Results for Europe

interviews

Philip Sherburne

EDM - or Electronic Dance Music - has exploded over the past decade in Europe and the United States. But if names like Skrillex, Tiesto, Deadmau5, and David Guetta mean nothing to you, never fear. Jim and Greg have brought in Spin's Philip Sherburne, author of the“Control Voltage”blog, to offer a primer for the un-initiated. They kick off the conversation with a discussion of the genre's recent evolution: from the short-lived nineties rave scene with its anonymous DJs spinning in dark rooms, to the audio/visual spectacles presided over by celebrity DJs that we see today. A new emphasis on showmanship, and the adoption of dub step's aggressive, bass-heavy beats have won superstar producers like Skrillex, Tiesto, and Rusko a huge, youthful following says Sherburne, effectively making EDM the new stadium rock. But he'd also suggest keeping your eye on the up-and-comers, artists like SBTRKT, Four Tet, and Caribou.

Wrapping things up, Jim and Greg put the new artists we've heard in historical context. After all, as Jim says, covering dance music can give you deja vu. Greg reminds us that todays EDM producers are following in the footsteps of disco artists like Giorgio Moroder, Chicago house and techno musicians, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Fatboy Slim, and - dare we say it - Brian Eno.

Go to episode 341

John Kennedy O'Connor on Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest is largely unknown to most Americans, but for much of the world, the annual songwriting contest is one the biggest (and occasionally, one of the most controversial) cultural events of the year. Like the Superbowl meets American Idol on steroids, the nearly 60-year old televised contest has grown to include more than 35 countries from in and around Europe duking it out to decide who has best original song. Each year an estimated 125 million people tune in to watch and it's their votes which determine who comes out on top.

Despite the fervor before and during the contest, most Eurovision winners rarely go on to further success as artists - with few exceptions. Chief among those is ABBA, who arguably wouldn't have become a pop music powerhouse for 40 years if it weren‘t for their big break at Eurovision. To learn more about their musical birthplace, and just why it’s so darn popular, Jim and Greg recruited John Kennedy O'Connor, author of The Eurovision Song Contest: The Official History, to share the storied, and oftentimes strange, history of the annual music phenomenon. They‘ll all be tuning to watch this year’s contest in Denmark on May 6th.

Go to episode 438
classic album dissections
Rocket to Russiaundefined available on iTunes

Rocket to Russia

In 1976, The Ramones blasted onto the budding punk scene with their self-titled first LP and blew critics away with their blistering speed and old-school simplicity. However, it wasn't until the next year, after a monumental European tour and the release of their third album, Rocket to Russia, that the group's characteristic break-neck punk sound flooded the airwaves and the took the rock world by storm. Now, nearly 40 years after Rocket to Russia blew a hole in thepunk rock atmosphere, we mourn the death of Ramones' founder, drummer, producer, and guiding light Tommy Ramone. In honor of the legend's passing, Jim and Greg strap in for a Classic Album Dissection of The Ramones' 1977 speed machine and revisit a 2007 conversation with Tommy. Jim and Greg, curious about the magic behind masters of punk, ask Tommy about the day-to-day during the recording process and the band's cross-pond rivalry with British punk group the Sex Pistols. Tommy tells all, including the story of the band's suburban origins and the secret behind Dee Dee's famous, though not-so-useful count-offs.

To stake their flag in the dissection's conclusion, Jim and Greg each choose their favorite song from Rocket to Russia. Jim plays "Sheena is a Punk Rocker", calling it the“perfect rock song”and reminiscing about his young days listening to The Ramones. Greg settles on the song "We're a Happy Family" as a representation of the Ramones knack for writing catchy social commentary. The song satirizes the idea of perfect suburban family life represented so often by TV programs at the time, a poignant topic for the suburban-boy Ramones from Queens, New York.

Go to episode 453
news

Music News

While file-sharers in this country face lawsuits, downloaders in France now risk being thrown off the net entirely. French officials are proposing to cut off the broadband connections of people who illegally download films or music over the internet. French President Nicholas Sarkozy explained that he's backing a "three strikes" policy against internet pirates, while simultaneously announcing a new deal with film and music companies to boost“cultural offerings”on the web. Jim and Greg think that government intervention in this issue sets a troubling precedent. Let's keep our fingers-crossed that U.S. lawmakers don't follow suit (no pun intended).

The RIAA is making news yet again this week. Earlier this month, the record industry organization announced that it sent another round of pre-litigation settlement letters to college campuses across the U.S. They are targeting 16 schools, almost all of which are members of the Ivy League. But, where's Harvard? The RIAA has offered no response. Jim and Greg aren't quick to join conspiracy theorists, but the whole thing is a little peculiar. In fact, the American record industry's tactics in general are very peculiar. But, no more so than those across the pond…

After two successful runs of Lollapalooza in Chicago, concert promoters C3 Presents have announced they're going to extend their festival reign to the Garden State. This August C3 and European promoters Festival Republic will launch the Vineland Music Festival in Vineland, NJ. But, music fans shouldn‘t expect a different formula. The Vineland concert will also be a 3-day destination festival with over 100 bands in various popular music genres. In fact, some acts will overlap with Lollapalooza. Jim and Greg don’t understand the need for another big summer music festival when the market is already so glutted with the same product. Everyone, including C3 executives, admit that the market is over-saturated and that many of these festivals won't survive. Sound Opinions H.Q. just hopes that over-heated, over-charged music fans do.

Go to episode 105

Music News

After much debate, France has passed its three strikes law against filesharers. That means that if you are caught illegally downloading three times your internet could be shut down. It also signals an alliance between the French government and the record industry, and according to the EU, a limiting of personal freedom.

Speaking of limited personal freedom, the Chinese government continues to hinder access to popular music. Eager to curb potential protests, China's Ministry of Culture has cancelled major Oasis shows and moved the major MIDI festival from centrally located Beijing. Jim is not usually a fan of censorship, but actually favors an Oasis crackdown.

While we in this country have been busy with American Idol, Europeans were anxiously anticipating the winner of the biggest song contest in the world. This year's Eurovision winner is Alexander Rybeck of Norway. More than 100 million people watched his song "Fairytale" take the crown. Of course, Jim and Greg don‘t take this contest too seriously, but it’s nice to know that the love of schlock pop is universal.

Alexander Rybak

Go to episode 182

Music News

The news starts with Front Line Management's lawsuit against Axl Rose. Front Line's founder and chief executive is Irving Azoff, who is also executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, which merged with Ticketmaster last month. Jim and Greg discuss the impact of such a lawsuit on an artist. Considering the mega-corporation controls ticketing, venues and many other aspects of the industry, they may not be one to tangle with. Also, they note that the lawsuit is over a breach of "oral contract." Who agrees to an oral contract these days? Especially with Axl Rose!

Jim and Greg discuss the yet again delayed emergence of Spotify in the U.S. The Internet music service, introduced in 2008 by Daniel Ek, has become one of the most popular of its kind in Europe with 7 million users. But despite rumors that it would come to the States this summer, Ek is still having trouble navigating our thick legal system. He wants Spotify to be legitimate, and that means a lot of licensing fees. But once it does hit our soil, Greg predicts big success.

It hit about 80 degrees this week in Chicago, and while it may snow again next week, we've got our eye on the summer. Jim and Greg run down some of the biggest music festivals of the season. First up is Coachella this month, which will feature Jay-Z, LCD Soundsystem and Faith No More among others. The following month, music fans can travel to Washington for the Sasquatch Festival to see My Morning Jacket, Kid Cudi and Ween. In June Bonnaroo will host the Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder and Weezer. Two of the biggest festivals are right here in our hometown: Pitchfork Music Festival, which will boast a Pavement reunion, and Lollapalooza, which Greg can nearly confirm will have headliners Lady Gaga, Green Day, and a reunited Soundgarden. But, Jim points out that not all of the best multi-act concerts are destination festivals. Lilith Fair is back this year as a traveling women-fueled act with Mary J. Blige, Cat Power and Kelly Clarkson.

Go to episode 227

Music News

Hard to believe, but The Beatles are so old that some of their music is now entering public domain in Europe. While a law is in place to extend copyrights in the E.U. from 50 to 70 years, that won't go into effect until 2014. That means that as of New Year's Eve 2012, early tracks like "Love Me Do" are up for grabs. Early tracks by Bob Dylan, however, have recently been protected. In order to avoid its catalog going into public domain, Sony Music has taken advantage of the law's“use it or lose it”clause. They released a compilation aptly titled, The 50th Anniversary Collection: The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1. It's only available in certain European countries though, so American Dylan fans will have to be willing to pay big bucks on eBay.

This is typically the dry season for major album releases, but there have been a lot of buzzworthy singles. Jim and Greg run through some of the big ones. They never thought they'd utter the words "new David Bowie track," but we've got one called "Where Are We Now," with a Tony Visconti-produced album to follow. Then there's JT's new chart-topper "Suit and Tie." A couple of weeks ago Jim and Greg made a plea for the gentleman of Outkast to come back together, and now we have both Big Boi and Andre 3000 appearing on a remix of Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter." But, Andre is quick to squash any reunion rumors. Last, but not least, are the ladies of Destiny's Child. There's a new song called "Nuclear" and plans for the three to appear together during the Superbowl Halftime Show. Guess motherhood has made Beyonce nostalgic.

Go to episode 373

Music News

Each week there are more and more news stories about the failings of the music industry and labels having financial troubles. This week's victim is Bertelsmann, the largest media company in Europe. The German-based company reported a $69 million loss due to legal settlements over the funding of music-downloading service Napster. In 2004, in an effort to stay ahead in the growing digital industry, Bertelsmann invested in the file-sharing company. But, shortly thereafter, the other major music labels sued Napster for copyright infringement. Now Bertelsmann is paying the price.

It's clear that the industry's old model is dying though, and two music veterans think they have the solution. Jim and Greg discuss the much talked-about profile of Rick Rubin in last week's New York Times Magazine. Rubin, who co-founded Def Jam and launched the careers of artists like The Beastie Boys and Slayer, was recently appointed the co-head of Columbia Records. In the article, writer Lynn Hirschberg talks to Rubin about how he plans to save Columbia, and possibly the entire music business. In addition to implementing a subscription-based music service, the crux of Rubin's grand scheme is to put the focus back on quality and back on quality and the art. Jim and Greg completely agree that the key to pleasing music consumers is having better music, but they question Rubin's role as tastemaker. The man has had a golden ear at times, but, as Jim explains, he's also produced a lot of "crap."

Another music man who commented on the state of the union is Creation Records founder Alan McGee. In a blog in the UK newspaper The Guardian, McGee proclaims that consumers don‘t want to pay for music at all anymore. Period. He recommends that labels invest in the scope of an artist’s career and focus on making money through ticket sales and merchandise, not small worthless discs.

In more news about the money-making of music, BMI announced record-setting royalty distributions to the tune of $732 million. But, while the music performing right organization is reporting its success, another is seeking more funds. Earlier this summer ASCAP announced that it has filed 26 separate infringement actions against nightclubs, bars and restaurants in 17 states. Jim and Greg are curious about the goal of the crackdown, which seems to focus on the little guy. First they talk to Vincent Candilora, ASCAP's vice president and director of licensing. Mr. Candilora explains that ASCAP doesn‘t desire filing lawsuits, but that the organization wanted to remind people that there are laws against playing copyrighted music without a license, whether the song is recorded or performed, and whether the venue is large or a dive bar. He realizes that most of these establishments aren’t specifically music venues, but compares paying for the right to play music to paying for the right to serve parsley; it's not something you order off a menu, but it's something that's included in a business' operating cost.

Mike Miller, owner of the bar Delilah's on the north side of Chicago, gives the other perspective. He explains that as a music fan and a supporter of the local music community, he is totally happy to do his part and pay licenses to all three performing rights organizations. But, Mike is dubious about how his payments get disseminated. He also questions the effectiveness of such lawsuits, and wonders if ASCAP can do something better to support individual musicians and the community-at-large.

Go to episode 93

Music News

The list of possible inductees for next year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony has been announced. Among the first-time nominees are Kiss, LL Cool J, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Genesis. But there are some old faces, too. ABBA, The Stooges, and Donna Summer have all been up for induction before. Jim and Greg think they deserve recognition, but also have a healthy dose of skepticism whenever they talk about the Hall of Fame. It's notoriously conservative and often overlooks more fringe genres. Plus, as Jim explains, winners always run the risk of being encased in glass and wax in Cleveland.

A heavy debate on piracy and the internet is brewing in Europe. First, the controversial“Three Strikes”law in France has passed in the French assembly. This means that if a French citizen is caught downloading illegally three times, he or she will lose internet access and be subject to fines up to $450,000. Their neighbors in the U.K. are also concerned about this issue. British pop stars like Radiohead, Annie Lennox, and Robbie Williams are members of the Featured Artists Coalition, which recently released a statement coming down firmly on the side of the consumer and defending internet file-sharing as a promotional tool for up-and-coming artists. But artists like Lily Allen and James Blunt have taken the other side. Jim and Greg find this to be a bit ironic considering Allen's use of MySpace early in her career.

Before they launch into reviews of new fall albums, Jim and Greg take a look at how things are going on the charts. The Beatles are still the big winners, selling more than 2 million albums worldwide in just five days. But, as Jim points out, this is a fraction of what they might have sold back in the CD heyday of 1992, and a fraction of what they might have sold digitally. Another big chart winner is Jay-Z, who sold almost 300,000 albums of The Blueprint 3. Hip hop still dominates the charts, with big-selling albums by Drake, Lil Boosie, and Kid Cudi, whom Jim and Greg discuss later in the show.

Go to episode 200

Music News

A sad music headline kicks off this episode. Texas Blues guitarist Johnny Winter died last week at age 70. Greg notes that it's significant that Winter died while on tour in Europe, as he kept on working until the very end. And he encouraged his heroes to do the same. Winter, who had hits with his brother Edgar and with singer Rick Derringer in the 1970's, produced three late-career albums for Blues legend Muddy Waters. You can literally hear Winter's stamp on songs like "Mannish Boy" from 1977's Hard Again.

Go to episode 452

Music News

Major labels made a bit of news this week, and allowed Jim and Greg to justify their use of the“brontosaurus hurdling toward the tar pit”metaphor. So what is driving this particular dinosaur into extinction? According to our hosts, it's technology. Universal Music appeared to recognize this hurdle this week when they announced that they were cutting costs of some of their online music in Europe. So if you want to buy something from their catalog as a digital file, rather than as a physical CD, you'll only have to pay around $10. Seems reasonable to us here in the States. The CEO of EMI Music reiterated this idea in a statement to the London School of Economics. He said,“The CD as it is right now is dead.”A bit of an overstatement perhaps, but it's entirely possible that the market will split between iTunes listeners and die hard collectors (who want vinyl). In the meantime, EMI consumers can expect more content packaged with their old-fashioned audio CD.

One artist who hasn't been hurt by extinction is Kurt Cobain. Forbes named him the number-one-earning dead celebrity, even ahead of The King, Elvis Presley. Cobain's estate earned over $50 million this year alone, mostly due to the sale of Nirvana's song catalog to Primary Wave Publishing. Fans have widow Courtney Love to thank for that.

Sound Opinions always loves when Bono is in the news (which is usually every day). This time, though, it's more U2's music than the man himself. Apparently 150 Episcopal churches across the nation have adopted a new service entitled the U2charist, which blends the band's songs with the traditional Eucharist. The service kicks off with a rendition of "Pride," and also includes a collection for Bono's campaign to eradicate extreme poverty and global AIDS. Of course rock + religion is nothing new. Al Green and Solomon Burke infuse their pop music into religious ceremonies with great success. But the real question is how Bono measures up to Mase.

Go to episode 49

Music News

Norway announced it will become the first country to switch off FM Radio. The FM signal will be discontinued on January 11, 2017 and will shepherd in a digital a trend in Europe. Norway's Minister of Culture says the move will save the country $25 million a year.

The IFPI or International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, released a report called“Record Industry in Numbers”documenting the state of the music sales in 2014. Among the takeaways is that physical product is not dead, especially overseas. For example, in Japan and Germany, physical sales were 78% and 70% of overall sales. Also, global vinyl sales were up a massive 55% from 2013. Latin America was a growth sector for the industry: with digital revenues were up 32%, and even China, a hotbed of music piracy, showed promise when it came to legal sales.

Go to episode 491