Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dickwad tosses fireworks; drummer loses hand

Horrible news from San Francisco: Roisin Isner, who drummed for local band Tinkture, was the victim of a nasty piece of idiocy while watching the Fourth of July fireworks in Dolores Park. Someone threw a firework into her group of friends, with devastating results. Her father is trying to track down the person responsible:

I am Roisin's father. July 4th, Roisin and friends were in Dolores Park watching fireworks. Some stupid piece of shit threw an M60 at them. It landed on Roisin's right hand and blew it apart. She will undego surgery later this morning but it doesn't look good. Most likely she will lose her index finger; second and third fingers will also be permanently impaired and disfigured. Needless to say, her musical career is over.

I want this fucker. Media attention will help flush him out. People know who did it and I'm offering $20,000 for a name. Please do whatever is necessary to get the story out. Do so and I will reward you as well.

Thank you,
Chris Isner

The reward is impressive, but, frankly, if you know someone who had managed to blow off the hand of a sixteen year-old, you surely wouldn't need any further encouragement to do the right thing.

Nutini defends Live Earth

Before he'd even taken the stage, Paolo Nutini was declaring what a success Live Earth was:

"Some people are being cynical for the sake of it," Nutini told the Daily Star. "Of course the carbon emission will be high after the gig but the pay-off is lots of individuals and companies will want to make a change as a result. That's what's important."

Well, perhaps there are some people who would react with kneejerk cynicism. On the other hand, is it not valid, if one of the ideas of the Live Earth is to make people aware of our impact on the planet, for people to question the impact of the event?

And, more to the point, can Nutini explain clearly for us why some musicians playing songs would make a difference? We really, really don't understand why - when awareness of climate change is already pretty high - people who hitherto haven't seen the need to change their behaviour would do so simply because Paolo Nutini asks them to and sings four songs? Isn't this, in a nutshell, the arrogant heart of the event exposed?

Madonna does a cover of the Holby City song

So, yes, Hey You did turn out to be as bad as we feared it would be - not helped by having the lyrics flashed up behind Madge's head as she sang them. With the "S" replaced by dollar signs - do you see?.

And it did turn out that Gogol Bordello's role was to, somehow, represent the rest of the world - presumably, had the logistics team been able to work out a way to get two polar bears on the stage, the Gogols could have happily stayed at T in the Park for the evening. La Isla Bonita? It's not the worst part of the Madonna songbook, obviously, but good lord, surely this would have been the time and place for This Used To Be My Playground?

Ray of Light - which most climate scientists are agreed is almost certain to be the last great Madonna single - was slaughtered by Madonna sounding really, really ropey. It wasn't helped by her decision to play (sort of) the guitar which meant the one thing you really expect from Madonna - a bit of movement - was left to the backing dancers.

It turns out it was surprisingly apt when the cast of Holby City chose to do Hung Up for their Children In Need slot last year - listening to Madonna doing her song tonight, it really did sound like the sort of song a junior doctor who played in a covers band for fun might put together for a medical revue. Something that people would hear and say "that's good... for a junior doctor."

It wasn't just the end of the event, it was also the nadir - because, yes, Madonna did tell the audience to show they were worried about climate by... singing the refrain of Hung Up back to her. It had seemed a bit hopeful that this day would persuade anyone to cut their airtravel; by teatime there was still some hope we could get people to show their commitment by at least avoiding leaving their tellies on standby. By closedown, our hopes had been so reduced the best we were going to get was someone trilling along with Madonna as if that would do.

Earlier, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters did a smashing set (again, another band who seem to thrive best, and only exist for, this sort of thing), although Grohl seemed to have won the lead in a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Now, Kate Silverton - surprisingly - is in charge of the through-the-night coverage, apparently trying to avoid fighting over the remaining natural resources of the planet by having bought them up and made into one single, enormous necklace.

Twice in a day: How blessed we are

So, quickly over to BBC Three, where - oh, sweet joy - Razorlight have flown up to Scotland and are doing T in the Park. We imagine they'll be explaining away the private jet that little jaunt involved by saying it was for T in the Park and not for Live Earth, and so wasn't, strictly speaking, hypocritical.

Borrell is wearing the all-white outfit for this one, presumably to help viewers tell the difference between the otherwise indistinguishable sets.

John Mayer wouldn't normally do this sort of thing

John Mayer has been preparing for his role this evening by stressing how we shouldn't be cynical - after all, how can we be cynical in the face of so many wonderful people setting aside their egos:

"I hope that for all the cynicism that's existed around this subject, we can all uncross our arms long enough to give this event a chance to impact the world in the way that I'm beginning to feel that it could. Now isn't the time to dissect the rights and wrongs. (If you're hoping Live Earth doesn't work, you have a lot of soul-searching to do.)

With this kind of lineup, there's no cause or crisis that wouldn't be positively affected by an event of this scope. Live Earth isn't a show - it's a showing, a presentation of an idea. Artists like us don't just get together to each play 20 minute sets every weekend, you know. We're also usually pretty sensitive about the order in which we take the stage, and I've got no problems with my 5:12 PM set time. The Police, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, and yes, myself and my dumb face are all openers for the true headliner - the power to literally change the world's mind."

If we were truly cynical, we'd suggest this post sounds more like a man who's really pissed off at being asked to go on during the middle of the afternoon trying to at least market lemonade out of the lemon.

Swearing and spoofery

After all that unpleasantness with bad language during Live 8, the BBC production team must have been hoping that the message about keeping it clean had got through.

I think it was two minutes into the start of the BBC One segment that Russell Brand was yelling "Jesus Christ" after Jonathan Ross pretended he was drinking water he'd previously passed; if the production team had been hoping that crossing to the stage would prove safer, how they must have been delighted when Chris Rock came on and tried to get out of his first joke (about Paris Hilton playing Wembley next week) flopping like a jellyfish without a moral compass by throwing out a "motherfucker". Quickly, we found ourselves back in the BBC commentary box for apologies from Ross.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers - if you ignored the bizarre poncho Kiedis was wearing - turned in a fine set; it does seem that nowadays they exist almost solely to pop up in the middle of these monster gigs.

Coming back after spending some time up in the loft (don't ask) the somewhat pointless Spinal Tap set was winding up - if you didn't know it was a spoof, you'd be wondering why there was a not-especially good rock band so far up the bill; knowing it was a spoof it was even harder to work out what they were here for: is this a serious statement, or is this ironic detachment? - before going back for more apologies about bad language from Jonathan Ross.

It's impossible to tell if Ricky Gervais' tale of only doing the Diana Concert because "I'm a sucker for the personal touch, and William and Harry asked me" is the spoofy-starstruck persona he used for his first couple of Comic Relief films, or if it's more like the "big mates with Bono" stuff he was showing off in this year's Comic Relief contribution.

James Blunt is singing Wild World at the moment, with all the conviction of a man whose idea of wildness is sneaking into the ten items or less checkout with a dozen eggs.

It's the Little & Wise of UK music

Together, in what we have a horrible feeling might be not for the only time, David Gray and Damien Rice.

While Rice was doing Blower's Daughter, the close-up allowed us to read his face:

Bloody hell this is a slight song... I'm in front of an alleged two billion viewers singing a song which consists of me repeating 'I Can't take my eyes off of you' over and over and over, and even that's not an original line... bloody hell, are the cameras showing all those people leaving their seats?... I'm in front of two billion people, and all I'm doing is causing congestion at the toilets...

Then the pair of them did Que Sara Sara - why? What thought process led them to decide that a song which has the message "live for today, we can't even imagine what tomorrow will be like, let alone do anything about it" chimes well with an event that suggests we do the opposite?

Now they're being interviewed by Edith Bowman, although they're being drowned out by what seems to be the famous Willie On The Plonker from Gary Davies' show, in the corner of the backstage area. Willie On The Plonker, apparently, is in a state of mourning.

Johnny Borrell - he'll tell us what to do

Johnny Borrell and the Johnny Borrell Band are on at the moment - he's taken the 'wear a sweater' message to his heart, by actually wearing a top on stage today. Odd choice to do "In The Morning" - with its suggestion that whatever happens today will be forgotten almost as soon as it happens. And now America - which, besides pissing off the sort of average American who Gore needs to reach out to if this it to make any sort of success - also has the repeated refrain that there's nothing on the TV or radio worth believing in. Still, most people will just be gawping at the pretty dolphins behind his head, so that's alright, then.

Oh, Lord, he has just shouted "Wem-ber-leeeee... how you doin'", like Joey Tribiani fronting Bon Jovi.

You have to make your peace with the island

Is it just us, or has Phil Collins turned into a double of John Locke over the last couple of years. Perhaps that's why he wasn't so bothered about us all being saved during his news 24 interview.

Blimey... he's just sung "fuck" during Invisible Touch - "she'll fuck up your life." He did this with an air of a man who felt he was really showing somebody something. How fortunate no children would have been watching.

Bless him: while Phil's trying to prove he's just as hip as, ooh, Fred Durst, the giant screen behind him is flashing up the suggestion you should "put on a sweater" - just like your gran.

It looks like the fairly-empty Wembley Genesis started playing to was down to trouble simply getting the people in; the BBC are showing people still wandering in and Ross - who has a better view than us - reckons they're only 60% full so far.

Edith has just asked Phil backstage why he felt it was important for them to be there:
"Well... we were asked." Of course.

Drummers? You're kidding?

We're not quite sure why the person given the job of making the opening announcement was talking in a cartoon character voice - like the dog in the Davey and Goliath christian animation, to be precise - not who thought "the drummers from Queen, Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers" accompanied by what almost certainly appears on the running order as "photogenic ethnic drummers" would be the best way to start the event - it's not only given the impression that this is going to be all hand-made sandals and hand-knitted shawls - but, having got the crowd to a pitch of warmth, if not exactly fever, they're now taking an age to get them off stage creating a longeur between the grand opening and the first act. Could they not at least have arranged it so that Genesis could have been getting ready while they were drumming out We Will Rock You?

Still, there's no doubt that everyone knows what this event is, and what it's about, and what it's called.

Except, erm, the Daily Mail, who seem to think it's Live Aid.

Chris Moyles is trying to sound exciting about the prospect of Duran Duran.

An environmental impact

At least with Live Aid, you couldn't prove that Adam Ant was taking food from starving Ethiopians. But how green are those involved in Live Earth? We've just pulled together a few notes:


Madonna owns seven properties, scattered around the world, each taking space that could be used by other families and requiring upkeep even while sitting empty. [WebIndia]

Appeared in adverts for The Gap
The Gap is praised for being an "Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leader" in the US under the government's voluntary code for setting targets for reducing carbon footprints. However, the company hasn't actually achieved its (self-imposed and somewhat soft) targets, which makes it less a climate leader, more a whisky priest [Climate Leaders]. Furthermore, it sources clothes from around the world, adding needless journeys shipping sweaters and boxer shorts from continent to continent.

"Designed" for H&M
Leaving aside the question of if having a industry based on needing a complete new set of outfits every six months can ever be sustainable, H&M have been manufacturing clothes in Asia for the last thirty years [China Textile News 11th May 2007], and are stepping up their operartions in India, despite not actually having any retail outlets there. So everything made in the Indian stores will be shipped thousands of miles across the planet. [Images Retail]. H&M have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions, but have created a formula which means they will measure their success as "relative to sales" - in other words, they could happily keep increasing their CO2 emissions while claiming to be reducing them. [H&M].

Provided soundtrack for Vauxhall and Peugeot car adverts

John Buckley estimates Madonna's personal carbon footprint at 1,018 tonnes, 100 times the average British impact, and "[t]he[..] singer's Confessions tour last year produced 440 tonnes of carbon pollution in just four months, simply in flights between venues. This does not include the trucks required to transport equipment, the power needed to stage each show, or the transport for fans travelling to each concert. [Daily Mail]

The Police

Sting has several homes, and often holds meetings which require people travelling from London to Wiltshire; his partner Trudi Styler boasted to Architectural Digest that their Wiltshire home consumes a vast amount of energy: "There’s nothing out of bounds, no feeling that anything is Mummy’s best furniture—and plenty of heating. I think we could heat the entire hamlet with what we’ve put in here." The house was extensively reworked by an interior designer flown in from New York for the job - presumably, nobody knows how to scatter cushions in Wiltshire. [Architectural Digest]

Advertised S-Type Jaguar
Sting's Desert Rose video was reshot as an advert for Ford's S-Type Jaguar - the top model managing a pitiful 22.5 miles per galon while spewing out 314 grammes of emissions per kilometre. [Honest John]

Sheryl Crow
Advertised Subaru four wheel drives
Every Day Is A Winding Road used as soundtrack for ads

John Legend
Lexus adverts
Music used in adverts for Lexus cars

Joss Stone
Appeared in adverts for The Gap
The Gap is praised for being an "Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leader" in the US under the government's voluntary code for setting targets for reducing carbon footprints. However, the company hasn't actually achieved its (self-imposed and somewhat soft) targets, which makes it less a climate leader, more a whisky priest [Climate Leaders]. Furthermore, it sources clothes from around the world, adding needless journeys shipping sweaters and boxer shorts from continent to continent.

Pepsi is signed on as a major sponsor for Live Earth [Pepsico corporate website]. One of Pepsi's major businesses, Aquafina, sells water drawn from mains in bottles, an indefensible waste of bottles, distribution, and energy. Pepsi's Chinese business has been criticised for releasing waste products into the water resulting in a blacklisting [Polaris Institute] and was named as a serious polluter by the non-governmental The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs [IPEA] and are being investigated in Kerala after pesticide residues were found in some products [Polaris Institute]. The Pepsi bottling plant in Madhurawada was banned in 2006 from using groundwater after complaints about "the predatory exploitation of groundwater by the Pepsi bottling unit, the pollution being caused by it, the unsatisfactory way in which effluents were being treated and other related issues." [IndiaResource] In 2004, the US Environmental Protection Agency was forced to order the company to improve procedures at its Tucson bottling plant. "The company's facility lacked effective management practices or an adequate containment system, which allowed storm water to come into direct contact with industrial pollutants -- such as oil and grease -- from its truck fleet before entering municipal storm drains and the Rodeo Wash. The Rodeo Wash flows to the Santa Cruz River, a tributary of the Gila River and the Colorado River." [Environmental Protection Agency]

MSN is a key sponsor of the event; parent company Microsoft's policy of producing increasingly processor-heavy programs and attempting to use its near-monopoly to enforce upgrades of equipment to cope with the heavier software means hundreds of thousands computers are discarded every year by people who need newer equipment to do exactly the same things they were doing with their old machines. [Green Party warns of Vista Landfill effect]

The Live Earth environmental impact
Artists will fly a total of 222,623.63 miles to attend the various concerts
Carbon footprint of event, including expected TV audience: 74,500 tonnes
1,025 tonnes of waste will be generated
[Daily Mail]

Half an hour to go...

Jonathan Ross is interviewing Borrell who has just said, with a straight face:

"To tell you the truth, I never thought about it [climate change] in my life, then last year I saw An Inconvenient Truth..."

Why would someone who had never thought about climate change ever have gone to see An Inconvenient Truth?

Someone else is with Jonathan Ross, pointing out that:
"If you could harness the power of cynicism around this event, you could power the world."

The sting of this remark, though, is reduced by it being Jimmy Carr talking. Jimmy Carr. Attacking people for cynical sniping. It's like Brian Rix crying "it's nothing but a farce..."

Wembley, it has to be said, doesn't look to be crammed at the moment. Surely there wasn't plenty of room around the front of the stage twenty minutes before the start of Live Aid, was there?

T gets boggier still

The weather continues to bring misery to T in the Park: at the end of the evening yesterday organisers had to close the car park and are trying to encourage people turning up to today to take the bus:

A spokesman for the festival said: "There have been major traffic queues due to the wet weather conditions which has made parking on site extremely difficult.

"As a result this has slowed down traffic into the event and caused tailbacks.

"While we are working as hard as we can to resolve this we would encourage fans coming to the event on Saturday to take a shuttle bus instead of driving to alleviate traffic."

The BBC coverage this year hasn't been quite as luxurious as in recent years - it's not clear if this is down to Mark Thompson's belt-tightening regime, or the strain of also covering Live Earth at the same time. But last night's BBC Three programme didn't offer press red choicey-choicey magic, which left us with little option but to watch the Arctic Monkeys - who, frankly, looked like a band who'd given their all at Glastonbury the other week and were treating this as a wind down - and Lily Allen. Allen does, undeniably, is great on these sorts of occasions - all smiley and welcoming and personable. It's just a pity that she's not very good at singing live. Even her best stuff - Littlest Things, which could be good enough to be a Kate Nash b-side - calls for a beyond her limited range.

Live Earth: Phil Collins isn't going to nail his crab to the mast

Genesis, it's fair to say, don't seem to have quite got the hang of the whole Live Earth event. They've just been on News 24, interviewed by David Sillito, who kicked off with a jokey question to Phil. Mentioning the transatlantic trip on Concord Collins took during Live Aid, Sillito asked him "you aren't going to do that this time, are you?" Phil looked at him like he was a half-wit:

"Nah, I'm not going to do it because it's not possible any more. They don't have..."

Collins then appeared to struggle for the name of the plane. Still, it's comforting to know he's cutting down the air travel, if only because the planes don't fit his busy schedules any more.

Sillito tried again, suggesting that the band might be inspired to do something about their own carbon footprint as a result of the event, getting rewarded with a sarcastic "oh, yeah, we're going to walk to Manchester tonight" before Phil gave precisely the sort of "it's a problem for someone else to fix, individuals can't make a difference" response that Live Earth was supposed to be challenging:
"Bigger fish have to do more; governments have to do a little more than individuals just switching a light bulb off..."

Puzzled as to why they were there, Sillito asked if they were at least going to be sharing the message. Mike Rutherford made it clear that no, they weren't going to be doing that, either:
"Every band can't do the preaching."

But... but... isn't this meant to be an awareness-raising one? Phil chipped in that there were other people - "like David Attenborough" - to do that:
"We're just here for the music."

It's a wonderful success already, then.

Meanwhile, Joanna Gosling had been talking to people coming into Wembley, and they seemed like they couldn't be that arsed about the message either. One she spoke to seemed to want to be a part of something, and wasn't that bothered what it was:
"They're here because they missed Live Aid"

Friday, July 06, 2007

New Foo

Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters are just putting the finishing touches to album number six: RCA are shipping Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace on the 25th September in the US.

Grohl suggests that there's lots going on in the record:

"There's four-piece rock band shit, but then there are songs where the middle sections turn into this mass orchestrated swarm and ridiculous time signatures."

So, a large budget was available and put to work, then.

Falkirk free of the View

If we were The View, we'd not make it public that we weren't going to play Falkirk ever again because the crowd was unruly. It might just give other towns ideas.

Re: our gig at Deptford Abyss - who the hell does Matt Groening think it is?

Amusingly, in amidst the first wave of Simpsons movie promotion comes the gem that Danny Elfman nearly refused to write the theme tune for the series because - in his rock critic past - Matt Groening had taken the piss out of Oingo Boingo:

"I used to be a rock critic many years ago. I once saw Oingo Boingo and I gave them a bad review. I outraged Danny Elfman so much that he actually wrote a letter to the editor of the paper.

"But when I did The Simpsons I wanted Elfman to do the score. And I thought 'He will never remember' - and he remembered. He has forgiven me now."

To be fair, if Elfman turned down work from everyone who had snickered at Oingo Boingo, he'd be left with a very small pool of potential employment.

T in the Bog

T in the Park has got underway - unfortunately with many ticket holders sat in traffic tailbacks compounded by poor weather and increased security:

Tayside Police also asked motorists to be patient as all the access routes to the festival site were very busy.

The force said there were major delays on the M90 southbound on Friday afternoon, with traffic stretching back from Kinross to Bridge of Earn.

Ch Insp Sandy Bowman said: "In order to alleviate some of the delays we are advising anyone travelling to T in the Park from the north to go via the Tay Road Bridge on the A92, continue on the A91 to Junction 8 and then join the M90 southbound at Junction 7 as signposted.

"I would advise all motorists in the area to exercise extreme caution on the M90 as the tailbacks are lengthy and the traffic is either stationary or very slow moving.

"Please be patient and, if you don't need to be travelling on M90, please avoid the area for now."

A mini T in the Park menu will unfold here over the weekend
Saturday 07.07.07
Car parks close; last night on BBC
The second coming of Razorlight

Sunday 08.07.07
Snow Patrol arrested; Amy Winehouse tired

Monday 09.07.07
Editors equipment trapped by Ferry
Nutini sticks his tongue out at the Sun
Pete Doherty puffs his way into trouble

LaLa lands, heavily, which last month morphed from a CD swap site into one offering streaming music for free has axed its USP and will now, no longer, allow visitors to listen for nothing.

The business plan - where the one cent per play it was shuffling over to the labels would be recouped from profits of selling downloads and CDs - proved unworkable. But at least they tried.

Washington to the rescue

After a couple of days where the overriding impression of Live Earth was of a Roman Empiresque over-reaching, there's at last some good news for the organisers: A Washington concert has been pulled together out of almost nothing. No, really, we mean almost nothing: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are as good as it gets.

Oh, and did we mention that it's taking place at half past ten in the morning local time? The sort of timeslot that Glastobnruy would give to the Shirehorses, in other words. Presumably the idea is to illustrate that pop stars really will get out of bed to fight climate change.

Wave of mutual elation

A quick word if you're in, or near, Oxford this evening: a trip to the Jericho Tavern will reward you with a chance to see Wave Machine, a band made up of people whose pedigree we could enthuse over at some length. Instead, we'll just point you in the direction of their MySpace page where you can see for yourself.

These are the dates they've got lined up:
Jul 6 - Jericho Tavern Oxford
7 - Mad Ferret Preston
9 - The Social London
11 - 93 Feet East London
29 - The Secret Garden Party Huntingdon
Aug 11 - M.Ad.Fest Ambleside
Sep 1 - Tilting Sky Festival, The Big Room @ The Banham Barrel

iTunes Music Store takes a step further from one-price-fits-all

Very, very quietly, Apple has dropped its "all full albums for $9.99" pricing in the US by introducing cheaper "next big thing" albums at $7.99. In this context, "the next big thing" means the likes of The Kooks.

Lily to walk?

The Mirror has, effectively, woken us all up in our beds in the middle of the night to break some astonishing news:

Exclusive by Nicola Methven 06/07/2007

CHART-topping singer Lily Allen is planning to quit pop - just a year after making it big.

Really? She's about to quit, is she?

Don't plan the street party just yet, though:
The 21-year-old, famous for her trademark dresses-with-jeans outfits, reveals she wants to be a housewife instead.

In a TV documentary filmed during her turbulent year touring the US, she confesses: "It's not something I want to be doing for 15 years.

"I want to get married and have children and move to the countryside.

"I don't want to be pop star for ever."

Ah. So when Nicola Methven says that Allen has threatened to quit, she means at some point between now and 2022. That could mean as few as a dozen more albums, you know.

Radio listeners want what radio does, says radio

You might recall when RadioCentre, the commercial radio's industry body, launched the Big Listen, we cynically suggested the self-selecting nature of the participants and the angle of the quesations asked might generate the expectation of results giving thumbs-up to commercial radio plans.

James P has been on to tell us that - somewhat surprisingly - the responses have been collated and tabulated and in less than a month. Surprising not only because that's quite a fast turnaround, but also because the RadioCentre's own website hasn't published the results yet. To be fair, though, the Arqiva Awards, which they hold because very few commercial stations are in with a prayer of winning a Sony, came and went this week but the RadioCentre website is still encouraging its members to enter.

So, then, we're turning to Digital Spy to find out what RadioCentre discovered:

Chief executive of the RadioCentre, Andrew Harrison praised Ofcom's consultation paper on the Future of Radio, but said changes needed to be made now rather than when digital radio listeners targets have been met.

He said "Many of the areas require change to legislation and this unnecessarily hampers Ofcom's ability to regulate radio flexibly in the light of changing market circumstances. We recommend that future legislation should give Ofcom greater discretion within the context of policy goals established by Parliament."

The online poll also showed that listeners were not overly concerned about quotas for locally-produced programming, and so the RadioCentre has called for a focus on the provision of local material.

What excellent news for the radio companies - their own poll amongst their dwindling share of the audience has found that people aren't bothered by the expensive and time-consuming idea of local radio franchise holders actually making their programmes locally. Why, they couldn't have got better news if they'd rigged the poll...

Always Wanted More: Ron Wood was down on his luck

Despite having made more cash than a private equity boss, Ronnie Wood nearly found himself in the poor house after making a terrible investment in the South Kensington Harrington Club. Indeed, only a quarter of a million quid loan from the rest of the Stones in 2004 kept him afloat long enough to start making cash back from the continuing touring and his art.

No, we don't know what rate of interest Keith Richards insists on, nor if Mick used to turn up on a weekly basis for his repayment, threatening to take the TV if Wood didn't cough up.

Winehouse's hospital looks a little like a bar

People who were turned away from Liverpool's Summer Pops date for Amy Winehouse came away under the impression she was in hospital. That has since been officially downgraded to "exhaustion".

Oddly, though, there are photos of her propping up a London bar in the middle of Wednesday evening in today's Sun. Even Victoria Newton can do the math here:

For somebody so exhausted, Amy made the 240 miles from Merseyside to north London in double quick time.

Amy claims it was late in the afternoon that she was told by a doctor in her Liverpool hotel she was unfit to perform.

Thousands who queued in the rain for the gig were told she wouldn’t be appearing shortly before 7pm.

But Amy managed to get herself to Camden well before 9pm decked out in her finest threads for a couple of sherries with pals.

Channel 4's DAB handout

Good news from Ofcom this morning: Channel 4 have beaten National Grid Wieless in the bid to run the second national digital radio multiplex.

Of the two bids, Channel 4's was, at least, the most interesting, and we're sure we can even learn to love, erm, Virgin Radio Vulva. Sorry, Viva.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rio returns... possibly

The Live Earth Rio gig is back on... possibly; a Brazilain judge has rejected Denise Tarin's demands for the show to be dropped on public safety grounds.

However, it's still possible that Tarin could appeal against the decision. Still, there's over 24 hours before the event, so there's no rush to be absolutely certain, is there?

Live Earth dies screaming (3): LA axed

Although not an official Live Earth event, the LA Viva Earth event was affiliated, and was intended as the West Coast's contribution to the day. Not any more, though: Busta Rhymes and Ciara will be staying at home as they've apparently pulled that now, too.

Baby's Got A Temper

Conor Oberst threw a tantrum and an amplifier when the Shepherds Bush Empire sound failed to live up to what he wanted to hear.

He the lobbed Mike Mogis' guitar across the stage, too.

'Calm down, Conor', he screamed, trying to avoid letting his eyes be drawn to the veins, the pumping blood, as Oberst swelled with passion... but Conor would not, could not be calmed. He knew what he wanted, and if he had to wrestle every instrument in the city, Conor would get his satisfaction...

Because, like, fame is crazy, yeah?

Duran Duran have come up with a name for their new album, with its hint-of-desperation collaborations with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. (They should have gone for Tim Burgess, too. We'd forgive them for a Timberlake-Timbaland-Timburgess trio.)

It's called Red Carpet Massacre, which they probably think is clever but really just underlines how limited their world is.

Fflam flipped

The Manics/Supergrass/Feeling led Fflam Festival has been having such a terrible time with the weather organisers have pulled the plug a full week and a half before kick-off. The festival is hoping to find a new, less waterlogged slot, later in the summer.

Gogol Bordello go for Madonna over fans

Let's hope nobody bought T in the Park tickets purely to see Gogol Bordello, as they've decided to blow out the festival in favour of trying to help pad out Madonna's Live Earth set.

We're sure it's the chance to work with the Madonna brand before it declines completely, and not the thought of TV coverage at any cost which swung the decision.

Avril drags Apple into lawsuit

Avril Lavigne is being sued by Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer, who reckon that her single Girlfriend seemed ookily like their 1979 single I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. Avril's people are denying it, with the sheen of science:

The pop star's manager Terry McBride has had musicologists study the two singles and denies any wrong doing by the Canadian singer, commenting: "Avril's a great song writer and she's proving it over and over and over again."

He added: "Avril's very, very sensible. She knows music well. If the chords had been similar, the melodies had been similar, lyrics had been similar, the meter, she would have gone, 'Okay, I can see their point.' But nothing's similar."

Really? Avril would have responded to a lawsuit by conceding its central claim, would she?

Apple will be hoping that Avril is sensible - they've been dragged into the lawsuit on the basis that they sold the track and, uh, something. Which seems weak to us - are record shops supposed to compare every track they sell with every other track that's ever been made?

Estate agent condemns drug dealers

Whoever would have thought, eh? It turns out drugs are bad. Yes, we were surprised, too, but we have John Lydon to thank for this astonishing discovery:

"If only Sid had been able to grow out of the drug thing. He went into it like such a child. He did it in such a goofy, innocent way."

"For him it was a fantastically decadent world that he assumed carried applause with. And he was horribly rewarded because people would think he was special as he was so off his tree."

"But deep down, poor old Sid knew he was not special. That's what we are as human beings, full of self-doubt and fear - and that's no bad thing. Heroin was a symbol of deeper pain for him."

Sid Vicious did stupid things because he thought it made him look cool, did he? Not something you'd ever accuse Rotten of, of course...

Prophet unlost

This gives us a shudder, and not in a good way: Lostprophets are in the studio, working with John Feldmann.

Nothing can tempt them away from their work. Apart from playing T in The Park this weekend.

Sony BMG asks Jackson to let it sign writers

In one of those shrewd business moves which only highly paid music industry executives could come up with, it turns out when Sony cut its deal with Michael Jackson to get together to buy the Beatles publishing, they agreed to never launch a rival publishing business in competition with their Sony/ATV concern. In other words, every time it wants to sign a publishing deal, it has to go via Sony/ATV, and wait for Jackson's OK.

Yes, a major record label made a blood oath to not invest in songwriting unless Michael Jackson said okay.

It has, somewhat belatedly, realised that this is like a butcher signing a deal to never sell cheese, and is trying to weasel out of the deal ("trying to renegotiate"), reports The Times.

Wedding Present in Doncaster

We once passed a happy night in Doncaster waiting for a coach by climbing to the top of the multistorey car park and looking at the town.

No, the local police didn't believe it, either.

Still, there's more fun to be had there this month with Doncaster Live, an event which the Wedding Present have told us about:

The Wedding Present will be playing on the first night of "Doncaster Live 2007," a free weekend music festival that takes place at various venues around the town centre of Doncaster in Yorkshire, England on Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd of July. The event, which is in its third year, starts at 10AM and will finish around 11.30PM. Together with street performers and DJs, other bands performing are: Ego Parade, Vegas Child, OPM, Tiny Dancer and The Paddingtons. For further information about the event, please contact the Town Centre & Markets Event Team on 01302 862478. The Wedding Present are scheduled to appear in front of the Corn Exchange [in the Market Place] at around 10 pm on the 21st. No tickets are required for admission.

In the same blog post, the band mention they're rubbing shoulders with Courtney Love in Hollywood. At least she seems to have got past the punching David Gedge thing, then.

Cameron offers bribe in return for censorship

It looks like David Cameron might have burped out another policy during his speech to the BPI conference this morning. He dangled the carrot of an extension in music copyright to seventy years [pdf] in return for some-sort-of-ban on violent songs.

David started by flattering his audience through the old trick of telling them lies about themselves they'd like to believe:

And at a time of technological revolution, you have adapted to changes in consumer behaviour with great ingenuity, launching online and mobile services.

Matching business acumen with creative instinct, you have shown you have the dynamism necessary to succeed in the 21st century.

Yes, after just ten years of music being available on the internet they've finally allowed downloads to count in the chart. Still, nice to hear the music industry has been all innovative and successful in the digital age - it must be some other music industry which is constantly wailing about how it's being destroyed and crushed by the new era.

David knows that despite this glorious, ingenious age which the companies have met with witty acumen and business brains aglowing, it's actually not a glorious age at all. Oh no, it is an age of challenges. Threat. Large, black spaceships hovering overhead:
But just as this new world offers exciting new opportunities.

It also presents incredible challenges.

And it is two of those challenges that I want to speak about today.

What are the problems, David? Is one of them the one about how you keep Amy Winehouse vertical long enough to get her to the end of gig?
First, how do we prevent the massive fraud that is carried out against your industry every day through copyright theft.

Massive? I know he's talking to a group who constantly claim that, but the room must have tittered at that point, executives nudging themselves, whispering "he's fallen for it h,l and s" And if it's a fraud, it's not theft, and if it's theft, it's not fraud, surely?
And second, how do we protect your investments in the long-term by looking at the issue of copyright extension in the digital age.

I'm not sure what a room full of middle-aged men trying to hide an autoerotic orgasm would sound like, but I bet David Cameron does now. No suggestion that there might be some debate about if this desirable, or if the investments are already more than well-enough protected; he's just got the little cash box out and is now discussing if they want it in twenties or tens.

You might think, with another 100 or so high street shops closing in the last week, there could be other problems, problems more pressing than squeezing out a few more pennies from stuff recorded during the years of petrol rationing. Perhaps about developing new talent, or the biggest one of them all: finding a reason for BPI companies at all when music can be made cheaply and sold directly. It's almost as if Cameron lacks the courage to suggest that some things require deep, serious thought and instead wants to clutch on to crowd-pleasing cheap fixes.
The British music industry is one of the best in the world.

Certainly up there in the top forty.
I want to address these issues to make sure it continues to be so.

But I also want to talk about a bigger challenge that we all face together.

Oh yes...
That of the broken society of crime, of guns and knives, of broken families, of entrenched poverty.

And how I expect the music industry, like everyone else, to recognise their responsibility in helping to fix it.

That must have brought up the executives a little short - suddenly, it turns out, their job isn't shipping three dozen boxes of the Best of Bucks Fizz to Woolworths - they've been given a key role at the heart of social policy. Who said that Cameron's reshuffle was a damp squib, eh? Next week, he's telling the Master Cutler's Association that it's their job to come up with a solution to the Middle East crisis, before hearing back from the National Farmers Union with their details of how, exactly, they intend to re-energise the space programme.

David turns to anti-piracy first of all:
Very few people would go into a shop, lift a CD from the shelves and just walk out with it.

Good god, no, that would be madness - you have to do a few at a time to make it worthwhile, and if you just walked out with it, you'd be caught. The idea is to slip 'em down your trousers, and then walk out with them.
But for some reason, many are happy to buy pirate CDs or illegally download music.

This isn't preaching to the converted. This is reading Gospel quotes back to Jesus.
Around seven percent of the population buys pirate CDs.

And each year, an estimated 20 billion – that’s right, 20 billion - music files are downloaded illegally.

This alone has cost the music industry as much as £1.1 billion in lost retail sales since 2004.

We shan't run through the 'a downloaded song is not necessarily a lost sale' arguments again right now, shall we?
We wouldn’t tolerate fraud on such a massive scale in any other industry

He's at it again with the 'fraud' - even the BPI haven't bothered trying to pass filesharing off as fraud, although we'd like to see some public service announcements featuring Cliff Richard ending with a strapline "attempting to gain a theoretical pecuniary advantage by filesharing is a crime."

And it's not like anyone exactly tolerates it, is it?

Even so, if by 'tolerate' he means 'choose to not treat it as a top priority of police and courts who might have better things to do with their time', then he's wrong - what about the presence of photocopiers in libraries? The photocopying of pieces from papers and books and magazines takes place on an enormous scale, and yet the general response to that crime is a shrug and the occasional chivvying to buy some sort of licence. And what about in the software industry? Doesn't it happen on a much wider scale there?
….. so why is there such little will on the part of government, businesses and individuals to confront it in the music industry?

Here's a clue David: You know when you said that loads and loads of people are illegally downloading music? Do you think the precise number of those loads and loads of people might suggest the lack of concern is because most everyone does it from time to time?

Or could it simply be that people have been listening to the industry wail for the last forty years about illegal copying without actually demonstrating any harm done by it - you yourself said it's a big, healthy, vibrant, bouncing industry - that it's hard for people to get upset now?
Copyright matters because it is the way artists are rewarded and businesses makes its money and invests in the future. So copyright theft has to be treated like other theft.

Had Cameron picked up the wrong speech? This sounds like something a music industry executive would say to a class of schoolkids, not something an independent minded politician would deliver to a room full of music inudstry officials. Was he expecting someone to leap to their feet and say "He's right! We've been blind! It's like theft!"

Of course, it's not like any other theft, because if I stole Cameron's bicycle, he wouldn't have a bicycle the next time he needed to cycle five feet for a photo op. If I stole a digital file of Webcameron, though, he would still have the original file to exploit and - since I would never pay for Webcameron - he'd not have had any financial loss, either.

If Cameron was a brave thinker, he'd have run with 'copyright is currently integral to your profit model, copyright is not secure, so it is time to discover a new business model that can react to that'. But then, if the music industry was as innovative as it was supposed to be, they'd have come up with a new way of working for themselves.
The right approach means understanding that like any other crime, this will only be beaten if we all realise the part we have to play.

Hang about, he's going to suggest we get that guy who kicked the useless suicide bomber in the bollocks to police the internet.
By that I mean government, industry leaders like yourselves, businesses, internet service providers and the general public.

I think government has three important responsibilities.

First, to establish a more robust intellectual property framework.

The Gowers Review into the UK Intellectual Property Framework rightly disappointed many in the creative industries by failing to do much more than suggest tinkering at the edges.

Changes at the margins will not be good enough.

If we are serious about protecting intellectual property, we need to build a framework that is both flexible and accessible.

Gowers did disappoint the creative industries, because he didn't deliver exactly what they wanted. Cameron isn't going to disappoint, though.
It has to be flexible so it reflects the changing way in which people listen to their music for personal use.

That means decriminalising the millions of people in this country for copying their CDs onto music players for personal use, and focusing all our attention on the genuine fraudsters.

Eh? Since when was playing my CDs on my Mac a crime? Surely David isn't trying to seem generous to us, the consumer, by "allowing" us a right we already have?
And it has to be accessible so smaller companies, who currently find it so expensive to register their intellectual property, have the resources to do so.

[draws small 'c' in a circle, writes '2007']. Yikes, that's the budget blown for a year, then.

No, seriously - when I upload a bunch of photos of lemurs riding on wooden carved elephants to Flickr, the act of registering the intellectual property is so simple it can be done while watching Andrew Neil on the television. Who are these companies who are so tiny they find it difficult to register their property? Are they ones with small hands which makes the keystroke for the © too tricky to manage?
That means working at a Europe-wide level to end the need to translate all documents and applications into all the EU languages.

The lack of clear translations of copyright notices into Flemish - a key part of one of the big challenges facing the music industry.
The second thing the government should do to fight copyright theft is vigorously bringing offenders to book.

There have been some recent progress here that we should welcome.

As a result of the Gowers Review, Trading Standards Officers will now have the power to seize pirate and bootleg CDs that breach copyright law, even if they do not bear infringing trademarks.

The key is now to make sure we actively find the perpetrators and prosecute them.

So, at the moment, the problem is that we're not even using the laws we have in place, eh? Might it not be a good idea to think about seeing how that law works before producing more legislation? It's like hiring a taxi to drive to the seaside, but then ringing for another one before the first arrives, in case it doesn't make it.
This is a vital step towards the third thing the government should be doing in the fight against copyright theft…

….. and that is confronting the blasé attitude that many people have towards piracy and illegal downloading.

Too many people think it is a victimless crime.

But they conveniently ignore the links between CD piracy and serious and organised crime.

I strongly believe that if people really knew the kind of criminality they were funding, sales of pirate CDs in this country would plummet.

You notice the textbook music industry play of introducing the mention of "organised crime" with a mention of "illegal downloading" to try and suggest that the mafia, for reasons best known to itself, is seeding bittorrent with Celine Dion albums?

And since most people buy their dodgy CDs either from mates at work - who surely can't have any connections with crime - or shifty-looking men with suitcases at boot sales - who are so obviously reeking of criminality they couldn't be any more crime-ridden if they had "as seen on Crimewatch" badges on their lapels - would it really make any difference running yet more public education campaigns on this one?

Seriously, David, pop out into a pub one Friday night - you see the people buying batteries and razors off the blinking, unshaven bloke? Do you think the purchasers don't know what they're doing?
I want to work with figures in the music industry to get the message out that piracy and illegal file-sharing is wrong.

... and there, at the other end, the hooking back of illegal file-sharing to suggest it's somehow connected with organised crime.
I know that you already go into schools and educate young kids about this.

This is something I wholly support.

So when it comes to combating copyright theft, there are three things that the Conservatives will do:

Establish a proper framework of intellectual property rights

He doesn't say what this 'framework' would be, nor why the current framework is apparently improper.
Enforce laws more strongly so perpetrators are brought to book.

He doesn't say how this would be funded.
And work in partnership with industry leaders to get the message out there that buying pirate CDs and illegal downloading of music is wrong.

Yes. Nobody has heard that message.
But when in government, we alone cannot do everything.

We need you in the music industry itself to continue to innovate and make the sort of technological progress that makes pirating CDs more and more difficult.

We like the 'continue' here, as if there'd yet been any discovery of a system which doesn't break the CD.
We need businesses and individuals to report the sale of pirate CDs or the existence of illegal file-sharing websites whenever they see them.

Websites sharing illegal files? Or illegal websites sharing files?
Let me also speak about one final responsibility too: that of nternet Service Providers.

They are the gatekeepers of the internet.

No they aren't, David. This is fundamentally wrong. Internet Service Providers are, if anything, the tarmac brigade of the internet. It is their role to provide the infrastructure which allows the electronic journeys to be made; it is not their role to decide what should and should not be allowed down those routes, and it is dangerous and wrong to suggest that the right to pick and choose what can and can't be piped along an internet route.
Some ISPs claim there is nothing they can do to stop illegal downloading of music.

But last month alone, there were eight sites that hosted more than 25,000 illegal downloads.

How do you host a download? You can host a file, you can route a download - but hosting a download?
That is clear and visible internet traffic.

You should know.

In 2006, the BPI took down 60,000 illegal files from some 720 websites.

Since 2004, you have brought 139 actions against peer-to-peer filesharing.

But we cannot expect you to do all the work.

ISPs can block access and indeed close down offending file-sharing sites.

They could - assuming the traffic isn't cloaked and the files are hosted on a server they operate.
They have already established the Internet Watch Foundation to monitor child abuse and incitement to racial hatred on the internet.

They should be doing the same when it comes to digital piracy.

But there's a key difference here - and not just how grossly offensive it is for Cameron to even try and suggest that there's any moral equivalence between a picture of a child being raped and someone listening to a Black Eyed Peas song without paying. Child porn and racism are fairly obvious when you see them - or, at least, it's pretty easy to make an educated guess that a picture that looks like a sexualised image of a child is a sexualised image of child. But even there, there's a bunch of grey areas which come up - the artist who took photos of her children in the bath, for example. Or Liz Hurley's son in a bikini advert. Incest fanfic.

How the hell, then, do you propose for ISPs to be able to tell if a track has been licensed, if it's copyright-free, if it's been released for download to journalists or even if the track is out of copyright?
So there is much that we could all be doing in terms of taking the fight to copyright theft.

The second challenge I want to talk today is how we can protect your investments in
the long-term.

In the digital age, whole back catalogues from any decade are available at the click
of a button

You'll have to excuse David here; his Dell PC does, indeed, have a button on the keyboard marked "Download all Decca backcatalogue tracks from the 1920s".
Previously, if you wanted to buy an old album, you would have to trawl through any number of record shops, before, in all likelihood, giving up.

Not that Coservatives, faced with something difficult which called for a long-term commitment, would abandon it unfinished or anything.
Now, there is no shop floor.

The music industry has done so much in making all manner of music from any decade available to everyone.

And if we expect you to keep investing, keep innovating, keep creating…. … it is only right that you are given greater protection on your investments by the
extension of copyright term.

Although, of course, it's arguable that all this innovation - online shopping, if you can imagine such a thing - was driven not by their investment of royalty revenues but forced on them by the very illegal filesharers that Cameron is suggesting need to be chased out of town.

And could David show his working on this one, please - if the music industry has managed to be all bright and innovative under the current copyright regime - and, if, under a Cameron government their alleged losses from piracy and illegal downloads would be stopped - why do the companies suddenly need the extra revenue from extending copyright as well?
After all, PWC found that extending copyright term could boost the music industry by £3.3 billion over the next fifty years.

Charging people twenty pence to wear knickers could raise £4.3billion in the next year, but that doesn't mean it is a good idea.
But extending copyright term is good for musicians and consumers too.

Oh, really?
It’s good for musicians because it would reduce the disparity between the length given to composers and that granted to producers and performers.

Well, yes it would. But it's possible to argue that composers' work is constantly being re-recorded, and re-used, while the musician did his work and buggered off once. You could consider that the act of composition is more demanding than the act of interpretation and as such more deserving of a longer period of exploitation.

But more importantly, you could say that if they've had to cede their copyright to a record label half a decade ago, they probably couldn't a violet breath mint about the length of copyright they've lost; if they haven't, it's not going to help the record companies extending the length of the term.

That’s only fair.

In the UK alone, over 7000 musicians will lose rights to their recordings over the
next ten years.

Most people think these are all multi-millionaires living in some penthouse flat.

The reality is that many of these are low-earning session musicians who will be losing a vital pension.

It is a heartbreaking situation, although they have had fifty years to prepare themselves for the copyright expiration - and, if, as David said, they're not earning millions from it now, it's not going to be a huge loss.
ut now lets discover how David thinks we, as consumers, benefit from this extended term:
And extending copyright term will also be good for consumers.
If we increase the copyright term, so the incentive is there for you working in the industry to digitise both older and niche repertoire which more people can enjoy at no extra cost.

So, by having something which we could have digitised amongst ourselves and shared for free under the current copyright system, we can pay the record companies to do it and then give them a profit on top, we're winning somehow?

If, of course, the record companies bother to even digitise their fifty year old material.
That’s why, as we move on forward into the new digital age of the 21st century, I am pleased to announce today that it is Conservative Party policy to support the extension of the copyright term for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years.

A Conservative Government will argue for this in Europe for this change to happen in order to protect investment in the future of the industry, reward our creative artists and generate more choice for consumers.

No, we're not sure how this extra choice is being generated - at the moment, any fifty year old recording can be shared online; under Cameron, only those recordings the record companies choose to make available will be online. Perhaps Cameron is merely excited at the extension of titles that will be circulating on the illegal filesharing websites.

Now, here comes the Quo for these Quids: Save the kids. We'll elide over Cameron's detailing of how shit Britain is at raising kids - we're sure you've heard it all before, mostly in the Mail - and rejoin him just as he starts to explain to a BPI whose eyes are glazing over what it's got to do with them:
But our broken society is not just about government and politics.

It’s about our culture too.

Popular culture is a massive influence on our children.

A culture, in which of course, music plays an important part.

That’s why I need your help if we’re going to fix our broken society.

"Orville... who is your very best friend? I'm gonna help you mend... your broken society..."
Many of you sitting here today already do so much to use the power of music to give young kids the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and feel a part of something.

The BRIT School is a great example of what can be achieved.

There are other examples across the industry too.

The Nordoff-Robbins Trust does great work in providing music therapy for children with disabilities.

Last year when I met with Sony BMG an idea called ‘Music for Good’ was born, and it’s already providing opportunities for kids to forge a career in the music industry.

The simple truth is that music and musicians can influence young people much more than politicians can.

Our message does not resonate half as much as the messages they hear from their.[sic]

Music is what kids listen to, understand and draw inspiration from.

So let’s ask ourselves, honestly, what inspiration are they getting from some music

Music culture today extends beyond what people listen to on the radio to what they see online, on their televisions and in magazines.

We’ve got a real cultural problem in our country; and it’s affecting the way young people grow up.

It’s an anti-learning culture where it’s cool to bunk off, it’s cool to be bad, it’s cool not to try.

Do young people still say cool? Or is Cameron about to start bleating that "it's cool to tell Mr Cunnigham to sit on it..."?

We challenge David to come up with a single pro-bunking off song that's popular with children in any meaningful sense.

It's interesting that the music industry, en masse, just sat there rather than any of them standing up and contesting this lazy, half-arsed cartoony pen-picture of what children are listening to, much less the simplistic psychological tosh Cameron was peddaling. A teenager stabbing someone in the eyes today would have grown up with Teletubbies on the tv - could it be that there might be some more pressing reason for a generation growing up believing fighting is the answer? Something to do with having developed while their nation's leaders went off to drop bombs on anyone who happened to be unfortunate enough to live in a country with whose leaders those leaders disagreed?
Educational achievement and aspiration is pushed aside by the dream of instant material gain.

Now I know this is difficult territory for a politician.

People could argue that music is just a portrayal of life today, not a cause of the way we live.

And they argue that other, perhaps older, genres of music are also provocative, including ones that I personally have said I am a fan of.

After all, it’s not as if Morrissey, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash have ever shied away from violence in their lyrics.

Well, at least he learned from the reaction to his last, clumsy foray into lyrical incitement to acknowledge the violence in his (supposedly) beloved Morrissey.
And there are those that will go on to say, yes, music can be violent and overtly sexual, but so are movies, video games and television.

Of course, there is some truth in these arguments.

I wonder if there's a "but" which isn't "but I can't wave a twenty year copyright extension at those industries to buy their agreement to censor".
But let’s ask ourselves some simple questions:

Ah, it turns out that, having admitted that music is just one of a number of strands of culture, he's going to ignore the vital question of what's the bloody point of making rappers sing about kittens if kids are still playing Grand Thefty Hooker Killing.
Does music help create, rather than just reflect, a culture?


Does it? Really? So if you made kids listen to nothing but hymns, and not change anything else in their lives, they'd become choirboys?
Is some music, are some lyrics, are some videos and are some artists, helping to create a culture in which an anti-learning culture, truancy, knifes, violence, guns, misogyny are glorified?


There are some songs which do some of those things - but equally there are 'it's smart to be smart' songs. Hell, even Busted suggested that there's reason to go to school. Although, erm, it was to have underage sex with your teachers.
Can we see the effects of this on our young people, in our schools and on our streets?


David Cameron's superpowers allow him to determine which parts of a deeply complex mix of social and cultural factors influence children's behaviour, apparently. "That guy there, pissing in the alley - that's music done that one; the bloke who's stealing the shoes, he's stealing the left one as a result of received ideas about victimless crimes he's gotten off movies and the right one because of his family breakdown..."
Do we think we can combat this culture by government policies, policing and criminal justice alone?


If change in our culture is necessary…and it is.

If we are all responsible…. and we are….

Then we all need to take our responsibilities seriously.

Put simply, we have to acknowledge that all of us – as politicians, as teachers, as parents, as television producers, video game manufacturers and yes, as record
industry executives – need to understand our specific responsibility in not promoting a culture of low academic aspiration or violence but instead to inspire young kids with a positive vision of how to lead their life.

That’s why I am not calling for censorship, legislation or the banning of content.

I am calling on you to show leadership, exercise your power responsibly and to use your judgement.

Or, in other words, I am calling for self-censorship.

We're not quite sure how Cameron squares telling people not to do something - especially when it's been explicitly linked with the prospect of extra revenue in the form of extended copyright - with not offering censorship. Either you're saying 'don't do this' or you're not; calling for an industry to refuse to release some sorts of product is censorious.

Aware as he must be of this, Cameron quickly moves on to trying to generate some positive images:
I know music plays a small part in all this.

But I also know, unless we all fulfil our responsibilities, however small, we cannot hope to confront the challenge of our broken society.

Already, schemes like rhyme4respect, which encourages positive lyrics in music, is leading the way, showing that the music industry recognises its responsibility and takes this issue seriously…

I really do welcome that…

… but I think we all know we need more.

So when it comes to helping fix our broken society, it is not enough for the music industry to sponsor community projects.

You can make a difference by providing positive role models for young kids to look up to, draw inspiration from and aspire to be.

This is thin stuff - 'why can't you write some happy songs about people who are happy and join banks and things'?

I'd say the music industry is much better off putting cash into small projects which let young people have a go at making music rather than trying to generate positive role models. It doesn't work. Sure, if there are artists who are good and show that being polite and studying and just knowing stuff is sexy, yes, promote them. But trying to create MC Hammer like characters to deliver a 'stay in school/say no to drugs' message? Our children, David, are not cultural dopes.
Let me put it another way.

Would it make any sense to say to media companies that you can simply meet your obligations for social responsibility – to be a responsible corporate citizen – through community projects which had nothing to do with your actual product?

I know such projects are vital and companies like those here today do so much to channel your charitable energy towards giving opportunities to the young.

But imagine if we took this approach with McDonalds or a mining company.

Is it really enough to say that you can put anything you like in your burgers, or do
anything you want to the environment when digging for precious metals…. “That’s ok, as long as you are doing some other charitable things at the same time” ?

Depends... are these mining companies donating to Central Office?
Of course not.

Social responsibility is not just about community projects where you use your profits
to do good, it’s about how you make those profits in the first place too.

But fast food companies and mining agencies generally do what they can up to lines drawn either by legislation or industry-wide codes of conduct. But you've claimed you don't intend to formally censor. So why do you think the music industry would be any different?

Mining companies will dig up land until the law tells them not to. You wouldn't watch them driving up to the gates of Snowdonia and simply say 'hey, lads, be a bit corporately responsible there', would you?
I began by showing what I wanted to do to help make sure that the music industry in this country continues to be one of the world’s greatest.

That’s why I want to work with you to combat piracy and illegal downloading.

That’s why I want to extend the copyright term to 70 years.

But in return, I want to see more from you….

… using the influence you have over young children to help fix our broken society.

Britain’s music scene has had an incredibly proud past.

Together, we can ensure it has an even brighter future.

In conclusion, then: I'm not going to censor you, but here's the prospect of some money. Do as I say.

The handbasket to hell is leaving platform one

Has it really come to this?

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Timeless tailoring meets the latest innovations in fabric technology with our new iPod suit. A strategically placed iPod pocket houses the connector and prevents bulges, while control buttons on the inner lapel allow the wearer to operate the iPod without touching the main controls. Carefully placed loops along the lapel even help to conceal the earphone wires. So plug in, turn up your tunes and look your best, the iPod suit is the perfect choice for the modern man on the move

This, by the way, is Marks and Spencer.

And if clothes designed to save you the effort of having to press a button on an mp3 player isn't enough to suggest that evolution is now probably hurtling back towards the primordial soup, we also have to bring the OK Magazine's Most Influential list to your attention.

There's the surprising news that Katie Holmes has been nominated - since it's apparent that she doesn't even control her own toilet schedule, it's possible a harassed word-donkey on OK misheard the job as coming up with the most celebrity influenced of the year.

That interpretation is supported by the appearance of Simon Cowell - surely the only original thing he's done is to give Piers Morgan a job?

But the point at which a wretched idea really has us retching is this bit:
The 10-month-old daughter of the late Anna Nicole Smith, Dannielynn Hope, was also mentioned as a "survivor", due to being at the centre of "Hollywood's most controversial tragedies".

Since 10 month old children aren't especially influenced by events, and can't really do much more than suckle, puke and poop, we're genuinely at a loss to understand what it is that Dannielynn has done that counts as "influential". Unless OK is merely praising her dignified silence in the face of press speculation - and that, surely, is the last thing the magazine would want to encourage.

Live Earth dies screaming 2: Hamburg humbug

The apparently self-defeating idea of flying artists halfway around the world to persuade us to cut down on our use of fossil fuels has been defended by Live Earth supporters who insist that it makes sense: having high profile, international stars is essential to draw crowds to the events, and help get the message across.

Only that doesn't turn out to stand up: Sales for the German event in Hamburg have been disappointing precisely because the international names have edged out local acts:

But advance sales have been disappointing elsewhere. In Hamburg, where hip-shaking Colombian sensation Shakira, British songstress Katie Melua and US rapper Snoop Dogg are among the 20 acts, barely more than half the 40,000 tickets had been sold as of the start of July. Insiders blamed the low ticket sales on the absence of a major crowd-pulling German act after Herbert Groenemeyer pulled out. Even the last minute addition of Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens is unlikely to improve things much.

We love Yusuf Islam, and think that the music he's doing now is probably as good as anything he'd produced during his career. But when you're throwing him into the mix as a desperate bulwark against soft ticket numbers, you know you're in trouble.

Live Earth dies screaming: Rio in doubt

The wheels are coming off Live Earth, as a senior Brazilian judge has called for the Rio leg to be pulled over worries about policing and crowd safety:

Brazilian prosecutor Denise Tarin has requested a suspension of the concert saying security efforts by police would be concentrated on preparations for the Pan American Games, starting 13 July.

An injunction against the event was granted late Tuesday; Brazilian promoters Mondo Entretenimento are appealing against the decision and are confident they can persuade authorities to let the event go ahead.

George Melly dies

We've just heard of the death of George Melly, comic strip writer, raconteur and jazz singer. A fuller obituary will follow.

Kate and Pete: It's over. Again.

The on-off-on-off-on-on-on-veryoff-sortofon-off-on relationship between Kate Moss and Pete Doherty is off again, according to The Mirror:

While the Babyshambles star was trying to come to terms with the fact their turbulent relationship is over for good, his piano, guitars, paintings and battered suitcases were loaded into a van and taken to a tower block on the other side of London.

People who claim to have knowledge of what's going on suggest that Moss and Doherty had a weekend of enormous rows, culminating in his stuff being carted off to Hackney while Moss hires new security guards charged simply with keeping him away and changed all the locks. (Although, as Carl Barat found out, Doherty has ways of gaining access to homes when he wants to.)

We give it a week before they're back together.

Perhaps they just don't like you?

Nicole Scherzinger, who is one of the Pussycat Dolls, has been moaning that men don't hit on her in bars. She has decided this is because she's intimidating:

"Guys are usually frightened of me so I don't really get hit on a lot.

"I think that's because it's the way, as a female, if you carry yourself in a certain way you don't get that.

"If you show that you are no nonsense and mean business, guys are less likely to bother with you."

Oh, yes, because you day job of writhing about in your knickers singing about how hot you are must make you come across like a veritable Germaine Greer figure.

You don't think the reason men don't come up to you in bars and ask you to dance might have less to do with them being intimidated by your "businesslike" attitude, and more to do with them being intimidated by the bouncers who patrol the edge of the VIP roping you'll be on the other side of?

A million? Not: 'Arf

Alan Freeman's will has been published; he left just over half a million quid.

Is Gore running?

John Gibson will be watching Live Earth very carefully indeed on Saturday, with a stopwatch and a notepad, waiting to see any evidence at all of political airtime being given to Al Gore and a presidential campaign.

Gibson, it's fair to say, would feel vindicated by the headline in the latest Spectator:

Live Earth is Al Gore’s campaign launch

That would seem to be a bit of a cynical misuse of what is meant to be a politically neutral campaign, using all these people's goodwill and time, which they believed to be being put towards a green future, as a launchpad for a run at the White House.

But hold on - James Forsyth's article under the eye-popping headline actually says the complete opposite:
So, is this all a prelude to a Gore presidential run? This would certainly be in keeping with the new politics. Barack Obama made himself a serious contender for the Democratic nomination not by doing the traditional rubber-chicken circuit and glad-handing local power brokers, but by going on a book tour. Fred Thompson, the latest candidate to enter the race on the Republican side, is running not on his Senatorial record but his performances in the TV drama Law and Order and various B movies. The stage seems set for Gore to scoop up the Nobel Peace Prize in October, and run as an Oscar winner and Nobel laureate rather than as a former vice-president.

But political insiders don’t think he will. They point out that even now Gore only comes in third in the Democratic field, trailing both Obama and his long-time rival Hillary Clinton. Larry Sabato, professor of political science at the University of Virginia and the pre-eminent poll-watcher in America, points out that still almost half of voters would not vote for Gore in any circumstances. Most importantly if Gore shed his cloak of celebrity and became a politician again, the normal rules would once more apply. He would be savaged for not practising what he preached. His earnestness would once again be the favourite butt of late-night comedians’ jokes.

So, erm, if he's not running, how can he be launching a campaign?

"I don't intend to use low-energy lightbulbs until Johnny Borrell takes his shirt off"

There's a bemusing survey been released which attempts to predict the effect of Live Earth:

The results showed that in the UK almost three quarters (73%) of those aware of the Live Earth event are planning to watch the concerts on 7th July, and 40% think the event will inspire them to do more to combat climate change. In comparison, 51% of Americans and 39% of Australians thought the event would encourage them to do more.

Is it just us, or is there something odd about the idea that four out of ten people are aware of climate change issues, but are saying they're going to leave off doing anything about it until some bands go on stage?

I worry for us as a nation - presumably there are people still stuck in their flooded homes who are aware of the water rising through their sitting rooms but refusing to come out until Amy Winehouse floats by on a dinghy doing something from the last album.

"Kyle MacLachlan introduces Corinne Bailey Rae"

That, we think, is probably Live Earth's running order in a nutshell. Although, perhaps "Boris Becker introduces Damien Rice and David Gray" or "Anna Friel introduces a film" could equally show the stretch-marks on the day.

According to this running order, the big kick off is going to be Genesis doing Turn It On Again - which hardly has a "reduce, reuse, recycle" message to it; the big finish? Madonna doing, erm Hung Up. At least she's decided to get the clunking Hey You out the way early on in the session.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Winehouse in sickhouse

Amy Winehouse has pulled her gig at Liverpool's Summer Pops tonight. Gigwise is reporting that they've heard she's in hospital, although her hospitalisation wasn't soon enough to stop people turning up at Aintree this evening.

There are plans to rearrange for July 21st.

Victoria tries to stop eclipsing herself

You'd have thought that Victoria Beckham would have been pleased that the Spice Girls reunion gives her another aspect of her life with which to promote her "reality" TV show, Victoria Beckham Disappears In America. But, oh no: anyone who wants to do an interview with her prior to the series TXing has to sign a release promising to remain on topic.

Rejoice - at least one band aren't reuniting

Korn seem unlikely to be getting back together with Brian Welch at the Head anytime soon. Welch isn't exactly rushing to meet up with the band he quit after finding god:

"I have no plans to meet with them. I'd just like to see them one day, but the time's not right.

"I haven't seen them in a couple of years. The last time I spoke with them there was a little bit of weirdness and I apologised."

So, that's no Spice Girls support slot for Korn, then.

Ticket touting goes to Westminster

The draft evidence from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's investigation into ticket resales has been published online, and Phil Davies MP has come out of it looking pretty deft. First up were Paul Vaughan of the Rugby Football Union; Alex Horne from Wembley and the FA, and Nicholas Bitel, representing Wimbledon. Davies heard their desire to ensure that 'genuine' fans could get to their events, and then sucked a thoughtful tooth:

I think the prawn sandwich brigade was a reference to all the tickets you people sell to the corporate clients, rather than the tickets that touts sell on to a handful of people at events, so I am not sure the prawn sandwich brigade is a good argument for you if you really want genuine fans there. Perhaps you should not give so many tickets to your corporate clients. That hardly seems a way of getting genuine fans in. What I want to ask is: can you give us any examples of where the Government regulates the secondary market of anything; where the Government regulates the price and the sale of the secondary market in anything?

Mr Bitel: In tickets, yes.

Q7 Philip Davies: Can you give me one industry where the Government regulates the price or the secondary market of anything? No. I cannot either.

Mr Vaughan: There are probably a number of markets where the primary market is actually regulated rather than the secondary, because there is no secondary market for it.

Q8 Philip Davies: The Government does not regulate the secondary market, so when people sell art and think, "I can get �90 for this art", and somebody thinks, "Great I'll pay �95 for that and I can sell that on for �200", the Government does not regulate that because that is the way the world goes round.

Mr Bitel: The Government does regulate it.

Q9 Philip Davies: The whole world goes round on people buying things and selling them on.

Mr Bitel: It is a criminal offence to sell on your ticket for London Underground, for instance.

Q10 Philip Davies: Why are tickets any different from anything else that people buy and think, "Actually I could sell this at a profit"? Why should tickets be different from anything else?

Mr Bitel: Tickets are not a commodity. I think that is the basic flaw in that particular analysis. Just in the same way as the Government regulates the laws into who comes into private land, we are private land and we regulate who comes into our grounds or stadia; and in the same way we are issuing a licence in the same way as a landlord issues a lease. If you are a landlord you can refuse to sell the lease onto whoever you wish to. We are issuing a licence to enter into our land to particular people, named individuals; and very often they are named individuals for a particular reason. For instance, we have issued tickets to wheelchair users because we want to have a certain number of tickets available to wheelchair users, and we are seeing those tickets being touted to the general market, to non-wheelchair users. We think that is an inappropriate use of the free market.

Hold on a moment - did the solictor representing the All England Club just suggest that they're using disability as a way of determining who can and can't buy certain tickets for their event? Is that even legal?
Q11 Philip Davies: Who loses out on ticket touting; who are the losers?

Mr Vaughan: If I could just answer that. It is the opportunity cost to the sport potentially. We are trying to reward players, volunteers and schoolchildren, people we want to encourage to stay within the game. At the end of the day the sport loses because if we do not enable them to keep on getting their tickets they will not belong to clubs and the sport will shrink. I believe if you spoke to your own club within this august body here, they do not sell the tickets on because they genuinely want to use them. If you looked at the differential it is an opportunity cost to the sport. The secondary market exists because we price them lower. If we priced our tickets at an economic price - there are some prices going on at the moment from viagogo for the England v Wales game February 2008. Firstly, we have not even printed the tickets; we have not even designed the tickets; and they are going at a rate currently of somewhere in the region of �592 each. We are pricing them, they say within here, of between �20 and �65: that is wrong.

So, Vaughan is suggesting that the people who buy tickets at a mark-up don't want to use them? Is there a hitherto undiscovered group of people snapping up cup final tickets at a mark-up and then burning them? Is this something to do with the KLF?

Of course, Davies was having none of this, and tried his "who is hurt here" question again:
Q12 Philip Davies: Who is losing out because somebody is selling it on for �500? You have got bums on your seats; you have sold the ticket at the price you wanted to; the person who has paid �500 is happy to pay �500; the person who is selling it is happy to sell it; who is losing?

Mr Vaughan: Are you suggesting that the sport should actually charge �500 to start with?

We imagine he was doing some sums on the back on the envelope here; it's interesting he couldn't, apparently, understand a simple "if you price a tickets at one level, and someone pays that level, even if it is sold on for more, how can you lose when you have achieved the price you wanted" question.
Q13 Philip Davies: No, I am just asking: who is losing out?

Mr Horne: The example that Paul is highlighting here, it could be the end user who may be happy to pay �500 for a ticket, but that ticket does not exist yet; it is not in the hands of viagogo and they have no right to enter into that transaction.

But selling stuff you don't have in your hands isn't a crime - that's exactly what the futures market and hedge funds are based on. If you then fail to keep up your side of the bargain, the law already will be able to intervene. So there's not any clear reason for new legislation there, is there?

Horne continues:
From a consumer perspective the RFU are somehow being linked with a transaction they have no control over.

No direct control of - but isn't the case with tickets sold through official agents, too?
Mr Bitel: For example, yesterday we put tickets on sale via Ticketmaster; these are last minute tickets that became available; someone bought one of those tickets at the proper price and two minutes later put it on sale on eBay. So they never had any intention of coming along, but they just decided to buy it and resell it. The people who lost were the next people in the queue who wanted to buy that ticket and lost the opportunity of buying the ticket at the regular price.

Frustrating, perhaps, but if Wimbledon really wanted that to not happen, they could arrange their ticket sales in a way that would prevent that happening. Why go running to the government demanding laws simply because you're too lazy or mean to invest in your own ticketing system?
In another case, we have seen tickets which we have issued for schools, intended for schoolchildren, being touted via eBay in that particular case. Who have lost out: the schoolchildren who cannot come to the event. There are a number of people who lose out from ticket touting.

Q14 Philip Davies: With a limited number of tickets only so many people can go, so the person who won out was the person who paid the tout for the ticket. If they had not had them they would have lost out. A punter somewhere would have lost out one way or another, whether you had ticket touting or not, would they not? One of them would not have been able to go.

Mr Horne: To use the children analogy, it is unreasonable to allow an open market to have adult access into an area that has been specifically designed to be sold for children. A similar analogy you could use for football.

Adrian Sanders saw an obvious flaw in this chimera of adults pretending to be children to take advantage of under 16 sales: they don't look like children:
Q15 Mr Sanders: If you are under 16 you go through a different turnstile at a football ground. Why can you not issue a ticket that is under 16 only with some form of ID? Therefore, somebody who is over 16 turning up, or looks over 16, will not be allowed in. It will be obvious that they fraudulently purchased a ticket. Actually is not the answer in your own hands?

Apparently, the (now defunct, but not at the time) Department of Trade and Industry won't let them, says Wimbledon:
Mr Bitel: If you cannot stop someone from selling on a ticket then why should that be? If you see the evidence from the DTI who have complained that Glastonbury put photos on people's tickets to prevent them being sold on, it is not just a question of the answer in our hands. We have got the DTI saying to us on occasions, "It is unreasonable for you to put a ticket condition which prevents it being sold on". In those cases of the schoolchildren it would be unreasonable apparently, according to the DTI, for us to prevent them being sold on from schoolchildren.

Oh, really? Didn't the DTI suggest rather than instruct, and weren't they talking about tickets being sold like-for-like - not that it was unreasonable to refuse to allow an adult to use a child's ticket; that's just a ridiculous claim.

Bitel pulled on another of his hats:
I am Chairman of the Major Events Panel of UK Sport and we are seeing more and more major events saying to us, "If you wish to bid you have to protect the tickets". We are seeing that. The Rugby World Cup is one example. I know Scotland have a desire to bid against England maybe and others. Scotland maybe together with Wales, and maybe Ireland. Almost certainly the IRV is going to say, "You have to have this type of legislation in place". The Cricket World Cup is another example. The Caribbean Islands - nine different sovereign nations introduced laws to outlaw ticket touting for the Cricket World Cup as part of a prerequisite of obtaining that event. I think if Britain wishes to attract more major events in the future we are certainly going to have to see that type of protection being extended. I think extending it to 2012 gave a legitimate expectation to a number of these major international sporting organisations that Britain will do likewise for their events as well.

So, we're now asking the UK Government to start legislating in order to bend to the whims of private, self-appointed bodies like UEFA?

Later, Harvey Goldsmith appeared, making his pledge that he's interested in the 'real fans':
We are a business. We are here 365 days; we are not just for the odd concert that you read about in the newspapers causing a furore or just had huge demand. We are actually a business and we are here all the time, and we are presenting events and concerts all through the year to many fans who are real fans of music; they buy the records; they follow the artists and they come back more than once. They want to be able to see their heroes and those artists they support. They do not want to pay inflated prices for them; and we spend a huge amount of time when we define what our ticket prices are on how that is made up. It is not just plucked in the air. Ticket prices are a combination of what the costs are; what the breakeven point is; what a fair margin is; what we think that act can stand in the marketplace in a fair way. We are not out to rip-off or take advantage of our customers.

We're always fascinated by the concept of "real fans" - the people who throw the term around usually are very distant indeed from any concept of actually supporting anything. For example, there was that patronising "You're the real fans" campaign from Coke last year, when executives representing a Georgia based soft drink company signed off on telling people who go to lower-league matches how "real" they are - as if two decades of trudging to a ground with no roof to watch a stream of nil-nil draws counted for nothing until Coke validated it.

And I'm a little lost by this train of thought anyway - did I somehow count as an unreal Fall fan the time I bought my ticket in the street outside the Lomax for a fifty per-cent mark-up? Was my fandom intact when I then bought a ticket for a later gig at the box office? Or is real fandom like virginity, and once it's gone, it's gone?

Leaving aside that Goldsmith has run through the irrelevant explanation of how events set their prices - presumably nobody thought that these events were "plucking prices from the air"; if events sold tickets at prices which didn't provide them with a return that situation wouldn't change if the tickets were used by initial purchasers, or sold on fourteen times - what does he mean when he claims that fans "do not want to pay inflated prices for" tickets? Clearly they do, or there wouldn't be a secondary market and hence no need for anyone to worry.

The sports guys suggested that people were paying over the odds for tickets they didn't want to use; now Goldsmith is suggesting that people are bidding on eBay for events featuring bands they're not arsed about. What strange people are out there. Apparently.
I know it sounds a bit strange, because in the way you are asking the question you are saying, "Okay, everybody should be able to resell tickets. They should do want they want". That is not our business. We are a business; we are not here to supply parasites who are there to monopolise and capitalise on what we are trying to do as an industry. That industry is pretty far and wide. Not only do you see the front face of it as a concert or what you read about, but remember what goes into getting those artists to that - the employment values; the production values; and all the rest that goes in it, that is what supports our industry. We are not here to create a marketplace for someone else who puts nothing back and just takes out.

But don't the touts pay a price for the event which - as Harvey had just laboriously explained - has been set to give everyone a fair return? It's not like they're stealing tickets, is it?

Philip Davies wondered if this would all be a good use of police time:
What evidence have you got that any government legislation or any ban would eliminate ticket touting? If we stopped people on eBay selling tickets are you really na�ve enough to think that would be the end of ticket touting, and it would not just be driven underground? Who is going to police this? Are you really asking that my local police force that are stretched for resources, and people who ring up with burglaries and cannot get somebody to come, you are saying that my punters should expect the police to scrap all their burglaries and their shoplifting and come and rescue you from the situation you have got yourselves into?

Mr Goldsmith: The police are there anyway. I went to Wembley Stadium two Saturdays ago and from coming out of the station - because it was the first time I had been there and wanted to experience it as if I were regular customer - I counted 23 policemen with their flak jackets ready for World War Three, machine guns and God knows what else - Wembley Station. Walking down the steps, more policemen. I counted about 12 or 14 Wembley stewards also patrolling up and down. Then I was confronted, at my count, with 43 ticket touts who were harassing people coming through trying buy, trying to sell; trying to do some deal; pushing people, "Can you buy this one". The 23 policemen were there whether the touts were there or not. All they had to do was look one stage further and protect the public who genuinely wanted to go to Wembley Stadium to see a show, who were not there for a riot and do not want to be harassed by these people.

So Goldsmith is saying that the police out there - supposedly for public order - have got so little to do with their time they could be acting as ticket stewards too? "Hold me gun for me, Max, I'm just going to check this guy's name against a list of people who bought tickets at the box office..."

Rob Ballantine was asked by Helen Southwell what would happen if people could no longer sell on tickets they simply couldn't use. Rob Ballantine made it clear they weren't going to offer refunds:
Mr Ballantine: For a resale what we are planning to do, what we cannot do is offer complete refunds. For example, Glastonbury last weekend, a �20 million outlay to build a site, pay the artists, get everything ready, torrential rain the week before; ten thousand people probably find they had a relative die or something meant they could not attend and they would ask for a refund; that would make the Glastonbury organisation go bust. That is �2.5m they need to refund and people do not make those sorts of profits. That festival would end overnight. We therefore cannot issue complete refunds for people who simply change their minds because we build the event depending on the ticket sales. Once a promoter guarantees the artist the money and the venue, then the artist goes and designs that tour, the expenses are taken on and that money is on the table. If then the customers come up and ask for a refund two days before and you have not got a chance to resell them that is where promoters would be going bankrupt left, right and centre. What we will offer though is a resale policy if you cannot attend the event for whatever reason, as soon as there is any sort of legislation to help out because otherwise we are simply going to be acting as a clearing house for touts.

So, in other words: at the moment, the reselling of tickets stops promoters going bust and stops people who aren't able to use their tickets losing out. So, erm, we should change that, then.

Ballantine projected a fearful world of the future without new laws:
The strength of feeling of this is incredible out there. It is absolutely unbelievable. The industry feels that this is a real turning point for us, and we are desperately trying to hold on to our members. We do not operate like the RFU, who commendably look after the schools, or Wimbledon. We are a bunch of individual entrepreneurs and we are trying to hold everybody until we get through this process before people say, "I'm sorry, but I've had enough of everybody else making it on the secondary market. We are now going to auction percentages of our tickets". Those people will just explode onto the market and replace the touts that are selling on the secondary market, and the public is going to lose out hugely. That is what we are coming here to day, "Please protect the public from what is an inevitable economic explosion".

Oddly, though, there's not been any suggestion I've seen yet that the legislation should prevent events promoters from auctioning tickets. Perhaps that should be built in, then - otherwise we might get the impression that all the music and sports industries are interested in is clearing out the competition so they can have the auction action to themselves.

[Thanks to Ian; it should be noted the above segments have been prepublished neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.]