The Pogues played a surprise gig in Hong Kong- and possibly other cities- last week. The real surprise is that no one knew about the gig.
Here lies the problem: Too many out there with lovely ideas which they are either financially unable to or else don’t have the experience to turn into reality- and these are problems not just exclusive to the world of music.
But for the sake of this blog- damn, I hate the word and being referred to as a blogger- let’s stay with music and look at what is going on and what is not going on and how to fill that hole in the middle of the donut.
What’s going on is not much: Artists still get signed up by music companies where the difference between majors and Indies has disappeared and some new artists make it and some don’t as, like lemmings, everyone tries to find another Adele or, at least, a new female singer. It’s the A&R trend de Jour.
Who has played the greater role in a new artist making it? The music company or the consumer? Well, who decides on following a new artist and paying for their product?
So, this goes on and with the marketing of artists being glorified promotional work and in the hands of gremlins, many who joined a music company when one only had to release a CD and have two videos played on MTV to get those “numbers”.
Either that or just flood Europe and Canada with cheap exports manufactured in China or Malaysia through CDWow.
It was a much simpler time as there was not much thought needed.
Think in a music company and try and change things and many would think you were either daft or dangerous to well-planned nest eggs by music execs like the wily Eric Nicoli who played everyone for a fool, none more than the idiotic Guy Hands who bought a sinking Titanic and saw his terra firma sink.
It was almost an Orwellian world with Big Brother and bigger muthas everywhere with way too much time on their hands and believing the gravy train would choo choo forever fueled by Bolivian marching powder.
Remember Nancy Berry’s parties when EMI had no artists- but still partied like it was 1999? Well, it was 1999.
Today, CDs and MTV are both dead, so now it’s all about streaming upstream without a paddle, the con that is Spotify, the other con that are music conferences, the con that is The China Market, the con that is The India Market, the con that is Seymour Stein and Lefsetz, artists being screwed over on deals, empty promises, newbies thinking like oldies, downloads and penny ante returns.
Forget about making bread and say Hello to doing with crumbs.
Those making the big bucks today are the Simon Cowells of this world. So, X Factor has flopped in the US. Apart from losing face and having his ego shattered, does Simon Cowell really care?
Of course not, he’s in his Fifties and is botoxed enough, has had man-lifts and is financially set for life.
Does he care about discovering new artists? Only if they are manufactured for the masses- like One Direction or the new female equivalent of this boy band he has put together and made up of more of his UK X Factor rejects.
Why be a purist and work with an act like the Pogues? One Direction or The Pogues? If Cowell, I’d know the answer and head in One Direction.
Someone like Simon Cowell might be loathed by some for what he has unleashed in the name of music, but as a businessman, he has been bloody successful.
He is the Richard Branson of music- equal parts entrepreneur, media manipulator, savvy, bullshitter -and in the case of Cowell, not interested in finding the new Dylan or the new Beatles or making long-term plans.
He’s in for huge short-term financial results that can take him into his Sixties with more power and become this weird Dorian Grey figure with Publicist Max Clifford by his side and keep his name high up on the Google search charts. Who today cares about the Billboard charts? Do they even exist today?
Simon Cowell working with Sony Music is a one-time tail now wagging the dog even if it’s not called Nipper.
Who is more important to the music company- LA Reid or Simon Cowell? Who would be sacrificed if push comes to shove? Guess.
Where is Doug Morris these days? Who knows and who even remembers that he is the head of Sony Music?
The importance and roles of music executives have become irrelevant and they are dispensable.
Simon Cowell, and my friend Simon Fuller, who is far more forward thinking, not as geographically challenged and far more musically adventurous than the “evil” Simon, are needed by the music companies.
Why? They are ideas men and have the brands and mediums to accommodate music.
While music company executives were happily living la vida Loca like there was no tomorrow, the Cowells and the Fullers had the vision to see where things were going wrong and worked to own and run these missing links.
The best thing that can happen for EMI today and its purchase by UMG is if Simon and the legendary Chris Blackwell win the battle for the acquisition for EMI’s NOW brand and take over 25% of the company including Parlophone records. In the hands of anyone else, it will mean another acquisition.
An acquisition by Simon Fuller and Chris Blackwell will mean having the jelly or the meat to fill the hole in that donut.
What do you have that people will pay to fill in that donut? So you’re a pop promoter or in artist management with the next PSY or The Bieb or the old Pogues. And now what?
You take them to a music company. And then what? A recording contract? And then what? A record is released. And now what?
How does any of this make you indispensable or wanted to these people who go through new artists and newbies to music with lawnmowers every day like Edward Scissorhands on speed?
How does any of this not make you look like a right donut with a hole in the middle?
Filling this hole with what’s needed now- and where- is the key- and which will give you the clout needed to play with the big boys instead of just watching them from afar and thinking you could have done that, too. They went and did it – and are still doing it.
They are driven to turning new ideas into reality and are leveraging their names and brands which attract investors to help make things happen at a time when there is a real paucity of good ideas.