Lately a few social media contacts (now on snooze) have been shoving a crowdfunder for someone to produce an album under my nose. It’s completely got under my skin and the following rant is the result of watching people on social media beg for money time and time again to pay for the recording and production their album. It’s not the first one I’ve seen but this one has pushed me over the edge.
Will someone please explain to me why I should pay for an you to record an album? Is it so that I can get a copy when you’re done? It’s like a forward bet isn’t it? What if I pledge £20 for a coloured vinyl and a t-shirt and the resulting music is a total pile of narcissistic, badly written shite? Why should I give you money in advance of you doing something that you love? Especially as it’s my hard earned money that I received working somewhere I despise. At any other job you work a month on hand and get paid after the work is done. But not you it would seem.
Whatever happened to making an album by hook or crook, on a shoe-string, taking the gamble yourself as an artist? Maybe you could embed the tension that your gamble might not pay off into the music of your shoe-string album. It might even give it an ‘edge’. Instead I give you my hard earned money so that you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you aren’t taking a gamble and won’t make a loss, is that right? What the actual fuck is that about?
To me it smacks of entitlement; “why should I (the artist) struggle, why should I go without, why should I save up, why should I do any of these things if you will just give me the money in advance?” I mean, I get it; a record company advance is a loan, a gamble and it has to be paid back out of future sales of said album. As an artist you are liable for it and you owe it to the record company, it’s their gamble/investment. For a crowdfunded project you’ve already sold all the stuff before you’ve even made it so win-win… But what if it’s a fucking terrible record that your ‘fans’ listen to once and then promptly throw into the bag of stuff to take to the charity shop. I’m not buying your next one, nor am I giving you any money in advance to make it. Maybe I’m just old and out of touch and I just don’t understand.
Is it just tin-rattling on a digital scale? I mean, I give to charity and I have done charitable work and I understand that certain things in life need help to exist and the work that they do is great. Do you ‘need’ to produce an album so badly that you need everyone’s money to do it? Why don’t you get bank loan or re-mortgage your house? Nerina Pallot re-mortgaged her house to pay for her second album and it is an incredible piece of art. There are endless stories of artists going for broke and then producing the best art of their life. But why should you do that if you can just beg online?
Modern technology being what it is these days, it’s pretty straight forward to make a decent sounding recording. In the 1990’s a hissy fostex 4 track borrowed from a mate was what I used to make demos with. Why should you make a full album and have it mastered in Abbey fucking Road? I’ll tell you why; because someone else is paying for it, that’s why. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. Just how creative are you gonna get if I’m paying for you to relax and play whatever you want? Surely if I’m paying up front you’ll play what I want? Doesn’t ‘he who pays the piper call the tune’? I’ll tell you what, why don’t you make what you want; art for arts sake, edgy, troubled, desperate and rough around the edges and if I like it I’ll buy it and if I don’t I won’t.