Results tagged “red shoes” from Sunday Mercury - Paul Flower

What's the colour of music?

By Paul Flower on Aug 27, 12 02:47 PM

It's hard to make a living in the music industry, you're lucky if you can break even. As we bring forth a second or third generation who have no concept of paying for recorded music (what they don't steal they stream) it gets harder to get a break.

I wrote about this way-back in July 2009, should you care to read it you can do so here although there have inevitably been many changes in the subject since then.

One of the more recent additions to the artist's arsenal is the concept of pledging. Initially seen in the charity market, particularly in tv telethons, its application to music is of great interest as it allows an act to establish their worth before taking a risk.

I once thought I'd be a great band manager. Lacking in any real musical ability but having a deep love of music it seemed the obvious choice, a potential career path to run alongside my existing music journalism (which, frankly, has never paid). Then I tried it.

It was the mid to late 80's; the specific point in time has become slightly blurred by the passing of even more time. I was friendly with a number of bands in the general Birmingham area by virtue of hanging around in the wrong places, writing for local media, broadcasting for the BBC (locally) and promoting the odd gig on a random basis.

I had knowledge of music, media, marketing and publicity. I still have some of these skills, partly amplified by time and experience. Consequently I was invited by my friends in a band we should call Red Shoes (because that's their name) to help manage them.

Music managers of the time fell into three possible categories -

Close friends of the band who didn't mind cold-calling to get gigs and helping them to hump the gear around.

People with too much spare cash (but often not enough) who wanted to be in the music business, or to at least say they were.

Ex-musicians or recording studio workers, or people with existing 'successful' bands looking to expand their 'stable'.

None of the above was a reliable formula for success, but there seemed to be a glut of talent around and most of it went un-noticed. Sadly Birmingham was not considered 'cool' in music industry terms, certainly not on a level with Manchester or even Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield or Cardiff - all towns/cities that have been deemed to have a 'scene' at any point in the last thirty years.

Although the whole Stourbridge scene blew up in the period where I could've conceivably said 'I was there' and I knew a few bands that went on to great success there were a great many more that disappeared without trace. Were it not for recent developments you may have been able to say the same of Red Shoes.

The Nostradamus Syndrome

By Paul Flower on Jan 7, 09 10:32 AM

In an entirely predictable fashion this month is traditionally dominated by writers & seers making various prophecies for what might happen to us all in the next 12 months. The only reliable prediction is that by the end of the year we'll all have forgotten the bulk of the predictions that were made.

A few weeks back I read that 2009 would be one of the hottest years on record in the UK. Aside from the fact that we can barely trust our weather forecasters to get it right over a 72 hour period, the problem with this type of prediction is that we're unable to check it. I don't imagine anyone reading this blog will be noting down the temperature on a daily basis and checking it against their records for the previous years. I also seem to recall a similar prediction around 12 months ago - long before we waded through the damp squib of summer 2008.

The other types of predictions - best films, celebs to watch out for, new bands, etc - are more like well-educated-guesswork. People 'in the know' know things that most of us don't - or couldn't care less about. It's in their interests to know which films, TV shows or albums are due for release, what's been big in other territories (particularly the U.S.) and what's being given the biggest hype in the coming months.

For example as 2008 dawned it was easy to predict the success of Duffy & Adele because we all knew that the record labels were looking to replicate the chart fortunes of Amy Winehouse. By December 07 both Duffy & Adele had recorded the bulk of their albums and were being touted by various PRs to all the key music writers and radio presenters. On that basis it was clear that both acts would be treated as 'priorities' by their individual labels, making the task of prophesising their success a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

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