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(en) SchNEWS 426, Friday 10th October, 2003

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 10 Oct 2003 14:59:32 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long
plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men
(sic) die like dogs for no good reason... there's also a negative
side." - Hunter S. Thompson
Spare a thought this week for the poor old music industry, which
seems to have spent most of its publicity budget this year on
advertising the fact that it cannot sell records. Not only that,
but apparently it's the punter who's at fault for downloading
stuff off the net for free and the artists who are milking the
record companies dry. Yeah, right. Andy Taylor, head of Sanctuary,
the only substantial independent record label left in the UK,
disagrees: "Sales of recorded music account for a third of the
whole market, which also includes tours and merchandise as well as
the use of music in commercials and films." He goes on to quote
statistics to show that global income from music increased by
almost 10% in 2001. Taylor argues that the music industry's
problems stem from the corporate takeover that took place in the
1990s, when numerous small but healthy independent labels were
swallowed up by major label budgets, squashing any long-term
development of artists. "The easiest thing to do was produce
short-term products that would give short-term growth," says
Taylor. "It's become like the Christmas toy market."

In today's rhythmically globalised world, record production and
sales are controlled almost entirely by five fat cat multinational
companies intent on selling an easy-for-your-ears,
empty-of-substance commodity. Why don't we take a quick run
through the hit parade of corporations trying to monopolise our
'entertainment': There's AOL Time Warner (who own Atlantic,
Elektra, Sire, Maverick among others); Vivendi Universal (MCA,
Polygram, Geffen, Interscope, Motown); Sony (CBS, Epic);
Bertelsmann (BMG, Arista, RCA), and EMI (Capitol, Chrysalis,
Virgin, Parlophone). It's the new monsters of rock.

Vivendi Universal are about to merge with US TV network NBC, who
happen to be owned by General Electric - manufacturers of engines
for war planes used to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq, and donors of
$1.1 million to our much-loved Republican Party. Vivendi
Universal also has links to Espelsa who develop mission planning
systems for arms manufacturers Lockheed Martin and British
Aerospace. And the latest is that their music division isn't doing
so well, so they might soon be flogging it off to another

Keeping it in the corporate family, AOL Time Warner are currently
negotiating with EMI to sell off Warner Music (Madonna, Red Hot
Chilli Peppers, Missy Elliot). And of course, AOL is involved in
the arms industry through Hughes Electronic Corps and bombmakers,
Raytheon Industries. AOL and Time Warner, who together have
donated $1.6 million to the Bush administration, merged in 2000 to
form the fourth largest company in the world, generating more
income than the output of Russia or the Netherlands. Meanwhile,
Sony is in joint venture with the US Army to develop advanced
training simulations equipment, and The Power Corporation of
Canada, a major shareholder in BMG, is involved in the production
of parts for fighter aircraft and other military vehicles. So the
arms business is the new rock'n'roll then.

Dollar Notes

In the corporate boardrooms music is another commodity and the
artists that create it are no more than a tool that they can use
to tap into difficult markets. Record contracts are so watertight
and royalties so low that it is only the really big stars - and
the record execs - who ever earn a penny from record sales, so
that's why the average musician isn't that worried about piracy.
The man behind such musical greats as Steps, Pete Waterman (who
once bought 18 Ferraris in one day) said: "As Mark Twain said,
'Feed a starving dog and it won't bite you.' That's the principal
difference between an artist and a dog."

Music only becomes valuable when it can be used to sell other
products. Mainstream success story David Gray says: "It's
staggering the amount of money you're offered, but music is more
important than selling mashed potatoes or a dodgy jacket made in
the Philippines." He chose to say no. Last year Chumbawumba were
offered, and turned down, $350,000 by General Electric to use
their hit 'Tubthumping' in an advert for air conditioning. They
explained "It's not hard to dig up info on companies and sometimes
it just stares you in the face. When we were in New York in
January there was a huge NO SWEAT banner hanging from a building
in Times Square. In great big bold letters it urged shoppers not
to buy Gap because they use sweatshop labour. Are Madonna and
Missy Elliot dancing to Gap's tune because they have no idea what
conditions the jeans they are flogging are made under? It's
doubtful either of them would end up behind a counter or pulling
pints if they didn't make the advertising revenue."

Other British acts, unable to get on radio playlists and so denied
performance royalties as a source of income, are desperate to
break into a hostile US market, and are less conscientious. Badly
Drawn Boy linked up with badly made clothing company Gap, with his
music featured on one of their ads, while Coldplay (who told the
world to 'make trade fair') sold off 'Yellow' to be used by ABC
television. John Harlow, a partner in the advertising agency Naked
explains: "The commercial brand world used to be quite a dirty
word. Artists in the old days would say, 'I don't want to be
involved with that.' But the dynamics have changed. Records sales
are right down. There is a new era of collaboration."

Likewise, when once a band could turn up at a gig and insist the
promoter take down the banner advertising a dodgy beer company
before they would go on stage, now they are booked to play at the
Carling Weekend in Reading and Leeds, or at the Carling Academy in
Liverpool, or the Carling Apollo in Hammersmith. In the UK
Carling, owned by US brewer Coors (investors in GM barley; right
wing anti-union, anti-gay lobbyists...), are collaborating with
corporate promoters Mean Fiddler and Clear Channel to sponsor
venues and festivals to make the music industry profitable for
them and turn festivals into soulless landscapes and extensions of
a shopping trip. Pop has finally eaten itself and now it's in the
toilet with its fingers down its throat.

* For more on Clear Channel: www.clearchannelsucks.org and

* For more on why the Mean Fiddler suck check out

* For more on the melodious links between the music and the arms
industry see: www.cstrecords.com/html/uxo.html


Rebel Alliance

New in town? Want to find out how to get involved in Brighton's
direct action groups? Then get along to the REBEL ALLIANCE next
Tuesday (14) 7pm at the Cowley Club, London Road. Also showing
will be American anti-war film 'We interrupt this Empire.'


Crap Arrest Of The Week

For having a protest sign...
Canadian coppers harassing homeless activists and their supporters
who were camped under a bridge to fight new anti-homeless laws
nicked one person who had put up a sign about the protest. The
cops said the protest sign was in fact a business sign which are
illegal. They nicked the woman after she refused to hand it over
and instead sat on it!



As SchNEWS went to press four people from Hounslow Against New
Terminals were still occupying a crane on the building site of
Heathrow's Terminal 5 where they've been direct action dangling
since Monday morning.

Heathrow airport just keeps on growing - despite the construction
of Terminal 5 underway, the airport authority are now saying they
want a sixth terminal and a third runway! On a local level that
would mean up to 10,000 homes plus schools, churches and community
centres flattened, wiping out the villages of Harmondsworth and
Sipson while Longford and Harlington would become so heavily
polluted they'd become uninhabitable. 230 hectares of green belt
would also be lost and nearby Hounslow already one of the most
polluted places in England would become an even worse place to
live. One of the protesters said "We are occupying this crane
indefinitely because if the BAA (British Aviation Authority) gets
its way, our community will pay with the loss of our homes,
schools and health. We are sick of corporate greed bulldozing the
needs of our population."

The aviation industry wields a big stick and is using the
government's own forecasts of air travel nearly tripling in the
next 25 years to justify huge and immediate expansion across the
country. And it expects to get its way. Chris Mullin, a former
Labour junior transport minister commented "During my 18 months as
a minister whose responsibilities included aviation, I learned two
things. First, that the demands of the aviation industry are
insatiable. Second, that successive governments have usually given
way to them. Although nowadays the industry pays lip service to
the notion of sustainability, its demands are essentially
unchanged. It wants more of everything."

Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions in the
country thanks to our love affair with ridiculously cheap prices.
Cheap that is for the consumer, thanks to fuel and tax subsidies
thought to be worth up to £500 per person a year, but not cheap
for a choking planet.

See: www.hacan.org.uk

* Don't forget Rising Tide Gathering at the London School of
Economics this Saturday (11) 'Oil, war and climate change:
dismantling the oil economy.' Book your place 01865 241 097


Tragic Mushroom

People from around the world converged last week on a camp in
central Australia held by local senior Aboriginal women - the Kupa
Piti Kungka Tjuta - to talk and enjoy a cultural exchange. The
main topic for discussion was the way the atomic age has been such
good news for the area. Never-heard stories from local Aboriginals
emerged about the British Government's atomic bomb testing in the
area which began in October 1953. There were accounts of the earth
shaking, dense radioactive clouds, the sickness and death caused
by the testing - which has never been compensated for - as well as
defiance and spirited survival. And it doesn't end there: these
same lands are now the target for a proposed huge nuclear waste
dump, as well as being near the biggest uranium mine in the world,
Roxby Downs. There will be actions and events around Australia on
October 15th to mark the 50th anniversary of the bomb testing. See

For more about the camp and the fight against the nuclear dumps


SchNEWS in brief

Radio 4A is back on the airwaves in Brighton this weekend
(101.4FM) and on the net at www.radio4a.org.uk

SchWOOPS - wrong website in last weeks article about the protest
camp in Sherwood Forest. should read
http://mysite.freeserve.com/sherwood_camp/ - the camp has now been
served its eviction notice and desperately needs more support

200 000 protesters were faced by 9 000 coppers as they flooded the
streets of Rome from the 5th-6th to protest the meeting of 25 EU
heads of state deciding on a superstate-creating EU constitution,

Arab-American activist Ramzi Kysia - who spent nearly two years in
Iraq before, during and after the war - will be in the UK between
15-24 November and is looking for people to organize public
meetings. 020 7837 0561 gabriel@voices.netuxo.co.uk

George Bush is coming to the UK in late November and people are
already planning to give him the bushwhacking welcome he deserves.
To find out about the protests resistbush@yahoogroups.co.uk

DOVE - opposing the polluting incinerators in East Sussex will be
walking along the River Ouse on the 21st October before ending up
at the White Hart Hotel, Lewes where the public enquiry into
incinerators is being held. Walk starts Paradise Park, Newhaven
9am 01273 515967 www.dove2000.org


Put-in Power

In war-deadened Chechnya last weekend's elections gave Chechens
little to lift their spirits. Akhmad Kadyrov, Russia's preferred
puppet, was elected president with over 80% of the vote in
Kremlin-rigged elections. His two main opponents were forced out
of the running. While Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed
that the turnout had been 86% and that it represented "a positive
change" most independent sources saw the election as a farce with
a much smaller turnout. A mere 50 people voted out of the
thousands of Chechen refugees crammed in squalid border camps.

This farce is all part of Putin's naked attempt to bring the
rebellious little separatist state back into the loving arms of
Mother Russia. It's his homegrown version of 'the war on terror',
having bombarded the capital Grozny into heaps of rubble and
having run a campaign based on abduction and pistol-whipping.
Through the elections Putin is trying to force-feed the
international community the idea that Chechnya is returning to a
state of normalcy and stability. And so all those thousands of
pesky refugees camped on the border who are a blatant example of
terrifying instability are being forced from their camps and
encouraged to return to the normalcy of Chechen life. Russian
troops recently broke into the Bela refugee camp near the Chechen
border, cutting all energy and water supplies, pistol-whipping and
abducting their way to forcing the 1200 refugees back into
Chechnya in time for the elections. The UN has whimpered and
expressed 'concern' about the human rights violations but with the
US desperate for Russian support in its own war of terror there is
little chance that any action will be taken against Moscow.

So will the pink flowers of democracy blossom now that elections
have taken place? Fat chance. A blossoming civil war is what
Chechens are most probably gonna be plunged into. FSB (the former
KGB) agents say they are now preparing for a bloody civil war
pitting Kadyrov's personal army of 4,000 against the leaders of
rival factions who've been sidelined by the Kremlin. Add to that
Kadyrov's faltering relations with Moscow after having declared
that he doesn't want to 'rush' into parliamentary elections and
you've got yourself many more years of blood spilling and freedom


Positive Vibes

The music industry still has its highlights, with small,
independent records labels and festivals running and jumping all
over the place. Truck Festival appeared in 1998 when a family
decided that mainstream festivals were crap - so they organised
their own. They got a friendly farmer on side, enlisted a dodgy
rave geezer to do the dance stage and built a stage from 2 trucks.

5 years on and the festival's still small, run by volunteers (ice
cream sold by the local vicar), cheap (tickets, food and beer) and
fun. Oh, the music's good too - everything from country to UK
hip-hop and even a cheeky trance party if yer lucky! Plus it's
made tens o' thousands of pounds for charity.

Like their website says - "There is no cut throat capitalism here,
no huge entry fees, and no inappropriate huge advertising
boards...it's a nice day out in the countryside with a few beers
and a plethora of bands." www.truckrecords.com

* American singer Ani DiFranco has set a shining example of what
can be done by avoiding recording companies, and makes 10 times
the profit by producing and selling her own records through her
own website. To date she has sold around a million albums. British
singer/songwriters Charlotte Greig and Astrid Williamson are
following suit. Greig says: "Labels are much less important than
they used to be, because CDs are now so cheap to make. The punk
do-it-yourself dream is finally coming true."


Inside SchNEWS

While starve-myself-so-I-can-be-a-fat-cat David Blaine gets £5
million and lots of free eggs 'n' kebabs for hanging in a box, two
of the seven prisoners on remand after the massive protests at the
EU summit in Greece (see SchNEWS 413) have gone on hunger strike.
Simon Chapman this week joined Suleiman "Kastro" Dakdouk in the
Syrian's third week of a hunger strike while supporters in London
hung a banner on Tower Bridge opposite Blaine to highlight the
plight of the imprisoned protesters who've been framed by the
Greek cops. thessalonikiprisoners@yahoogroups.com or

* The Legal, Defence and Monitoring Group are holding a workshop
next Saturday (18) where a solicitor will go through the law and
answer questions for anyone arrested for 'Obstruction of the
Highway' at the recent DESi arms fair protests. It's free but to
get a place email ldmgmail@yahoo.co.uk


...and finally...

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