TUNE LICE - Arbiter
‘Arbiter’ deals with the declining influence of music critics, the UK music press’ increasing conservatism, and the catastrophic problems this creates for the diversity, innovation and inclusivity of modern music.
As the UK music press increasingly struggles to monetise itself and loses its scope to independently ‘break acts’ (versus covering established talent to drive readership/ ad revenue), new artists are increasingly forced to effectively ‘pay for coverage’ via PR representation. With neither party able to challenge this status quo without risking their delicate position in the marketplace, the declining agency of the artist and the critic is mutually assured. Publications spiral into obscurity, and close. Artists’ access to exposure (even at the lowest/earliest level) becomes a matter of money.
In ‘Arbiter’ these questions cross an artist’s mind during a tedious press interview. Before he can speak, he is transformed into a horse by a blow-dart, fired by an agent of the mysterious R.D.C. (see previous single ‘Conveyor) led by Dr. Coehn. With this, the journalist turns to a glowing ball of ectoplasm and ceremonially devours the artist, reciting a pledge to smother all disputes to their settled relationship.