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Sepp Blatter of Football as Culture.   | Hot Air | Mike Stock Blog | Friday January 09 2009
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The ideas espoused by FIFA's president regarding the English Premier league have remarkable parallels with the UK Music industry. Mr Blatter begged the English premier league to consider football itself not just as a business, but as a deep rooted and important aspect of British life. To ignore this would be to destroy it.  Pete Waterman, Matt Aitken and I often lapsed into football analogies when making points about music, the charts, the competition and our productions. Nearly everyone has an opinion about music and everyone who likes football could pick a better England team than Cappello. These two subjects arouse more passion and stimulate more argument and discussion down the pub than nearly everything else. Perhaps sex and politics create a similar stir but I think they're on a different level. I'm talking culture.

If the premiership goes on the way it is, there will be fewer British born players in the league. Fewer successful clubs and eventually smaller crowds willing to pay for the spectacle. There are already a top four or five clubs which win everything. They get most of all the money, the biggest sponsors, most of the TV revenue, the biggest crowds in the biggest stadia. Less and less realistic choice for the supporter. Some people don't see this as a bad thing. Only four teams have ever won the Premiership since it began. That can't be good. But still some people don't see it that way. The England squad is now picked from a league where more than 50% of the players come from overseas. It's good for their national teams, but not for ours. Are you seeing the parallels?

I believe football is more or less 5 years ahead of the Music industry in its development in the UK. Where football has gone, music is going.This means basically, less choice. It's difficult with itunes and similar download services to see how it's possible that there is less choice in music. But all that's really happening is people choose from a vast range of old music going back to the first ever available on wax cylinders. It's all from a menu. All the newer music is low on production values but cheap in price and there's lots of it which disguises the lack of real choice and real quality. We may think there's a lot of choice but in fact it's all the same old songs but in a different format. I have the Beatles on vinyl, cassette, Video, CD, DVD, and now download. It doesn't seem to matter what format arrives, I always end up buying the same stuff. Of course each time I'm tempted by advertising and hype and the notion that this time I'll have the definitive version. Download means that doesn't it? I can put the songs onto my ipod, my computer, burn my own travel versions onto CD. It is the final version I'll ever need isn't it? Er...no, probably not.

Actually what's happening here is that my choice is becoming more restricted with each new format. I expect someone somewhere is even now preparing the next onslaught with the newest nano technology storage medium device for me to put the Beatles on. Like football, we're all so into modernity we can't see the creeping trend. Watching games on my computer with choice from the whole of the premiership has overtaken my Setanta subscription, which itself overtook Sky, which superseded the BBC and ITV, which superseded actually going out .to a stadium or park. All the while the money spinning super league of Europe moves ever nearer. So in music terms expect more efficient 50mb downloads, less new material, more repackaging or remakes of old. Expect fewer still record labels. Watch for the great Universal world music access system which, whilst taking the hassle out of buying music, also removes the joy. The heart of watching football for me was always the rather schoolboy notion that players are just like me really. I could play for England, couldn't I? The guys that play come from a background like mine, they are just like me. I relate to them. As a kid I kicked a tennis ball around our street. I played in my school team. I dreamed of playing for Spurs. I could have been in the 1966 world cup England side, couldn't I? That was the point wasn't it? Just like pop music anybody could have been a star. Nowadays with so many foreign names from exotic places I can't relate to the players anymore. That joy is fast disappearing. That dream has long gone.When you mess with music or football you mess with culture. These things start out as organic. They are not an invention of one marketing department or promotions team. They grew and developed alongside people. They changed only at a pace which brought along humans at the same speed. Football clubs started as groups of enthusiasts getting together voluntarily and operating for no profit on donations. Multi international music conglomerates like Universal or Warners or SonyBMG started out as one or two individuals with a love of music. At one point they were just somebody's dream. Keeping the dream alive is what's important.  Don't think of music or football as any other nuts and bolts industry. 

Music has everything to do with the idea expressed by Sepp Blatter of Football, as culture.

(c)2009 M Stock 

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