They bring it on themselves, don’t they? Now Universal ban artists from re-recording their music for longer – whilst profiting as Taylor Swift does exactly the same thing!

There are few people more cynical in the world right now than Universal Music Group. This one is a whopper, even by their standards. In 2018, Republic Records – whom they own – signed Taylor Swift as an artist. The deal was done in a blaze of publicity and featured the explicit clause that she owned her own masters.

Since then, she’s re-recorded a number of her past songs – following a dispute over the ownership of her old recordings. An album called “Red” was re-recorded recently and released by Republic. It’s done extremely well on streaming and Universal are raking in the money. And at exactly the same time, they’ve tightened up their own contracts to stop their other artists from doing it.

I thought this was a joke when I first read it, but sure enough, it’s true. And this news came out on the week we found out UMG boss Lucian Grainge would be taking home ar least £150million this year. It looks like the increasingly greedy record baron could be getting similar amounts in future years – and all off the back of his artists work.

A source at the majors contacted me this week to complain that my criticism of UMG has been “unfair, one-sided and totally tabloid”. And he is, of course, completely wrong. With moves like this, which just make Universal look like a protectionist racket, they bring it entirely on themselves… 

Do these people think we’re idiots?  Spend $49 to have 100 people listen to just 30 seconds of your song at Sounders Music –  and “build your audience” despite their Facebook account having just 3 followers…

One thing which I keep seeing adverts for when scrolling Facebook at the moment is something called Sounders Music NL. Their advert makes the enticing claim that it could “increase your chances in the music industry” – and when people’s chances of success are tiny to start with, such a boast could be very tempting for someone who just wants some help.

But something didn’t seem right about this company to me from the off – so I decided to start investigating. Their own website, for example, promises to “get your track rated by 100+ people (including music professionals) and receive insight into your music”. And apparently, the audiences are carefully curated so they’re appropriate for the music you make.

However, here’s the kicker. If you want to submit a record to see what everyone makes of it, it’ll cost you €49. And that’s the price for just one song – meaning if you want to test the waters with a couple of songs, you could soon find yourself spending hundreds. Oh, and did I mention they won’t even listen to the whole song?

All they’re going to listen to is 30 seconds. Now, you can pick exactly what 30 second section you’d like them to listen to, but that’s it. Suddenly, the offer by Steve Lawler during the pandemic to listen to your record for $31 – before the infamously temperamental DJ invariably tells you he hates it – sounds like quite a bargain in comparison.

Sounders Music also claim they can help increase your audience. Such boasts are hard to take even remotely seriously when you take a look at their social media followings. On Twitter, they have 4 followers and have only tweeted twice – the last tweet was on 6th May 2019, over two and a half years ago. And their Facebook account somehow manages to have even less followers – just three.

As for any successes? Their website makes much of a band called The Lighthouse from Belgium. They’ve been signed to indie4talent, a record label run by Sounders Music. They’re the only artists signed, as far as I’ve been able to establish. When approached by Amateur’s House with questions about their experiences with Sounders Music NL, they declined to comment.

Sounders Music NL were also contacted ahead of publishing this article to see if they wanted to say anything in response. No correspondence was ever received…

Has anyone checked in on Carl Cox’s tour manager lately? A reminder of Tour Managers Not Touring, the movement Cox, Dubfire, Joseph Capriati et al would rather forget…

This blog is always happy to remind rich DJs and the like of things they’d rather forget. It’s with this in mind that I mention the defunct, short-lived Tour Managers Not Touring movement. Born on the 27th April 2020 and dead by May 4th 2020.

The idea of the movement was simple. It was to raise funds for tour managers, who’d suddenly found themselves out of work after Covid-19 struck earlier in the year. People donating more than $5 would receive a DJ set or some unreleased music. And the campaign started well enough.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for someone to point out that Tour Managers Not Touring was about as palatable a prospect as Colgate Lasagna. DJ John Askew pointed out in a video that a number of people behind the campaign were filthy rich themselves – and the fact the public were expected to stump up money whilst the aforementioned filthy rich DJs did not went down pretty badly…

As a result, the campaign died on its own arse around a week later. There was barely an attempt to defend itself – everything was taken offline quickly in the hope no one would notice. Those who tried to defend their involvement, such as Carl Cox, soon found themselves wishing they hadn’t, as people pointed out a DJ worth around £12million just came across as grasping.

Now, we know that Dubfire’s tour manager is able to keep earning money – because Dubfire has been doing plague raves in Tulum. But what about Carl Cox’s tour manager? Other than a reassurance by Cox himself last May that his tour manager was being paid a wage, we’ve heard nothing. I do hope that he’s alright.

But since I’m on the subject, what happened to any money that was raised? Was it returned to the people who donated it? Or was it given to the long-suffering tour managers who work with these entitled DJs?

Aren’t there already millions of sampled clap sounds online? Yet another pointless plugin is released to help producers waste time trying to make that “perfect” clap sound

This is one for those of you who have more money than sense – and let’s be honest, there’s more of them in dance music than anyone would admit. You can now actually buy a plugin that lets you make your own clap sounds – apparently, using one of the millions of samples that already exist isn’t good enough anymore…

It’s called Hand Clap Studio by Robotic Bean. It costs $49 and I know about it because I’m currently being bombarded by their adverts across my social media channels. Despite reading up about it here, I’m still of the opinion that this is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Whenever I do produce records, most of my clap sounds come from a pack that UK house and garage legend Grant Nelson put on the internet in the late 1990s. They’re tiny little MP3 files – but no one has ever complained to me about the claps on my tracks.

File under “who actually buys this crap?”.

But would he pay more than $0.032 per share? Amusement as Spotify’s billionaire CEO Daniel Ek says he’s interested in buying Arsenal FC

A question I find myself asking sometimes at Amateur At Play HQ is – just how much self-awareness does Daniel Ek, CEO and multi billionaire possess? Not too often, mind you.

The answer would appear to be none whatsoever. Fresh from investing money during the pandemic in – well, anything that wasn’t music – Daniel “Mr Burns” Ek is now thinking of getting into the sporting world.

He might, however, want to get his head out of the clouds and look at the facts before he pontificates any further on this idea. His current net worth is £3.2 billion. Arsenal is currently valued at roughly £2 billion.

So unless he has all that available in cash, ready to make an offer, he might want to sit back down – and then finally remember that it’s the music world that have made him rich. Perhaps he might put his avaricious nature to good use for once?

Thinking of getting the new Technics SL-1200MK7s? Here’s one review you definitely WON’T see in any dance music magazine

The dance music press is currently full of puff piece articles about Technics new gizmo, the SL-1200MK7 turntable. They’re now on sale for £800 and judging by the media reaction, they’re just great, to quote a certain tiger associated with a breakfast cereal.

I don’t have much experience with vinyl, but I do have two thoughts. Firstly, always beware if the dance music press are praising a product to the high heavens – they’ve either been paid to do so, or are just lazily quoting from a press release. Cut and paste journalism is the friend of any hack with a deadline!

And secondly, they don’t really look all that much from the pictures supplied. I remember seeing a pair of Technics 1210s (I don’t remember the exact model, I’m afraid) for the first time back in early 2005. They even look stunning visually in the way that this, frankly, doesn’t.

But are they any good? According to Richard Talmage, an engineer whose LinkedIn page shows he has over 30 years experience of fixing things from turntables to military equipment, no. He writes on a Facebook post:

“As an engineer with over 25 years experience servicing Technics turntables, I was very disappointed.. Everything from the type of plastic used, to the alloy on the platter is of a lower quality than one would expect.  The lead-free solder used on the PCBs is the same which is used on many cheap Chinese products and will begin to deteriorate in as little as 6 years.

The latency and non linearity errors on the digital pitch makes these difficult for most people to mix on, as certainly any digital pitch would never be as accurate as a calibrated analogue pitch on the Mk2 units. Other known issues are pitch range mis-calibration, loose tonearm mounts, platter balance misalignment… the list goes on.”

Ouch. There’s not much else to add here, other than this is one review you definitely won’t be reading in the sycophantic media. Heaven forebid they face the threat of losing their freebies and access, eh?

What a load of clap!

I’m really thinking that I should make this into some kind of series. More and more frequently these days, I come across adverts for increasingly ridiculous plugins.

I had a quick look recently at my hard drive. I have around 250 clap sounds in my collection. I use around 5 different sounds very frequently, and a couple of others less often. The rest have never been used at all.

Pretty much every scenario you could ever think of is covered there. Or so I thought. Apparently, this is now a thing.

$49 to make my own personalised clap sounds, when I could just download any one of the millions of samples already in existence or even record myself clapping my hands?

“A fool and his money are easily departed” goes the old adage. That still seems to be true!