Following the recent death of David Bowie his music dominated the charts and Blackstar became his first ever number one album in the US. As bleak as the mourning period may be, death can be rather profitable. Michael Jackson for instance was in debt before his death, and a few months afterwards his estate had made millions. Record labels often use this fervour to produce albums long after an artist has passed away. The question is whether they should, or whether they should just let people rest in peace? Continue reading
I’m sure we’ll all agree that 2016 hasn’t got off to a good start. In the space of a few weeks we’ve already lost Lemmy, David Bowie, and now Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey. As the world of music is in mourning a hard truth suddenly becomes apparent: How long do our other musical icons have left. It’s not a nice thought but many of the greatest artists and musical pioneers are getting on a bit. One day we will enter a world without Bob Dylan, without Elton John, without Aretha Franklin, without Bruce Springsteen, without Paul McCartney, without Stevie Wonder. Who will carry the torch once the greats are gone? Continue reading
The British Board of Film Classification has introduced a scheme which applies film style age certificates to music videos in an effort to protect young children from inappropriate content. British acts signed to Sony, Universal and Warners will now have age certificates displayed on their YouTube videos. However, this only applies to British artists and the vast majority of inappropriate music videos originate from the US. The ratings are hidden away in the videos’ information, which raises the question of why introduce them if they aren’t going to be in plain sight? It seems like another fruitless effort to try and police the internet which strikes me as a waste of time and money.
These days I buy most of my music on vinyl when I can. With the recent resurgence, vinyl manufacturers have upped their game so that the records are sturdier and download codes often come as a standard. However sometimes I am a little put off by some poor production decisions. The issue is with modern albums which weren’t recorded with vinyl in mind as the preferred format. It’s in trying to convert these recent releases into a different format that causes the trouble. Many albums get made into double albums when they shouldn’t be. Continue reading
Depending on what radio station you tune into, you will probably be bombarded throughout the day by a multitude of monotonous dance tracks with an equally repetitive and uninspired chorus. I haven’t named any songs in particular but just from that simple description I’m sure there are plenty that spring to mind. If I had a penny for every time I heard a song like that I could afford to stock up on compilation CDs of them and put them in the microwave one by one. Sadly it seems to form a large proportion of modern chart hits, and whilst it has launched the careers of some respectable singers, for the most part it raises a number of issues. Continue reading
It has recently come to light that Sam Smith is now paying royalties to Tom Petty. When some people had suggested that his hit song “Stay With Me” shared similarities with the Heartbreakers’ song “I Won’t Back Down”, it was amicably settled and now Petty receives royalties and writing credit. Much like the case of Spirit suing Led Zeppelin over similarities between their instrumental track “Taurus” and the classic “Stairway to Heaven”, I think it is quite frankly a load of rubbish. There is no doubt in my mind that no theft or copyright infringement has taken place. The similarities are very vague. There is only a limited amount of music that can be made and you can’t trademark a specific chord sequence.
There are plenty of other songs that sound much more similar and no one has made a fuss. ZZ Top’s “La Grange” riff is just a sped up version of “Spirit in the Sky”, Kansas’ song “Carry On Wayward Son” sounds awfully like Journey’s “I’m Gonna Leave You”, the pop plague that is One Direction have borrowed the opening chords from The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. For a while Queen got no credit from Vanilla Ice even though “Ice Ice Baby” directly samples “Under Pressure”. I think if a song is similar enough for it to be actually stolen then there should be no need for it to ever go to court, there should be no disagreement whatsoever, as it should sound like a carbon copy of the original and 99% of times that just isn’t the case.