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.

Can you dance without a mask on when ordering a drink at the bar? Just some of the rules in place as Irish nightclubs reopen today – but those of you in Northern Ireland will have to wait another week!

Nightclubs are finally open again as of today in Ireland. For the past three months, a curious anomaly has been in place where if you lived on the island of Ireland and fancied going to a club, it meant a flight across the Irish Sea. They were closed on both sides of the border, with Stormont and Dublin showing little interest in reopening them.

So if you intend to go clubbing tonight in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick or wherever, what rules do you have to follow? Well, for starters, you must be able to prove you’re double jabbed. Quite simply, if you’re not, you won’t be allowed in. I can’t help but suspect this is a policy which will soon ensure Garda Siochana* are busy trying to close down illegal raves, but I digress.

Elsewhere, you’ll need to wear a face mask. Except when drinking. You won’t need one whilst doing that. Or whilst having a dance. Capacity is restricted to 1500 people when standing up, but more if some people are sitting down. Quite how you ensure no more than 1500 people are on their feet at any one time is something the Taoiseach** has yet to explain.

Oh, and bar service is allowed once again. This one doesn’t just apply to nightclubs. However, people will need to put on a mask to go to the bar and order their drink, return to the table wearing the mask and take it off to actually drink the damn thing. And pretty much the only way to avoid having to wear a mask whilst ordering a drink at the bar is to dance whilst in the queue.

Which, by the way, you have to do in a socially distanced manner. Yes, you have to remain two metres apart in a queue for the bar. Which goes down to one meter if you’re wearing a mask, but goes up to two again if you’re dancing which means you won’t be wearing a mask. Because you’re dancing.

And none of these rules apply in Northern Ireland. Because it’s under different rules, where nightclubs remain closed until Halloween – but rest assured some civil servant in Belfast is writing all this stuff down and working out if they can make the Northern Irish rules even more baffling to follow.

After all that, I need to go and have a coffee. Extra shot of Baileys in this one, please!

* The official name for the Irish police. ** Irish term for Prime Minister.

Could the phony Nervous Records boss be recognised by his incredibly foul mouth? New York-based label has a story about a scam artist even Kent Brockman would be interested in…

An episode of The Simpsons, first broadcast in 1998, features a memorable scene where newscaster Kent Brockman says the words “Authorities say that the phony Pope can be recognised by his high-top speakers and incredibly foul mouth”.

In which case, Nervous might want to get in touch with the infamous, if fictional, newsreader as they may have a story which would pique his interest – because it seems Nervous are having trouble at the moment from someone calling themselves “David Massey”.

The scam artist has been emailing a number of people, pretending to represent the label, to tell them “Our A&R reviewed over all your music content and we definitely think you have potential reach the next level of your career… would like to offer you a marketing/distribution publishing deals”. And before anyone asks, that’s exactly what appears in the email.

The email later discloses that “There is a small fee of $300 for this to take place which will state the offer was unsolicited”, and the email finishes with the words “Yours sincerely, David Massey. A&R of Nervous Records Label”. Which might well be news to Andrew Salsano, who is… err, the person in charge of licensing, publishing and A&R at Nervous.

Yes, this blog might well take great pleasure in calling out Nervous for their advertising practices. But I also don’t want to see people falling for this blatant, shameless scam – there are more than enough of these cons in the world of dance music without adding any more to the mix.

It remains unclear exactly why the scammer chose the “David Massey” name. More likely is the fact it’s the name of the current president of Arista Records. Less likely is this one, who made the news for rather less scrupulous reasons

Spotify teams up with Shopify to allow artists to sell merchandise through their profiles on the streaming site – so is any excuse to avoid paying better royalties good enough now, Mr Ek?

It seems the prospect of paying artists more money is about as well received with Daniel Ek as the sight of a wooden stake is for a vampire. It’s hard to come to any other conclusion at this point. Every opportunity Spotify gets, the billionaire refuses to pay more money to the artists who made him what he is today.

The reaction of Spotify to the pandemic told this to anyone who still hadn’t realised. At a time when musicians couldn’t tour, they stuck a donation button on their pages – in the same way a busker in the street might have a bucket or a hat for people to throw their coins into. An unworthy response, if ever there was one.

And now comes their latest wheeze. Spotify have done a deal with Shopify – any relation? – in order to allow artists to sell merchandise directly from their profiles. So in addition to listening to your song, they can now buy your T-shirt, mug or whatever other tat you’re trying to get rid of.

Now, a good idea is a good idea, and this one is very good indeed. The only surprise is why it hasn’t happened before now. But yet again with Spotify, I find myself asking – why does it always seem to be up to everyone but Spotify to fix the problem of artists not being paid properly for what they do?

And yet again, I find no answers forthcoming…

Do you REALLY want your name appearing next to this loser, Kenny? Panasonic owned Technics use dubious endorsement from Derrick May for their SL-1200 turntables – but wait until you read what he didn’t tell them!

Some businesses out there, despite making their name in a particular area, seem to know next to nothing about their market. Eventually, everyone else notices. I can’t quite work out what other explanation there is for this goof up from the Panasonic owned Technics.

Their turntables aren’t as good as they used to be – and don’t take my word for it. Take, instead, the word of Richard Talmage, an engineer with over 30 years experience of fixing things from turntables to military hardware. He wrote a review on Facebook of the Technics SL-1200MK7 – and was absolutely scathing.

And by the looks of it, they don’t know the dance music scene very well, either. This is where Technics made their name years ago with high quality turntables which were built to last and built with professional DJs in mind. To this day, you’ll barely read a criticism of them – because they lived up to the hype.

Derrick May’s name now appears on a page promoting the SL-1200 turntables on their own website. For a company like Technics to actually use an endorsement from a man accused of numerous sexual assaults is just staggering. They either pay no attention at all to what happens in the dance music scene, or they don’t care. Technics have been approached for comment on which one it is.

His fawning review appears next to that of Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez, one half of Masters At Work. For Gonzalez, his next move should be to contact Technics and ask what the hell they’re playing at – but given he believes that the so-called Detroit techno originators are “my brothers”, this doesn’t seem likely.

But there was one detail of May’s past with Technics turntables which, curiously, didn’t make the final cut. According to Michael James, “Derrick May didn’t mention that he stole plenty of Technics’s products using a credit card scam in the 1980s”.

This blog can’t possibly imagine why this detail didn’t appear in the testimonial…

Credit to Michael James goes for this brilliant find.

Victory! The garage house crew shall have their rightful place at the Traxsource table after campaign spearheaded by Danny J Lewis for a genre category of their own…

Oh what a difference just a few years can make. Around three or four years ago, the garage house sound started to emerge from London and quickly spread. The best of the genre paid homage to the house and garage of days gone by, yet wasn’t afraid to push the envelope with new ideas.

Around two years back, a campaign started to get Traxsource to give garage house its own category. It didn’t happen. According to a source who’s closely associated with Traxsource, the campaign failed because the scene came across as disjointed and the music was poorly defined.

The garage house crew didn’t give up. They regrouped and went back to the drawing board. And this week, Danny J Lewis started a new campaign to get garage house recognised in its own right as a category on Traxsource. I reported on the campaign on Tuesday afternoon.

A little over 48 hours later, I’m very pleased to report – well, see for yourself!

And what a glorious sight it is indeed. The compromise appears to have been to call the category “garage” instead. As long-time producer Grant Nelson said on Tuesday, “it could service everything from garage house to speed garage and other new school 4×4 UK garage and also what is classed as classic garage from back in the day”.

Posting on the renamed Traxsource Garage group on Facebook, Danny J Lewis celebrated the news saying “This is truly a chance for our scene to grow and an opportunity for so many of you to develop your sound in a safe place. I encourage all of you to push your capabilities, support your peers and turn this thing into something massive for us all. There are so many people who have contributed in both big and small ways but each have made a difference. Let’s make this a landmark moment and totally maximise on the opportunity.”.

Credit too, of course, must go to Marc Cotterell – the boss at Plastik People. His Essential Garage weekly chart, published every Monday, started giving the scene the attention it deserved and frankly, needed in order to develop and grow.

There are, of course, many other names worthy of a mention. Expect a longer article about this over the weekend…

What’s the view inside the club scene on needle spiking? The industry insider gets in touch and reveals his perspective on this disturbing crime

Every now and then, this blog gets contacted by a male who’s very high up in the dance music world. He’s worked in many prominent roles and has been around since the 1980s raves. And he speaks in a remarkably candid fashion about issues at the time. He even allows me to publish those views – so long as it’s under a cloak of anonymity.

The insider in question has been in touch on the subject of needle spiking. This is a disturbing crime which I haven’t encountered before – typically, it involves giving women an injection of harmful drugs without their consent. The needles are absolutely tiny – we’re not talking about the whoppers you might see at your dentist.

Of needle spiking itself, he says. “This crime is clearly horrific on the women who fall victim to it. There’s no doubt about that. And anyone who does this kind of stuff, as far as I’m concerned, is an evil c*** who deserve everything they get. But this demonisation of nightclubs over this issue is just b******s”.

Was my insider referring to the impending boycott of nightclubs being planned shortly? Not surprisingly, he was, saying “I don’t think that’s fair. Even the most unscrupulous nightclub owners out there don’t want people going home unable to remember a single moment they were in there. It’s bad for business – at a time when lots of nightclubs are already in financial trouble.”

“But it’s not the nightclub which injects this poison into the victims. They shouldn’t be punished because of the actions of a few scumbags. There are undoubtedly nightclubs out there who cut corners on security to save on time or whatever – but no matter how much security you have, you’d never be able to catch absolutely everything.”

“You’ve spoken on your blog before about how the nightclub industry isn’t terribly good at defending itself. And that’s why this s*** is being aimed at them. Whilst there’s clearly a legitimate issue here and nightclubs should definitely see what else they can do to deal with this problem, it’s not the fault of nightclubs it’s happening. It’s the fault of sick f***ers who think they’ve got the right to drug and do even worse things to women.”

He isn’t holding back on this one…