Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

It’s nearly time for Hard Working Class Heroes

Next weekend, the Hard Working Class Heroes carnival takes over the capital. There’s a ton of stuff on over the coming weekend, with the live gigs, featuring 100 bands playing various city-centre venues between Thursday and Saturday nights, the pick …

Mon, Oct 3, 2011, 09:26


Next weekend, the Hard Working Class Heroes carnival takes over the capital. There’s a ton of stuff on over the coming weekend, with the live gigs, featuring 100 bands playing various city-centre venues between Thursday and Saturday nights, the pick of the crop. If we were to recommend one gig from the very large schedule of shows, it would (natch) have to be the OTR vs Nialler9 shizzle with Moths, Cloud Castle Lake, Tieranniesaur, The Depravations, The Danger Is and Last Days of 1984 at the Workman’s Club on Saturday.

But we would also like to point you towards the HWCH Convention, a series of panels and workshops which (DOI) OTR has had a hand in putting together. The convention events take place in either Filmbase or the Button Factory in Temple Bar and admission is free. Yes, free. You pay zilch euro for this helping of knowledge. Bargain.

Between Bandtips, a series of informal peer to peer conversations where a bunch of media, festival bookers and venue bookers will chew the fat, and the panels (more below), there’s a ton of stuff to feed your brain whether you’re someone who is involved in music onstage or offstage. The list of panelists and industry delegates who’re in town for the weekend is very impressive, featuring festival bookers from those international events bands should be playing (SXSW, Great Escape, Eurosonic, CMJ, Camden Crawl, Reeperbahn etc), geeks from companies like Soundcloud, We7 and PIAS Entertainment and a plethora of international media and bloggers. It’s a who’s who of people who are doing interesting and cool stuff right now as opposed to a bunch of aul’ lads who did stuff 20 years ago which you often find at similar events in Ireland.

There will be four discussion panels on the Friday and Saturday afternoons, including Meet the Geeks (what might come next from the music technology sector), The A Team (the people your band need in their corner) and Biogdiversity (how to juggle different tasks in the age of the portfolio career).

The keynote panel is The Free Agenda, something which has come out of discussions on this blog and elsewhere over the last couple of months. Here’s the blurb and some interesting links which might provide some food for thought on the day.

The notion of “free” has become something many involved in our industry take for granted. From giving away tracks or albums to playing gigs, providing your music for free has become a choice a huge number of acts have chosen (freely) to make.

But just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there is also no such thing as free music. There are costs at every stage of the process, yet acts seem willing to pick up the bill in the hope of making fans from the exposure or furthering their career for the future. It works for some, but it doesn’t work for everyone. So-called free services like Spotify and their streaming brothers and sisters also muddy the water as punters get their music for free and the tech lads augment their bottom-line, but the people who make the music make do with cents rather than euros.

Time for some questions and opinions. What’s the real value of free? At what stage, does free become a cost? Does providing your music for free make you a schmuck or smart? What happens when a band moves from free to paid-for? Can you really make a career from providing your music for free? Is free just a fad or is free here to stay?

Some footnotes:

Frank Ocean “The Lonny Breaux Collection” – a free 64 track (yes, you read that right, 64 tracks) mixtape from the Odd Future romeo and r’n'b crooner. That’s as much material as some acts will release in their entire career. There was no mention of giving away so much music for free in the old-school music business plan.

Fascinating exchange of views between Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line and Wyndham Wallace of The Quietius about the difficulties of making a living from music.

The complete guide to Freemium business models

Why indie labels continue to put up with miniscule royalities from Spotify and if this is going to be the way of the walk from now on.

Quit whinging! Jay Frank on why it’s not Spotify’s fault that you make so little money from free streams.

A musician responds: cellist Zoe Keating on Spotify and the niche economy.

Fighting the web culture free-for-all: Davin O’Dwyer’s review of “Free Ride”, Robert Levine’s book on how the internet is destroying the culture business, and how the culture business can fight back.

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