IASPM 2014: The condititions of musical creativity and diversity

John Street, Dave Laing & Simone Schroff, University of East Anglia

STIM are looking out for european songwriters’ income (but giving 12% of it to other songwriters). A good thing for culture?

CREATe Panel on ‘Music & Copyright’

ABSTRACT: The recently adopted European Directive on collective management organisations and online crossborder music licensing is the first pan-European legislation to regulate the activities of national authors’ societies, the voluntary bodies that collect royalties from broadcasters, online services and promoters, and distribute the money to songwriters and publishers. It also marks the end of an era when these societies enjoyed national monopolies on such activities by granting blanket licences, and were able to give additional support to music making in even the smallest European countries.

IASPM 2014: Morals, Meaning and Money: Popular Musical Copying in the Age of Digital

Eminem’s favourite session players.

Adam Behr, University of East Anglia

ABSTRACT:

At the root of copyright’s legislative reach, and practical effects, is the matter of ‘copying’ itself – often referring to what may legitimately (morally or legally) be done with an apparently completed piece. Yet making music, and acquiring the skills to do so, is shot through with acts of copying, from straightforwardly learning a basic riff to the network of socially inflected influences in composition and multifarious technological means of manipulation, particularly in popular music, where criteria for entry to the field are relatively lightly codified. Likewise, as well disrupting longstanding distribution methods, digital technology has blurred the relationship between production, consumption and the ‘finished product’.

Musicians are central to an industry rhetoric in support of copyright protection that often relies upon conceptions of discrete works established in a pre-digital era. This paper explores popular musical practices themselves in the face of a rapidly evolving palette of creative possibilities. How do musicians regard digital techniques—like sampling—and their outputs against other long established forms of copying? At what point do they consider the implications of copyright for their practice?

IASPM 2014: Take It or Leave It! Copyright, Creators and Commercial Decision-Making

Kenny Barr, University of Glasgow

Pub gig
Many unsigned bands covet the ‘badge of honour’ of signing a deal, regardless of how unfavourable its terms may be.

ABSTRACT:

This paper scrutinizes the role of copyright in the commercial decision-making of Popular Music creators. UK copyright law confers an exclusive ‘basket of rights’ on musical creators. Theoretically at least, this privileges creators as the key decision makers in copyright transactions. However, scholars have questioned whether most creators wield meaningful influence in these negotiations. Instead, they have argued that creators find themselves in extremely weak bargaining positions largely due to the ‘take it or leave it’ terms offered by commercial investors.

Perhaps as a consequence of these critiques, the nuance in the ‘lived experience’ of creators’ commercial decisions has been largely overlooked in academic research. Drawing on data gathered from in-depth interviews with contemporary creators and investors, this paper probes the complex interplay between these key stakeholders.

IASPM 2014: The Needle and the Damage Done: Some Thoughts about Needletime

Martin Cloonan, University of Glasgow

ppl_header_logo_textABSTRACT:

[with apologies to Martin for missing the start of his session]

From the late 1920s until the late 1980s the amount of records the BBC could play on its radio stations was severely limited by a system known as ‘needletime’. Officially this was an arrangement between the BBC and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), acting on behalf of the major record companies. However it was also subject to scrutiny and intense lobbying by the Musicians Union (MU) which was dedicated to restricting the amount of records played on the radio as part of its determined campaign to ‘keep music live’. Based on a series of previously unseen documents, this paper examines the history of the needletime agreements, their scope and the controversies which emerged between the contending parties. It suggests that an understanding of the needletime agreements sheds further light on the historically complex nature of the UK’s music industries and on the interactions between those representing music makers, music publishers and music users.

IASPM 2014: Songwriter as Seeker

Richard Parfitt (Bath Spa University)

Mona Lisa
The cultural status of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is likened to the Mona Lisa; mythology and history may make it impossible to see the art objectively.

Richard begins with a discussion of a personal experience of seeing Mona Lisa recently at The Louvre, and uses this as a springboard to reflect on the difficulty in separating a work from its mythology. He then discusses the ‘Text’ and the ‘Context’ with reference to Tagg.

Leonard Bernstein’s view of Elvis is cited – he described the latter as ‘the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century’ and reflected on his influence on musical grammar. This leads the paper to a discussion of craft and art, and the relationship between creative constraints and an ideas-driven agenda. Such constraints, Richard suggests, can include technically poor musical skills (Sleaford Mods and Ian Curtis are cited as examples), and with these constraints some songwriters can thrive if they have an ‘ideas-driven agenda’.

IASPM 2014: Representations of Scandinavian pop music…

United we stand? Representations of Scandinavian pop music and contradictions thereof.

Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen, University of Edinburgh

Immortal
I love photographs of Norwegian metal bands in snowy forests. They’re so… Nordic.

[Arnar has a background as a music journalist and is a panellist/judge with expertise relating to Nordic pop. As a PhD student he also speaks modestly of his ‘academic wisdom, developing’! He defines ‘Nordic’ as Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland and contrasts these countries with the ‘all-powerful’ Anglo-American pop tradition. Today’s discussion is about cultural stereotypes in Nordic popular music].

Our first example is Anna von Hausswolff and her video is briefly discussed, mainly for its ‘walking in the snow’ Nordic stereotype.

IASPM 2014: Collectivism and individualism: the Chinese song “Fill the World with Love”

The collaboration of collectivism and individualism: the Chinese pop song “Fill the World with Love”

(Lijuan Qian, Sichuan Normal University)

Lijuan’s paper focuses on how this pop song became incorporated into Chinese popular culture in the 1980s, and she opens with a discussion of humanism in China at the time, contextualised from Sartre and Marx. “the relation of transcendence as constitutive of man with subjectivity”. She suggests that the individualism and self-determination of Sartre’s humanism was at odds with some early 1980s Marxist thinking in China. Can love be a manifestation of humanism for those in China who have had a hitherto collectivist life experience? Some Chinese critics were concerned that any tendency towards individualism among intellectuals was a risk for society.

The song is representative of a move towards individualism, not least because its lyric is in the first person.