Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The great Monday morning re-up in 11 easy steps

(1) There was an impressive turn-out last Thursday for the NI Music: The Way Forward all-day yakaton at Belfast’s Whitla Hall organised by the Northern Irish Music Industry Commission. While the number of heavy-hitters on the panels (new UK Music …

Mon, Nov 10, 2008, 08:11


(1) There was an impressive turn-out last Thursday for the NI Music: The Way Forward all-day yakaton at Belfast’s Whitla Hall organised by the Northern Irish Music Industry Commission. While the number of heavy-hitters on the panels (new UK Music boss Feargal Sharkey headed a line-up which included reps from Domino, South By Southwest, Kerrang, Bestival, Sony ATV Music, POD Concerts and others) certainly helped, it was still very encouraging to see a couple of hundred folks turning out on a weekday for a music business seminar in Ireland. I don’t think they were there to hear the BBC’s Stuart Bailie, AU magazine’s Jonny Tiernan and myself gush away for an hour about our favourite songs. Still, maybe they were. Any road, one of the best music biz gatherings I’ve been to in an age.

(2) Some interesting takeaways from the label panel courtesy of Smalltown America boss Andrew Ferris. He outlined how the 26 week campaign for each release rolls, from initially contacting 300 bloggers about the track or album (he says there’s usually a 40 per cent take-up from the music blogosphere to host or write about each track) to eventual release. Ferris also noted that an 8 out of 10 NME review five years ago would mean 5,000 sales – in 2008, the same rating means about 700 sales.

(3) I finally had a chance to check out Stuart Bailie’s Oh Yeah music centre in the middle of Belfast. At the moment, it has more potential than a new US president – a vast warehouse located a plectrum throw from the centre of town with a stage and oodles of space for rehearsal rooms, studios, a cafe, offices and everything else you could need to get your show on the road. As things stand, there’s lots going on and Stuart is open to any new ideas people want to throw at him. There’s some cash already in the kitty from various public funds but, as you would expect, more is needed. Maybe some of the £5 million earmarked for culture projects Up North can be sent to Gordon Street? (By the way, Stu’s excellent BBC blog is well worth checking out)

(4) Who knew there was such an appetite for Fox hunting in Dublin? A full house for the second visit in 2008 of the Fleet Foxes to town and much anticipation in the air. The audience thankfully hushed for the songs and, while those of us who saw them at Whelan’s in June probably prefered that gig, it was stlll a swell showcase for what is one of the albums of the year. Sure, even Fleet Foxes super-fan Joe Duffy tapped his feet and clapped his hands in the right places. It will be a while before we see the band in these parts again – when this tour wraps up, the band plan to record a bunch of new songs (nine are ready for the studio) before they hit the road again and avail of increased pay-days.

(5) Did you know that Barack Obama’s campaign provided a crash-course for country music yahoos in how to build and maintain an audience? You didn’t? Chet Flippo is the man with the pages from the playbook.

(6) Eva Wiseman checks out the state of NME life in yesterday’s Observer Music Monthly. Apparently, some of the staff are worried about the second album from Crystal Castles. Also in yesterday’s OMM, the first of many pieces you’ll read in the coming months on Motown at 50.

(7) We shall never their likes again, if we’re lucky. Goodbye Progressive Democrats, you will not be missed.

(8) Are you ready for a rake of would-be Barry Obamos knocking on your front door in the next couple of months to seek your vote in the local elections? Here’s the Sunday Business Post guide to what you can expect. And here’s Andrew Rawnsley from the Observer on why such cut-and-pasting will not work: “It’s preposterous. David Cameron is not the British Obama just because they both like to use the word ‘change’ a lot. Gordon Brown, a long-serving incumbent whose oratory has rarely been described as magical, cannot be Obama either. Much of the point about Obama is that there is no other leader like him. Not here. Not in America. Not anywhere. Not in a generation and probably not for another. His singularity is why he won and why his victory is so sensational.

(9) Bruuuuuuuuuce! New album due from Bruce Springsteen in January to tie in with that Superbowl appearance. More of that ol’ “Magic”? That will do nicely. And Bruce, please note that giving away a free download of the first song from the album with the Irish Times worked a treated last time round.

(10) Vaaaaaan! Rave reviews for the “Astral Weeks” love-in in Los Angeles at the weekend from the Washington Post and LA Times. What’s the betting he’s going to spend 2009 doing “Astral Weeks” all over the place?

(11) And finally, as the world learns that it was Bob the Builder who bashed Joe the Plumber, lets have some love round these parts for Lee Dorsey

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