The Death of the Compact Disc

Julie's Bicycle has just released their report on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK music industry.  The organisation was set-up to research the impact of the industry and make recommendations on how to reduce CO2 and the other emissions contributing to climate change.

The report includes a set of short term recommendations for reducing the industry's carbon footprint.  These include standard housekeeping measures - like energy audits, switching to a green electricity tariff, and engaging their suppliers in emission reductions.

From the total of 538,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses produced by us musos, 26% of the industry's emissions relate to the cradle-to-grave lifecycle of the compact disc.  Julie's Bicycle therefore recommend that the industry "move to low emissions CD packaging".

But is that really the answer?

The industry is in itself in a state of change.  Downloads have shaken things up, and CD sales are in decline.  People may be continuing to purchase CDs, but what would be most interesting would be to see stats on how many people buy albums on disc, convert them digitally, and then file the CDs or sell them on (or throw them away ...) - thus never needing to use them again.

CDs have never had the collectable status as vinyl has.  They are a format that was imposed up on the consumer - indeed there have always been many opponents to discs since they were introduced.

With the industry in a state of flux, this is a good time for labels to shake things up.  For those that want the format to retain, sustainable packaging should be considered - rather than simply resorting to the standard jewel case, do something remarkable.  CD packaging that is collectable, and made from sustainable materials, will be more highly valued by fans.

But perhaps the answer inevitably lies in the format itself.  Is it time to just let the CD die?

Read the full report from Julie's Bicycle here.


Green Plastic Watering Conans

Last year they measured their carbon footprint.  Now Radiohead appear to be trying to cut down on their impact - with a symbolic gesture of not jetting across the pond to promote their new album In Rainbows (which, incidentally, is a brilliant piece of work ...).

Rather than flying to NYC to appear on Late Night With Conan O'Brian, the band played 'House Of Cards' live via satellite from a studio in London. The performance was part of NBC's week of environmentally conscious programming.

It's not necessarily a new idea - and with Prince Charles upping the ante by making appearances via hologram, one would suspect Thom Yorke et al. to do the same.  Perhaps the gesture was only a drop in the proverbial ocean - the band go on a world tour this summer.


Unsubscribe Me

Amnesty has released the lastest in its series of promotional films for their Unsubscribe campaign, which calls for an end to human rights abuses under the banner of the "war on terror".  It is a cause that I support wholeheartedly - I find it unbelievable that our governments are getting away with these practices.  What is even more shocking is that we sit back and do not demand that it stops immediately.

The title track from "Revolutions" is a response to this complacency.  We are locked in a cycle of history where we are not learning from our mistakes.  With every step we took in the 20th century to reach a more advanced state of humanity, the formative years of our current decade seem to have set us back.  The baby boomer generation that campaigned for peace and prosperity are now the ones perpetuating the cycle.  

The "war on terror" certainly does not provide us with an excuse for the disregard for human rights that our governments have allowed.  



Distribution is, in my opinion, a dirty word.  When you start out in the music industry, all you care about is your distribution deal.  You believe that without it, no one will take you seriously - and you will never sell any records.

Last autumn, our CD distributor Amato went bankrupt.  Months of hard work on promoting the new Sara Berg album went down the drain.  Our stock is still sitting in their warehouse, held up in legal wranglings.  Why did this happen? Amato was one of the largest independent distributors in Europe. Well, some dinosaurs with outdated methods of selling music ran up debts and the company sank.  Many of Amato's labels will never see their past six months sales, and will never recover the debt that the distributor left them.

The doom and gloom that hangs over the music industry is beginning to tire everyone - not just those of us that are confronted with it daily.  All the boys in suits that run the show are scared - their old business model isn't working anymore.  They want to keep people buying CDs because the supply chain - from manufacturing, to distribution, to retail - is also controlled by them.  This is one of the reasons why they hate downloads so much.

Control is something that is traditionally taken away from artists. Once you sign a deal, your art and everything else that supports it belongs to the corporation that controls you.  The ethos behind Gaymonkey has always been to give the artist complete freedom to create what they want, with the belief that there will be an audience for brilliant electronic pop music.

Even distributors feel like they should have some of this control - they decide how and when your music will get in stores, and even like to share their opinions on the music with you.  If they don't personally like it, they will make less of an effort to sell it to the stores.  

With no physical distributor, labels are forced to think differently. Which is a great thing for music.

David Byrne thinks so too - check out his brilliant article from Wired magazine here.

The Joy of Mux


The joys of making mixtapes have returned in the form of Muxtape. Upload some songs, get them in an alignment, and publish them for all to enjoy. I've gotten lost just bouncing around the featured muxes on the site homepage ...

Mixtapes were our generations filesharing.  Most of my musical history is stored on old cassettes in an archive box in the elder's basement.  Of course every mix we made had a name and a sleeve design, and carried a dream that one day we would make albums of our own.

Of course a few things can make Muxtape better.  

1. Limit us to 60 minutes (or 90!) instead of 12 tracks. 

2. Muxtape links tracks to Amazon - allowing listeners the opportunity to buy tracks - but most of the tracks you will find on the Melnyk Muxtape will never be found at Amazon.  Better store links please (Beatport!)

3. Make users tag their mux with themes, and let us search by tag ... 

4. Let us comment on each others muxes - and network accordingly

Other than that, it is pure genius.


Madonna Saves The World

There was a time when the Queen of Pop used sex and religion to cause controversy.

Now Madonna feels it necessary to strike out against public transportation.  Apparently London's roads and Underground system are so horrible that she has to walk everywhere.  Not such a big deal when your fortune is so extensive that you can afford to purchase (yet another) slice of the capital's hyper-priced real estate - just to house a gym for you and the girls.

We know that Madge likes a moan - and with a new album out very soon she needs all the column inches that she can get.  But with the green zeitgeist of the Naughties in full swing, does she really think she can get away with mixed messages?

Now hold on - Vanity Fair has chosen Madonna to grace the cover of their annual "Green Issue".  And her new single "4 Minutes" informs us that we don't have much time left to save the world.  It must be a nightmare for her publicists to deal with her credentials - between building schools in Malawi and her yogalates classes, can she really criticise a public transportation system that surely she has never stepped foot on?

Pop icons are losing their power.  In the early decades they used their influence to inspire - from John & Yoko's bed-ins, to Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" (the UK's fastest selling single of all time).  2007's Live Earth concert, however, was heavily criticised for being irrelevant when the message of saving the planet was delivered from artists who flew in private jets to and from the event (not to mention the fact that it was sponsored by a car manufacturer).

Can self-indulgent, heavily consuming rock stars really be the ones to continue to inspire the masses?  


Ebb's Disco

It was great to get the chance to hear Ebb perform this weekend in Stockholm for the first time this year.  He's been in his studio for the past few months working on his new album - which was marred by a bit of a setback last autumn when the side project he was working on was abandoned due to "creative differences" with another musician (and former Gaymonkey ...).

Pleased to say the new material is stunning - trademark Ebb beats and emotional hooks, but packaged this time into more traditional song structures.  We were treated to 4 new tracks - all of which will develop into strong contenders for new found favourites.

Sugar Bar provided an odd backdrop to the event - however, they do have the most fantastic jukebox ...


Gaymonkey Labelnight in Stockholm

Our first Gaymonkey night of 2008 will be at Sugar Bar in Stockholm this Saturday 5th April.  We have been invited to host a night by the guys from Lobotom - a very cool Swedish electronic label.  The venue has historical legacy - its been a hotspot for Stockholm's electronic scene, and was one of the first live gigs I did in the city when "Silence" was released.

Ebb is going to be playing some new material - he is also working on a new album which will hopefully be ready for release in the autumn.

Sugar Bar
Kammakargatan 9
Doors at 8pm.