The End Is Nigh
and I Blame The Joes
By James Kennedy
This article was first published in Black Velvet Magazine 2013.
These are strange times for music. CD is dead & whole albums are bought for a couple of quid, or just ripped straight from YouTube & played on phones along with the 10 million other tracks you own. Personally, I think its awesome. I love the fact that I can hear anything I want, anytime, any place & I can potentially share my own music with the whole world as an artist! The big label/high street monopoly is dying & artists at all levels are now, so they say, on a even playing field.
Thats the theory anyway. Convinced? Me neither. Why then, with the whole world available to us as artists via the internet & with the ability to record, promote & distribute our music by ourselves without any need for the Suits at any point, is it that artists still find themselves dependant on the old methods of getting Radio play, magazine features or building your fan base one gig at a time? Doesn’t the story go that you set up a web page & then music lovers the world over can hear your tunes, buy your tracks & bring all their mates to your shows? Isn’t that how the new Utopia works?
The problem is, musicians have an enemy & they’re called ‘The Joe’s’ & they’re everywhere. If we ever had a level playing field then The Joe’s have long since overcrowded that field so that now, there’s no room for anyone to play on it. If you haven’t got a clue what the hell I’m on about yet, maybe Nicky Wire can explain it better :
“These days, being in a band is like getting a summer job at New Look – you do that for a bit & then you do something else”.
He’s talking about The Joe’s. So who are these guys? You probably already know them. They used to be pretty harmless, but now they’ve got technology on their side & have invaded most industries – music, photography, art, design…
For all you local bands out there, they’re the reason your bands’ Facebook page is just one of 10,000 other bands pages in your home town. They’re the reason you cant demand a decent payment from a club for doing a show (because for every band that says ‘no fee, no gig’, there’s 100 bands of Joe’s lining up to play for free). They’re the reason your submissions to industry people will never get seen; because they’re buried under thousands of submissions from The Joe’s…and on it goes.
It might seem odd, but from what I’m seeing, the real problem with the music scene in this country is not filesharing or big labels etc; but bands. There’s way too many of them & this town just ain’t big enough!
I go all around the country & I’m told the same in every city. People say they dont randomly check out bands at their local clubsanymore because its oversaturated. Every club in town has got 6 bands on every night of the week making it impossible to get any hype going for a particular show unless its for a band thats already successful.
So as amazing as the new artist empowerment is, unfortunately, it’s also empowered anyone that ‘fancies having a crack at being a Rock Star for a week or 2’. We’ve got quantity over quality & thats why live venues are closing down all across the country – people just aren’t going out to see new bands anymore.
Club ‘promoters’ must share the blame. Instead of a policy of putting on quality bands & really promoting a show that people might want to see, they literally just put on anyone that promises to “bring their mates”. Promoters need to think long term. If you want to establish your club as a hub of cool new music,put on cool new music.Take some risks. Stop just putting on any old band that says they’ll ‘bring people’, it’s lame!
Put on less bands, better bands & properly promote the night. It’s not up to the band to ‘bring people’, its up to the band to turn up & play. Its YOUR job to promote the show (hint – the clue is in your job title).
And bands, get serious. If you’re just doing it for a muck around with your mates before you all go to Uni, cool, but go & play at your mates house & get off the scene. You cant call yourself a serious band until you’ve pushed a van down the M4 in the rain at 5 in the morning. If you do that & haven’t quit by the morning, you’re in the club.
Let’s get this scene back to what it should be!