album. Therefore instead of relying on their label to fund it, they turned to their fans, and what ensued was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever recorded.

The group raised well over the amount they initially aimed for and as a result, were able to create the masterpiece that is the Anonymous Nobody with the artistic freedom that may not have been afforded to them under their label.

I thank Spotify for introducing me to the Anonymous Nobody and De la soul. If you haven’t already, PLEASE give them a listen, I assure, you wont be disappointed.