Albums I loved in 2012

My relationship with music was different and strange in 2012. Being out of the BBC’s Audio & Music department for the first time in five years and out of London for the first time since 1995, have distanced me from many of the trends that break sooner in the capital and within the music industry echo chamber. As I didn’t go to any festivals nor work at them and haven’t been to many gigs (think its just been ten), the new music I’ve loved had to work in headphone mode rather than in the speakers. New music discovery meanwhile required more directed searching via blogs, friend recommendations and podcasts.

Will there be another underground youth movement?

With another year passing without a significant youth musical movement emerging, I start to wonder whether we’ll ever have another rave or punk explosion. The disparate nature of music consumption combined with instant social communication probably prevents large underground movements ever existing in the same way again.

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Getting paid to create, meta products and live music broadcasts’ fragmentation: Eurosonic Friday Review

Meta Products

Friday at Eurosonic started with a talk and workshop from Sara Cordoba Rubino on Meta Products. Meta Products are essentially technologies and experiences built around behaviour and relationships, rather than around specific technologies. It is very similar to Service Design and draws on Touch Point design heavily too, but the central tenant is that you don’t say “what can we do on TV, Radio, on a desktop, in print or mobile” you say “what are the best means to give a type of person a useful/pleasurable/edifying experience”. The options could be a website or app that fulfils a need, but could equally involve developing a technology that works with a fridge freezer, because it is best to do that. Your solution could even be to phone a number of people up and encourage them to talk to their families more.The point is that you don’t think inside the box or page, but do map current behaviours to build something that offers an experience that makes sense to the target group. There is a whole book about Meta Products you can read online or order from Amazon with pleasing graphics and explanations (see below), with a lot of references to Apple. I really enjoyed hearing Sara speak but she was preaching to the converted in my case.

Meta Products DiagramGetting Paid for Creating

Next up was Robert Levine and Pink Floyd’s former manager Steve Jenner on a panel arguing the merits of digital copyrights. A highly divisive issue as SOPA campaigns rage. Robert Levine’s argument is persuasive, although I’m not completely down with his suggested remedies.

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Eurosonic Music Review – Thursday

Last weekend the Eurosonic event engulfed the northern Dutch town of Groningen. Despite its location, 2 1/2 hours by train from Amsterdam and without an airport hosting commercial flights, Groningen is not a sleepy backwater. Instead the place is a thriving contemporary city with a vibrant student population and beautiful old architecture aligning cobbled steets and canals. Eurosonic is a blend of music conference, awards ceremony and festival. Festival bookers, broadcasters, publications and music technology companies flocked to Eurosonic from 11th – 14th January. Festival bookers were looking for hot new bands to book, media outlets were looking to break bands to their station or magazine audiences, whilst tech companies arrived to raise their companies’ profile within the European music industry.

I arrived via the invitation of the European Broadcasting Union, best known for their organisation of the Eurovision Song Contest. Despite their association with the kitsch geo-political sing-a-long, the EBU undertakes a vital role for European public broadcasters. Each of the EBU members share music recordings with each other to broadcast free of charge. This means there’s a ready source of live music for often cash strapped public broadcasters. The EBU also plays an important role in sharing knowledge on new technologies and advancements in the worlds of broadcasting and music. My role in bringing real-time interactive coverage of music festivals for the BBC, for instance, interested EBU members enough for them to invite me to Hamburg to speak to members and subsequently to a wider group in Groningen.

It was a flying visit, meaning I crammed in five bands in a four hour period on the Thursday evening and three panels on Friday day, in between catching up with a few folk.

Thulebasen at Vera

Starting in the Vera venue, Danish band Thulebasen performed brooding shoe-gaze with a kick. Their track Gate 5 as featured on the Eurosonic playlist hooked me with its psychedelic rhythms and metamorphosing nature. Gate 5 is clearly their most interesting track although other tunes on the night still maintained a level of intrigue albeit in a less distinguished way. The three piece’s sound is best when it blends shuffling breakbeats alongside fuzzy phased out guitar distortion and a tighter lead guitar melody.

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