Twas The Week Before Christmas

Well here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun …

I cannot believe it is Christmas next week, nor can I believe that we are approaching the end of the noughties. Did I blink just before the Y2K bug threatened to destroy us all and wake up in a parallel universe in December 2009??? Reassuringly this is the same world but there are different threats at the end of the first decade of the C21. Climate Activists fight the good fight in Copenhagen as I put an extra layer on and turn the heating up a notch (sorry but it was minus 7 last night).  And what’s left of the world after we’ve all heated it to oblivion is being singled handedly controlled, managed, shaped, destroyed and programmed by one Simon Cowell (allegedly).

There is, as I type, a battle to be top of the hit parade being fought on the streets of facebook and in the download ether… it’s kind of making me smile cos whichever way you look at it, big money and big marketing wins. The question is this … Do I want the first single from a bonny lad from South Shields who has been propelled in an Adam Faith stylee by Svengali and World President Simon Cowell to reach the top of the charts? Or do I want a 17 year old protest song from an American Nu Metal band with an expletive rich, strong political message to reach the top of the charts and prevent Simon Cowell being Master of The Universe only to swell the coffers of another Sony act who no longer perform as a band but wouldn’t mind a fat royalty cheque from their first single landing in their bank accounts at this oil expensive time in our planet’s history.

Well the answer is NEITHER … I just don’t care about music on that scale, it doesn’t seem to relate to me as a consumer or as a musician and in the words of Zach De La Rocha himself  ’fuck you I won’t do what you tell me’ and am therefore spoiling my ballot paper in protest.

I have, this year however,  made my own small contribution to the music industry. I recorded my first album.  I selected a suite of songs that I love, asked musicians I admire and work with regularly to work with me on the project, was helped an awful lot in the recording, mixing and mastering stages by perfectionists, had the benefit of knowing a splendid graphic designer to help me work on the packaging, was given tonnes of invaluable advice by lots of people that had done this before so that I wouldn’t get hoisted by the petard of licensing and download requirements and I am thrilled with the outcome and so it seems are those that have already made purchases.

In the New Year, we shall formally launch the album and hopefully you’ll get chance to come listen to us perform the songs. It’s been a challenging but rewarding process and I am pleased that I managed it myself and the end result is a thing of aural and visual beauty.

And why, why did I do it? Well not because I want to be famous. Not for me the very scary propulsion to fame a la SuBo aged 46. I just wanted to capture something of what it is I do every day. To make a record, literally, of music I love for people who come to my gigs and ask ‘have you got a CD?’ … if people who haven’t seen me perform live, also enjoy the product then BINGO!!! a job well done.

I know that not everyone has my ethos, some small self producers and labels really do want and need a larger degree of financial success and industry recognition but there is just too much money going into the top end of music production now … the whole industry could, and just might topple over … and we can all do our bit to redress the balance by investing in smaller self funded projects of extremely high quality across a range of genres.

There are many bands and musicians who have invested time and money in their own careers and who if the world was organised in a slightly different way deserve a share of that big chunk of stuff at the top.

Have a meander around CDBaby and see what you can find? Next time you go to a gig, make a purchase. In fact … JUST GO TO GIGS … there are millions of musicians of the highest caliber playing in small rooms in pubs and in clubs and in tiny music venues across the country who would be more than a match for any musician you see on your telly on a Saturday night. Make A New Year’s Resolution to visit an independent record shop and make a purchase from a small label, why not???  … while you still can :-)

Spread the love and the wealth and your ears will thank you for it.

xxJ

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