2009

Are Pirates Music’s Best Friend?

By Pia Conway

Piracy may be considered a threat to the music industry but a new study has found it may also be its engine.

The BI Norwegian School of Management released a report that states those who download music illegally are also 10 times more likely to pay for songs than those who don’t.

The Norwegian study was conducted among 2000 online music users aged 15 and above. The study found that users who download music illegally from file-sharing sites like Limewire and Utorrent, ultimately made 10 times as many legit music purchases than the law abiding users.

This would make music pirates the industry’s largest source of legitimate online consumers for digital sales. Online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon MP3 were found to be preferred by pirates for paid music purchases over traditional record stores.

Sales assistant Callan Hasseell from Trax music told 3rd Degree that more people download music illegally than we may realise.

He said: “Many people who come to purchase music from the store have previously already downloaded the songs, but have enjoyed the music so much that they have therefore decided to buy a hard copy.”

In recent years music sales have plummeted and filesharing is usually blamed.

Music pirates are usually described as Internet criminals, with their fingers on the keypad downloading songs via Limewire and never paying a single cent.

Mr Hasseell believes that it may not just be the availability of “free” music that is causing the drop in sales.

“It is apparent that sales are dropping, but I think, if anything, sales have dropped due to lack of faith in music and the artists themselves,” he said.

“These days bands will get picked up by a label and dropped two years later, there seems to be no longevity in music labels anymore.

“Music at present appears to be disposable. Bands and artists are constantly remixing and regurgitating old music that they call their own; many can’t even sing well live or without back up music. The uniqueness is gone.”

Mr Hasseell then commented on the use of the Internet to advertise music.

“A popular Icelandic band called Sigur Ros provided their last album for free from their website. They still provided a hardcopy to be brought in store but they simply gave their fans the choice between the two.”

3rd Degree then asked, how bands make money if they are allowing the public to download their music for free?

Mr Hasseell responded saying “They hold fantastic and amazing live shows in the northern hemisphere which people are happy to pay good money for because the band rewards their fans with the constant quality of live music shows.”

Whether this is a positive or a negative, one bit of good news among the doom and gloom is the steady rise in digital music sales.

Thousands of Internet do-gooders are paying for songs they like, buying them from Amazon or iTunes music stores. According to the report by the BI Norwegian School of Management the pirates and the good-guys may both be supporting the musicians.

Info and Images courtesy of 3rd Degree

Myspace Music Keeps Bands Afloat

By Pia Conway

The days of gaining grass roots followers by pub gigging may be over, as millions of independent music bands use the Internet to gain popularity and release their sound to millions.

MySpace music has become a popular resource for musicians who know the importance of networking. The site’s aim is to be an online hub for music and entertainment, which allow members to stream music from artists all around the world.

Bands that use Myspace have been shown to have a much higher chance of being discovered or, at the very least, gain fame or popularity for being talented.

Many musicians who use the social networking website have been booked for gigs, radio spots, and even TV appearances.

Nicholas Owen, lead singer of The Brow Horn Orchestra (a seven-piece skatronic jam band from Fremantle) told, 3rd Degree that MySpace has helped them become prominent fixtures on the local Perth scene.

“We started off as young buskers who used to hit the streets of Fremantle armed with tacky Hawaiian shirts spreading our music via a battery run Casio keyboard,” he said.

“I can now happily say we are a band that performs impressive live shows which incorporate a carnival vibe and a strong mix of global styles.

“Recently we took ourselves over east to the gold coast and represented WA in the national finals of the infamous campus band competition.”

Mr Owen also commented on the positives of having a MySpace page.

“MySpace has many benefits to young artists and those benefits, I believe, are definitely becoming more and more recognized everyday,” he said.

“MySpace has been a great way for us to promote our band’s music and give people an insight to what we are all about.

“It allows us to give our MySpace friends regular updates to our current shows, we can post blogs, pictures and of course share our love of music with hundreds of people all around the world.”

2008 Channel V Australian Artist Of The Year Short Stack, a three piece teenage band from New South Wales, appear to have a strong understanding of the benefits of networking.

Driving their success though SMS, YouTube and MySpace, they have wracked up over four million plays on MySpace and over one million plays for their second single labelled Princess. They are also Australia’s largest band on YouTube with over 1.4 million views.

These statistics are evidence that MySpace music has created opportunities for budding musicians.

Info and image courtesy 3rd Degree

Mitchell Thriving Post-Idol

By Rami Mustafa

Amateur musicians often dream of making it big. Many hope that busking in the streets and scoring a few gigs at the local pub will make them stand out from the thousands of other hopefuls.

A 19-year-old girl by the name of Lisa Mitchell, of Albury in New South Wales, has proven that persistence and hunger for success do in fact pay off.

The ex-Idol‘s debut album, Wonder, released in July of this year, peaked at number six on the ARIA Albums Chart, beating Australian favourites fellow former Idol contestant Jessica Mauboy and Cassie Davis.

It seems Mitchell has been unscathed by the pressures delivered by Network Ten’s Australian Idol.

She joined the Top 12 of the 2006 season, at the age of 16, before being voted off after reaching the final six.

Even radio shock jock and ex-Idol judge Kyle Sandilands backed Mitchell’s talent and persona.

He said after one of her performances on Idol in 2006: “whether she wins or not, this girl could be the best thing that’s ever come out of this country musically.”

After surviving the Idol experience she was offered several recording contracts, but declined, preferring to focus on refining her music and style.

She continued working on her rock-and-folk-themed style and developed into an original-sounding artist. This has seen her seal deals with both Scorpio Music and Warner Music, and fly to the UK to record two separate EPs, as well as her debut album.

Mitchell has toured alongside musicians Ben Lee and Jason Mraz, and co-written songs with New Zealand band Evermore, Ed Harcourt, Bob Evans and Clare Bowditch.

Mitchell recently wrapped up the last leg of her headlining Australian tour here in Perth, which delighted many fans at Capitol.

Next year she plans to continue touring and promoting her album.

For more information on Lisa Mitchell and her music, visit her official website.

Info and image courtesy 3rd Degree

Going Gaga

By Chloe Starick

Lady Gaga, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, started her rise to fame in 2006 when she was discovered by Akon and signed with a record company.

Gaga who takes her nickname from Queen’s song Radio Gaga, started out playing in clubs in New York City where her quirky, eccentric style was embraced.

By age 20, she was signed to a record label and was writing songs for artists including the Pussycat Dolls.

Since her debut in the spotlight, the 23-year-old from New York has been plagued with rumours, the latest of which suggests that ‘she’ is actually a ‘he’.

While on stage performing at the Glastonbury Festival in England, Lady Gaga exposed what appears to be male genitalia and images documenting this have since been posted across the internet.

These reports have not yet been confirmed.

There are also reports that back in 2008, Gaga blogged about the fact that she is a hermaphrodite.

“It’s not something that I’m ashamed of, just isn’t something that I go around telling everyone. Yes. I have both male and female genitalia, but I consider myself a female,” she reportedly wrote.

According to ABCnews.com Gaga’s manager has told media that the rumours are “ridiculous”.

Gaga’s debut album The Fame was released in August 2008 and included her three number one singles Poker Face, Love Game and Just Dance.

The Fame shot to number one in the charts in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Gaga uses artists such as David Bowie, Queen, Madonna and Michael Jackson as inspiration for her pop-rock songs.

“I always loved rock and pop and theatre,” she said.

“When I discovered Queen and David Bowie is when it really came together for me and I realised I could do all three.”

Gaga opened concerts for the Pussycat Dolls and New Kids the Block before headlining her first tour The Fame Ball Tour.

With her first tour a resounding success, Gaga has announced a second tour which will visit Perth on Friday April 2, 2010 at Challenge Stadium.

info and image courtesy of 3rd Degree

Perth: Rock Central or a Backwater?

By Mara Pomana

Many music-lovers claim that Perth often misses out on shows and festivals as big acts perform only in Australia’s other cities and that our concert tickets are too expensive. 3rd Degree’s Mara Pomana decided to investigate.

Asked whether big acts pass us by managing director of Concert & Corporate Productions (CCP), Tim Bradsmith, said that artists do not skip Perth to only go to the east coast.

Perth has played host to a number of artists this year including Billy Joel, Kings of Leon, Pink, The Killers, Fat Boy Slim, Duffy and soon to come are Beyonce and AC/DC.

“I think most acts love coming to Perth more so than the east coast,” Mr Bradsmith said.

“Last year CCP supplied around 90 per cent of all shows here in Perth. Big Day Out, The Who, Vfest, Daft Punk, Future Music, Soundwave and many more.”

CCP is a production company that supplies lights, big screens, labour and acts as local representation for promoters.

Mr Bradsmith has over 15 years of experience in the industry and has looked after Joe Cocker, Barry Humphries, Michael Crawford and Tina Turner.

Another common complaint about entertainment in Perth is that concert tickets are too expensive.

3rd Degree posted the question: ‘Are concert tickets too expensive?’ on Facebook, and 50 people responded. Many commented that they are too expensive, although some agreed that the festival tickets are worth their money as there are more bands and it lasts for a whole day, not just a couple of hours.

One pointed out that while some students can work and earn that money, it can be difficult for very young fans who need their parents or guardians to go along with them, which means paying the sum of $170 twice.

Mr Bradsmith thinks that tickets in Perth are reasonably priced when you factor in costs assocaited with getting acts here like flights, crew and venue set-up.

“In regards to ticket prices we are in line with the rest of the country, which is great for Perth as it cost a lot of money in transport to get here,” he said.

Info and image courtesy 3rd Degree

CD’s – End of an Era?

By Benjamin Roberts

The way Australians acquire and listen to music is set to undergo a radical change that could spell the end of the Compact Disc.

Major record labels such as Sony Music, Universal Music, EMI and Warner Music are joining forces to provide a subscription service to consumers for a small monthly fee.

From October people all over Australia will be able to pay roughly $10 a month to access thousands of songs over the Internet.

Music industry expert Phil Tripp, told the Sydney Morning Herald’s Christine Sams that music was “about to become a service, a commodity like water where it is piped into your home”.

The only hitch with the new initiative is the songs will be streamed via the Internet and not downloadable to keep.

So is this the end of the CD? Since the mid-eighties they have been the stalwart of music delivery but, in this technological age, illegal downloading and file sharing has caused a dramatic fall in CD sales.

David Virgo has owned a music store in Perth for over 30 years and says that, particularly in the last decade, CD sales have dropped significantly.

“There has been a steady decline in CD sales over the last few years, and it seems to increase every year,” he said.

“It’s certainly different from the old days when they almost walked themselves out the door,” he explained.

The CD made its big move into the music world in 1985 when Philips teamed up with Dire Straits, one of the world’s biggest bands, to release the Brothers in Arms album.

The increased sound quality was heavily promoted and the album went on to become the first to sell one million copies in the CD format, projecting the CD as the format for the future.

“That album in particular stands out as the turning point for me, that thing went nuts. Almost every household in Australia had that album,” Mr Virgo said.

But Mr Virgo doesn’t believe this new music subscription service is necessarily the final nail in the CD coffin.

“People still buy them, I think they always will. Some people prefer to have them, even just as keepsakes.”

Info and image courtesy 3rd Degree

One Hit Wonders

By Lauren Webber-Maeder

Ever think back to the music of the ’60s, ’70s ’80s and ’90s and wonder what happened to those, then, well known songs and artists? Where did singers such as Billy Ray Cyrus or Vanilla Ice end up? Are they still alive and making music and why was their success so short lived?

‘One hit wonder’ is a music industry term used to describe an artist known for only one hit single. Throughout the decades, there have been numerous ‘one hit wonders’ who have experienced great success for a very short period of time.

Billy Ray Cyrus is just one of these artists who fell onto the music scene in 1992 with his hit single Don’t Tell My Heart, which was later changed to Achy Breaky Heart. Cyrus was first discovered in 1990 by Mercury talent scouts whilst opening a concert for Reba McEntire in Louisville, Kentucky.

It was due to the release of his first single that Cyrus’ success sky rocketed. The song was played and requested on radio stations all over the world. Although Billy Ray Cyrus released a number of songs and albums after his hit single, his success and status began to dwindle.

None of his other singles were as popular as Achy Breaky Heart and it was because of this that Cyrus eventually disappeared from the world’s music scene. He now plays alongside his daughter, Miley Cyrus, who has experienced even greater success than her father, with her popular children’s TV show, Hannah Montana.

Cyrus currently lives in Los Angeles with his four children and continues to produce albums, his latest being Back to Tennessee.

The story of Robert Matthew Van Winkle – aka Vanilla Ice – is somewhat similar. Vanilla Ice exploded onto the world’s music scene during the ‘90s with his hit single Ice, Ice Baby. The song was the first rap single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and gained enormous success.

Once again, radio stations throughout the world received hundreds of requests to play the single and Vanilla Ice became famous. The album containing the single sold over 15 million copies and holds the record for the highest selling rap record ever.

Although Vanilla Ice endured a notable amount of success, it all seemed to go downhill from here. Four years after the release of his first album, Ice disappeared almost completely from the rapping scene.

He took up motocross riding and gave up music altogether. In 1998, he released another album that sold 100,000 copies and allowed him to break back into the music industry. However, he is still a very low key artist and is rarely heard of.

Although many music artists endure a certain amount of success, the majority of the time it is very short lived. To find that recipe for a hit single is hard enough. To do it twice is harder still.

It takes a very special artist to continually hit the jackpot. That’s why you hear so many stories like Cyrus’ and Ice’s – where they reach the top, and never get back there.

Info and Image courtesy 3rd Degree

Comeback Kings

By Talitha Marco

We’ve all seen it happen before, an unknown singer will sing one really good song, release a few albums, attend a few interviews and go on a world tour. Suddenly, they represent the epitome of fame, that is, until their imminent fall from grace. Very few singers regain the popularity they once experienced at the height of their career. In saying that, the comeback phenomenon is not unheard of.

Many failed attempts at the comeback are as common as the same contestants on Australian Idol, however the odd singer will escape from the clasp of media criticism and once again reign in a parade filled with popularity and recognition.

‘The musical comeback phenomenon’ is the term for ‘once globally popular singer/s returning to the media spot light after an extended period of inactivity.’

To have a totally successful comeback, the singer/s must regain their former popularity and ‘more.’ ‘More’ is when the artists ‘wow’ audiences with new or improved delivery of songs leaving them with no other comments than “Wow, this song is his best yet!”

Our colourful music history has painted us some lovely examples of great musical comebacks. In the 1950s we saw Sinatra comeback and do it his way. In 1968, we saw Elvis come back from his ‘acting career’ to the stage, where he donned a leather suit and performed his ‘68 Comeback Special,’ entitled “Elvis.”

In the seventies, the disco ball was about the only thing shining in the world of music. This was an era where popular singers and bands of the sixties were ditching their peace chains to start families and careers outside the industry.

The eighties was an era that brings to mind a few major comebacks in the music industry. The sounds of Tina Turner’s first number one single, and rock band AC/DC come to mind.

Roy Orbison made a much talked about comeback when he joined The Travelling Wilburys in 1987. One could not mention eighties comebacks without the inclusion of Australian singer John Farnham. He released the song You’re the Voice in 1986 after losing nearly everything he owned.

The century turned and so did a lot of singers’ second chances in the spotlight. Johnny Cash’s songs were revived after the release of the movie, Walk the Line in 2005.

The Spice Girls’ much anticipated comeback reunion in 2007 was a massive ‘pie in the face’ for the nineties pop group, who later broke up after a few performances, which brings us to comebacks of 2009.

The most reported and much anticipated musical comebacks of 2009 are Michael Jackson and Britney Spears.

Jackson announced his comeback tour earlier this year, expected to be his first musical appearance in eight years. It’s been 25 years since the release of Thriller. One wonders how anyone could ever regain the fame he once had, given the ‘unfortunate’ proceedings in his life since the eighties.

As for Spears, she failed her first comeback, ‘Gimme More,’ marked by aninfamous performance at the MTV music awards in 2007. Spears has given it another go after stunts and irrational behaviour highlighted in paparazzi photos.

Currently the “Circus tour” has been given mixed reviews by critics, questioning how successful the long overdue comeback has been. Personally, I don’t think she’ll ever return to her nineties glory, even though generation Y may strongly disagree. Shaved heads, custody battles and addictions take a toll on anyone.

Now that an understanding of popular comeback acts has been established, one may wonder who has been awarded my prestigious title of ‘comeback king.’ Well I have happily made the decision based on a phenomenon I noticed while writing this article.

I have to admit, I did have a ‘writers block’ when I first began forming ideas. As the day passed by, I noticed myself murmuring Elvis songs, many of them featured in his 1968 special. Towards the end of this article, I found myself belting out my slightly out of tune version of All Shook Up for no apparent reason at all.

It seems that long after his comeback, his songs still are being sung at the very mention of his name. Sure, one may attribute the reason for this to external factors, but my mind has been made up. Elvis is the Number 1 comeback King of all time.

Info and Image courtesy of 3rd Degree

Swedish Spots Strike Europe

By Amanda West

The website is easy to use and has been compared to Amazon.com, only the content is music not books. It even makes suggestions as to your next song choice based on what you have played so far.

Spotify’s popularity has soared in the short time the site has been active. It was first launched in the United Kingdom where a whopping 250,000 people registered as users. The site has also been launched in Italy, Spain, Germany and France.

Many sites like Spotify have been launched in recent years but Spotify is unique because it is both free and legal. This could mean heavy competition for iTunes because everything in the iTunes store is copyrighted and therefore requires payment.

For years the music industry has been struggling against illegal music download websites or programs. Spotify is the first program of its kind to not only give people the free music they have become accustomed to, but also give revenue to the music industry.

This new creation is designed to make its profit from advertisers. This is how it allows the content to be free for users. The rights to the music are bought from right holders and then the music is published on the internet. Spotify also has a subscription services that users register for in order to get the music.

Mark Mulligan of the digital analysts Forrester Research told The Sunday Times, “The digital generation never learnt the habit of paying for music.

“There are fewer people buying fewer units, but there is more actual music being consumed than at any time in history. The problem is, very little of it is being paid for.”

Info and Image courtesy of 3rd Degree

Local Musicians in the Limelight

Competition between Perth’s leading music pubs and clubs has seen emerging local talent showcased like never before.

3rd Degree checked out two 2009 ‘Most Popular Music Venue’ WAMi award nominees: The Rosemount Hotel and the Fly by Night Musicians’ Club.

The Rosemount in North Perth and the Fly by Night Musicians’ Club in Fremantle both claim they helped start Eskimo Joe’s career.

The Rosemount also claims Drapht and Downsyde. The Fly by Night Musicians’ Club claims John Butler Trio, The Flairz, The Panics and The Waifs among many others.

The Rosemount Marketing Manager Rachel Smith said, “The Rosemount continues to find great local talent and give them their start in the industry. WA provides Australia with so much talent, how can we not showcase it at The Rosemount.”

The Rosemount features popular local and international bands on Saturday nights. Monday nights is an ‘Open Mic Night’ for those who are trying to get their voices and talents seen.

Band night will also be introduced on Wednesdays at The Rosemount to showcase the best talent Perth has to offer.

The Fly by Night Musicians’ Club Managing Director Rex Gray said, “The Fly remains one of the few venues dedicated to emerging local talent. We provide facilities not available in any other venue, including band rehearsal space for young local talent.

“The Fly is a not-for-profit organisation run by musicians and music lovers. Current members include John Butler Trio, The Flairz and many other popular and emerging local bands and musicians.”

The Fly by Night Musician’s Club entertains over 40,000 patrons a year; the majority are young people under the age of 25.

The venue has a ‘special facilities license’ that allows under 18-year-olds to enter the premises if they are supervised by a legal guardian.

Over the years, the venue has hosted numerous debut album launches for young local musicians.

The West Australian Music Industry Association (WAM) exists to develop the local contemporary music industry in West Australia.

WAM’s music industry awards, the 2009 WAMi awards, were decided overnight. Award nominations and results are available at WAM’s website

The Fly by Night Musicians’ Club website
The Rosemount website

Info and image courtesy of 3rd Degree

British India: Not Your Average Garage Band

By Anhar Khanbhai

With a Myspace page listing influences including “vaseline amputees with neon coughs, galaxies full of nobodies, runaround kids in get-go cars and The Beatles”, it comes as no surprise that songs such as God Is Dead(Meet The Kids), Run The Red Light, You Will Die & I Will Take Over, Teenage Mother and Funeral For A Trend feature on the set list of Aussie band British India.

They may have taken a while to form but British India have finally found their niche.

The Victorian four-piece of lead singer Declan Melia, lead guitarist Nic Wilson, bass player Will Drummond and drummer Matt O’Gorman know how to “smash it up”.

With their Garage/Indie music style, the band earned a manager right from their very first gig who signed them a second gig with the Hoodoo Gurus.

British India’s fame started in 2004 when they won Future Rock – a prominent band competition. Their first single Outside 109 was played on Triple J within an hour of them receiving it.

However, it was not all smooth sailing for the Melbournites as their first album, Guillotine, sat on the shelf for months after it was recorded while no major labels were picking it up.

The boys used the delay to their advantage and wrote a follow-up to the ARIA-winning Guillotine, before the debut album was released.

At one time, British India had the most requested song on Triple J from Guillotine and this gave them the exposure they needed to tour around the country, playing at the bulk of Australia’s summer festivals including Big Day Out, Homebake, Meredith Music Festival and the Pyramid Festival.

“I hate the way I look and despise the way I sing,” are just some of the lyrics Perth rock fans heard Melia yelping into the microphone when British India performed live on April 18 at Capitol.

With Melia’s cynical lyrics he comes out as the voice of disenchanted youth – nobody is spared in the 23-year-old’s critique of the world.

“We went in definitely more open-minded,” Melia said.

“But I guess we still can’t escape from the influence of the music we listened to in our embryonic stages as a band. We’re still unable to break away from that sound.”

Their second album Thieves has certainly widened the scope for the band as Melia has experimented with more melodies making their songs much smarter and the band more mature.

“I don’t want to write about real life… I find real life f—ing boring. The role of the songwriter is to write about the exaggerated life,” he said.

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Indigo: The Place To Be

By Tegan Maffescioni

Place of Indigo is showing Perth what a rock band with the right dose of keys and synth can do.

From day one these locals have been jamming and writing original music giving them the chance to develop their sound and get the songs right.

MySpace Music Reviews said their live performances “produced a better sound than their online demos, utilising the freedom of the stage to take on extended instrumental breaks while giving the lyrics their due.”

The four boys: Sam Joyce (vocals/guitars), Steve Choate (guitars), Mike Charlesworth (drums) and James Steven-Cutler (keys) formed in early 2008 with a three song demo recorded in October that year.

November was their first gig and they have since played at venues throughout Perth with a constant revamp of music performance.

With the ’08 demo being slowly outdated, 2009 looks set to be a big one. “We have big plans for this year including more live shows, single launches and EP ideas,” Choate said.

“It should be an enjoyable time. We will record a three song sampler this month to update the MySpace and Facebook pages.

“The big aim is to record an EP by the end of the year.”

In the meantime the band is aiming at “playing live as much as possible at better venues and with more established Perth bands”.

Manager Courtney Carter said the band is selling themselves perfectly at the moment. “By supporting other bands more than hosting our own shows has helped increase exposure…people are falling in love with the music.”

Recent gigs at Barmania and Norfolk to 150 people plus playing with good local bands Voltaire Twins and Kudos Fiasco are sitting on top of their “moments” list. A must see is James’ keyboard swaying rock moves; the guy is a genius on the keys.

Despite their lives outside of the band, all four dream of pushing their music as far as they can.

A common love of sport ties the four together, with all band members completing study in this field. Charlesworth and Choate are both keen sportsmen with the latter a part of the World Championship winning North Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club beach relay team.

With this sort of grounding they look set to realise their dream and, along the way, become a really good band with an awesome live act. “We will enjoy whatever happens along the way!”

Place of Indigo played in Perth on April 17 at the Railway Hotel Fremantle.

Info and image courtesy of 3rd Degree