WEEKENDER: Government-approved rock music - the nightmare begins

South Wales Argus: SHAKING THINGS UP: Rock 'n' roll music has been studded with individual artists and bands, and musical movements, that have by turns bemused, befuddled and downright scared The Establishment. Pictured is one such band of the 1950s, Bill Haley and SHAKING THINGS UP: Rock 'n' roll music has been studded with individual artists and bands, and musical movements, that have by turns bemused, befuddled and downright scared The Establishment. Pictured is one such band of the 1950s, Bill Haley and

IT has taken 60-odd years, but it seems that the corporatisation of rock 'n' roll is finally complete.

Back in the 1950s, the emerging rock 'n' roll music was inextricably linked by Those Who Rule with a worrying rise in juvenile delinquency, and its development has been studded with individual artists and bands, and musical movements, that have by turns bemused, befuddled and downright scared The Establishment.

This corporatisation is not a new phenomenon. Ever since the earliest days of rock 'n' roll, there have always been people hell bent on trying to make a quick buck or a very large fortune out of it, and music makers have always relied on corporate backing, however many times removed, in order to ensure their music is heard by as many people as possible.

Festivals are increasingly the happy hunting ground of corporate sponsors, sites heavily branded and logo-ed.

But the Music Export Growth Scheme, announced with much fanfare by the Department for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) this week, feels like a much more fundamental shackling of rock 'n' roll's spirit.

UKTI has teamed up with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the British music industry's trade body, to offer grants to 14 lucky artists that have successfully negotiated a selection process, to help them bring their music to overseas audiences.

That's right - if you are lucky enough, and are considered good enough, you can get a Government grant to rock 'n' roll.

OK, I'll admit at this point to being very naive and ideological when it comes to rock and pop music - and in order to keep enjoying much of the music I love, I have to accept that it is likely to come with a certain amount of commercial backing at odds with my ideals.

If you like, when it comes to popular music, I'm a complete hypocrite.

But even so, something about the Music Export Growth Scheme, or MEGS, as it seems inevitable it will come be known as, feels fundamentally wrong.

I'm not saying that artists are not having a difficult time at the moment. Income from the sales of music - which in an ideal world should provide their fundamental means of making a living - has plummeted to the extent that, unless they are mega-successful shifters of 'units' it will not support them.

The proliferation of free music on the internet helps bands get vital exposure, but the very ease of its availability reduces their potential income.

This has been counteracted to some extent by hiking the prices for live shows, so that watching your favourite moderately successful band in all their noisy, sweaty glory makes one's pockets considerably lighter.

Thanks to MEGS however, 14 artists will have their pain eased somewhat. Grants offer a total of £250,000 and applicants - who have had to submit proposals for an international music project, be it a tour or a festival, have been subjected to a rigorous selection process involving a board comprising 14 music professionals.

So at last The Establishment has got rock 'n' roll jumping through its Government-approved hoops.

But, as the aforementioned hypocrite, I will continue to listen to the recorded output of some of the artists, among them wry electro-poppers Metronomy, that have subjected themselves to this process.

Because when it comes to music, my head is almost always overruled by my heart - it's just that the latter is getting heavier.

THE uploading of more than 85,000 archive films by British Pathe onto its Youtube site has unleashed at a stroke 80 years of visual social, political, military, economic, and whatever other history you care to name.

Film of Gwent VC hero John Fielding's funeral in Llantarnam in 1932 has captured the Argus' attention this week, but there is plenty more where that came from.

One evening this week I spent a rapt hour watching a documentary about the fire station in the village in which I grew up - Melbourne in Derbyshire - and those who manned it.

It is only 18 minutes long, but it took me an hour to get through. I kept freezing frames to gaze upon village scenes and to scan the dozens of featured faces.

Made in 1962, two years before I was born, it provided a tantalising glimpse of a world that in some respects feels very recent, but in others is utterly removed from that of today.

It is a world peopled by characters I would most likely have been familiar with as I grew up, but my knowledge and recognition of whom has sadly slipped away.

I hope that up and down the UK, people are doing the same as I did. For this is a fascinating and incredibly important archive of the way we lived, locally, nationally, globally.

If you have access to the internet, make yourselves some time and dive in.

Pathe news online had me hooked

THE uploading of more than 85,000 archive films by British Pathe onto its Youtube site has unleashed at a stroke 80 years of visual social, political, military, economic, and whatever other history you care to name.

Film of Gwent VC hero John Fielding's funeral in Llantarnam in 1932 has captured the Argus' attention this week, but there is plenty more where that came from.

One evening this week I spent a rapt hour watching a documentary about the fire station in the village in which I grew up - Melbourne in Derbyshire - and those who manned it.

It is only 18 minutes long, but it took me an hour to get through. I kept freezing frames to gaze upon village scenes and to scan the dozens of featured faces.

Made in 1962, two years before I was born, it provided a tantalising glimpse of a world that in some respects feels very recent, but in others is utterly removed from that of today.

It is a world peopled by characters I would most likely have been familiar with as I grew up, but my knowledge and recognition of whom has sadly slipped away.

I hope that up and down the UK, people are doing the same as I did. For this is a fascinating and incredibly important archive of the way we lived, locally, nationally, globally.

If you have access to the internet, make yourselves some time and dive in.

Comments (1)

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1:01am Sun 4 May 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

State-approved art? The rapidly downward spiralling capitalist west is getting more like the Soviet empire in it's final decades of decay than some would readily admit.
State-approved art? The rapidly downward spiralling capitalist west is getting more like the Soviet empire in it's final decades of decay than some would readily admit. Katie Re-Registered
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