Friday, 21 February 2014

Picking Winners (Music Style)

From the BBC

Rock band Drenge are among 14 acts to receive a government grant to help promote British music abroad.

The Derbyshire brothers hit the headlines when they were endorsed by MP Tom Watson in a resignation letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband last year.

Other acts chosen include London grime MC Afrikan Boy, Scottish band Holy Mountain and composer George Benjamin.

The grants will be given to the acts' independent record labels to help market themselves overseas.

If there's one area of the free market that you don't want government to go anywhere near, it's the pop music market. There are thousands of acts that make it and lots that don't.

Even if you're talking about established artists, there's no guarantee that they'll make it in the USA. Robbie Williams tried and didn't break America. The biggest of the Britpop bands in America? Not Oasis or Blur, but Elastica. Whitesnake were bigger in the USA than here. Which might suggest that something that's less "rock" does badly, but then Radiohead did pretty well, as did Coldplay. And boy bands have a history of not exporting at all, but then along comes One Direction.

So, trying to work out who is going to sell abroad is almost impossible, even with acts that have sold well here. And really, if they've sold well here, haven't they made the money to invest their own money?

"Fifty years on from the Beatles arriving in America, the Music Export Growth Scheme will give more talented young British artists the chance to be successful on the international stage."

Up to £2.5 million in grants will be made available over a two-and-a-half year period. More successful applicants will be announced later this year.

And what grants did the Beatles get? Or Duran Duran? None. They, their record companies and management just did the work and got the pay when it worked.


Mark Wadsworth said...


"The arts" is the last thing you should subsidise, there's nothing more insipid than subsidised art/music/computer games/films.

The Stigler said...

It's not even like the state makes critical darlings. The sort of arthouse films that are well-regarded are made with private money, often relying on the goodwill of actors and directors who work for little to get it done (Matthew Mahogany got $200K for doing Dallas Buyers Club instead of $15m paycheques).

DBC Reed said...

Years ago musicians in the UK ,often at art school on grants, practised like mad until they got lucky with a recording contract and then failed or made millions.Nowadays the record sales are not the source of income that they were.
Although rock and roll was in the US the product of small-scale capitalist labels, corporate America had practically killed off RnR until state educated pseudo-intellectual English young men in he 60's revived it in the same spirit as the Pre-Raphaelites breathing life into a defunct art form (the death of Buddy Holly being the cut off point for anything good coming out of the US.)
I do not know about the other arts being less involved with them but a visual artist friend of mine experienced years of poverty and failure although he produced highly commercial paintings that ,say, a hotel chain should have bought by the dozen .He drank himself to death.Not a week goes by when I don't see a figure trudging up to the local supermarket that I take to be him.