The last time I bought a ticket for a festival it was about £80 for the whole weekend which is why I'm shocked to see that festival tickets cost about £150 these days, and probably part of the reason why I don't go anymore. That's roughly a 100% price increase in 10 years. Wowzer.
Anyway, Scouse and I have been thinking about crossing the Atlantic next year for Rock The Bells, which means I'm on their mailing list and get notified of all sorts of concerts and events that I can't go to. At the end of October, everyone's favourite leanheads Cypress Hill are presenting 'The Smokeout Festival', a two day extravaganza with Goodie Mob, Geto Boyz and Hieroglyphics reunions! - sadly it's a follow on from that late 90s nu-metal-hip-hop-love-in and also features Deftones and Slipknot. Anyway, I was curious to see how much tickets cost and I was shocked to see this:
$30? For two days? Yeah you might be stuck at the back behind a rig but you only paid $30. You can't even get a ticket in the nosebleed section of the O2 for that these days. And okay, okay this is more like a Wireless festival than a Glastonberry (sorry, I can't help it), but you still couldn't get to a 2-day gig for under £30 here could you?
I think it's brilliant that you can get cheap tickets to see so many acts and means that the crowd won't just be the middle classes and old people (in this context I class anyone who is not a kid) who can justify the spend. Plus if you do have loadsa money you can buy a VIP ticket and get t-shirts, posters and the opportunity to spot some celebrities from the other side of a velvet rope. Over here our entry level prices are VIP, which can't be good for music appreciation in general. Just another case of rip-off Britain. I despair.
For the record, I think the Blueprint 3 is a pretty awful album and that Jay-Z should have retired after The Black Album like he said he was going to. Anyway, I saw this twitpic by Charles today and smiled despite myself: The flag only speaks to people that already know about Jay-Z, in the same way that the Rhapsody ad does (although it's a bit lame in hindsight that all his album covers are just his face). It's clever to talk only to your advocates and create knowledge hierarchy rather than try and get new fans - but this is easy when you're Jay-Z and raking in 9 figures a year. It's probably more clever because Jay-Z is a pretty mainstream act (c'mon, he played Glastonberry [sic] and records with Chris Martin) and this approach talks to the people who've supported him the whole while, reminding them of his glorious 90s albums and his place in the hip hop canon - by making them a special circle of people who 'get the reference' he keeps them as advocates.
But none of that makes the Blueprint 3 a good album. Unless you like Mr. Hudson. If you want to listen to 40 year olds rap, go out and buy Cuban Linx II.
More thoughts from the Future of Music talk at the RSA. In the Q&A, Tod Machover said something about how the healthiest societies (in terms of music) are the ones with the smallest gap between the top and the bottom, i.e. between the professionals and the tone-deaf. Part of the work he does is about trying to get people engaged with music on a community level. In societies with smaller gaps the idea that stars have some sort of unattainable talent does not exist, so people are more likely to feel they can do it themselves.
In terms of piracy and new music models, I was wondering whether generations in the future will want to have societies with a smaller gap, i.e. there won't be a need for superstars on the level of Madonna, etc. Instead they might have loads of smaller artists that they're down with.
Last week (seems so long ago!) I went to the Future of Music talk at the RSA. It was a bit of a weird one. Tod Machover was really inspiring and interesting but then we had to sit through John Kennedy from the IFPI, who just - as Charlie righly pointed out on the night - rehashed the same argument from 10 years ago about how piracy was bad, mmm'kay, and his quest to get ISPs to threaten to cut off illegal downloaders. Yawn.
Way back in 2006 Disney were talking about treating pirates as competitors and trying to make their products more valuable in order to compete (not that they've let up on aggressively pursuing pirates) so rather than invest in projects like the IFPI, let's invest in looking at how to save the music industry. I got thinking about the fashion industry and how people are predicting that 3D printing will be its torrent/P2P. I was wondering whether the fact that culturally consumers already make the distinction between moody and authentic products (which doesn't exist in the music industry). It is a bit shameful for enough consumers to have fake goods - that's why rude boys keep their tags on! - but is it enough to save the industry from the attack of the 3D printer?!
Finally got round to watching Dizzee on Newsnight. 'Mr Rascal' points out that Barack 'embraced hip hop, that's the way he got through to the kids, there was more young vote than ever'. I find it fascinating because a whole section of society who have been linked to crime and violence because of their music tastes (and remember that hip hop outsells country music Stateside) have a leader who understands that hip hop is not a gateway drug. No wonder they turned up to vote. Imagine a British PM who listed Dizzee or Wiley amongst his favourite artists.
Has anyone else noticed how dubstep is currently in vogue for TV channel idents? It used to be drum n' bass when that was the big scene but now it's definitely dubstep. I love how the only place safe for it to come out of the 'underground' is on idents. It's time for a takeover.
In the wake of the Glaston-berry performance I’ve been having an awful lot of conversations about Jay-Z. Mainly surprise at the way the mainstream press have been lauding the performance a triumph. I’d say the whole fiasco is a triumph for hip hop, but possibly its downfall, but I digress. Part of the reason why Jay-Z could even play Glasto is because he opened up hip hop to the masses – his rhyme style is unencrypted for want of a better word.
On the train journey from Liverpool yesterday I spotted loads of graf, and it got me thinking about Banksy and how he opened up graffiti – an unintelligible language to the uninitiated – to anyone and everyone.
It’s the artists that make this crossover that are the most successful, but where does that leave the scene? Are these mainstream visionaries good or bad for the cultures which they come from? I'm not saying that hip hop/graf should be for heads only, but maybe Nas was right when he proclaimed hip hop dead, as mainstream success seems to come at a price. But on the other hand, are the days of needing an 'underground CNN' unnecessary in a world with the publishing power of the internet?
Plus, some other scene has to come and fill the gap? Or maybe we are past the era of scenes as we know ‘em. Like Matt Mason talks about The Pirate’s Dilemma, when something new comes along it gets assimilated into popular culture so quickly it doesn’t have to time to develop and mature; see grime and even guerrilla gardening. Anyway, it's more pointless stuff to think about.
One part truth, two parts mixer is a digital notebook for Priyanka/@pristyles. Yes, you've reached another planner's blog - but it's mainly full of random thoughts and pretty pictures.
If you're reading, hello - it's nice to meet you.