Depending on who you happen to be talking to at the time, the current state of the music industry is either
a) A right bloody mess
b) A fertile landscape ripe for entrepreneurial derring-do
The followers of answer 'a' will quote you statistics about the slow and painful demise of the CD as a platform for music and how piracy has spoiled things for everybody, whilst the 'b' camp is the exclusive domain of the web gurus and sundry other optimists.
So who is likely to be right?
Well, one thing's for certain; the world would be a poorer place without music – either live or recorded – and so it's definitely going to survive all of this. The question is how?
There are folk out there who believe that the future of live music is a thing which is not under their control, but I think it is. You'll have guessed that I tend to follow the 'b' thinkers and so I'm going to set out one way – and I'm sure there are many more – whereby music lovers all around the country (and most likely the world) can shape the future by taking back some of the control.
I currently work as part of an acoustic instrumental duo with another guitarist called Ben Powell. At present, we're trying to put together some gigs for later on in the year when we can get on the road and come out to play for people. My idea as to how this might come about is to ask people who enjoy our kind of music (and you'll be able to sample some at the end of this sermon) to get in touch with us and tell us about venues in their particular area who put on this type of music.
I understand that there are loads of places across the UK where a room above a pub, a cellar, village hall, arts centre or community area is set aside on a regular basis to host live music. They're not necessarily known on the national circuit because they're small, off the beaten track, run on a tight budget and generally don't get a look in when more renowned artists go on tour. But as far as we're concerned, all it takes is a contact, either in the form of a phone number or email address and we'll make the arrangements to turn up and play.
We're not Radiohead. We don't have legions of fans. We don't insist on four figure fees and five star accommodation. But we put on a good show, people enjoy themselves, the venue sells some beer (and a fruit-based drink for the ladies), the promoter earns a bit, we earn a bit and so everybody wins.
We'll even give a pair of our CDs and free entry to people who give us contacts that turn into gigs. How about that?
So here's the commercial. First of all, here's a video of me playing a track from my album 'Arboretum'. It was recorded live in the studio and so what you see is what you get:
And here's Ben, playing a track from his album at this year's Celtic Connections in Glasgow:
If you think that you might be able to put us in touch with a venue in your area, please drop us a line by clicking here.
Hopefully, we'll see you on the road!