Friday, May 29, 2009

Independent Musicians Campaign from London Bus

An open-topped sightseeing bus rocked around the city tonight to the rhythms and vocals of independent musicians on a mission to save their music.

We stumbled across it at 5 pm outside the Mission Bay library on 4th Street, a day after our return from a wedding in the Dominican Republic.

The musical passengers were offering free music and a Happy Hour to anyone willing to hop on board.

Their aim was to publicize 'independent' ie unknown musicians and the struggles they face in getting their music into a crowded, digitized market.

Their need especially is for a voice in one of the biggest debates swirling around the music industry: what to do about free downloading on the internet.

In a $4 billion industry, the 'Big 4' music companies, Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI who are haemorrhaging profits, favour attempts to enforce payment for all music.

But this would have a detrimental effect on new artists and those trying to make their way in the industry.

Behind the organization of the London 'City Sightseeing' bus tour was Chris Hansen, executive director of BAMM - Bricks and Mortar Media, a San Fran web-based multimedia company.

He is also bassist and vocalist in the band, Bloomsday Rising.

On board, the tour was being filmed as part of a documentary Chris is making on independent musicians in the city. The film focuses on the Hotel Utah, further up 4th Street, where musicians gather on Monday nights for open mic and recording sessions.

After handing out sponsored Gordon Biersch beer, with a special of Czech-style beer, the group were ready to move on. With a casual itinerary, an hour later they were back up 4th Street outside the Hotel Utah.

An interview with Chris Hansen discussing the music industry and issues that face musicians is in the next blog.

*pics show the bus filled with musicians at Happy Hour outside Mission Bay Library, and singer/songwriter Martin Murray who with his band produced the EP, 'Fruition', in January

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