Help You To Help Yourself…
As Sentric Music has grown, so has the interest in the company from other people and organisations who have similar stakeholders as us. From universities to magazines, festivals to blogs and radio shows to TV programmes. I’ve been contacted by quite a lot of people wanting to know different things about what we do, who we work with and what my thoughts are on, this, that and the other. This is lovely of course and I’m more than happy to chat nonsense for as long as they want me to and quite often a good bit more than that.
Within this blog I’m inclining towards the educational side of these various talks/lectures/panels that I’ve appeared on over the past few years, and one question in particular that I get asked on a rather regular basis:
“Why do you think so many artists are unaware about performing royalties?”
There they are; a simple cluster of words thrown at me with either visceral intent from a student or with genuine confusion from a fellow industry professional, which will make me casually glance to the upper-left of my vision, appear to ponder for a short while as if to give the illusion that I actually know what I’m talking about and then say in a rather matter-of-fact manner; “Well, education really.”
I remember three incidents from my Music classes at school;
- Whilst being forced to watch ‘West Side Story’ one glum Yorkshire afternoon, a girl called Leanne hit my friend Scott on the head with a xylophone stick. Scott cried. We laughed.
- During the ever lacklustre renditions of Rule Britannia, our Music teacher wouldn’t sing the lyric “Britain never, never, never shall be slaves” for what with hindsight would appear to be fear of being discovered to be some form of white supremacist and therefore replaced the line with “Britain never, never, never shall be married to a mermaid at the bottom of the deep blue sea”. The musos out there will have noticed the inherent timing/rhyme scheme problem there, so to stop you itching I’ll point out she added an extra bar of music to fit in this most bizarre foible of hers.
- During an end of term ‘fun’ lesson where the same music teacher as above treated us to a music quiz, for the question “What genre of music do the band Def Leppard play?” I quite correctly said “rock”. This was wrong according to Miss Brandwood as she believed them to be purveyors of Heavy Metal music. Now usually my awkward 14 year old self would have let a trivial piece of musical ignorance such as this go unnoticed, but for whatever reason I saw red on this occasion and right thoroughly ‘kicked off’. “But Mrs Brandwood, the time signatures throughout their earlier LPs coupled with the support they received from several key west coast American rock stations during the mid 80’s contradicts the evidently incorrect piece of knowledge youíre trying to pass on to these young people’s minds” I recall saying through ever-so-slightly rose tinted glasses. Funnily enough within this reverie I also wasn’t overweight and had girls finding my passion regarding the cause of Def Leppard’s incorrect genre placement rather sexy. The reality is of course my “that’s wrong, you’re an idiot” argument resulted in detention.
What I’m getting at in a rather convoluted way is the lack of education regarding the simple fact ‘you can make money from creating a piece of music’. Arts for arts sake aside for a moment, (because to live you need basic amenities and those basic amenities are often attained by having a bit of currency in your pocket) I genuinely cannot recall ever being told this simple fact during my time at school.
Now I’m not going to start harping on about how we should be teaching 12 year olds the importance of intellectual property in this country, but my point is, if simple seeds like that were planted earlier on in an artist’s conscious (well before they ever were aware they were to become an artist) then they may have more impetus to follow it up as they progressed with their art.
So fast forward back to the present where these said elusive seeds were never planted in our respective noggins; what can we do about it now?
This, my friends, is where one of humanities great enemies rears its ugly head: Lethargy.
On several occasions I’ve been to various events and panels that have been open to the artists of this great country to come and learn about the industry they want to make a living off. These events have been free, at various times of the day as to not intrude on work/other priorities, well advertised (so ignorance of the event can’t be a genuine excuse) and played host to some rather interesting people whose views thoroughly deserved to be listened to (note: I do not include myself in that last point).
And despite all these factors the turnout for these events can be catastrophically poor. I think I’ve previously bored you with my account of a particular example of this up in Scotland, where four artists turned up to listen to thirteen industry ‘experts’ discuss their trade.
As ever there are exceptions and I must point out I’ve been lucky enough to be part several events that have been brimming with eager artists.
Help you to help yourself.
These events won’t have all the answers, and yes, it may even bore you to kingdom come, but even if you took one tiny nugget of erudition from it then it’s worth the couple of hours sacrifice, no?
The irony is of course that if you’re an artist reading this then chances are you’re the kind of artist who does attend these things anyway and furthermore you usually have more questions than there are minutes in the day ready to be fired at the panel.
Which makes this post a big old waste of time. How sobering.
If by chance you know someone who needs a good kick up the jaxy then please forward them this link; you might just kick start their career.
What I’m reading this week: On The Road by Jack Kerouac
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