Tag Archives: pete tong

The old ones are the best – for repackaging and making money from all over again! Pete Tong and his orchestra go back out on the road to rinse classic tunes out yet again…

One thing which streaming did to revolutionise the music world – and not necessarily for the better – was to allow people to easily listen to old records. Time was if you wanted to do this, you needed to source the original albums or singles – an expensive and time consuming activity. But this has created another problem.

It’s given old songs a big advantage over new ones. The older songs only had to compete with other songs out at the same time – newer songs have to not only do that, but compete with most things released in the past too. Around two thirds of all streamed music is so-called catalogue material – anything released more than 18 months ago.

Rest assured this is something Pete Tong has no doubt noticed – he’s been involved with record labels in some form or another since the 1980s. Indeed, his CV more or less confirms him to be the Miss Rabbit of dance music. So it’s with the knowledge the public have a taste for old music that partly led to him touring with an orchestra.

And it’s with this orchestra that he goes around playing the songs which made him a fortune when he supported them the first time around. Much like his old Radio 1 friend Judge Jules, he now spends an increasing amount of time at evenings where he can pretend for a few hours that time stopped back in 1999.

Cream and Haçienda also announced recently that they were doing classical shows. Why? Money, pure and simple. There’s only so many times you can get people to listen to the same old songs – but if you can repackage the music and make it look brand new, they’ll come to listen all over again. Add in the fact classical music has more selling opportunities – physical sales remain quite strong in the genre – and you have a money making opportunity of pretty big proportions.

The show is back next year, and visits Wales and Scotland this time – Covid restrictions previously meant only England could be on the bill. I’m told it’s a good show…

Pete Tong making lots of money out of other people’s music by travelling with an orchestra? It’s no different to what he’s done his whole career…

Who is making the money in dance music these days? Mostly the rich old white men at the top of the business playing the music is the short answer. Some of it trickles down the pyramid, but nowhere near enough to make this house of cards sustainable.

Rest assured it doesn’t go to the artists who make the music that make their careers possible. Of course, it wasn’t always like this. Yes, it was heavily skewed towards the big names at the top from early on – but there was typically more than enough to be made elsewhere, so no one cared too much.

This is the era which Pete Tong comes from. Aside from a couple of remixes and original productions from the mid-2000s onwards, Tong hasn’t really made anything. He’s just good at selecting records and playing those records. I have no problem with that, incidentally.

But I do have a problem with him travelling around with an orchestra performing other people’s music. As he heads off to Malta on September 28th for a show, rest assured he’s making money. The orchestra are making money. The venue are making money. But are the likes of Energy 52, whose song “Café Del Mar” is in the repertoire? Somehow, I doubt it.

Yet no one else seems to have an issue with this. This show wouldn’t exist were it not for the artists who made them in the first place. But it’s Tong who gets to travel around with an orchestra performing the songs, making the money. Hardly seems fair…

One year on from Erick Morillo’s death, will the likes of Sharam, Yousef and Pete Tong finally apologise to the world for their utterly nauseating tributes?

It was one year ago to the day today that we learnt Erick Morillo had taken the easy way out. Facing a rape charge and with a court appearance due, Morillo was found dead in his plush Miami home on September 1st last year. How would the many DJs, producers, singers and others who knew him handle this particular hot potato?

Well, the answer was just as expected. By and large, they handled it terribly. Sharam, for example, referred to Morillo as “a troubled soul… many geniuses are”. Yousef described him as “troubled, less than perfect” in a tweet he deleted later. Pete Tong claimed he “had his demons”. And Jamie Jones said he “was not perfect”.

Dennis Ferrer made a particularly disgraceful statement – simply saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Of the five men here, Jamie Jones was the only one with the decency to accept just how utterly insensitive his comments were – and with the courage to apologise.

The rest – and that includes other DJs like Danny Tenaglia, Joseph Capriati, Steve Lawler, Carl Cox and Nervous label boss Michael Weiss – have never had the good manners to own their words. Yousef, for example, took the coward’s way out – he deleted the gushing tweet he wrote about his dead friend, and steadfastly refused to explain why the tweet had been removed, let alone say sorry for it.

So, one year on, I ask the question – when will these DJs have the bottle to admit they got this wrong? When will they accept they made a mistake and apologise? And will any of them try and do better in the future?

For some reason, the expression “p***ing in the wind” comes to mind…

Learning to live with the virus or rich (mostly) white men wanting to get back to making lots of money – what’s REALLY motivating the guests behind the “Co-Existing With Covid” show?

Over the past week or so, I’ve seen this programme being promoted quite heavily on social media. Which is ironic, because the show itself is much longer than anything normally being pushed on the networks – 93 minutes long, to be precise. There are shorter films out there!

The programme is hosted on the International Music Summit channel on YouTube and is called “Part 1: Co-Existing With Covid”. More episodes are due to follow in the future.

I just hope they have better names – the inclusion of the word “co-existing” makes my heart sink a little bit. During this pandemic, this phrase has depressingly been hijacked by people who really want to say “I want to get back to doing what I want, I don’t really care if more people get sick”.

Last night, I decided to actually watch the programme – possibly so that you don’t have to. But as much as I’d like to write a scathing review, I really cannot. The debate on the show is actually quite good. Whilst there isn’t exactly much in the way of disagreement going on here,  this might not be a bad thing for once.

And seeing the likes of Carl Cox, Yousef and Pete Tong all talking to each other here is quite unique. These three between them have well over a century of experience of DJing – and their perspectives on matters are undoubtedly interesting.

But one thought did come to mind before I watched the programme – and even afterwards, it continued to linger. These are three very rich men. Carl Cox is reportedly worth $18million. Pete Tong is even richer, being worth around $30million.

Yousef’s net worth is harder to calculate, but his business interests elsewhere suggest he’s got quite a bit of money behind him too. I cannot shake the feeling that these DJs just want to get back to work and make lots more money.

In a way, I don’t blame them. Being a DJ at the higher echelons isn’t cheap. The bigger DJs don’t just employ a manager, they employ a whole team of people to keep the show on the road. The DJ might well be hoovering in a truly ridiculous fee, but chances are they’re not keeping a large chunk of it for themselves. But I don’t think any of this makes them qualified to comment on how we “co-exist” with a virus which can still be dangerous.

And as for Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association? Let’s just say I’ve made my distaste at this organisation clear in the past…

As Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja launches artwork for Palestine appeal, here’s one person who definitely won’t be forking out for a limited edition piece

Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack is passionate about charity, in particular War Child. Following recent events in Palestine, they have an ongoing appeal for funds and Del Naja has decided to help – he has created 200 copies of a new version of Help95 artwork, on sale for £250 each.

One person, however, who certainly won’t be helping out is Pete Tong. Massive Attack and Tong had a falling out in December 2017, but its roots go back much further. Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra had been covering “Unfinished Symphony” in their shows – much to Massive Attack’s annoyance.

They disingenuously wrote they hadn’t given permission for the song to be used. Given their long time in music, they would already be aware of the fact this wasn’t required for doing a cover version. So, what’s behind their animosity towards Tong?

Could it possibly be the fact that, in August 2011, Tong was granted a restraining order against their friend Shara Nelson? She had claimed to be his wife and also said she’d had a child with him. She was banned from contacting Tong or his family and sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

And who is Shara Nelson? Only the singer on “Unfinished Symphony”…

A love story akin to Romeo and Juliet, it certainly isn’t: the story of the ups and downs of a VERY long relationship between Pete Tong and Pacha

These days, Pete Tong is very much at the top of the Pacha tree. Just before Christmas last year, it was revealed that he’d just joined the board of directors at the club – adding another occupation to the man a friend dubs “the Miss Rabbit* of the dance world”.

Things weren’t always this rosy, though. In 2003, Tong became a resident DJ at the club, although he had appeared as a guest numerous times during the 1990s. This residency continued until 2007 and appeared, on the face of it, to be quite successful. Several compilations came out of it, and they sold well.

Then in 2007, Tong suddenly left Pacha. There was no announcement at the time from either party. No best wishes from Pacha for Tongy’s future. No statement of how proud Tong had been to be a resident DJ for such a high profile club for five years. Nothing at all.

In 2008, he went to Eden in San Antonio. And again, barely a word said. Yet by 2011, he was back working with Pacha again. No one has ever explained what is supposed to have happened during those three years. Was it just that Tong fancied doing something else, or was there something else amiss?

It’s a question to which we might never know the answer…


* In case you don’t know what I’m on about here, Miss Rabbit is a character on British cartoon show Peppa Pig, who does loads and loads of different jobs. At least 47, according to this

How Jesse Saunders blames Pete Tong for not being paid sales money from UK release offers “Love Can’t Turn Around” – an update

Time now for an update on a story which I first posted on May 25th. I told you about Jesse Saunders not being paid a lot of money that he was due over London Records licensing “Love Can’t Turn Around” in 1986. Saunders held Pete Tong firmly responsible for the state of affairs.

I contacted Jesse Saunders to ask whether this dispute had since been resolved and whether he’d been paid. I also contacted Pete Tong to ask him if he wanted to make any comment at all on the story.

Pete Tong didn’t reply to my email, which is a crying shame. And as for Jesse Saunders, his response to me was a simple, one-word “no”.

Disappointing…

Is there anyone in the dance music who ISN’T a crook, part two? How Jesse Saunders never got sales money from UK sales of “Love Can’t Turn Around” – and Pete Tong remains silent to this day…

The depressing litany of producers who were conned out of money continues to grow. Last week, I detailed how A Guy Called Gerald was deprived of money from “Voodoo Ray” and an EP he released for Rham! Records.

Now it appears that Jesse Saunders can add his name to the list. Back in 1986, he released a song with Farley Jackmaster Funk and Darryl Pandy called “Love Can’t Turn Around”. It initially came out in limited numbers on Farley’s House Records and was licensed in several countries – London Records had the UK licence.

Pete Tong was head of A&R at the time and licensed the song for an album called The House Sound Of Chicago Volume 1. It was later released as a single in its own right. But all was not well for Jesse Saunders. According to an interview he did with DMC World Magazine in 2014, he said…

“One thing I do need to mention is that the infamous Pete Tong, along with Farley and Rocky Jones did their best to keep me from collecting my Publishing royalties on that song. If it weren’t for my diligence and having the best lawyer in Chicago I would never have been able to collect them, albeit 12 years later.

I found it quite funny that my name was taken off of the London Records release, and I inquired directly to Pete with no answer. To this day, I have not received one pound on the sales of the London Records release and subsequent licenses from around the world. I call out to Pete Tong to explain himself.

Mr Saunders has been contacted for comment.