As MPs get ready to vote on Kevin Brennan’s renumerations bill next week, will they listen to the artists who want a fairer share – or major label lobbyists who don’t?

One story that’s been bubbling away in the background over the past year or so is the #BrokenRecord campaign. The mission behind this crusade sounds like a simple one – streaming doesn’t pay artists properly, and they want that remedied. This blog wholeheartedly supports such an idea.

This campaign has decided to go down the legal route – but not the traditional legal one of suing people. No, they want changes made to the law to ensure everyone involved in the making of music is compensated fairly by streaming services. In a week where Four Tet revealed Domino Records had removed his music from such services as a petty response to a legal dispute, it seems especially relevant.

The bill itself has now been published. MPs will be voting on it next Friday, December 3rd. Having read it, I found it a good attempt to resolve a lot of problems – but this analysis by Complete Music Update is better than anything I could write. And the Association of Independent Music dismissing it before the bill was even published was beyond foolish.

But there’s one group which have remained mysteriously silent over all this – and that’s the major labels. Whilst Baron Grainge might just be excused on the grounds he’s too busy counting his money, where everyone else is remains a source of absolute bafflement. They’re not usually shy about making their views known, so what’s happening?

Could it be the threat of an anti-competition inquiry which is leaving the labels unusually reticent? A source from within one of the majors tells me that they’re feeling “relaxed” about the bill. He explains “It’s a private members bill on a Friday. Most MPs will have long gone home for the weekend by then. Unless Boris and his pals get behind it, this won’t get very far.”.

And in response to an article in Music Business Worldwide on the subject, he simply said “Let’s just say we’re content for the BPI to take the flak on this one”…

Two cheeks of the same arse? Northern Ireland’s politicians spoke about imposing new restrictions yesterday – whilst also giving the nod to removing old restrictions…

Politicians across Europe are currently trying to work out what to do amidst Covid cases rising yet again as the colder weather arrives. Austria have gone into a full lockdown, with all “non-essential stores” closed. The Republic of Ireland are imposing a midnight curfew on nightclubs and weddings, whereas the Netherlands want you out of the club by 8pm.

But in Northern Ireland? They’re trying to both relax and harden the rules at the same time. The Executive met yesterday to talk about imposing new restrictions amidst case numbers that simply refuse to go down – they’ve been hovering at around 1600 cases per day for a few weeks.

New rules being considered include tougher enforcement of wearing face masks and insisting more people work from home. Vaccine passports are due to come in force next week – although enforcement won’t begin until December 13th. But what were MLAs being asked to do over at Stormont yesterday?

Well, they were being asked to rubber stamp a number of relaxations previously made by the Executive. Which would be the very same Executive that now wants to put in place new restrictions.

Words fail me. For once…

Credit to the Belfast Telegraph for first picking up this story.

Is there ANYONE left in dance music with principles? MDL Beast Soundstorm 2021 lineup is like the McDonald’s of festivals – and the number of DJs prepared to accept Saudi blood money will shock you…

Back on September 6th, this blog posed a question. Do DJs care more about their bank balances than anything else in the world? For those in the upper echelons of dance music, the answer is – bar the odd exception – yes. Hence why they’re happy to do gigs in Texas at a time when a woman’s right to abortion services was being threatened.

I’ve also commented recently about how the big festivals are essentially one giant McDonald’s style franchise. Most of them are organised by a small handful of companies. No matter which one you go to, the lineup is much the same. A steady supply of Big Macs for those on the bill, scraps of a Filet-O-Fish for everyone else.

The superstar DJs of the 90s were frequently accused of greed – generally correctly too – but this new generation takes it to new, utterly shameless levels. Which is why seeing the likes of Carl Cox, David Guetta, Charlotte De Witte and Sven Väth on the bill for MDL Beast Soundstorm, due to take place between December 16th and 19th, really should surprise no one…

But notice the location of this event – Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. To many out there, the first thing that springs to mind when hearing this country’s name are human rights abuses. These are documented extensively by Human Rights Watch and many others.

For example, the country does not recognise LGBT rights. Homosexuality can be punished by death. The practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal. Tens of thousands are being held by the state in prisons with no idea why. And when journalists are brutally murdered, the regime lies about it.

But the DJs on this lineup obviously aren’t interested in any of that. After all, why would they be bothered by the fact they’re being used by the Saudi government to whitewash their human rights record? It appears their priorities are their own bank balances – they want them filled back up and they don’t care where the money comes from.

And guess what? That’s exactly what’s happening here. Every single DJ on this list is being used as a propaganda tool by the Saudi government – who do they think is paying for this festival? Step forward, The General Entertainment Authority for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

At least one or two DJs on this lineup must have a conscience. They should rethink their decision to appear at this propaganda event – and that’s putting it very mildly…

Vaccine passports don’t stop anyone catching or transmitting Covid-19 – so why has Northern Ireland become the latest in Europe to approve their use? Read on and you’ll find out…

A while ago, a friend told me “these politicians never think anything through these days, do they?”. And whilst my friend is indisputably correct with his observation, it also suggests there was a time when politicians, in fact, did think things through. It’s a curious notion to entertain on this Friday afternoon, but I digress.

Vaccine passports are the current idea that politicians haven’t bothered to think through. They’re utterly pointless. If Covid vaccines stopped you from catching the illness or passing it on to someone else, I could see some merit in the idea – as much as the prospect of having to verify your medical history to get into the likes of a restaurant makes me baulk.

But they don’t. Whilst the Covid-19 vaccine does provide protection against the virus, it’s not total. So this renders vaccine passports an irrelevance. As I wrote a while ago, a Spanish court previously ruled they could actually increase the rates of transmission – because a person who’s Covid positive but doesn’t know it yet could enter a venue with their vaccine passport and transmit it.

This, of course, hasn’t stopped politicians in Northern Ireland from becoming the latest to agree to the introduction of mandatory vaccine passports. This means they join Scotland, Wales, the Republic of Ireland, France, Germany and numerous other European nations in insisting on proof of vaccination to enter places like nightclubs.

One of my Twitter contacts was speaking to me about this very subject this week and estimated if you took Covid patients out of the equation, NHS hospitals in Northern Ireland would already be running at around 97% of available capacity already – and it’s only November. Which suggests to me the real problem in the province is a failure to invest properly in the NHS frontline over a period of many years.

The only question now is what Northern Ireland will do when vaccine passports inevitably fail to bring the numbers down. Several EU countries, including the Republic of Ireland, have them in place – but case numbers are rocketing in many. We’re in for one hell of a long winter…

Midnight curfew for Ireland’s nightclubs, and vaccine passports popping up all over the place – does anyone else fancy an extra strong coffee this morning?

Nightclubs, by their very definition, are supposed to be open at night. Which is why eyebrows were raised when the Netherlands announced last week that nightclubs would have to close at the notably early hour of 8pm. When you go for a night out clubbing, I get the feeling being at home in time to watch the News At Ten isn’t what you have in mind.

And not surprisingly, it looks like other countries are carefully watching the Dutch do their homework and taking notes. Ireland is the first to do so, with their Taoiseach (that means Prime Minister, if you’re wondering) Micheàl Martin confirming that nightclubs in the Republic of Ireland will have to obey a midnight curfew as of this weekend.

Quite why countries keep failing to learn from each other’s mistakes during this pandemic remains a mystery to me. When England had a 10pm closing time in place for pubs and restaurants last year, it led to everyone being thrown out on the streets at the time. In cities like London, it inevitably meant the Tube being hammered with loads of passengers at the same time – which hardly seems a sensible way to prevent a virus spreading.

Elsewhere, mandatory vaccine passports are due to be discussed by the Northern Ireland Executive today – as I covered yesterday. And Scotland are proposing to extend where you’ll need to show proof of being double vaccinated in order to get in.

This week’s getting very complicated already – and it’s only Wednesday. Might be a morning for having an extra strong coffee, this one…

Northern Ireland’s health minister wants mandatory vaccine passports brought in amidst Covid numbers which won’t come down – but are they really the solution he’s looking for?

It’s no exaggeration to say that the NHS is under a lot of pressure across the UK. It often is in winter time – which isn’t unusual due to respiratory viruses being more prevalent during colder times of the year. But Covid adds an extra layer to an already complicated situation for hospitals.

And in Northern Ireland, the NHS is in serious trouble. There’s no other way to put it. Every hospital in the province is already running above capacity – over the weekend, a hospital in Craigavon had to divert ambulances to other regions. And the winter hasn’t even arrived yet.

It’s amidst this background that the Northern Ireland Health Secretary Robin Swann has taken time off from suing Van Morrison in order to say he wants mandatory vaccine passports introduced as soon as possible. He’ll be bringing the subject to Stormont when representatives of the area’s political parties meet up tomorrow.

Now, allow me to remind everyone – this blog is not anti-vax at all. I’m very much pro-vaccination – I’m double jabbed myself. But Covid cases in Northern Ireland are not spiking at the moment. The case numbers have remained in the low four figures for the past four weeks.

And besides, vaccine passports come with their problems. It’s proven vaccines help reduce side effects – to nothing in some cases – but they don’t stop you catching the virus or transmitting it. Infact, a Spanish court previously suggested they provide false reassurance and could actually increase the number of people getting Covid.

So why is the idea being pushed now? A clue might be found by looking across the border – their introduction of vaccine passports is credited with having increased vaccination rates in younger people. Whether this is true or not isn’t something I can establish – but the argument may well seem attractive to an establishment whose options are rather limited.

In the Scottish Parliament, vaccine passports were pushed through thanks to the SNP being kingmakers at the time. England hasn’t introduced them, due to varying ranges of opposition – and Wales demand either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to gain entry to various venues. What way a Stormont with five parties – one apparently completely opposed to their use – will go remains to be seen. Expect an update later this week…

The original version of this article erroneously claimed Wales does not have a vaccine passport scheme. This was incorrect. In fact, Wales does have a “vaccine pass scheme”, as the Welsh government call it. The only difference to the Scotland and Republic of Ireland schemes is that Wales also accept a negative Covid test no older than 48 hours old in order to enter certain venues. Apologies for the error.

Do these people think they work for the mafia? Crispin Hunt, campaigner for #BrokenRecord, given sinister warning “dark forces are out to get me” after pointing out UMG boss Lucian Grainge’s obscene £150million pay for 2021…

Back in 2002, a butler to the British royal family, Paul Burrell, was charged with stealing a number of Princess Diana’s possessions. The case came to court, but was dropped a few days later after the Queen suddenly remembered she’d had a conversation with him on the very same subject – where he disclosed to her he wished to keep a number of those items, with her blessing.

A bidding war ensued between the tabloid newspapers for his story – and he chose to speak to the Daily Mirror for the sum of £300,000. Over several days worth of interviews with the paper, he disclosed exactly what he was said during that meeting with the Queen – where she reportedly warned him that “There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge”.

Something very similar came to mind this weekend when I discovered Crispin Hunt – a prominent campaigner for #BrokenRecord, a reform movement within the music industry – had been told “dark forces are out to get me” because he dared speak out about the fact Lucian Grainge was being paid an obscene amount of money during 2021.

Another campaigner in the form of Rebecca Ferguson chipped in, mentioning she’d “been given the same warning”. And I see little reason to disbelieve them. The music industry is filled with shysters who operate behind the scenes. They think the whole thing is basically their own little mafia, and they see no issue with threatening anyone who might get in the way.

It’s because of things like this that I decided to start this blog. I’d been writing about music in addition to producing it for a number of years, but I believed this was hindering me and stopping me from speaking out about certain issues. Being inside the machine, even in my own very limited capacity, was inhibiting.

And now that I’ve stopped producing music – despite three requests recently from established producers for me to reconsider? I feel great. I can write whatever I want and whenever I want. This has annoyed some people no end – something which helps me sleep easier at night. It also renders the “dark forces” almost completely ineffective.

In the past, whenever I threatened to write about something someone would prefer I didn’t, I was repeatedly told these people would stop me from progressing any further within the dance music world. This used to bother me. Not anymore. I don’t want to progress in an industry where huge swathes lie in sewage-filled cesspools.

No, the truth is I’m a far better writer than I ever was as a producer – and I think I was pretty good at making music. And as I get reminded frequently, I rather enjoy making people feel uncomfortable by asking questions they’d rather were ignored…

As nightclubs in Netherlands have to close at 8pn for three weeks due to rising Covid numbers, what are the odds of the same happening elsewhere over the tough winter months?

If you’re in the Netherlands and you were hoping to go clubbing this weekend, I can only offer you sympathy at this time. Last Friday, the current caretaker Prime Minister of the country Mark Rutte placed the country back into a lockdown of sorts – not quite the closing of whole swathes of the economy as seen before, but enough to certainly cause some ruptions.

Nightclubs must now close for three weeks at 8pm. Covid cases seem to be going up dramatically in much of mainland Europe at the moment. And whilst Britain’s numbers seem to be falling slightly right now, cases for our nearest neighbour in Ireland have increased substantially over the past month.

Which leaves me thinking it’s now a distinct possibility other countries – I include the USA in this list as well – could follow suit over the next few months. Last year, many countries had varying degrees of restrictions in place, which aren’t there anymore. But we also have a vaccine now. So the truth is no one’s quite sure what the virus will be able to do this winter.

And from what I understand, this is a thought which has crossed the minds of recent DJ agencies in days gone by as well. The fact that clubs are open again now and could be closed again with very little notice has not gone unnoticed. Which reminds me of a post from Friday with the latest words from my industry insider.

He started with the words “The pressure that DJs are under at the moment on the festival circuit is like nothing I’ve ever seen before”. He even told me that one of his friends in the DJ world recently tried to commit suicide over the relentless pressure he’s being put under from various sources to do more gigs.

Depressingly,  an email arrived over the weekend from an extremely reliable source confirming at least two further attempts in recent weeks. The identities of the DJs are known to Amateur’s House and are quite well known within the dance music scene, but this blog will not be disclosing their names – for reasons I’d like to think are blindingly obvious to anyone with a brain or a conscience.

We’re heading into a winter which is possibly going to look quite unlike any we’ve ever seen before. I just hope people start to remember that in their desperate attempts to fill their coffers once more…