Thursday, 10 December 2009

Ones To Watch 2010 - A Word Of Caution

A word of caution.

Over the last ten days we’ve published our ones to watch. If you've missed them have a look back over the last ten posts on the blog. Some of them we think are viable commercial propositions, others aren’t but we believe are worthy of your attention.

But here’s the caution. It is getting harder and harder for new artists. For a major record label in this digital age there is so much ambiguity around the return on investment on a new artist that companies are signing less and less new acts. With a few notable exceptions (Florence and the Machine, Lady Gaga) a safer bet is to exploit the market with existing records from established bands and performers. The grey pound is still being spent.

Today’s younger generation have a growing expectation to be able to access music for free, whereas those of an older generation are still purchasing physical copies of albums. The evidence? Barbara Steisand’s 63rd album went to number 1 this year, last year Neil Diamond topped the charts for the first time in decades, Shirley Bassey has found herself back in the UK album best sellers as did The Carpenters, Rod Stewart and the 92 year old Vera Lynn became the oldest living artist to top the UK charts.

Increasingly major record labels are playing it safe. Why spend thousands of pounds trying to establish an act when less can be spent on an established older act to earn more? Of course in the long term it is short sighted, because where are the big artists of tomorrow going to come from? Or will the record industry just keep recycling Beatles albums forever and a day?

This is the caution. Unless something fundamentally changes the record industry could die out in a generation. Maybe you don’t think that is important. If that’s the case then have a read of a previous blog we wrote here which explains why we believe record labels and the industry they come from still have a fundamental role to play.

The chances for any new artist to earn a living through their art are becoming slimmer and slimmer. Something has to change. The question is, how?


Anonymous said...

Argee with you that it's getting tougher for new and emerging artists to break out and be Successful.

There are some factors to consider

1. The UK singles chart. The fact that any song can enter the chart with no physical format now means that a song that got to number 1 last year 'Sex on Fire', still re-enters a year on just because some comedian did a comedy sketch based on the song for the BBC.

2. Heavy focus on established acts in 2009. This year there seemed to be a lot more albums than usual released by already established acts that meant they had more media focus. U2, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, Kasabian, Green Day, Lily Allen, Black Eyed Peas, Muse and not to mention the unfortunate death of Michael Jackson. The heavy promotion for U2's new album was way over the top. This meant only the new artists with bigger personalities got more noticed (Lady Gaga, Florence and La Roux)

3 The X Factor - Love it or hate it, this show is starting to have a massive influence on the singles chart, guest artists are guaranteed a higher chart position than expected due an appearance on the show, even songs that have been covered by the contestants (Don't Stop Beling' by Journey) get a re-entry on the chart.

These 3 factors combined made it much more difficult for new acts to get a top 40 position and get more noticed.

Lets hope that the new artists for 2010 get much more focus.

Adam F

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Great points and agree with them all.

The irony of the over promotion of the U2 album was that (in my humble opinion) it is U2's worst album ever. I have been a big fan of U2 over the years, but find virtually nothing to please me on this record.

Your point about new act big personalities being the ones to get most noticed is something I hadn't thought about. In this context it will be interesting to see how someone like Ellie Goulding fares, as whilst a talented songwriter with an unusual voice, she probably isn't the hugest of personalities ( I have briefly met her and she is a lovely grounded person, but she certainly isn't Lady Ga Ga !!)

And yes love or hate X factor, its influence is huge.

Good luck new acts !!!!!


If nobodoy ever earned any money ever again from music would we stop making it? No.

For year and years, artists and record label bosses ripped us off making millions from our purchases. In fact they got so good at it, and got so greedy that they began to develop artists that are more about the ability to generate money, over their actual talent. Hence the likes of Simon Cowell and X Factor. Sadly their marketing skills have suckered millions of people into it. If they stopped putting fucking dollar signs on everything and tried to push for developing great music then the money might actually get to new talented artists.

Young people's expectations, bloggers or illegal downloaders can't be held responsible for fighting back. They are a symptom of the X-factor world, rather than the cause. I couldn't give a flying fuck if Bono can't buy another Rolls Royce, or Simon Cowell can't helipcopter around.

As for signing new bands, there are lots of talented independant record labels hunting out and bringing us great new music. I haven't seen a reduction in the number of quality new bands in 2009.

Anyway, if you're good enough you will be spotted and signed up. Just watch the likes of Hurts, Marina & The Diamonds, Mirros etc in 2010. All got snapped up by major labels.

Things are just changing, not snapping off completely. The music industry simply dropped the ball when it comes to playing with the Internet generations new rules. This is mainly because the industry is run by older people who were very powerful, so weren't used to bending over. Their shit has finally now changed and they gotta react. I applaud young people for forcing a change.

Roll on the evolution. Our passion for new music hasn't dimmed. Musicians creativity hasn't stopped either.

The old models are dead. HMV is a horrible shopping experience, as was Virgin. Our Price, Woolworths are gone. Good riddance, they were shite.

Also, does anyone really look at the charts anymore? I mean apart from 14 yr old girls. What does it matter who's number one? Success is measured in more ways than that! Tours earn artists a lot more money than they used to.

Saying all that, The Recommedner just uploaded their Top 40 but blogs commonly enjoy a yearly round up. Unsurprisingly none of the artists came out of Simon Cowells stable. It's based on quality. Weird I know...


Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Some good points Mike - and your opening statement about if nobody made any money from music would they stop making it - is an argument I have often used myself. However I do believe an artist is entitled to put value on his / her art if they choose to do so, and earn from it.

With regard to old retail models being dead, some are for sure, but others I believe will live on into old age for as long as a significant proportion of people still want tangible product - and some still do and as long as those retail models move with the times. (With brands like Woolworths didn't) This week HMV for example announced group sales being up 5.6%, and in the UK and Ireland total sales up 12.8%. Much of this has been due to Zavvi folding and the brands diversification into new areas such as live music - for example they have recently taken an 8.2% shareholding in the Mama Group. Totally agree about HMV being a horrible place to shop though - but then you're lucky in your town, you have the fantastic Resident Records, one of my favourite record shops in the world. Many of us are not so lucky !

Oh and for my sins, I still listen to the charts. But then our household does have two girls who are getting near to fourteen !

Just had a look at your Top 40 - good stuff. Lots of Breaking More Waves favourites in there, and you are the second blog I've seen (the other being the equally good Von Pip Express) who has put Marina and the Diamonds at number one.

Anonymous said...

Artists no longer need record label especially within these times. Record labels have always used various tactics on getting artist heard by all means necessary. Many have used payola tactics with clear channel radio station on getting their artist placed in the top-10 of the play listings. And these are facts of their tactics that they've been using for decades. Now that the internet has shown us the truth of a system that has already fallen. It's only a matter of time when the massive see it for what it is.

Anonymous said...

" Also, does anyone really look at the charts anymore? I mean apart from 14 yr old girls. What does it matter who's number one? "

Whoever wrote this is a patronising, sexist ageist twat. Undoubtedly male and undoubtedly old with no f*ckin' understanding about pop music or what it's like to be young. F*ck of back to your indie 'blogger' ghetto where you can masturbate with rest of your hommie boys.

Millions of people listen to the charts every week - more than will ever read your dicky blog as you try to slip it in Marina and your so called "Recommended" bands, most of whom are average electro-indie toss. For many of these millions it matters who is number one for reasons you will never understand because you are too busy jacking off.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Hi Anon.

I almost didn't publish your belated comment on this post as whilst this blog encourages debate it does not encourage vulgar hostility. However in the interests of freedom of speech I have decided to publish it as behind your rudeness lies a valid point - for many who enjoy pop music, chart positions are still important to them - you only have to go on to a forum such as Popjustice and see the discussions about chart positions and you will see their significance.