A Post-Brexit EU touring plan for musicians has been proposed by UK Labour MP Harriet Harman.
In January, the UK Government was urged to take immediate action after initial Brexit touring plans were rejected by the EU. It had been hoped the final UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve 2020 (just days before new regulations came into place on 1st January 2021), would include special consideration for touring professionals. As it stands, the current deal imposes new regulations, tariffs and visa requirements that will make such tours far more expensive and complicated.
Today (16th March), Labour MP Harriet Harman unveiled a 10-point plan of proposed measures, supported by organisations such as Musicians’ Union and UK Music, to allow British musicians to tour Europe without visas.
Speaking to The Guardian, Harman said that there is “no time to waste,” and without action “nothing is going to happen on this [issue] except that the shutters will come down”. She also highlighted a complacent attitude in government when it comes to musicians, stating that there’s an “assumption that somehow it’s going to be perfectly all right because [musicians] always have been, and they’re so successful so they’ll be fine. And also partly: oh well, it’s just a few middle-class people. Which is completely wrong.”
Harman’s plan would also include a “UK creative industries export office” to help support international touring artists, as well as the appointment of a minister to assist musicians in visa applications.
In January, the UK government denied claims that it rejected a deal offer from the EU that would allow musicians to enter countries that belong to the union without a visa following the completion of Brexit. A report by the Independent, quoting an unnamed source close to the negotiations, revealed over the weekend that a “standard” proposal that would exempt performers from needing a visa to enter countries in the EU for trips under 90 days was turned down by the government. “It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians,” the EU source told the paper. “We tried to include it, but the UK said no.” A government spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) denied the claims of the EU source, saying in a statement: “This story is incorrect and misleading speculation from anonymous EU sources. The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU.”
Demonstrations have been held outside Spotify offices worldwide, as musicians demand increased royalties and transparency from the streaming platform.
Earlier this week (15th), artists and other workers in the music industry, organized by The United Musicians and Allied Workers Union UMAW, participated in demonstrations at Spotify offices across the globe. It follows the launch of the Justice at Spotify campaign in October last year, demanding that Spotify raise its streaming average for artist payments, as well as making other changes to the streaming platform’s business model.
The demonstrations took place in Europe, as well as in Asia, Australia, Europe, the U.S., and Central and South America, with the UMAW also stating that “the entire live music ecosystem in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic” and that artists and music industry workers are “more reliant on streaming income than ever”.
The Swedish streaming giant has grown into one of the world’s biggest streaming platforms, touching a $50 billion market valuation in June last year. Justice At Spotify’s first campaign featured the slogan “Penny Per Stream Please”, calling on the platform to increase royalty payments to at least one cent per stream, as well as to adopt a user-centric payment model, and show transparency in their practices by making all closed-door contracts public.
In November, Spotify announced a controversial new format for artists, offering musicians and labels the chance to influence its recommendation algorithm in exchange for a ‘promotional royalty rate’. That means, Spotify will let you push a track to relevant listeners via Autoplay – the music that comes on once you’ve finished listening to a song, EP or album – and Spotify Radio – the feature that allows listeners to start a ‘station’ based on a track or artist. Reducing their royalty rates further in exchange for promotion – even if the amount is fractions of a penny – will likely rile critics further, and also weighs much heavier in favour of those who can afford to take the hit, namely major labels and huge global artists.
Undercover police may patrol nightclubs and bars in England and Wales as part of new plans set out by the government to identify and prevent predatory behaviour against women, The Guardian reports.
As part of a programme laid out by the government today, titled “Project Vigilant”, pilot schemes will be put in place which could see plainclothes police officers stationed around nightclubs and bars, as well as increased ununiformed police presence outside clubs at closing time.
Speaking of the plans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Ultimately, we must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them.”
The announcement comes as part of a government bid to improve safety for women in the wake of the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard in South London earlier this month (March). A London Met Police officer has been arrested and charged with Everard’s murder.
Additional measures announced include the doubling of the Safer Streets fund to £45 million, which will be used to provide neighbourhoods with increased and improved street lighting and CCTV.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 earlier today (16th March), Labour MP Stella Creasy said that, while she would not oppose the decisions and that improvements to street lighting is welcome, the decision “really just doesn’t understand what the issues are”.
“Sarah Everard was not on a night out, so the idea that putting plainclothes police officers in nightclubs is going to solve this problem doesn’t recognise that women get abused, assaulted, intimidated in all sorts of places,” she said.
“Ask women who’ve gone for a run recently in broad daylight in their parks about their experiences and you’ll realise some of the scale of the challenge. And what strikes me is that 80% of women report being sexually harassed in public spaces but, in those surveys, 90% of them say they never report it because they don’t believe anything will change.”
Creasy has called for misogyny to be recorded as a hate crime, “so that existing crimes like sexual harassment, abuse and intimidation can be reported and recorded as such, so we can build up patterns of where the problems are to help the police with the way in which they investigate these issues”.
Creasy’s concerns are shared by UK non-profit Good Night Out Campaign, which has been campaigning for safer nightlife since 2014, and has worked alongside promoters, venues and others to tackle the issue of sexual assault in clubs. In a statement shared to social media, the campaign described the move to have undercover police patrol nightclubs as “a knee-jerk response to be seen to be ‘taking action’ with ill-thought through policy…
“People already find it hard to report concerns to clearly identifiable staff and security because of fear of not being believed,” Good Night Out Campaign’s statement continued. “The presence of plain clothed officers won’t challenge male entitlement or increase reporting???”
“There is an ongoing UK public enquiry into abusive practices in undercover policing and it’s known that at least 20 officers deceived women into intimate sexual relationships, including fathering children with them.
“The government must listen to the experts in nightlife safety and the women’s sector on the drivers of gendered violence and how to tackle this. Real cultural change comes through workplace training, policies, publicity, customer education and community building.”
Read Good Night Out Campaign’s full statement below.
Bored by the Grammys? Try the Guthmans instead. The Guthman Musical Instrument Competition has selected its award winners, as musicians re-imagine acoustic, electroacoustic, electromagnetic, and digital all at once, with phenomenal results.
Winners were announced on Saturday with a virtual fair produced by Georgia Tech and Cycling ’74. Those selections are accompanied by meticulously produced videos explaining the concepts and how they were developed, plus – in something you rarely get in a world flooded with demo videos, some detailed expert commentary by the judges talking about what sets these projects apart.
And about those judges – this year, they included none other than legendary synth inventor Dave Smith (of Sequential and, uh, MIDI fame), the inimitable transcdisciplinary all-round genius DJ Spooky, guitarist/composer superstar Kaki King, and rooting all of this deeply in history, musical instrument curator Jayson Kerr Dobney of The Metropolitan Museum in NYC.
So take a personal tour of these instruments and the imagination behind them, one by one.
A microtonal guitar, made by father and son from LEGO
Atlas Çoğulu, Tolgahan Çoğulu, and Ruşen Can Acet, with Selçuk Keser of Öğrenenler Workshop People’s Choice
We’ve talked a lot lately about digital tuning. Here’s a physical equivalent, rendered it LEGO-compatible bricks. A father and son led this team to rethink guitar frets as interchangeable, with 3D printed blocks you can use to product your own tuning options. (That is, this is physically digital, if you like. We need another name for this, as the LEGO company still owns the brand, but the patents have expired.)
It’s also beautiful that this is a player-luthier collaboration, as well as an intergenerational one. But it began with the guy’s kid hitting on the idea of trying to reproduce the fretboard with his LEGO toy blocks.
Now, we’ve been avoiding the use of the term “microtonal” as implying that other tunings subdivide the western, equal-tempered scale. But here, maybe it fits – in that you can reconfigure this in blocks, and the blocks are quantized at a level smaller than an individual scalar difference. I just want to see someone make a capo out of little LEGO heads, but maybe I’m weird and that’s macabre.
I’m curious to see if this is something we can go try. Stay tuned. Erm… sorry.
Electromagnetic piano – freed from hammers
David Shea, Monica Lim, and Mirza Ceyzar Third Place
There’s a trend it seems this year toward hybrids – making some connection of future and history. So it’s fitting that the third place this year went to the Electromagnetic Piano.
The idea is simple, but with rich potential – use magnets to resonate strings without contact, thus opening up the possible of hanging sustains, resonance, and activation of the instrument outside just the conventional key/hammer mechanical mechanism. As with prepared piano or even shouting at the strings with the pedal down, it’s a reminder of the depths of sound possible in the piano as a sonic world.
This project comes from David Shea, Monica Lim, and Mirza Ceyzar of Melbourne. But I immediately thought of Andrew McPherson’s Magnetic Resonator Piano project in London. That instrument now has a repertory for it, and I also see that the brilliant performance I got to see at Cafe Oto by composer Xenia Pestova is online – Mvt. I; Mvt. II; Mvt. IV.
That’s a good sign – maybe this is an idea that is catching on, along with the larger body of works for augmented piano (piano with some kind of additional electronics or instrumental modification).
Crucially, the Shea/Lim/Ceyzar project is portable, all-in-one, and can be added to a piano directly. The bar-style form factor makes me think of the Moog Piano Bar, an ingenious but ultra-limited collaboration between Bob Moog and Don Buchla.
With so many pianos in the world, but a design that has gone largely untouched since the late 1800s, it seems this idea is coming at a perfect moment.
A painterly, turntable-style graphical synth
Brian Alexander Second Place
Visual synthesis has a history older even than modern sound synthesis, but it often is left at the sidelines. This artistic creation is almost sculptural in quality – a turntable that translates graphics into sound, via four-channel color optical detection.
A keyed string instrument, reimagined by a cellist, with frets and slides
Clark Battle Georgia Tech Faculty Favorite
This is perhaps the most original idea here – a from-scratch new instrumental invention unlike anything I’ve quite seen before. Clark Battle’s Evolano was informed by his experience as a cellist, but merges the advantages of keys with the flexibility of frets and sliding pitch – and it has two sets of key manuals. Oh yeah, plus pickups. It’s everything you love about almost every pitched instrument in one.
It’s just really wild, basically, and has to be seen to be understood. I see why it won the faculty favorite.
Deconstructed marching band instruments and a War Tuba
One last special mention before the winner – The War Tuba is an installation of deconstructed marching band instruments, plus a giant wearable tuba derivative modeled on acoustic locators of the 1930s. (Basically, those contraptions invert the operation of that horn – instead of amplifying a sound from the instrument into the outside world, they take the sound of the outside world and amplify it for your ear.)
Acoustic weaponry is a topic that has never gone away, but has received renewed interest of late. It’s worth also checking out the research and artwork of Nik Nowak here in Berlin – made doubly notorious because his sonic Panzer has made appearances around town, including at the legendary Superbooth.
If this year’s theme had a lot to do with timeless hybridity, then the Segulharpa is a perfect first place embodiment of that zeitgeist. The Segulharpa is unmistakable in its beautiful, esoteric-looking circular wooden form. But the touchplates ringing the bottom of the instrument activate 25 strings inside with electromagnets. After nearly seven years of work, creator Ulfur Hansson found an arrangement that produces beautiful resonances and unexpected transcendent sonic moments.
Here he is years ago talking about this idea – and specifically the deeper notions of resonance and vibration. Maybe it’s that notion of sound that’s most important, rather than the abstracted idea of sound through speakers – particularly now, in a year in which we’ve been to varying degrees trapped in the virtual. This is a way of engaging in electronic (and digital) sound that opens our minds and ears again to how it is embodied.
For more on the winners, plus a bunch of additional projects that came out of the Moog Hackathon last month, see the official Georgia Tech site:
In November of 2020, Far Out gave flight to Beyond The Horizon. The Ophelia Records label debut, made across four inclusions, constituted the emergent tastemaker’s Ally Thorn, RØRY, Heather Sommer, and Monika Santucci-assisted breakout on Seven Lions‘ platform. Fast forward four months after the EP’s November 5, 2020 premiere on Dancing Astronaut, and Far Out and Dancing Astronaut can be found aligning once again, forging another alliance that qualifies for “must-listen” status: a glittering guest mix.
Our wager? We won’t mince words—Far Out will be melodic enthusiasts’ next favorite ascendant act. Sitting at just over one hour’s runtime, Far Out’s exclusive mix adds a bolder outline to what the dance-versed currently know about his magnetic sound. As on his Beyond The Horizon EP, Far Out’s penchant for toplines supplied by female vocalists, bass punctuation, and emotive chord progressions is potently apparent on the mix.
“This mix represents a blend of cinematic and melodic music that I’ve been exploring with the project. Although this past year was a challenge for everyone, I’m very grateful to have connected with new and existing fans online and how positivity always carries the day. Looking forward for what 2021 and onwards has in store, and much love to Dancing Astronaut for the continuous support.”
Expect a diverse array of sounds to euphorically collide. Spoilers include the Zedd remix of Skrillex‘s “Breakn’ A Sweat,” Far Out’s own “Apex,” Seven Lions’ “Only Now,” among Beyond The Horizon looks and original material from other melodic Jedi. Stream episode 137 of The Radar below.
Follow Dancing Astronaut on Audius here. Up-and-coming creators and producers are encouraged to submit their music for a chance to be featured on The Space Station, our exclusive Audius playlist focused on exposing new and exciting music from independent artists. No matter the genre, let us hear what you’re making. Submit here.
After debuting his deep minimal banner in March 2020, Artmann has led a behemoth of a year powered by musical output, and evidently, he’s just getting started. With 2021 following in similar motion, the Amsterdam native’s release itinerary boasts a whooping four EPs including Keep The Funk Alive and No Time Left. Now, as he adds another to his collection, it’s suffice to say that Artmann’s progression so far has exceeded his Dancing Astronaut Artists to Watch nomination.
His latest, Power Of Will, drops off two singles and their equally groovy remix siblings, provided by Karimun and Romaino. The package encompasses a neat representation of his clean, yet funk-empowered approach to minimal house; he charts galactic synths, crisp drum loops, and funky bass lines all at once in “Power Of Will,” delivering a tight, yet dreamy production. The track’s counterpart “Deep Thoughts” derives an even simpler structure as robust percussion carry the pulse through a nearly eight minute journey.
Over recent months, NPR‘s coronavirus-adapted Tiny Desk (Home) series has continued the Tiny Desk live programming tradition initially etched into place in 2008. The show must go on, after all, to keep the viewers at home safely entertained, and NPR has risen to the extended occasion with Tiny Desk (Home) installments from Dua Lipa, Skrillex and Ty Dolla $ign (name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait), Tame Impala, Billie Eilish, and more. Now, Black Coffee joins the Tiny Desk (Home) ranks to take fans of his recent LP, Subconsciously, as close as they can get to a live post-album stint—for the time being.
Threaded with live instrumentation, the Tiny Desk (Home) iteration stations the South African influencer within the auditorium of the National School of Arts in Johannesburg. Of note, Black Coffee enlisted the assistance of students with a production internship to bring the event to fruition, according to NPR. “Flava” and “Wish You Were Here”—both of Subconsciously—pepper the 20-minute affair, which commences with “You Rock My World.” The short-and-sweet bit is available below.
The man-made calendar isn’t commissioned with starting each of the four seasons—Lane 8 is, and Dancing Astronaut‘s2020 Artist of the Year is locking in his first mixtape of 2021 and initiating the temperature’s skyward trend just four days ahead of its true cyclical onset. In tandem with Lane 8’s routine SoundCloud and YouTube mixtape uploads, the “Spring 2021 Mixtape” simultaneously arrives via Apple Music, in addition to all seasonal mixes dating back to 2018, for the first time in series history.
55 selections, including a monolithic 14 unnamed IDs, constitute the nearly three-and-a-half-hour “Spring 2021 Mixtape” glossary as the This Never Happened captain inducts the year’s sophomore quarter in the only manner that he knows how. Spanning his still-unreleased “Is This Our Earth?” from Anjunadeep 12 to Yotto’snewly minted spin of Faithless to a bundle of Sultan + Shepard‘s album cuts, Lane 8 outshines himself as per standard practice.
Stream Lane 8’s “Spring 2021 Mixtape” in its entirety below.
OnlyFans has announced a creative fund to support aspiring artists in the music industry.
Launched as a way to “support up-and-coming artists in the creative community” amid the coronavirus pandemic, OnlyFans, the content subscription service connecting creators with their “fans”, has announced the OnlyFans Creative Fund.
Offering four aspiring artists the opportunity to win £20,000 to help kick start their career, OnlyFans have centred the first Creative Fund around musicians, and applications are now open to apply for the fund. To enter the competition, entrants must submit a short musicial performance and an introduction via this link, where their entries will be judges by the likes of UK rapper and performer, Stefflon Don, Hot Chip member and DJ Joe Goddard, and singer/actress Suki Waterhouse.
Speaking about the fund, OnlyFans founder Tim Stokely said: “We’re really excited to announce the new Creative Fund! Almost every industry, including music, has had an incredibly tough time throughout lockdown. There are a lot of fantastic musicians on OnlyFans who have been getting creative during this time and engaging with their fanbase on the social platform. We wanted to bring the spotlight to up and coming talent and give these artists a much needed boost to help them grow.”
You can apply for the fund here. The deadline for applications is the 13th April 2021.
Ibiza could be open as a tourist destination as soon as May, according to Spain’s Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto. The news comes as White Island officials continue to weigh Ibiza’s options for a prospective return to normalcy amid the continued international rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
In a statement made to local media, Maroto confirmed that the country has been looking into vaccine passports that would allow travelers to put destinations like Ibiza, Barcelona, and Madrid back on their respective tourist maps. The plan is part of a continued effort to make the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, which include destinations like Ibiza and Majorca, the first to welcome back international tourists. Those seeking to travel into these areas would be required to carry a vaccine passport in order to gain entry. The passport medium has already been approved for use in the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands.
The announcement comes as good news for Americans, who have been receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at an astounding rate of 2.4 million shots per day, according to CDC data. With more than 20% of Americans having received the first of two shots, the glimmer of hope for a summer holiday is starting to shine just a bit brighter. For current international travel restrictions, visit the US State Department’s official website.