See you next Tuesday? The question facing Portugal’s Baixa Bar as Derrick May is booked to play next week – amidst falling attendance and a gargantuan DJ fee which needs paying…

Things are not going very well in Europe for the club scene at the moment. Rising Covid-19 numbers across much of the continent – including in Germany which was previously seen as a good example of how to handle the virus – are seeing the type of massive case numbers not witnessed before.

And truth be told, governments aren’t quite sure how to handle it. The vaccine has brought the numbers being hospitalised down – but this can only go so far when cases are high. So European governments are reaching for as many tools from the box as they can. A few EU countries have closed nightclubs entirely again.

They’re not closed in Portugal at the moment, but negative tests are required at the door in order to gain entry – vaccinated or otherwise. I hear from friends in Portugal that nightclub attendance is already being hit – and this will have an impact on the rest of the night time economy.

Tests are in very short supply in Portugal as a result of this policy, which also applies to bars. Which poses a problem for Baixa Bar in the northwestern city of Porto. They have Derrick May due to appear next week. It’s a venue he would have turned his nose up at in years gone by, but such is life, eh?

A source in Detroit tells me he’s being paid $8,000 for the gig – something of a far cry from the $10,000 that manager Hagi Craig insists he earns. They’re going to have to sell an awful lot of cocktails to pay his fee – and with some Portuguese cities reporting big dips in visitor numbers, this might be a tough ask.

All will become clear over the weekend, no doubt. And one other thing remains unclear. A number of online reviews cite that this bar’s music policy is quite “mainstream” – the complete antithesis of what May supposedly believes in.

Techno played at 135bpm isn’t mainstream by anyone’s definition. You wouldn’t hear it on the radio on a Thursday afternoon, would you? So quite how he’s going to square this circle remains to be seen…

Want an example of why longer sets make sense? Judge Jules has to travel for 3 hours and 39 minutes this weekend – to play a set lasting just one hour!

One particular bugbear of mine – and admittedly, it’s a very long list – about dance music today is the length of the average DJ set. When the first clubs playing house music in the 1980s appeared, normal practice was to have one or two DJs playing across the whole night. Any more than two was considered unusual.

Those days are long gone. It now seems to be all about having as many names on the lineup as physically possible. And unless they somehow have a way of extending the length of the day, this inevitably means shorter sets.

Hence why this weekend, Judge Jules, to give but one example, is playing a one-hour set in Manchester…

In order to do this set, he has to undertake a journey from Highgate in north London to the Albert Hall in Manchester. The quickest journey time I could find was 3 hours and 39 minutes by car – and that’s assuming there are no stops on the journey or any unexpected holdups. And then he has to do the same journey home again the next day – and that assumes he won’t be staying in a Manchester hotel for the night.

That’s nearly seven and a half hours in the car and a night in a hotel – there’s a decent place called The Edwardian on the same street as the venue, by the way – for one hour of work. And then you wonder why DJs charge so much for their appearances.

The return journey from London to Manchester is around a full tank of petrol for most cars and a quick search on Google reveals the aforementioned Edwardian hotel costs around £400 for this coming Saturday night.

Still, DJs as a whole have never been particularly concerned about things like practicalities or environmental issues

Does someone in Spain not like Amateur’s House? Mystery as high number of people from the country struggle to access your favourite dance music blog…

Ever since Amateur’s House started properly back in April of this year, I’ve discovered all kinds of things. Many have been reported in the blog, and a few haven’t – I don’t have bottomless pockets. I’ve also covered a lot of things which aren’t being reported elsewhere and I’m quite proud of what’s being created here.

But I’ve also come across some things which make me want to scratch my head in bafflement. Occasionally, I get complaints coming in from people unable to access the website. The error messages are usually quite generic, so it’s therefore not easy to get to the root of the problem. However, I’ve been receiving a fair number of emails lately from one particular country about access.

And that country would be Spain. For some unknown reason, a lot of people in the country are currently having problems getting on this site. Exactly why is unclear, and something I’m trying to get to the bottom of – but a quick look at my statistics for November reveal Spain is sixth in the list of visitors last month…

Rest assured I’m working on this in the background, but I thought it was worth writing about. Access to Amateur’s House on social media platforms remain unaffected. Email subscriptions are available if you’re having this problem – or you know someone who is.

And as a temporary fix, there’s always VPNs. I’ll keep you all posted…

Rebekah teams up with Sydney Blu for 23×23 campaign to get 23% women signed to labels by end of 2023 – but things are already flagging under criticism (a bit like Rebekah’s other campaign!)

During the pandemic, Rebekah Teasdale seems to have developed something of a taste for campaigning for things to change. Unfortunately, she’s forgotten about the getting things to actually change bit – hence why the potentially brilliant #ForTheMusic movement remains rudderless.

Now it appears she’s decided to join another campaign – 23×23. And the idea behind this is simple. They want record labels to sign up to a pledge that 23% of their releases will be by women by the end of 2023. To the best of my knowledge, there are no industry wide figures available on this subject – but labels like Toolroom, Soma and Rules Don’t Apply are said to be on board.

As ever, this has all been dutifully reported by the dance music press who fail to point out one rather big central problem with the whole idea. Namely that it’s complete rubbish with nothing to enforce it. So allow me to elaborate.

Now, this blog is entirely in favour of more women making dance music. But I’m also the sort of person who believes if there’s a problem, you should do something yourself to fix it. Judging by what I’ve read, Sydney Blu and Rebekah subscribe to the Homer Simpson school of “Can’t someone else do it?”.

Why can’t they set up their own record label and show how it’s done? Instead of expecting everyone else to do the heavy lifting, create your own path which others can follow. Rebekah has a substantial following in techno and Sydney Blu does too. They could be trailblazers, yet they want largely male-led labels to do all the work. Hardly a progressive philosophy.

Speaking of which, what happens if any of these labels fail to keep to the pledge? Are they going to get called out by the dance music press? We already know the answer to this question is a big fat no. Will they be fined? And what kind of contracts will they sign? Because you could have a label with 100% women but with 0% ownership of their music, that’s simply no good.

The final word on this, though, has to go to Cinthie Crystal – a DJ and producer with far more experience than me who just happens to be a woman. Here was what she said about the whole thing…

I don’t think they can count on her support somehow…

As Spotify Wrapped makes its annual appearance to get music makers feeling warm and fuzzy inside, a reminder the only person winning in this system is Daniel Ek…

Earlier this week, this blog published all about Traxsource’s 2021 In Review. I offered up a defence of the platform for carrying out this annual tradition. And one thing I forgot to include in that write-up was the fact Traxsource do at least contribute to the culture which they make their profits from.

So as Spotify releases its annual Spotify Wrapped for the year – which basically tell you how many streams you’ve had this year, how many countries are people listening in and so forth – you might imagine that I would adopt a similar shield of armour for Daniel Ek’s platform, right?

Well, if you do, you’re clearly new to this blog. Because there are few things I hate more in this world than Spotify. They contribute literally nothing to the culture which makes them huge amounts of money – yet somehow still not enough for them to turn a profit once in their 15 years of existence. 30% of every single stream goes into their coffers – which adds up when you have billions of them.

In any case, Traxsource’s statistics do at least mean something. The fact you had a genre number one, for example, might mean you only sold 75 copies, but this is quantifiable in at least some form. Spotify Wrapped isn’t. How many of those people streaming are signing up as fans? How long are they listening to each song, and to how many songs?

Without this information, what appears in their little badges is almost meaningless. But the final word on this matter has to be left to The Secret DJ. Replying to a follower’s tweet, he simply said this…

Indeed…

Noticed your fans don’t like your decision, have you? Jeff Mills deletes his SECOND defence on MDL Beast Soundstorm attendance – oh, if only a naughty blogger had taken a screenshot…

For people who work in quite a technology focused genre of music, DJs and such show a considerable amount of ignorance sometimes. Take Jeff Mills, for example. He became known as “The Wizard” due to his incredible skills on turntables in 1980s Detroit.

Yet when it comes to at least one aspect of computing, he apparently remains entirely ignorant. You see, he posted a second defence of his decision to go to the Saudi Arabia government funded event MDL Beast Soundstorm later this month. The first was deleted by Dave Clarke, when he scrubbed his thread from the imternet for reasons unclear.

Mills deleted his defence from his Facebook page a few hours ago. He seems to think if he deletes it, it never existed – and no one will be able to read the whole sorry mess again. Wouldn’t it be a terrible shame, therefore, if someone – like a blogger with a penchant for asking awkward questions – had taken screenshots of the whole thing?

Well, I’m more than happy to help. I’ve split it into four pictures to make it easier to read, but not one single word has been changed. Here’s the defence Mills now wants to pretend he never made in its full glory…

It comes across as even worse after a second read, doesn’t it?

Wednesday Whisper #29 – the DJ who managed to get a foreign object wedged up his rear end… and reportedly not for the first time!

Which DJ had to have a glass bottle surgically removed from his arse? As far as whispers go, this is probably the strangest one which has come in for a while. This one actually happened a few months ago during much hotter times than what we’re in now.

The DJ in question was doing a set in what I would simply term a hot country. And the DJ comes from a country which has less experience of hot weather. By all accounts, the set went well and he was paid his fee in cash by the very satisfied manager present that evening.

But the trouble started afterwards. The DJ was invited to a VIP area and decided, for reasons best known to himself, to take off his underwear. He proceeded to drink far more alcohol than he should, before falling down on the floor – at which point, he complained that his bottom was hurting.

Upon closer inspection from a colleague, they noticed an empty beer bottle was halfway up his backside. And try as they might, they were unable to remove it without running the risk of giving the DJ some injuries. Infact, he had to be sent to the local hospital to have the foreign object removed.

And the weirdest bit of this story? Sources tell me it’s not the first time this has happened…

Why DOES a winner like Simon Dunmore back a loser like Faith? The mystery of the normally astute Defected boss – whose online growth in the pandemic has been huge – backing a dead tree outlet…

A man who’s been in the industry for a very, very long time once told me “The thing about [Defected boss] Simon Dunmore is he’s very good at two things in life. Making friends and making money – and he has few qualms about mixing the two, so long as he’s earning out of it too”.

His words came to mind when someone kindly suggested an idea to me for a post. Last week, this blog published two articles about Faith fanzine. They didn’t like it and expressed their disapproval in an oh so modern way – by unfollowing me on Twitter. Like the rest of the dance music press, they appear to be run by terribly thin-skinned people who don’t like being scrutinised.

I now find myself asking another question. Why does Defected back Faith fanzine? The original publication ran from 1999 to 2012 and printed a pathetic 24 editions in that time – an average of 1.8 issues per year. Given that other dance publications were putting out at least one issue per month, this is nothing to write home about.

Yet last year, this magazine suddenly reappeared during the pandemic – and Defected were all over it, with at least one advert for a release from the label appearing in the first new issue. Simon Dunmore himself referenced this on April 13th last year, saying it “continues our investment into dance music culture”.

But does investing into a print magazine make any sense for Defected? A source close to the label suggests it does, saying “People like nostalgia and people like the fanzine. It sells well. I think Simon’s known all three founders of the original magazine for years – him and Terry Farley first met about 30 years ago. Everyone’s being paid out of it, so why not?”.

However, this does put Defected into the position where it’s effectively competing against dance magazines which they used to advertise in many years ago. Yet my source insists Dunmore is “relaxed” about this, pointing out “Print is only a tiny bit of the whole operation. Defected overwhelmingly operates online these days.”.

I just wonder how Defected will respond when that initial novelty of the magazine’s return wears off. Dunmore is known in the business for being willing to take time to build something up, even if it means making less money – in the short term, at least…