An interesting article about Britain’s Got Talent.

I didn’t write this, but the original article has been taken down from a website after a threat from Sony’ legal team. So, enjoy!!



For reasons which will become obvious, I can’t reveal my full identity. But let me just say that, I am an executive with Sony Music UK with many years experience in music mangement. My work involves close liasion with Simon Cowell’s SYCO company (specifically SYCO Music and SYCO TV) and, as a result, I have seen what goes on from the inside and this has left me increasingly uncomfortable about the integrity of Britain’s Got Talent and particularly the workings of SYCO.


It’s long been known that there is a quite a degree of “fixing” in BGT. ( Daily Mail ) But press reports on “fixing” are only the tip pf the iceberg when it comes to SYCO’s manipulation of, not only the show and the contestants, but also the viewing public and hopefully, in this email, I can shine some light on the smoke and mirrors trickery of SYCO.


Take BGT 2011 for example. Scouts working for SYCO first saw Ronan Parke (the 12 year old singer) some two years ago when he was just 10 and was singing at a birthday party for former Norwich City goal-keeper, Bryan Gunn. Following that, Ronan was privately auditioned by SYCO scouts on two more occasions and, as is usual practice on BGT, he was “invited” to audition for the show as a “preferred” contestant. At the same time, Ronan and his parents were “required” to enter into a contract with SYCO. Like all SYCO contracts, it is heavily weighted in favour of the label and are notoriously bad, even in the cut-throat world of the music industry. Simon effectively signed Ronan for life and he’s got little or no chance of ever getting out of it…unless Simon decides to terminate. Recording contracts are legally extremely complex and usually require input and advice from very expensive, specialist contract lawyers. SYCO knows that such legal advice goes well beyond the means of most contestants. As one senior SYCO executive said to me recently. “These people are mugs. They’ll sign away their own mother just to get on tv. It’s a fucking turkey-shoot and then we own their arses!”


As is common for “invited” contestants that SYCO likes and have already signed, Ronan and his parents were provided with a car to drive them to the audition in London. These “invited” contestants don’t have to queue up with everyone else, they don’t go through the preliminary auditions with producers, but perform straight to Simon and the judging panel at a pre- arranged time-slot. And so it was for Ronan back in 2009 when he was just 10.


It was at this initial audition that I first met Ronan and he looked very different back then. He was a skinny, 10 year old lad who, even at that time, was a bit effeminate. His voice needed a bit of working on, but that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, nerves got the better of Ronan and he was unable to perform. Simon however, had already seen the audition tapes from the scouts and took Ronan into an unused dressing room and got him to sing in there with his mum for support. Clearly Ronan was not going to be part of BGT in 2009 and nothing from this was ever televised.


Ordinarily, you would think that would be the end of things, but with Ronan already signed to SYCO, far from it. This was just the start of a two year grooming and manipulation process to prepare Ronan for stardom.


It’s no big secret that Simon has been looking for an artist who could crack the very lucrative pre-teen market for some time, particularly in the US. If you like, he wanted his own rival to Bieber and, taking a leaf out of how professional football academies develop youngersters to feed their main team, Simon wanted his own singing academy and Ronan was just one of a number of identified youngsters, with whom SYCO intensively works with.


A development package, which included professional singing, dancing and stage-craft tuition was arranged for Ronan and the SYCO machine kicked into gear with the view of Ronan entering BGT 2010. Lots of work had been done with Ronan and his voice was much improved, unfortunately nerves were still a major issue for him and it was decided by SYCO not to enter him into the 2010 series.


At a following senior exec meeting at SYCO it was suggested that Ronan be dropped, but with Simon confident that he could be the kid he had been looking for, it was agreed that Ronan would receive “intensive support and input” to ready him for the 2011 series. Although Ronan’s voice was now stunning, there were other major problems to be dealt with in order to sell him to the public. With respect to Ronan, he was nothing more than a cooky-looking, skinny runt of a kid and this was identified as a major handicap to sales.


It was agreed at a high-level, secret SYCO meeting, that if they were to do anything with Ronan, he needed totally restyling from the toes up. And so with time running out to develop Ronan into the star Simon wanted, SYCO went into overdrive. Ronan was even given speech and elocution training to rid him of his rural Norfolk accent, again in preparation for the potential US market. As for his effeminate and girlishness, this posed a bigger problem and resulted in many highly confidential meetings. At one of these meetings, the unthinkable was raised as a way forward….


Until now Ronan had been encouraged to “boy-up” and it was planned to present Ronan as an everyday skater-boy. But with his girliness still showing through, the image just wasn’t believable. So a decision was taken to encourage and allow Ronan to “release” and enhance his campness . Disgustingly, SYCO planned to sexualise him. They were well aware of course, that if they sexualised a young girl to look sexually older than she is, all hell would let loose. But with Ronan, as one executive put it, “no one has ever seen a ‘gay’ kid before, it’ll be a novelty.” As for the pre-teen market, it was accepted they wouldn’t care if Ronan appeared gay or not…most probably don’t know what gay is anyway. And so, with a total gay- sexualisation of Ronan secretly planned, SYCO got to work. I should stress, Ronan’s parents were not aware of any of this and were never consulted about Ronan’s development or management. When I first met Ronan he was a bit effeminate in his ways, but nothing like the camp, girlie-giggling kid you see now on BGT and this is a direct result of SYCO’s styling. Even his clothing worn at the audition and live semi-final were chosen for him by SYCO to match his new image.


SYCO took over everything to do with Ronan. His hairstyle, his clothes, his poise, giving tv interviews, you name it, Ronan was styled within an inch of his life and all on the promise of stardom, just as long as he worked hard and listened to his mentors. As for Ronan’s parents they were constantly reassured that Simon was personally looking after Ronan and “it’s all good”.


And so to BGT 2011. With Ronan ready to be unveiled, SYCO bosses, under instructions from Simon did something not done in previous series of BGT; the winner of BGT 2011 was decided long before the first auditions took place and that winner HAD to be Ronan Parke. With Ronan now 12, he looked and sounded just as SYCO had planned, but time was running out. Soon Ronan would be going into puberty and his voice would eventually break, so BGT 2011 had to be the vehicle to launch Ronan’s career; another year and as a singer he would probably be beyond any meaningful career and the opportunity will have been missed. With all this investment in Ronan, the production managers at SYCO TV are ready to deliver Ronan as ordered. Again, I need to stress, Ronan and his parents know nothing of this and have no idea Ronan will win BGT this weekend.


So far in the history of BGT and X-Factor, for that matter, no one has ever won who has not been an “invited or preferred” contestant, and it does sadden me that, all those thousands of people, lining up outside, often in the rain and cold, are basically wasting their time. The producers of BGT are not looking for the talented people, they aready have those. The reality is that the producers are hunting out oddities, freaks and, I’m ashamed to say, mentally ill people, to act as amusing fillers in the audition shows. They are nothing more than unpaid extras and they don’t even qualify for traveling expenses! It’s quite disgusting and shameful really, how the production team on BGT operate. People come from all over the country, often at great personal expense, because they think BGT is a talent competition and they stand a chance of realising their dreams. I can tell you from the inside that BGT is no more a “competition”, than I am an astronaut. Nothing is left to chance on BGT, everything is micro-managed, choreographed, manipulated and planned down to the last detail including, the telephone voting.


The ability to manipulate viewers opinion is vital if you are to control telephone voting and indeed get the required result. SYCO see this as essential to the success of the show and are very open about fact; planning and delivering live shows of quality is impossible if it was purely left to the public vote. As Simon said in a meeting once. “The public NEED to be told who to vote for.” Everything on BGT is geared towards telling you who you should for, particularly on the production side. It’s an art really, which Simon has honed to perfection and SYCO are now world leaders at.


The micro-management of Ronan’s audition performance was incredible. I was really quite shocked at his new image. From a starting point of wanting Ronan to look cute for the pre-teen market, SYCO had totally gayed him up in the process. Ronan’s not a 16 year old expressing his sexualty for the first time, he’s a 12 year old boy. It was horrible and I was very uncomfortable as to where this was going to end. Ronan, still suffering from nerves, performed his song and received a standing ovation from all three judges…why? Because it was in the script to give Ronan a standing ovation. As for Louis comment. “Ronan Parke. Remember that name. This kid’s gonna be a star!!” – that was actually fed to him from the production gallery and I know the guy who wrote the line. And when it comes to Ronan’s tears…well, check it out on YouTube or something. You see Ronan crying and wiping away tears. Only you don’t see any actual tears, not even on close-up and on an HD tv. Yep you guessed it, even that was choreographed, right down to the lip-biting!


It was also interesting to see that even before the final credits rolled on Ronan’s audition show, SYCO TV had uploaded the offical video of Ronan onto YouTube. Today, that particular video has been viewed over 2.5 million times and growing. SYCO don’t do that for other contestants, so why Ronan? The gaying-up Ronan plan slightly backfired on SYCO when lots of negative comments were being posted on YouTube and Twitter about Ronan’s image and the supposed sexuality that represents. Things got so bad on YouTube that the posting of comments had to be suspended. But SYCO learned from this and dressed Ronan more appropriately for his semi-final show; preferring a much more Bieber inspired look to the ‘gay- kid’ image presented in the audition.


In another unusal move for BGT contestants, SYCO created Ronan’s Official Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account. Both these services are managed from within SYCO and they post messages and pictures, not Ronan. This is because they don’t want Ronan posting anything controversial and is standard practice for currrent artists signed to SYCO.


And so this weekend will see Ronan crowned as winner of BGT 2011. Oh and let’s not forget the £100k prize money. It’s unlikely Ronan will see much or any of that. He’s been signed to SYCO for two years now and under the terms of his contract, while SYCO stump-up for costs in advance, this is paid back from future earnings. So he will need to pay for all those lessons, coaches, cars, clothes, styling and management… I wouldn’t be surprised even after winning BGT, if he is not still in debt to SYCO.


As a recording artist Ronan has a relatively short shelf-life. Simon knows he is going to have to hit the ground running to maximise Ronan’s earning potential, particularly if they go ahead with a planned break into the States and the pace is going to be frantic for Ronan. If you think the music industry is bad in the UK, you haven’t seen anything until you experience it Stateside. With an “anything goes” attitude all morals have long since gone out of the window. There will be no allowance for Ronan’s age and he will be expected to perform on late- night shows and dinners etc. And if he get exhausted, there’s always some sleaze-bag on hand ready to put a line of coke under his nose. I’ve seen it a million times.


I know for a fact, that the songs have already been chosen for Ronan’s debut single and album, and that the backing and drum tracks have already been laid down.


Of course, once Ronan’s voice breaks, it’s game-over and he will be commercially redundant for a few years. By the time he gets through that, the world will have moved on and his fan-base will have grown-up a bit. Will he make a comeback? In my experience I’d say probably not.

I’ve met Ronan a few times over the past couple of years. He’s a really nice kid with a generous, warm personality and the most wonderfully cute, girlie-giggle. There’s nothing to not like about Ronan. He’s a really sensitive soul and this comes across as him being a bit effeminate. But in a world of thuggish chavs, Ronan’s a real breath of fresh air really and a real delight to chat to. Do I think Ronan’s gay? No, is the short answer to that. SYCO have got a lot to answer for in their initial styling and image for Ronan. Like many 12 year old boys, Ronan may have issues in coming to terms with his sexuality in a couple of years. But right now, he’s just a great kid…a bit different, I admit…but a great kid just the same.


I hope Ronan is not damaged by this experience, unforunately, history warns otherwise…but whatever, the genie is already out of the bottle and come this weekend, Ronan’s life will change forever. Whether it’s a good or bad experience being a 12 year old star in today’s music industry, only time will tell. But as an industry insider I have serious reservations about what is about to happen to Ronan Parke and I doubt he or his family are ready for what’s coming.


Thanks to my friends on Twitter and Facebook for getting this document out. Without you my voice would be silent.


** If you want to help expose the lie which is Britain’s Got Talent, please feel free to republish this article or post a link to it


Sony Music UK

This is nothing new. Remember Tabby from X Factor? Irish fella with red hair and a Zak Wylde Les Paul? A friend of mine knew his Bassist (one of the ones who turned up for the audition with him and were promptly turned away when they demonstrated their lack of singing ability). Apparently Louis Walsh had asked him to come to the audition and… follow the script etc… and he knew exactly where he’d be placed before it got to phone votes.


No follows a rant. Ignore.

Bastards have the cheek to call it talent. Hard work and rigging. Dicks. I’ve done a little teaching in schools (demonstrations of playing the saw, teaching drums, music) and every fucking time it’s “Sir, are you gonna go on Britain’s got talent?”  Not, “where can we listen to your music “or “how can we do that” or “how much is your CD?” (I’m not just talking about kids now…) NO, “are you going to go on a television show to be judged by three dickheads who will decide for us whether or not we should choose to purchase your music and see your gigs in order to improve/maintain our social standing.


Whinge whinge moan moan skint skint buy my fucking music.


Does demonstrate the fact that you can start a standing ovation in a full theatre with three people though. Impressive.


Why singing saws sound so sonorous.

Warning: the following is an untested hypothesis, it makes sense to me, but that doesn’t count for fuck all. Proceed with caution, or…. test it and publish as a paper, or, better yet, show me some papers that prove it.
Now, there’s enough sites on t’internet telling us all about how the saw acts as a string an tension is increased as we bend the saw more and hence why we can pitch it, but why does it sound like a Theremin? Well, a theremin, being a very early experiment in electronic synthesis, produces a sine wave, which is a wave with a single formant (the first formant being the fundamental, the second being the first harmonic and so on…) more info on oscillators here. Why doesn’t a string sound like this when it’s bowed? well,

Sound in air does not travel as longitudinal waves as is commonly described in physics text books. Sound propagates spherically in air due to diffraction, the reactive result of atomic collisions. Reciprocal effects in air occur in the jostling of molecules initiated by a sound event, causing components of the sonic energy to move in all directions almost simultaneously. The distribution of energy within the sonic bubble is always concentrated on axis with the direction of primary propagation from the sound source.

A string will vibrate up and down as well as side to side, because a string is as thick as it is… thick? there must be a better way of decirbing that… it has a circular cross section. So, the two vibrations (if you want to think of it as bi-directional, really it’s omni-directional across a 2D plane) interfere with each a produce lots of harmonics on top off the fundamental.

The saw, on the other hand can be thought of as a very wide string and only vibrates (to a large extent, it’s not completely negated) across one dimension. Therefore less interference at the source and a ‘clearer’ sounding tone. Of course, the lack of a resonator, as any guitar, violin, double bass, balalaika etc. player would know, also means that the harmonics that are there (the scraping of the bow, and the 1/2 and 1/4 frequencies etc. on a just intoned scale, which are fairly quiet) aren’t amplified. Why is a resonator not needed? because the lack of interference means a stronger signal, in addition to the width of the thing pushing more air.

w00t!!1 physics!11!!!

One Day Without Shoes: It’s Time To Fuck Off

What a fuckin’ dick head. I hate wearing shoes. I wish I lived in a place warm enough to go shoeless all year.
Listen to this tool:
James Branson Skinner 03:57 AM on 4/05/2010
5 Fans
That’s just the point though SeriouslyS­arah–its’­a huge problem going to work without shoes. As I understand it, the whole idea behind TOMS’s Day without Shoes Campaign is to make you feel uncomforta­ble. Right on TOMS! The inequaliti­es in our world are so huge, that if we are aware of them there is no way we can feel comfortabl­e about them. So the issue is awareness and then converting that awareness into action. I think that TOMS is on the right track with this campaign, and moreover, that TOMS has a model that supports action through buying stuff. This is a sustainabl­e approach to change. Beyond just owning a pair, I’ve certainly been inspired by TOMS in my own work.

Yet, Sarah, you do raise a good question about implementa­tion. I wonder though if TOMS is more concerned with quality of awareness over quantity. The most profound difference is brought about by both.


James_Branson_Skinner: That’s just the point though SeriouslySarah–its’a huge problem going to

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AAHewetson 12:51 PM on 4/05/2010

52 Fans
It’s not so much ‘a huge problem’ as it is simply illegal for many of us to go to work without shoes. I would feel perfectly comfortabl­e going to work without shoes – until the security guard threw me out. SeriouslyS­arah is absolutely right – Saturday or Sunday would have been better and would be guranteed to get better participat­ion.
AAHewetson: It’s not so much ‘a huge problem’ as it is

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James Branson Skinner 03:02 PM on 4/05/2010
5 Fans
Yes, but the I still see the point of TOMS campaign as highlighti­ng the injustice in the fact that there are so many people who don’t have the option of wearing shoes no matter the day of the week, so if in fact a thursday drives this point home in a more profound way for the people who participat­ed then maybe the participan­ts will be more likely to do something about the injustice than the increased number of participan­ts who don’t have to go through as much of a hassle not wearing shoes on saturday or sunday and think that their participat­ion in the campaign is enough to make a difference­.

Sorry if I may seem critical, but after living in communitie­s where wearing shoes is not an option, for me, there is no alternativ­e.”

Oh no, these poor people who don’t have the money for shoes… or the will to fucking create them. Ever seen a posh eskimo? no. Ever seen an eskimo without shoes? fuck have you.

Ultra tight perscussion ensembles

EDIT: I forgot to mention, play the first two videos simultaneously. And watch, amazed as the Balinese fellas stay perfectly in time with the marching band without a click!


The blue devils. Technically brilliant, but the only musically interesting things is the bass drum section.


Kebyar Gamelan from Bali, I don’t know what the group is called unfortunately. 😦

I know who I’d rather listen to: the guys who set up their instruments in a fashion that sounds nice, rather than the dick’eads who put the bass section off centre and can’t get a click that sounds nice.

I’ve never understood the American marching band thing…

Except these guys. They get it. Bagpipes aren’t supposed to sound pleasant, they’re supposed to scare the shit out of ye from the next mountain over.

WTF! Condom Bagpipe!

Ribbed, for your pleasure.

A new kind of Record Label

I’m starting a new record label with a different (however subtle) ethos from the norm. The idea being that getting signed is a starting point, rather than the goal and the label and artists work together as equals. Motown and Stax done it, why hasn’t it happened since. Here’s a proposal/advert for it anyway. Enjoy….


Paddock records is looking for artists to complete our already impressive roster. (Garden Street Crescent, Yuri and Music by Instinct – ed.)


Paddock Records is a one stop shop record label based at Paddock Studio, Dollis Hill that provides:


Rehearsal Space

Recording, with in house engineers and producers

Musical Directing and Stage Directing

Access to all Studio equipment

CD design and printing

Merchandising design and production

PR )

Distribution )__each handled by established companies

Online Distribution )

Gigs, in partnership with established London promoters who concentrate on quality music, as opposed to pay-to-play promoters that abuse young bands

UK tours

Promotion Online: Website, YouTube, Google ads

Digital revenue by establishing quality YouTube content and achieving partnership status




Paddock believes that the gradual dwindling of profitability in the music business is due, not to pirating, but to musicians’ and labels’ lack of belief in their own product and failure to truly connect with their audience. A cd is a lot more than the music contained within it, but a dream, an escape from the dayjob and a sense of true belonging to a group of people that STARTS with the fans and ends with the musicians. Paddock products are priced at their worth. As the public believes, you get what you pay for, be it money, time or emotion.

The Label takes an approach to achieve a cohesive image across the whole roster, in the style of companies such as Motown, Stax, Apple, the Hacienda, Skull Disco. With a heavy emphasis on collaboration across all of our acts. Bands will have a contractual obligation to write at least 4 usable songs per month, which if not suitable for the group that wrote them will be used in whatever group it fits best. Quality song writing is a craft that must be honed through repetition and is not limited by genre, production, vocal ability to achieve its potential to make a person fall in love with whoever sings it. Cases in point: Fairytale of New York, Shipbuilding, Respect.

Artists on our roster are not members of their own band, they are members of our club.

Paddock Records is a collaborative effort, and as such we are seeking artists who will work hard with us. All of our artists are required to rehearse and record at our studio in Dollis Hill, at a cost of £250 per month for unlimited 24/7 access with our in house engineers and producers.


Paddock will never release anything that both the artist and the Label aren’t completely happy with.


Paddock will never release a physical product that is just music on a CD/12”/7”/Cassette/8track/wax cylinder/usb stick or any other transport medium.


Our artists will take part in WHOLE LABEL tours and gigs that promise every act at our shows are quality. Every minute of our shows will be part of a cohesive whole. Line-up orders dictated by musical suitability rather than popularity with our own sound engineers who know each band intimately. Name: The Paddock Bandwagon.

The Paddock takes the address of every person who purchases any product. Each month they will receive our Fanzine, with reviews, news and articles from Paddock. Name: The Paddock Propaganda.

The Paddock is an island, a sovereign state, a place where mushrooms grow. The embassy is on Garden Street Crescent.

Our artists are poets, painters, scientists, bird watchers and builders.

Piano tuning

We finally got a Piano in the studio!!! Hurray! It’s got some sticky keys and needs tuning after the move, which leads me to my next point…

I want to learn how to tune a piano. I’ve read a couple books on it after writing my dissertation on the physical application of the the tuning continuum described by William Sethares and all his talkings of dynamic tonality. I can finally hear some of these tunings on a real acoustic instrument and feel them properly!!! YYYAAAAYYYY!

but first I think I should learn equal temperament….

If anyone’s not aware of piano tuning and all it’s difficulties I’d recommend firstly Stuart Isacoff’s book, Temperament and also The Seventh Dragon by Anita Sullivan (which is available on Google books).

now to get acquainted with a rubber hammer.

I’m back, and hopefully more organised!!

Lot of things have changed since I last posted on here. I have a recording studio , I finished my degree, I’ve read the entirety of XKCD in three days, my acid trip finished, I have a room in a real house, I have access to a shower that doesn’t involve a 15min walk, I play saw for a folk singer, I’m engaged….. , I’ve started teaching English to children (strange for a scouser), I’m using Google calanders. Google calanders!!!!

It’s great, it texts me what at I write on it at the time I tell it to, and then I do it!!! Don’t know why, but me telling google to tell my phone to tell me to do something makes me do it. Productivity has since increased. Hurrah!


So lets start off with some random links to noise making kits and REAPER related things I’ve gotten excited about recently:


1. Award-winning microphone engineering from Michael Joly

2.DIY Mic Preamp Kits – Seventh Circle Audio

3.FiveFish Studios – Lunchbox 500 Series Modules Preamps, Equalizers, and DIY Kits

4.Hairball Audio

5.Hamptone Products Page

6.New Freeze Macro Set  for Cockos Reaper 3

I hope freeze is incorporated into REAPER 4, it’ll make life with Waves plugins alot easier. Not in the beta, here’s hoping it’s in there when it goes gold. please cockos pleease.

Last word is for the Waves Vocal Rider plugin. It’s fuckin’ brilliant. Not only is it a damn sight less work to get vocal levels even across the timeline, it doesn’t a better job than my fingers (and probably ears) can do. And without alot of the side effects of compression. Deffo recommend.