Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: The next Soundcloud?

If you've used Soundcloud for a while, you'll probably have noticed that it ain't what it used to be. That's largely because it's spent the last couple of years under the copyright cosh. It concluded a somewhat mystifying deal that saw Warner Music take a 5% stake, but negotiations with Universal Music have been halted by a lawsuit from Britain's Performing Rights Society, which says it's acting after five years of talks failed to result in a deal.

Ironically, Soundcloud's galloping growth – annual plays doubled in the past year to 4.9 billion – will have made music companies even more determined to get their due, even though there's very little revenue to go around. It may be that Soundcloud's CEO Aexander Ljung will prevail and the company will find a way to monetise and pay, but it will be a different place then.

Those numbers say it's a better place to present music than ever. Yet DJ mixes and edits are being taken down all the time and the effort of trying to go legit seems to have impacted on the whole atmosphere of the place. It's not the home of mix culture any more and the niche vibe that launched Drake mixtapes and the dubious blessing of EDM is ebbing.

So ... is it time for a new Soundcloud?

A DJ TechTools roundup of alternatives recently annointed Hear This as the rightful heir and so did this guy and this guy and I'm inclined to agree.

Hear This is both how Soundcloud used to be and how it could have been if it hadn't stalled. It's probably even more DJ-oriented, but has a lot more available for download – often on a follow-to-download or share-to-download basis – and people I already follow on Soundcloud, like RocknRolla Soundsystem, Disco Tech and Digital Visions, are there too. (I'm Public Address there and I have no tracks to play you.)

Among the downloads there at the moment are this bouncy Disco Tech edit of Aretha's 'Rock Steady':

RocknRolla's Sly and the Family Stone edit:

And Bosq's Temptations rework:

There are also some really cool features that tend to emphasise how much momentum Soundcloud has lost in the last couple of years. Like a much more sophisticated embedded player (I could even choose to add an external style sheet especially for this site) and Maps, which lets you locate profiles by location. It's a little underpopulated as yet but, as an example, it swiftly led me to this this edit by young Auckland DJ Lady Jaye, who I would not have found any other way.

But more importantly, it's also something Soundcloud has never managed (or tried) to become: a shop. This track, for example, offers the option of buying a WAV file direct from the artist:

Maybe that will help it survive an eventual copyright reckoning, maybe it won't. But Hear This is pretty clearly where the mix culture crowd is heading for now.


I'm delighted this week to welcome the new Friday Music sponsor, The Audio Consultant. They're a longstanding home and commercial sound solutions company from Hamilton and they've more recently set up an Auckland branch in Williamson Ave, Grey Lynn.

They're a really great fit because the boss Dan Howard is not only a legit music fan, but a member of the Public Address reader community and a really nice chap. Huzzah!


Did I mention we have an event tomorrow? 

The surprise on the poster is now not a surprise – it's Serato's first consumer app, Pyro, which runs on iOS devices (and Apple Watch) and fills a gap in the market for people who want to play a bunch of songs more or less like a DJ would, matching tempos and mixing between tracks. I've been using it for a couple of weeks and really works. It's also free.

IRL kicks off at 2.30 and it would really help us if you could RSVP here.

I'd also note that Golden Dawn is doing lunch tomorrow, so you could come early and eat some of the bar's award-winning food before the show. It seems the weather is going to clear in plenty of time.

If you can't make it but will be near a device, this is where the amazing Hugh Sundae and his crew will be streaming the whole thing for 95bFM:

We'll be talking at 3pm sharp, so don't miss.


So on Wednesday, the visiting rap group Rae Sremmurd tweeted Justin Bieber:

And last night in Auckland Bieber came onstage at their gig, smoked a joint and swigged from a bottle of Hennessy. One of very many videos ...


More summer festival news: Splore has made its first lineup announcement and the standout for me is sound system veterans The Dub Pistols. Others will be delighted to see the return of The Correspondents and Pitchfork darling Waxahatchee should be well worth seeing.

Splore stages its announcements, so there is a lot more to come. I've also talked with the Splore team about doing another talk programme in 2016 and I'm very hopeful that will happen. I have an American guest in mind who I think will be amazing.

In case you were wondering, the ticket and camping options are here.


This year's BBC John Peel Lecture was by Brian Eno. You can hear it here on the BBC 6 Music site. And you can also watch this charming little video of Eno having a look around the Peel Archive:

Have you seen Disco/Graph? It's a sprawling interactive visualisation of musical relationships captured in the data on Discogs. Just search for an artist or act and then double-click to reveal more relationships. here's the one for The Clean.

The National Library's Sholto Duncan has pored over the dead URL file of the New Zealand Web Archive and turned up hundreds of New Zealand music sites that exist now only in the Archive. Some of them really illustrate why we have such an archive.

NZRave.com, for example, ran from 2005 to 2011 and is, says Sholto, "an extensive resource with hundreds of pages of news, articles, interviews, and of course photos – including some that aren’t so flattering! It’s a great insight into a specific music subculture, and also includes a range of forums and user generated content."



The latest NZ ON Air NewTracks playlist is up on Souncloud now and there are some real crackers on it. Among them, this haunting, imposing tune from The Impending Adorations, aka Paul McLaney:

Note also that Paul and Rhian Sheehan have collaborated on this track, which uses Baboom as a charitable donation platform.  Proceeds go directly to Oxfam via Baboom's real-time payments system.

Back to NewTracks, Dick Johnson's awesome remix of A Hori Buzz's 'Providence', which you can buy on iTunes:

Earlier in the week, Stereogum premiered 'Warm Waveform', the latest single from The Chills' forthcoming Silver Bullets album.

The lovely chaps at the Sweet Mix Kids have teamed up with Pikachunes for a very quirky new single that's out today:

They've also posted a remix of their last single, 'Pure Heart', as a free download:

And one of my favourites on the 95bFM playlist at the moment, this extremely perky NCEA anthem from Avoid! Avoid!


And finally Auckland, The Phoenix Foundation play the Powerstation tonight and Lontalius plays Neck of the Woods before jetting out to America. If I had to call it, I'd say Justin Bieber is more likely to be seen on stage with the latter.


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


About Chris Brown

We should begin by making clear exactly what Chris Brown did to Rihanna in 2009. He has not "been accused of being involved in violence against his partner" as Dame Tariana Turia bizarrely said yesterday. And his actions were not "considered only odious enough to warrant community service" as a hapless post on The Daily Blog claims.

Brown was convicted of felony assault in 2009 on the basis of a police statement that describes a vicious and prolonged attack on his then-girlfriend – biting, strangling and a "barrage" of punches that "caused Robyn F.’s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle." He told her he was going to kill her and it ended only when he fled after someone heard her screaming and called the police.

Brown was wealthy enough to afford the kind of lawyers who could get him a very good plea deal: counselling, community work and five years' probation.

Probation did not go well. In 2011, he "went berserk" after a challenging Good Morning America interview. The following year, he was part of an ugly nightclub brawl in which a number of bystanders were injured. The next year he punched and threatened to kill Frank Ocean in a dispute over a parking space, also verbally abusing Ocean, who had recently come out, as a "faggot".

In 2013 his lawyers negotiated him out of a hit and run charge after an incident in which he was described as highly aggressive and calling the victim a "bitch". In the same year, he launched an unprovoked attack on two men who had tried to join in a fan photo with him, shouting “I’m not into this gay shit, I’m into boxing."

It was this last assault that finally brought his probation into question. His lawyers announced that he would voluntarily enter a drug rehab facility, where his goal would be to "gain focus and insight into his past and recent behavior, enabling him to continue the pursuit of his life and his career from a healthier vantage point". He didn't complete his three-month programme because he was thrown out for "breaking program rules by acting violently."

A judge committed him to another rehab facility, warning that if he left that one he would go to jail. He was kicked out of that one too. And was thus duly sentenced to a year's jail, less the time spent in rehab, and eventually served only half of that time because California's jails are overcrowded with non-violent drug offenders.

This year his probation formally expired. Unfortunately, his violent nature did not. In May, he was charged with battery after he and a member of his entourage beat a man he argued with at a basketball court. Again, the victim suddenly declined to press charges.

Chris Brown may well be sincere in his desire to beat his demons and change his ways. But the idea that he is anywhere near that place now, and that he can credibly act as an anti-violence advocate to the youth of New Zealand, is flat-out ludicrous.

But that's not actually his problem with coming to New Zealand. His problem is that he was declined entry to Britain in 2010, on account of his criminal record, and earlier this year he was also denied entry to Canada. Because he has been excluded from those two countries he is not automatically eligible for a New Zealand visa and would require a special direction under Section 17 of the Immigration Act 2009. So it's not a matter of choosing to ban him, but one of specifically electing to allow him in.

And yet, Kanoa Lloyd makes some strong arguments in her Newsworthy column Chris Brown and Our Domestic Violence Double Standards. Most notably, that such immigration sanctions have been almost exclusively visited on black entertainers: "If you’re white, you’re still welcome. We’re much more certain you’ve learned the error of your ways."

She contrasts the cases of Mike Tyson (denied a New Zealand visa in 2012 over his rape conviction) and Odd Future (ludicrously denied entry in 2011 as a potential "threat to public order") with that of Tommy Lee, who toured here despite having served six months jail time for assaulting his then-girlfriend Pamela Anderson in 1998 (she might have also noted an unpleasant race-tinged assault conviction in 2000 and an alleged assault on a man who tried to take photos of him in 2013).

But she's on less sure ground in implying that Eminem's violent lyrics didn't prevent him touring here only because he's white. Even the officials who banned Odd Future couldn't do so solely on the basis of their work. (Although Eminem was lucky to be able to plead down serious charges in 2000 after an incident where he brandished an unloaded gun at a man he saw kissing his wife.)

Lloyd also notes that Black Sabbath are touring here again this year even though "Ozzy Osbourne has admitted getting drunk and trying to strangle his wife Sharon in 1984. We seem to have let him off the hook for good behaviour."

Well, yeah, we have. I'm not sure a widely-recounted incident (including by Sharon herself) more than 25 years ago (it was in 1989) should prevent Osbourne ever travelling internationally again. I don't think anyone doubts that he is a reformed man.

And whatever we feel about people, it is not just to punish them in perpetuity – hearing Tony Veitch on the radio might well make your skin crawl, but he does have a right to employment. The late Graham Brazier was rightly convicted in 2013 of drunken assaults on his partners (they were not of anything approaching the order of the others described in this post, but they were certainly assaults) but it would have been unfair to have let his entire life be defined by them.

But the legal position is that Chris Brown needs special permission to enter New Zealand. There are reasonable arguments against him being banned – most notably that a ban would merely distract from the reality of how and where family violence happens, which is usually at the hands of ordinary men whose names we never learn.

But if your argument is that Brown should be granted entry because he currently represents a positive role model against violence, then I'm sorry, but your argument is full of shit.


Friday Music: If DJ was your trade

Being a DJ is the best and worst of jobs. When it falls into place, it's brilliantly affirming: you're the king or queen of the moment, the people are with you and you are their joy. On a bad night, it's a very lonely place indeed.

All that counts double if you happen to be a working DJ playing several nights a week in venues where the punters may or may not be into what you're doing. But it's good for stories, and we aim to get a few of those told at next weekend's IRL at the Golden Dawn in association with Orcon.

Our key interview is with AJ Bertenshaw, the founder of Serato, the New Zealand company whose products – most notably Scratch Live, which allows digital music files to be manipulated with special time-coded vinyl on conventional turntables – have revolutionised live DJing and made it a global leader.

Serato has a verrry interesting announcement to make, which you'll hear about next week.

Meanwhile Esther Macintyre will talk to Aroha Harawira, who has bucked gender stereotypes to become one of the country's most in-demand club DJs.

We'll have a short set from Tobi and MC Silva of Jafa Mafia, stalwarts of Auckland's underground dancehall reggae culture, who debut at their new (and hopefully long-term) venue at the Edinburgh Castle that very evening – patties, jerk chicken and all the bass there is.

And then Aroha will join hip hop godfather DJ Sir Vere, Murray Cammick, Tina Turntables and DJ Dubhead (who is currently celebrating 25 years on the airwaves at bFM) and Esther and me to answer questions and tell stories about being a DJ.

I think it'll be a good afternoon both for people who want to know about the craft, and for all the other DJs in town (note: you'll have an excellent opportunity to take the piss out of your mates by submitting questions for the panel).

So that's 2.30-5.30pm at The Golden Dawn in Ponsonby, October 3.

It's free, but as usual, you'll need to RSVP here.

And if you can't make it, it'll all be live on the internet thanks to to the wizards at 95bFM.

Thanks Orcon!

PS: Note also that Dubhead and Stinky Jim are celebrating their respective 25th radio birthdays with a boffo gig at Neck of the Woods tomorrow night.


Hey, this is cool. Chills founder Martin Phillipps has been chilling (see what I did there?) in London and doing the odd solo show in advance of the new Chills album. And this week, he got up with Liam and Neil Finn and did 'Pink Frost'.

There's another video from further back that's also worth a look.


Eddie Johnston has signed, as Lontalius, to the New York-based Partisan Records and for his first release has matched a soft, vulnerable tune with a video of him doing one of the more vulnerable things you could do on camera: learn to ride a bike. I don't know why he couldn't ride a bike (I blame the parents), but it works beautifully as an image. And it's nice the way it casts friendship as love.

Also from the foaming cultural crucible that is modern Wellington, the Phoenix Foundation employ Oscar-winner Bret Mckenzie to dig a hole for himself in the video for the title track of their marvellous new album. I really, er, dig how this ends ...

And in a third work of moody light, Nadia Reid's strong, melancholy 'Call the Days':

The degree of international media support for for all three is worth noting. Ed's video was premiered by i-D, Nadia's was featured by NPR Music and The Phoenix Foundation's was the subject of another Guardian story.


It's really good to see former Big Day Out promoters CRS back with a plan for Western Springs. I'm not surprised they're back at the Springs – so much work went into getting the consents for the first (and now last) Big Day Out on the site that it would have been a shame to walk away.

The Big Day Out organisation and brand wasn't really worth anything any more, but the name of the new festival announced this week for March 19, 2016 – Auckland City Limits – is very much a nod to the company that acquired the Big Day Out, C3 Presents, which has run the Austin City Limits festival for years.

C3 itself has been subsumed by the giant Live Nation, so the pulling power in terms of lineup will be considerable. But in the first instance I'd be looking to Byron Bay Bluesfest, which happens across the Tasman the following weekend. In which case: The National, The Wailers, Steve Earle – and Tom Jones!

It seems pretty clear that Auckland City Limits won't so much be "Son of Big Day Out" as "Parents of Big Day Out". Kids under 10 get in free with a ticketed adult and there will be a "Kiddie Limits" zone. Which, when you look at who lives in the surrounding suburbs, makes sense.

Who won't be happy about this: the promoters of WOMAD 2016, which appeals to a similar crowd – and takes place on the same weekend, in New Plymouth.

Which leaves the indie kids to Laneway, which is of course returning to the Silo Park site for one more year. The lineup announced this week doesn't contain an act that makes me think "OMG! I must be there!", but it's quite an interesting one. I'm well up for another viewing of Flume and a first look at Shamir, and I wouldn't mind Health, Grimes and Beach House either.

But for local music nerds the real interest is actually further down the bill. This will be a big show for Lontalius – and a debut for Leisure (a long-worked-on project featuring Jordan from High Hoops and friends), Scuba Diva (aka Lorde's keyboard player Jimmy Mac, interviewed here) and new next-big-thing Auckland producer Baynk.

With McLaren Valley featuring Flaming Lips and Disclosure (with, you'd have to assume, a certain special guest) and Splore still to announce, it's a busy summer ahead.

But you know what? Whoever books Jamie Xx gets my love.


Vinyl-heads: Discogs finally has a mobile app.

Lawrence Arabia has a solo tour featuring new songs next month.

And we've finally been able to get Chris Bourke's magnificent Silver Scrolls history posted at Audioculture.



None bigger in the world this week than 'Magnets', Lorde's collaboration with Disclosure for their new album. She doesn't seem to know how to make a bad one. It got its world premiere on Zane Lowe's Beats One radio show:

And the two New Zealanders talked a bit about how it came together:

There's also a teaser here for the video.

Tom Healy's Paquin project is back from a fairly long layoff with some more freaky electropop. Free download!

95bFM favourite Boy Wulf has a new album (iTunes / Spotify)and it's pretty cool. You can hear four of the tracks on Soundcloud:

A nice new Dan Aux touch-up of Maala's 'Touch' (free download!):

And a first taste of Scuba Diva. Swooshy, beaty and slightly delic:

Finally, I'm delighted to say I've secured a new sponsor for the Friday Music post. More on that next week.


The positive option of Red Peak

I don't think John Key moved to support the Greens' bill to include Red Peak in the the flag referendum out of any positive sentiment. I think he did it in a desperate attempt to save face for an awfully-executed project that, according to the latest polling, has been rejected by two thirds of New Zealanders.

He was desperate enough this week to waive the absurd, anti-democratic condition he had earlier imposed on Labour – that his support for any bill must be matched with a promise to stop criticising him and his process.

But I am pleased to see Red Peak included, if only because it gives me the option of a positive response to what I regard as an awful result from the flag consideration panel.

I will vote for Red Peak in the first stage of the referendum because I like it and the stories that have grown alongside it. I like the fact that it has achieved a groundswell absent from any other part of this misbegotten exercise.

And if Red Peak turns out to be the favoured choice in the first stage, I will vote for it to be the new flag in the second.

If it does not, I will vote against changing the flag in the second stage. And then I will hope that Red Peak or some other viable flag design continues to be engaged with thereafter and is adopted unofficially by New Zealanders, because that would be better than the banal market-research process we've been subjected to. I will look forward to a time when a new flag is adopted in a more competent way.

And that's it, really.


On youthful indiscretions

There are a number of things to bear in mind regarding the story about British Prime Minister David Cameron putting his thing in a pig. The first is that the claim has been published as an open act of political revenge and publicised by a newspaper whose beef with Cameron is essentially that he is not hateful enough.

Although he insists that he was not motivated by vengeance, the co-author of the the very unofficial biography Call Me Dave, the billionaire Lord Ashcroft is clearly vexed by his inability to buy himself a good ministerial post, confirming as much in his introduction to the book:

Ashcroft wrote that he had a personal “beef” with Cameron because he had not given him a role in the coalition, claiming that Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, had blocked it. Cameron later reconsidered and offered Ashcroft a job as a junior whip in the Foreign Office.

Ashcroft wrote: “After putting my neck on the line for nearly 10 years – both as party treasurer under William Hague and as deputy chairman – and after ploughing some £8m into the party, I regarded this as a declinable offer. It would have been better had Cameron offered me nothing at all.”

And the book is being serialised by the Daily Mail because of course it is:

One rival newspaper executive described the serialisation and timing as a “declaration of war” by the paper’s editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre, on Cameron, who he believes is too soft on serious issues such as immigration and Europe.

Even though the claim is thinly-sourced and malciously intended, it's only human to respond with porcine puns (it's pretty hard to leave "The Prosciutto Affair" on the table) and it's not like this is one where many of us are going to say "didn't we all do that when we were young and stupid?" The claim that the revolting arses in Cameron's Oxford toff club required initiates to burn a £50 note in front of a beggar is pretty well outside normal human experience too.

But The Sun has gone with a more common indiscretion in its take on the book:

Described as a “hatchet job” by Mr Cameron’s supporters, the Tory grandee’s book also alleges he smoked cannabis at Oxford and later took cocaine.

Another close pal of the PM claimed the class-A drug was openly passed round a dinner party attended by the Camerons in the late 1990s.

The pal said: “I would be astonished if Dave had not taken cocaine at some point. He has been around it for a long time. He told me once about it being handed round at a Cotswolds dinner party. People were leaving the table and returning with bright eyes and dusty fingers.

This doesn't quite have the impact it might have had before Barack Obama recorded his own youthful use of cocaine and cannabis in a book before even contesting the US presidency. Cameron was no longer a foolish student by the late 90s, of course. He was busy trying to get himself selected for a safe Conservative seat. But a lot of people in Britain took cocaine in the 1990s.

There is an older, more gentle and amusing, story about Cameron's alleged drug-taking as a young man. Is it him in his dungarees at 00:13 in this video of a bunch of loved-up ravers swaying, smiling and gurning in a field in 1988?

Inconclusive, thought The Guardian. And really, people thinking it might be Dave was hardly likely to do him any harm. Unless, of course, he'd been unfortunate enough to have his E found by a police officer in 1988 and received a criminal conviction, which would have hampered, if not totally tanked, the political career he so keenly wanted.

But as Gary Younge points out in a good column in The Guardian, not all young people are as lucky as Cameron, and they tend to be less lucky if they're the wrong race, sex or class.

It's not necessary to even go as far as revenge porn to suppose that a young woman who flashes a boob on social media today might be setting herself up to be slut-shamed when she seeks a prominent job in 10 or 20 years' time. Or, maybe not. Maybe we'll have no choice but to be a lot more understanding now that the internet never forgets.

The irony is that before he became Prime Minister, Cameron spoke against the war on drugs and even when he was standing for the Conservative Party leadership, said this:

"Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades."

Like Obama, Cameron obeyed political convention and shelved his reformist scruples on becoming leader. But it leaves us with a fairly obvious contradiction. To have (allegedly) fucked a dead pig is weird and politically damaging – but quite legal. To have taken recreational drugs as a youth is both common and commonly accepted, even in political leaders – but a potentially life-blighting criminal offence if you're unlucky enough to be caught at the time. Perhaps we should look at that.