8 JANUARY 2006
A bulldozer is an apt symbol to represent the response to the music industry's onslaught on progress.
Over the last few years big music scuppered many technical innovations which it deemed a risk to its business. More recently, it has started using a wrecking ball against the right to privacy. Breaking and entering home computers using software secreted on music CDs is the latest attempt to place chains and padlocks around what people can or cannot do with legitimately paid for music.
Those few lucky musicians who manage to get signed by a major record label can find themselves in a similar situation, with everything they do, they way they look and what they say monitored from on high. And they get a tiny fraction of the profits pouring into big music's coffers.
When it comes to innovation the music industry has a well-served formula and it's clinging to it like it's the last lifeboat on the Titantic.
The internet has not just created another means of distribution, it is also providing an alternative when existing roads are blocked. The growth of blogs and so-called citizen media or journalism is evidence that 'Letters to the editor' or 'corrections' columns just doesn't cut it anymore.
The stranglehold which the record industry has on new music is loosening though. Using the internet, musicians can bypass the record companies and spread the word and notes.
There isn't a better example than the big hit of Christmas, 'The JCB Song' by Nizlopi. Beaten to the Christmas number one single by The X Factor steamroller, 'The JCB Song' still managed to stay at number two in last week's British singles chart.
Nizlopi are Luke Concannon and John Parker, second-generation Irish living in Leamington Spa, England. They met on the 518 bus when the were thirteen years old and have remained friends ever since. They've been full-time musicians for over three years, supporting themselves by moving back in with their parents and playing anywhere that would have them, including people's living rooms.
'The JCB Song' was popular live and last summer the duo decided to release it as a single on their own label, FDM (Folk 'N' Deadly Music).
"We got Laith Barant of Monkeehub [who previously worked with Radiohead] to animate our video. We emailed the video to fans and they sent it to their friends and it grew from there really".
The animated video had over 600,00 hits on the web and the band realised the song might have an impact at Christmas. They got "emails every day saying this is the song I play to send my kids to sleep at night with", said Luke. "It taps into lots of deep emotions".
With the song's success, some of Nizlopi's family and friends are now working full time for the band. (The name refers to Nina Nizlopi - a girl Luke had a crush on in school).
When Luke sings that he wants to "eat up all the bullies" he is talking from personal experience. To escape bullying, his father, a builder, would regularly provide "compassionate leave" from school and bring his son out on the JCB.
Luke is fully aware of the scale of their achievement. "It is great that a tiny family-run record label from Warwickshire can go up against acts such as Westlife and The X Factor winner who are on massive record labels."
"We're like the little village shop next to the huge X Factor supermarket. It really is the evil empire... ," said John Parker, the other half of the duo.
Nizlopi have had offers from major record labels but, according to Luke, "they always said ridiculous things like 'but the double-bass will have to go, it makes your music too weird'."
Luke's father Kieran, who plays with a ceili band, gave up his building business to manage Nizlopi. "People are saying that we are the credible alternative to manufactured pop", he said. "Who would have thought that something I did with Luke as a kid could have such an impact?"
As far as the internet and music is concerned, we ain't seen nothing yet.