Two salient stories this week show up how economically arse-about-face the music business is these days. Firstly, figures published this week by Music Business Worldwide reveal how the takings divvy up for every €9.99 subscription to a music streaming site. Major labels take €4.56, €2.08 goes to digital platform holders, €1 to publishers and songwriters, and 68 cents direct to the artists who actually played the music that people are paying to listen to.
Meanwhile, online touts and ‘botnets’ are block-buying gig tickets before fans have had a chance and selling them on at ridiculously inflated prices to the people who actually want them, and it’s all perfectly legal ‘free market’ profiteering. If you’re sick of this sort of shit, check out PutFansFirst.co.uk, a campaign to change the law that’s backed by Tony Iommi and Rod Smallwood, among other luminaries. A recent amendment was defeated in a House Of Commons vote, but Tim Weatherley MP, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group For Ticket Abuse, asserts: “We would like to create as much pressure from fans and providers of live events, supporting a change in the law on secondary ticketing – especially through members of the public writing to their MPs. This would be a hugely helpful step in persuading MPs that this is an issue that needs addressing.”
So it’s good to hear of bands bucking the trend, especially when they’re such a hardworking, persistent bastion of uncompromising integrity: Napalm Death, it seems, have never had it so good. “We’re selling more records right now than we ever have done,” frontman Barney Greenway told SkullsNBones this week. “That’s not just vinyl. It’s vinyl, CDs, everything is selling really well. We haven’t done anything to gain commercial advantage. In fact we’ve turned down stuff that could have given us commercial advantage because of our ethos. That’s kind of mind blowing. It just goes to prove that you stick to what you want to do and not some things that you might not feel comfortable with. You live and die by your decisions.”
It would be too ironic to talk of the Napalm Death ‘business model’; in Napalm’s case, it helps that they’ve not only kept their targets fresh and relevant, but continued to push the envelope musically, kept challenging and kept fighting. Who’d have thought that the spotty radical punks flailing around Midland squats in the mid-80s would be one of the most successful brands in extreme metal 30 years on?
“I have to pinch myself,” Barney confesses, of the new horizons opened up by the critical and commercial success of their recent releases, 2012’s Utilitarian and new disc Apex Predator - Easy Meat. “The response to Utilitarian was just not what we expected. No band has got the divine right to expect any kind of plaudits. To then move on from that and the response to be even more enthusiastic – like I say, you have to pinch yourself.”
Another band who’ve had a good week are Faith No More. They’re currently making their first album for 18 years with Matt Wallace, the producer who recorded Angel Dust in 1992. So he’s got quite a benchmark of quality, versatility and imagination there to measure the new material against. Exciting news, then: “FNM are making the most creative music of their career and it’s a thrill to be part of the team again,” was his official proclamation this week. He added: “Buy their record and tickets to their show because – well, hell, they’re the mighty Faith No More!”
Rather more reflective was FNM drummer Mike Bordin, who this week offered his perspective on why it took six years for the reunited band to make their comeback album. “The songwriting and recording process felt totally comfortable,” Puffy told Faith No More Followers. “I believe that’s because we didn’t rush into it, but spent enough time on and off stage finding out who we were, how it felt, and if there was something further for us to say. With more age and experience, I savoured and appreciated the incredible talent around me. Hopefully I was a positive force in moving the process forward. Second chances are not to be taken for granted.”