Understanding vaccine passport rules is enough to drive you to drink – and now government documents reveal not only could they do precisely that, but they could INCREASE Covid transmission rates too…

Every evening from around 10pm, the front pages of the following day’s newspapers start to come in. I occasionally have a look at them, and whilst taking a peep last night, I caught the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph. It featured the eye-catching headline of “Vaccine passports could push people to pubs”.

And it’s quite a good story, as it happens. Their journalist has seen a confidential document going around within government talking about the “economic and social impact of Covid certification”. The report in question has a revealing section in it, discussing one of the risks with the vaccine passport policy. This document relates to England – Scotland already has such a policy in place, and Wales has a policy of requesting a negative test or vaccine status.

The document reads “A core concern is that certification could displace activity and business away from music venues to, say, pubs with music and late alcohol licences… if certification displaces some fans from structured and well-ventilated sports stadia, this could lead to the, attending unstructured and poorly ventilated pubs instead where they will have access to more alcohol than if they were in the stadia.”.

In other words, people who are being turned away from nightclubs because they can’t prove their vaccine status or haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 are likely to go to pubs instead – because no proof will be requested there. And they’re going to get drunk, start putting their arms around everyone – and then start showing symptoms of Covid a week later. Or so the message appears to be here.

It’s also a problem for the pub trade. If contact tracers start reporting more and more cases are originating from pubs, the Government will eventually take notice. No one quite knows how they’d respond – and with enough uncertainty at the moment, more won’t help.

If vaccines stopped you from catching Covid and transmiting it, vaccine passports might be something I’d be prepared to tolerate. But as it stands, this has got to be one of the worst ideas that any modern government has ever pushed through…

As EDM festival Electric Daisy Carnival holds a virtual event on gaming platform Roblox, is there a lesson here for other areas in dance music?

I started secondary school back in 1996. The structure here was very different to primary school – lessons now were delivered at set times each day and different teachers did different subjects. Hence why I met a lot of new teachers very quickly.

One that always sticks in my mind is my Information Technology teacher. A man who waxed lyrical about the potential of video calling and the internet. Remember, this was a very different world to the one we’re in now. No Twitter, no Facebook, and some ISPs still charged you per minute to go online.

But this man had an answer for everything. If you told him video calling equipment was rubbish, he’d simply tell you the technology hadn’t caught up with the idea yet. If you told him the internet was too slow, he’d give you the same answer. As much as I wanted to believe he was right, this voice in my mind doubted him.

And it turns out he was absolutely right. We now make video calls with our phones, and it doesn’t even cost us a penny. I just wonder what he’d make of the news Electric Daisy Carnival held a virtual event on the giant gaming platform that is Roblox – probably the next logical step.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here for other genres. Like the newly reinvigorated garage house movement, for example. The original UK scene came about thanks to those innovative Sunday parties in London around 1997 – before this, no one had thought to hold regular parties on a Sunday.

The Roblox audience is absolutely colossal. By holding a virtual party on Roblox, you could expose a new, potentially massive audience to the genre – and they might well like it. Before you know it, you’ve got people showing an interest in attending the in-person events – which there potentially have to be more of to accommodate the new demand.

And there’s a big difference this time around. In the late 90s, you had to be in London or the south east of England to properly get involved. Not anymore. The audience these days is global. The old barriers are gone – and any genre clever enough to take advantage of new innovations could thrive.

Your audience can’t support you if they don’t even know you exist…

Because you couldn’t get spiked by a woman, could you? The well intentioned but hopeless plan by Nottingham’s Playwright to hold women’s only nights – just don’t expect to get a bite to eat!

I read over the weekend that a pub in Nottingham has decided to start holding women only nights. That’s right – not a single man will be permitted entry onto the premises.

And that even includes the staff. Which is going to result in the ladies who frequent the Playwright on these nights having to go elsewhere for food – because the pub’s chef is a man. Do the people who run this place harbour the impression women don’t eat?

Apparently, they’re doing it because they think it’ll make women safer – if not hungrier. This blog is of the opinion it’s an utterly stupid idea which could actually put women in more danger. You see, because they can’t eat anything, they’re going to end up drunk more quickly. So they’ll have to order less alcohol, which will lose the venue money.

You’ll either have to eat earlier, which gives you less time in this sort of women’s sanctuary they have in mind. Or you’ll have to go and get something from a chip shop or the Chinese takeaway on your way home – by which point, you’re probably inebriated and not in the safe space anymore.

They’ve really not thought this through, have they? They’re going to make less money on these nights due to having no food to sell. They’re giving women a poorer service simply due to the fact they’re women – something which would result in howls of outrage in any other context. And they’re also assuming that it’s only men capable of spiking a drink – or of the current disturbing crime of needle spiking.

But what really worries me about this plan is it feeds the disturbing idea that all men are inherently dangerous and not to be trusted. As the father of two sons who is trying to raise them to have a deep respect for women – something fostered into me by my own mother – these kinds of messages don’t help.

Now, I’m not saying us men are perfect by any means. There are undeniably some creeps in our midst – heck, I spend a fair amount of time writing about one or two of them on this blog. They deserve to be called out and their feet held to the fire, without a doubt.

But preaching the idea that men are not to be trusted is an incredibly dangerous thing to do – and it will backfire. If you push this far enough, you’re going to end up with men who refuse to get involved with women.

Restricting a pub to just women a few nights a week obviously won’t lead to that. But it’s the start of a very slippery slope – and I’m not sure anyone has really thought about the consequences…

The staggering story of how Universal Music Group tried to crush a startup company over just one 30-second U2 video – demanding 50% of their company or they’d revoke their licence

The major labels are run by a pack of bullies who aren’t terribly bright. And frankly, it’s a miracle they’re still in business at all. This has been my opinion of the majors for many years. From their earliest days, they’ve all been about control and the idea of working with others is generally anathema to them.

But don’t take my word for it. Read the story of Ali Partovi, a businessman with a very long history within the technology world. In the year 2007, he saw an opportunity and created a website called iLike. It allowed music to be downloaded and shared. The music came from majors and independents – and unlike most things around at the time which allowed you to do this, it was legal and above board.

Partovi believed the potential of iLike was enormous – but it never did as well as expected. And no one ever quite knew why. Until now. The site was sold to MySpace for a very low price in 2009 and was closed altogether in 2012.

Things started to go wrong in 2007. Partovi was called into a meeting with Universal Music Group after posting a 30-second video of U2 singer Bono speaking – with one of their songs, which UMG owned, being played in the background. Partovi met Jimmy Iovine and a number of henchmen.

Do make a cup of coffee and read the entire 46 tweet thread. It’s long, but extremely illuminating…

At a time when the majors were in serious trouble due to illegal downloading and physical music sales taking a nosedive, this is how Universal Music Group responded to an innovator who offered help to save them. Instead of shaking the man’s hand, they decided to bite it.

It’s only the sheer size of these companies which keeps them afloat, certainly not the people steering the ship…

And whose side are you meant to be on? Music Business Worldwide publish editorial slamming UK’s “outwardly hostile” attitude towards the major labels – and just end up looking like fools…

Some people aren’t easy to defend, but someone has to do it. That’s why we have solicitors in the world. And it’s apparently in this spirit that Music Business Worldwide decided to publish an editorial late last week accusing the UK of having an “outwardly hostile” attitude to the three major labels.

As evidence for this curious claim, they cite the probe by the DCMS into the record labels. They talk about the threat a Competition and Markets Authority inquiry into their practices, and mention an investigation of Sony Music’s purchase of AWAL.

The gist of this bizarre article appears to be that Britain should be grateful that the majors continue to do business here. Naturally, the fact that abandoning the country where they get 10% of their global sales – with a 6% rise in sales last year – is never going to happen. Such a proposal simply doesn’t make sense.

So why did the normally sensible publication resort to uploading this drivel? Corporate interests seems the most likely. Music Business Worldwide is owned by Penske Media Corporation, who own numerous magazines such as Rolling Stone – who need access to major label artists in order to sell their publications.

And it’s going to look terribly strange if different magazines within the same group are saying entirely different things, isn’t it? Music Business Worldwide dare not bite the hands which feeds it so well…

Is THAT what DICE saw in Boiler Room? Survey by IFPI reveals 65% of people will continue to watch music live streams after the pandemic ends

There are some out there that would have you believe live streams will never catch on. You should question why these people are saying such things. Maybe it’s because they personally don’t like them. Maybe it’s because they feel it’s not the same as being physically present at an event. Or in some cases, these are people who are losing money because of the trend.

Whereas the truth is rather different. The first band to live stream their music online was Severe Tire Damage – and that was all the way back on 24th June 1993. The genie has been out of the bottle for nearly 30 years, and it’s not going back in.

And the pandemic has accelerated the trend. Many have liked what they’ve seen – a survey by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry reveals 65% of those who have been watching live streams as Covid has gone around the world will continue doing so into the future. Yes, some people will undoubtedly think a live stream isn’t the same as being there in person – but have they stopped to consider that isn’t the point?

For every person out there who enjoys going to gigs and festivals, you’ll have someone who wants to go, but who finds the experience a real hassle. I speak from experience – when I’ve been out all day doing school runs, cooking meals, running this site and everything else, the last thing I want to do in the evening is sort out childcare and dress up to go out somewhere.

Most nights, I’m far happier at home with a cup of coffee. That choice came with a consequence in the past, but why does it still need to? Things move on. As far as I’m concerned, if you willingly choose to close yourself off to a potential new audience, that makes you an idiot.

When I consider all this, I start to realise exactly why Boiler Room was recently acquired by DICE. I have no explicit insider knowledge here, but my guess is DICE wants to add things onto Boiler Room’s streams – like the opportunity to buy merchandise. Something which often requires you to have physical cash in person – but something which can be done in just a few clicks online. Your only limit is your bank balance!

Although heaven only knows how much DICE will have to do to turn around a company with an £11million accumulated loss

So what happened to Larry Sherman’s “special royalty fund” for Trax Records artists out of work due to Covid-19? Trax remains silent on founder’s “final wish” for over 18 months…

Larry Sherman was the founder of Trax Records in 1985. He’s a man who has a huge, immeasurable legacy in house music – having led a label which released many of itsĺ earliest records. He’s also well known for having engaged in highly dubious business practices – such as using recycled vinyl to keep pressing costs down.

During the first wave of Covid-19 last year – when much of the Western world was under various stay at home orders – news came in from his native Chicago on April 8th that he had died. He was 70 years old, and it was heart failure which led to his sad departure.

Soon afterwards, Trax Records released a statement on their website about the passing of their founder – which included this segment at the end…

“Sherman was acutely aware of the plight of his artists due to the fact that they could not work because of Covid-19. Larry was planning a special royalty fund for TRAX artists before his death and his final wish will be carried out in his name by the label under the guidance of Rights Incorporated.”

No details of this royalty fund have ever been made public. And despite a number of press outlets – dance music and otherwise – reporting on it at the time, no one ever seems to have followed it up. So I thought I’d email Trax Records to ask them about it.

I posed two questions. How many artists have benefitted from this fund? And roughly how much money has been paid out? I didn’t ask for specifics on who got what – partly because I don’t care. That’s between the fund and the beneficiary.

So, what did Trax Records say in response? Absolutely nothing is the answer. Despite the email being sent last Monday – and a reminder ahead of publication sent out on Friday – stony silence is the response the label has chosen.

It looks like, for now, the mystery goes on…

Are London’s Printworks under threat of closure? Property developers want to stick offices on the site – and refuse to say the club will remain open afterwards

Who in the right mind would want to set up a nightclub in London these days? The authorities give the distinct impression of not wanting you there. The London mayor only takes an interest when there’s votes from young people to be had. And you have Amy Lamé, the Night Czar who is as much of a lame duck as her name implies.

And once you’ve got your venue, you have no end of unscrupulous types who could bring the whole thing crashing down. Including property developers who seem to want to buy the whole of central London and turn it into one enormous office – the increase in the number of people working from home is obviously not something they’ve yet noticed.

Which is why I always found the arrangements of Printworks to be very odd. The land is owned by British Land and they gave events company Broadwick Live permission to run a nightclub there. How long did this permission last? And what happened if a dispute occurred between the two?

Whilst I’m confident solicitors would have resolved these questions beforehand, there was always the possibility British Land might want to do something else with the site. And it turns out they do, as part of the Canada Water Masterplan.

But what will happen to the Printworks if this goes ahead? Their own words on the question are…

“We have explored a range of future uses for The Printworks and as part of this have taken forward a workspace-led design, for which we’re preparing a Reserved Matters Application. Nonetheless we believe that culture will play an important role as part of a new urban centre at Canada Water, and remain in discussions with Broadwick Live as a key collaborator and tenant, following their success in the Printworks over the last five years.”

Nowhere do words to the effect of “Printworks will remain open after the development” appear. Hardly reassuring…


Credit for this story goes to the Architects Journal.