Entertainment & Arts

Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie: Digital 'has destroyed' music

Bobby Gillespie Image copyright Sarah Piantadosi
Image caption Gillespie said labels were "beholden to shareholders"

The music industry has been "destroyed" by streaming services, Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie has said

The band are about to release their 11th studio album Chaosmosis on their own First International imprint via independent label Ignition Records.

But the reality is that a huge number of fans will end up streaming the album on services like Apple, Deezer or Rdio, something which concerns Gillespie.

"A guy here at the record company got me a Spotify account for free because I did a playlist for them.

"When the Savages album came out and I didn't have a chance to get to the record store, I listened to the first half on there and then a couple of weeks later, I went and bought the album.

"But the digital thing has destroyed music."

Gillespie says his teenage son "streams [music] but he also watches YouTube".

"He loves music but he wouldn't buy it. It's just the culture they were born into.

"You can't turn it back but as an artist, I have to try and express myself and the best way to do that is to make albums."

Image caption Primal Scream recently headlined a night at the 6 Music Festival in Bristol

Recent research from the BPI has suggested people who subscribe to streaming services are beginning to buy CDs and vinyl as permanent mementoes of their favourite tracks.

Primal Scream may yet find support from the new model for music, but Gillespie is not optimistic.

"I have zero expectations for the music industry," he said.

"[Labels] beholden to shareholders... only invest in Ellie Goulding or puppet girl singers or boybands they know they can make a killing on.

"They'll never invest in art, they're not artistically driven people."

He said he does not earn money "from my hard work and my art anymore".

"It's impossible to earn a living from making records unless you're Adele.

"At the level we're at and a lot of other people are at, you've just got to get out and play lots of gigs, but it means the gig circuit is choc-a-block."

Prior to the release of her album 25, which has now sold more than 19 million copies worldwide as of February, Adele earned a reputed £17m in 2015.

Image copyright Sarah Piantadosi
Image caption The new album is being released on the band's own label First International

The Sunday Times list of top earners for last year was dominated by pop artists, including the members of One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Gouding and Jessie J.

"It's like the rest of society - there's a huge gap between the 1% and everybody else," said Gillespie.

"Whether it's elite families or elite acts who play the stadiums of the world, across culture there's a huge gap between the super-rich and everyone else and there's no reason why music is any different.

"In the 90s and early 2000s, we could sell hundreds of thousands of art rock albums, but it's not like that anymore."

Formed in Glasgow in 1982, it has been almost 30 years since Primal Scream released their debut album Sonic Flower Groove.

Over the years, the band have built a reputation as one of the most UK's most influential bands, with their 1991 album Screamadelica, which spawned the hits Movin' on Up and Loaded, winning the first Mercury prize in 1992 and selling more than three million copies worldwide.

Image caption Primal Scream played gigs celebrating the 20th anniversary of Screamadelica in 2010

Despite commercial pressures to repeat that success, Gillespie said Primal Scream will never bend to fan expectations of their sound.

"We don't really care what anybody expects, we are just trying to satisfy ourselves, we're making good art I think and putting good stuff into the world.

"We're commercial songwriters, Movin' on Up was a commercial song, Come Together was, Rocks was written as a commercial rock song, we have got that side.

"It's not like a pressure but to fund the band, to fund this art project, you need commercial success.

"We don't have a massive label giving us money anymore, so commercial success would be great because it keeps thing going."

Perhaps it isn't surprising then that Chaosmosis, which is released on 18 March, sees Primal Scream embracing pop music.

The first single, Where the Light Gets In features electro-pop singer Sky Ferreira, while the album kicks off with the unashamedly retro Tripping on Your Love, a dance groove seemingly inspired by the Screamadelica era.

"It sounded like a euphoric introduction to the album", explained Gillespie.

"We just felt it was a really great start to the album, you hear that track and just go, 'Whoa here we go'."

The song features backing vocals from the BBC's Sound of 2013 winners Haim, who, according to Gillespie, "bring the sunshine".

"California pop, soulful harmony just like they do in the track 100% or Nothing, which is a blue-eyed, electronic soul song."

They may be putting out a record on their own label and funding themselves through gigs, but Bobby Gillespie's razor-sharp views and Primal Scream's push to keep things fresh still have a home in the music industry.

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