In this unique, rhythm-infused podcast episode, we dive deep into the life of Will Page, a DJ turned first-ever economist in the music industry. We begin by tracing Will's foray into the DJing scene and his philosophy of delivering music without crossing over boundaries. His deep-rooted respect for lyrics and the power they hold is explored, while hinting at the profound impact certain songs have on us throughout our lives.

As the conversation progresses, we delve into the flipside of digital technology's scalability - the loss of shared, intimate experiences in music. Will passionately discusses his favorite bands, such as Queen and Jungle Brothers, revealing how his fascination with economics came to life at a young age, eventually leading him to make a remarkable career shift.

We learn about Will's journey to becoming the first economist in the music industry, which started by wrestling with British laws about swimming in local waters and learning how to think like an economist. As he developed his DJing skills, he kept his connection to the music strong by resonating with the individualistic ethos of hip-hop culture and continuously cherishing the journey of discovery.

In the latter part of the discussion, we get insights into Will's time as a resident DJ, maintaining the lyrical integrity of Jungle Brothers, and his initiation into the world of writing. His experiences with Straight No Chaser and his philosophy of creating your own job descriptions give us a fascinating look into his non-traditional career path.

Finally, we discuss Will's work with Spotify, how it saved the music industry, and his understanding of the economic aspects of music. The conversation concludes with his fond memories of Miami and some valuable advice for those starting out in DJing. This episode is a must-listen for music enthusiasts and budding DJs alike. It's packed with anecdotes and insights, all beautifully woven together through the language of economics and a love for the beat.

Summary

  • How did you get into Djing? 0:00
  • How adam got into DJing.
  • Getting the music across without crossing over.
  • Getting the message across without crossing over.
  • The power of the lyric.
  • How old were you when you heard that song? 3:12
  • Music that sticks with you for the rest of life.
  • The hairstyle analogy.
  • The internet can scale just about anything, but cannot scale intimacy.
  • Music has never been more valuable.
  • The loss of the shared experience of music. 7:38
  • Lack of intimacy in the music industry.
  • The journey of getting to jungle brothers.
  • In days to come by
  • Queen, all four members of the band can sing.
  • Hip-hop and the public enemy. 10:42
  • Public enemy, public enemy and anthrax.
  • Jungle brothers, bill cosby and the forces.
  • Economics coming to life at a young age.
  • British kids drowning in british waters.
  • How did you get into economics? 15:52
  • Swimming in british water is illegal.
  • The economics of swimming in British water.
  • Becoming the first ever economist in the music industry.
  • How to think like an economist.
  • Do you think the Jungle Brothers resonated with you? 18:49
  • Hip hop as a culture and lyrics that resonates with him.
  • The empathy instinct.
  • Hip hop culture is individualistic and individualistic.
  • The ikea effect and the journey of discovery.
  • The importance of physical and mental memory.
  • The ibee barrett homes deal.
  • How did you develop yourdjing skills? 25:50
  • From cassette tapes to mixtape culture.
  • The importance of liner notes for a mixtape.
  • How did you get into Djing? 28:31
  • The start of DJing at Glasgow university.
  • The funky low lights from ckman.
  • Building a reputation with mixtapes and australian dance Troupe.
  • Being a resident DJ.
  • Residencies and mental time. 33:38
  • Residency vs one-off sets.
  • How to stay true to the jungle brothers lyric ethic.
  • Working in the civil service. 36:24
  • Staying in Scotland and getting his big break writing for straight no chaser.
  • Aussie jazz in rotterdam and deep rumba in holland
  • Learning how to write and how to structure.
  • The book on writing well by william zinsser, white cover blue letters on writing.
  • Learning to write for yourself. 42:55
  • Writing for yourself vs writing for others.
  • The importance of starting a paragraph with words.
  • Finding an incredible drum break for every beat.
  • Writing for straight no chaser.
  • Bahama is not just for hip hop heads.
  • The bahama diaz effect.
  • Don’t wait for your job description. create your job descriptions. 49:00
  • Not comparing himself to bahama deer.
  • Becoming the first economist in the music business.
  • Digital ends up wrecking the music industry's picnic.
  • Auction design and auction design.
  • Work-life balance. 54:17
  • Getting turned down for a job in Edinburgh.
  • Work-life balance in Scotland.
  • Highlife roots reggae and passing clouds.
  • West African band 99% west african audience.
  • Taking highlife to the next level. 58:16
  • Taking highlife to the next level.
  • The peak of highlife in London.
  • Once in a lifetime, talking heads by
  • Start a spotify as the chief economist.
  • How Spotify saved the music industry. 1:02:27
  • How spotify saved the music business.
  • The history of the music industry in Europe.
  • Broken record in the music streaming industry.
  • Bbc radio vs spotify.
  • Understanding the economics of the music business. 1:07:31
  • Why spotify pays more than radio per listener.
  • How many times a day a listener needs to read a letter from spotify.
  • Stepping down from spotify for full-time writing.
  • Mixcloud and what it means to him.
  • The best thing about Miami. 1:13:24
  • Meet emilio estefan, willie clark and jj women.
  • The best thing about Miami is its history.
  • Key pieces of advice for starting out with DJing.
  • Learn the history of Kansas City.
Transcript

Adam Gow 0:00

Welcome back to once a DJ. We're here today with music industry economist, DJ and author of the book pivot, we'll page to talk about how we brought together the two worlds of music and economics. But firstly, how did you get into DJing.

Will Page 0:15

The inspiration for DJing, for me, came from hip hop, unsurprisingly, perhaps more surprisingly, is the lyric and hip hop, which kind of told me to come off the hard shoulder go down a different route and pursue this passion for the rest of my life. And the lyric comes from a rap band called his younger brothers. The album's called done by the forces of nature. And the rappers Mike G, who, I'll just preface my point by saying I was honoured at last year's mix project on Mixcloud has a shout out and a lyric from Mike G. Personally given to me, we asked this line in a song where he says, it's about getting the music across, getting the message across, getting it across without crossing over. And it's the compounding of the points, Adam, it's the way he compounds the points getting the music across, getting the message across. And then we divide the rhythm from the Lyric, which is core to hip hop culture, getting it across whatever else you want to get across. But without crossing over without diluting the integrity of your, of your message of your art and I. So I'm just a prepubescent kid listening to hip hop on the headphones at this stage of my life. And when I heard that, it made me think about, has he just defined art? Art, it's a three letter word with an awful lot of meaning. And we can also agree to disagree what art means. But if you can get your message across without crossing over, is that in effect, what R is, and I just latched on to that lyric. And I just couldn't shake it out of my head, it was stuck in my dorm, and it was remain there for 3030 plus years and counting. And it's just a really powerful message of thinking, when you know, for your audience, when you step into that DJ booth. And when you unpack that vinyl bag, or set up your digital equipment, Serato or whatever, when you're in that position, and you're looking at dance floor, you got to hold in your head front of mind, how am I going to get this music across without crossing over? How am I not going to dilute what I want to see before I say it. And I just think it's a really powerful statement. That didn't give me any choice in the matter. You know, from that day onwards, from that lyric onwards, that was me, like, I want to dedicate a whole chunk of my life to find the music other people can't find, and getting it across without crossing over. Whether it's, you know, making a documentary about highlight music, which we can get into later in this podcast, whether it's just making mixtapes to date girls back at Glasgow University in the late 90s, whatever the purpose was, it comes from that lyric, because that lyric for me, captures what art means to be getting the message across without crossing over.

Adam Gow 3:04

So how old were you when, because that's quite profound thought and responds to a lyric. How old were you when you heard that?

Will Page 3:15

14, I think, which based on my current age puts me in about 1794 In terms of the years around the time of Adam Smith. Yeah, yeah, like a very sort of going through high school age. That's the key point, I can build on that too. And it's not to get too personal, on, on on the human development here. But we have a theory at Spotify, which is, the music that you're exposed to during puberty by girl is the music that sticks with you for the rest of your life for a reason. And the reason is around that time. And it's not just your body, it's your mind, it's your soul, you're going through incredible period of uncertainty, the body is changing rapidly, the mind is changing rapidly, life around us changing rapidly. And that's when music talks to you, when your siblings, your parents, your friends can't talk to you because the issues are too intimate. And their intimacy thing is a really important factor here, which is, you know, if the song is teaching me that lyric back then and no one else is teaching me then I go with the song. That's my new best friend. You know, that's my blood brother to get me through the next year. The next turbulent two or three years of my life, and I really we have data and I don't want to talk about data here. This is a podcast about passion, but there's data to prove that it's the music that you expose to your own that part in your life that often sticks with you for the rest of your life. There is there is a lighter version of this. This is our super heavy topic to learn at the start of the podcast. I'll add sugar to a tee there's a lighter version, which we call the hairstyle analogy, which is around your teens. you experiment with different hairstyles, maybe long hair, maybe short hair, maybe a mullet. Maybe a mullet, but you tend to settle on one bit towards the end of your teens. And that's a hairstyle for the rest of your life. We also apply that later foam of the analogy that to explain how music taste works, which is by the time you're getting to the end, your teens, you've decided your jazz your rock, your pop your hip hop, and that becomes your dominant genre. But it's interesting to see how tasty it lasts for the next 80 years have formed during those crucial two or three years.

Adam Gow 5:26

But yeah, that's, that's really interesting. And like you say, we don't want to be getting into just just a load of data. But do you think that's going to stay the same with that? people's access to music is so much broader now? Yeah. Do you think it's going to still retain that tribal sort of element?

Will Page 5:45

Well, I'm going to say a dear friend and a longtime inspiration of mine, Ross Michaels from Park Avenue artists manager of a Yebba Joshua Bell, very eclectic range of artist because we constantly Jive of this topic of intimacy. And I'm going to open it up to your audience by saying a very bold statement, which is, the internet can scale just about anything, just about anything. Look at what chat GPT is scaling right now. It could scale everything you could want, but it cannot cannot scale intimacy. That's interesting. The internet has transformed everything, except one thing which matters to us most. And in the bouquet talk about the anomaly that musics never been more valuable. I mean, look at cat low valuations. Look at latest industry numbers growth of 9% after the previous year, which was growth of 18%. This is a business that's booming. It's never been more valuable, but never been less relevant. You find me one person in the city of Derby today or the City of London or my hometown of Edinburgh. Who can tell me who's number one that charts I'll buy them a bottle of spice a sherry cask whiskey, nobody knows nobody cares. So to get into this topic, which is a passionate one for me, I go back to David Bowie's interview famous interview in the New York Times. And can I also add on YouTube and interviewed Jeremy Paxman from YouTube around the time of the millennium in the year 2000. Where you said, eventually musics just going to be water coming out of tap this background. So he listened to music on Spotify, Amazon, Apple, YouTube, but it's just a fun person, that piece of glass, and then you're away. That's different from huddling as humans inside a record shop and speaking to the person across the counter, that's different from having your name shared out by a human being radio DJ, broadcasting one to many. So, you know, there's 20 million people using Spotify in this country. There's 20 million people listening to BBC Radio to when radio two plays a song we all listen together. And Spotify plays a song 20 million people have 20 million different playlists, we're losing that shared experience that creates intimacy and music. And it's not all bad. There's lots and lots of good we can get into. But I think, to your question, that intimacy, word has value, and that value, I think, has largely been lost. Because we have all of this choice.

Adam Gow 8:15

So just going back to that Jungle Brothers song, then thinking about how much that lyric resonated with you and the risk that how people consuming now, they might or might not have that, that journey of music being given to them by a trusted source that you know, because the way that we get it, it might just be something that's on the back of a playlist which might impact someone's life if they have that and listen to it enough times because they're because it's got a preciousness to it if you like you know that might be lost now. So what was the path of you getting that? Jungle Brothers? Was it tape? I'm guessing tape.

Will Page 9:00

It was a gramophone. No, it's because

Adam Gow 9:03

so how did you end up with that? What was what was what was the path the journey that got you to there? You grew up in Edinburgh, right?

Will Page 9:10

Yeah. Yeah. So the song by the way is called in days to come and that takes some spelling's, they were doing you know, tick tock SMS text mailing way before the mobile phone effectively in days with a Zed number two, then comes you and me. So just together the name check of the song correct. I think my exposure to music started with my mum, who had some cassettes and I said what are these cassettes? Who should you listen to? And she said, You should listen to Queen you've got four people in the band and they can all sing. I always remember that sentence. They got four people in the band and they can all sing. Wow, how does music Simon all four members can sing versus just one made me interested in. You're getting a little bit left in the middle in terms of musical tastes like going down that I won't miss your first music, I got no room for squares. When it comes to music, I got to stay on the edge. And then journey through there. I think I was stumbling across heavy metal and hard rock. And I was particularly interested, a very young age in the guitar solos. And I'll say this, then, and I'll say this now is quite bizarre with heavy metal artists, how they look like death warmed up, but whenever you meet them and work with I've never worked with a few. They're the most educated, classically trained, eloquent people you've ever met. Yeah, it was a heavy metal band carcass, which is all medical students were taught medical school and they just write lyrics about their operations on a daily basis. So I was interested in that, because that had an edge. I was also interested in the heavy metal, hip hop, crossover, Public Enemy and Anthrax stuff, as well. And then I stumbled on the band Public Enemy. And I think the crispness of the beat was one thing, my 98 it's gonna get yours, but also, and it's weird. It's not the hip hop. It's the way that Chuck D projected his voice like a sports announcer, which I learned in later years was his whole goal. He was inspired by this American sports presenter, who bellowed his voice out to the audience. And that that's basic, I wish I could give you the name of the podcast, I think it's me more of Halon I'll we can figure it out, but do a correction. But he based his entire vocal structure around the sports names. And I think that's what appealed to me. And that what that did, was that made you visit the lyrics. So for the first time, a I'm listening to music, nothing unusual there. But now, I want to get context on the lyrics. What are these rappers saying? And I think that was the tug, that brought me into the hip hop lane for the rest of my life in terms of what are these people seeing? Right? That what the meaning key that how can I use that in my life. And that's why we always say rap is something you do hip hop is something you live rap as a genre, hip hop is a lifestyle and taking these lyrics and apply it to me to give me confidence, to give me an attitude to give me a belief that the path I'm taking is a path that I can believe in. So I credit Chuck D in Public Enemy with that element, then moving to Jungle Brothers. That was for me, and still is done by the forces and each one of the greatest albums ever. But that also brought me an introduction to sampling in a way that hadn't had before some of the sampling that goes on that record, is a Bill Cosby songs on that record, which is phenomenal. I have to say I bought a Bill Cosby record. Okay, cancel me, but I had to get that sample. It's just just mind blowing how they introduced me to music of the present, back then hip hop. But then the music of the past was records from the 70s and 80s. And that's, that's that really kind of said, buckle up your seat belong clunk click every trip because this is this is you for the next 80 years of your life.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, just just an honourable mention their to sound engineer Bob power, who works on the Jungle Brothers Tribe Called Quest, things like that. For anyone that's listening, if they want to hear any interviews with Bob power, he's a fascinating guy. He really shaped the sound of hip hop in the late 80s, early 90s. And he's Yeah, really interesting, captivating guy. It's worth a listen. And so just to get back onto your story after that brief little detail, then we'll did economics coming to your life at a similar time, because I believe you kind of learn a lot about that at quite young age, right?

Will Page:

Yeah, it predates hip hop. And I tell the story in my book, Tarzan Economics as a hardback pivot as a paperback and on Audible of being 11 years old. And being jealous because my older brother Tom had been taught economics and so sibling rivalry kicks in, like if you learn something, I gotta learn something. I can't beat him up because he's a whole lot bigger than me. He's a lot forward rugby. So I can't go to physical violence but I can ask my dad to teach me what he taught him and I was at the beach in Scotland, where my parents are from is just a few miles north of English border, beautiful part of the country, the part of the country where the train is if you take the train to Edinburgh is almost dipping into the sea. And I said to my dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, what's economics? And he said, pardon my French, you're pissed off. So I'm on my holidays. So come on, Dad, you got to teach me you've taught Tom. F off son. I'm on my holidays are not teaching you economics if you gotta teach me, okay? Because Tom knows and I gotta know we got to match each other. Because i Alright, we're at the beach. Let's just do an experiment. You are going to be the prime minister. And I'm going to give you a problem to solve. Last year over 20 Children drowned in British waters and that's a tragedy. British children drowning in British waters just like the pizza that you see in front of us. And you're going to walk into number 10 Downing Street. Are you going to stare at grieving parents? Angry politicians and a hostile press and you've got to come up with a solution. What's your solution? And I'm 11. Let me ask you, Adam, you're not 11 What would be your solution? Your political solution to British kids drowning in British waters?

Adam Gow:

You've caught me off guard there. That's what my dad was trying to do.

Will Page:

Because there's this whole thing is about what's your knee jerk reaction? Kick it. So my knee jerk reaction was to make swimming compulsory. I'm an 11 year old boy, were at the beach. So I said to my dad, I'll make swimming compulsory. He said, Fine. That's politics. Now let's apply some economics, which is only abstractions. Not about Greek formulas are crazy mathematics. It's can you look at a problem differently? to spot a different path forward? Here? Where were the kids? Son? They were at the beach Dad. What were they doing at the beach time? They were swimming in the sea Dad, what does that tell you about their ability to swim or not? That many could swim dead? Why? Am I answer when? Because kids who can't swim? Don't go into water. Okay, now let's have a look at your policy, you're going to make swimming compulsory? Well, we have more or less children swimming in British water as a result of your policy. We'll have more debt. And as 0.001% loan die fatally? Will we have more or less deaths as a result of your policy? penny drops dead, we're gonna have more. And right there is where I built my passion for economics. I wanted to make the problem better. But my policy with all best intentions would have made the problem worse, what we call an economics the unintended consequences. They all started crying in front of me, like, how could I have messed up that's terrible, like, oh, pollute the sea was more kids, therefore we're gonna have more deaths. What's the solution? And he said, Well, we could think about a couple of things, information, knowing where those dangerous species are, and regulation, perhaps have a flag systems for parents and kids know, it's a red flag don't go out. It's a yellow flag, kneehigh only, it's a green flag, go for your life and swim as much as you want. You know, these are solutions. Now, that made me comfortable with a because solve the problem. But that made me fascinated and be I've just uncovered what economics is. It's abstraction, nothing more, nothing less. Now then I moved to London in 2006, to become the first ever economist and in the music industry, there's never been one before. So I got a blank sheet of paper here. And I told that story to the General Counsel of the Performing Rights society, a brilliant lawyer, by the name of Debbie stone, she asked the question that you asked, How did you get into economics and I walked her through the story about being at the beach with my dad and got to the end and said, You know, I would have made the problem worse, despite trying to make the problem better. As you put down on life and put down a fork, he said out of just banned the kids from swimming. That's why lawyers and economists never see it. You can't ban children from swimming, Debbie, you have to think about abstracting the problem to work out a better solution. Mine was bad, hers was worse. By the way around that time. Let's imagine banning the kids from getting music from the internet. It's not that dissimilar we can get into that topic if you want. But it was just a great example of a that's what economics is, and b That's why lawyers and other professions always seem to think differently from us. We're an awkward bunch. We don't we don't, we're a square peg and the rest of the world has a round hole we don't quite fit in. But it gives you a good example of how to think like an economist.

Adam Gow:

So you were thinking deeply then from a young age, about the world about how things work. Trying to make sense of things maybe a bit younger than some kids would be, or in deeper terms than some kids would be. Do you think the Jungle Brothers and that message kind of clicked with you? Because of the type of ways that you were thinking at that time that?

Will Page:

That's a deep question. I think hip hop as a culture, and lyrics that resonate with you in the case of getting the message across without crossing over. I think it gives you a belief that you don't have to behave like sheep, you know, like a sheep moving a field and weaving a flock. And they all go together is flock of sheep. Oh, we all go there. Whatever. There's a cliff edge here. Doesn't matter. We're all going there. So we go there anyway. We'll go this way. Well, there's no grass there. Well, we just go there because we're all going there. And I was always a bit of a farming background to thinking about very young age how people often behave like sheep. And that upset me. I would have paid like a sheep I want to go where I want to go. I don't care if there's 29 sheep going this way. I'm gonna be the 30th sheep that goes that way. And, you know, take that from a sort of childhood experience in the Scottish Borders, farming If you can take that right the way up to the present day in terms of herd like behaviour in the stock market, the tendency for us all to do what everyone else is doing. I just think there's, you know, a large chunk of the population subscribes to that. And there's a small chunk of the population that has a belief in doing things differently, that there's, there's a value to not going with that herd those values not following that flock, just picking your own direction, there could be some application there. I don't know whether it's a great citation to bring to this part of your conversation for your listeners. But we recently interviewed Sir Peter Bazzleget who brought big brother to UK when the most powerful people in TV creative industries in this country, a brilliant, brilliant brain, and he's got a book called The Empathy instinct. And he talks about how, as children as babies, if one baby cries, the other babies cry with them, not because they're upset because one baby cries if one girl screams at the Beatles coming on stage in 1965, and all the girls scream at the Beatles, not because he want to scream because one screaming and I'm interested in that contagion thing of her like behaviour, if somebody's doing something every else does the same thing? Well, fine, but I think hip hop culture gives you the belief that you don't have to do that thing. You don't have to follow the sheep, you just follow your own path and see where that takes you. And it becomes much more individualistic.

Adam Gow:

So did you have friends around you that you were into hip hop with I was a really individual journey.

Will Page:

very individual, I think can blame that on the Walkman and headphones. Because now you're listening to music no one else has to listen to. So I think it's, it's your space. And Hip Hop on headphones is quite phenomenal genre in a way you hear so much more, especially with bands like Jungle Brothers Public Enemy Tribe Called Quest, that sample culture that was made for headphones to so I think very, very unique in terms of it's your journey, it's your lyrics, it's your back to that word intimacy is music, there's intimacy is for you in the song or not for anyone else.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, I think there's something really special as well about the journey of discovery of music, like it's something I really like about buying vinyl. Buying vinyl, from secondhand places, specifically, is that and particularly when, when it's not arranged into genre, it can be a blessing, or it can be a curse. If it's interesting stuff that's not arranged into genre, then you just never go know what you're going to look at and go, that's a bit interesting. You maybe have a little Google about it, or see who's playing on it, things like that. And you find stuff you just wouldn't end up finding otherwise. And there's a real gratification to that, finding those things that people might know about elsewhere. But it's, it's your own little journey of discovery, this got you to that.

Will Page:

Yeah, there's been some kind of fuzzy behavioural science work around that. I don't know whether it could apply here. But they talk about the IKEA effect, which is if you build your own furniture, you value it more than if somebody else built it for you. Because that's so far, you have to get to the point of divorce, but you built it, you know, I put the screws on that sofa when I sit on it, I value what I did. So I think you can take that IKEA effect. There's a bit of fuzzy logic there. But just take that concept of involvement. You went to the record shop, you're visiting Bristol for the first time when you got tipped off that this is amazing. Second and record shop down a side street and you asked a guy to open the store early and you spent time speaking with him at the counter and you decided on the selection of records. That's all you that's not an algorithm that's not touching your thumb against a piece of glass. That's you physically getting involved physical memories, mental memory, and you treasure that moment. So when you play that record, there's more than just a needle on the record. There's something else going on there too.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, just just on the side. Then from that, I'll probably take this out. Have you seen about the IKEA Barrett hos deal? No. So there's there's I don't know the exact ins and outs of it. But there's there's basically some sort of partnership being developed where Barrett homes are going to come fully furnished with IKEA. And I was discussing this with someone the other day. I mean, I was surprised because I didn't realise how big Barrett homes were. But also that you're moving into a house rather than a home then it seems quite interesting, just given what you were just saying. Yeah.

Will Page:

Yeah. Where's the journey?

Adam Gow:

Yeah, it's you just kind of lose a lot of that personality.

Will Page:

And where's the friction? And that's the interesting thing about when you look back at digitization of music and media culture, where's the friction? Where's the actual rough with this move that brings reward out you know, that's that's gone. And back to David Bowie now, you know, you just put your interaction with your actual mobile phone music app could be a matter of seconds. At this. You pull it out your pocket. You You select which playlists you want the radio features to kick in when the playlist is over. And the rest of the time just sits in your pocket filling the background noise. Are you Yeah, no. It's that's that's crazy thing is consumptions up. But intimacy is down.

Adam Gow:

Where's the story about that certain song? How you found it, you know,

Will Page:

to the credit, you are getting things like lyrics on Apple and Spotify and other apps too. That's helpful. You are getting more context, the Apple Music Classical apps try to do a bit of more like that as well. But you know, that still still behind a piece of glass which will enlarge is stuck in your pocket or you're using another app whilst listening. It's not you reading the liner notes of a record. It's not you opening a gatefold sleeve and appreciating the art that that bits. You can't price was priceless. That really as an example of priceless

Adam Gow:

Yeah, definitely. So just going back to your journey then from from being 14 And how did you develop the DJing?

Will Page:

Yeah, so I then using cassette tapes, started getting into mixtape culture, and have still got moved into a new house recently. And I found that we still have in the larder, the double deck cassette tape archive system, and it's void and I bust their ass out of that thing, in terms of all the techniques of stopping and starting and learning the Public Enemy actually built some of their records by just stopping starting cassette tapes as well, quite crazy. So yeah, getting to there, then I thought, well, I want to do mix tapes with people I really, really value. Or I really, really want to date and got into ordering the nixies then providing liner notes with them explaining why this song was going to work with a song that follows. And there's like the Tories for it like Glasgow University, I was knocking out 160 of these and just flooding the market. Like there's a lot of people who studied in Glasgow during those years because a mixtape for myself is remarkable. But I did it at scale. And the liner notes are really important because I was trying to get a message across without crossing over. You know, this is a song Afro Blue, and I want you to hear it for this purpose. So you understand why it's intimate to me. So hopefully it can be intimate to you. And yeah, that was a really big thing for me. A lot of cassette tapes. Jesus Christ, I bought so many a lot of rubber bands hold the liner notes in place. You think about all this up and you shy of details, a lot of printing of lyric sheets and your liner notes. But I wanted to do the full thing. I want to give people a 60 minute 90 minute experience that that never forget. And to the credit number of people who say they still have them after all these years still play them. They were good mixes, good mixes, but they achieved the goal.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, that's really satisfying, isn't it in doing the self build sort of thing I can remember when i i put a mix out into shops. And when I say shops, I mean literally, I think probably two shops. But just going off and dealing with someone to get the print runs done. waiting to get the designs finished. I got them done by a friend. And because they were done by a friend it took about a year. The downside. That's the downside of getting freebies, I found that was a pretty, pretty good lesson in that. And yeah, you learn so much from that process. And it's really satisfying when you've got that thing at the end of it. So if you've got it on mastering go, I've made that that's all me. You know, did you was it always just mixtapes then or did you start to DJ out.

Will Page:

So DJing really began but put a pin on it. So in my second last year at Glasgow University, I stayed really close to a place called Ashton lane, which is a lovely Street in the west end of Glasgow where lots of restaurants bars, and there's a big DJ culture there as well. And there was a pub called the Anushka I think it was, which had an upstairs area with a DJ booth. And I was watching the DJs play there and seeing what they were doing. I was thinking, Well, you know, you need a lot of confidence to DJ, it looks easy. It ain't a you know this better than anyone. But as what you want the DJs were doing and I just felt I could do a better job and I say give me a slot. I remember I got my first DJ slot there. And there's a track called the funky low lights that I played, which is a CK Mann beat reworked as a 12 inch. And I dropped that track at the point when everyone was you know, planning to get their last round before going out to the nightclubs sub club places like that. You get that energy in the dance floor. This is a sit down bar and I played that track and the place just went ballistic. And by the end of it when we talk to people when I say done dancing on tables I genuinely mean dancing on tables and stools the track just elevate everybody up this big thumping bass drum beat and this rolling hypnotic West African Ghanaian sound and there was just a queue of people saying what is that record what is that record and I got sent that record from Germany so you can buy anywhere so extra key loss your record what else can buy and I thought well that as efforts first time rookie efforts go to break your DJ virginity. Well, I want to get laid again. This is this is for me. So I was just thrilled to see that everybody was leaving that our national lean, you're humming thumping out there. This this this this bass drum in the funky lace track from CK man. And it's like, right this is for me, is this for me, I want to residence every Wednesday, I want to take this place and do exactly what I did tonight. Got the residency and instead of building up there with very intimate bookings, but one off bookings not like a not a working DJ per se, but more like a special event DJ if there's an event which I felt I could take on over take it on as well and started building reputation with mixtapes on one side with Ashton lien on the other side and started building out from there. That was the foundations.

Adam Gow:

So at that time, were you glad to be doing it like that without without the fixed residency? are we chasing the residency?

Will Page:

I wasn't chasing the residency, it was a as a dedicated students who want to balance work and study. Yeah. You got to be careful coming home at four in the morning and then going to lecture at 10 ain't gonna work. Not even at that university, and that was a party tone. But yeah, I want to bounce it off. I'd take really unique two gigs. I remember one come home for Edinburgh festival every August. And one thing I did for an Australian dance troupe called legs on the wall. So they were like a physical, acrobatic Dance Company. guy standing on a woman's shoulders standing on gay shoulders standing on women's shoulders, incredible. Wonder Women and it was pregnant as well, visibly pregnant. So she's telling she's got a baby coming and she's standing on people's shoulders. So you could focus on the dance, but you're also focusing on her circumstance. And they were they were a crazy party. I remember DJ there, finishing part of the Edinburgh Festival. And to see that they were taking a lot of Colombian exports was an understatement. I remember I teach a there and as beautiful Georgian new townhouses was huge, bigger than a nightclub. So when I say a house, I mean, a Georgian house that was bigger than a nightclub on the third floor. And this a couple started making out in the middle of the dance floor, this party got so wild. And the woman who was dating the guy who was making walked into the dance floor, as he jumped out the window in shock. So I have had an experience as a DJ, having a party going crazy. Having a couple making out on a dance floor, having the the partner of the guy who was making a dancefloor enter the dancefloor Stena shop and jump out a window and everyone thought, that's it. We're gonna have police sirens under the scaffolding outside the window. So she actually fell like two feet, as well. So the point being, you could be a resident DJ and just turn up, do your set, get your check and leave. But doing the special events has its upside as you have memories we'll never forget, like, I remember like the entire dance floor lights up music of a woman just jumped out of the window and fell two feet. So we actually got her back in and continues partying. Yeah. There's a trade off there. But yeah, the residency thing happened later in life for the main part during my university years. It was just one off things.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, cuz it must be hard when you when you study in a pretty intense subject as well. I'm guessing economics is Yeah,

Will Page:

well, it is. It is just the hours, minutes, just the hours like the time you spend on a residency where you want to make every set different. That's what people don't appreciate with DJ culture is you're not just turning up and doing a two hour set. You're thinking constantly your brain goes into a trap mode of just what's going to work what songs on the radio that I can build off? Is there a sample in that song where I could play the original? How do you stay true to your Jungle Brothers lyric ethic of just getting the message across without crossing over? residencies take up a lot of mental time. There's maybe two or three hours of physical time in a booth but the mental time is huge. I don't think DJs get enough respect for what they do when when they're applying their craft correctly.

Adam Gow:

Yes, and since starting doing this podcast, I've really realised just how lazy a DJ I was.

Will Page:

Well, now they cheat right now they sit behind all this equipment and they stick a USB stick in and then just pretend to look busy for two hours and get paid dollars for that. That for me. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror. in the morning, I got away with that. For me it has to be vinyl has to be crafted, Rich Medina was in Philadelphia was one of my biggest teachers and a DJ. And he said, it's all in how you thread the songs together. If you're not doing that you're just a goddamn jukebox. And that really stuck with me, which was just like, I don't want to be a goddamn jukebox. I want to be a DJ. So, yeah, it's interesting how the of current people can apply their craft differently. But the real DJs the ones who are putting thought into the sets, trying to create intimacy in a crowd of many, you know, there's a lot of mental hours put into a couple of hours of physical work.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, this is it. I mean, I would very much I think I probably planned out my first one or two sets I ever did. When I only had a few records, I didn't need to plan to didn't didn't have enough records to plan. And then after that, just I definitely got lazy with playing the same things every time I played because of just other commitments, taking my focus away. But yeah, the amount of work that people put in in terms of the practising in terms of the getting the record. And I think a thing for you as well that comes through is, is the the desire to have the one offs, the specials, the hand gifted records, you know. So when you finished university, did you stay up in Scotland or was that when you moved to London?

Will Page:

Yes, I stayed in Scotland for four years, working in the civil service for equivalent of the Treasury in Scotland when Gordon Brown was our chancellor and wore a black suit, a blue shirt and a red tie to go to work. And then home was I got my big break, which is writing for a publication called Straight No Chaser. So I took up covering Philadelphia hip hop for Straight No Chaser so my sisters used to call me Batman because it is completely contrasting lifestyle civil service, my day in Philly hip hop the journalist by night, but yeah, I really owe it all too. Firstly, a trip to the North Sea Jazz Festival and then hog snow in Rotterdam. It was in it was in Den Haag, which is capital of Holland and the jazz festivals across the road from the war trials of Slobodan Milosevic. So you had Roy Hargrove flowing horde here. And evil dictator who killed hundreds of 1000s of people getting prosecuted just across the road. So it's a very interesting location. But then I came back and was in Dusseldorf, and I built up the confidence and I mean, the confidence that sounds easy for people from London say this but to call the offices, a straight, no chaser this magazine, it'd be my Bible for six years. And try and speak to someone who is sort of London thing and like speaking to somebody from London who writes history. No, they're not going to pick up the phone to you. When I left voicemail after voicemail, and then the phone was picked up and Paul Bradshaw spoke to me and I was so nervous thinking was Paul Bradshaw, the editor, the editor in chief, so you have Paul Bradshaw, Neil Spencer was part of the editorial team in the early days. Charles Peterson, obviously a core part of that publication throughout and to this day, there has been relaunched. But yeah, Paul spoke to me and he said to me, what did you see an Aussie jazz that you think I haven't heard of? I was interesting question. He wants to go to the edge, which is what people like us do. I said, Well, I saw this brush performance by this band called Kip Hanrahan is deep rumba. And, and I said what and and he cut me up, and he spoke for 15 minutes, but Kip Henry hands deep. But the records his story, how underground That sound was how intense that sound was. I just want to say it blew my mind watching it live. He just kept on talking. Should you or your 650 words, as like, What do you mean said you're going to write for Straight No Chaser. So I got undercurrent 650 words to cover the North Sea Jazz Festival in the publication, which is insane to get that done, came out of an issue with Ursula Rucker and the cover a beautiful cover. I mean, the design of Chase was as good as the words the design was phenomenal. And I got the undercurrent section that was for me, the door opening moment, you know, I've been knocking on doors. But finally when it opened, and I could say to somebody, no, just a DJ or a music lover, and doing something I'm getting the message across in written form, without crossing over in written form.

Adam Gow:

So what was your background in writing before that then because there's obviously having the knowledge of the music?

Will Page:

None and I couldn't write. I asked a lot of people to help write that. 650 words I can tell you. I even credit Allison Dexter, who was a Cambridge graduate, they kind of got to know of it. And I was like, Can you help me write because I can't write. I've been given a chance to write. So yeah, just to be clear. Learning how to write was a pretty steep curve when you're writing for a publication where street language is so prevalent like chaser, there's, there's jazz terminology and Straight No Chaser that really works. Now I love that terminology that they used, it's applicable to all cultures. And you can still see many of the phrases that they gave life to, you know, being used today. And, yeah, I needed a lot of help to learn how to write how to structure.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, I mean, if you've kept on with that given is it two books?

Will Page:

Well as one book, but I will say that you'll hop skip, jump to the book briefly here. When it when I got my book advance, and I realised I was going to step down and go full time into big trading mode and sit in the British Library staring at paragraphs that won't grow. There's one book for your audience, which for me, got me out of a colder sec, you know, dug me out of a rut. And it's William Zinser. Z-I-N-S-E-R, a Yale academic who spent 50-60 years of his life teaching people how to write. And the book is called on writing well, white cover blue letters on writing well, by William Zinser. And that book, it took me like three days to read it, because it just felt like Finally, I found someone out there in the ether, who's going to open my head and pile in knowledge about writing and close my head again, I just battered through it and the chapter on clutter, when you realise that, you know, how much clutter is in language, how a sentence with 25 words could be a sentence with nine words and still have more meaning. Incredible, and I couldn't recommend it enough. And I've bought it for so many people have said to me, Well, you've inspired me to write a book and I just buy them that say, before you write, you got to read and you've got to read this. So yeah, learning how to write, you don't learn you're always learning how to write it's never ending journey. But yeah, from straight, no chaser in 2001. Two, all the way up to write a book in 2019 20. Yeah, it's, it's, it's a craft that I didn't have. And I'm glad I've got a little bit of it. But I'm so grateful to the copy editors, people who write for the Atlantic and boy they can write or The New Yorker, yeah, with these essays. They're just incredible what they can do with words.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, it's, it's interesting what you're saying about clutter in that book. Because when I was studying academically, I always struggled to reach word counts, you know, I'd maybe get to 70%. And then really struggle to, to reach that, that minimum. And then when you get into the real world, people want you to be as concise as possible. So it's quite strange to get taught these, you get taught in the opposite way to what actually works in the real world.

Will Page:

Yeah, if you can say in a paragraph, say the paragraph look at Twitter and the character count there that's conditioned our brains to in terms of attention spans what we're able to take in just one funny anecdote from that book, I really want to stress William Zinsser. On Writing. Well, the parallel books had on me, and I'm sure hundreds of 1000s of people have learned how to write things to thanks to spinning 9.99 on Amazon and reading that book as soon as value for money considering what higher education costs. But he has this thing in one of the chapters where he says, a lot of writers get confused who they're writing for the writing in the first person in the third person from an observational stance, from an anecdotal stance. You know, how do I write this paragraph or sentence this chapter when I don't know who I'm writing for? He says, stop your writing. So write for yourself. And he doesn't know where that really makes you confidence. Like, it's my story and I'm going to tell it stop this third person nonsense. You tell a story. He said, Not enough people these days have the bravery to start a paragraph with the words I'll never forget the time that an hour just jumped out at me like wow, I'll never forget the time that I'm trying to win out on those attention and a beginning a paragraph with I'll never forget the time that he's going to pay attention because it's I'll never which is precedent ever to stress forget. So we have memory, the time which we have an event in the space of what eight words I've got you all by the palm of my hand. I thought was incredible. So when I sit in the British Library, your standard routine sitting there on your own with your you know, your your laptop, and your notes and your books. And I started writing and you vomit words when you're writing a book and I vomited about 3000 words and every fucking paragraph became with words I'll never forget the day they're just try to be the whole lot and trashcans like, you're gonna have to really reconfigure your writing skills here. But it just jumped out at me as like it gave me the confidence be proud and attain that you'll never forget and tell them don't wander around the block and say there was this occasion where this person never know. You told the story. You tell it you you stressed the importance of the paragraph. But yeah, as for me as a DJ, but then to become a writer. That'd be Because priceless and my wife used, I owe her more than anyone else and that whole process.

Adam Gow:

I suppose that's a bit like finding an incredible drum break and just try to use it for every beat that you

Will Page:

make. Exactly, exactly. Oh, that's amazing. But

Adam Gow:

why are you using impeach the president again? So how long were you writing for Straight No Chaser then

Will Page:

I wrote for them from 2001 to 2007, which is when the magazine folded last issue of the magazine, I covered the black Lily festivals belt with one owl, back Lilly and Philadelphia for women. And so I wrote the preview with Jazzy fat nasties. And all the team in Philadelphia that working then I wrote the review, where interestingly, Amy Winehouse came to perform at the black Lily. So yet Amy Winehouse, telling Jill Scott which changing rooms you could use, and that was a bit of a catfight backstage, you don't tell Jill Scott, anything in Philadelphia, she tells you which changeroom you're gonna use. But yeah, that was an incredible event. And then the magazine folded after that issue, as well.

Adam Gow:

So So you were very in the neo soul,

Will Page:

hip hop and new soul, very stretched to Philadelphia, for example. You know, I was the first journalist. I'm not gonna say the word ever, but at least in my memory to interview Bahama deer, right. And a lot of people there's like houses kid from some bedroom in Edinburgh, Scotland managed to get that interview and she was very nervous about doing it I used you know, our grandmother raised us to say always do to others, like you'd want done to yourself. So you'd be respectful of her your career, the highs and the low low lows that she'd been through. And I got the interview. And it's just a short piece of an article called What's up Philly. But I was really proud that I got that and I was really proud that she was happy with what I did. She's like next time we're going to catch up. Now, I would hope that a lot of your listeners know how important Bahama deer is to the story of hip hop and the story of women in hip hop, especially her money love right up there as one and two in terms of the most influential people I can think of in terms of women in hip hop, as well. But I worry that there's generations today who don't know those names, you know,

Adam Gow:

Could you could you give us a brief explanation then because it's not all going to be just because of hip hop heads with this because it's as much about growth and about the broader thing of DJing than just hip hop. So if you could just give us a bit of a summary from the listeners.

Will Page:

If I think the best thing and I wish this is where I wish podcasts could use music. We have to fix licencing out here because this is where we should really play some Bahama dear money love. But Bahamadia voice the tone of the voice I often felt it was like a snake for some reason when I listened to it intimacy and you think about words and animals she had wrapped like a snake and the lyrics were just slither around the beat. And that was the style I had never heard been done before. And it just hit you like, what is she doing? Like some people say that rap? Rap language is very lyrical. Like some rappers rap like a trumpet player might hone a beat or an alto sax player might hone a beat they literally forming like a whole section with words. It's a very good comparison. Other rappers are like they just bless the beat with freezing techniques like the mass and black thought and these showbusiness ag these people, I have visualised that as you're throwing a blanket over sofa and watching it fall into place like this is know which words fall to place in that beat. But Bahamadia, she was like a snake. She just littered around the beat. And it's just so softly spoken. And by being you don't have thing you get when when people speak softly at meetings as opposed to shouting at meetings, it forces other people to listen in here. So if you really want to listen, don't raise your voice. That's what Bahamadia did with hip hop. She made him by not raising your voice. Chuck D He bellows like a sports announcer Bahamadia she whispered like sneak. So yeah, very unique rep.

Adam Gow:

That's kind of like not comparing myself to her. But it's kind of like with scratching. If I was ever at like a scratch jam with people that were just being like super technical. I just try and be a lot more open. Yeah, and think more about phrasing so that what I was doing was different because it's like, I can't run as fast as this person, I may, I might be better off finding a different way to get there. I don't know if that analogy works. But but as well with Bahamadia, I mean, the nice thing about that story is that if if you've given her a really sensitive and considered experience of that first interview, that may well be something that she's taken with her into her life and that could have had a really big impact on has a fair play for that as well. I

Will Page:

hadn't thought about that actually. But that's important when she had a lot of lows, lows lows, right so that gave her the strength to come back into the ring at some other future point there but that made me Very happy. Definitely. I

Adam Gow:

mean, the reason that I'm doing this is it's all about empowering people to tell their stories. And I think if you can give the person that experience, and you can help them think about what their story is in a different way as well, I think there's a load of value in that. Yeah. So just back onto your timeline, then. When you move to London, then what work was it that you were doing, who were working for?

Will Page:

So I moved to London to be the chief economist of the Performing Rights society, which is songwriters and publishers equivalent of ASCAP or BMI for American listeners, gamer in Germany, Sasame, in France, and that's where I became like, literally the first economist in the music business. So you know, you have no, you have no guidance as to what's been required because it's never been done before. So the last sentence of my book, Tarzan economics, pivot as a paperback says, don't wait for your job description. Create your job description. Yeah. And that's literally what I did to move to London, and become a music industry rockin honest economist. I create it as like, your business is falling off a cliff due to piracy. We could literally be closing the music industry in a few years time at this rate, we were spending millions and litigation, we were losing billions and revenues. And it's been run by lawyers. And I want to be the first economist to suggest that we do things differently. And this is what I want to do. So here's my job description. Now you hire me, and I got it. So you approach them 100%. That's amazing. And I didn't just approach them. cut a long story short, I've gotten a 35 bus in Edinburgh to leave work after doing local income tax reform, the most boring areas of service possible. And I found the Financial Times on the bus, we still keep the actual article here in the house. And the article is written by a guy called Adam singer, the chief executive of the PRS at the time, and the headline said, digital ends wreck the music industry's picnic, I read it, I thought, wow, I finally found a CEO who's thinking like I'm thinking usually the CEOs haven't got a clue what they're doing. This one does. And there's a few mistakes in the article and my dad said to me, never be shy approaching anyone because the worst they can tell you to do is to back off, or slightly vulgar words to that effect. So I wrote him a letter. I sat in a pub in Edinburgh with my friend and he helped me write the letter to say, this is a great article, but I got some problems with some of the arguments you've made it seem a bit back to front, sent the letter off. And three days later on the central switchboard of the civil service in Scotland, this call came in saying we have Adam Singer on the phone view. I crapped my pants like oh my God, and to speak to a CEO of somebody in the music industry based in London, what will he say? The first thing he said to me was to thank me for the corrections because he's dyslexic. Now he said, When you have an increase in supply the barriers to entry for was it? No, no, no, no, no, I know what your point is. But you have to do it the other way around. When barriers to entry is fall, then you can have an increase in supply. Your first thing he says was I'm dyslexic. So these are great corrections for me. Should I use a speech again? I'm gulping at this point. Second Second thing he said is come to London on the 20th of April, I want to speak to you. I put me in a meeting room for an entire day and three questions at me about the music industry which I knew nothing about one quick example on a wrap it up. He said, Well, how would you price? A music catalogue? I got no effing idea how to price music catalogue. What I do know about is auction design. So I said, Well, what I have to do is we're trying to discover a price here. price discovery is auction design. I design an auction. Tell me about auction design. Well, you can ever ascending price auction like we have in Britain, we look at how they sell fish in Israel or flowers in Amsterdam, you can have a descending price auction where you start at the top and work backwards first and gets first out. Or even look at how Google or selling adverts back then you had a Vickrey auction design, which is our second price sealed bid auctions ensure the bidder you know anyone who wins an auction is a sucker because nobody else is willing to pay as much as them for the good. Right? So talk to them about auction design for like 40 minutes. He's like 70 years I don't think this industry is ever considered auction design for pricing music catalogues. Next question. The whole day was like that. left completely frazzled, like white in the face frazzled. Went back to Scotland. My sister was saying to me Don't get your hopes up. You know, you keep on getting turned down. And the following Monday after that we can they called me up and said let's make you the chief economist at PERS had I not picked up that article in the Financial Times were 35 Last in Edinburgh would not be here now.

Adam Gow:

But then also it's that forceful you know that that hustle that you had to approach them? Do you thinking

Will Page:

every tour possible I got 1000 "no"'s before I got a yo

Adam Gow:

and that's such a thing that's true to being a DJ as well. Going into bars for example, going up to people You want to buy this tape? You know it's something that we resilient do yeah because there's no recruitment process in DJing Is there really so it's you've got to make these opportunities for yourself knowing when to do things for free knowing when to not knowing what the other value is around it. These are common threads in all of these conversations what was the work life balance like them when you were doing that job because that's a that's I'm guessing a high pressure job and a new job so there's no kind of protocol or process for you to necessarily follow

Will Page:

you could have a rockin good time and get paid for it. And, and add on top, you know, coming to London and taking on that role. We actually had a residency that's when I ran our first residency. Crazy story. In Scotland, you speak to people on public transport in England, you don't Yeah, so in Scotland, public transport is the place to commute in Scotland. You speak to people in gents toilets in England, you don't. In Scotland, you speak to everyone all the time. It's a much more yakking culture than it is down here. My first time coming home I was on a 55 bus going out to Hackney Clapton, where my first awful flat was before getting the accommodations that Jason Sawyer is. And this rest of ferrying gets on the top deck of the bus carrying an instrument and I said to him, is that a guitar or bass is a bass mark. I said, Okay, so it's bass, what type of music are you playing? He said, roots reggae. It's like, Hey, let me try and sort of picture what sort of roots reggae you're describing. And I was talking about, you know, some roots reggae artists had worked with and African artists I was interested in, he said, so you know, the highlife said, Yeah, I said, well come to passing clouds, which is on Clapton's High Street. And come and see this night we have called the afro spot. So I gave him my phone number after seeing the show on the back of a bus ticket. And he called me up like months later, saying, Sorry, I stood up with my girlfriend. I got all my stuff back and I found your phone number. I was like, great. Well, I saw you perform. It wasn't passing close. I swim performance at Camden jazz cafe. I said, Well, I'm gonna get you to play at Naughty chairs. I got the band booked. For the following years no sea Jazz Festival, the 2007 North Sea jazz festival, a band called a soothsayers with Qaddafi. Koosh on bass played in front of 15,000 people at North Sea jazz thanks to bumping into 155 bus in Hackney. I was like wow. Then we started the F we spot nightclub in passing clothes last Saturday of the month 11 piece West African band 99% West African audience and a tall pale skinny Scottish white DJ on decks. Playing music from that era. And just to show you what made that club unique I play a song called mama don't cry by the Afrobeat Allstars and the drummer Koofi Avivo come over to the booth and say what record are you playing now and I show him the record. You see there I am and he shall be where he is in the credits. So a lot of the highlife West African musicians from the 70s and early 80s, who they emigrated under Thatcher's Britain to London soon after, were the musicians playing at our clubs. So the DJ was playing the vinyl of the musicians who were on stage. That was crazy and we we took Highlife to the next level because there's points where there was four highlight clubs happening in East London on the same night and they're all selling out. You're just like, This club is going to be dead we got a clash in a booking some bozos put us up against the neighbouring clubs in a similar groove. And they all had queues around a block and then just wrap that up, then we made a documentary so your audience can go to and we can link it to your show, and Black Stars of high life. If you Google those words, you will find our 27 minute documentary about the Rise Fall and resurgence and Highlife globally and we interviewed them all we have CK man, he's passed away. We have Ebo Taylor, who's still with us. We had to Bessie Simmons, we had them all. We went there to Christmas times Christian country, we interviewed every one of those highlights legends and documented their story. So yeah, there came a residency and there came lifting, leaving a real footprint in London and British nightclub culture. By bringing Highlife to that level. I take a lot of pride in that. Brilliant.

Adam Gow:

So how did DJing go from there? What was the peak amount of times you were DJing in a week.

Will Page:

So that was once a month at passing clouds and a whole lot of time preparing those sets. So we ran it from 2008 right way through to the last night of passing clouds. A DJ it was a Sun Ra Orchestra play really in that venue. And to be clear, like, for the first few years that police didn't even have a liquor licence nevermind a music licence. It was and it was also as a fire hazard like you believe as always candles and ropes everywhere. It's very hard to focus thinking this thing could go up in smoke any minute. It didn't thank God it didn't but I really worried about the fire risk at that place the time that finished? I mean, it was gentrifyied, we actually had working functional toilets in the club. That was something. I mean, that was all those years and all those smells, but yeah, to see like, by the end of the journey, but then quite famously passing clothes got shut down as a campaign to reopen it. I think it's now reopened. But it's not what it was. But we went through the wild years, but once a month, we went up there, and we absolutely smashed it. Brilliant. tell you an interesting DJ story. Just real quick. Yeah, we DJ there, the Saturday in 2012, before the London Olympics opened. So you're in East London, you have this weird club called the afro spot, you got your regular thing, which is you do the warm up set, you do the interval set, you do the climax set the band plays, and then the band are like in the carpark getting stoned out their trees. And they're extending my set because you get to come back in. I played once in a lifetime a Talking Heads recorded and written in 1981. And I was like, Well, David Burns from Scotland band or famous New York band, Jerry Harrison. And the club goes crazy. The bouncers and the black puffer jackets, arms in the air, the girls have in mind a bar dancing on the bar, musicians who should be opened up their cases and get ready to play or dancing. I place one record from 1981, once in a lifetime talking it's a West African highlight club goes bonkers. And I get home and I try and decompose and come off the high of the set four o'clock in the morning. Like why did that song work so well, when it has nothing to do with the theme of the club. Brian Eno, practically wrote that song after going to West Africa, learning about the afro beat. And the drum leaflets in there is basically Fela Kuti. I was like, yeah, hey, that's music. That's

Adam Gow:

it's a really well renowned drum break as well

Will Page:

as that drum loop that was inspired by going to West Africa, sitting with Fela and all those Afrobeat musicians. And I played that song and 2012 1981 Song 2012. And watch people have never heard it before. Just lose their fucking minds.

Adam Gow:

So that the next significant sort of event in your timeline that I know of, is you start a Spotify as the chief economist. So what year was that? And was there any sort of jarring with that, given what we've discussed about musical journeys, musical consumption? Intimacy, did you? Did you feel any sort of type of way about starting that?

Will Page:

No, because I think what Spotify did was to save a business that was otherwise declared dead on arrival, you have to remember how awful the music country was before Spotify got going. Yeah, firing, not hiring. Anyone who had a job in the music industry was probably wouldn't have a job the following month. advances to artists were a wafer thin number of artists getting signed were falling. The whole the wheels of the business weren't turning the way they should have been turning, it was terrible. And then the whole thing with litigation against file sharing and Americans similar campaigns, across Europe, lawyers were making the problem worse, making the problem worse. What Spotify was able to do was get revenues flowing back from the consumer, to the right sold to the creators, and get those wheels turning again. And it's remarkable to think like Spotify is now north of 20 million people in this country. That's more than any radio station or TV show can ever reach in today's media climate. So new media has overtaken all media. It's a whole different level set. People will always when they when asked about vinyl, you'll remember shipping platinum to receive gold back just so you got your certification. We all know those stories. And artists had to pay for returns and their contracts. They complained about cassettes with production costs and damage and repair. They complained about CDs with postage and packaging distribution has been deducted against their royalties. They complained about downloads, because you could buy one or two downloads instead of buying the whole album. You know, the download market could have done more harm than piracy did music revenues when you think about that, it complained about piracy. And they complain about streaming. So all the concerns that you have about these country do need historical context. This is a business that is addicted to whinging, and they'll lend you anything.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, because that that touches on my next point. And this must be like a broken record thing for you. The thing that gets and I'm sure you

Will Page:

know what's coming. Here it comes on the horizon.

Adam Gow:

I can see the eyes going. Yeah, so obviously the thing that that I'd love to hear your insight on is the money that people receive Leave per play on Spotify. And because I obviously hear a lot of negativity around it.

Will Page:

So in the campaign that would lead this debate which led resulted in a three year government inquiry into music streaming, government level inquiry, Competition and Markets for investigation was called broken record and it's a good term. So here's what I explained to managers in 2008. verbatim, and I'm going to explain it to you and 2023 verbatim, and managers would hold you against a wall, hold you up off the floor with a vital lapels. Say How can you justify half a penny per stream? You're still in music this is your undervaluing art fight. The example let's say your songs played on BBC Radio two's breakfast show the highest value per stream payout you're gonna see the British music industry and by the way, the BBC pays handsomely for music compared to any other country. Good money. Your song is played by Zoe ball 815 in the morning on the BBC Radio two Breakfast Show. As a songwriter you receive 90 pounds as an artist you receive 60 pounds 90 plus 60 equals 250 pounds for the singer songwriter of that song, pay the artists pay the publisher pay the label payment right fine 150 has travelled from the rights user to the rights holder. You compare 150 pounds in one play against half a penny on Spotify. And you'd be right to be aghast How can a difference be so great? Hold on. The radio play was listened to by 8 million people. So as a one to many broadcast calculation, that 8 million people listening to one song is worth 150 pounds. If you divide 150 pounds by a million you get 0.000038 when you do the math, a lot less than a 005 you receive from Spotify. Follow this. Let's say those 8 million people who heard the song as they're having their breakfast in the morning, then go in streaming on Spotify on their way to work which is not implausible by the way. Not impossible at all. Then you would receive 40,000 pounds, not 150 pounds. Every time I explain this point the difference between one to many broadcasts and many one to one narrowcast, the manager puts me back down and for apologises for the aggressive behaviour and buys me a pint. And that has been going on since 2008. If you can't understand that maths, you don't deserve to be in this business. But if there's a million people went back to Spotify is 40,000. I'm not saying they will. I'm just saying. Now you understand why Spotify pays more than radio per listener? Because that's what the judge laid down when we established to cooperate or interact with the content the higher you pay. Here's Tom with the

Adam Gow:

weather. How many times do you have to tell that story?

Will Page:

Every day that ends in a letter. Why

Adam Gow:

Well it it's really good to hear that and I'll be sharing this with as many people as possible just to give that clarity on it.

Will Page:

It doesn't make it easy. I'm not seeing it. So land of milk and honey is tough to get the numbers to work. But you can get them to work. It takes a lot of momentum. But you've got to hold that framework of wider Spotify may pay more than Pandora in America because Pandora is more like radio. Spotify is more like ownership. There's a law that says Spotify should pay more than Pandora and Pandora should pay less than Spotify. That's the law. That's law that we're working with. So yeah, it doesn't make it any easier than selling downloads instead of albums. It doesn't make it any easier than selling CDs with postage and packaging distribution deduction costs coming off the top. It's not easy, but there's a lot of artists making it work. Now a lot more artists used to be a very closed door club used to be a top 40. They were talking about a top 40,000

Adam Gow:

Yeah, I guess it's just a very dispersed a very different dispersion of the money.

Will Page:

And education is key. And I credit a dear friend and colleague back at Spotify, Brian Johnson and Mark Williamson, who has a company called rostr R-O-S-T-R. And those two quickly saw what I brought to the table and said you're going to be busy a mark and Brian just took me on a roadshow just addressing managers, artists, managers, artists, again and again and again. Here's here's the tools. primate explained here's the vision market explained and here's the economics will would explain. So these people would leave the room after doing things like verifying their Spotify account on their laptops. They hadn't been there before. They had bitch and whinge about us and threaten us but they hadn't bothered to verify their artists account so we could help them and it's just education and the PRS and we just draw a parallel here. The number one complaint I used to get the PRS was purists suck they're not spin send me any money ever. And the first question I would ask is, have you joined? Yeah, more often than not, they say you're couldn't be bothered with the paperwork. Or how do you expect to get money from the bank if you haven't joined up? think that, yeah, I'll put you in a headlock and make you sign this form. So I can get you your 4832 pounds, which you've generated on the BBC Radio over the past four years. But until you sign that paperwork, we don't like doing people know, you've got to because I want to pay you the money. So again, just education, education, education, the amount of education in this business is insane. And it's, it's never ending, like painting the fourth row bridge, when you finish one end, you have to go back and start again. But it's the same PRs people wouldn't join and complain, Spotify, people would understand and complain. It's not their fault. It's complicated. But the answer isn't education.

Adam Gow:

So when did you leave Spotify? And was that to write the book?

Will Page:

Yeah, so I stepped down from Spotify. In late 2019. To go full time in the book, I was determined to do the book full time, that was a vision of mine, like I didn't want to try and combine all the other things going on in my life with writing a big head, and I got an advance and thank you, Curtis Brown, my agent for January in advance, which made it financially sound idea to do full time on the booth. And I think I produced a better book for it. He there's stuff that you can do in the artistic process, when it's just you. And that, that that that goal that you can't do with a bunch of other distractions and the process of going to the British Library, or, you know, as made a fellow of London School of Economics, I have my own office with a bathtub at Lincoln and feels quite an office just before we lock down the country for three months there. But I had rhythm and rhythm is what gets ideas and ideas is what gets a manuscript to move from 60,000 words to 64,000 words to 70,000 words. But yet still, I've done a lot of work with Spotify, since which you can see on their website loud and clear, which explains in loud and clear terminology. This is how our business is working. And got to work with a bunch of other music companies, major labels, other streaming services, as well.

Adam Gow:

Brilliant. And what does DJing look like for you now then?

Will Page:

So I fell in love with Mixcloud. Around about those go back seven or eight years ago. And yeah, you're just in the title one for the team in 2015. I caught up with some of the street no chaser community in New York. Taylor asked you. And it just reminded me of just what it meant to look at the chaser charts. What it meant to read those interviews. It was album reviews, it was undercurrent sections was clubs as well guides met DJ Nicodemus and I just got my energy back and said, Well, we have this thing called Mixcloud. Very important Mixcloud funded by Nikhil Shah and Nico Perez, is licenced it's not a DMCA service. It's not a piracy service. Yeah, they actually got the licence and for me working in copyright, that mattered a lot. I was like, No, we have a licenced DJ service. Maybe I should do what I did back at university with cassette tapes and just get a mix up there. So I did one for the team in 2015. worked like crazy on the mix again, the artistic process of putting it together, getting it blended, getting a shout outs for it so I can lease it. So it's a real like a live DJ set when you have shadows integrated. I pick that up and then I think almost every year since I've managed to bless mix played with a mix. And the numbers get bigger and bigger and I fit in 2018 I did Full Tilt Boogie after being in Miami for two, two visits. Miami, DJ culture in Miami, you gotta go. It's, it's different. Like I met Emilio Estefan husband of Gloria, I met Willie Clark met DJ yeomen, who's won this incredible collect who does analogue transfers there. There's so much happening down and it's just such a weird city the best. I love the expression that the best thing about Miami, is it so close the United States of America, I love it. Just like it just has its own rulebook. It has its own history, think about, think about the film Scarface for a second. And I would encourage people to dig up the original documentary Cocaine Cowboys, not the one that was on Netflix. The original one, the first one not reload the original one. Yeah. And that makes Scarface Luke team, compared to what was going on in Miami, and that was our lifetime. That was 1979 to 1985.

Adam Gow:

Yeah. Have you read the book American Desperado?

Will Page:

No.

Adam Gow:

That's about John Roberts from Cocaine Cowboys. Really, really interesting.

Will Page:

Yeah, and I've heard that John Frankenheimer or someone the team that were involved in Top Gun are actually looking to make a movie around the documentary. I did my first ever review on IMDb about that because I just wanted people to get the message across without crossing over. Understand that when you go to Miami and you want to understand music, you need to understand that element of history there that goes with it. But um, yeah, the Full Tilt Boogie Set was just for me to get Jimmy Bo Horn a shout out from Jimmy Bo Horn, DJs have played spank for years, I'd get happy and dance across the floor. You know, his song was sampled by stereo MCs for connected Do you want to be my lover, his role in our music in Britain is huge. I had a shout out from Harry Casey from KC and the Sunshine Band playing two of his tracks. I don't think Barack Obama's got a shout out from Casey and Assange, oh, man, I have. I just dug deep and I had to licence tracks for MCs as well, I really wanted to honour the copyright and get these songs heard by a wider audience that hit 40,000. And it's just I don't know, Mixcloud just allows you to do what you love at scale, but it's intimate God, it could have a better social interface, and now on SoundCloud, as well, which I think does do a better social interface, but you're getting the message across without crossing over. And I don't have to buy cassette tapes, or print out liner notes to go with it. So it's what's not to like,

Adam Gow:

that's brilliant. That's a lovely way to round things off. So just before we go then to mindful of your time. Have you got any key pieces of advice for anyone that's looking to start DJing?

Will Page:

If you're starting out, learn your history. I mean, real history. It's fraught with problems and tensions. But the Ken Burns documentary about jazz is 12 hours, that could be to long haul flights there and back to consume. But to start learning about, not just the story of New Orleans, which was we know where jazz began the role of Creoles who are middle class classically trained musicians who overnight joined the African American community, that frustration led to the celebration. But you know, to learn about Kansas City, you know, I really stress there's these moments in musical history. Your next guest will pick another one your next guest. After that, we'll pick another one. If I was to pick on one about learning the history before you get into DJing get to Kansas. It all went down there. Tom Pendergast, the mayor, staunch Catholic, rich Catholic values for his family couldn't give a flying fvck what happened downtown Kansas, and all the circuses that would travel across America, these musicians would get to Kansas and realise there's liquor, there's hookers, there's jazz, there's parties, and they would they wouldn't get back on the circus bus. Count Basie, my hero. You know, he kicked it off in Kansas. You bird Charlie Parker Billie Holiday, Lester. They were all in Kansas. So I think the beauty thing thing about trying to work out how a big music in the future. The beautiful thing about learning about your past is you'll find these moments in history which no fiction writer could have written the story of Kansas, ditto many, many other stories in your punk scene, if you want to go down that path, the LA hip hop scene if you want to go down that path. But if you look at Kansas, and you understand what what got bubbling in that city, and how that story hasn't been told, it gives you an energy to say well, I want to tell stories. I want to I want people to hear stuff they wouldn't heard otherwise, I want to get the message across without crossing over.

Adam Gow:

Will page, thank you very much for your time and thanks for sharing your story. Appreciate yours. Thank you. Thanks. Take care.