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February 05 2014

David Byrne hat nicht nur was gegen Streamingdienste, sondern auch gegen kommerzielle US-Radios

Es ist noch gar nicht so lange her, da grollte Davd Byrne mit einem  Artikel im Guardian gegen Spotify und andere Streaming-Services. Doch jetzt muss er an ihnen doch ein gutes Haar lassen, denn sie zahlen wenigstens  Tantiemen an Musiker – ganz im Gegensatz zu den kommerziellen US-Radio-Stationen. Dagegen wendet sich Byrne und unterstützt die Petition „I Respect Music“.

Der New Yorker David Byrne ist ein international bekannter Musiker. Er war Kopf der Talking Heads, erfolgreich mit Kollaborationen mit Brian Eno, St. Vincent und vielen anderen, zudem ist er Label-Betreiber (Luaka Bop Records), Buch-Autor und Videokünstler. Anhand konkreter Cent-Beträge rechnete in seinem Artikel für den britischen Guardian hoch, wie wenig Tantiemen von Spotify – beziehungsweise ähnlichen Services, wie Deezer, Pandora und anderen – bei den einzelnen Künstlern ankommen, und wie unmöglich es sei, mit solchen Erlösen überhaupt Musik zu schaffen, geschweige denn davon zu leben.

Dieses Übel würde auf lange Sicht verhindern, dass neue, gute Kunst entstünde und es wurzele für David Byrne im Internet selbst. Gleichwohl unterhält er seine eigene Website, die unter anderem einen Shop und einen Radiokanal enthält, der non-stop Musik von ihm und Luaka-Bop-Künstlern spielt. Byrne unterscheidet aber zwischen jenen Promotionmethoden und Vertriebsmodellen, die fair, also künstlergerecht und kreativitätsfördernd seien, etwa wenn unabhängige oder musikergeführte Labels ihre Musik online präsentieren, und solchen, bei denen zwar zwar ordentlich Geld aus den Deals mit Digital- und Streaming-Plattformen für die Rechtevergabe an die Plattenfirmen fließe, aber wenig Tantiemen an die Musiker selbst. Das sei meist bei den Majors der Branche der Fall.

Daher steht Byrnes Musik bei den Streaming-Diensten nicht zur Verfügung. Und damit ist er nicht der einzige Profimusiker seines Ranges – also ein Musiker, der weltweit bekannt ist, über einen reichhaltiger Backkatalog verfügt und auch aktuell gut im Geschäft ist.

Doch seine jüngsten Äußerungen überraschen: Byrne hält ausgerechnet jenen Streaming-Diensten, die er vor einigen Wochen noch als Profiteure des Musik-Ausverkaufs brandmarkte, nun etwas zugute, nämlich dass sie überhaupt Abgaben (Royalties) an Musiker zahlen. Denn genau das täten hunderte US-amerikanische, kommerzielle Radiostationen nicht, wenn sie kommerzielle Musik spielen, und das schon seit Jahrzehnten – weil sie es laut Gesetz gar nicht müssten. So jedenfalls erklärt es Byrne in seinem Newsletter von Ende Januar, in dem er explizit dazu aufruft, eine Petition zu unterschreiben, die auf eine entsprechende Gesetzesänderung hinwirken soll.

So kurios es klingen mag, die fehlende Regelung bezüglich „Royalties for Radio-Airplay-Performances“ ist in den USA seit Jahrzehnten ein Streitpunkt zwischen Plattenfirmen und kommerziellen Radiostatioen (öffentlich finanzierte Sender sind nicht betroffen). Damit befinden sich die USA in der Gesellschaft von weltweit gerade einmal fünf weiteren Ländern, in denen es keine Radio-Airplay-Tantiemen-Regelung gibt: Iran, Nordkorea, China, Vietnam und Ruanda. Und das findet Byrne nicht nur peinlich sondern höchst ärgerlich.

Zwar würden bei Komponisten gewisse Airplay-Tantiemen landen, aber eben nicht bei den ausübenden Künstlern, also Sängern, Instrumentalisten und sonstigen Mitwirkenden, egal ob bei Band-Songs oder Cover-Versionen.  Dies zeuge von mangelndem Respekt den Kunstschaffenden und Musikern gegenüber, so Byrne. Folgerichtig heißt die erwähnte Petition „I Respect Music“. Bis dato (5. Feburar 2014) zeigten sich etwa 7.800 Unterstützer zu einer digitalen Unterschrift bereit, darunter zahlreiche Profimusiker, von denen Byrne aber hierzulande der bekannteste sein dürfte.

Der Kampf um Zahlungen von Radiosendern mutet aus heutiger Sicht fast nostalgisch an: Scheint doch die einstige Dominanz des klassischen Radios vorbei, weil die Musik-Übertragung mehr und mehr über das Internet erfolgt, via Mobilfunk, Festnetz und WLAN. Trotzdem handelt es sich hier um sehr viel Geld: In Deutschland hat die GEMA 2012 laut Geschäftsbericht mehr als 200 Millionen Euro für die Senderecht von Funk und Fernsehen eingenommen. Das ist circa ein Viertel ihrer Gesamteinnahmen für das Jahr 2012. Die potenziellen Einnahmen in den USA dürften höher ausfallen. Es geht also um viel Geld – und das ist etwas, was die meisten Musiker brauchen können.

September 27 2011

David Byrne: Tight Spot / The Pace Gallery, New York

Musician and artist David Byrne, best known as founding member of the band Talking Heads, created a site-specific outdoor installation under New Yorks High Line at 25th Street. The work is titled Tight Spot and inaugurates a space that has recently been acquired by The Pace Gallery. Tight Spot is a huge inflatable terrestrial globe that is squeezed in the space bordered by the High Line bridge above and the brick walls at the sides. The globe emanates a low-frequency sound that can be heard from the surrounding streets and the High Line Park – provided there’s not too much competing noise from the cars and trucks in the streets. (To hear the sound in this video, adequate speakers or headphones are required).

The globe David Byrne created is based on the type used in primary schools. The inflated “world” is wedged within the confines of the space, thus becoming deliberately distorted. Speakers placed deep within the globe produce the sound that is coming out of the globe. Byrne didn’t use any instruments or synthesizers to create the sound, but simply made them with his voice. He filtered and processed his voice so that it wasn’t recognizable. Tight Spot is on view until October 1, 2011. After that, Pace’s fifth gallery space in New York will be built here.

David Byrne was born in 1952 in Dumbarton, Scotland. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Since the mid-1990s David Byrne has exhibited his work in major solo shows and public art projects around the world.

David Byrne: Tight Spot / The Pace Gallery, New York. September 24, 2011.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.


January 30 2011

Showing Off

Paul Morley: Martin Creed's current exhibition is a vast display of his bright, attractive and subtly disturbing wares entitled Mothers, because, he tells me, he's been thinking a lot about mothers lately

Whatever evidence I have this week about the state of music is based on the conversations I have had with two musicians. Actually, the conversations were with someone best known as an artist who is also making music, and with a musician who is also recognised for creating and performing works that can be described as art.

The artist is Martin Creed, who in 2001 was handed the Turner prize by Madonna for a piece that superficially involved the turning on and off of some lightbulbs, and who has produced and numbered hundreds of deeply felt, lighthearted, intensely vague, mildly specific conceptual works across paint, sculpture, video, installation and music. His current exhibition is a vast display of his bright, attractive and subtly disturbing wares at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery in Savile Row, London, entitled Mothers, because, he tells me, he's been thinking a lot about mothers lately. His band played at the exhibition opening; you can buy their new single, "Thinking/Not Thinking", packaged as a CD not an art object, after you see the show. He professes a love for Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash – as opposed to Cage and Merzbow – but his band sound more like Wire with a dash of late-70s punk-poet Patrik Fitzgerald.

Is his band simply the private amusement of a successful artist who can do what he wants and it gets called art? He would be happy not to be called an artist, not least because as soon as he is, he is expected to fulfil certain standards and responsibilities that might not be what he himself has in mind. Then again, he can play at being this sort of artist, who you will find pleasing or infuriating according to taste, very agreeably.

The musician is David Byrne, whom I interviewed at the Brixton Ritzy cinema last week after a showing of his new film of a live show, Ride, Rise, Roar. The film chronicles the process involved in making the concert, featuring dance movement and a certain grave silliness, which itself represented the postmodern, near art-folk album he wrote and produced with Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, together with some of the absurdist-funk songs Bryne and Eno wrote for early-80s Talking Heads. At dinner before the interview, I asked Byrne what he describes himself as. Once he realised that what I meant was not how he describes himself as a human, or an animal, but what he would fill in as his occupation on a form, he said that if not simply musician, then as a musician/artist. It sounds simple, and pretty incontrovertible in Byrne's case, but there is traditionally a general suspicion of the combination, certainly when the musician is more pop than not.

I think Byrne would be happy, like Creed, not to be described as an artist, or even a musician, but has decided that, for now, all things considered, it's the best way of explaining, quickly, what it is he gets up to. Like Creed, I got the feeling that what he does is have thoughts, about various things, such as: "What am I thinking? What am I going to do today? What have I done? What happens if I place this mark, or sound, or word, or beat, or idea, or body part next to this one?" And then he makes a series of decisions, and these thoughts get fixed into place.

Watching Ride, Rise, Roar, it's clear that Byrne is concerned with much more than just the singing of a song, which can get very banal and predictable. When performing his songs he is concerned with how they are presented as much if not more so than how they sound. His thinking about this performance involves ideas and intentions inherited from dance, theatre, performance, conceptual art and experimental film, and certainly when it comes to singing his older songs – the ones that people really want to hear but which as an artist he needs to move away from – he finds ways to make them interesting by finding ways to surprise himself. This might mean dressing up in a tutu and moving like Tati on acid, but then Byrne has always been an effervescently deadpan example of the artist as showman, the artist as extreme fantasist.

Creed is also a self-conscious showman, if a more down-to-earth fantasist, who uses the gallery as a theatre. He happens to work as an artist in a world that is quite small and enclosed, but which gets the sort of coverage that enables him to develop and maintain himself as a character. This character, possibly ultimately the work of art itself, giving visible and audible permanence to fleeting, mysterious, sometimes ordinary thoughts, is somewhere mixed in with being a comedian, philosopher, composer, writer, archivist, entertainer, craftsman and brand manager.

If he came to his art from the position of musician, the art would be largely dismissed as the unqualified work of a chancer and dilettante. Coming to the music from the assumed position of artist, there's a different level of tolerance and a little bit of intrigue. Is he making his naive and/or knowing and/or roughly sentimental music just because he wants to, because he likes music, because it makes him think in a different way about his other ways of working, because it is something an artist should do in a world dominated and warped by pop culture, because sound and words are as important to him as paint and shape?

Both Byrne and Creed will reveal little in an interview, because an interview requires the application of a type of certainty that goes against the moving grain of what they do. Both, though, as musicians who think like artists, as artists who think like musicians, give clues about how rock and pop music – now so routine and everyday, mostly merely an extrovert soundtrack to capitalist-driven desire – can refresh itself in the future, and recover a disruptive element of surprise and, possibly, meaning. Or, they supply clues about how it will dissolve and become something else altogether.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


July 31 2010

New York City views

Matteo Pericoli found fame with his 22ft fold-out drawing of Manhattan's skyline. His new book shows the city through the windows of New York's artists and writers, from Annie Leibovitz to Philip Glass, David Byrne to Nora Ephron, with their thoughts on what those views mean to them

The country singer Rosanne Cash glimpses two iconic New York landmarks through her apartment window: the Empire State building and the Chelsea hotel. She is lucky. From his window, the composer Philip Glass sees only "water tanks, air conditioning, exhaust pipes". But he loves his view all the same.

The screenwriter Nora Ephron looks out at the Chrysler building framed in a single pane: "the absolute epitome of every glittery dream I have ever had about New York". The satirist Stephen Colbert stares out at a towering "telecommunications skyscraper whose peak bristles with microwave transmitters" and thinks mostly about cancer. David Byrne, as if trapped in one of his elliptical songs, gazes out of his window at the windows of other people, some of whom he occasionally catches looking back at him. Peter Carey's novelistic imagination conjures up "dead people" walking past his window – "the famous showman, PT Barnum, passing along Broadway to arrange the wedding of Tom Thumb".

The view from one's window is, as the artist Matteo Pericoli puts it, "one of the least designable things about the buildings we call home, but the one that perhaps affects us most deeply every day". Pericoli, who is best known for his epic book, Manhattan Unfurled, a 22ft fold-out drawing of the New York skyline, has now turned his attention to a more intimate, but no less intriguing, subject: what New York's writers and artists see when they look out of their windows. It's a simple idea that yields surprising results – about the nature of urban living, about the creative imaginations of those who choose to live and work in a city and, perhaps most intriguingly, about Pericoli's own unique and slightly obsessive way of seeing.

"When you draw something, it often becomes more interesting somehow," he says, when I call him in Turin, where he now lives. "It is not just representation, it's more about telling a story. These drawings are not about how I see, but how I think. They are a kind of thinking process brought to life through lines."

Pericoli has found that the people who grant him access to the views from their windows are "constantly surprised by the results in a way that they would not be surprised by a photograph or even a painting". What he captures, he says, "is not a transient moment, but a presence of some kind".

Looking at Pericoli's line drawings in their beautiful simplicity, their wealth of detail and their mastery of line and perspective, you can see what he means. His drawing of the view from Glass's window is one of my favourites, a rendering of an often invisible or overlooked New York of water towers, warehouses and air conditioning machines, what Glass calls "the infrastructure of New York in plain view".

Sometimes, too, the window views seem to be accidental metaphors: the architect Daniel Libeskind looks out at towering stone buildings that seem to enclose his apartment; the skyline that the contemporary artist Nick Ghiz sees is interrupted by a bent steel pipe that is sculptural; the former mayor of New York, Ed Koch, has a window that, as he puts it, "allows the light to shine though unimpeded". Tom Wolfe says that he chose his apartment solely for the view – "To this day, I haven't really seen the apartment, only what's outside it." Ephron, paradoxically, chose her home in spite of the beauty of her vista: "When I write, I face away from it otherwise I would never get anything done."

Matteo Pericoli initially trained as an architect in Milan and it shows in every line, every shadow, every shape. He moved to New York in 1995 to work for Richard Meier & Partners, and ironically began working on a design for the Jubilee church in Rome. While cycling the seven kilometres to and from work every day, he began to think about drawing the Manhattan skyline in its entirety. The resulting book, Manhattan Unfurled, took just over two years to complete. The end result was two 37ft scrolls of the east and west side of Manhattan that were then condensed to what the publishers called "a 22ft-long accordion fold-out".

In early September 2001, Pericoli received the very first printed copies of Manhattan Unfurled. Two days later, the twin towers of the World Trade Centre disappeared from the skyline in the terrorist attacks of 11 September. "Suddenly, there was New York before 9/11 and New York after 9/11, and I had portrayed a New York skyline that was past tense. It was a very strange time for me because I had such a relationship with the place. You spend so much time looking at these buildings and then drawing them that the lines enter your brain and are embedded there."

The critical acclaim that greeted the publication of Manhattan Unfurled helped him gain access to the apartments and houses of the likes of Tom Wolfe, Graydon Carter (editor of Vanity Fair), Annie Leibovitz and Steve Martin. Leibovitz presented him with a series of photographs she had made of her window view, but he insisted on working in his own way, stamping his own presence on the subject. "I don't draw a fleeting moment, I try to capture a sense of wholeness, of permanence."

The actor Steve Martin's view across Central Park was "so iconic, so fairy tale" that Pericoli decided not to include it. "It was just what you would expect; there were no surprises." Others, whom he will not name, refused him access. "Many people wanted to guard their private view and I respect that. It also made me feel happy in the sense that what I was doing had some deeper meaning."

For Manhattan Unfurled, Pericoli began by journeying around New York on the Circle Line cruise boat, photographing the skyline. For his current project, London Unfurled, he walked the length of the Thames, from Hammersmith to the Isle of Dogs, and back again, photographing constantly. "I am gently obsessive," he says, understating the case somewhat. "I walk 10 metres, then stop and photograph. All along the north side of the river, then back along the south. It was two incredibly intense weeks in which I took 6,300 photographs and destroyed a pair of shoes."

Pericoli has worked out that 50 photographs add up to 20 centimetres of drawing. As before, he worked on a long roll of architectural drawing paper, "10 to 15 centimetres at a time, never looking back at what I have completed, never worrying about, or erasing small mistakes. It's all there, the cityscape and the voyage of discovery that I undertake when I put it on to the paper."

When I spoke to him this week, he had just completed an 11.5m section of drawing that takes in Hammersmith to the Isle of Dogs. He has, he says, another 8.1m to go before he gets to the Gherkin. "I try not to think about the Gherkin too much but I can tell you I drew 900 lines, maybe more."

Pericoli will not see the drawing of London in its entirety until he has finished it. "This is just how I work, but also, on a more practical level, my house is just not big enough for me to keep unfurling the drawing. This way, you must trust yourself and your instinct and your ability. And, of course, the drawing gets better as I do it. In a way, I am rolling back time when I finally look at the whole thing."

Since 2000, Pericoli has followed his obsession, giving up architecture altogether to concentrate on his epic and intimate drawings. He now lives in Turin and travels the world to work. His drawings have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, la Stampa and Vanity Fair. Jet-lagged American Airlines passengers can see his most epic works as they stagger into the arrivals hall at JFK airport in New York: a 397ft panoramic mural called Skyline of the World. Cityscapes, whether large and small, epic or intimate, seem to hold an inordinate fascination for him. What does he think underlies his obsession?

"Always, I am trying to understand what makes a city work," he says, without hesitation. "In New York, I am an outsider and I have found that New Yorkers are strangely incurious about their city. So few New Yorkers take the Circle Line to look at Manhattan. This is interesting to me. What they see mostly is a little piece of New York through their window. But, there are millions of windows, millions of views, millions of tiny New Yorks. In a way, I would like to draw them all but that, of course, is impossible. Instead, I try to somehow synthesise the city, get close to its essence. This is what drives me and what drives me a little mad. The more complex the view, the more I have to synthesise to tell the story. In the end, I guess I am more like a short story writer than an artist."

For more information on Matteo Pericoli visit his website www.matteopericoli.com or Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Matteo-Pericoli/39173777082


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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