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19 janvier 2008

Peter Gabriel shares his passion for technology

LONDON (Billboard) - Peter Gabriel has long been admired as a pacesetter of musical exploration, a passionate campaigner for human rights and a pathfinder in technological development. That widespread admiration will much be in evidence January 28 in Cannes, France, when Gabriel is named Personality of the Year at music industry trade conference MIDEM (Marche international de l'edition musicale).

The honor from "the world's music market" befits a true man of the world in both music and communication. It's also the latest in a distinguished collection of trophies. In May 2007, Gabriel received a lifetime achievement title at Britain's Ivor Novello Awards, and a few months earlier the Nobel Peace Laureates bestowed the Man of Peace honor on him.

But far from resting on his laurels, Gabriel continues to pursue new challenges. The years he spent as frontman during Genesis' most innovative era barely hinted at the inquisitive spirit of this four-time Grammy Award winner. In the past year, Gabriel has worked extensively to develop more of the globe-embracing ideas that have always been his stock in trade. He spoke with Billboard about some of them and what 2008 holds in store.

Q: How do you feel about being MIDEM's Personality of the Year?

Gabriel: "I must be getting to that awards time of life; it's God's way of telling you you're getting on. MIDEM, I think I've only been once before, when we were doing OD2 (the digital provider he co-founded in 2002). We were trying to get this union together (MUDDA) of digitally downloading artists, but the artists didn't leap to it at the time. Nowadays, people get it a lot more easily."

Q: When you recently co-founded digital music platform We7, did that feel like a successor to OD2?

Gabriel: "Well, it was just another punt in the music business, but it is another thing I think is potentially important for artists. With their traditional stream of revenue -- record sales -- being largely taken away, we've got to be a little more inventive. There are lots of different models emerging, and it was exciting to see the Radiohead one. (Radiohead released its latest album online initially, letting fans set their own price.)

"With people used to hearing ads on commercial radio, we were trying with We7 to see -- if we did a lot less than that but still included ads -- (whether) there was a way people could get songs, and eventually films, for free.

"The theory is that the more targeted the ads -- and you obviously have to choose to volunteer information about yourself -- the less painful it is. If I'm looking for a hybrid car, that's the moment when I'm probably interested to hear the ads from different hybrid manufacturers, so you don't get the old 'dog food to cat owners' (advertising).

"It's not the only way of doing things, but for a generation that's grown up with 'music for free,' it's a way of continuing that but still getting some stream of income to the people that created the content."

Q: To some extent, did you pre-empt Radiohead when you said you were considering releasing your next album without a conventional record company?

Gabriel: "Yes, but I hadn't conceived of the 'pay-what-you-want' thing, which I think was very brave. Clearly they're at the peak of their career, so they can rely on a certain number of fans. Deluxe packaging is something I've been talking about for a while -- I do think that's going to work, where people get something for nothing, a regular package for a reduced cost, then a deluxe or handmade item above that."

Q: Since 2005, you've also been working on What's that about?

Gabriel: "It's a recommendation engine of sorts, but my dream there, which I'm still pushing hard for, is a mixer that you can stick anyone in, whether it's (a recommendation from) a favorite artist, a magazine, your friend, someone who looks like they've got interesting taste, and you (could) just press a 'do it' button and get a combination of people's tastes. At the moment, it makes recommendations for you based on what you like."

Q: You admire new technology not for its own sake but for what it can do to connect the world, don't you?

Gabriel: "Yes, I'm passionate about it; actually, I've been spending more time on that than music stuff in this last year. We've got this thing called up and running, and the Hub at (human rights organization) Witness, which is intended to be a sort of YouTube for human rights. The Elders is extraordinary: respected people, like (Nelson) Mandela and Kofi Annan, that are beyond career-building but still have leverage and respect and wisdom, which is still an underused natural resource. I'm also trying to push a thing called Face the World, which is a serious attempt to get every living face online. With Google Earth, I can pretty much zero in on any living tree, but I can't zoom in on any living face. It's only part of the process, but being able to hear people and listen to what's going on is the first step in any healing process."

Q: Will the mobile phone play a role in connecting people from different cultures?

Gabriel: "There was a 'Geek Week' on Channel 4 (on U.K. TV) where they tried to find a Masai tribesman without a mobile, and couldn't. Then they interviewed this fantastic Kenyan girl and asked her, 'What's going to change things in Africa?,' and she picked up her mobile phone. The interviewer said, 'I don't really believe in a single technological fix,' and she said, 'Oh, you don't believe in the wheel? Or fire?'

"In the Mandela Foundation, they gave mobiles to coffee growers in Zimbabwe, who were getting continuously ripped off. The very next day, they were getting the latest prices from Chicago, and suddenly could do a deal related to the current price."

Q: Did you get to see any of the shows on the Genesis reunion tour?

Gabriel: "I didn't. I was trying to get to the Rome (show), but if they do another (tour leg), I'll try to get there. We had discussions about (my taking part), but the time commitment they wanted was growing, and I knew with trying to get the Elders going, I wasn't going to be able to do both. I'm not in principle against the idea of doing something."

Q: How's the new album coming?

Gabriel: "Very slow at the moment. I've been heavily distracted, but I'm determined now to get back into it, and some new songs are coming through that I'm very happy with."

By Paul Sexton Reuters/Billboard

18 janvier 2008

Gospel truth

South Africa's Grammy award winning choir are on their way. Would you like to see them?

There is nothing quite like the sound of a large group of voices united in the harmony of South Africa, and since their sell-out debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 2003, Soweto Gospel Choir have won critical acclaim and performed to full houses around the world.

The stars cannot get enough of them either, and not only were they guests of honour at the lovely Desmond Tutu's birthday party, but they have sung alongside Bono, Peter Gabriel and Jimmy Cliff and been heralded as the most exciting group to emerge in world music in recent years. This was confirmed when they picked up their 2006 Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album (for their second album ‘Blessed’). As well being support act to the Red Hot Chili Peppers last summer.

Te SGC have also recently finished recording with Robert Plant in New Orleans for the Fats Domino tribute album.

Their sound is powerful and melodic, just right for the sterling acoustics of the Philharmonic Hall where they gather to wow Liverpool crowds on Sunday Feb 3 as part of a major UK tour promoting their Grammy nominated album African Spirit.

17 janvier 2008

La Chine et Peter Gabriel à l'honneur pour la 42e édition du MIDEM

Le Palais des festivals de Cannes accueillera du 27 au 31 janvier prochains la 42e édition du Marché International du Disque et des Editions Musicales (MIDEM). Cet événement, qui réunit chaque année des artistes, des producteurs ou encore des représentants de maisons de disques, offre un espace de réflexion pour le marché de la musique dans le monde.

Pour sa nouvelle édition, le Midem a choisi cette année d'accueillir un pays asiatique : la Chine. Les artistes du pays du Soleil Levant seront présentés à cette occasion aux professionnels du monde de la musique.

Homme de l'année choisi par le Midem, Peter Gabriel, artiste complet avant-gardiste impliqué dans le nouveau modèle digital et dans les associations caritatives, sera à l'honneur de ce rendez-vous du marché international de la musique. Au total, le Midem recevra 495 artistes et proposera 98 concerts pop/rock, world, électro, classique ou jazz. De nombreux groupes et artistes ont ainsi été découverts au fil des éditions du Midem. L'événement cannois avait reçu en 2007, Amy Winehouse et Patrick Watson, ou encore Katie Melua et Ayo en 2005..

16 janvier 2008

L'ombre de l'économie américaine planera sur Davos

Les «subprimes», la récession, mais aussi l'eau, Condoleezza Rice et François Fillon feront parties des tags de la prochaine réunion annuelle du World Economic Forum (WEF)....

...Alors que les stars – Bono, Peter Gabriel, Yo-Yo Ma, Emma Thomson ou Paulo Coelho – se comptent sur les doigts des deux mains cette année, le grand public, lui, est exclu de la réunion. A une double exception. Il pourra participer (mais les hôtels sont pleins!) à l'Open Forum autour des effets de la mondialisation, mis sur pied avec les Eglises protestantes. On y verra notamment l'ancien président iranien Katami ou l'ex-candidat à la présidentielle américaine Howard Dean.

Le WEF a aussi invité cette année les internautes à recourir à Youtube pour interroger les décideurs présents à Davos. Les meilleures vidéos viendront enrichir certaines sessions publiques. Plus largement en 2008, le WEF prend toute la mesure du Web, avec une nouvelle plateforme multimédia – «Davos Conversation».«Un face-à-face comme le permet la réunion annuelle ne sera jamais remplacé par le contact virtuel, explique Klaus Schwab. Mais la technologie permet d'étendre et d'élargir encore nos possibilités.»