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Is There An E=mc2 For The Dance Music Industry?

By Festival, Hot Off The Press, News

BILLBOARD emc2-NOLINK

These days it’s impossible not to have an opinion about a wide range of matters from what’s the definition of quality all the way down to if cows cause global warming by farting too much. Furthermore, one man’s version of quality is another man’s trash and vice versa. And when it comes down to definitions such as what is classed as House music,what determines if a musical piece is underground or not or who has the right to dictate the boundaries for such difficult questions, the answers couldn’t possibly have a wider range.

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It’s the age of free speech amplified by the phenomenal success of the Facebook revolution. If I have ever believed in a prophet in my 41 years on this planet, it cannot possibly be anyone else but Andy Warhol. He foresaw a naturally occurring chain of events from post war prosperity to the obnoxious collective consciousness of today’s global society. All he had to do to come up with his famous phrase “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, was to study human nature and connect it with the rise and accessibility of technology.

 

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Although I was late to join the social media phenomenon (I was partly reluctant to do it as I didn’t really fancy joining millions of profiles which state the user works in the music industry), I was taken aback by the amount of debate (sometimes well founded but most times touching the boundaries of moronic) I saw going on!!

But why have we become so politically aggressive about what’s happening to our scene and is this just a repetition of a pattern emerging from other aspects of society?

I am a strong believer that people are much more political when it comes down to the dance music industry mainly because there are no real, universally accepted boundaries and definitions. We do not have an “e=mc2” equation in order to study, measure and define the industry.

Anybody with a few tracks, a cracked version of DJ software with sync, a Facebook profile with an elementary knowledge of photoshop, a few friends and the ability to sequence pre-made generic samples (bought on the web for a few quid) can be called a DJ/ producer/ promoter. And the consequence of technology giving you the tools to be a DJ in an instant, is the disillusionment that you actually are a part of the industry.

But what has really happened here is that you joined the utopian world of popular culture. The massive majority of DJ’s/producers/promoters out there have aspirations on becoming significant, to be in the spotlight and to become famous (and cool at the same time). Being ordinary and insignificant scares a lot of us these days and that’s why we created pop culture. The notion of being a star, travelling around the world on business class and making loads of money (or even an honest living) just by playing other peoples’ music is much more attractive than the harsh reality of a 9-5 job, and if technology gives an individual a chance to do so, then he or she will take that chance. I mean, to be a celebrated scientist and win the nobel prize, for example, you need to dedicate your life’s work to one subject or to be a famous and successful athlete you also have to dedicate your life to the strict regime of training. But to be a celebrated DJ is an easier route to fame and fortune, right?

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I, for one, don’t think so!!!!!!!!

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Is this vague chance of the easy road to success any different from the chances you have to become a millionaire by winning the lottery? In my humble opinion, it’s one and the same thing, it’s just the illusion that you can get everything for doing not much!!!

 

The latest craze in the wonderful and carefree world of a dance music promoter (laughing out loud) is the misuse of the word Underground. So many in the global promoter community spend a lot of time and effort trying to convince people that they are the real soldiers of the underground, they are only interested in quality, not like the other crappy commercial promoters who are best at creating media hype. And when it comes down to the DJ’s, 80% of them claim to play quality underground music, which is a contradiction in itself. Underground can only exist in a minority not in an 80% majority (I must stress here that the numbers aren’t in any way representative of the actual scene but only an indication!).

So, who is an underground promoter/DJ/producer (if there is such a thing)? Is there a chart or a graph where you can measure how underground or mainstream someone is? No, there isn’t, but I believe there can be!

Let’s firstly have a look at the definitions of Wikipedia on what is Popular (pop) culture & what is classed as Underground music.


Popular Culture

Popular culture is the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes and other phenomena that are preferred by an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western Culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the late 20th and early 21st century. Heavily influenced by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of the society.

Although the terms popular culture and pop culture are in some cases used interchangeably, and their meanings partially overlap, the term “pop”, which dates from the late 1950s, belongs to a particular society and historical period. Pop refers more specifically to something containing qualities of mass appeal, while “popular” refers to what has gained popularity, regardless of its style.

Popular culture is often viewed as being trivial and dumbed down in order to find consensual acceptance throughout the mainstream. As a result, it comes under heavy criticism from various non-mainstream sources who deem it superficial, consumerist,sensationalist and corrupted.

Underground Music

 Underground music comprises a range of different musical genres that operate outside of mainstream culture. Such music may tend to express common ideals, such as high regard for sincerity and intimacy, freedom of creative expression as opposed to the highly formulaic composition of commercial music, and appreciation of artistic individuality, as opposed to conformity to current mainstream trends.

The term “underground music” has been applied to various artistic movements, for instance, the psychedelic music movement of the mid-1960s, but the term has in more recent decades come to be defined by any musicians who tend to avoid the trappings of the mainstream commercial music industry. Frank Zappa attempted to define “underground” by noting that the “mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground.”

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Taking these definitions in consideration, we now have two points of reference where we can fit the whole industry inside: Imagine the whole industry as a tree, the tips of the roots are the furthest point you can go underground and the leafy branches are the overground/ mainstream/ popular culture system. A tree cannot exist without roots but a root can survive without the need to surface overground. Basically,if you are an underground DJ/producer, then consider yourself as a potato (or a beetroot if you prefer!!)

If DJ’s/producers/promoters represent parts of the tree, most will choose to live overground because there is the fresh air (money) and loads to see from up there (spotlight)….but there are a few that want to keep their heads down and live a humble existence by the routes and dedicate themselves to making the tree stronger!!!!

So let’s try and classify the whole industry on this tree :

 

The Definitive Underground

 This is the place were true and pure art comes to life. It’s a place where there is no compromising on what you want to create and your aspirations don’t look towards either success or fame. Actually, true art doesn’t have any aspirations in the first place, it’s just the expression of the inner soul that matters and the most important time is the moment of creation of something meaningful, challenging and thought provoking out of thin air.

A few months back, I had a conversation with a friend who in turn had a conversation with a DJ about why he is reluctant to release all those amazing tracks that he plays at his gigs. His answer was the answer of a true underground artist. He said something along these lines: “it is much more artistically rewarding for me to play this music to a crowd that has never heard it before than to release it for the masses and make a few hundred or even thousand bucks. That moment when I play an unreleased track is the moment where magic really happens and you cannot possible put a price tag to that”.

So for me, the purest form of underground music is music that is not published or available anywhere to buy, and to hear it, you have to hear it from the creating artist himself.

Of course there are also some small groups of DJs that share unreleased music between them so they also pass with flying colours on this category!!

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The Underground Record Label

These are labels that choose to release a limited number of copies (not more than a few hundred) on a unconventional medium such as vinyl (unconventional only if you compare it with the vastness and accessibility of digital mediums). This is the beginning of aspiration although the expectation of publishing such music is not fame or fortune but the distribution of quality uncompromising music within a close knit community of likeminded vinyl lovers.

The lower end of this category and thus closer to the first category, are the individuals who press the music themselves (Press & Distribution deals with a vinyl distributor) and display no information other than a simple name and a volume number. After them, there are also the labels who provide some release info but do not spend any time on building a promotional plan. At the higher end of this spectrum are the labels who operate as the ones I just mentioned but who also have a limited promotional strategy.

Such labels are usually run by one or 2 people and the more staff you add to your operation, the more the aspirations rise as more people depend financially by the success of the release.

And, as you add staff and raise expectations, the point of singularity comes into the picture. No, I am not talking about black holes (we will cover them another time), I am talking about the point where because of rising aspirations, art starts to get diluted as it gets compromised by the need to relate to a wider consuming audience than the few hundred vinyl die hards. It’s the point of art starting to become something else…….Entertainment!!!! Goodbye pure art, and hello rat race : )

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The Independent Record Labels

 Yeah I love the track but it’s too deep, only Ricardo and Zip will play this

If you are a producer and hear an independent label boss mutter these words, you know you have past the point of no return for true art….I am not saying that quality music ceases to exist from now onwards but I am saying that the more you go up the ladder, the more compromises you have to endure in order to make enough money to keep the business afloat. You don’t have the artistic freedom to do as you like and release the most obscure track ever if you choose to, and if you are brave enough to do so, the business will be put in jeopardy.

15 years ago and before the unbelievable rise of technology, this category was like the Underground Record Label category, as the possibilities to reach millions, instead of a few thousands, were limited due to digital releases not being developed at that time. The prospect of widening the customer/ consumer base drives a label to adapt strategies usually practiced by the majors.

These days, there are different kinds of independent labels. The ones closer to the previous category are digital-only labels who exist (for example) as a hobby for a person that has a good ear for quality music and as this is not the money earner for him/her, there is more freedom to release music they like without worrying too much about a marketing strategy. Then there are the physical & digital release independent labels who run as successful businesses and try to balance between compromising for sales and releasing quality music. And then there are the labels who aspire to become majors one day, the bigger the market they reach, the more they come closer to the doors of popular/commercial dance music.

As the potential digital market grows (and shows no signs of stopping any time soon), the lure of bigger revenues will drive a large percentage of independent labels up towards success recognition and money. It’s a very simple mechanism: the more you invest in your record label business by adding staff, spending serious amounts on marketing and promotion etc, the more you have to make your sound simpler and easily digestible. And the more you think like that, the closer you come to the next category.

The Majors

8.JustinDanceFestivalENTERTAINMENTWelcome to co-operative dance music entertainment for the masses!!

This is a world where artistic integrity collapses into a sea of flash
ng cameras and where money dictates the formulas and the formulas dictate the music. The simpler the message, the more people it will reach and the more income will be
generated, Gangnam style!!!

Mass media manipulation, mass production for mass consumption for the brave new world of globalised society. But even up here at the dizzy heights of success and fame, you can still find quality but it’s such a small percentage that you cannot actually hear it in the midst of the formulaic cacophony of mainstream music.

I am not a hater of EDM or the commercial aspect of the industry. Yes it is much less art and much more entertainment but it’s euphoric formula makes millions of people happy and that can only be a good thing. We are all different and perceive life in a different way and thank God, there is music for everybody out there!!

I hope this list and my attempt to classify a basic structure of the industry will spark a debate and in the end, we can have some kind of point of reference on what is Underground, how it connects with art and the mechanism which turns art into  entertainment for the masses.

Stathis Lazarides

 

In Sickness and in Health: MEOKO Investigates the Pitfalls of the DJ Lifestyle…

By Hot Off The Press, News

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Something that’s become more and more apparent as we’ve interviewed more and more DJs is the effect that their lifestyle can have on their health. As the global DJ culture as we know it now is still a relatively new phenomenon there isn’t really much insight into the side effects of what they do. Now this may sound a little bit exagerrated in comparison to the risks taken by say, someone who works in a dangerous industrial environment, but all the same this is something that MEOKO thought would be interesting to look at.

There are many factors to a DJ’s job that can have an adverse effect on their health and we thought it would be helpful to speak to an expert from the NHS to get the inside track on how touring and living life to excess can be detrimental. As much as it’s an amazing job to be able to travel the world playing music to people week in, week out, there are some health implications to consider and we think everyone has a responsibility to realise this and take action where necessary.

So here it is… by no means a call to DJs to stop what they’re doing, just an insightful overview of how different factors of their job can affect their health.

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Lack of sleep:

Staying up late and waking up early, or not even sleeping at all for days at a time is pretty much par for the course in many circles. Whether the DJ is travelling constantly, hitting after-parties or up all night in the studio working on new music, lack of sleep is probably one of the most common problems in the DJ world. As well as the typical inability to focus, reduction in motor skills and increased irritability, lack of sleep can also lead to depression. Of course, one can become conditioned to a lack of sleep, although it’s not ideal.

Jacqui Jedrzejewski, a Senior Nurse at the NHS, says: “The fatigue caused by not getting any sleep can affect your mood and create problems within your personal relationships and work environment. The average adult needs between seven to nine hours sleep per night, without this it can become difficult to function normally during the day – one can become irritable and unable to concentrate. Extreme fatigue also opens one up to danger, for instance many road traffic accidents are linked to overtired drivers. Having 10 hours sleep in bed on one night a week may not even be enough to cure the negative effects of chronic sleep restriction. Recovery from sustained sleep restriction may require even more sleep during one night or multiple nights of extended sleep. Adequate recovery sleep duration is important for coping with the effects of chronic sleep restriction on the brain.”

Constant touring:

airplane food copy copy copyLinked to lack of sleep – the constant touring endured by many of today’s DJs can have a overriding effect on their health and state of mind. It goes without saying that travelling from one time zone to the next constantly, with little sleep, hungover or on a comedown – jet-lagged and rundown – is really not good for anyone. The short space of time spent in each location means the body never really adapts to the different time zones, leaving it in a state of limbo. But touring has become a big (and lucrative) part of DJ culture, as many of the best known names from today’s generation and older stars too, get booked to play the world over.

In some cases, superstar DJs have been travelling around the globe for close to two decades. Our health expert offered some insight: “Jet lag and the effect of moving from one time zone to another can have wide-ranging effects on an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing. From being simply drowsy and confused to affecting one’s bowels, urine production, digestion and blood pressure. One of the best ways to at least get your body used to the new time zone you arrive in is to spend time out in the daylight, which helps to adjust your body clock a lot quicker.”

Alcohol consumption:

drinks copyAt pretty much any event a DJ attends there will be a pile of free booze laid on by the promoter who has hired them, as we all know the bigger stars can demand what they like on their very own rider. Bottles of vodka, champagne, rum, whisky, beers… whatever they like, anything to lubricate the creative process and get them amped up for the night. In this kind of environment it’s very easy to get carried away and drink to excess – if this is happening more than two or three nights a week, then eventually one’s health is really going to suffer. The effects of excessive drinking are well documented – liver disease being one of the most common alcohol-related illnesses.

Our health expert Jacqui Jedrzejewski says: “Men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day, that’s equal to three bottles of regular strength beer or two double vodkas for instance. If you had a heavy drinking session, you should really avoid alcohol for 48 hours afterwards – hair of the dog may make you feel better in the short-term, you might think, but long-term it’s really not a good idea. Asserting a degree of control over your alcohol consumption may not be easy, but it will benefit your health massively if you can get a handle on things.”

Drug use:

Although it’s rarely spoken about, most people associated with dance music would quietly admit that drug use is pretty common. That’s not to say that everyone that plays or listens to the music does drugs, but a large percentage do and it would be ignorant to pretend otherwise. For the purposes of this piece, I thought it would be necessary to explore every possible factor/extreme – and drug use is one of them. Constant and excessive drug use has many effects, from anxiety and paranoia through to memory problems, depression and even damage to one’s internal organs.

Our NHS spokesperson adds: “The long-term effects of using recreational drugs on a regular basis include mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and paranoia. The effect on one’s state of mind are increased further when combined with lack of sleep and the other factors mentioned in this piece. Physical issues include liver, kidney and heart problems – for instance, coke and amphetamines cause increased stress to the heart.”

She added: What should you do if you feel that you may have an issue with substance abuse?

l Speak up! Share your concerns with someone you trust such as your GP or a therapist who is experienced in helping people with substance abuse issues.

l Get help! If you do not know where to turn for help then a simple Internet search will help you connect you with agencies which specialise in substance abuse treatment and management.

l Act now! Addiction will worsen and become more severe over time if left untreated. In extreme addiction cases the result can be severe physical or mental health issues, or even death.

Back issues:

Back problems have been a common factor within the DJ world for quite some time. Going back to the days when vinyl was the only medium DJs used to play their music, carrying their record bags around to gigs of course put quite a strain on their backs. Nowadays lack of exercise, being constantly sat down on flights and being hunched over the decks also contribute to the condition of their backs. Steve Bug and Heidi are two notable sufferers of back troubles in the DJ world, among many others.

According to our expert: “Back problems are common the world over and in many different areas of employment. Life in the modern world for many means that lack of exercise and being sat in a bad position all day are commonplace. It takes very little time to build up the core muscles in one’s back, simple daily exercises (which you can find online) can be executed in many locations, even while on the move. By making these exercises part of your daily routine you can work towards strengthening your back and avoiding long-term ailments.”

Tinnitus:

berghainsoundsystem copy copyAnother hugely common, and inevitably unavoidable consequence of the DJ lifestyle is tinnitus. From the loudness of the monitor speakers in the DJ booth, to just being in a club environment on a regular basis and, for the producers, the studio environment too. Being at such close proximity to high volumes emitting from some of the world’s loudest sound systems all the time, with the added pressure on the eardrums from headphones and, occasionally, really badly EQ’d systems can leave many with ringing ears. In serious cases this becomes such an imposing problem that there is almost no alternative but to quit the music business. There is no cure for tinnitus, though it can be alleviated through sound therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Jacqui says: “It goes without saying that one of the most important methods of protecting one’s hearing is via earplugs. In a world where your hearing is paramount, DJs must take responsibility for this by protecting their ears with the necessary implements. Working in the world they do means constant exposure to high levels of volume and they must counteract this with adequate protection.”

Lack of exercise:

Back-exercises-for-lower-back-painAside from bopping away behind the decks and maybe making a dash to catch their next flight, there really isn’t a lot of time for exercise in the average touring DJ’s day-to-day calendar. Lack of exercise can lead to the aforementioned back issues, but also a wider range of problems, from heart disease, to being overweight, lethargy and general poor health. Linked to this is a poor diet, which can also be part of a DJ’s lifestyle – aside from the pre-club dinners that promoters sometimes organise, the poor food on offer at airports/on planes and other fast food outlets and so on means that they often miss out on the good nutrition of a healthy diet.

Our health expert says: “Exercise and eating well are two of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Though many people lead a very busy lifestyle, DJs in particular, it’s not actually that difficult to squeeze in 10-minutes of exercise into one’s daily routine. This can be hugely beneficial, especially when on the road constantly. Likewise, eating well and having a balanced diet – including lots of fruit and vegetables – is also not as difficult as you might imagine, it’s all about being more aware of what you eat and trying to avoid fatty, unhealthy meals.”

Depression/stress of fame:

Life on the road isn’t always one big party from beginning to end, often DJs end up in their hotel rooms isolated and alone. They can become isolated from friends who don’t understand the life they lead, or the breakdown of personal relationships through long distance/always being away from each other and, with the combined effects of many of the factors already discussed in this piece, can sometimes end up suffering from depression. Likewise the pressure of fame, being constantly in the public eye or in demand from fans can provoke anxiety and stress.

Jacqui says: “The effects of depression range from lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling tearful or on edge constantly. Becoming isolated from friends, or the world in general and feeling alone or misunderstood can quickly lead to depression. There can be physical symptoms too – such as feeling constantly tired, insomnia, having no appetite or sex drive and complaining of various aches and pains.”

As I said before, the lifestyle of a DJ is a dream come true for many, and many don’t live their lives too excessively either. The aim of this piece was simply to look at some of the health issues that can arise from this life they lead and, hopefully, help some of them to avoid serious long-term repercussions. 

By Marcus Barnes

GEMA: The Royalty Collecting Society That Threatens German Club Life

By Hot Off The Press, MEOKO Presents, News

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MEOKO gets an insight into the legal nitty-gritty of German copyright laws and royalty disputes which sparked off a public uproar and protest marches in Berlin as the tariff reforms issued by GEMA in April threaten German nightlife.

Possibly one of the most controversial issues, the German legal situation of the copyright law, fought between the major companies Google, Youtube and GEMA, is spiced up by an additional dispute: the royalty mongers of the German collection society released statements that they are planning to introduce new tariffs which, for medium sized clubs, will see rises in charges as high as 1000 to 1400% with an additional 50% surcharge if the event takes longer than five hours. Small bars and music pubs “only” face a rise of 400 to 600%.

If their reformed and apparently “facilitated” new charging system is applied to underground electronic music events, organisers, small and medium sized clubs and independent music venues face financial disaster and closure, according to state officials from the Berlin Club Commission, which represents the nightlife industry, and spokespeople such as Loveparade-founder Dr Motte as well as Berlin politicians of all parties.

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On June 25th, German club owners, clubbers and music lovers stepped up united to party, protest and rally against GEMA measures and to get people to sign petitions and on the cause, challenging the reforms and demanding more transparancy in the money collection and distribution process which is often cited as being unjust and unprecise.

Apparently, the new scheme is just as imprecise as the previous one, although it´s been enacted to simplify the tariff structure. Eleven different fees are being replaced by only two, monthly charges are being based on ticket prices and the relative size of the venue.

The case is now in the hands of the Deutsches Patent – und Markenamt (DPMA), the Federal patent office. Although there won´t be a decision reached until 2014 as the reform will take more than two years to go through the official channels, adjusted payments of royalties already have to be made available as of December 2012.

Two German state provinces, Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, have already lodged an objection, but, if these tariff reforms go unchallenged, legendary clubs like Berghain and Watergate will close down at the end of the year as their fee hikes range between 500% and 1400%. 

The Berlin press, in reaction to the heated discussions, published a string of interviews with representatives of the underground music industry which has teamed up as “Fairplay – Gemeinsam gegen GEMAinheiten”, amongst them musician and Pirate Party politician Bruno Kramm as well as Dr Motte, the initiator of Love Parade who today heads Electrocult e.V., the two of them repeatedly arguing the injustice of the distribution of GEMA payouts to members.

It was also correctly pointed out that most electronic music producers are not even members or afiliates and thus do not profit from payments at all. Another valid point is the fact that most underground electronic venues do not play music by any artist, composer or label represented by GEMA.  

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mustsee 1250672139 Berlin Wall 21

Accused of abusing its monopolistic power by acting as a representative of all music-making artists, the GEMA actually only represents the interests of its 3,400 core members, the upper 5%, which is made up by the who-is-who of German popular music, and receive 65% of the payments, whilst only 35% are being paid to its other 61,600 associated members.

The whole discussion opens a can of worms in which it becomes very obvious that the German royalty system is definitely not protecting the burgeoning underground scene which raises most of the revenue in the club and nightlife capital Berlin, its economy depending on its culture as the city has a notoriously high level of unemployment and its mayor industry is the party tourism.

Although club owners could recalculate their entrance fees and, by charging more, could pass on the extra costs onto their customers, most of whom are more than happy with the financial burden (if that´s what it takes to keep their favorite clubs open), this whole situation could, should and might bring about some much needed change in the calculation and distribution of royalties in Germany which could serve as an example internationally. As it stands, Germany is one of the few countries which really employs an old-fashioned yet functional system of redistribution, enabling artists to live off their intellectual property – but as it stands, it´s a system that redistributes wealth unequally.

Berghain-Club

GEMA, short for “Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte” (German for “Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights”), is a non-governmental society founded in 1903, and played an important role during the Third Reich (as STAGMA) classifying music as “Arian” and “degenerated”. Still today, music is being classified in two categories:  “entertaining” and “serious”.  It would be very interesting to see more aspects reformed than just lining the pockets of those who have been generously cashing in without any state control for years. In 2010, the chairman of the board received a salary twice as high as Angela Merkel.

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The Berghain OstGut GmbH state that they “categorically” reject “the new GEMA tariff structure’s price dictatorship and demand(..) the development of new, fair tariff structures in cooperation with the small and large promoters and organisers.” On their website, they ask their fans to sign the petition ‘Against the 2013 Tariff Reform – GEMA has lost its sense of perspective’, which will be sent to the German Parliament’s Petition Committee.

 In total, more than 225,000 votes against the reform have already been collected.

Sign Petition Here


Words: Katrin Richter 


Dimitri Hegemann (Tresor label/club owner) tells MEOKO….

“The situation with GEMA is getting worse. The prequel: in the earlier years of my career I did not tire myself denouncing the unjust distribution of Money the GEMA is taking from the clubs, once and again. I am paying them, but I would like to make sure that these payments will get to those artists, componists, labels and publishers who made this music, not lining the pockets of Udo Juergens, Dieter Bohlen and Herbert Groenemeier. Like I said, I am willing to pay GEMA. My demands are: Retention of the old tariffs, gradually levelling them up by 2% if the following criteria are met. First: Fair and transparent distribution of GEMA fees paid by the clubs. The money should really get to those artists and labels whose music is being played in the club. Obviously, they can charge their 15% handling fees. Second: Transparent monitoring, because it´s technically possible, nowadays. Every song played digitally has an implanted AUDIO-ID or some meta data identification. About 96% of all tracks can be monitored that way. Registered (GEMA) clubs are all tied into a general system which collects the meta data and the amount of clicks each played track received. In this general computer system, a ranking list can be established and thus, a fair collection and distribution system. It´s really possible, as technologically, all the criteria are given. The costs are down to GEMA. Third: All GEMA money collected from clubs will be gathered on an account held in trust by a notary until all these demands are met. By the way, just thinking out loud, I have a UK car insurance, why can´t I licence my music through an English royalty collecting society? I was also thinking that in the worst case, Tresor will tell all its DJs most of which have never received any payments from GEMA at all, to cancel their membership. Those and all the other artists should just write new music, which then does not get registered with GEMA, but the copyright is still belonging to the respective artists, even if they do not register their songs through GEMA. Tresor would preferably work with DJs who will be GEMA-free, and Tresor will also comunícate this through the media. I am sure we´d be GEMA-free in no time, and could then refer from paying anything to them at all. I am quite sure they would pop around to make us an offer. Actually it´s quite realistic to make Tresor a club in which there will be no GEMA registered music. Nevertheless, dear people, if GEMA is taking these measurements, and we are all pretty sure they will get through with it, then something will happen no one in Berlin suspected. Berlin will lose its vibrant clubbing scene, and this means there won´t be much going on. Clubs will close and the party goers will fly somewhere else. This would have fatal economic consequences. If GEMA manages to successfully force through their demands, there would be a snowball effect which will tear everything down. Clubs will be doing bad, financially, some will close, others will become more expensive, the quality will suffer, the drinks will become expensive. People working in this scene will lose their jobs, the drinks companies will sell much less, EasyJet and other flight companies will stop their flights to Berlin as there will be less visitors, hostels will close, and above all, “yound wild Berlin” will lose its magic.”

Dimitri Hegemann by Marie Staggat 04sw

Cesare vs Disorder (Serialism / Label Owner / Producer & DJ tells MEOKO.….

“We were just talking about it at lunch today with Robin Drimalski from Watergate and Dave Aju. It is all a big joke and it can’t be solved easily. It is exactly as it happens in politics, where big corporations have way much more powers than the entire worldwide population. In the music industry, it’s the majors that have this power and they are only interested on making their pocket grow and recover from the big loss with the music industry latest changes. The problem could be solved so easily. Richie Hawtin uses a software that communicate with the major networks telling in real time what track he’s playing in that exact moment. Isn’t it a a kind of possible solution?  But it isn’t so easy.”

Mark Henning – Berlin based house/techno DJ & producer, releasing music tells MEOKO.…..

“GEMA seem to be out of touch with reality. Their policies stiffle the independent scene and make it hard for artists and labels to survive. Look no further than their ludicrous demands of Youtube which is doing nothing but hurt the music industry. With the introduction of these venue tariffs in Germany, things are seemingly going from bad to worse. I hope that these get challenged at a high level.”

Danni Patten (Playkula) – Electronic Music Agent and Berlin Resident tells MEOKO…..

The theory of GEMA is sound, that when artists make music which is played out in clubs, they should receive money from the clubbers towards the sounds they enjoyed on their night out via a share of the club entrance fee. This is a great concept, but the issue as I see it is that GEMA does not at present sufficiently represent the underground scene which is supported by Berlin clubbers, nor the music which DJs at clubs such as Berghain and Watergate are playing. Considering the staggering increase to the current GEMA contributions at a time when many other costs are also increasing for club owners, with often unpredictable turnouts on the night, the animosity throughout our scene towards this law proposal seems justified in my view.

Isis Salvaterra – Toi Toi Promoter tells  MEOKO…..

“I feel that most people in our industry, especially the non-German speakers kind of fail to be able to analyse both sides due to the lack of understanding of German laws and what exactly this change would mean in practice as in order to make this work there needs to be an entire re-structuring and not just ‘club closures’. For example ‘how will the money get to our artists’? Does it need a re-structuring on the way fees are paid, etc? Like, if the artist is a GEMA member, he will get paid a fixed amount which in turn will regulate our fee system and make it more fair? It covers the range from music being released to the artist performance at the club. I do not feel I can at this point comment on the pros and cons of such measure without having more in-depth knowledge. Equally we need to see how GEMA is willing to implement this in an industry such as ours. What I mean with ‘our industry’ is that such measure would go across the board in the music industry but electronic dance music works in an specific way, it’s a niche and in many cases differ greatly from more commercial types of e-music or the more mainstream music genres. It has a different structure than the ordinary, GEMA must be willing to understand us and how we work. Our scene´s features, be it structural or fin
ncial for instance, have to be taken into consideration. The clubs and the vibrant scene found in Germany attracts people from all over the world. The money it generat
s in tourism to many c
ties is enormous and somehow it makes it hard for me to believe they are not considering those factors. It does not take a rather deeper analysis to see this will not benefit anyone if it shuts down our culture like that. Historically, Germany is Europe’s techno mecca, their citizens take pride in it and they should — its historical, social and economical impacts are too immense to be completely ignored like that. At this stage I would like to be optimistic on ‘not all change is bad — in the way that we might be able to come up with a nice solution to this ‘new digital age’ together, and the only way we can do that is being open to work with the authorities to achieve it.”

Links

https://berghain.de/event/449

https://www.electrocult.de/news/2012/06/28/redeskript-bruno-kramm-gemeinsam-gegen-gemainheiten-demo-25-juni-2012-berlin/

https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/kultur/gema-sprecherin-schlicher–es-geht-um-gerechtigkeit-,

https://www.mixmag.net/words/news/berlin-clubs-fear-charges

https://thequietus.com/articles/09272-berlin-clubs-face-closure-berghain-watergate

https://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jul/03/berlin-clubs-royalties-closure-threat?newsfeed=true

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gema

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urheberrecht

https://www.gema.de/

https://www.gvl.de/

MEOKO LIFESTYLE : After The Party: The Legacy Of Celebration exhibition

By Hot Off The Press, News

LIFE STYLE NO CLICK

One thing is true the world over: society loves a good celebration. Whether it’s a good ol’ fashioned rave, or a massive over-subscribed sporting event; people like to go all out. They have a good tidy, pretty up the place, buy lots of new things and generally make things look quite nice for the benefit of the neighbours.

What happens to the monuments and specialist venues purpose-built for these large-scale occasions after the revelry has been and gone? The latest exhibition at RIBA, the Royal Institute Of British Architecture takes an indepth look at the legacy left through the structures that were erected for different celebratory events across time.

Free entry.

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Photo Credit:  RIBA Archives

Visit Gallery 2, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD between 10am – 5pm. For more information visit:  https://www.architecture.com/WhatsOn/Exhibitions/At66PortlandPlace/2012/Summer/AftertheParty-TheLegacyofCelebration.aspx

MEOKO Lifestyle – Inflatable Stonehenge

By Hot Off The Press, News

stoneh-1

Weekend Adventure: Touring Inflatable Stonehenge Hits Westminster

This Saturday something quite unique comes to central London, and it’s not anything remotely related to the O word. If you can brave public transport, legions of lost tourists and what promises to be more sweltering heat, then MEOKO suggests you head to Westminster for the next leg of Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller’s latest project: Sacrilege. All you need to know is this: it’s basically an inflatable version of world-renowned prehistoric pagan monument Stonehenge. Perfect for getting over those post Secret Garden Party blues with something that’s actually quirky and fun in the centre of town! Considering you can only touch the actual stones once a year on solstice, bouncing about a replica is probably the closest most of us will get.

Visit the Sacrilege website to see its other stops: https://sacrilege2012.co.uk/

inflatablestonehenge

FAVOURITE FUTURE SOUNDS: MY FAVOURITE ROBOT RECORDS

By Hot Off The Press, News

my fav no click

As Deadmau5’ rodent visage is plastered over the cover of Rolling Stone magazine this month, mainstream America begins to seriously discuss the rise of “EDM” and its impact on dance music and about how the scene’s “DJs rule the world” in a fashion that smacks so much of arrogance that frankly, most Europeans find it faintly amusing. Meanwhile, north of the United States, across the border in Canada, pivotal producers and DJs have been quietly beavering away creating an underground scene in the city of Toronto.

Thanks to labels like Crosstown Rebels, key players in the Canadian scene such as Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White (well-known as the duo Art Department) are already at the forefront of the UK’s flourishing deep house scene. Others, like the boys at act and now label My Favorite Robot, have been piquing interest for a while, and with an ever-growing roster of superb artists hand-picked from around the globe, are set to fill your ears and iPods with even more of their music.

The genesis of My Favorite Robot began in a city known far more for its jazz than its dance, as co-founders Voytek Korab and Jared Simms began DJing together in 2002 in their hometown of Montreal. But it was Jared’s move to Toronto that sparked the catalyst for the growth ahead. Coming under the wing of No 19 Music (the label helmed by the aforementioned Jonny White), meeting Nitin and future MFR member James Teej, as Jared puts it “shifted our projects into a higher gear.  Voytek and I started to spend a lot more time in the studio, [then] we started the label, and eventually James joined MFR as a third [member], which, looking back, happened in a very organic way.”

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Jared describes the formation of the label in 2008 in much the same manner: as a natural progression. Surrounded by friends following similar paths, it made sense to them to “have this new avenue to start releasing our own music, and that of our crew, unfiltered and in a timely way.” As their crew continues to expand beyond Toronto, and indeed Canada, to encompass acts such as the UK’s Eric Volta, Finland’s Jori Hulkkonen, Sweden’s Tiger Stripes and more, they join the ranks of highly respected global underground dance labels that manage to combine a decent global output whilst continuing to support their local scene and artists.

Reaching this level of recognition and acclaim for the label took some time as the first artists released consisted of themselves and their small pool of local peers and usual suspects. After finding their feet 20 records in, they began to look beyond their circle of friends for “strange foreign robots” to add to the mix.

With Voytek, Jared and James all in charge, keeping the label output as a true reflection of the trio’s combined taste creates constant discussion between them about what direction to take it in, coupled with simply searching for artists whose music they like. Their modesty distils this to this rather straightforward process: “Most of the music comes from artists or acts that we contact if we are into their music and think is it a good fit for the label.

Modesty is a trait that seems to run throughout the label’s ethos, if Jared’s belief that the Canadian dance scene doesn’t need My Favorite Robot is anything to go by. “We’re not big-headed enough to think that we are a necessary part of the scene… but I will say that we are very much trying to do our own thing and ignore what might be considered as the ‘norm’, and we’re trying our best to make a real contribution and release good music.” A far cry from the American attitudes of EDM (a genre that MFR would describe themselves as) but certainly more in line with a more European style of releasing music.

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Humility aside, this year has already seen bigger and better things for the label, with a recent showcase at the celebrated Off Sonár in Barcelona back in June and their first full-length releases due before the end of 2012, from Fairmont, Sid Le Rock and Jori Hulkkonen, and plans to push things forward with more album and events in the future.

My Favorite Robot obviously take their work very seriously, but it’s clear their success lies in their approach to releasing music and their strive to better themselves and to grow as a label; an attitude succinctly summed up as “our proudest moments are still ahead of us.” It’s also evident within their choice of name; the obvious connotations to technology and future sounds but also “kind of playful and not quite as serious. We thought it was a win-win situation… even if someone says they hate My Favorite Robot; they are still calling us their favourite. How can you go wrong?

My Favorite Robot’s latest release Andrew Grant and Lomez “Has To Be Love” with Amirali remix is out now on vinyl. Visit www.myfavoriterobotrecords.com or be a fan of theirs on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/MyFavoriteRobotRecords] for more info.

Rachael Williams

 

EXPLOITED RECORDS

By Hot Off The Press, News

Exploited4

London and Berlin as often seen as twin pillars of taste-making within the dance music scene in Europe, as discerning clubbers don’t just look to the more established or more popular labels, but lately, more often than not to underground fledgling ones for their fresh new music. Whilst here in the UK it’s people like Hypercolour and Futureboogie who seek out new sounds and artists, over in Germany their counterpart stands as Shir Khan’s Exploited Records.

Originally a DJ, Shir Khan (real name Jan Simon Spielberger) now considers himself a jack-of-all-trades; label-founder, talent-spotter, radio host, remixer and promoter are all talents he can lay claim to. It’s clear he’s the type to be constantly pushing himself and evolving his multitude of projects in order to stay abreast of a industry always in flux.

Exploited’s genesis began around 2007 when Khan’s wish to make a DJ Kicks style compilation, but lack of label willing to clear all the necessary rights and release it on his behalf, led to him taking matters into his own hands. In the way of all good projects, it naturally led to him discovering a desire to take it further than the initial idea. As he spoke to different artists for the purpose of collating their music he came across tracks that he wanted for EPs instead.

However the very first Exploited Records release was a vinyl-only affair from the Parisian producer Surkin, that he modestly explains happened by accident.A friend of mine was the A&R at Berlin label City Slang and he’d just recieved a remix for one of his artists by a French newcomer. He told me that the original artist hated the remix so much that they didn’t want to put it out. Since he’d heard I was about to start a label he offered the remix to me to put out as an original Surkin release…. and I did it and it was a pretty good start. Erol Alkan, Boys Noize and Soulwax all loved it around that time.”

 shir khan

Nowadays, of course, Khan doesn’t simply wait for music to fall into his lap. A considerable amount of work goes into discovering and nurturing the artists on Exploited, and into the music they subsequently produce. Taking unknowns like Amsterdam’s Homework, Austria’s Joyce Muniz and homegrown talent like Adana Twins, Claptone and the teen duo Cocolores, and establishing them as hot names to watch out for in relatively short spaces of time is a point of pride for Shir Khan. I think it’s great to work with new faces – but it is normally a tough and long way to get them where you want them to be. he says.

Maybe it’s the thought behind the artist selection process that sees him first question whether considering whether they click as individuals that ensures strong bonds between the label boss and his protégés. He states,Of course the releases are all about musical quality but still personal style comes first.”

 

This dedication to keeping relations tight-knit is somewhat at odds with the rapid rise of success. As new releases turn into instant Beatport and Resident Advisor chart-climbers, all industry eyes naturally turn towards the label. Shir Khan admits that (and apologises for) a large number of emails and phonecalls go unanswered as things get more hectic, promising, “Exploited will expand in the future. That’s for sure.” With the debut from Purple Velvet, a recent side project from Coat Of Arms member Chris James, hitting the front page of Beatport upon release; they look set to be expanding sooner rather than later.

Indeed, they only seem to be building upon success after success at the moment, as Exploited’s popular disco edit series Black Jukebox hit its third edition a fortnight ago with Doctor Dru reworking the Italo disco classic Voice Of Q and rather aptly renaming it Voice Of Dru. With its souped-up, dancefloor ready sound, familiar and yet more exciting, it’s no wonder it too has made its way into Beatport users hearts and made a dent in the overall Top Ten.

BLACKJUKEBOX

If anything it is the Exploited Records ethos that truly sums up this label’s recent rise to fame: Connect the dots. Destroy the genre…. Exploit popular culture by recombining elements from the past, twist them around, mix them up and make it sound fresh.” And therein lies the secret. Exploited aren’t recycling the same old deep house sounds that are starting to seem like an emcumberment to the scene, they’re looking to the past for that element of familiarity that keeps clubbers happy but providing a new, modern take on it. As Shir Khan himself says In the end I don’t care if its house or disco or whatever – it’s only about music that can excite you – even if it’s only for a certain amount of time. It’s hard to make timeless dance music these days. Time seems to move faster and faster.”

 

You can catch Shir Khan and other members of Exploited on a special label showcase on Beatport’s Ustream channel on Wednesday 23rd May 16:00 – 22:00 C.E.T

 

Words: Rachael Williams

MEOKO Easter Preview 2012

By Event Previews and Reviews, Hot Off The Press, MEOKO Exclusive, MEOKO Presents, News

 Bank Holiday Easter Weekend 2012 – London’s Top 10 Parties


With well over a hundred events taking place in the capital over the course of the upcoming Easter Weekend, Meoko thought it only polite we try and provide you with a much abridged rundown of the Top 10 best parties London has to offer between Thursday 5th and Sunday 8th. Starting with..

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MEOKO goes to Miami

By Hot Off The Press, News

When one thinks of Miami, one does not think underground clubbing hotspot. Those visiting Miami are more likely to be confronted with the ‘super clubs’ such as LIV or Mansion, filled with girls dolled up to the nines, guys dropping tens of thousands of dollars for a table and the ‘Electronic Dance Music’ that is sweeping across the States thanks to acts like David Guetta and the Swedish House Mafia. But there is one club, tucked away Downtown that brings the type of atmosphere and music that the discerning music lover and clubber craves. That club is the Electric Pickle, affectionately referred to as The Pickle, and it’s pretty much the only club in Miami dedicated to bringing underground talent from all over the world to in-the-know underground house and techno aficionados.

patio

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Basing House Can Do No Wrong – Our Club of Choice

By Hot Off The Press, News

I distinctly remember my first encounters with 25 Kingsland Road. It was 2005, I was 22 and had a collection of fluro leggings that put American Apparel’s S/S 2009 collection to shame. I also had an obsession with appargiated bass lines and Miss Kitten style lyrics that saw me prance into Trailer Trash at On The Rocks on a weekly basis. Transvestites to the left, shoulder thrusts to the right, I was in the middle of electro clash heaven. Resident Hannah Holland would take her place in the odd motorway toll style booth while the queues of young, creative freaks that resembled the cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show trickled through in their masses. Inside, a packed, dark, sweaty room and some of the most horrendous toilets you’ll ever have the misfortune of squatting in became a magical playground. The music was a mix between electro, disco, house and techno with a sprinkling of acidic pop for good measure. It was…FABULOUS.

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