Skip to content



Not that everyone was quick to spot the way the wind was blowing. As Stanley reveals, while America had 600 radio stations by the mid-1920s, all of them disseminating the latest hits from New York and Los Angeles, Britain handed a broadcasting monopoly to just one — the BBC. That was disastrous for British popular music, not least because the people running the BBC seemed to hate the stuff.

An internal BBC memo in 1933 described crooning as “a particularly odious form of singing” — this at a time when Bing Crosby was crooning ten hit songs a year.

Monopolies, eh?

So the race is on!

Mr. Jones, you’re the closest we have here to this:

The soft drumbeat of living bacteria has been recorded for the first time in a breakthrough which could help doctors to know whether or not antibiotics are working.

Scientists at the Technical University of Delft, in the Netherlands, theorised that if microscopic germs produce sounds, it would be a simple way of checking that they were alive – similar to listening for a pulse or heartbeat.

But bacteria are so tiny that recording any noises using traditional methods is impossible.

Instead, experts constructed a small drum made from graphene, a material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms, which is extremely good at conducting tiny amounts of sound and electricity.

When they placed E.coli on the graphene surface, and linked it to a speaker, the team was amazed to hear the gentle thrum of a living bacterium.

The task is to capture that sound and or rhythm. So that we can set a beatbox to it (kids still using those?) and create our undoubted No1 Global Hit – The Sound Of Life!

Or given that it’s E/ Coli, the sound of death maybe?

The 27 Club

I’ve said this before but here it is again:

When it comes to egregious rock’n’roll clichés, one of the absolute worst is the concept of “the 27 Club” — the ghoulishly spurious idea that famous musicians are uniquely disposed to die three years before they hit 30. Amy Winehouse drinking herself to death in Camden; Kurt Cobain shooting himself in the head; Jim Morrison perishing in a Parisian bathtub: these “club members” have become part of an airbrushed rock mythology that doesn’t zoom in too close on the vomit and emaciation, preferring instead to celebrate a life lived at the limits, a commitment to chasing sensation and “enlightenment”, the call of a tragic destiny.

The 27 club is simply because it takes about a decade for unrestrained hedonism to kill you.

About, -ish, -ish. 17 to 20 year olds hit the big time, have vast, uncontrollable, gobs of money with which to do whatever. Takes about a decade for this to kill them.

That’s it.

We could even run a control test. Check the average death rate of those who inherit vast trust funds – without parental control – at the same sort of age. What’s their death rate by 30?

Gee, ya think?

Sudden death of Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins ‘may be drug-related’
Tributes pour in for drummer found dead in his Colombian hotel room as police claim narcotics may have been involved

Leave aside the Colombia bit. Rock musician found dead at 50 while on tour.

Everyone’s first thought – which like most first thoughts may or may not be correct – is “Well, which drug got ‘im?”

Just change the wording here a bit

While there are variations internationally, which suggest rhythmic music contemporary tunes are preferred near the Equator, there was a clear pattern of personality traits being matched to particular genres and the artists working within them.

Not that we would say this of course but wouldn’t it be fun if they’d said, instead of “rhythmic music contemporary tunes” that “they like them jungle drums, they do”


The report added: “Music creators could also be harmed by lack of competition to sign artists and offer them distribution services. Such harm could be reflected in the share of revenues that music creators take overall.

The streaming companies are barely profitable, if indeed they are. So, the limitation is what we consumers will pay for the music. It’s not about the split of the revenues, it’s about the lack of revenues.

Fair sum of cash, yes

What’s the most you’ve made from a gig with The Police?
The 2007 Reunion Tour was a giant pay-off for all of us and quite incredible: the most money I’ve ever made. We sold out every stadium in the world.

And I hate to say it – well no, I don’t hate to say it – I think I was the highest-paid guitarist in the world during that Reunion Tour. I got about $1m a night, and we did 150 nights. Someone’s got to do the job.

Nicely explains this line:

Have you saved for retirement?
I don’t really need to because things went too well.

Rapper naming conventions

Two Suspects In The Killing Of Rapper Young Dolph At A Cookie Store Have Been Arrested

I’m actually confused as to which part of this is the name.

Two Suspects in the Killing Of would be a decent enough band name. Have Been Arrested I think is the other part of the sentence from the name. So, conclusion, the name of the rapper is probably Rapper Young Dolph At A Cookie Store, yes?


He was working as guitar tech for Rod Stewart when the singer’s first solo tour arrived at Olympia in London for four nights in 1976. “Mum came to the show and sat next to Elton John. Elton was freaking out because he was sitting next to Hattie Jacques and Mum was freaking out that she was sitting next to Elton John.”

One of those stories. Each life only provides a few of them of course. Which leads to the story about a Greek shipping billionaire. A wife (second, perhaps third) complained about his retelling one of his stories. To which the response was along the lines of only one life and set of stories but wives are easy enough to have more than one of.

“Not in this band, we all just follow Keef”

Not sure how true this story is but nice all the same.

Muso sits in with the Rolling Stones. Starts muttering how odd it seems. “Usually, you know, the drums and bass lay down the beat, the swing. The rhythm guitar follows then you layer up from there” sorta muttering.

“Not in this band, we all just follow Keef”.

Which might be the secret not that I’m musician enough to know. The one standout musical talent in there being Richards. Sure, it would be nice if Jagger could actually sing – yes, he’s got the charisma etc but even Rod Stewart has been unkind about his singing voice and his attempt at an American accent in Midnight Rambler is simply cringeworthy – and he knows his way around chords and keys. Jones was a multi-instrumentalist, Charlies Watts a fine drummer – although even there You Can’t Always Get What You Want was done by Jimmy Miller as Watts just couldn’t pick up the groove – and Wyman a perfectly servicable bassist but again, that really stand out bass line on Sympathy was done by Keef. Mick Taylor a very fine blues guitarist. Ronnie Wood excellent again.

But the one who is different. Who has something more and better. Original if you prefer. Something that other entirely fine, even excellent, musicians don’t have, that’s Richards. In the way that Clapton had with lead, Billy Cobham on drums. Perhaps the comment about BB King solos – he doesn’t play many notes, does he? Nope, but they’re always the right ones.

Not quite sue why this thought strikes on a Monday morning but there we are. The one thing that makes the Rolling Stones different is Keith Richards.

Bowie Bonds

Just to now bring the story to a close.

Bowie bonds were issued in the 90s. The machine rights – the recordings themselves – plus the song rights were up for sale. So, Bowie borrowed $70 million by issuing bonds backed by the royalty streams to make sure he bought them.

The publishing rights to David Bowie’s huge and peerless catalogue of songs have been sold by his estate to Warner Chappell Music (WCM), the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, in a deal worth at least $250m (£185m) according to anonymous sources speaking to Variety.

Note that’s just the song, or publishing, rights there. Pretty good deal, hunh?

Wonder if it includes one of the songs known to have been composed on a ukelele?

The drugs did affect Francis then

Not much because we were in lockdown. I wrote most of the hits, so I get royalties, but I’d be getting even less without Sandie Shaw! I was at Buckingham Palace — I can’t remember why, but it was around the time I got my OBE. Shaw came over to talk about copyright because at that time songs went into the public domain after 50 years, so you stopped earning money. Sandie was like: “Come on, we’ve got to extend the copyright!” It’s now 70 years, and it’s all credit to her. I’m lucky it happened in time for me, but with books it goes on to your offspring, and with music it doesn’t — I find that wrong.

Not really, songwriter royalties are indeed 70 years but it’s 70 years after death of the songwriter. It’s machine rights, the recording of that specific version, which is x years from creation. But those aren’t what the songwriter gets. So, a certain confusion there but then apparently he did lose his septum in the shower one day…..

Nice line

In a Dan Baird track “Won’t you boogie what you started”.

Could build a very fun – obviously, a boogie – around that. In his piece it’s just a line.

Tutoring Ms. Coppola on public goods.

Twitter doesn’t allow the more detailed examination of matters so, something I can link to from there.

Frances Coppola is insistent that music is a public good. The origin of this was about music degrees and how folk don’t make much out of having done one. Because, music is a public good, d’ye see?

The background to this argument is that there are sensible and reasonable arguments to say that public goods are underproduced in a purely market economy. It’s rather like the opposite of the externalities argument. Or perhaps we have positive externalities here which are not included in market prices. Just as negative externalities should be taxed or regulated away – which we use just depends upon the details of what we’re talking about – so we might want an intervention into the production of public goods.

The definition of this public good is not something good for the public, not something the public thinks is good to get. It’s highly specific – it must be something non-rivalrous and non-excludable. The mandatory citation from Wikipedia:

Note the “cannot”. It is not sometimes isn’t, often not, it’s cannot.

The standard exemplar is vaccination and that’s wrong. Because a vaccine, as we’ve all just found out, can be given to someone or not – it’s excludable. Also, since we’ve been having shortages it’s also obviously rivalrous. If one person gets one then another can’t have that same one – that’s what rivalry means and we can only have shortages of something extant if that is true.

The public good is the herd immunity of that necessary percentage of the population being vaccinated. Once that has happened then there is no way that we can exclude someone from gaining that benefit. Whether they’re vaccinated or not they enjoy that safety of being in a population the disease cannot pandemic its way through. Further, their enjoying that herd immunity doesn’t stop someone else from also enjoying it.

The point of the analysis being that in a market economy we tend to think that public goods will be underproduced. Because it’s really damn difficult to make money out of herd immunity. Or something that can be created once, copied thereafter and the quantity available never reduces.

Which is why we have time limited patents on inventions. The invention is a public good that cost a lot – maybe – to create that first time. But why would people spend a billion on making a new drug if the generic companies could just copy it on Day Two?

We can vary what the intervention is. Patents, the invention of property rights in order to create excludability, is one answer. As Ronald Coase pointed out about lighthouses, we could say that boats docking at domestic ports pay lights dues which go to the private lighthouses. We’ll just ignore the free rider problem of boats passing by because that solution is good enough. We could have regulation, we could have government spending. Adam Smith thought the benefits of being part of a generally literate and numerate society were worth government subsidy to primary schools. Now all we need to do is get the schools back to teaching readin’, ‘ritin’ ‘n’ numbering.

Or, to remain with vaccines, in order to gain that herd immunity we could use the NHS solution – government pays for all the kiddies to have them. Or the US, the kiddies can’t go to school until they’ve had their shots – the regulatory answer.

OK, fine. The crucial part of the argument though is that there is a general agreement that a purely free market system will underproduce some or many of such public goods. Intervention is thus justified. What the intervention is depends upon the specific circumstances – as with the inverse and Garrett Hardin on commons tragedies. The what depends upon the details, the whether on the identification of there being a public good here.

Which is, to repeat, that something be non-rivalrous and non-excludable.

So, to music. Is this something non-rivalrous and non-excludable?

“Music” is too wide a sector for there to be a correct answer. So let’s divide it into two. There’s the creation of new music – composition. Then there’s the performance of music that has already been composed.

OK, so we can exclude people from a performance of a piece of music. Note, as above, that our definition of public good does not depend upon whether we normally exclude, often do so, it’s whether we “cannot” do so. But clearly we can. So, music performance is not a public good. Yea even if much music is performed in public and for free, even if it’s good music for free and in public, a much stricter, erm, stricture, it ain’t a public good.

Ah, but composition. Once Amadeo had scribbled down those too many notes anyone could – and did – copy them. Anyone can now too. That’s a public good. Or as those two sisters created – or didn’t, as the controversy is – Happy Birthday. As millions of people will prove, this very day, it’s not possible to exclude people from singing it now that it’s been created. And their doing so doesn’t deplete the Happy Birthday Mines – so no complaints from George Monbiot about the damage Big Birthday is doing to Mother Gaia – that will allow people to do the same tomorrow.

Now that it exists Happy Birthday is a public good – non-excludable and non-rivalrous. At which point we’ve our public goods problem, people won’t invest in producing public goods “enough” because of the difficulty of profiting from having done so. To which the societal solution is copyright and yes, that’s absurdly overcooked. 70 years after death of the songwriter is nonsense. But that’s what the problem is. Composition is, once done, a public good so we do something about encouraging it. We could use other solutions. Creation of property rights isn’t the only way – we could have direct government subsidy of songwriters of course. That’s even been tried and gave us such famed pieces as “The Bones of the Ukrainian Helots are Crumbled Under the Weight of the Exceeded Tractor Production Targets” and other such light ditties.

Ms. Coppola has been arguing that performance of music is a public good. T’ain’t. Composition is. Which is why we already have a societal solution to that public goods problem of gaining more compositions – copyright. That performance is excludable means we don’t have to have a public goods solution because there isn’t a public goods problem here.

Note that this doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be subsidy to music. Or even, music degrees, which is sorta where we came in. We might think that warbling about the lark’s ascent is such an addition to societal happiness that we’ll cough up tax money to get ‘er done. Or we might not of course. But given that that is not a public good then the known and agreed public good justifications for such don’t apply. It becomes, instead,



For the music performance ain’t a public good.