The First Meeting Of The Featured Artists Coalition

Where's Wally? So, me and the Jee Bay went down to Heaven in Charing Cross to the first meeting of the Featured Artists Coalition yesterday. Me in town, two days on the trot. Madness. The weather was clement, and we met in a nice little wine bar around the corner, and got a bottle of the house red, and chopped it up about collecive consciousness, and Idea Space, and Steam, and Motive, and all that good shit.

Then we went Heaven. There was a buttload of paparazzi swine outside, but they werent allowed inside, so people weren't preening too much. It was a pretty nice vibe, all things considering. The bar was serving tea. I got some plastic cups, and we sat ourselves down on some fold-up chairs near the front of the stage and poured ourselves some wine. Then we decided that see through plastic cups might be a little conspicuous, and we didn't want any trouble, so I went to get some paper cups. On the way back I noticed Mr Sroobious Pip was sat on his own behind us, studious studying the event literature, so I said hi. He looked thirsty, so we gave him some of our wine. His beard has gotten epic.

Presently the show started, with some music, and a projected video about the interwebs, networking, STEAMCULTURE and all the stuff we'd been talking about in the wine bar, really, which is the sort of thing that happens just about every day. The FAC's public faces, Billy Bragg, Ed O'Brien from Radiohead , Kate Nash and all round Blur-drumming, plane-flying, animation-making politikal superstar Dave Rowntree were introduced, and took turns to say why they were doing the damn thang. Billy had a cold, poor love, but spoke passionately about artists' rights in The Brave New Digi World, and the importance of backing the PRS, and fighting the Major Labels, the Googles and the Nokias of the world for Fair Bucks and a say in what they do with our tunes. Ed gave a brief, but succinct speech about his experiences with Radiohead, and how that's lead him to believe so strongly in the importance of musicians having a say in what happens to their music. Kate Nash filled everybody in on the moneystuff, and Dave waxed elegant about the Big Picture. Video greetings from a number of FAC types who couldn't make it, like the gloriously pointy-beared Peter Gabriel, and the awesome Jazzie B were shown, to varying degrees of applause.

Afterwards they all took questions from the Floor. Parlimentarianism has evidently done well for Dave, who spoke easily and fluently about the plight and the right of The Artist, who he felt didn't just deserve a seat at the table - sheeet, its their table... Between the well versed responses of Mr Dave and Mr Billy, Poor Kate couldn't get a word in edgewise. Ed smiled, beatifically, like Buddah.

Wee Frannie Healy from Travis wondered if the ISP's shouldn't be paying up (word to Paylouder), and Billy pointed out that while there wasn't actually all that much dollar spare in that department, the FAC would be going for theirs anyway.

Somebody asked if, since Peter Gabriel was a member of the FAC, he'd be paying him back the money he said Gabriel's Real World had stole from him, and pointed out that a number of people in the room were the same music industry swine that'd been cockblocking him all these years, and the FAC were supposed to be fighting.

I asked if we couldn't come up with a better word for our peoples than "fans", given its disrespectful, segregationist connotations, which proved contentious (as did my suggestion that people's eagerness to "steal" music might be related to musicans' eagerness to rampage about the place like landed gentry), but it was agreed that an effort would be made. Billy suggested "audience", and Mr Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash, asked me if I didn't think "comrades" was the way to go.

It was nice to see Mick Jones, a lovely man. He suggested we play some more shows together. I don't think his partner in Carbon/Silicon Tony James, ex-Siegue Sigue Sputnik likes me much though, and I can't think why. Perhaps I was drunk around him once. That can go either way, depending on the wind, and other such factors. Ergo bibamus.

Anyway. For what its worth, I believe in most of what what the FAC are trying to achieve, in principle - importantly the FAC agrees that criminalising those that enjoy the music we make is Wrong and Dumb. And one of the main things they want to do is educate and assist young musicians, so that they don't get Fucked Over By Swine. Which is crucial. So I have become a member, which isn't the sort of thing I tend to do, coming from the Groucho Marks school of thought on such things. But as Dave Rowntree pointed out, history is made by those that bother to turn up. I can hardly sit around moaning about the music industry on here all day when there's an opportunity to help change things. Similarly, if the FAC doesn't turn out to be what it says it wants to be, I can't complain if I refrain from taking part. Well, I could, I suppose. But that would be super-lame. And I have no intention of being super-lame. So there!

OK. In other news, Artrocker have some pics from the Example video shoot. Opposite of lame. And that guy who threw his shoes at George Bush got three years. Dictionary definition lame. "[Iraqi Prime minister] Maliki is the son of a dog!” one woman screamed on hearing the verdict. “Maliki is an agent of Bush!” yelled somone else. Well, duh.

In less depressing news, the record Mercury Rev are giving away on their website is really good. No singing, just lush noises. Win.