Category: music

Wk16: Up In the Air – the battle for Cloud Computing

Just a really good album with the word cloud in it

Amazon opened up a Pandora’s box a few weeks ago in the US. They offered a “cloud service” to their customers for music. A 5GB (or 20GB with conditions) “locker” where you can upload your music and stream it back to your devices. It opened up a larger debate about the legal issues – what new rules are needed in this new space.

But does it matter? Will technology once again speed past the ability for lawyers to make decisions. The conversations around cloud computing – are they the right ones?

And the fight over the rules for music – how does it effect the internet as a whole? Are we short changing the idea of the cloud for something as small as music?

Tech heads have been talking about “cloud” computing for a long time. But it’s been with us for a while now – in the form of webmail. No need to download your emails to a computer – it’s all online to be accessed from any net capable device. That is the idea behind Amazon’s service – for music.

Record companies and Amazon immediately locked horns. Amazon didn’t seek permission from labels to do this – they just did it. Whereas Apple and Google have been talking to labels for months about doing the same thing.

This has good and bad consequences. Good that progress is made by those willing to drag the rest of the world to it. Bad that the pressure is on and some snap judgements could be made in hot blood.

I will say this – at this level of business, and with the money at stake, it’s pretty silly to imagine any new business ventures involving music can be done without talking to lawyers. Which makes Amazon’s move much more interesting. Is it bravery, or bravado? Have they decided this is the way the world is going, and they might as well get there first?

It is the way the world is going, and it’s interesting once again that the fight is over music when it could be over anything. And it will affect everything.

Cloud computing should ultimately stream anything. Documents, videos, books and more. The ramifications for what Amazon is doing will affect everyone. The laws put in place now will govern all other industries.

It’s surprising that it’s left to music lawyers to clean this up. With the record companies barely the bones of what they once were, are they really the best team to be doing representing all content? Especially in their desperate state?

And like piracy before, will we wait another ten years before the might of the TV and film studios get involved? Or books?

Because here’s the problem – if the cloud is our only way to “own” content, should we be paying for each play? Or should there be ads in that space. Should everyone have access to my locker to see what I bought so they can advertise to me?

Above and beyond retail (like Amazon) and industry (like the Music Industry), who is protecting the consumers?

Another big pro for cloud computing is we don’t have to worry if we drop a harddrive on the ground. My friend Bret recently took his hard drive into work to copy a few things and ended up corrupting it somehow. It is this sort of stuff that will seem as hokey as those circular dialers on telephone. The idea of losing a file – ever – will be gone.

This is a wonderful thing – yet we still have to argue about red tape.

What the hell are these companies complaining about?

It’s a bigger issue than music.

I have seen some discussion about how “cloud computing” validates piracy. It seems a petty thing when the ideas around ownership are challenged.

Music is also in a unique place when it comes to the idea of ownership. It is one of the few “media” we are used to owning. For decades, the music industry has fed itself on the revenues of sales – music fans buying a record or CD outright, playing it as many times as they wish.

In TV and film, this is new. Movies still make money at the cinemas, and TV on the box (although that money is quickly going away). We as consumers don’t really have that sense of ownership with movies. Many of us are happy to watch a film and not buy it. And then there are years of video rentals. This is a bit more like what music companies want from streaming – a bit of money per play, not per customer.

Then there’s books. Libraries have started to stock e-books! And the idea of accessing a book for free for a read has been around for centuries. Should publishers get money per “play” in the digital era?

Everything in the digital world comes down to ones and zeros. Books, films and music are all the same. All can be placed in a cloud.

We approach each media differently, but someone will have to come up with a rule that fits everyone. And someone is not going to be happy.

Of course, it all comes down to money. A recent Guardian article (link) published that Lady Gaga made only £167 for 1 million plays of Pokerface on Spotify. A figure used by recrd companies to show how unviable streaming and the “cloud” space are.

But lets unpack that figure. These are PLAYS, not SALES. In the CD era, how many times do you think people would have listened to this track per sale? Once? Twice? Ten times? Considering how beloved she is, and how some rabid fans probably listened every day, lets say it was ten plays. That’s 100K of listeners for £167.

Still seems like very little, but Spotify only has 1 million customers anyway (as of March this year). Might seem like a lot, but last year Apple had 50 million. Facebook has 500 million. We are dealing with global figures, and huge internet properties.

Think of it this way. If there was ONLY a Spotify version of Pokerface, worldwide – what would the plays be?

Would it be 500 million users? Lets follow our above formula (one in ten Spotify users listened to Pokerface ten times).

500 million plays.

500 x £167.

£83,500 for one track.

Now forget it’s Lady Gaga for a second. Does that not seem like a kind of reasonable amount of money for one hit pop song?  We are supposed to be moving away from flash-in-the-pan one hit wonders. And Gaga – with many singles, touring, YouTube royalties, publishing etc – sounds like it’s leading to a reasonable pay day – not a ridiculous one.

But we are so worried about now. And now isn’t going to matter in a couple of years for music. Everyone else will fly by us, and we will still be arguing about rates and royalties still. I looke at Metallica’s continued boycott of iTunes and laugh. And wonder if the entire music industry will go the way of Metallica.

There’s still a long way to go. Amazon’s opening salvo has it’s limits. It doesn’t play on Apple devices for example.

But it’s a start. And it’s a start that could get stifled really early. And push back cloud computing for a few years – or hamper it with stupid licensing rules forever. Luckily, I have faith in the piracy and boffins sector to circumvent any rules. With any luck, industries will remain short sighted about technology loopholes.

So if someone doesn’t build lockers for us, we will start building them ourselves. The beauty of the open internet.

Technology moves on. We can see this now, more than ever.

Yet big companies, especially in entertainment, still try to hamper progress. They have their reasons – money, rights – but they are trying to hold back a wave.

It’s time to ride the wave, and while you’re on the beach metaphor, look up and see how wonderful the clouds look.

Spotify sales article in the Guardian – []

Apple’s iTunes number – []

Spotofy’s One Million users – []

Upcoming Gigs – Apr/May 2011

I am supporting LAZY SUSAN at the ANNANDALE HOTEL, APRIL 24th.

Joining me on the night will be Tim Byron, making it another semi-reunion for the Reservations.

LAZY SUSAN are performing the entire LONG LOST album from start to finish. It includes massive hits like Bobby Fischer, Canada and Clumsy. I used to play in Lazy Susan, and their new record, which I don’t play on, is oddly fantastic. You can listen to some tracks below, including the single Find Me A Way Back Into Your Heart.

Official website –


Those who enjoy watching me perform but hate my songs should come see The Aerial Maps. I have joined that band as extra hands to help them recreate their fantastic album The Sunset Park, which is released later this year.

My first gig is on May 7th at the Basement as part of a big night for their label Popboomerang. All the details are here –

The first single, also called The Sunset Park, is below.


Finally – I will probably be performing a couple of songs by that you can download – free – here

Making Album 3: Day 3

Yesterday was another day of recording album 3.

Still at Adrian’s studio at Double Bay, we came up with basslines for several songs and cleaned up some of the work we did previously.

This method of recording is very new to me. In the past I have been over-prepared. This time I am writing stuff on the spot. Hours wasted on a bassline that didn’t work for I Just Wanna See You, before just deciding on something simple, and using the same old basslines I’ve used before. I guess there is something to be said for falling back on instincts when approaching a recording like this.

That said, some really good stuff came from improvising. A mellotron line for The Bedford Arms and a walking bassline for Done With Love came out very well.

I initially wanted to work with sample drums only. Having been a bit obsessed by LCD Soundsystem (RIP) and simple recordings of recent Paul Westerberg, I figured real sounds were not important as long as the songs were there. But it’s looking like a real drummer will need to be drafted in, and proper drums recorded.

So for the moment, we are stuck on this drums impasse.

On the other hand, one Untitled song I’ve pretty much decided will get the flick. A finished tracklisting is getting closer.

Making Album 3: Days 1 & 2.

Album 3 Recording 5
My common view of Adrian during our recording

First two days involved just running through the songs and getting them down. We did almost everything to a click track, to make it easier to add drums, bass, or whatever else later.

We worked at Adrian’s home studio in Rose Bay. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Walk around from Adrian’s studio on the hill and you can see all of Sydney Harbour.

All I brought with me was my Art & Lutherie acoustic which I’ve had for 5 years now, and travelled the world with me. I also brought my Mustang bass that was not used – yet. In the era of protools, we did quite a bit of mucking around with synths and drum sounds for the demos.

We started by playing to samples, but in the end, Adrian tracked midi drums to a click. We played both live and got excellent takes that still had feel and detail.

I walked in with 18 songs. We recorded demos for 14. They are, in order:

1. Untitled 1 (It’s Never Gonna Happen)
2. The Bedford Arms
3. Done With Love
4. It’s Been Too Long
5. Untitled 2 (Meet Again)
6. Untitled 3 (I Know You)
7. Find the Sea
8. Time To Go

9. Show You My City
10. I Just Wanna See You
11. Death Disco
12. Untitled 4 (Gang Of Four)
13. Adventure
14. Victoria I

9-14 were all done on electric. I even used a Stratocaster and a Les Paul for the first time ever on a recording.

For the record, songs not tracked so far are:

15. Victoria II
16. My Life Has Been Good
17. Trace
18. Names

I am usually very good with song titles but this time around I am stuck. It’s worrying that there isn’t one clear line or idea in these songs that stick out that feels like a title. Many of those songs are cut and paste jobs from various scribbles in my notebooks. I put them in an order that makes sense. I am considering doing the Jebediah thing and just naming them something completely left field (what is Military Strongmen?).

I don’t think I’ve ever played guitar so much in one consistent sitting before. Usually in bands you can have a break. My fingers were in a lot of pain by the middle of day 2. I had to hold frozen peas in one hand. But we muddled through (woe is I).

Some songs are in states of unfinishedness. Many gaps for lyrics, and many placeholder lyrics too. I will need to live with these tapes for a bit and make notes.

I had lyrics for one song – Death Disco – that was written in the studio. I’ve never done that before, and the whole song has only two chords. But that speed and fun is why I’m working with Adrian. I don’t love recording – and I hate labouring over it. The song is about the club nights at Notting Hill Arts Club on Wednesday nights.

In the end, very exciting. Next session is just over a week away. The aim is to drill down the arrangements, finich the lyrics, start adding bass and get the songs to a point where we can start inviting people in to help.

And also think about what songs wont make it. As 3 songs come under 2 minutes, I might be able to allow 11 songs.

Photos l-r:
1. Double Bay, driving on the way to the studio. 2. Producer Adrian Deutsch. 3. My world while tracking. 4. My view of Adrian while I was recording

Album 3 Recording 1 Album 3 Recording 2 Album 3 Recording 4 Album 3 Recording 5

Making Album 3: introduction

Today I will start making a third album of songs I’ve written.

I am going to blog about it.

If you’ve ever wondered what people do to prepare for an album, then I can tell you sometimes it’s a lot. My last record was rehearsed intensely, and had a clear vision going in.

This time around, I have prepared almost nothing. I have 20 songs in all different states. One is just a whole bunch of lyrics on a notepad about a certain subject, with no music at all. Almost half have no titles and I hope to revisit the lyrics. Some are completely finished. Song wise, these are all the songs that were worth keeping that I wrote in 4 or so years in London.

I am recording with Adrian Deustch at his home studio. I’ve known Adrian for ten years and we’ve always wanted to work together. I have not worked with that many producers in my life, so every time it feels brand new.

We are going to start by recording every song acoustically, or on piano. Some basic tracks to start. No drummer, no embellishments. Hopefully Adrian will offer some ideas. And from there we will decide where to go.

I have no idea how it’s going to sound. We will be recording bit by bit in the months to come. And hopefully rope in some great collaborators.

The aim is to pick the best ten and make that an album. I can’t seem to shake that ten song limit. It just works for me.

As of right now, the album will be called “Adventure!”. And it will be by “The Reservations”. But everything can change.

Setlist: 18/02/2011

Danny Yau and Casey Atkins


Petersham Bowling Club

1. The Bedford Arms *
2. Adventure! *
3. I Just Wanna See You *
4. I’ll Show You My City *
5. Last Time Around
6. As Lonely As Me
7. Wish You Were In Love
8. The Body
9. Joni Mitchell’s Blue
10. Can I Go With You?
11. Bring It On Home To Me
12. I Was Born In 1980

* Danny Yau solo

Songs 5-10 and 12 are available for FREE download here

Liner Notes: The Reservations- Last Impressions

Last Impressions is the first album by the Reservations.

It was produced by Michael Carpenter. The initial sessions were recorded in Kings Rd, but the record was finished (and probably the bulk of the recording was done) at the newer Love Hz studios in Leichhardt. It was released on October 11, 2004 – my 24th birthday – through Non-Zero Records. The photos and cover photo are taken by Amy Walters.

The players are:

Danny Yau (vocals, guitars, mandolin)
Casey Atkins (guitars, vocals, keys)
Saul Foster (bass)
Israel Smith (drums)
Nigel Chong-Sun (bass)
Michael Carpenter (drums, bass)
Paul Andrews (drums)

This little band was kind of falling apart when we started recording this album, in pieces, over a few months. Saul and Israel left the band, so Nigel, Paul and Michael did a great job filling in.

This was the album that came from the first batch of songs I ever wrote. There were probably 5 or 6 more tracks that could have been recorded for this album.

We didn’t really think about making this album enough. Mood wise, it’s all over the shop. Maybe there could have been some better songs. I think we were thrilled about having just recorded some songs so we put them out.

This album was also written in a period of intense unhappiness. I was kicked out of my flat. The band was falling apart. Girl issues. A close friend, Michael Lock, died (the album is dedicated to him, for many reasons). And because of that, I wanted to make a nice album. We probably could have pushed the rock angle, or the country angle. But in the end, the album is full of songs about friends and lovers.

I do love what’s there. Apart from one song (Emily, which I have deleted from the download version), I am still pretty happy about this album.

Track notes by Danny Yau and Casey Atkins

Side 1

1. Calvin & Hobbes

DY: A song about Bill Watterson. I had just read a book about him and his life, and was a bit obsessed. I still am. But it was more about being happy without compromise. I wanted this song to sound like Ash. Nothing else on the album sounds like this. It wasn’t really indicative of what we did, and this song kind of fell off the setlist almost immediately.

The end bit was written mainly in the studio and it was the first thing that Saul ever liked that I wrote.

CA: This is the second version of the song we recorded. One was done in the original “Kings Rd” session, but I don’t think it was as big, bombastic and Ash sounding as we were after. As Danny says, dropped off the set pretty quickly, but I do remember it being our live opener for a while. Probably why it ended up the album opener.

2. Can I Go With You?

DY: Our first single. First song of mine I ever heard on radio. Lyrics are quite ironic now, as it’s about a girl who moves to the UK, something I did not long after. The chorus is “let’s throw ourselves to the wind, girl” and not “window”, as some people thought.

I guess I was trying to write a Posies song. Turned out somewhat different which is great.

CA: I always remember feeling more Teenage Fanclub (Neil Jung?) than Posies on this. Regardless, it was a fave for me and a lot of people for a long time. I still love the riff, especially when it re-enters at during the last verse. Nice little piece of pop.

Incidentally, it was me that thought the lyric was “throw ourselves through the window”.

3. Messy

DY: This song was one I always played live, although I don’t think we really nailed it in the studio. I think it was supposed to sound like Norwegian Wood or something. But people really liked this song. I think girls love the ballads. I’m pretty happy with some of the rhymes in this one.

CA: I’m actually really happy with the studio version. I loved Paul’s ‘brushes on the snare’ feel. I do remember trying to play the bass part, but realising really quickly that I’m not much of a bass player. Thanks for stepping in, MC.

4. Forever + Always

DY: This song had a riff that was kind of Byrds-y. So the only idea we had was to emulate the Byrds. I bought a 12 string Rickenbacker that I almost never used again. The middle 8 kinda doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the song, and there are like 15 chords in the thing.

Taylor Swift has since put out a song called Forever And Always which is a lot better.

CA: Some of my favourite guitar playing on the record. I love the double tracked guitar solo. Still a bit bummed that I didn’t try harder to hit a high harmony in the choruses though.

5. Somebody New

DY: This was our third single, and our usual set-ender. Written about a friend’s ex that I saw at Newtown station, with some big, tattoo-d douche bag. So yeah, fuck her. I was also very into augmented chords at this time, and would use them whenever I could. G#aug. Great chord.

CA: Always love a good rocker for rocking’s sake. Also, from memory, the only song we ever did a radio edit of, so the vocal came in earlier.

Side 2

6. Joni Mitchell’s Blue

DY: I wrote this song in my first apartment out of home, cooking a fry up, while a pretty girl I was madly in love with was about to come around. She would sometimes pick up my guitar and have a strum, even though she couldn’t play. And that became this song.

This is another one a lot of people seem to like. I guess because it’s kind of light hearted and sweet. Sometimes, live, we would change it from Joni Mitchell’s Blue to Led Zeppelin II. Other options are My Aim Is True, Bachelor No. 2 or Weezer’s Blue. Who Made Who?

CA: I’ve always liked this song with just Danny and I on it, but after this record was done and we were playing live we worked up a really good full band version. Paul came up with a great drum part. It disappointed me a bit that we never recorded it with everyone on it.

7. (Calling Out) I’m Through

DY: This was the first song we ever released, on a compilation called Rock Against Howard – an indie music finger to then Prime Minister John Howard. He was a racist cunt. We included it on the album because it’s a lot of fun to play. I think the lyrics are pretty average. If you’re going to have text, there should be subtext. But there’s something about kicking out a tune as well.

CA: Main thing I remember about this song is when we played it live. We always managed to dedicate it to somebody who’d just quit their job. I also remember re-recording my guitar part because I wasn’t happy with my tone from the original Kings Rd session. What a wanker.

8. I Wish You Were In Love

DY: My favourite song on the album. Would have been the fourth single. It was played a few times on radio anyway.

I guess all the things I like about this album is on this song. I wanted to make something that would make the world a little warmer. I wanted to tell my friends I loved them. I think the overall mood of this album is one of sweetness. Not a great selling point, but how close we got to that is how I judge this album. And I think we scored pretty high.

CA: Only time I sung a lead vocal. Many people said I sounded like Evan Dando, you be the judge.

9. As Lonely As Me

DY: This was our second single. It was written about a girl who – whenever I felt like calling her – would call me. For a while there, we felt the same about eachother (it didn’t last). But I still like the sentiment.

We were utterly, utterly obsessed with Teenage Fanclub’s Songs From Northern Britain. It was such a blissful, joyous album. We ripped it off royally for this track. And it still sounds great to my ears. Why did we put two of our best songs at the end of the album? I don’t know.

CA: There’s another subtle Teenage Fanclub reference around this song, where “Wish You Were In Love” ends abruptly, and “Lonely As Me” starts quickly after with the long strummed open chords. That was supposed to emulate the break between “Mellow Doubt” and “Don’t Look Back” from Grand Prix. Just for the train spotters. Like Danny and Me.

This song was always a favourite of mine to play, I loved singing the constant harmony all the way through.

10. I Was Born In 1980

DY: On the CD, this is a hidden track. In the era of digital, I’m happy to give it a promotion. This is just Casey and I, acoustic guitars and singing. Another sweet song.

This actually came from a year where I thought I would write my friends a song each for their birthday. I only got one song in.

CA: Yeah, a sweet song. To me it was always a bit of an answer to “Forget it Sister” by You Am I. I loved how it linked Danny and I together in song, in that we were both born in 1980.

You can download the album FREE from here –

Setlist: 03/02/2011

photo by Bek Lambert

Danny Yau (solo)

03/02/2011 – Excelsior, Surry Hills

1. The Bedford Arms
2. Done With Love
3. Adventure!
4. I Just Wanna See You
5. Victoria I
6. I’ll Show You My City
7. Irreplaceable (Beyonce cover)
8. The Body
9. Find the Sea
10. It’s Time To Go

You can download “The Body”, free, as part of the I Blame This On You album here

Wk1: Internet Killed The Video Star: The future of Film Clips

OK Go in their "This Too Shall Pass" clip

The humble Film Clip has been left in the cold when people talk about the larger digital revolution. It’s music that has been the conversation for years, and film and TV are up next. But where does the Film Clip future lie?

In the DVD boom of the late 90s, many bands put out collections of their Film Clips. I own dozens of them – for many reasons.

– I wanted easy access to some of my favourite clips
– It was a way to see clips I’ve never seen before
– I want my favourite clips on DVD quality
– I just wanted to own everything my favourite bands did anyway.

But that was the late 90s, and the value of those Film Clip collection DVDs are plummeting. In the brave new digital world, do we really need them at all? Do I even need to keep the old ones I have?

The question of access is the first to become a non-issue, thanks to YouTube. But it’s not just YouTube – all video sites are using music clips as easy content to fill their servers.

Look at the otherside, the DVD. Does anyone really watch Film Clip collections from start to finish? If not, then after you’ve dug out the DVD, put it in the player and waited for it to load, you still have to navigate through a menu.

Having YouTube really puts the myth of access to rest. One click away, no menus, no waiting. My computer is also simply on more than my DVD player.

It comes back to cloud computing too. I don’t think these clips are going away. Even if YouTube falls, there are others. Film clips are not going away any time soon.

I also don’t see any record label putting up a paywall any time soon. They want their film clips seen.

Interesting the trajectory of how labels see the value of film clips. Damian Kulash Jr, of OK Go, nailed it in his New York Times piece from last year (link). In 2006, the viral hit of Here It Goes Again was a success for EMI. It was free advertising. In many ways, Film Clips have always been ads for a song or an album. Bands can’t play on every TV show, so they sent their videos on the road for them.

This led logically to MTV. MTV (back when it played clips) was essentially a series of ads for a series of bands. MTV didn’t pay for the clips – and made a bazillion dollars from them. So it’s interesting to hear CEO of Warner, Edgar Bronfman Jr, say that MTV made millions off the backs of the labels, and doesn’t want this repeated with YouTube. The danger – as he sees it (and others as well) – is creating another monster industry and missing out on any of the benefits.

So by 2010, a series of unsteady agreements were made with YouTube. Videos had ads, miniscule amounts of money exchanged hands and some videos were blocked altogether. The result was blocking the next big OK Go video – This Too Shall Pass. Free advertising for the band had turned into another way to make money.

It seems to be sliding back. I think it’s become quite clear that Film Clips are not a big money earner. iTunes have never been able to get any traction in selling them outright. Some money is passing hands from advertising revenue. And the number of people watching film clips on YouTube has taken on the most importance, yet again.

I think we can count on this trend continuing. Labels and bands never made money off Film Clips directly before. They are not going to be a cash cow now.

There’s also very few film clips I can’t see. Yes, there was a time when on-demand did not exist. And even my favourite bands, there were one or two obscure videos I never saw. Or I had a fuzzy VHS, taped off the telly. Then there are bands that never made it big in Australia (The Jayhawks and Sloan come to mind).

Now everything is up for grabs. Hundreds of thousands of Film Clips (and of course, even more live clips). We can safely assume having a DVD only clip is madness.

There’s not even an argument for having all of one band’s clips in one place. They are in one place – your computer screen. There are many DVDs in stores right now that can show you things you can’t see online. Film Clip Collections are not one of them.

People don’t watch film clips on TV anymore. Not first, and sometimes not ever. It’s an era of YouTube, and watching videos on little frames on our computer screens. NPR’s Neda Ulaby compared watching the ‘Thriller’ clip on a small screen to trying to take in Spartacus on an iPhone. Even the film clips themselves are changing.

It is yet another reason to not watch film clips on the home entertainment system. Single Ladies. The great OK Go videos. They are made for the medium of the internet. It’s also the first place people go to. Videos premiere on websites – and are passed virally.

It brings in a question of DVD fidelity. Do we care? For years, a small but vocal group decried digital music for it’s lack of sound quality. Millions of people chose to ignore this and love music anyway. Then music started being made for digital (see Soulja Boy).

And so, if film clips are being made for the internet – who cares about DVDs?

The final point is the biggest one – ownership. People are still skeptical of cloud computing – and I am too. But I am willing to forsake Film Clip collections for the internet version. Here’s why:

Cloud computing as scary security concerns. From fear that servers-might-crash-and-I-lose-my-stuff to I-don’t-want-a-company-to-know-that-much-about-me. I think both those things fail for Film Clips. I don’t care if YouTube can track the clips I watch. And I don’t think I’ll have trouble finding clips on the internet ever, even if YouTube crashes.

And those old DVDs are awful. They may have seemed nice at the time, but they usually offer no extra features. Even attachment to artwork is out the window. Most of them were just rehashes of existing artwork. Blur’s was just a reshaped version of their Best Of, and I have that artwork on a nice big vinyl record.

I think the ultimate test is this – if I didn’t own that Blur DVD already, and someone offered to give it to me for free, I’d probably say no.

The Film Clip collection is dead, I think that’s certain. But it’s death may be a sign of bigger things to come. As bandwidth and storage space increases, where does it lead for the Film and TV industry? That’s the next big war, and maybe the first battle has already been fought and won.

Damian Kulash Jr Op-Ed piece in New York Times –

Edgar Bronfman Jr discussing the “MTV of the internet” –

NPR article about the changing art of the film clip, Neda Ulaby –

The Best Albums of 2010: 1. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can

1. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
Virgin Records

I speak because I can
To anyone I trust enough to listen
You speak because you can
To anyone who’ll hear what you say

-I Speak Because I Can

People will look back at the albums that made 2010 what they were. The albums that captured the moment – like Arcade Fire or Kanye West.

I will look back at 2010 through the lens of a little out of time album by Laura Marling.

It sounds like little else. Her wonderful first album was a folk surprise. But that album was young and romantic. Somehow, this girl of just twenty has returned sounding like she’s 80. As if she has lived a whole life and wants to tell you about it.

There are no pop songs on this record – which may be why it didn’t sell as well as one might have hoped. It’s a tough album. And her remarkable voice – it’s not exactly made for radio. Her songs – about the devil, of loveless marriages and lives wasted – are not exactly “Pokerface”.

She is also the finest female guitar player of her generation. In a Joni Mitchell sense – she plays with tunings and constantly comes up with hypnotic guitar work. Like her vocals and her songs – her guitar has found it’s voice on this album. Something distinctly Laura Marling. And that’s so fucking exciting.

So that’s one thing I want to say about this album. That it’s utterly brilliant but it takes some work. That it’s out of time, which makes it timeless. It’s as good as Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and I will be listening to this album for years.

I loved this album with all my heart. I heard the first track, Goodbye England, at the end of 2009. It was a wee Christmas single in advance of the album, and it is still my favourite track on the album.

These singer songwriter albums – every year there seems to be one great one – are such malleable polaroids. Their directness leads to opening your own heart. In the era of iPods, those musical memories have pictures.

So Goodbye England, which tells of the smart coats and scarves we were in snowy weather – it will always make me think of Hyde Park. Of friends, workmates and lovers, crossing near the pond, on our way to find a pub. Or the winter markets there, drinking mulled wine, in our jackets, scarves and coats.

And that’s what this album does for me. It puts images in my eyes, ideas in my head and feelings in my heart. The album worries – about growing old, of wasted lives, of not expressing oneself. Whether it’s the maid in Made By Maid or the wife in I Speak Because I Can, the album is full of ruminations about life. The dignity of a small one, versus the romance of a big one.

When you have no one else to talk to, sometimes you talk to your albums. I spent a lot of 2010 thinking about life, and what it means to have a good one. Whether to be successful but mute, or humble and loud. Being mute, and speaking, is a big theme of the album.

There’s a fair bit of love on this album. But not the romantic love – but something more rustic. Of living together, or making lives. And there’s plenty of God, Devils and Judgement Days. It’s old timey, in a Gillian Welch sense. These are big themes.

So more than anything else, I learnt something from this album. And it helped push my life in a new direction. To speak, because I can.

Best tracks: Goodbye England, Devil’s Spoke, I Speak Because I Can

Official site – Laura Marling

The official video for the first single – Devil’s Spoke

…and Goodbye England from Jools Holland