Keep it Live!!
It has been a busy week in our house ……… or rather, we have been out and about quite a lot, exploring music in its many guises.
I read an interesting fact on twitter this week. One t-shirt purchased from a merchandise stand at a gig is the equivalent of 5000 streams on Spotify. 76% of all music in 2019 is streamed and not bought physically or digitally. I have to admit I am quite old fashioned. I like to have something physical for my money, and still buy CDs. I do use streaming platforms occasionally, but often I am playing tracks that I have already purchased and have been saved in my ‘music library’. It can also be quite useful on occasions for exploring new music and artists, but if I like them, I will then order the CD.
The music industry is big business but is full of musicians who earn just enough to get by. The Adele’s, Elton John’s and Beyonce’s of this world are a minority. We are not in it for the money (although that would be nice). We do it because we love it, it is part of who we are, it is in every fibre of our being, it is what motivates us, drives us, pushes us to be the best that we can be. But we still need to live!
The person you hear performing a song is not always the person who wrote the song. The Brill Building in New York during the 60s is a perfect example of how songwriters could be used to create music. Some big names in the songwriting world worked there. Songs would be written to order so that they could be customised to appeal to the audience of the day. Some would say that there are many similarities with the mainstream music of today. We are fortunate in the UK in that when a song is played on the radio a small payment is made to the writer(s) and artist/group. The UK is covered by PPL and PRS licences. They are an important way for songwriters to receive revenue for their creation, along with live performances of their great songs, which are also covered by these licences.
But what of the live performer? And this brings me all the way back to the beginning of this week’s blog.
On Tuesday night I visited The Musician pub in Leicester. It was my first time there, but I am sure it will not be my last. We went to watch an artist called Emma King. Country music is not a genre I would normally listen to, but the friends we went with love country, and I am always open to new music. The venue was just a little pub in a back street of Leicester with a small stage at one end. There were a few tables and chairs with little tea-lights on them. The gig was very stripped back with just Emma King and her guitarist ……….. and it was fantastic. The songs they had written were great, and catchy. Her voice and sound are unique, and here she was playing to 30 people in this small pub in Leicester. I would never have discovered her if I hadn’t gone to hear her perform live, and that is why live music is so important – and if we don’t use it, we lose it. Little venues like The Musician in Leicester are closing all the time, because people are not exploring music in the same way anymore.
Yesterday I was at a music festival. This weekend was the first Statfold Barn Festival. I was only able to attend the Sunday, but the live music was fantastic. There were a number of tribute acts, all who were great, a second stage for emerging talent, and the main stage for the bigger names. It was an opportunity to listen to genres of music I would not normally gravitate towards. All of the main acts were fantastic live. Kenny Thomas had an amazing voice. Toploader were great, and alongside their own stuff performed a couple of beautiful covers. Tony Christie was just awesome, and at 76 is still top of his game. The whole experience was fantastic, and it won’t be my only festival this summer.
So, what is the point of this week’s blog? Well, it is a celebration. A celebration of those musicians who are beginning their musical journey, those who have been working in the industry for a while, and those who are at the top of their profession. Live music isn’t just about those artists who can sell out the big arenas, where you have to pay £80+ for a ticket. Great music can be found for £8 in a pub in Leicester, or at a festival for £40, when you get to experience 6-12 acts for half the price of an arena ticket. Streaming is always going to be there – you can’t go backwards, but have a thought for the songwriter or artist, because they need to put food on the table too, and don’t be afraid to explore new music. The music charts can sometimes be (dare I say it) a rather boring place, with so much of it sounding so similar. Why not delve into something new, go and visit a pub or venue that has live music. Discover that new artist or group. Help to make them the next ‘big thing’ and help to expand ALL our musical experiences, because, perhaps if we don’t the music scene will continue to shrink ……….. and then what?