Bonobo in Spotlight

Bonobo is a gem in the British electronic music scene. He makes genre-crossing laidback tunes which have achieved commercial success without selling out. Now on his fifth album, he’s maintained integrity and further explored his love of capturing weird and wonderful sounds and mutating them into mesmerising electronica, all with a deft nod to the trip-hop of the nineties. His latest album, ‘The North Borders’ was released in April. What has he been up to and what is he doing next?

Get Physical

Innovative to the last, Bonobo uses found sounds like trucks reversing, messes around with them digitally and builds them into densely packed tracks which splinter and slide through any attempt at definition. On this latest album, he’s enlisted the help of the inimitable Erykah Badu to add a tantalising vocal line on ‘Heaven For The Sinner’, the result is sultry and seductive. The intangibility of the music finds strangely complimentary expression in the physical releases themselves. The album artwork by Leif Podhajsky has Podhajsky’s usual blend of the abstract and the natural, his cosmic landscapes fit the album perfectly. The vinyl release for the single, ‘Cirrus’, is something else altogether! Check out this video by bespoke packaging gurus Think Tank

The zoetrope picture disc looks incredible and the special edition vinyl is understandably much sought after. It’s another splendid feather in Think Tank’s burgeoning hat.

Bonobo has a habit of working with the best in every field. The official video for Cirrus by Cyriak is equally both bewildering and brilliant. Take a look:

Living Live

Bonobo on record and Bonobo live are two distinctly separate entities. You could be forgiven for thinking the man is a laptop genius only and whilst he is known to crack out a stellar DJ set, it’s for his live shows that he’s rightly famed. He puts together live bands with some pretty incredible musicians. The following video is from a show he played earlier in the year at Koko in London. It’s the full set, so sit back and relax if you’ve got an hour to spare:

If that’s whet your appetite, you can catch a more recent live session with Bonobo in for Gilles Peterson on 6 Music last month.

If you’re heading to any festivals this summer, there are a few at which you can catch Bonobo performing.  Beacons in the UK, Lowlands in the Netherlands and Pukkelpop in Belgium all have Bonobo on their bills. If you’re looking for something extra-special, Dimensions festival in Croatia looks set to steal the crown for the best summer festival and with a super-special opening night in an amphitheatre with Bonobo’s full live band headlining and backed up by Mount Kimbie, Portico Quartet and Andrew Ashong, we’re sure no one will leave disappointed. It’s a cracking line-up of dedicated and ambitious young producers; having them all on the same bill is bound to produce something special.

We’re pretty excited about the calibre of British producers at the moment, with up-and-coming artists breaking through all the time and more established acts like Bonobo signalling the way with their individuality and honest approach to sound and expression. The underground and mainstream are merging in an unprecedented way, it’s a new cosmic landscape we’re both proud and honoured to see developing and long may it continue.

 

How Digital Music Makes Money

Nowadays there are more ways to access music than ever before thanks to the plethora of online services. As people choose to stream music it opens up avenues for advertisers to capitalise on this by incorporating adverts before and after songs. It’s something that Youtube started doing not too long ago, and is the bedrock of what Spotify does to survive, though as featured recently in the news, not all artists are happy about their music being available to stream on the service; Radiohead’s Thom Yorke making his feelings known at www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jul/15/thom-yorke-spotify-twitter.

What this has meant is that brands are looking for other ways to attract audiences without losing out on money. The enduring success of radio in combination with the digital revolution that it has embraced in the last few years has opened up several opportunities for enhancing revenue. Advertisers who previously bought slots on local radio to reach a regional audience can now be heard nationwide, as the digitisation of radio has made all stations available to be heard throughout the country. Companies like www.UTuneMe.com have taken this even further by making this an international affair, however, it is their targeted advertising that really helps them stand out from the crowd. By integrating your radio and music choices with your social media profiles, UTuneMe can tailor the adverts it plays for each individual user, replacing the traditional wider-spread approach of advertising and narrowing the field substantially to target hyper specific users and their interests.

It’s not just radio that has benefited from digitisation, but music in general as well. Whereas artists initially had to rely on physical sales to generate income, these now stand side-by-side with other distribution channels to maximise both exposure and profit. In fact, digital sales outstripped physical sales for the first time last year according to www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18278037, so it’s becoming an increasingly alluring method for artists to push their music. As such, programmes like iTunes have flourished, but that’s not to say that’s the only route available. Artists looking to make waves online have also been using www.dittomusic.com to distribute their singles and albums, as, uniquely, Ditto Music takes no commission on the sale of any of their music, allowing them to keep 100% of the royalties and rights.

As advertisers and artists try to stay on top of an ever-changing market to attempt to continue to turn a profit, social media becomes ever more important. Whilst Spotify might recently have felt the wrath of Radiohead, that’s not to say all streaming services are bad. Indeed, many artists will use them as a way for audiences to sample their tracks before purchase. Soundcloud has been around for a few years now but has only recently generated any sort of mainstream buzz. Today, Soundcloud boasts the largest community of artists, bands, podcasters and creators of music and audio on the internet, and that power is massive when it comes to sharing music. With full social media integration into all the major platforms, it’s become an indispensible tool in the artist’s armoury. You can check it out at https://soundcloud.com.

These are just some of the ways in which money is still being made by a music industry that can occasionally look in decline. Through the right platforms, and in combination with a more focused, targeted approach, there’s still plenty that artists and advertisers can achieve in a digital age.

Vinyl Revival

There’s no doubt about it, the vinyl revival is in full swing. Call it an analogue anomaly, call it a digital despondency, call it whatever you want, vinyl has proudly scratched its way back into the public conscious and is not only here to stay, but is making waves too.

Back in 2004 there was a slight increase in the sale of vinyl in comparison to previous years. It was nothing really, a drop in an otherwise insignificant ocean. Yet, this trend continued year on year, and over the last couple of years people started to take notice. Then, 2012 marked a watershed year for vinyl. Sales surged by 15% to 389,000 according to the Official Charts Company – you can find the full story at www.nme.com/news/various-artists/69832 – and that has increased by a further 78% in the first quarter of 2013 alone.
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The vinyl revival, then, is well and truly among us. So where can you go to get a slice of the action? Well, since the resurgence you can find the majority of vinyl releases on the high street, in fact, that’s part of the charm. Music lovers seeking a more tangible product, disenfranchised by the ubiquity of the download, have been flocking back to high street to reclaim the material object. 20th April 2013 saw the sixth annual Record Store Day, a whole day dedicated to physical sale of special vinyl and CD releases. You can find out more about the event at www.recordstoreday.co.uk, and see for yourself the incredible work that’s gone into revitalising the physical sales market, particularly through vinyl.

The XX and Mumford and Sons currently lead the way in first quarter sales for vinyl in 2013. These days, it’s become increasingly common for contemporary artists to release their albums on vinyl as well as CD and digital download; however, that still leaves a large proportion of music inaccessible to the vinyl community. What’s more, the largest demographic of vinyl buyers is the 18-24 range, as explained by the BBC at www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/22208446. Resultantly, a cycle is created where new music is released on vinyl to be enjoyed by those artists’ target audience. There is a burgeoning air of exclusivity to this resurrection, perpetuated by the reciprocal relationship between artist and their key demographic; new music in an old format for young people.

However, vinyl not stocked by the high street is still obtainable. Specialist stockists like Hard To Find Records not only supply new releases, but also sell a variety of vinyl from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. The online aspect might lack the romance of the shop-bought purchase, but nevertheless allows the discerning vinyl enthusiast to pick up some lost classics. Thankfully, Hard To Find Records are relatively easy to find, just visit www.htfr.com to see what hidden gems you can pick up.

The survival of these older records has more than contributed to the rising success of the newer releases. Though CD manufacture has continued to experience falling costs in recent years, the rise of digital sales has sorely affected this market, whilst the inherent romance and nostalgia of vinyl has seen its sales increase, with manufacturing prices remaining largely unaffected. Companies like Key Production have sought to capitalise on the duel success of digital and vinyl sales by offering a vinyl manufacturing service that can be packaged with an MP3 download option. The entire vinyl manufacturing process is outlined at www.keyproduction.co.uk/services/vinyl-manufacture, and will prove to be a worthwhile investment for any band or artist looking to carve out a niche in a resurgent and blossoming market.

Ultimately, it remains to be seen how long the vinyl revival will last, but recent sales suggest that it is still on the incline. The prominence of digital sales stood at 85% of physical sales for 2012, and will arguably exceed physical sales for the first time by the end of 2013. Yet, despite the falling sales of CDs, vinyl continues to experience a year on year increase, and in the end the best recipe for success will be for artists to synergise their releases across all platforms.

5 Steps for Getting Into the Music Industry

Right you talented people, enough procrastinating: it’s time to get your sound out there. You’ve played so often you can’t remember which chord is what, performed live for months in bars and pubs in your town, screamed, cried and punched your way through practice and now you’ve had enough. Sending your music out to producers, record labels and tour managers immediately conjures up the image of your little underdog CD in line with hundreds of thousands of other nameless wannabes, but you’re different, you have talent! So, for this reason I would like to remind you of things to prepare before you click the ‘upload hard work to successful boss person’ button.

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OneThe Triple Check

First step is always the hardest, but in this case it might done already. I know you’ve heard your own songs a thousand times, but if there’s even the smallest niggle of doubt about a song or part of a song, make it better. It feels like stuffing your grubby hands into a priceless piece of art work, but you have to refine and refine until you have gold. Don’t skip step one, do the triple check.

TwoHard Copies

Next, you will need to think about CD duplication which can all be sorted by Liquid Bubble Duplication here, they’re really very good too! This is why step one is so important. If you have 100 copies of songs you’re not that all that fond of after all, you’ll waste your time and money, and opportunity. I spent £80 for a 4 hour recording session in my town and hated it. I didn’t say anything when the guy asked for any changes, and my folly cost me a week’s rent. Get a hard copy of your music, and prepare for step three.

ThreeDecisions, decisions

Finding a career in the music industry is actually a piece of cake, look: http://www.creative-choices.co.uk/. Did you click on it yet? As I said, finding career paths, not a problem: getting said job requires a good application (which you should have checked by several different, reliable people), fortunate timing, and a bit of step four. Honestly, take a look through the categories on Creative Choices, it’ll help give you an idea of what floats your boat. If that isn’t enough, you can take a gander at some of the material on BBC Introducing which for me is just the best thing a big corporation could do for new musicians. Take a look at their advice section too!

Four – The Bridge

This one is the most important! Just in case that wasn’t clear enough, this stage is the most important: making connections. Your bridge to success is going to be made up of lots of different people in the industry. Social networking is fantastic for getting names, but you still have to meet and talk to your connections in person. Record producers and labels are always looking for fresh acts, but they need to be interested in your music. Putting art work on your CD is a good way of standing, as is sending a CD in itself, so make sure you’ve not skipped step one. Too many people just email poor quality copies of their work and it gets lost in the junk pile, and you will be forgotten even if your material is excellent. Make an impression, preferably a good one, preferably face to face. You can find more advice on how to present your material to industry professionals from this blog on Cyber PR which gives some excellent information on how the industry thinks.

Hit it!

The last piece of advice I have for you is to keep playing your town pubs. I don’t think there’s a better way of practicing than when you’re in front of a crowd: adrenaline is a powerful ally. I found this guide to practicing at home very useful indeed, give it a look, and don’t neglect your local gigs. That’s it from me; I wish you the best of luck and don’t forget to triple check. I put that in three times, did you get that?

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Sounds Like Business

Leaving university and starting a job is a daunting first step, and it will feel like you have reached the cliff edge, given a few disorientating moments to take in the view, and then booted off. You won’t immediately spread your wings and soar into your perfect job; you have to start somewhere which is usually the bottom of the barrel. It’s alright, there are jobs out there that you will enjoy, the trick is either finding them, or creating them yourself…

 Rock n’ Payroll

Music is like a natural bonding agent. It applies to everyone in some way, shape or form, and for a lot of us, affects the way we live. People who make a living working in the music industry often seem to be on a technical genius level with degrees coming out the kazoo, but the opportunities are manifold for everyone. It depends entirely on what you want to specialize in, but the fact that music is integral to everyone’s daily life means that you can apply your skills and your passion to making a living doing something you love. So if you’re looking for a bit of adventure with your paycheck then look at what you can do in the music industry, starting with this guide from the Guardian.

To a Certain Degree

Organizing gigs, playing live, sound technicalities, staging, lighting, agency… the list is astounding, and all it takes to get into it is a word in the right ear, or a click on the right site: like this one from Creative Choices. While it certainly helps to know a thing or two about music, you don’t need a particularly special qualification to show ability in an area. Taking night courses or just researching should be a daily hobby. This is where your initiative and creative thinking should combine to create new ways of generating interest in music, or constructing something for yourself. It has never been easier to make social/business connections online, but it’s never been more difficult to stand out from a crowd, so do something original to you.

The Next Stage

Say you’ve been searching for a job in the music industry, and despite the list of opportunities being bountiful, not finding the right position for you. You might possess a particular set of skills that are difficult to accommodate into that particular job. The really exciting part about working in the music industry today is that, because of the ever-adapting nature of music, people often form a company of their own! Now don’t jump straight on UK Company Formations and sign up now, there are things you have to think about before tailoring your career, obviously. With this in mind though, try to imagine what you would like to do with music every day, and see if it fits as a business idea. If so, why shouldn’t you consider your own company? I hadn’t for a long time because of my age, but really all it takes is proper planning, advice, and a bit of courage.

Band Together

While leaving uni is your opportunity to make something of yourself, you don’t have to go it alone. If you want to work in a particular field, but don’t have enough experience, ask someone who does if they’re interested in joining you. I asked around the office if anyone was interested in managing bands, and I got myself a good few volunteers to help at weekends. A successful business often starts with a group project, just don’t forget the group part.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your endeavours, every project starts out small, but you can make a big noise if you plug in right.

Organising a Charity Concert

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After always attending and enjoying various charity events and concerts over the years, I have recently decided I would like to investigate how I would go about hosting one of my own. One of my friends who I attended secondary school with Martin, is in need of a bone marrow transplant to save his life, myself and many other have joined the bone marrow register through the charity Anthony Nolan. Anthony Nolan is a pioneering charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer who need a blood stem cell, or bone marrow transplant.  This is a charity which is close to my heart and who I would like the money raised from the concert I want to host to be in aid of.

Before investigating how I would plan this event, I will be honest I was oblivious as to how much planning goes into a concert! It has only been since I have begun to plan the logistics of running an event of this nature that I have realised the massive amount of work that would be involved.

If you are a music fan like me then you already know the type of music you like and perhaps already have an idea of the sort of acts and bands which you would like to be a part of your entertainment. The type and popularity of the artists you want to book for the concert; I would argue are two of the most important elements. As when discussing hosting a concert with people the first thing many of them asked was about who would be performing. The right act can draw in audiences, and most importantly for myself and others planning charity events, people who will buy tickets and spend money raising revenue for the charity. Most importantly the type of artist you are considering and the fans they attract have to be able to fill the venue you have in mind for the concert.

Another massive consideration which I have found massive emphasis is placed upon when planning a concert is the health and safety aspects of the event. This is particularly important if like myself you want to host a concert where the majority of tickets sold are for standing space. I believe from my own experience that standing at a music concert provides the best atmosphere! If are planning on having a large crowd at your music concert then front of stage barriers are an essential part of any production of this type. Front of stage barriers are an essential part of your health and safety considerations as they provide a safe working area for security or medical personnel as well as creating a rescue zone for members of the audience who become ill or distressed. There are lots of companies offering this service, through my planning I have decided to use Wernick Event Hire as they provide a variety of event crowd control barriers. Depending on the numbers you are expecting at your concert will make a difference to the health and safety requirements which you must fulfill so ensure that you check out what these are in the planning stage of your concert to avoid problems later on.

Once you have planned your artist, venue, health and safety and everything is in place, it becomes time to advertise and market your event to ensure you get lots of people attending, so that especially in mine and charity concert cases you can raise as much money as possible! As my event is still only in the very early planning stages I have not yet begun to look at the marketing and advertising of it, however, with my very basic business understanding I know I will be looking to friends who are business minded to assist me with this! However, from researching the advertising and marketing of concerts and music events, I have found that one of the most important things is to ensure you reach a wide audience which you can engage in your music and therefore gather large crowds and ensure your concert is a success.

This is only a brief word about the work which is involved in the planning of a concert and a few of things which I am having to consider in the planning of my charity concert, but as you can see the list of things to do can seem exhaustive! However, if it is a success then it is all worth it. I found dosomething.org to be a really useful online resource, check it out for more ideas and tips on how to plan a charity concert.

 

Organising A Club Night

So you’re sick of going to the same club nights with the same music and the same, boring vibe. You want something new, something fresh, and then suddenly, it hits you. Why not start your own club night? You know the genre of music, the type of venue, but wait, you’re stuck. Be warned before you start there are many things you need to consider, do our check list to find out if you’ve got what it takes to start your own club night…

1. Assess your budget…

Remember that EVERYONE who is involved will need paying. Set realistic boundaries and limits. From the DJ to the venue, flyers to promotional staff. Rope in favours from friends and haggle things for free or cheaper to get yourself started.

2. Finding a good venue…

Again, being realistic here is key. You need to make sure you have 500 people to fill a 500 people capacity venue otherwise it’ll just look bare and empty. Start off small, if your night is a success, it’ll look super busy. If it isn’t, at least it will be well topped up with people. You can always expand at a later date. Most venues will provide security, cloakroom staff etc in the price, but for those that don’t, register that you need to have that covered too. Time to ask for those favours a couple of mates owe you.

3. Promotion

Now this is key to having a successful and enjoyable club night for yourself and your guests. Get your friends helping you to hand out flyers, putting up posters in local shops, at universities, colleges and do not forget the power of Facebook and Twitter. Social networking is a really good way to promote your club night and create an excited atmosphere around it.

4. Choose your music wisely. There’s absolutely no point in playing the same generic music you’re trying to escape from, and no point in playing against your competition. There are so many genres of music you can move to and from, which is the reason you wanted to start this club night right? You need to ensure that whoever you hire for the night, be it DJ or band, you have a wide selection of tunes to play fitting in with your theme.

5. Pick a name that stands out. All of the most successful club nights are short and snappy names. If you’re throwing a specific genre, choose a well known artist from that genre and name after one of their songs. Make names out of other words, word play, move things around. Be original, you get the picture.

 

If you’re still interested in setting up your own club night after those specific 5 points, then chances are, you’re ready and set to get going. Good luck and don’t panic. Things will go wrong, but learn from your mistakes and keep going, make yourself into that club night brand that everyone wants to go to and no one wants to forget.

Attending Gigs

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A truly excellent gig is a memorable experience, but of course many people want to record their attendance. For a long time, photography and video recording equipment were banned from gig venues, but with the increasing availability of digital camera phones, and the increasing use of compact digital cameras, some venues have had to relax their rules somewhat.

Perhaps it was the rise of YouTube that changed what venues will permit brought into the arena: nobody wants to see the videos of loud gigs, held in shaking cheering hands, when recorded on a camera phone or the video function of a compact digital. But bringing a Leica v-lux 20 with you—well, that’s a device capable of capturing quality images and video that could be distributed, illegally, for a price. Now venues forbid people from attending gigs with professional recording equipment and cameras. While official photographers with press passes might be able to show up wielding a Leica v-lux 20, it is unlikely that members of the public will be attending gigs with such a serious piece of kit for purely personal purposes, and they are unlikely to be allowed in with them.

And of course, attending gigs is about the experience, and part of the experience of live music is a lot of people crammed close together, absorbed by the act. This is not the environment your average amateur photographer would want to bring £600 worth of Leica v-lux 20 to in the first place—at least, not if they wanted it to make it through the gig! Perhaps let the professionals bring the expensive kit, and be satisfied with personal quality photos , ringing ears and a tour t-shirt to remember the gig by.

Concert Venues

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Concert venues provide a facility that allows bands to perform in each city they are touring in. If you are considering opening up your own venue to host concerts, there are many things to consider. You will first have to decide what size of venue that you would like to run. Once that is figured out, then you will know how to promote yourself to the bands that you would like to host. You will have to do your research and find the right kind of band that would be able to perform in you new venue. There is no reason why you should waste time talking to a band that will ultimately turn you down based on the wrong size of venue.

Running a concert venue brings a lot of work in order to run a successful venue. You must provide the right facilities for the type of venue that you want it to be. This can include the number of tables and chairs, having a fully stocked bar and having the right number of employees to work at each event that you are organising. This is especially prevalent when you are dealing with a large venue that holds 20,000-30,000 people. Being short staffed can cause many problems that include health and safety risks for not only the employees, but the people attending the concert as well. Once you have considered all of these factors, you can have a profitable business that provides a nice concert venue in your city.

Live Music

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An important part in the life of a musician is performing live for an audience. This could be anything from performing in a small cafe to a hand full of people, to sell out crowds at a large arena. It is crucial for a band to get their music out to as many people as they can. This allows for the band to promote themselves and their music. Live music is an experience that bands prepare for and allows for their music to reach many people. Touring is just a part of being in a band and is essential to become successful in the music industry. Your music needs to be heard for your current fans and to be able to reach new and potential fans.

It is hard to be profitable in the music industry these days and it takes a lot of hard work to be a successful musician or band. One of the key ways to help your band is through promotion. A great approach to promote your band is through touring and performing live music for people. That way, you can get your music to a variety of people. This could potentially lead to higher record sales, which will make your record company happier and more monetary value for your band. This success will lead to more albums being produced and a longer career in the music industry. Live music is the way to go when you want to become a profitable band.

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