Stuart's Diary

Hi folks

Ok, just a quickie here, need to clear something up between songs..

Last week I tweeted

“On Spotify graciously deciding to charge its free listeners..are you going to pay the BANDS THAT MAKE THE BASTARD MUSIC IN THE FIRST PLACE!!”

then I followed with

“ahem; clears throat; thing is; some day we’d like to make more songs. and we used to do that with the money we made from.. selling songs”

Now, a journalist from the Glasgow Evening Times got in touch, but I said I’d rather not say any more on the subject. This was a sporadic outburst after all, much like a nervous tick or something; I didn’t want to dwell on it.

So, the Evening Times went ahead with their thing, and now it’s on the web. The article was pointed out to me and it only increased my annoyance; they have attributed to me thoughts and feelings that I patently don’t have. Therefore I shall attempt to put into black and white the situation somewhat, as George Harrison once said..

The Evening Times said

“The frontman of a group described as Scotland’s best band ever has hit out at the generation who no longer pay for music.

That’s me they’re talking about.

Ok, now my point, and probably my only important point: I’m certainly not against ‘the generation who no longer pay for music.’ That horse has bolted. And hey, I like that horse! It’s free and young and happy and doing its horsey thing.

What has had me conflicted is Spotify itself. Overnight, this thing appeared called Spotify, claiming it was a great idea, innovative, the saviour of the industry. From what I can gather, and no one has been able to tell me differently, it’s financed by a gathering of the top (ie. richest) people, from the top (ie. richest) record labels.

Overnight, the whole Belle And Sebastian back catalogue became available to stream, for anybody, for free, for good. We weren’t asked about it.

“How were you not asked?” I can imagine you would say. That’s exactly what I asked the record label. Their answer was not that informative. They mumbled something about a distribution company, that was under some umbrella; that it wasn’t up to them.

Can I just stress that Rough Trade is certainly not one of the aforementioned ‘richest’ record companies. I feel a bit bad for them. I’m gathering that they thought they had nothing to lose with the Spotify thing, that they had to try something new. (Kids, if there’s a less viable career choice than ‘independent recording artist’ at the minute, I would certainly say it was ‘independent record label.’)

Anyway, that’s enough of the angst. I’ve said it to the rest of the band, and I’ll say it again, “just because we’re in a band, it doesn’t make it a bloody pension plan”. We’ve had, and continue to have, a brilliant time making music and playing music and dreaming, and just about getting away with it. If it just got harder, then that’s because it should be hard. I think in the end it will make the music, the art, better.

I’m not even so much against Spotify. If they can get their model right, ie pay the bands something approaching appropriate amounts, then it will be all ok. I’m ready to throw my lot in with them; I mean, I use it now. And if I was 19 I would have used it too. (Would have used it to decide which vinyl/music to buy/see, as I’m sure lots of people still do)

It just seemed rich of them that they decided to charge everyone. They lured everyone in with ‘Our’ music (the royal ‘Our’), which they didn’t pay for, and now, probably because a shareholder somewhere is sitting in a Porsche, crying for a dividend, they’re going to charge money in our name. And I will eat my beloved black hat if we ever see a share.

Please don’t go to the trouble with long responses. I appreciate your comments after the initial tweet, but i need to get out of this office and into the springtime! So i may not be monitoring the situation very well.. Upwards and onwards!


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