MOST people agree playing music brings the family together. Australians agree that playing an instrument is fun, a good way of expressing yourself and gives a sense of accomplishment. In general, however, aspiring musicians face small creative incomes and challenging career prospects. These fairly obvious pronouncements are listed among thousands of facts just released on a new online resource from the Australia Council for the Arts called Artfacts: Music. This is the first cab off the rank in the Artfacts project, which aims to bring together statistics and information on all sections of the arts into one easy-to-negotiate website. It’s a useful, one-stop shop for journalists, students, musicians and indeed anybody with any interest in the music business. Did you know, for instance, that 80 per cent of songwriters are men and 70 per cent of music teachers are women? One drawback is that a lot of the information in Artfacts: Music, some of it gleaned from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, is a few years old, but the AC assures SD the site will be updated regularly as new information is made available. You can check out the site here: http://artfacts.australiacouncil.gov.au. SPEAKING of one-stop shops, one problem facing students with ambitions to work in the music industry is deciding what branch of it to specialise in. They could do worse than up sticks to Atlanta, Georgia, for a few years. The Clark Atlanta University this week announced a special new degree course within its walls that it claims will arm music nerds with everything they need to make a go of a music biz career. Radically, the course is called Michael Jackson: The Business of Music and is based on the life of one of the world’s greatest entertainers. The course was developed by American entertainment lawyer James Walker. I HEARD the news today. Oh Boy. One of the tracks on Bob Dylan’s new album is a blues ode to John Lennon called Early reviews of His Bobness’s new work, to be released on September 11, suggest it is the bee’s knees, with magazine describing it as ‘‘astonishing’’. The album, Dylan’s 35th in a career spanning more than 50 years, also features the sprightly which has more than a hint of Louis Armstrong about it. The title track, conversely, is a 14-minute epic centred on the sinking of the Titanic and has 45 verses. He’s wordy. ANGUS Stone, the male half of sibling duo Angus and Julia Stone, is another artist enjoying favourable reviews lately, in his case for his debut solo album Now the singer has joined forces with that great patron of the rock world, Arthur Guinness (1725-1803), to commemorate the Irish brewer’s annual Arthur’s Day on September 28. Stone has recorded cover versions of two songs by Irish artists, the Cranberries’ and
by Damien Rice. Stone fans can vote for the one they think is best by going to Guinness’s Facebook page from Monday. The winning song will become the Arthur’s Day Anthem, available through iTunes on September 28, with all proceeds going to Stone’s charity of choice, SurfAid International. Pictures of Matchstick Men’s deodorant $4.99. Roll Over Lay Down fabric softener $5.99 Again and Again body scrub $6.99 In the Army Now Australian zucchini just $2.90kg.