No Russian circles
April 18, 2022

Is there a point in cancelling Russian artists?

Alexander Malofeev

The Walrus looks into the wave of cancelling shows by Russian artists in tbh West: "If they have any impact at all, the cancellations may play into the Russian regime’s narrative about the 'hostile' acts of the 'collective West'—a characterization of NATO that serves as a philosophical counterpoint, socioeconomic scapegoat, and Russophobic supervillain in Putin’s rhetoric. To the extent that the Kremlin is aware that there’s a little less Tchaikovsky being played or that a Russian kid isn’t touring, the cancellations are serving as confirmation that the West is waging a cultural war against Russia. But the impact on artists is potentially significant, not least because artists are already usually in a state of financial precarity. Undermining them professionally, silencing their work, and pressuring them to speak out against the war at their own risk not only fails to do anything to support Ukraine, it’s also unfair to the artists, many of whose work tends to be antiwar".

Bridge over troubled brexit
April 14, 2022

UK suspends post-Brexit rules for music truckers

The U.K. government has agreed to temporarily suspend post-Brexit “cabotage” rules for some music haulers, following warnings from live-industry executives that the regulations were placing more than 100 European summer tours at risk, some of which have already been cancelled. The relaxation of rules allows some of the U.K.’s biggest trucking firms to work and travel freely across Europe by temporarily switching their vehicles from an EU operator’s license to a U.K. one for the home leg of a tour. Since January of 2021, truckers in both regions have been subject to the cabotage rules, which require haulers to return to the EU or the U.K. — wherever their business is based — after making three stops in the other market, NME reports.

Beth Gibons of Portishead

Pink Floyd have released a new song 'Hey, Hey, Rise Up!' featuring Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the Ukrainian band Boombox. The lineup on the track includes David Gilmour and Nick Mason with bassist Guy Pratt and keyboardist Nitin Sawhney, Guardian reports. 'Hey, Hey, Rise Up!' is the first original music from the band since 1994’s 'The Division Bell'. In similar news, Portishead will regroup next month for their first show in seven years, playing a short set as part of a War Child benefit concert supporting relief efforts in Ukraine, Consequence reports.

East of paradise
March 23, 2022

Ukraine’s electronic scene stands tall

"In recent years, experimental musicians have been steadily building Ukraine’s reputation as a crucial node in Europe’s electronic underground. The country’s scene began coming into its own after 2014’s Maidan Revolution, in which protestors seeking closer links with Europe ousted a pro-Kremlin president and ushered in a new era of democracy and reform. In the wake of those events, young ravers clad in secondhand ’90s fashion began carving out a new future underneath the slogan “poor but cool.” Since then, parties and clubs like CXEMA, Closer, and ∄ have helped Ukraine establish a reputation as one of the most stylish (and hedonistic) electronic scenes in the world" - Pitchfork points out introducing the besieged country's electronic scene.

Morgenshtern

ng Stone looks at the Russian rappers going against the war in Ukraine. "The big bosses will send [you] to the slaughterhouse. Bosses never gave a f*ck" - rapper Morgenshtern says in one of his songs. Oxxxymiron has opposed the war since its beginning, canceling Russian shows in protest. Siberian rapper-producer Slava Marlow shared footage on his Instagram story of the March 1 Russian strike on Kharkiv’s Freedom Square that killed at least 10 people. The Face is believed to have left Russia for Dubai sometime in early 2022. He said - “You made a wrong joke. And you wound up on the blacklist”.

Classical music magazine tries to give a distinction between the musician and the country: "On the surface, there is nothing wrong with a Russian government-sanctioned celebration of a celebrated Russian composer. But nothing is superficial in Putin’s Russia. To uncritically hail Rachmaninov as an icon of Russian national culture erases the composer’s own complicated relationship with the land he left behind. It is desperately ironic that Rachmaninov’s experience–being held personally accountable for the actions of a government he despised–is being repeated with Russian artists who have no connection to their government, in the rush to condemn Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine".

Van Magazine talked to four teenage musicians from the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and their orchestral manager, Alexandra Zaytseva, about the situation on the ground and the small consolations of music in a state of high alert. Uliana (16) from Kyiv who plays viola, shared some sad thoughts: "I played my viola for five minutes yesterday. Just so that my instrument knows it’s OK. My viola was very out of tune; instruments feel. My viola is at home, under my bed. It’s very important to me. It might get damaged, because rockets have been hitting the higher floors of buildings".Give Kyin a chance

Blue and yellow all over
February 28, 2022

Selection of Ukrainian music

Maria Sonevytsky explores on Twitter, the "rich and complex" history of Ukrainian music. She goes across the country and back for decades. An interesting selection which includes punk rock, reggae, folk music, klezmer and much more.

Guardian shares a moving story about members of Iranian-Norwegian band Confess Nikan Khosravi and Arash Ilkhani who got arrested in 2015, and spent 18 months of incarceration awaiting trial. Their crime was writing anti-establishment metal music, for which they were charged with blasphemy and propaganda against the state. After paying am $80,000 bail, they waited for the trial and, following a guilty verdict that sentenced them to six years in prison, they sought asylum in Norway. Now they have an album out 'Revenge at All Costs' where they're "making the statement that you cannot do this to a human".

The Russian government has officially labeled Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Nika Nikulshina as “foreign agents”, BBC reports. The designation is a Russian government effort to stifle dissent and discredit anyone carrying the label. “Foreign agents” are required to append disclaimer statements to their social media posts, news reports, and other public-facing content. Tolokonnikova was arrested and spent two years in prison after a 2012 protest inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Nikulshina was detained with other members of Pussy Riot for rushing the field at the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow.

Diamond treasure
November 30, 2021

Rihanna made national hero in Barbados

Singer and entrepreneur Rihanna has been awarded a national honour from her homeland Barbados as the Caribbean country celebrated becoming a republic Monday, CNN reports. Rihanna, who grew up in the island nation, witnessed the historic ceremony that broke Barbados’s centuries-old ties with the British monarchy and swore in its first president Dame Sandra Mason, ending the Queen’s role as head of state. "May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions and to do credit wherever you shall go"  - Barbadian prime minister Mia Mottley told the crowd.

"Cancel your Dec. 5 performance in Saudi Arabia. This is a unique opportunity to send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics" - Hatize Cengiz, fiance of the late journalist and Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, wrote in an open letter to Justin Bieber. "Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal. Please speak out and condemn his killer, Mohammed bin Salman. Your voice will be heard by millions. If you refuse to be a pawn of MBS, your message will be loud and clear: I do not perform for dictators. I choose justice and freedom over money".

"Now what do we do to find a way to really resist the stuff that is destroying the planet, that’s causing working people’s lives to be worse than their parents’ were? Poverty and hunger kill more people than anything else on the planet and they are human-made problems. Those are the things that we need to be digging into, rather than being sidetracked by this carnival barker bullshit" - Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello said in a Guardian interview. When asked about the events of 6 January he said "we came within a baby’s breath of a fascist coup in this country", adding "interestingly, one of my dreams has always been to storm the Capitol, but not with a bunch of all-white, rightwing terrorists, you know? The ugliest part about it is how they have co-opted the idea of standing against the Man, at least in the US".

Californian musician Lanny Cordola six years ago started The Miraculous Love Kids, a music school for girls in Kabul, Afghanistan. Two months ago it just perished. Besides this precious and once unimaginable school being shuttered, these girls’ lives are in peril. For now, laying low in their homes, having to wear a Hijab to go out is something that they have not grown up with - Spin points out and looks behind the hijab.

Teodoro “Teodorin” Nguema Obiang Mangue was born with power: since the late 1970s, his father had run the small central African country of Equatorial Guinea as a despot overseeing a murderous regime buoyed and financed by unending flows of crude oil. As a result, Teodorin enjoyed flaunting his wealth however he could. Some of his wealth Mangue spent building the world’s largest Michael Jackson memorabilia collection. Rolling Stone brings an excerpt from Casey Michel’s book, 'American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History' which describes how, among other themes, federal agents used Mangue's MJ fetish to track down millions in ill-gotten gains. The book is out November.

Somebody not doing their job
September 23, 2021

UK government refuses to solve the paying for music streaming problem

Music Business Worldwide does a great job analysing the UK government's inaction about the payment for music streaming issues. In July, the UK parliament's Department of Culture, Media & Sport Committee published a report which called for government action on a number of music industry issues regarding streaming payouts. The standout recommendation from the DCMS report was that the majors’ dominance of the UK record industry be referred to the UK’s competition watchdog – the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA). The UK government response was less than lame - it has declined to announce any legislative measures, and has also not officially referred the issue of major label-dominance to the CMA.

Hey mister taliban, give 'em a break
September 18, 2021

Musicians in Afghanistan face uncertain future

"The Taliban's anti-democracy regime, which regained control over the country last month, after the U.S. ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan and began pulling troops from the region, has already had a devastating impact on local music. Over two decades of democracy, Afghan musicians had slowly developed bands and orchestras, from a classical and traditional school called the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) to the reality-TV talent show Afghan Star to concert festivals and DIY scenes for hip-hop, hard rock, black metal and other genres. But under the Taliban, all that is gone now" - Billboard wrote in its piece about the troubled country.

Welcome to the jungle
September 06, 2021

Myanmar musicians fighting for democracy with music

Eternal Gosh

Shortly after the military coup in Myanmar at the beginning of the year, four musicians recorded a protest song 'Headshot' about security forces shooting to kill. Within hours of releasing the song, the rockers scattered. Three of them were later placed on a wanted list for sedition, their names and photos shown on the military-run TV channel. By June, they’d be irreparably separated. Kyar Pauk has since fled the country. Han Nay Tar, lead singer of Eternal Gosh, an alternative and pop rock band established in 2013has gone deep into hiding and couldn’t be reached. Novem Htoo, among the country’s most famous metal vocalists, has sought shelter with an ethnic armed organization. Raymond, lead singer of the band The Idiots and among Myanmar’s most influential rock musicians of this generationhad been staying in the jungle with Novem Htoo, but on June 23rd, the 32-year-old, who had long suffered from gastrointestinal problems, was found dead. Rolling Stone tells the story in full.

China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has banned any music that breaches a fresh set of government rules from being played within the country’s near-50,000 karaoke venues. Among other rules, tracks deemed “contrary to public morality”, and/or content “that which insults or defames others” will be banned from October 1. The new set of rules are most likely to target domestic Chinese music and, in particular, Chinese hip-hop.

“I cannot imagine a society without music, it would be a dead society, I don’t know how it could survive. You can’t take music out of the hearts of people” - Ahmad Sarmast, the founder and director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, told the Guardian after the Taliban overtook Afghanistan. The Institute also encompasses the Afghan Women’s Orchestra, which has become a “symbol of the emancipation of women”.

Much more greener grass across the pond
August 05, 2021

U.K. musicians allowed to tour in 19 EU member states

The U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced that it has negotiated short-term tours for UK musicians and performers without visas and work permits in 19 EU member states, NME reports. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. Trade bodies and unions representing British musicians say this changes nothing, insist "short term" is undefined, adding that there is still the issue of equipment transportation, Guardian reports. Formal approaches via officials and DCMS Ministers have been made to Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta and Cyprus. The U.K. allows touring performers and support staff to come to the U.K. for up to three months without a visa.

Bitter Belgian chocolate
August 04, 2021

New EU law to change creator economy

EU member states are about to adopt legislation implementing the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which includes Article 17 – a section devoted to increasing the obligations of user-generated content platforms and other online service providers with respect to copyrighted content uploaded by their users, MBW announces and explains. To avoid liability, platforms have to make "best efforts" to either license copyrighted videos and songs in their users’ uploads, or take down infringing content and make sure that the song, video, or other creative work is not infringed upon again.

Facing each other in a garage over a small plastic table, rappers Uriya & SAZ hurl ethnic insults and clichés at each other, tearing away the veneer of civility overlaying the seething resentments between the Jewish state and its Palestinian minority in a rap video that has gone viral in Israel. Sincere, passionate, touching! The New York Times reports, via Washington Mail.

Jaubi

In 1956, the US introduced the Jazz Ambassadors Tour, a showcase that sent American musicians overseas to parts of the world that were perceived to be under threat of Soviet influence. It was believed that jazz performers who were spearheading the civil rights movement would help generate a positive image of the US to newly independent nations. One of the countries the US focused on was Pakistan, so Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck were among the performers at state-funded gigs during the 1950s and 60s. These concerts wove jazz into Pakistan’s musical fabric and through its traditional instruments, resulting in sounds that remain relatively unheralded yet are still flourishing today, with bands like Jaubi, or previously Badal Roy, Tafo Brothers and Zohaib Hassan Khan, as Guardian points out.

Father AND the fathers of the nation
July 17, 2021

Commentary: The far right is trying to hijack #FreeBritney movement

Earlier this week, right-wing congressman Matt Gaetz arrived at the #FreeBritney rally demanding "freedom and liberty" for the singer, constrained "through guardianship and conservatorship”, Rolling Stone points out. "The #FreeBritney movement has also more broadly served as a talking point within the mainstream GOP. National Republican Congressional Committee has been using Spears’ case as part of its text message fundraising efforts, referring to her in texts to donors as 'a victim of toxic gov’t overreach & censorship'; Gaetz and other Republicans, including QAnon supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, have also issued a formal invite to Spears to testify before Congress about her conservatorship struggles. And within far-right circles on the internet, the #FreeBritney case has been a flashpoint of discussion, in large part due to the issues it raises of sovereignty and bodily autonomy. A number of anti-vaccine accounts on Instagram have also shared content comparing Spears’s tearful testimony that she was forced by her father and handlers to have an IUD, to being forced to take a COVID vaccine".

Breaking the law, making the law
July 15, 2021

British politicians say royalties should be split 50/50

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee of the UK parliament is calling for a "complete reset" of the market, with musicians given a "fair share" of the £736.5 million that UK record labels earn from streaming. In a report, they said royalties should be split 50/50, instead of the current rate, where artists receive about 16%, BBC reports. Musician Tom Gray, whose #BrokenRecord campaign prompted the inquiry, said "It feels like a massive vindication. They've really come to the same conclusions that we've been saying for a very long time".

Ministry of sound
July 06, 2021

Is politics bad for the London club scene?

"Have UK clubs benefited from embracing the concept of the Night-Time Economy, or is an emphasis on financial growth and political optics bleeding the life out of dancefloors?" - DJ Mag wonders in their interesting piece about the connection of politics and club scene, especially in London. "Club culture is fundamentally rooted in youth culture, and the cultures of communities excluded from the political mainstream: its vitality stems ultimately from those groups imagining and creating utopian alternatives to existing power structures, not replicating them. When we think about where these conversations might go next, perhaps the answer is for those on the front lines of dance music to seize this debate for ourselves, instead of outsourcing it to landlords, career politicians or baby boomers".

"The only way forward for me is to leave the band. I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences. I leave with love in my heart and I wish those three boys nothing but the best" - Mumford & Sons banjo player Winston Marshall wrote in a Medium blog post officially announcing his departure from the band. The pressure he felt has started after he supported controversial right-wing figure Andy Ngo. Marshall believes it had also started to be "distressing" for his bandmates as well.

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