lundi 26 janvier 2009

"The Live Scene in The UK is (...) fucked"

Call him an angry man, so be it; cause I wish there were more angry man in the world if they all resemble Andy Inglis.
Scottish and friend of ours, creater of the brilliant moto "We Care Because You Do" for his live venue in London, Andy made himself the director of THE LUMINAIRE , best venue in London, without having to be ashamed of it; and that's pretty rare.
The Luminaire has been the first place to help us when we arrived in the uk because Andy actually cared about the music and liked it; and his venue was not only the place where we met the best people and the best sound engineer of the town (who became our personnal sound engineer!) but a place where we saw the best gigs in the best live conditions that you can ever dream of in the whole uk (concidering the small capacity of the place). Cause, let's be honnest, what you usually call a club in London is mostly a shithole!
but let the truth come out of Mr Inglis:

"The UK live music scene is more buoyant than I can ever remember it.”

If I hear one more person utter those words in the press, I’m going to bounce an SM58 microphone off their heads. The live music scene might be buoyant at the O2, Wembley and Glastonbury but from where I’m standing (a 275 capacity venue in London) it’s rotten to the core, has been for years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future because no-one gives enough of a shit to do anything about it. It’s like looking at Chelsea and Manchester United and proclaiming that football is in good shape? You think? You’ve looked at the Scottish Third Division lately?

Let’s get some home-truths out of the way first, for those of you still living in some kind of delusional world where Britain rules the (air)waves. We have some of the world’s finest bands yet we house them in some of the world’s worst venues with the surliest sound engineers, rudest bar staff, most disinterested venue managers and intimidating doormen. We treat artists and audiences as if we don’t want them in our buildings and this we do in the name of entertainment. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Our small venue circuit is globally derided. Small venues are crumbling. Investment from public or private sources is almost non-existent.

There are, of course, many clubs on these isles which fly in the face of this sort of pessimism; homes for good music run by those who care and nurture, and employ excellent staff and train them well, respected and loved by audiences who attend and artists who perform. But they are the exception. This isn’t some golden age of live music. There are too many bands, too many shows, too many pubs throwing up tinny PAs in the back room. We can’t cope. The audience is being split, the promoters are being asked to front tours for bands who shouldn't actually be touring if they stopped to think for a minute because the financial model at this level makes no sense. Agents ask for more than a band is worth. Promoters struggle to make any money, or break even, or just limit their losses and so the next show they do becomes harder to pull off. Clubs are finding it more difficult to sell tickets for many of their shows. The music industry either has next to no understanding of how difficult it is for small venues, or it does, and couldn't care less.

Mobile phone operators, brewers and fashion brands wrap their logos around anything wearing skinny jeans and battered Converse. Vodafone; supporting live music! T-Mobile: supporting live music! Crap. Support, by definition, comes from below. It’s a foundation upon which an entity can be nurtured and developed. You can’t put Editors on at Proud Galleries and call it a ‘guerilla gig’. You can’t invent a new live music award show and claim you’re supporting live music. What you could do is take a small percentage of the profits from your ludicrous roaming call charges, and plough it into the small venue infrastructure, funding sound desks, mics, XLR cables, multi-cores, parcans, monitoring systems and the like. And what would you get for it? Your logo on flyers and posters? Some branding on the walls or staff t-shirts? Nope. Nothing. Nothing at all. No branding. No marketing opportunity. No audience to exploit. You’d just get a warm glow of satisfaction from knowing that you actually supported live music [though I confess I don’t envy you the task of explaining it to your shareholders].

So live music is the new cash cow and now we see the major labels scrambling around, thrashing and flailing to reposition themselves as ‘music companies’ after belatedly realising that they need a new cow to milk. And god knows they’ll milk this one until its teats are cracked and bleeding and venues are closing down around their ears, and they're wondering where they can showcase another aural barrage of creatively bankrupt, derivative indie-rock-by-numbers.

Let notice be served: live music in the UK is - in many respects - completely and utterly fucked.

Andy Inglis


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