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TAX



A tax scheme which sent waves of panic through the British music business may have been scuppered by industry pressure. The Government have made last minute changes to a scheme designed to collect taxes due from foreign musicians working in the UK.

The scheme is called the 'withholding tax for foreign entertainers & sportsmen', seemingly because the original idea was to withhold standard rate tax at source from foreign artists who earn money in the UK. For example, an American musician on tour in Britain would be stopped 29% of their gross earnings by the promoter, who would pass the money on to the Inland Revenue.

The Inland Revenue pointed out that this would not constitute a new tax, since any foreigner earning money in this country is always charged tax — the difficulty is in collecting the money. So the withholding tax scheme was proposed as a more efficient means of actually collecting tax owed — estimated in 1986 as being £75 million per annum.



"The end of London as an international recording centre."


Draft regulations appeared just before Christmas 1986, and the Inland Revenue invited comments. Criticism from the music industry then followed, centring on the implications of such a tax-collection scheme. Observers suggested that it would mean:

* Virtually no foreign artists touring in the UK which, given the Musicians' Union one-for-one arrangement with foreign agencies, would mean correspondingly fewer overseas tours for British acts.

* "The end of London as an international recording centre", thanks to foreign musicians taking their custom elsewhere.

* The end of foreign artists' promotional visits for interviews and PAs, because of the intention to calculate the resulting increase of record sales, and then to tax that portion of income.


The government's principle changes to the new tax scheme, announced in mid-March, are threefold:

1 The implementation of the new scheme has been put back a month to 1st May 1987, to allow the industry's suggestions — "some 60 representations" said the Revenue — to be taken into account.

2 The tax will not apply to any payments from record sales — the government accepting that the draft legislation, virtually applying to any appearance in the UK by a foreign artist, was too widely drawn.

3 The minimum limit below which the withholding scheme needn't apply has been raised from the originally proposed £500, to £1,000.

The changes mean that the fears concerning touring opportunities for both foreign and British musicians remain, while the dangers to the recording industry have been largely overcome.

Could it be that the recording spokespersons had louder voices and closer ears than those representing musicians' interests? We'll let you know how (if?) the scheme works out in practice.

STUFF



The musician's lot is definitely improving — check this for a start: the Northampton Musician's Collective, in collaboration with the East Midlands Arts, West Midlands Arts, and the Musicians' Union, has organised a pilot scheme to help groups gigging around the Midlands.

One of the biggest problems for any newish group is spreading your reputation outside your hometown — often you end up paying to play. With the NMC's new plan (some) bands will be able to get their fees topped up to Musicians' Union (MU) rates. Finance is limited, and Richard Powell of the NMC says he is only considering "committed" bands, playing mainly original material.



"the new "You Mean We Get Paid?" scheme"


The 'You Mean We Get Paid' scheme only applies to certain promoters and venues in the Midlands area, and you have to be MU members to qualify, but the NMC could help establish an important precedent. More details can be had from Richard Powell at the Northampton Musician's Collective, c/o (Contact Details). In a perfect world, record companies and their representative body, the BPI would be funding schemes like these, nurturing the very roots of the British live scene...

Creative-type persons might be interested in 'Modern Songwriting Magazine', which has some useful tips and contacts for songwriters and their ilk. Issues are a whole £1 from (Contact Details), where the mag is stapled together every other month.

You also might be up for SONGSEARCH 1987, a competition offering more than £2,000 worth of prizes. For an entry form, write to Songsearch 1987, (Contact Details). Closing date for submission of tapes is May 30th.

Learning to play is getting easier too: the new tuitional videos from Hotlicks include Joe Pass, Jay Jay French (Twisted Sister), Carmine Appice, and Ronnie Lawson talking about DX7 programming. They're £24.95 for each hour-long tape.

A bit cheaper is Russ Shipton's "Rock & Pop Bass Guitar", £3.95 each for Books 1 & 2. These eminently readable tomes are smart enough to include classic songs (eg 'Midnight Hour', 'After The Goldrush') and hit singles (eg 'Kid In America', 'Wherever I Lay My Hat') as their examples to play. Both books are well laid out, include notation and tablature, and refrain from patronising the budding bassist.

DRUMS



More new Premier snares, they say: a 4in Piccolo in gold lacquer (£140), a 6.5in brass symphonic snare with an inner brass shell (£235), and a new 6.5in mahogany wood shell for the APK range (£90). And some of the other snares are coming down in price: £69 for the 1005 (14x5in) £75 for the 1006 (6.5in), £99 for the 1036 10 lug beaded steel, and £175 for its matching brass shell model.

And Zildjian have moved down the price scale as well, with their Scimitar series (£30-£50), intended for the "entry level" player. Those drummers on the first floor and upwards should examine Zildjian's other new cymbal series, the EFX special effects tuned range, the Z-series China Boys, and the K Customs.

DIGITS



Two for technocrats. First, existing Linn owners will be supported, despite the demise of the original makers, by new company Forat Electronics, who promise stuff like retrofit kits and mods. Agents include Argent's Keyboards in London ((Contact Details)). Second, for all you Fairlight owners, Gateway School of Recording in south London ((Contact Details)) have teamed up with retailers Syco to launch a Fairlight Training Scheme. "Generally speaking the Fairlight learning curve is longer than most people think, to the extent that it tends to be used on a peripheral level only," said Syco boss Michael Kelly, but frankly we've no idea what he's on about. Oh, and watch out for a rare Shergold 6/4 twin-neck offered by suspicious chaps. Odds on it's reader D Ward's, who offers £100 reward for its return. Let us know...

STUDIOS



Guess what rackmount FX units are designed to do? Yes, yes, make swishy noises to cover your playing mistakes — this we know. They are designed to mount in a rack. Incredible, isn't it? Those nice MTR people have come up with a good sturdy rack for just such a purpose, and will let you have it for close on sixty quid. It takes 12 units in what we can only describe as an anglable bit at the top, while six other units will tuck into the solid bit underneath. "Easy to transport, quick to set up and dismantle," say MTR. "Now all we need are another 17 FX units," says us lot.

This next one is a bit tricky. See, we have this theory that the Japanese hear with the other side of the brain to us occidental chaps and chapettes. Explaining things like how they actually enjoy traditional Japanese music. So when Tannoy tell us that they have won for the second time the Japanese Golden Sound Award, this time for their RHR Special loudspeaker, we can but conclude that some deeply significant evolutionary change has occurred. We know, you see, that Tannoy speakers are indeed good — you see them in studios all over the shop. So well done Tannoy — another great victory for British industry in a sea of (fade to strains of 'Land Of Hope And Glory' played on a Simmons Silicon Mallet).

How it began


TECHNO FARE



Roger Linn used to be a guitarist in Los Angeles. In 1976 he bought a computer, and wrote a programme which allowed him to write drum patterns. All his musician friends got very excited about it, so he added digital recordings of the drum sounds, and started selling his first drum box, the LM-1 Drum Computer, for $5000.

"I'd build one machine, take 50 per cent deposit on another, and deliver about six months later," Roger told us when we spoke to him in Frankfurt. "After a while I had some stock, and was able to deliver on time. After two or three years, I had to say, I'm no longer a guitar player, I'm a business man."

Roger's next step was to beat the competition by building a better and cheaper drum machine. That was the Linndrum, which dominated the pro drum machine market from its launch in 1981. Next came the Linn 9000 sequencer/drum machine.

Ideas from other players, especially Steve Porcaro of Toto, helped Roger design the 9000. "Musicians said they wanted sampling, and dynamic pads, so I thought, why not put everything in? The unfortunate problem was that the company was too small for such a large product — I'd had to delegate, as I was trying to be a business man.

"The 9000 brought my company down. It was in development for three years, I had the wrong engineers, I didn't manage it properly, we had to put the machine out too early because we were out of money... Over the next two years, we spent a huge amount correcting the problems, redesigning, and repairing the ones that had gone wrong. It cost so much, we ran out of money."



"all the best of the 9000 but simpler. Lots of buttons."


After a period of insolvency, Roger was approached by a number of major manufacturers seeking to exploit his talents. "I was very impressed by Akai, and by products like the S900. I now work with them; they've given me the flexibility to be innovative. The best thing is, I don't have a company to run, so I can concentrate on making the product perfect."

Roger now works at home in LA with three software specialists. He visits Akai in Tokyo three or four times each year. The first fruits of this liaison, due later this year, are a sequencer/drum machine, and a sequencer. "A 12 bit 40kHz sampling drum machine, 13 seconds of sampling time, expandable to 26; the sequencer has a logical operating system; all the best of the 9000, but simpler — lots of buttons, a 320 character LCD, disk drive, dynamic pads. They'll bear the name Akai/Roger Linn."

Roger also broached the subject of budget drum boxes. "The Roland 505 is a great machine, the Korg DDD1 is very ingenious... I have ideas for a budget drum machine, but I'm concentrating on the pro gear first."

GUITARS + AMPS



It's all LOUDspeakers this month, with new units sprouting everywhere. H/H have the 12in 1201 and 15in 1501 250 watt drivers designed for PA, guitar, and bass, while McKenzie go even louder with 15in and 18in 500 watt bass units (C15-500 and C18-500). McKenzie have also announced the Q-Max 600 (300 watts stereo) power amp, designed to complement their Q-Max 7000 PA.

Then speaker persons Frazer Wyatt have another of their powered speakers (they was called combos in my day). The small and very light 90 watt MX250P has one 10in speaker, and is intended for use as a keyboard amp/monitor.

Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi celebrates the announcement that the jovial men will be headlining this year's Donnington festival on August 22nd. It will be the group's only UK appearance this year. Raise your hands...

We had that Bon Jovi album on in the office the other day — recorded before guitarist Ritchie Sambora got his KMD amps, what he is now endorsing. Is that why his eyes are closed in the pic?

Mr Sambora is an all-Yank product, just like Peavey's guitars (which he has been known to use). New Peaveys this month include the Falcon series (£315/£355), which look a lot like Strats, and the fine-looking Nitro 1 (£315). All three guitars have the Kahler Traditional tremolo fitted as standard.

Roland are busy promoting the idea of guitar-MIDI by getting Jay Stapley to run a series of masterclasses around the country. He'll be demonstrating the GK-1 synth driver, with the GM-70 MIDI converter, plus a mountain of Roland synths and effects. For details of the shows, call Roland's Customer Support Team on (Contact Details).

The Edge and his chums enjoy a joke.


THE INFINITE GUITAR



Back in the October issue of Making Music, Edge from U2 mentioned a device he was using called the 'infinite sustain guitar'. Edge had few details then: "It's electronic — but I can't tell you any more because the patents are pending."

Now that the new U2 LP is out, you may have noticed the sleeve credit: 'Infinite Guitar invented by Michael Brook', and the clear sound of sustained guitars on the record (on the single, 'With Or Without You', for example).

Time to talk to Mr Brook — a musician in his own right with albums released on EG Records, and a collaborator with Edge on the soundtrack for "Captive" last year. Is the Infinite Guitar anything like the handheld sustainer from the late 1970s, the E-Bow, we asked him?

"It's similar to an E-Bow in that it works electronically, but one of the main differences is that the E-Bow is basically on or off, whereas the Infinite Guitar is continuously variable," Michael told us. "So as well as providing degrees of sustain up to infinite sustain, it can give increased sustain. The other main difference is that you don't hold it — it utilises the pickups of the guitar, and then there's additional circuitry, most of which is separate from the guitar."

Before you get too excited, though, it's worth noting that there are only four Infinite Guitar systems so far in existence — Michael has two, Edge has one, and U2 producer Daniel Lanois has one. Coincidentally, they're all fitted to Strats, but Michael sees no reason why they shouldn't be fixed to any guitar. Michael doesn't want to get into manufacture of the system himself — he has better things to do with his time than making Infinite Guitars. What made him build his in the first place?

"I read about the E-Bow and wanted to have that, so I ordered one, but they lost my order and messed me around, so I thought maybe I could make something that would do the same thing. So I did — then the E-Bow came, and I found that my system was a lot more useful, for me anyway. For example you can still use the vibrato arm, you can have a perfectly standard guitar sound and then bring in the effect using a footpedal, without disturbing your playing, and naturally you can change strings much more rapidly than with the E-Bow.

"When it's on maximum you don't need to use your right hand at all to pluck the strings, which is what I use a lot. It effectively starts the string sounding for you. Then sometimes I'll fade the sustain in after I've plucked the string, which alters the attack, but differently to when you fade the volume in after plucking a note.

If you're seriously interested, you can write to Michael Brook c/o Opal Music, (Contact Details). "I suppose if there are a lot of enquiries, I'll get someone to start manufacturing it for me," said Michael.



This is our first anniversary issue. Er, this is our birthday edition? This issue means we are one year old? I dunno, this writing lark doesn't get any easier, no matter how long you've been doing it.

Which in the case of Making Music is precisely one year this month.

Hurrah.

The very first copy of Making Music reached your local music shop in April of 1986. Wasn't it brilliant? Haven't they all been brilliant? Are we friends? Can I come to your party and meet your sister?

You'll find our anniversary feature proper on pages 20 and 21 where we will carry on bragging and telling you precisely what we've achieved in the last 12 months.

The purpose of this story is to tell you we had a special cake made. That Mark King blew out the candle for us (exactly a year after he appeared on our first cover). And that the editorial department promptly snatched it from the hands of boss-chaps Adrian Walker and Brian Giddings, cut the cake, ate every last piece and made themselves sick. That's them above. From left to right Paul Colbert, Tony Lewin and Jon Bacon. No hang on Paul Lewin, Jon Tony and Colbert Bacon. (What is it again? Right.) Colbert, Lewin and Bacon. S'funny, weren't they a sixties supergroup, or something.

TOURS



Biggest road news has to be U2's dates at Wembley Stadium on June 12th and 13th. Tickets are £14 each, and are available from major box offices around the country, by post from U2 Box Office, (Contact Details) (cheques for £14.30 per ticket, payable to MCP Ltd, plus SAE), or by credit card on (Contact Details).

Cameo are coming back to Britain in May. They'll be playing Birmingham Odeon (May 16), Manchester Apollo (17), Leicester De Montfort (18), Sheffield City (19), Edinburgh Playhouse (22), Newcastle City (23), Bristol Colston (24), Portsmouth Guildhall (25), plus June 10/11 at Brixton Academy. Tickets will be £8.50 or less.

Them Genesis boys are planning a tour to prove their worth: Hampden Park, Glasgow, on June 26th, Roundhay Park, Leeds on the 28th, and Wembley Stadium on July 1st and 2nd. Ticket application details can be had from the venues, or creditable persons can call the U2 number.



Previous Article in this issue

April

Next article in this issue

The Dumb Chums


Making Music - Copyright: Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

 

Making Music - Apr 1987

News

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