Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why the music business is like Bullseye...

I was watching Bullseye last night (the old skool version with Jim 'Super, Smashing, Great' Bowen'), just after my chicken kebab and pint of Strongbow, and just before leaving for a gig and it struck me. The music industry is a lot like Bullseye. Bear with me one point Uncle Jim looked at the camera after a couple of contestants had scored about 6 with 37 darts and said ' well, never mind, you've entertained around 12milion people'...I'll say that again ' 12 million people'. Bullseye had 12 million viewers. WTF? Nowadays a show does well to get around 3 or 4 million viewers. I guess the new version of Bullseye gets about 300. Even the soaps struggle to hit much more than 10million...7 or 8 million down on just a few years ago. Of course the reason is simple. Most of us have 30 + channels to watch, broadband to dick around with, blogs to read (or write), millions of DVD's blah blah blah. Some of us even go out once in a while. Now your average band has to compete with all of this for your attention. Most set up a My Space page. Nothing wrong with that. They get out and play, a lot of friends and family come to see them, a few oddballs like me turn up...but then what? In the past it all seemed pretty straightforward. Difficult, I'll give you that, but straightforward. You gig, an A & R man spots you...or you pester the life out of every record label around, then you get signed, Radio One plays you, you go on Top of The Pops, you snort coke off the back of Bangkok lady boys, you buy a farm in Essex and breed gerbils. Easy. But now, with millions - literally - of bands right there at the click of a mouse how the hell do you get anywhere? I've blogged on this subject quite a few times now and no one's come up with an answer (cos there isn't one). Yes of course there's still a music business, there are probably more 'independent' record labels now than ever before and a few lucky souls do make it out of the Mire Space (nothing to do with big labels hiding in the wings pulling the strings of course) but the sad fact is that 99.99% of the bands that I've seen over the last 20 years have got nowhere...and the situation seems to be getting worse. There's now so much choice and so many 'routes to market' that you stand more chance of winning the lottery than making it in a band these days. Far from liberating musicians from the slavery of big labels it strikes me that the web will actually play right into the hands of big business. All of the A&R and building up a band stuff can be done online for very little cost then Costa Coffee or Microsoft come along, sign up the artist and flog the tunes to death to ad men to soundtrack commercials for feminine hygiene products. that's why the music business is like Bullseye.

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