All posts tagged Concerts

  • A Conversation With Paul Hannigan, Co-founder

    Paul Hannigan, Moshcam co-founder (yes, he chose this photo)Streaming concert video hub Moshcam is a super awesome resource for viewing professionally-recorded footage of bands that tour Sydney, Australia. They’ve been an intriguing player on the web music scene since 2007, yet I hadn’t seen their story told anywhere else. I was stoked when co-founder Paul Hannigan agreed to my snooping questions in early April 2009. Here ’tis: the most complete Moshcam interview, ever. Take that, internet!

    Hey Paul! I’ve researched you and your company as well as the internet allowed me. Can you describe how the idea behind Moshcam began, and how you decided to undertake the project with your two fellow founders?

    I’d returned from Los Angeles where I’d been working with a couple of successful start-ups (Citysearch, and, which subsequently became Overture/Yahoo Search Marketing) and had been helping manage and promote a few bands over there. Living back in Sydney at the time, around 2006, I wanted to do “something with music online”, which was about as specific as my thinking was at that point.

    As a fan, I found myself at shows at venues like The Metro and Enmore 3-4 times a week. As it happened, John Reddin, who was a friend and Head of Production at XYZ’s Lifestyle Channel, had worked on a number of television productions with Elia Eliades’ (the owner of Century Venues) production company. Elia had spoken to John about his desire to explore new territory with his venues online and John said “I know this fellow you should talk to”, and arranged an introduction. Through that meeting, the idea of Moshcam was born.

    Did you have any experience within the music industry, or were those connections gained through John and Elia?

    I’d been a drummer and a music journalist in Europe, and had some band management and production experience there and in the States. But I hadn’t been part of the industry itself in Australia, other than in a reporting capacity as Editor-in-Chief of what was initially Fairfax‘s Citysearch.

    Of course, as a tragic consumer, I’d just spent 3 months digitising some 6,000 albums in my collection, so if nothing else, it felt like I was propping up the industry! And suddenly, here was an opportunity to bring a love of music together with a background in content production and technology development?

    Moshcam doesn’t seem like the kind of business that’s built overnight. How long did it take to put concept into practice? I understand that you consulted with Melbourne web developers Hyro to build a custom CMS with sharing/playlist functionalities; had they undertaken any similar projects, or was this an all-new interface?


    We spent 8 months developing a proprietary back-end solution for Moshcam. To a large extent, I knew what I wanted the site to be in terms of user experience and functionality, so interface design and architecture was relatively straightforward.

    The CMS was more of an iterative process in that we were really pushing into new territory around video serving and how to manage those assets.

    The Hyro project profile states that you required banner advertising intergration for revenue purposes, yet at the time of writing, I can’t see any ads on the site. When do you plan to include these, and is this the only revenue avenue down which Moshcam is treading?

    As a start-up that needed to build significant traffic from scratch, we always wanted to get the product right for music fans in terms of usability, first and foremost, before we thought about how to include things like sponsorship and advertising. Moshcam was always going to be a free offering, so naturally a free-to-air advertising model was going to be a part, but by no means all, of our model at some stage.

    However, I think it’s fair to say we are at an interesting juncture in the online world when it comes to music specifically, and there are a host of revenue models which may or may not play out in the months and years ahead.

    Moshcam’s stated aim is to make quality live recordings available to be streamed over the web for free. I can’t imagine that every artist you approach is accepting of this goal; what is Moshcam’s strike rate, and have you found that artists have become more welcoming of the idea since Moshcam started in 2007?

    Almost every artist we speak to directly loves the idea and only cares about getting their work out there.

    With record companies and managers, however, who are often the gatekeepers of approval for us, there’s still a great divide between those that embrace their artists’ music online and those who are more resistant.

    It’s easy to understand their concerns since they’ve seen revenues consistently eroded through free downloading but with something like Moshcam, increasingly they see it as a valuable showcase for the artist, both in terms of their existing and potential fanbase, as well as being able to show promoters who may not be familiar with their work just how well they can deliver live.

    Gary Numan hearts Moshcam. Maybe.If I had to give you a number, I’d say we’ve moved the strike rate from something like 10% to 40%, which given the number of bands that comes through Sydney is a significant figure. We just filmed our 500th show, which was Gary Numan at The Enmore Theatre.

    Moshcam is only licensed to broadcast each recording over the internet, so the shows currently aren’t available for download. In the coming years, do you think that labels will begin to request the ability to download recordings on behalf of the artists, perhaps at a per-song or per-show cost? This makes a lot of sense to me: stream the show for free, and include the option to buy a high-quality recording – via file download or on a physical DVD – for around the cost of an album.

    Absolutely. This is something we are working with the labels to put into effect. As record labels look for new revenue streams, this is one that previously did not exist. The revenue from a gig ends the minute the merch stand shuts up shop. What better way to extend the life cycle of that show than through making it available for fans to buy?

    As the aggregator of all this great footage, we are perfectly placed to offer just such a service. As you can imagine, there are a number of issues that need to be resolved in terms of licensing and technology, but we are very hopeful that this will be finalised soon.

    Do you present each artist with the same contract? Do some artists try to negotiate so that Moshcam’s recordings can be downloaded?

    We have a standard contract that varies only in the length of broadcast terms, from two years to ‘in perpetuity’.

    The download issue is not one that really comes up in the negotiations, other than the aforementioned assurances that we don’t offer it for free.

    Until we are able to put in place a site-wide download service, we link through to any band who makes their gig available for download or purchase elsewhere.. of which there are very few.

    Moshcam is now working in partnership with several Sydney venues. Are you planning to transfer the concept to other cities and venues across the country?

    The Gaelic Club. Colourful!We have built-in studios at The Metro and Annandale Hotel. We also have two mobile units and have filmed gigs at The Forum, The Gaelic Club, The Manning Bar, The Vanguard, The City Recital Hall, and the Hyde Park Barracks (for the Sydney Festival). As a result we have great relationships with those venues so whenever a band I’d like to see on Moshcam is in town, we can shoot at any venue with very smooth integration into their house operations.

    Other than being able to drill down to a very local level, there are no real economies of scale for us setting up in other Australian cities, since almost every band from another city we’d like to film tours and plays Sydney at some point.

    Internationally, I’d love to work with venues in Tokyo, London or Dublin, and New York or LA and cover the four corners of the rock and roll globe! Once we prove the model, I hope there will be opportunities to do just that.

    There was some controversy in Brisbane last year when Birds Of Tokyo‘s management kicked up a fuss over bootleg footage of new material that was recorded at The Zoo – coverage here and here. As a music fan, not a business owner, how do you feel about fans recording gig footage and uploading it to video streaming sites? I know that the quality can range from cameraphone-poor to semi-professional setups, yet I feel that there’s an inherent innocence in making an effort to record musicians’ work to share with other fans.

    It’s a dilemma isn’t it? As a music fan I want to see and hear anything and everything by the bands I love, but I respect the right of an artist to control their own output, particularly when it comes to quality – which, let’s face it, is the defining point of difference between Moshcam and 30 seconds of mobile phone footage on YouTube.

    Obviously the internet has moved the practice of taping shows into a whole new digital distribution environment. But personally, I can’t see how this does anything but increase artist exposure, and ultimately, sales. I do think there is often a lot of disingenuous talk about downloads not affecting sales, depending on who’s making what point, but when it comes to live fan recordings I really do think that is the case.

    How do you prefer to listen to music? How has this changed since you bought your first album?

    Shadow Paul jumps around to House Of PainI have a ridiculous amount of music stored digitally, both burned from my vinyl and CD collection and bought from iTunes.

    I was a bit of a vinyl junkie originally and took a while to make to change to CDs since it seemed a real degradation of the album for the sake of convenience. Tiny artwork, illegible lyrics, reduced dynamics, etc. I think that’s why I embraced the digital format so quickly, as I’d already done my grieving for the original artifact. Now, there’s just the music, and nothing else to get obsessive about.

    How do I listen to music differently now than back in the day? I’m a compulsive curator, so it’s almost always a playlist as opposed to an album.

    More people are listening to more music than ever before, yet the major labels are resistant to changes in consumer habits due to an effort to retain pre-internet revenue models. Agree or disagree?

    Well it’s a prima facie argument, isn’t it? There’s a lot of nonsense spoken on both sides about the effects of digital downloads on the industry. Most kids I know have never paid for music in their lives. That’s just the world they grew up in, it’s not a new digital frontier for them, nor is it a moral issue. They have larger music libraries at 16 than I had after years of buying music as a fan.

    But the point is, they would never have bought that music anyway. So it’s simplistic and misleading for the labels to say that this is somehow lost revenue.

    What’s more, these kids are incredibly indiscriminate about what they download, which exposes them to artists they would never have heard if they were buying one album a month with their pocket money. This gets them out to live shows; gets them buying merch, and gets them involved in online fan communities, often interacting with the artists themselves. All of which creates lifelong fans who will buy music in some form or other when a pricing model becomes both standardised and sensible.

    Likewise, a lot of people who buy music continue to do so, while downloading a lot of free stuff they wouldn’t normally buy to check it out – again, no lost revenue and wider artist exposure boosting live music attendance. Can it really be coincidence that we’ve seen an explosion in live music attendance since since the advent of peer-to-peer download networks?

    And then there is the percentage of people who are downloading for free the music that they would have historically paid for. That’s something you can’t refute. Human nature being what it is, and music costing what it does, means that a lot of people are saving themselves money at the expense of the label and the artist. And that’s a problem, especially for the artist. If a musician can’t make a living from their output, how can they survive to make more music?

    Moshcam Logo. "The gig is up!"

    That’s why the tour has become an income staple. It’s like a return to the strolling minstrel – bands as bards, singing for their supper!

    Let’s hope we see some innovation from the labels around pricing to get fans paying for music at a price that’s realistic, in the new digital economy. Whether that’s a tiered licensing model – which would save fans like me who still buy their music a small fortune – remains to be seen, but if you look at media sectors where this has been operational, such as subscription TV, you can see how it could be work for the online music industry.

    None of this is being held back by mechanics or technology. It’s all about pricing. However, I think there will always be a demand for a fan to buy an album or a song directly to own it, either as a digital file, or as something you can hold and look at.

    What excites you about the music and web industries?

    The immediacy. It’s like the fourth wall has been demolished. Although with that comes a loss of some of the mystique for fans and means there will probably never be any more rock gods, I think it’s really healthy.

    The internet is basically punk technology for music distribution. Now not only can anyone pick up a guitar, form a band and record some songs, they can get it out there on a scale that has never been possible before.

    And in the area of live music, I’m obviously thrilled that we can now capture a gig and share it with fans without having to get into the business of DVD production and distribution. As a fan, this is all part of what I love about being able to experience music outside of the established release schedule of a band’s label.

    Before the web, all you heard from a band was what the label released. Perhaps an album every couple of years; maybe a live album or a DVD. Now there are all these great auxiliary moments where you get to see and hear an artist outside the studio, being captured and shared in all sorts of environments.

    Moshcam was nominated for a Webby Award last month in the ‘Best Music Site’ category, although you were beaten in the end by NPR. Congrats! Was this a goal of yours, or a total surprise? 

    The Webby that Moshcam didn't win. No crying over spilt springs!Thanks! It was great to be acknowledged by our peers as doing something worthwhile.

    To be honest it was a total surprise. Obviously, we’d entered but we haven’t been doing this for too long and we figured we were probably still off the radar of the Stateside luminaries who decide these things.

    What are your plans to navigate the ‘interesting juncture’ in online advertising models, and what can we expect from Moshcam throughout 2009?

    One thing to understand is that we didn’t start this as a marketing model upon which to hang a product. It was a genuine project by three fans to build something compelling for other fans. That said, it’s far from inexpensive to maintain and obviously we have to find a way to pay for it.

    How will we do that? Well, one thing Moshcam enjoys is a startling level of engagement with it’s users. Fans are watching for an average of 31 minutes per show, which is almost 10 times the average for a website visit. And when you realise that video advertising is the fastest growing sector, it’s not hard to see a model there that could work well for us as the market matures.

    As discussed, we’re also very keen to work with bands and labels to facilitate a download service, should they wish to sell their shows. We’re also working on some neat licensing and distribution partnerships, and we have a 13-part TV show featuring signed and unsigned Australian bands running on cable at the moment called “Moshcam: Live and Kicking”. We’re not in the business of re-inventing the internet’s business models; we just want to be in a position to offer a valuable service to bands, valuable content to fans and be able to work with whichever models shake out as viable for us.

    As for the rest of 2009, you can expect hundreds more great gigs filmed, as well as a lot of new types of content, from backstage interviews to artist-curated playlists. You’ll also see Moshcam on the road around Australia capturing the best local bands in each capital city, and a couple of other cool initiatives we’re developing that will focus on getting some unsigned bands we love much wider exposure!

    As you can see, Moshcam is kind of a big deal. Unless I’m mistaken, their streaming concert concept is sailing uncharted waters on the national level, so to speak, and they’re probably a trend-setter on the international front, too. Remember, you read it here first! All 2,900 words! Congrats. To reward yourself, head to Moshcam and watch a show. They’ve got over 500 available, so if you can’t find one that you like, you’re not a music fan. Get the hell off my blog!

    Thanks Paul! He can be contacted via email.

  • A Conversation With Snob Scrilla, Sydney hip-hop artist and producer

    snob_scrilla1Former Californian hip-hop artist Snob Scrilla – also known as Sean Ray – is now based in Sydney, Australia, where he will release his debut album Day One through Ivy League Records in April 2009. Two singles from his first EP, There You Go Again and Chasing Ghosts, have already garnered radio airplay and critical acclaim, while Houston and next single Heartbreak Scorsese are set to continue the trend. Snob kindly shares his thoughts on the state of the music industry and describes life as a full-time musician in 2009.

    Hey Snob! Elevator pitch: give us an overview of your work and your musical career thus far!

    My background in music is almost is as varied as it could possibly be. I’ve done everything: from club nights, to writing pop songs for other artists, to hosting nationally-syndicated radio shows.

    With this project specifically, Snob Scrilla, it’s a bit of a confused child musically. When creating music as Snob, I set out to create music that’s not limited by a marketing scheme or hindered by a target market.

    I want Snob Scrilla to represent all of the random and eclectic musical tastes that I have, and that’s what makes it a bit of a unique thing in this day and age of assembly-line production in the industry.

    It’s 2009. Music is a commodity that we’re often unwilling to pay for. The modern musician’s dilemma: how do you get heard? How do you convince the audience that you’re worth the time?

    You’re not going to convince anybody of anything when it comes to music. That’s not the point of the art. The way you get people onside – though that shouldn’t be the goal either – is by making relevant artistic expressions that people will see a value in listening to.

    I’m not a fan of all of his antics, but one thing Kanye said with regards to his last album has really stuck with me: “art wins in the end.”

    I really believe that. I think that artistic integrity and genuine intentions will always succeed in the end, and that’s where we see the most valuable contributions on the part of the artistic community. Not the convoluted messages that we receive in the formulaic, cookie-cutter albums that are increasingly pumped out these days.

    I think that in order for musicians to get heard, they have to embrace the free music model.

    Artists and labels need to understand that there is no point trying to protect their music from downloads and torrents, because we live in an age where everything will be available for download for free, no matter how much they try to stop it.

    People are only going to buy my album or pay to download my single is if there is a perceived value. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s how it should be.

    snob_scrilla3Labels won’t get away with screwing over consumers anymore, by pumping cash into one single and neglecting the rest of a project only to release a sub-par product. It’s time for everybody to step their game up!

    Your recorded work is a promotional tool to get people through the door at your shows. Agree or disagree?

    I can understand how you could see it like that, but I’d have to disagree.

    While my recorded material is obviously going to be key to getting people to shows, I don’t think that it should be the goal.

    Okay, so what is the goal of your recorded material?

    Well there’s different goals for different art. For my new album specifically, my goal was to create an honest and accurate reflection of where I was at in my life.

    That sounds like a simple – and probably common – goal, but realistically, it encompasses a lot of things; from my personal life, to my beliefs and standpoints.

    Wrapping that all into one cohesive project was difficult, but that was the goal for the album!

    As a music fan, I’ve picked up the notion somewhere along my travels that most albums are released at a loss, and that tickets and merchandise are where the initial outlay is recouped. True or false?

    Yeah that is very true. Most of the time, albums are released at a loss. If they’re not released at a loss, then there’s still a huge recoupment for marketing and production expenditures that were incurred during the creative process.

    This is especially true for debut albums, because there’s generally not a huge fanbase already established and waiting for your project to drop so they can buy it.

    So, for new artists especially, shows and merch is definitely the thing that will get you through the period between releasing and the time it will take you to recoup the money you owe before you get to see any profit.

    Now that we’ve established your viewpoints on the distribution of your art, tell us about your latest album, and your plans for its release.

    Day One is the title of my new project. It’s my debut album as Snob Scrilla and it’s coming out April 24th 2009. It’s the follow-up to last year’s EP, and it’s been the culmination of a lot of growth for me as an artist. The last two singles – There You Go Again and Chasing Ghosts – both had a really hype vibe, and I think a lot of people expected that to be the sound of the entire album, but since I recorded those tracks I’ve grown a lot as an artist and that’s not really the case.

    The latest single Heartbreak Scorsese has been doing pretty well after being added to Triple J, as well as getting some spins on Nova as well. Next I’ll be shooting a video for that track and releasing some cool remixes.

    So yeah, it’s been a very long time coming and I’m very hyped about it man. I can’t wait for everyone to get the chance to finally hear what I’ve been working on!

    Hell, it’s a smooth album man, so you’ve got every reason to be excited. Anyway, you’re signed to Ivy League Records. How’d that relationship begin? I’m intrigued as to how artists get signed; it’s a story that’s not often told. Approached in a smoky bar after a killer show, or something more clean-cut?

    Ha the story of how I got signed is much more clean-cut actually. Basically, when Triple J started playing my first single There You Go Again, Pete Lusty from Ivy League heard the track and dug it enough to get in contact with me. We met a couple times, got along really well, and the entire thing was done in a couple weeks.

    Kickass story, but we’re missing a slice: how did you start getting played on Triple J?

    When I first moved to Australia in 2002 fresh out of  high school, I immediately got busy in the music industry doing any and every job, feature, appearance, or opportunity I could find with one goal: making connections.

    I spent about four years doing that before I even started the Snob Scrilla project. One of the connections that I made was Maya Jupiter, who was doing the hip-hop show on the Jays at the time. She kicked the track to Richard Kingsmill (Triple J’s music director), and the same week he added it to his 2008 new music show.

    Wsnob_scrilla4hat advice do you have for Australian artists who think they’ve got the talent to be heard?

    I think the main thing is getting your music out there any way that you can! You have to be focused on the long-term, not the short-term gain. Like I said, I was grinding for four years before I even started recording.

    Now, I’m not saying that everybody else should wait as long as did, I just mean people need to look at the end goal more than getting an immediate return. This game is a marathon, not a sprint, so take steps now to set yourself up later, and not the other way around!

    Excellent advice. It reminds me of wine businessman Gary Vaynerchuk, who states that legacy is more important than currency. Take the longview, instead of the possibility of immediate financial gain, because thanks to the internet, everything about your actions throughout your life will be easily visible to anyone. I think you’d dig his stuff.

    Alright, so why Ivy League? How much creative control are you allowed? I notice you’re slipping a few free tracks out to your Twitter friends…

    I decided to run with Ivy League because they were the label that really understood what I was trying to do with the project, and so they give me a lot of creative control.

    I’m not the type of artist that likes to have someone basically craft the entire project, or get other people to, and then just put me on to execute. I don’t see the merit in that approach, and that’s the main reason I stayed away from some of the other offers that we had for the Snob Scrilla project. Ivy was the best home for making Day One happen the way I had envisioned it from the beginning.

    As far as leaking tracks.. yeah I tend to do that from time to time. As I always say, I’m a huge advocate of free music. I think it’s something that we as artists need to increasingly embrace, and I do it wherever I can.

    As far as Twitter, it’s kind of ideal for leaking stuff because only the kids that are really paying attention are gonna catch what you’re even doing. It’s cool, ’cause that way I know the ones who are getting the free music are the ones who are gonna appreciate it the most.

    So kids, if you want to hear new stuff for free before anybody else gets it, follow me on Twitter and I’ll look after you! Haha.

    That’s awesome that Ivy League are big on allowing you creative control. Do they provide promotion and booking services too, or are these aspects handled by another agency? Do you think it’s best for one company to direct all of your interests – management, production, promotion, booking – or do you believe in spreading the love between several organisations?

    Initially, I was very much for trying to do everything myself. But I think that’s a very cliche, egotistical artist thing to do, to feel like nobody can look after your art the way you can. This is true in some regards, but once you really start to make any head way with your career you are going to want to have good people looking after your respective areas. And when you get to that point it’s best not to have those people in the same building.

    It’s good to keep some checks and balances to make sure that everyone is doing what they need to be doing to keep you moving forward. If you have everything under the one roof, you put too much control in the one place. It works best when it’s spread out using specialised groups rather than a localised body and spread too thin.

    Beyond Ivy League, can you give us an idea of some of the other groups you work with, and how you made those connections? Your music videos are pretty sweet; who takes care of those? Tie-in question: since you’re clearly still a big proponent of the music video, do you think that the videos hold the same value or importance in this era of broadband and streaming media, as they did a couple decades ago, when the format was first introduced as a promotional tool?

    The Harbour Agency handle my bookings, and that connection came about after having them come to a few shows, being impressed with the show, and approaching me. I’m also working with a group called The Chosen Few who now look after all of my artwork and print image [note: including the images throughout this article]. They’re so mad underground that they don’t have a website!

    As far as the videos I’ve had a variety of people that I worked with, in fact each video has been a different director. But I’ve been taking an increasingly active role with each vid. In fact with Houston I actually wrote the treatment and co-directed the clip.

    I do think that videos still play a big role. Not in the same way that they did before in the promotional sense, but I’m a very visual writer so getting to have a video that compliments the message being conveyed in a song can complete the whole picture sometimes, in a way that you couldn’t get from just listening to the song. It adds more to what can be perceived and inferred and therefore increases the impact of a message.

    At what point did it become too time-consuming to manage yourself? Or, considering your recent growth in popularity due to Triple J exposure, do you think it’d still be feasible to handle management, booking and promotion yourself, in addition to writing words and music?

    As soon as we started taking the project to labels, I had management on board. Depending on who you approach, it’s important to have someone who can put the right foot forward for you.

    As far as having management now, I think if you’re doing things right, you never really stop managing your art to some degree. It’s important to stay active in your own career and interests, otherwise things can slip away from you really quickly.

    Obviously this isn’t always easy to do as things get busier and busier for an artist, but relinquishing complete control can be dangerous as well. You need to find a balance; having another person (or persons) on board just allows you to focus on both aspects of your career: the management and the artistry.

    You’ve recently launched a redesigned MySpace, which I must say looks pretty badass, and I’m not usually one to pay much attention to artists’ MySpace designs. As you’ve mentioned, you’re also pretty prolific on Twitter, so you’re a clear fan of the fan engagement factor. How do you manage to juggle these communication channels, and how do you choose which of these web apps to pay attention to?

    Thanks heaps man! My boy Sam Webster redid the MySpace for me.

    I am a big fan of engaging with people as much as possible and sometimes it does get a bit much to handle everything, but I’m able to find time at the moment ’cause I’m not super busy. It’s actually been an ideal time to build everything up, especially Twitter, because my album is done and I’m basically just waiting until it drops to start doing promo and touring.

    But even when I’m on the road, I have everything linked to my Blackberry, so people on Facebook, MySpace or even Twitter can be in contact with me, no matter where I’m at.

    snob_scrilla2By ‘building everything up’, you mean your web-engaged fanbase? You think that fans actually want to connect with artists? Are you insane?

    Actually, I’m full of shit: the only reason I landed this interview was because you popped up in my Twitter stream, and I’d already witnessed you live on the 2008 Faker/Sparkadia tour, so I had a decent idea of which planet you were from.

    But seriously, where do you draw the line within the ‘always on’ reality that you’ve embraced as an easily-accessible online figure?

    Ha, I don’t know, I guess that line remains to be seen yet. I just feel like the very least I can do for people is reciprocate the energy that they give me when they write or chat or tweet or whatever. I do get some people that add me and IM almost every night with hardcore questions that I would think they would get tired of asking. But everybody is different and I try to have time and patience for everyone.

    I think at some point it will become physically impossible to stay on top of it all – and at that point I’ll have to put a limit on it – but until then I’m pretty committed to the all access all the time attitude and I’m always trying to think of better ways to make myself more accessible, so it looks like it will be this way for a while at least! :)

    Finally, what are your thoughts on those “360 deals” that’re becoming more common? Have any of your musician friends been approached?

    360 deals are becoming more common, and I think they are a joke. They’re a sign of the decline of major labels and their need to find new and different ways to generate revenue and keep afloat.

    At the end of the day, I think they are a bad move for most artists. It all comes back to control. If a label owns everything that you do, then they own you. Everything that you do will be tied into paying back any recoupment you might owe. Your income may be tied up in budgeting and marketing for other projects on a label’s agenda not even related to you, before you may see a single dollar.

    I have had friends approached with 360 deals, and my advice, every time, is to stay away. It might be a harder and longer grind, but the best thing to do is try and find another way to get your music released. If you can, you’ll be much happier for it in the end!

    Thanks very much for your time Snob. What are your plans for the rest of 2009? Any closing thoughts or plugs you’d like to throw in?

    No worries man! Thanks for taking the time yourself!

    The rest of the year is going to just be touring after the release of the album. Day One is the title and it drops April 24th.

    Oh and of course, follow me on Twitter kids, @snobscrilla! Peace for now man!

    Snob Scrilla’s debut album Day One will be released April 24, 2009 through Ivy League Records. Catch up with him on Twitter, MySpace or YouTube.

  • Interview: ex_king_john, Brisbane concert bootlegger

    A man seemingly inextricable from the Brisbane music scene of late goes by the pseudonym ex_king_john. He attends shows most weeks, and records the majority of performances he sees. He regularly blogs and posts recordings at Turn It Up To 10, while past recordings can be found on his LastFM journal. He’s kindly taken the time to reflect on several topics, including his motives for recording shows, street press, rock music and the wider Brisbane music scene.

    Thanks for your time. First and foremost – why do you record shows?

    In 2006 my kids finished high school.  It is surprising how much time that frees up for anyone who is even remotely involved in their kids’ education, especially on the weekend.  Weekend television is a wasteland and my social life – which had pretty much consisted of school-related stuff – fell off as well.  So I went back to doing what I had done before I had children: going out to watch bands.  I’d been taking the kids to the Big Day Out for a few years and listened to ZZZ [mainly The Yard] and JJJ so I knew a bit about the music scene but not a lot really about the local scene.  For a birthday present that year I bought myself tickets to Teenage Fanclub, and Bob Mould at The Zoo [my first time there].  Started going to Ric’s and seeing local bands ’cause it was free. I was getting morning coffee from Jamie’s in the Valley at the time and met Bo. who played all this reggae which I also love passionately and went to a couple of shows in the carpark there before it was closed down.  Saw I Heart Hiroshima, Nightcrash, early Scul Hazzards with Lachlan on vocals, Shakes, couple of other noise bands, Heavyweight Champion.  Suddenly you’re going out every weekend, sometimes twice. 

    But before this I think it was the year before, I went to an Ed Kuepper show at The Troubadour and had a great time. Later I noticed it had been bootlegged and I emailed a couple of the guys who had it up on trading sites and asked if there was any way I could get a copy.  No one even answered the email.  So I figured if I wanted any recordings I’d have to have something to trade.  So I spent some time looking at the different technology options ranging from hideously expensive to really cheap and eventually went with cheap but good quality.

    I got a basic [cheap run-out of an old model] Mini-disc from Sydney and ordered the mics and pre amp from the US. They all arrived the day before Market Day 2006 and I worked out how to use it that night and went along the next day and recorded Sekiden, IHH, jump2lightspeed, Iron On, a couple of others.  And finally went along to the next Ed Keupper show at Ric’s and hey presto, I’m a bootlegger.

    Can you describe your recording setup?

    A picture paints a thousand words.  Here’s the setup I used at Splendour this year.  Actually it’s the contents of my pockets.  Nothing bigger than a cigarette packet.  

    ex_king_john's bootleg configuration

    ex_king_john's recording setup - click for full size

    The little foam balls are the microphones with windshields on them – they sit in my ears.  The small black box is the pre-amp and the gray thing is the mini-disc.  The other items are phone, spare discs, batteries, wallet, change and programme.  Technically I use Sound Professional binaural mics and a Sound Professional  Pre-Amp.  I record as wav files onto a Mini-disc [Model MZ-NH600]  The Mini-disc I use is inexpensive and only has a line-in not Mic-in plug so I need the pre-amp unit.

    It seems to me that this has evolved from a curious hobby to something of a mild obsession – you said yourself that you aim to record every band you see. Do you remember a distinct point where you made this realisation?

    There wasn’t really a distinct point. Early on, I do remember looking at the lists of taped shows and thinking, “I could get a copy of every show The Church ever did but there are no Sekiden recordings out there”.  And everyone asks if there are any <insert obscure 1970’s local band name here> tapes around but no one is recording anything except their reunion shows. Even now, all the tapers want are the big names. Fair enough, but it didn’t seem like it was helping the music.  In 20 years time when someone says “do you have any Nightstick or Sekiden tapes” at least they’ll be able to say yes to Sekiden.

    You can see that it’s not exactly a heavy load to carry round.  I don’t mosh so I’m usually just standing watching the band anyway. Doing a shuffle and nodding in time is about as active as I get.  So it’s easy to have it and record.  I don’t see it as an obsession really.  I just go out a lot to see bands and I carry the rig with me so if I see a show, it’s probable that I’ll record it.  It’s not so much an aim as a natural consequence.  If anything I’m obsessive about going out to see bands.  I’m happy to admit to that.

    What do you aim to capture when recording a performance?

    Because I have a fairly basic recording setup, I pretty much capture what I hear and I’m stuck with that though that is also the beauty of what I do.  I try to avoid doing anything to the sound cause I’m not very technically smart in that area.  The most I do is put the recording through a compressor if it’s a bit quiet.  Makes it a bit easier to hear over loudspeakers. On a couple of recordings I’ve filtered out some really low buzzy bass noises that made it hard to hear detail.  Usually it’s the drums being mic’d to hell but these days it could be aggressive bass amping. So it depends on the room and the sound engineer on the night. But I do like the room noise.  I have a couple of soundboard recordings and they are very clear but dead silent between tracks, and they lack that spark that a good audience recording can have.  I also like some of the audience noise though it is really annoying when people stand next to you and have a conversation about something.  I can’t really tell them to shut up ’cause I’m recording.  Though I have told a couple to shut up because they were actually interfering with my enjoying the show. 

    What is it about rock music that you find exciting? What do you look for in a band’s live performance?

    I am piss poor at analysing this side of it.  Music is transcendent and the best live music takes me out of the now, or arouses or hightens emotions, usually positively.  The physicality of rock adds another dimension.  In fact I’m musically fairly diverse and some of my most memorable musical experiences have been a children’s choir; the first time I saw Jay Reatard; a church pipe organ recital in a Brisbane suburban church; Little Feat at Festival Hall, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring at the Step Inn this year.  I never know what will happen, so I look forward to any musical experience and I’m rarely totally disappointed.  I’m just lucky I guess.

    What do you find appealing about the Brisbane music scene?

    First up, the music.  Then the people.  Plus it’s all pretty accessible in the Valley with a few venues outside like Rosie’s or Fat Louie’s in the City and the Hangar in Red Hill or a couple in West End.  Not like Melbourne which has a great music scene but way more spread out.  But seriously when I started going out again it was not like the old days. Pig City made it sounds great but once you got past The Survivors and The Leftovers and Razar and The Go-Betweens and The Saints etc doing one-off shows at suburban halls that hadn’t heard of them yet, there just wasn’t much else on.  Now there are hundreds of good bands and tens of venues.

    And the people are great.

    Since you’ve become friendly with many members of the Brisbane music scene, do you occasionally feel obliged to attend certain shows?

    No. I don’t think I’ve felt that at all.  I try to avoid promising that I’ll tape particular shows because that generally means something will go wrong.  But I’ve never felt anyone expected me to go to certain shows.

    I may have the year wrong, but I recall that Pearl Jam were offering live recordings of their 2003 Australian shows soon after the band had finished playing. I think Something For Kate did something similar more recently for a special show that they played at The Corner in Melbourne. Do you think that there’s a market for venues to offer similar limited edition recordings? This question immediately sends copyright alarm bells ringing, but I’m interested in your thoughts. Places like The Zoo get loads of quality bands each month, and I think they’re missing a legitimate opportunity by not recording. Or maybe they do, secretly…

    Pretty sure The Zoo is not secretly recording anything.  If venues do record I’m also pretty sure the bands agree and get something for it.  The Drones seem to have a habit of recording their live shows and selling them in various formats to fans.  More and more bands are seeing these as legitimate recordings for fans and using them to make money or at least as marketing tools.  It’s becoming more common I understand for venues in the US to record and sell live shows to punters as they leave the venue, especially the larger venues and chains like Clear Channel’s live venues.  There are a couple of venues in Melbourne that record shows regularly and make them available on line like Moshcam, but audio instead of video.  I don’t know how money is made there but it is a commercial operation.  Copyright is relatively easy to work out I expect.

    What do you think about Moshcam?

    Moshcam is great.  I visit there occasionally. 

    Does MegaUpload offer traffic stats? If so, which of your recordings have proven most popular?

    MegaUpload offers basic statistics.  There’s a number of downloads for each file but there’s also a stat that should show where the downloaders come from.  Some files that have been downloaded 30 times according to the number of downloads haven’t been downloaded at all if I ask where the downloads went.  But I think at least the relativities are probably correct.  So far the most popular download by far has been the Wolfmother @ GOMA show – over 500 downloads.

    Wolfmother – Live @ GOMA Warhol Up Late – 12 April 2008 – 504

    Powderfinger – Live @ Splendour In The Grass – August 2007 – 170

    Sigur Ros – Live @ Splendour In The Grass – 03 Aug 2008 – 168

    Wolfmother – Live @ Splendour In The Grass – 03 Aug 2008 – 102

    The Grates – Live @ The Troubadour – 24 June 2008 – 80

    The Saints – Live @ Pig City – 14 July 2007 – 74

    Band Of Horses – Live @ Splendour In The Grass – 02 Aug 2008 – 72

    The Drones – Live @ Splendour In The Grass – 02 Aug 2008 – 71

    Editors – Live @ Splendour In The Grass – August 2007 – 58

    Battles – Live @ The Zoo – 22 Jan 2008 – 56

    What role does the Brisbane street press currently fulfill, and where do you think they’re missing opportunities? 

    Street press is important because it’s an easy-to-access guide to what is happening in the city.  Maybe not every single thing, but generally the gig guides are essential as is the advertising for upcoming tours etc.  Time Off‘s gig guide has gone off a little since the recent change and I hope they can bring it back up to speed.  The web is much less useful for gig guides.  It’s great for finding out stuff you know about already.  And I find it a lot easier to browse a single A3 sheet of closely-packed type than scroll through pages of sparsely-populated web pages.  Plus I read most live reviews and record reviews.

    You’ve seen a lot of shows in Brisbane and visited most, if not all live venues. Is there anything you feel the scene is missing, or opportunities that haven’t been fully realised? We all know there’s a gap between The Arena/The Tivoli and the Convention Centre

    If Brisbane has a problem it is too many good bands for the size of the fan base.  Many more venues might run the risk of spreading the numbers too thin.  The other problem is that for all the going out that’s going on, most of the people going out are going to clubs.  Music is secondary for them.  Not that there aren’t dedicated dance music fans who do follow the music.  

    But the lack of a venue between the Tivoli and the Brisbane Entertainment Centre is a problem I think.  Pity they pulled down Festival Hall.  There is a rumour of a 1000 person venue in West End coming up.

    Looking back over your recordings thus far, you seem to lean heavily toward rock acts. Are there certain genres you steer clear of? Can we expect to hear ex_king_john recordings of touring metal or hip hop acts?

    I try to see different genres but obviously I’m a fan of rock music.  I don’t steer clear of any genre in particular but I’m not a big fan of metal so it’s unlikely you’ll hear too much of that. Or musical comedy.

    Finally – 2008’s been a great year for live music in Brisbane. I’ve been to loads of shows, though mostly touring Australian bands. What are some highlights of this year on a local, national and international level?

    The aforementioned Jay Reatard, and Eddy Current shows.  Golden Plains was a whole weekend of highlights.  The Drones at Splendour.  John Cale at the Tivoli in Nov last year, Battles at The Zoo.  Last week at the Step Inn was just about the perfect lineup of local bands – Violent Soho, Eat Laser Scumbag, No Anchor, Turnpike, Dick Nasty – just add Nova Scotia.  But then I’d go see I Heart Hiroshima, The Grates, Sekiden anytime, anywhere as well.  I will shamelessly plug the Before Hollywood compilation “Stranded” here as one of the best compilations ever.  If you don’t have it, get it and use it as your guide to Brisbane music as it exists in 2008.

    Seconded – Stranded is great. Thanks for your time!

    ex_king_john’s name isn’t John; he would prefer to remain anonymous. He can be contacted via email. His blog is Turn It Up To 10. If you spot a guy at a Brisbane concert wearing earphones and staring intently at the stage, say hi – just not while the bands are playing.

  • Interview: Lochlan Watt of Monolith Touring

    “If there could ever be an official soundtrack to space travel, Rosetta would surely be one of the strongest contenders.”

    In June 2008, Philadelphia art-metal band Rosetta engaged in their first international tour along the east coast of Australia. Central to the conceptualisation and co-ordination of this tour was Lochlan Watt, a 20-year old Brisbane resident who created his own music promotion company, Monolith Touring, for the purposes of the venture. In addition to Lochlan’s role as tour manager, he supported each of Rosetta’s nine shows as vocalist and drummer of The Surrogate. Lochlan kindly answered my questions regarding independent band promotion, online interactivity and the future of Monolith Touring.

    How did you come into contact with Rosetta?

    MySpace. The first contact I had with the band was in 2006 when I interviewed them for a piece in Death Before Dishonour Magazine. I’d stayed in touch from there on with the odd comment or message through said networking website. When I became inspired to book the tour I simply sent them another message and it progressed to email and all went from there.

    The concept of a tour born from the convergence of a fan’s dedication and new media interactivity is new to me, though I’d hazard a guess and suggest that you aren’t the first to have traveled this path. Had you read or heard of any similar occurrences in the music world before becoming ‘inspired to book the tour’, as you said, or was this a genuinely organic concept that occurred to you in the middle of your hundredth Wake/Lift listen?

    I had been considering the thought for a while, but the solid idea came from a conversation with a workmate who is also a promoter. He was telling me about how back in the day he tried to bring Converge out and all this other stuff, and how a whole bunch of his friends brought bands out only to lose money. We talked about the ups and downs, and how it would be so much more feasible to bring smaller bands out if they paid for the flights etc. I went home, messaged Rosetta, came back to work the next day and told him that they were indeed going to pay for their flights.

    I understand you’re experienced in booking and promoting bands at Rosie’s in Brisbane. Was it difficult to book venues south of the border?

    In some cities the venues were booked after one email, but for others it took me time to find venues that would even reply to my emails or what not. I started booking the tour in November 07 and some venues denied booking anything in until the start of 08. I had a bit of help in a locking in venues in Sydney, Wollongong, and the all ages venue in Melbourne through guys in bands that were supporting on the tour. I also asked a lot of bands what places they thought would suit best, and I was given a few shortlists of venues by various band dudes. Having guys help out on their own turf was very handy. The AA show was the one that took the longest to get locked in, and it nearly didn’t happen simply because I had been rejected by a bunch of places and just didn’t know what else was available. It wasn’t a difficulty as such, but it was strange booking venues that I had never even seen before.

    Was there a specific point where you realised that the idea of an Australian Rosetta tour had passed from a dream into reality?

    The “holy shit this is really going to happen” point came when they emailed me through their confirmed flight bookings.

    You’ve established your own touring company, Monolith. Where did the name come from?

    I’ve always been a huge fan of the 2001: A Space Odyssey series, and if you’ve read the books or seen the movies you’d know the significance of the Monolith. Coincidentally, Rosetta’s releases are filled with references to monoliths, Europa, the solar system and a lot of general space themes. I thought it was fitting, and it makes the whole deal sound a lot more epic than just a random kid going headfirst into booking tours without much experience outside his own state, haha.

    As an unknown touring company, did you run into many negatives when contacting venues and pitching your tour proposal?

    As I mentioned earlier, just with some venues that didn’t reply to my emails, or some that didn’t want to lock anything in when I started booking. All Ages shows seem to be a bit tough or too expensive to book generally, but once the venue was found it was easy.

    How did the tour play out?

    I reached the goals I had set for myself and looking back over it, the only real regret I have is that I didn’t squeeze in one or two more AA shows along the way! As Rosetta are not a full time band, they fronted for their flights and were not concerned about whether or not they would make their money back, and were more concerned with me making back the money I fronted. It wasn’t a particularly massive amount, but I had to cover van hire, promo, gear hire, and I also got a bunch of additional merch printed up for the guys.

    By the end of it I had covered my expenses and had a few hundred dollars to swing Rosetta’s way. They had sold out of almost all of their merch by the end of the tour, and had made enough band kitty to pay off their band debts and have a little bit left over at the end. They aren’t a big band by any means, and I knew this when booking the tour. All I wanted to do was break even and have a fun tour. They considered the trip to be the most successful tour they’d ever done both financially and in terms of the attendances. All in all, it was a positive experience that I’m glad happened.

    What did you learn from your first time on the road as a tour manager?

    That it can be a bit easy to slip into the “I’m in a band on tour” mindset and forget about important things that you have to do to make sure the show runs. In Canberra I was setting up my drums and forgot to put all the names I had down for the doorlist… fail! NavMan is everyone’s best friend but doesn’t include every road in Australia. It’s also good to be in a band with older members who will take on board responsibility in those moments where I got too drunk to get everyone into the van at the end of the night. The under 21 driver limit on the van was also a blessing in disguise which I took great advantage of and probably got more sleep in than anyone else on the tour.

    You seem relaxed about the entire process. The way I see it: you leveraged an online communication medium to bring an independent American band whose music you love to tour a foreign country for the first time. As you said, the band consider it their most successful tour thus far. To me, this is incredible. I suppose that because you’ve been devoted to the idea since you began planning in November – and then lived and breathed the company of these guys for most of last month – you’re accustomed to the concept. But still, reminiscing now, aren’t you impressed with, and proud of your actions?

    I am proud of the fact that everything went so well, however I wouldn’t say that I really impressed myself as such… I knew I was capable of pulling it off from the beginning, and I’m my own most harsh critic. It was a lot of work, and it took a lot of time, but none of it was necessarily difficult work and I knew the steps I had to take along the way, and had a lot of advice from friends that have booked tours and shows before. I think I’d be impressed with myself if I pulled off a huge arena tour with a well known band, contracts, guarantees, big sponsorships, mass-media support… because that’s something I know I may not be so capable of doing just yet. In the scale of touring an international band, this was fairly low key operation I think.

    I’m one of many who monitored the progression of the tour through blog discussions and your on-the-road updates. You’re aware that you’ve gained the attention of dedicated fans of independent bands throughout the world. Two questions: what advice would you give to a fan seeking to emulate the path you took to secure Rosetta’s first international tour, and, in retrospect, was there anything you would have done differently?

    If someone is wanting to tour a small, relatively unknown overseas band, make sure you love their music so much that you’re willing to lose a bit of money on it if it doesn’t work out – don’t do it if you’re just trying to make a quick buck because you probably won’t. If the band is part time and willing to pay for their own flights, that takes a lot of pressure off. It would not have worked if Rosetta wanted all their costs covered. In terms of doing things differently: I would have booked a smaller venue in Newcastle, tried to get some smaller AA venues along the way, got pre-sale tickets going, I would have got more merchandise printed up for Rosetta, and I wouldn’t have kicked that metal pole in Adelaide – my foot still hurts.

    What’s next for Monolith Touring?

    I want to chill out for a bit and focus on the other things I have going, but I do want to be at least in the process of booking another tour by the end of the year. Rosetta have said that there are plenty of bands that they are friends with that would be keen to come over here and do a similar deal to what they got. One of my favourite bands actually emailed me after they heard word of the Rosetta tour, but unfortunately it looks as though at this stage I will be unable to tour them because I simply can’t see their name being big enough to cover the expenses they want covered just yet. I’ve got a few ideas floating around my head; it’s simply a matter of coming to a conclusion on a band that I like enough to want to put the hours into it. I would definitely book an Aussie band a tour if I was into them and they asked me to, but most of the bands I’m into already have that shit sorted by bigger companies or book their own tours, so I don’t want to go stepping on toes. Next time I want to do it properly and without having my own band on the tour, though I do plan on booking more tours for my own bands once we’re ready for it again. So, hopefully there will be news on another tour by the end of the year.

    Thanks very much for your time, Lochlan.

    Take a look at the tour poster, and check out both Rosetta and The Surrogate on MySpace. If you’d like to get in contact with Monolith Touring, you can reach Lochlan via email or Facebook.

  • Describing The Mars Volta

    I saw The Mars Volta perform at the Brisbane Convention Centre last night. I’d elected to review the show for FasterLouder a month ago. In the weeks leading up to the show, the enormity of my task became apparent. That is, to describe the performance of an eight-piece experimental, progressive rock band in a few hundred words.

    I should point out that writing about music is not new to me. I’ve been paid to do it for a year. I’ve written about some popular international acts, both at festivals and in separate shows. Of all my writing, I’m most proud of my Laneway Festival review for FasterLouder in March 2008. A dozen acts and the vibe of the festival itself covered in 2300 words.

    Last night was different. For the first time since reviewing The Drones in October 2007, I was a little afraid of the task before me. I was nervous before that show because it was my first 500 word feature review. I’d never written that much for Rave Magazine at the time, though I’d previously written 1900 words for FasterLouder when covering Pig City in July 2007. In retrospect, my trepidation before The Drones was entirely baseless.

    Returning to The Mars Volta. I’d been aware of them for several years and made a few attempts to dig their style, but only made a concerted effort in late 2007 when it dawned on me that Relationship Of Command by At The Drive-In might just be my favourite album. The creative brains of At The Drive-In, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, formed what is now known as The Mars Volta following the demise of ATDI in 2001.

    Their reputation precedes them. They are well-known for their explosive and lengthy shows comprised largely of improvisational jam sessions. Their music is rooted in progressive rock with elements of jazz and funk, though it is difficult (and erroneous) to pin them to any specific genre.

    I sat watching them for two and a half hours, almost entirely transfixed on the band. I took no notes. I went out after the show, but my mind was filled with the sounds and images of their performance even when I awoke the next morning.

    Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Someone once said that – probably not Elvis Costello, though it’s generally attributed to him.

    I’m well aware of the responsibility that a music reviewer has when describing a concert. I’m well aware that this responsibility is very often tied to appearing pretentious. The opportunity to embody a voice who is (often) perceived as an authoritative figure within the music industry – that is, a critic – is not, and will never be lost on me.

    I value the opportunity to critically reflect on the music of bands just as much as I value the perks. I don’t have to pay for shows. But I’m responsible for the words that appear above my name. I always endeavour to write what I would like to read as a music fan. I am my own quality control. I can’t submit poor copy because I won’t let me.

    I struggled with the task before me today. It took 800 words and several hours for me to describe The Mars Volta in the live environment. References to the crowd and myself were minimal because neither of those responses mattered during this show. It was entirely about the music they created on stage. That we were present to witness their creation was something of a happy coincidence.

    Okay, that previous statement was entirely bullshit. I jest, I jest. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that they’re people who like to get paid, just like the rest of us.

    Anyway, I’d like to think that I painted an interesting picture, but the brush is now out of my hands.

    So, how did I do?

  • Zoo Photography Fallout

    My previous post provoked some passionate and interesting discussion within the national music community. My FasterLouder editor Liam McGinniss posted a news article on the site and kicked off a thread on the FL forums. I engaged with the conversation throughout Thursday before deciding to notify Birds Of Tokyo, and The Zoo’s management. The latter was the first to reply:

    hi joc here from the Zoo –

    just writing in response to the camera regulations and all of the posts – as we have stated on the website and mail out’s since bringing the policy in –

    Please do not record the event unless you have gained permission from the venue and the performing act themselves, this also applies to patron crowd shots as well.

    If you are interested in taking photo’s you are able to email the Zoo and ask permission to take shots as a number of people have done since this new policy has come into play. We then forward each request to the management / agent and it is then up to each act if they want their photo’s taken.

    It is a lot more work for The Zoo but we are then trying to ensure that each act’s privacy and wish is taken into account not just assuming they are ok with people taking shots. It is each individual’s right to have or not have their photo taken – and i don’t think they should be thought of in a less than favourable light if that is their attitude to this matter. We have in the past been less strict on this matter and their were recent events that made us review the policy but we are walking along a new path for the Zoo and one we are trying to handle with our normal integrity and trying to consider all involved.

    I am sure other venues would just say – no camera’s and that is it. They wouldn’t have the headache’s in trying to make a system fair for all. So please consider that when people are very rude and not understanding.

    all the best

    Joc Curran
    The Zoo

    Birds Of Tokyo guitarist Adam Spark replied later that day:

    hey fella,
    cheers for the message…thats all interesting news to us!! heh…
    we didnt threaten legal anything…weird…our manager just asked some kid to take off the new tracks from you tube, which most of my friends bands do also…
    but as far as all that stuff goes with the zoo….nothing to do with us mate…there is alot of misinformation on there i think!! we love people taking photos and film away!! just dont post up the new material just before new material is coming out…i dont think thats unfair? we just want people to hear our new material in its best form, after all we pay alot of money for people to make us sound good!! haha
    other than that….post everything up on the net! fine with us!

    cheers for the insight tho sir!! and yes i remember that off kilter solo! heheh pretty close!!
    adam s.

    It’s heartening that both parties were quick to respond, though both clearly dodged some issues. Transparency would be ideal, but impossible when both parties have interests to protect.

    Joc isn’t wrong about the headaches that these new regulations have caused. Theoretically, they’ll have to respond to several hundred photography requests from concert attendees every week. Realistically, though, as the word spreads and cameras are confiscated for the duration of the night, punters will simply stop bringing their cameras to shows at The Zoo. Few will bother to email requests beforehand.

    This outcome might be ideal for the handful of professional photographers who frequent the venue each week – that is, less amateur point-and-click photographers to contend with up front – but on the whole, the music community loses.

    You know those guys who stand and film a show before uploading it to YouTube? They won’t be at the Zoo anymore. I’ve been in contact with one, and he’s told me as much. Fans of bands who play at the venue – both local and international – are the losers in this situation, as footage of their Zoo performances will dwindle and soon die off.

    FasterLouder forum user Demosthenes wrote:

    It’s more than the Tivoli or the Arena do for punters. And if you sent such a request to the Entertainment Centre or the Convention Centre it’d probably disappear into a black hole.

    User Bananaphone wrote:

    …going to see a gig is a night out. People at the Zoo take snaps of themselves and their friends just as much as they do the band!

    While I’ve navigated this discussion without appearing to be an alarmist (hopefully), I think that these regulations will have a negative effect on the Brisbane music scene. It mightn’t be immediately noticeable; hell, in all likelihood, we’ll soon have accepted the rules as the norm and forgotten the issue, as is often the case with cultural change. After a brief period of protest, change is assimilated.

    It’s a shame, but it’s reality.

  • Camera-Shy Birds Of Tokyo

    While lining up to attend a show at my favourite Brisbane live music venue last night, I was confronted with some new and conspicuous signage. I’d seen the update on The Zoo’s site last week, but it’d slipped my mind until I re-read in person:

    Dear Zoo Patrons,

    No recording or photographic equipment is allowed to be brought into the Zoo.

    Please do not record the event unless you have gained permission from the venue and the performing act themselves, this also applies to patron crowd shots as well.

    Anyone caught doing so, with out pre arranged consent will have their gear confiscated until the end of the night.

    Thank you in advance for your understanding on this issue.

    All the best,
    The Zoo.

    Curious. Upon questioning those who knew, it appears that these restrictions are the result of a Birds Of Tokyo show in late May.

    The band played some new material to a sold-out crowd. Several among the audience decided to film these songs – in “high quality”, so I’m told – and upload the footage to YouTube. The band, who have a new album due later this year, responded by threatening legal action lest The Zoo instate and enforce the camera restrictions for future shows. The videos in question have been removed from YouTube.

    Let’s examine the facts, and assume that the videos were uploaded by a single party:
    1. This person paid to buy a ticket to watch Birds Of Tokyo; therefore,
    2. It’s reasonable to assume that they’re a Birds Of Tokyo fan.
    3. This fan wanted to share new Birds Of Tokyo material with other Birds Of Tokyo fans throughout the world; the easiest way to do that was to:
    4. Upload Birds Of Tokyo footage to YouTube.

    I don’t think that I need to point out the inherent stupidity in demanding rules be put in place after the act occurred and the band had left the venue. I’d be surprised if The Zoo had anything further to do with Birds Of Tokyo.

    An ostensibly friendly action by a Birds Of Tokyo fan has caused wider ramifications upon the Brisbane music scene – specifically, by scaring The Zoo into changing their conditions of entry, which have long been casual and reasonable, much like the venue’s staff.

    Why did this happen? Because Birds Of Tokyo are apparently more concerned with shielding their precious new material than encouraging their dedicated fanbase to continue doing what they will always attempt to do – that is, share with fellow fans.

    This is an awful strategic decision on Birds of Tokyo’s behalf. It seems that they’ve forgotten that sharing is the essence of being a music fan. Though, bear in mind that I’m taking this hearsay on face value – it could have been a decision made by their record label, their management, or I could be entirely wrong.

    National fame and notoriety. Sold-out Australian tours. A Triple J Hottest 100 placing. 10,151 MySpace friends. Why the fuck should Birds Of Tokyo care if a fan uploads a couple of bootleg, unreleased songs online and a couple of thousand people check it out?

    Their complete failure to view this occurrence as anything other than an act of positive word-of-mouth marketing from the most influential sector of their community – an actual goddamn Birds Of Tokyo fan – astounds and angers me. It’s irrevocably warped my already-dwindling perception of the band.

    This is the price you pay for attempting to control the actions of your fanbase. This is a glaring example of failing to consider an issue in whole before acting.

    Thanks for fucking up sixteen years of amicable amateur photography at The Zoo, Birds Of Tokyo.

    EDIT 12/06/08 – A discussion about this topic is taking place on the FasterLouder forum.

  • Rock And Roll

    As an ardent fan of rock music far above any other genre, these videos send shivers up and down my spine and bring tears to my eyes.

    Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin playing Rock And Roll and Ramble On with Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters at their Wembley show on June 7.

    Monumental. I can’t imagine the elation Grohl (and, to a lesser extent, Hawkins) was feeling at the time. Onstage with two living legends. Idols. Grohl has been one of the most vocal proponents of a worldwide Zeppelin reunion tour. He put his hand up to drum for them if that tour was to take place.

    It looks like it’s going to.

    Led Zep guitar legend Jimmy Page has confirmed that there will be more Zeppelin shows… Page suggested that the Led Zeppelin tour won’t happen until the second half of 2009.

    It’s the news that we’ve been waiting for since the initial reformation last December.

    Returning to the videos linked – the best available at the time of writing, though superior versions will surely appear: Hawkins performed admirably. He’s got a deeper voice than Plant, but he pulled off those distinctive wails. Grohl was less appropriate as a vocalist – he was understandably emotional and got carried away with his signature growls – but I don’t blame the guy one bit.

    He got to play drums and sing before 86,000 people with half of the greatest rock band the world has seen.

    That’s beyond cool, or any other adjective.