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Monday 1st May 2006 - We've Never Had It So Good ! - Radio 1 Live Music Debate
The usual suspects were all in Birmingham last week for the Government Live Music Forum/Radio1 Live Music Debate.
Minister James Purnell was present to oversee proceedings, although he arrived 44 minutes late. Feargal Sharkey and BBC R1 controller Andy Parfitt were on the panel. Ex Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq compered the debate. DCMS civil servants were among the audience of 200-300 Birmingham rock and pop musicians and promoters.
See, Wednesday 26th April 2006 - Radio 1 live music debate - another planet
"I mean, as I said the British music industry is a really important part of the economy. It's 5 billion pounds a year, so purely in economic terms it's a really important thing and we want to build on it. It's also, I think live music is really crucial to the success of British music now, you know the fact that people want to break American bands like the Strokes erm or the White Stripes here because that gives them credibility elsewhere because we're seen as a kinda 'island of taste makers' and that makes people really focus on the UK music scene from all over the world, that's a really good thing er for British music and British culture."
"Aren't we now just victims of our own success? Live music has become so popular. It's become better organised in some cases. It's with, via our coverage on Radio 1, we've excited people, we've explained to them what it's like, we've brought the atmosphere into their homes, we've got a lot of bands, we've had a reasonably good British music scene, we've tried to help new music come through, we've now got all this going on, and now the problem is just too many people want to go. Because we've made it so good"
"Well, I'd like a law that said everyone over 50 has to re-sit their artistic licence to carry on making music, but that's another thing entirely. Do you see what I mean though? That it's now, we have a great product, so now we're dealing with, now we're now dealing with the fall out?"
Tell that to one of the tens of thousands of jobbing musicians who's world is a million miles away from your Brit Awards, or, for that matter, your Live Music Debate. And please cite a few examples of your favourite bands from the last thirty years who have actually created something original and not rehashed versions of sixties sounds or three chord tricks.
Steve Lamacq seems to be getting carried away with his Radio 1 Legend, when he says, "Because we've made it so good" - . Who are we ? Does "we" mean just the staff at BBC/Government Headquarters, or does it mean the thousands of dedicated musicians and music lovers who have kept all the small gigs going in hundreds of towns over the last fifty years.
All those free and easy sometimes unofficial gigs where people come together and where new ground is broken and exciting new relationships forged. Glastonbury doesn't have a monopoly on outdoor creativity either. There are hundreds of different festivals up and down the country where live music has often been provided free. These are the places where the original music is happening that you should be celebrating . Instead you want to control it from your Capital centre so that you can more easily feed into the American dollar mechanism.
James Purnell confirms this in his summary,
"I think live music is really crucial to the success of British music now, you know the fact that people want to break American bands like the Strokes erm or the White Stripes here because that gives them credibility elsewhere because we're seen as a kinda 'island of taste makers' and that makes people really focus on the UK music scene from all over the world, that's a really good thing er for British music and British culture"
This, then, would seem to be the reason behind the Governments determination to acquire unreasonable control over the live music network in England and Wales. They must satisfy the Free Market conditions agreed in their G7/World Bank meetings. Somebody's profit will be at the root of it, and it won't be young musicians who are struggling to survive and build a pension for their seventies.
I also fail to understand how making it easier for Corporate Record Companies to promote American Artists like The Strokes or The White Stripes will improve British Culture. It will just make the relevant shareholders richer. Now if you had a Musicians exchange programme involving real communities. That would do something fantastic to stimulate many people into something new. Did you get that Feargal ?
Oh and Steve - perhaps you should be thinking about banning musicians who didn't practice instead of discriminating against them based purely on age.