Hard News by Russell Brown

121

Hell's Bells

I'm damned if I can see the point of musichy.pe, the venture for which the Mint Chicks have apparently ditched Warner Music, or tell whether it's really any kind of record deal, as opposed to a promotional launch for their new EP. But best of luck all round, I guess.

One thing though: when Dave Moskwitz, of Wellington-based musichy.pe backer WebFund declared that "If you publish on I-Tunes for 99 cents a track, you might see 2 cents of that. With MusicHy.pe, it's more like 90 cents," he was way off the ball. Artist with major label distribution deals don't do as well as they should from iTunes, but they make a damn sight more than two cents a track.

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I had fears for the Laneway promoters on Monday morning, I really did. The weather was uncertainly poised, a screw-up with Ticketek delayed the gate sales an hour, and I wondered how the site was going to accommodate 5000 with no shelter and no pass-outs.

Turned out, I needn't have worried. The rain largely held off, the site was bigger than you'd think and the musical fare was very tasty. Tastier, anyway, than most of the food for sale – and a damn sight easier to access. Simon Pound earned my undying gratitude for giving me a half a steak sandwich for which he had queued for an hour.

I appreciate the reasons that there were no pass-outs – it would make managing the gate much more difficult, run the risk of punters getting tanked offsite, and tread on the interests of the winemaker that had its name on the festival – but if you're going to keep 5000 people onsite, you need to be able to feed and water that many people for the day.

So, yes, there are a few obvious problems to fix next time, but it was nice to see the Australian Laneway promoter, the veteran Michael Chugg, take the stage and declare as much (he also advised anyone who'd "dropped a trip" that they'd be onto a winner once night fell). Credit also to the promoters for abandoning the overlapping sets schedule after Daniel Johnston's joyous set was blighted by the locomotive sound of Cut Off Your Hands starting their show on the other stage.

I arrived in time for the Phoenix Foundation, who were clearly enjoying themselves (but why was Sam wearing a burqa?), and was subsequently blown away by the Xx and the pure musical goodness of the 3Ds. Chris Knox and the Nothing was a love-in scored by the Stooges, and Echo and the Bunnymen weren't bad either.

By the time Florence and the Machine came on, I'd been blagged backstage to see my buddies, and the headliners didn't really make much sense to me from the side of the stage. But I didn't hate anything, and, like everyone else, I revelled in the opportunity to hear the music in an urban setting. Well done, everyone: I'm looking forward to next year already.

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Thumbs up also to the AC/DC promoters for selling Western Springs as a rock show, and not some premium-priced version of Christmas in the Park like the disgracefully oversold Rolling Stones show three or four years ago. They sounded good from Point Chevalier – and, I am told, Mt Albert, Kingsland and a number of other suburbs.

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Giving the assertion of copyright a bad name: Larrikin Music has won its case claiming that Men At Work's 'Down Under' infringes its copyright in the venerable folk song 'Kookaburra Sits In the Old Gum Tree'.

Larrikin, a corporate music publisher, picked up the rights to the 1934 composition in a firesale in 1990, after 1988 death of the author, schoolteacher Marion Sinclair. The rules of the contest for which it was written made it the property of the Girl Guide Association of Victoria – and it passed to the South Australian Public Trustee, where it was snaffled up by Larrikin.

The Men At Work composition itself is wholly original, but Greg Ham's flute break in the song as it has been recorded and performed has been deemed to be infringing, if not identical. Australians who thought they might have some cultural ownership in the old song have another think coming.

Well, that's the way the world works. But the declaration by Larrikin's lawyer that the court decision was "a big win for the underdog" is, frankly, offensive. Larrikin's copyrights are administered by New York-based Music Sales Group, which controls nearly a third of all music copyrights in Australia and New Zealand.

These copyright trolls are about as much the little guy as Rupert Murdoch is.

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On another plane entirely, I ran into my old friend David Merritt in Cuba Street yesterday, and bought one of his hand-made books, geek prayers. He insisted on also giving me two more: why I copyleft and the 12 steps of the Microsoft addict.

David's slim books are a deliberate and winning collision of digital thinking and rustic materials. The "prayers" include:

Lord,
May I remember where all my files are when they are buried in nested folders and directories

And:

Lord,
May the OSX spinning rainbow ball of death never appear moments after clicking on a complex Photoshop filter combo that forces a reboot of the entire computer

And:

Lord,
May direct marketing loyalty programmes and data mining companies nor organs of the state never capture my entire personal financial history, burn them to DVD along with 2 million others and then leave them on a Wellington bus

There's also more work on scribd, and you can contact Dave at Landroverfarm Press, Box 243, Whanganui, New Zealand; or lrfpress@gmail.com. geek prayers cost me $5.

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Hey kids!

Connan Mockasin has a free track for you! It's called 'It's Choade My Dear' and it's from his new album Please Turn Me Into The Snat.

On Connan's website you can also see a chat with the Phoenix Foundation's Samuel Flynn Scott.

Speaking of which, the Phoenix Foundation have a spiffy new Tumblr-based website, which, rather brilliantly, has a fan fiction section. You might wish to sketch out your fan-fic ideas right here.

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