Inbetweeners

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately (as opposed to writing, heh). In amongst the books on the politics of modern Country music (Rednecks and Bluenecks) and 1000 page histories of the 30 Years War (yes, really, and I’ve had a great idea on an article comparing the Spanish empire of the early 17th Century with the current Barcelona team. Yes, really), I’ve been getting through the mountain of magazines lying around the house.

Yesterday, I read an article in The Atlantic magazine about how “freeloaders” were killing the music industry (see here). Today, in Word magazine, I read an amusing interview with Louise Wener, the winsome singer of mid-90’s almost-rans Sleeper1. In said interview, she made the statement that although they sold more than half a million records, they never made a penny from record sales.

So, here’s a little question to Megan McArdle. What’s so great about an industry which, when one of the producers makes you the best part of £5m from record sales alone (let alone merchandising, gigs etc), you don’t pay them a penny? And this is an industry which anyone thinks should be saved in its current form? Whilst some of the revenue is of course spent on making videos, pressing and distributing the records etc, a huge chunk goes into a massive black hole comprising of executive’s salaries and bonuses. You think banking is bad? They’ve got nothing on this lot. And I know, I’ve worked in banking for years (as an IT guy, before you get any ideas about me being some multi-millionaire).

The business is full of bands who sold tons of records and were household names, at least for a time, being chewed up and spat out with nothing to show for it but a huge debt, alcoholism and a particularly unpleasant collection of STD’s. It’s an industry that doesn’t pay the people who matter – the artists. Maybe it’s good to be reminded of what we’re trying to do here, with this blogging thing – bringing some of the control of music back to those who make it. Aren’t we?

1 And the inspiration of the term “Sleeperbloke”, as in, the blokes who play drums and bass and sometimes guitar, behind a charismatic, usually female, singer. Ironically enough, Sleeper guitarist Jon Stewart has been a successful session musician, lectures at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music and writes an entertaining column for Guitarist magazine, making him rather more visible than the bloke that played bass in Echobelly and the drummer of Elastica.

MP3: Inbetweener by Sleeper

Buy Sleeper’s Greatest Hits (CD/MP3)

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