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Bring on the Brits

Razia Iqbal | 15:44 UK time, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

We are of course in the awards season, and today is the turn of the Brits. You can read about the nominations and profiles elsewhere on our website, however, I do wonder about the disconnect between the hoopla surrounding this bloated ceremony and a blindness over an industry in crisis.

brits2.jpgThis is a party that needs to be crashed. And by someone, somewhere, who will present the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) with a credible economic model for the music industry's future in the digital age.

There might be 50-odd legal download sites available around the world, but the continuing losses caused in large part by the popularity of illegal filesharing hasn't been addressed head on. To hear Ged Doherty, the chairman of the Brits, saying the British music industry was weathering the storm of the economic downturn better than other countries is extraordinary, considering that the music industry was in recession long before the rest of us. The last remaining British label, EMI is hardly out of the red, despite the success of Coldplay, and is there anyone who cares about the singles chart anymore?

Here's another statistic to hit you with: last year, sales of UK downloads matched those of the single at its peak in the 1970s. The focus may have shifted back to A&R (artists and repertoire), and signing and breaking new bands is still the key, but consider the revolution that is in ether. Since the beginning of online music culture, file sharing, Napster, marketing on MySpace etc, to the current, exciting and endless online library Spotify, how we consume culture has changed utterly.

Artists too, have learned to think that they can do it all by themselves, and of course, many have. You only have to look at Fleet Foxes - they financed their album by borrowing money on a credit card and have two Brits nominations. But the mainstream is still necessary: a band on the verge of mega fame still need to be nurtured, supported and that takes money. So, where are those lovers of popular music and economics/business experts all rolled into one who want there to be a future worth applauding?


  • Comment number 1.

    The industry has flooded the market with poor product. It blows around the culture like discarded Zimbabwean dollars.

    It's no wonder it's regarded as essentially valueless.

    As you have evidenced, the music loving market will support artists who produce and distribute under their own steam, motivated by artistic endeavour.

    They won't suck up mass produced, mass marketed tat.

  • Comment number 2.

    Lincoln City is an Edinburgh studio based rock band funded by private money. The band are half way through a four album forty track project and the 15 track sampler has had raves from San Francisco to Canberra.

    You can hear four of the rootsy tracks at

    The band are just making music because they love making music. In time they may tour. In time they may not. We will just have to wait and see.

    In the meantime people are encouraged just to enjoy the music. It's certainly worth a listen...

  • Comment number 3.

    Clickem makes a very valid point. When bemoaning the drop in sales of albums the music industry never considers the fact that there may just have been a drop in variety and quality as well.

    People now have access to music through other means (and I don't mean illegal ones - I mean direct from artists) and they will sometimes find that not only the product is better, but the transaction is sweeter too.

    Look at Marillion, who threw the record contracts in the bin in 2000 and have been working directly with their fans ever since. Four albums later, including work widely considered as their finest, they're obviously managing just fine without The Business.

    The people in the industry who've worked out what the future is are keeping their mouths shut. Because they're realised they're just not in it.


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