In a world where making money by making music has made many musicians keep their day jobs and take on night jobs as gigs are scarce, and also because of those bozos who proclaimed from their games of thrones that giving away music was a good thing plus those other parasites who hoodwinked unknown artists to perform for free, Ben Semmens is doing remarkably well.
After releasing two CDs at a time when music fans sought out CDs instead of having unwanted music by some ageing band named U2 ending up on iPhones like some pox and virus- CDs that didn’t exactly set the world on fire- and uploading a few videos onto YouTube, Welsh singer-songwriter Ben Semmens has gone from the obscurity of being stuck in a small town in Cardiff performing in pubs to a handful of people to performing once a week to several thousands at the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s weekly tribal gathering at Happy Valley racecourse called Happy Wednesday.
Semmens is happy- and bloody fortunate- as the Club- the most successful racing club in the world with over-flowing coffers, has made him their regular performer on this weekly race day.
For what will now be his third year performing at Happy Valley, Ben Semmens is flown to Hong Kong, has his accommodation paid for, gets to perform to thousands who are watching the races AND listening to the ‘live’ music performed during the twentysomething minutes between all the horse play.
There’s then the television coverage of these Happy Wednesday nights that is watched overseas through simultaneous broadcasts of the night’s racing.
On top of this, add the fact that the Club has invested in his recordings and which are then used to market racing in Hong Kong- and the Ben Semmens brand.
And unlike all those fakirs screaming about “Saving The Music”- what the hell does this MEAN?- while conning musicians to play for free, the HKJC actually PAYS Semmens and his backup musicians who, this season, will be the remarkably innovative local quartet known as maRK led by the very talented young female drummer Anna Fan, below.
On October 22 when the Happy Valley track reopens and those hugely popular Happy Wednesday nights are relaunched- bigger and better- Ben Semmens and maRK will be there, not only performing semi-acoustic sets at the HKJC venue Adrenaline, before moving down to the Beer Garden, but also starring in their own reality series.
On the subject of home, launched last week was Semmens’ recording of our song called, yes, “Home”, which has been adopted as the theme song for both Happy Wednesday and the HKJC’s 130th Anniversary Campaign.
Could any of this been able to happen if Ben Semmens was signed to a music company?
Or by being part of some daft idea about “saving the music” and talked and talked and bludgeoned to death at all those insular music conferences with their corporate wobble heads?
Or going with the flow and performing for free and paying for recordings and giving these away for free?
Of course not.
It has taken a racing club with a forward thinking CEO to understand the power of music to bring people together and connect with and change the perception of those to whom horse racing comes attached with that taboo word called gambling.
Where to from here?
For Ben Semmens, it’s what he makes of this opportunity.
For the HKJC, with its Charities Trust having discovered and nurtured young local talent, especially in the area of classical music, taking this to its next logical step cannot be far off.