Okay, this is a piece of electronic incompetence of such glory that it has to be reported. Birmingham City Council’s marketing and/or PR department have put together a CD of music by some Birmingham bands. I’ll get onto that in a bit but the music is also available to download free from the council website. Currently if you go here and click on any of the download links you get a 1 second blurt from each track. Now, I know some bands only like to make samples of their work available for free but this is surely taking it to a new extreme.
(If you right-click save-as they do download in full. Sort of. I had to rename mine from Media.html to an mp3 so it would play. Music downloads have been around a while – this is not rocket science people.)
Is this a big deal? Well, the link went out with today’s Birmingham Bulletin and the CD is part of the big Feel The Heat campaign. So I’m guessing it is.
[Update: As of Thursday evening the downloads have been removed, possibly because of licensing issues.]
But what about the CD itself? Well, from a basic design point of view the cover is really badly reproduced. The image you see above is pretty much how it looks in reality with the edges all jaggedy like it’s been quickly enlarged in Photoshop from a thumbnail. Basically it looks kinda cheap.
The title of the CD is Birmingham’s Best New Bands but the “New” is so small I didn’t notice it for a while so it gives the impression this is the creme of the city’s offerings. There are some good acts on there but they’re all unsigned. No Editors or Twang, no Pram or Misty’s. Could it be that using unsigned bands is cheaper than the more successful ones? I’m not in any way denigrating the bands on the CD – some of them I’m a big fan of – but promoting them really shouldn’t be the council’s remit. The council should be promoting the city
The music itself covers “Indie Rock, Jazz and Acoustic” – no electronic, no metal, no Bhangra, no hiphop, no r&b, no dance, no loungecore, etc, etc. Not particularly representative of the city really.
More critically is what this CD is for. I understand the original brief was for it to be used internally at Council events. Why I’m not sure and I don’t pretend to understand the inner workings of our council but this would explain why it’s a CD and not something more novel like a branded memory stick filled with mp3s. However this plan morphed the disk being cover mounted on Music Week, the national trade paper for the industry. In other words this CD is telling the music world what Birmingham thinks of itself musically with, I gather, no accompanying article to put things in context. And getting a cover mount of Music Week is, as you’d imagine, not that cheap.
Am I over-reacting here? Well, I’ve heard from people in the industry who are spitting blood over this, or crying into their cranberry juice. One memorable phrase was “bizarro-clusterfuck”. But I’m in danger of spreading rumours now so I’ll stop.