Wednesday 15th November 2017
by Trevor Locke
In this issue: how the rise of the Internet changed the face of music.
I tried to figure out when I first used the Internet. As far as I can make out, it would have been in 1997. That was the year that I started my own web design business. It was before I got involved in Leicester’s live music scene. Around this time I got involved with the Internet service provider AOL (America On-Line). I worked for them hosting live chat rooms. It was not until 2001 that I started to be involved in rock music. That was the year I went to my first ever rock festival – at Reading. I am sure there was a website for the Reading festival that year. So, I can confidently say that by the early noughties, music has found its place on the Internet. In 2005 I launched my first website that included a substantial amount of content about music in Leicester. It was in February 2005 that I registered the domain name artsinleicestershire.co.uk and used it to publish a website concerned with the arts in general and music in particular.
The MP3 file format was introduced in 1993, although some sources trace the origins of the music audio file format back to 1991. However, the first MP3 players did not really get going until 1997. As the Internet became widely available in Britain, people took to downloading music tracks and sharing them with their friends.
December 2010 I wrote this comment:
We are all passionate about live music. We want to see more people attending gigs because we believe it is a really great way to spend an evening. But how do we do it? One solution that is being delivered, is to print a monthly listing of gigs across all venues and distribute it as widely as possible. I support this. Even though I spend a lot of my working day pushing out information about gigs – on the Internet – I realise that there is still a proportion of the population who do not go on the ‘Net every day. Even if they do, they tend to use it just for e-mail and don’t spend time surfing the web sites and social media outlets where they could come across info about live music.
The key point from that was that, back then, it was widely realised that not everyone used the Internet on a daily basis and a significant proportion of people never used the world wide web on their computers – I say ‘computers’ because, even in 2010, mobile phones were not as widely used as the main device for web browsing as they are today.
People take to the Internet in large numbers
The growth of the Internet, from 2002 onwards, brought huge changes to the way that music was distributed. It also allowed bands to reach a wider audience through the world wide web. This period saw a huge growth in music festivals and live music venues. The advent of personalised music-playing devices, from the Walkman in the 1960s to the iPhone, allowed listening to become a personalised experience. By contrast, the rise of the big festivals, the raves and the construction of high-capacity arenas, brought back a social element to the experience of music, one not seen since the demise of the music halls in the early twentieth century.
One other thing, that the rise of mass Internet usage brought about, was the ability of bands, musicians and singers to publish their own music. This was challenging the industrial supremacy of the Record Labels. Mass broadband and the popularity of first Myspace and then Facebook, enabled the rise of the DIY artist, those who could record in their bedrooms and reach a market very cheaply, compared to the days when the production of gramophone records was prohibitively expensive for the group or individual. YouTube, ReverbNation and Soundcloud further aided the rise of the self-production of music.
In Leicester, as in many other cities and towns, the live music venues allowed bands and artists to put on their own gigs. This fuelled the growth in bands; it became unnecessary to be signed to a record label to achieve anything and for thousands of young men and women in Leicester, producing music for their fans became a realistic possibility. The age of the DIY music artist had begun. Hundreds of bedrooms became recording studios. Shops began to sell recording equipment; in Leicester, retail outlets like Maplins did a roaring trade in cheap microphones, amps and mixing devices. As laptops became increasingly affordable, musicians could download software and begin to mix and master their own work in a way that was impossible before.
Arts in Leicester magazine developed a timeline of music history, as part of its series of articles on the history of Leicester’s music.
Some general things that give the flavour of what happened in the 90s.
1991 – formation of the band Cornershop. Cornershop was formed by Tjinder Singh, his brother Avtar, (both of whom lived in Leicester at the time the band was formed), David Chambers and Ben Ayres. Their music is a fusion of Indian music, Britpop and electronic dance music.
1994 – Pink Box opens. Pink Box was set up as a hobby business by record collecting fans Sue and Chris Garland in 1994, not as a record label but to sell rock and indie records at record fairs around Central England. The name Pink Box coming from the record storage boxes. Frustrated by the lack of national coverage to bands from the East Midlands we decided to release a record on our own label [Pink Box Records]
1995 -The Abbey Park Show was axed in 1995, nearly 50 years after its inception.
1995 – Stayfree opens in Conduit Street. Before that, they were in Friday Street.
1996 -The start of Takeover Radio.
1996 – Flat Five records set up by the Potts brothers in honour of their father the legendary jazz trumpeter Mick Potts.
1997 – the formation of Kasabian (previously known as Saracuse, reputed to have played under that name at The Shed.) The original band members were from the Leicestershire villages of Blaby and Countesthorpe. Kasabian has won major music awards and has been nominated 27 times to date. They are one of the biggest indie bands in the country.
1998 – formation of The Young Knives in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Formed in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, the band is known for its energetic live performances and trendy tweed outfits. They broke into the music industry in 2002.
1999 – Forerunner of Kasabian – Saracuse – plays at The Shed.
Kingsize formed in 1999…still going. First gig at the Royal Mail pub.
The noughties – bands and music
2000 – Alan Freeman’s account of bands in the 2000s.
2000 – Darren Nockles becomes a promoter at the Musician. Previously it was called The Bakers Arms.
2001 – the first Summer Sundae festival is held.
2001 – formation of Ist, a Leicester band signed to Pink Box Records.
June 2002 – Live rock music in the city centre. Music Live rocks in Leicester. More than 1,000 performers packed six stages across Leicester city centre this Bank Holiday.
2002 -The Abbey Park Festival, 2003 to 2005
With the birth of Myspace, every band and singer was able to have a presence on the Internet. Fans were able to befriend their favourite acts and original bands could distribute their recorded tracks free of charge or for a small price. Before the rise of Facebook, from 2004, Myspace was the dominant platform on the Internet.
2003 to 2005 – Myspace became the dominant international social networking platform.
Leicester bands were mainly on Myspace from 2003 to 2010, when Facebook began to replace Myspace as the Internet outlet of choice for the majority of bands and artists.
Leicester developed a live music economy as venues, bands and festivals began to grow. As the number of live music venues grew, adding to pubs and clubs as placed where live music could be performed, band and artists began to put on their own gigs.
2003 – Mosh night club opened.
September 2004 – Kasabian release their debut album, having started life as Saracuse, playing one of the first gigs at The Shed, in 2009. The Shed opened in 1994.
Music takes to the ‘net
The earliest websites made for bands in Leicester. Ictus was one of the first unsigned Leicester bands to have its own domain name and website.
2004 – March – maybeshewill.net registered.
2004 – The old Musician closed its doors for the last time on 31 December 2004. It re-opened in 2005.
2004 – Facebook founded. By 2009 it had become the most used social networking site on the planet. By the end of 2012 over half of the UK’s internet users had a Facebook account.
2004 – The first OBS (Original Bands Showcase).
2004 – Ainley’s record store closed. Wayne Allen was the manager of the store between 1983 and 2001. It was situated opposite the Clock Tower. He is credited with bringing some of the biggest names in music to the Leicester store, including Englebert Humperdinck, Radiohead, Del Amitri, St Etienne, Stereophonics, Shed Seven and Bananarama. He died in 2012.
Several other record shops in the centre of Leicester are remembered, including BackTrack Records and Boogaloo, and in current times HMV, 2 Funky and Rockaboom records. People remember Revolver Records, Cank Street Records, Virgin Records, BPM, Archers, Reef, Chakademas, Pliers, MVC, Village Square, A G Kemble, Archers, A T Brown, Brees, Dalton & Son, The Record Cellar, World Records in London Road, and Carousel.
2005 – the first Glastonbudget festival. To hell and back, Meatloaf tribute band, Ded Hot Chilli Peppers, One Step Behind (Madness tribute), Oasish, The Jamm, were amongst the bands that played.
2005 – Arts in Leicestershire founded. The domain name was registered on 22nd February. Soon followed by the publication of the early version of the Arts in Leicestershire web site.
2005 – The Donkey in Welford Road becomes a live music venue.
2005 – Kevin Hewick started on Facebook.
2005 – The Musician reopened on 1 February, actually smaller than before because of the toilet repositioning, and live music continued unabated until May.
2005 – formation of Leicestershire band Roxum.
2006 – Horus Music established in Birmingham, later to move to Leicester which is where it is now.
2006 – The Glastonbudget Festival starts to put on local original bands such as The Authentics, UgLi, Jack of Hearts, The Stiff Naked Fools, Ego Armalade, Proud to have met you, Platinum JAR, Ictus.
2007 – many more local original bands (‘new acts’) play at Glastonbudget, such as Ictus, Patchwork Grace, Skam#, The Mile, Subdude, Jack of Hearts, Black River Project, Utopians, Squid Ate Lucy, Codes, C*Bob, Purple and the Rains, amongst many others. Playing at Glastonbudget was for many of the new, original bands a premium achievement when this was one fo the new local festivals of any importance.
2008 – July, the Heroes win a competition to be opening band on the main stage at Summer Sundae.’ Thousands of you voted and the results are in… The winners are… Leicester band The Heroes are to open The Weekender in Leicester.’ Guitarist Alex Van Roose went on to form Midnight Wire and lead vocalist Alex Totman went on to form Selby Court band.
2009 – May, Glastonbudget Festival.
The Facebook Generation
2005 to 2014
The growth of Facebook saw the demise of Myspace, as the new social networking platform took off in the UK. Now bands set up a page as soon as they start. Music venues and festivals depend on social media to attract fans and ticket sales at a minimal cost. Previously paper-based music magazines and newspapers begin to close down in favour of online versions. Record label A&R scouts work more on the Internet than at music venues. Contemporary music of Leicester’s bands, singers and rappers as presented on Facebook, Twitter and other parts of the Internet. Leicester bands and singers that have made it on the national and world stage. Through YouTube, Soundcloud, Reverb Nation and Beat 100, people all over the world can listen to Leicester’s music. Twitter becomes a social media outlet for most bands and music artists.
The Internet – early adopters
2006 – the launch of Twitter.
2006 – Trevor Locke joined Facebook
2007 – The first gig reviews published by Arts in Leicester.
2007 – Val McCoy joined Facebook
2008 – Pick of the gigs for 2008 published by Arts in Leicester.
2008 – gig reviews for the year 2008.
2009 – Leicester rock bands in 2009 and earlier published on Arts in Leicester.
2009 – Alan Freeman publishes an online list of Leicester bands.
2009 – Dawson Smith is on Facebook
2009 – Pick of the gigs for 2009 published on Arts in Leicester.
2010 – Reviews of gigs in 2010 published on Arts in Leicester.
2010 – Videos released by Leicester bands in 2010 published on Arts in Leicester.
2011 – A list of all known Leicester bands was published by Arts in Leicester.
2011 – January, The Donkey puts up a page on Facebook
2011 – a list of bands known to exist in Leicester in 2011 was released as a PDF document.
2011, 25th August, By The Rivers band register their domain name.
Some of the milestones on the road to the Internet for everything
The first decade of the new millennium saw the Internet become the default platform for all things to do with bands and music.
The growth of Facebook saw the demise of Myspace as the new social networking platform took off in the UK.
Now bands set up a Facebook page as soon as they start.
iTunes started as a multi-national platform when Apple bought it in 2000. iTunes store started in 2003. It was not until 2007 that iTunes started to become available for Windows computers.
Myspace was launched in 2003. Up to 2008, it was the most visited social media site in the World, when it was overtaken by Facebook.
The rise of the search engines and Google.
In 2004 arcticmonkeys.com was registered. The band, which formed in 2002, was signed in 2005 but before that they had established a sizeable fanbase on Myspace.
YouTube was founded in 2005 and taken over by Google in 2006.
ReverbNation was launched in 2006, as a site for the independent music industry.
Soundcloud was started in Germany in 2007. Between 2007 and 2009 it began to challenge Myspace as the main site for distributing music tracks.
Bandcamp was founded in 2007.
Music venues and festivals depend on social media to attract fans and ticket sales at a minimal cost.
Paper-based music magazines and newspapers begin to close down in favour of online versions.
Record label A&R scouts work more on the Internet than at music venues.
Contemporary music of Leicester’s bands, singers and rappers as presented on Facebook, Twitter and other parts of the Internet began to take off from 2006 onwards.
In Leicester, there were some early adopters of customised domain names and websites.
Many bands took advantage of free social media platforms, especially Myspace. In the list of Leicester rocks bands, published by Arts in Leicester in 2009, links were given to each band’s website and the majority of these were on Myspace, most of them having dedicated addresses, e.g. http://www.myspace.com/bandname.
Kasabian.co.uk was registered in 2002. One of the earliest domain names to be used by a band originated in Leicester. Someone in Leicester registered thescreening.co.uk in 2004.
People on Facebook – the early adopters
Trevor Locke joined Facebook in 2006 with a personal account in his own name. He added a photo album to his account called ‘Leicester rock stars’ in 2007.
Andrew Stone of the Displacements and later Little Night Terrors joined Facebook in 2007.
James Shaw and Jason Westall of The Utopians joined Facebook in 2007.
The Utopians set up a group on Facebook in 2007 and has a single release at The Shed, on 9th October. In July 2007. The Utopians played a ‘guerilla gig’ at a warehouse in Leicester. The band set up a band page in January 2009. They also had a page on Myspace.
Luke D’Mellow (The Utopians) joined Facebook in June 2007.
2007 – An events page for the Utopians at The Shed on 20th December 2007 showed 17 guests going, including Raj Mohanlal, the members of the band and some of their close friends.
2008 – August, Connor Evans (Weekend Schemers) joined Facebook.
DJ Lisa Lashes joined Facebook in May 2009.
2009 – Trevor Locke creates a photo album called “Leicester rock stars” on his Facebook account.
Next time on Going To Gigs: we trace the roots of rock by going back in time to the early days of popular music.
See round 12 of Going to Gigs.
See round 10 of Going to Gigs
Read the introduction to the series.