Back from the edge

(James Arthur)

Toward the end of 2021 Ali and I decided to host a small bash for friends and family at our local pub – The Curlew – in lieu of a wedding reception.

We thought it might be nice to have some live music and so I approached Steve Oliver, a local resident and member – with former Essex pop royalty – of ‘The Ugly Guys’, a country rock band.

I met Steve at The Curlew for a lunchtime drink and chat, coincidentally on the day that Abba released their comeback album ‘Voyage’. Steve suggested that we were about to see a number of ‘comeback’ albums.

He related that, back in the day, a band or artist could release an album and hit single and buy themselves their mansion. A few follow up albums and tours and then relax, earning an income from royalties from radio plays and occasional sales from record shops.

Spotify and other (legal) streaming services have, he advised me, broken that model. Streaming services now pay artists so little – les than half a penny each time a track is streamed – that the ongoing income models are broken.

An artist would need around 250 streams to earn a dollar, while a million streams would earn just $4,000. There’s an article here.

As Steve predicted, we’ve since seen a host of bands releasing new material and touring, off the top of my head I can recall hearing new material from Bananarama, Duran Duran,  Tears for Fears, while Adam Ant, Level 42, The Damned, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Paul Young and Roxy Music are playing gigs this summer.

Having said that, and having been a fan of Bruce Springsteen since 1975, and being aware that his ’23 tour will almost certainly be his last, I baulk at paying over £100 to stand in Hyde Park or over £1,000 for an ‘executive’ standing area.
At least I was there in 2012.

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