The Null Device
Posts matching tags '555 recordings'
Stewart Anderson is shutting down 555 Recordings (or putting the label on indefinite hiatus), citing lack of sales due to the file-sharing culture; and he paints a grim picture of the future of indie labels:
And its clear why this has happened. If I had access to the internet when I was a teen I doubt I would have bought many records either. But consider this kids, very soon there wont be any small labels, so the underground, despite all your calls for bringing down the big guys will disapear along with them.
Of course, I understand its not necessarily 555 things the kids are downloading, but the fact is there are so many tracks being downloaded now means theres no need for traditional shops or distros. So shops order only "indie" records from sure fire sellers like The White Stripes and Belle and Sebastian. Y'know both of those bands where tiny once. Where will the next White Stripes or B+S come from if all the labels like mine give up. The consumer will loose out in the end when the new music stops happening. (You can still listen to the Rolling Stones at least). There will always be NEW MUSIC you say? Well, why bother making a CD if you have a day job and cant tour for 3 months at a time? Why bother making a CD if no distros will take it because its your first release? Why bother when the CD pressing is usually 500 minimum and you end up with 400 under your bed for the rest of your life...
555 Recordings is only the latest label to cease operations. And if Stewart is right, then the musical ecosystem could collapse, with there being no space for new bands and artists to develop, and possibly the "big indie" side of things changing to resemble the major-label world of manufactured bands (what will replace the aging White Stripes when they lose it?). This doomsday scenario, though, is contradicted somewhat by reports of indie labels doing well.
So what does the future look like? Can we expect to see a musical apocalypse? Or will music adapt to the new way of doing things? Will the post-MP3 world be a dark age or a renaissance, or something in between?
Tonight I went to night 2 of the 555/Red Square/&c popfest at the Empress. It was perhaps even better than night 1; for one, the music was a bit more diverse. There were also fewer people there, perhaps because something else was on.
First up, Guy Blackman and Mia Schoen played a set (of which I missed the start); with Guy (who also co-hosts Untune The Sky and runs local indie label Chapter Music) singing and playing guitar, and Mia playing piano. Then Fog and Ocean came on; they consisted of people from various bands (including Stuart and Jen, and Kellie from Sleepy Township) singing, and noodling (or miming) on toy instruments over a MiniDisc of prerecorded electropop. They had a lot of fun doing it, and pulled it off with style. (At one stage, Kellie pretended to play a Casiotone keyboard (which had "WE DON'T ROCK" written on the back in black marker) with a piece of paper on the keys.) Julian Teakle played overdriven electric guitar riffs and sang about timeless themes such as parties being over; his style sounded very pub-rawk.
Even As We Speak, Sydney's contribution to the Sarah Records fey-indie-pop sound of the early 90s, were scheduled to play next, and did, with a drastically reduced lineup. (Only Mary, the vocalist, made it down to Melbourne.) She had a go at playing the guitar lines and singing, and then enlisted another guy to help her on acoustic guitar. Her set was very lovely indeed; nice chords and melodies and touchingly sincere lyrics delivered in a mellifluous voice. It's good to know that Even As We Speak are still around; apparently, they're working on new material; their Peel Sessions CD is about to be released, and they're negotiating with the Sarah Records people to rerelease their back catalogue. I look forward to hearing more from them.
They were followed by Minimum Chips, who played a very tight and groovy set of their brand of retro-styled pop. They played mostly new, as yet unrecorded, songs (though one does appear on the souvenir CD that was given away at the door). It was then that the crowd started gathering in earnest. When they finished, they lent their Yamaha organ to Huon.
Finally, Boyracer came on (this time consisting of Stewart and Jen, with the guy from Bend Over Boyfriend on drums) and tore the roof off the house; seriously rocking out with some frantic power-pop. As usual, Stewart (who, in his Lambretta shirt and red-and-blue-target-logo boots was more Mod than Damon Albarn and both Gallagher brothers put together) jumped around like a maniac and thrashed the hell out of his guitar.
(Once again I ended up buying too many CDs, as one does at these sorts of events. Tonight I picked up the retrospectives from Boyracer and Minimum Chips, a rather nice guitars-and-bleeps pop record from an outfit called The Love Letter Band and the new Tracey Read album. I've spent a ridiculous amount on CDs this weekend. Though, upon listening to some of them, I'd say it was money well spent.)
Anyway, it was a great night. For those who missed it but wish you hadn't, Boyracer, Mary of Even As We Speak and Ashtrayboy are playing at Pony tomorrow (Sunday) night.
Tonight I went to Pony to see Stuart from Boyracer/555 Recordings' solo act, Steward. He rocked. Most of the set featured backing tracks off a CD, but nonetheless, the live performance was inspiring. He started off by playing these toy drumsticks (you know, the ones with the speaker box on the belt which makes electronic drum sounds when you shake them) over a track, then went on to play guitar over a few others. Towards the middle of the show he went walkabout in the audience with a QuickShot toy four-track tape deck and a microphone, and at the end, he used one of those dashboard toys which makes ray-gun/explosion sounds to get weird sounds out of his guitar. The entire performance was done with an inspiring amount of spirit and energy; it made me want to pick up my guitar and start doing weird things to it.
I went to the Empress this evening, to see a number of bands. First up were Tugboat, who were not bad. Then was English indie band Boyracer, or rather Stuart from Boyracer, his wife Jen (?) and someone else filling in on drums. It was an interesting show; Stuart played the guitar like a maniac, gurning and wibbling and jumping about, though it ended up sounding quite good (despite his guitar being a $120 one he picked up on Brunswick St. earlier; he didn't bring his famed Hello Kitty guitar this time). He also joined the Cannanes' lineup when they played afterward, doing various duties, though after breaking a maraca and a glass, he was relegated to playing the triangle. Towards the end he danced about on stage and then decided to help the drummer along, standing in front of him and hitting the drums.
Stuart is also the guy who runs 555 Recordings, formerly of Leeds and now based in the US, and they had a stall, where they sold various CDs for $10. I picked up two things from there: Soft Love: A Tribute to Soft Cell (which is interesting in places, consisting of various weird indie laptop electro-pop and such; New Waver's version of Numbers with the lyrics changed to be about office life is somewhat amusing), and Knowing We Was Right From Da Start, a label retrospective compilation (which I haven't heard all of yet). I also scored the Cannanes' album Communicating At An Unknown Rate.