If we expect musicians to perform for nothing, there won’t be any left

Even though it's been shown that the people who pirate the most are the people who pay the most, tickets are expensive and touring fees are a rip-off.

Share

Who would have guessed that the people of Manchester – the city that brought us The Smiths, The Stone Roses, and New Order – are such big fans of Ed Sheeran? But if the figures are to be believed, they must be. Manchester is the piracy capital of the UK, according to a survey of the nation’s illegal downloading habits. And Sheeran’s album, +, is the most pirated album so far this year.

Since I have never knowingly listened to Ed Sheeran, as he looks too baby-faced and wholesome for my raddled tastes, I can’t tell you if the pirates are making a good choice in their law-breaking. What I can tell you is that Sheeran himself seems largely unfazed: he told Radio 1 that he has found a decent balance between people pinching his music from the Net, but then paying for his concert tickets.

This seems like a wise response: plenty of studies have shown that the people who pirate the most music or films or television are also the people who pay for the most. Pursue the pirates too vigorously, and you criminalise your fans, the ones most likely to buy concert tickets, T-shirts, posters and the rest.

But even live music doesn’t pay what it used to. Ticket prices grow more stratospheric every year, but that isn’t always trickling down to the performers. A hefty chunk is taken by the venues and ticket agencies, whose booking fees are now so big that the comedian Sarah Millican has dumped one theatre group from her next tour in protest.

And while Millican performs solo, so can at least take the majority of profits from her work, other performers struggle. The US singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer has upset musicians because she is recruiting “professional-ish” string and horn players to play her tour dates for hugs and beer. And while plenty of musicians may well be willing to work with an artist they admire for pin money, doing it for hugs is a step down. Try paying the rent with beer and hugs, and see how far that gets you (obviously, don’t try this if you have a pervy landlord).

Palmer funded her last record with $1.2m of fan donations, so her audience is big, and financially committed to her work. Couldn’t she have gone back to Kickstarter (the fundraising website) and asked them to contribute another couple of bucks each for the trumpet players?

The vast majority of musicians earn very little. As listeners, we need to decide how much we want them to be able to continue. If we don’t buy their records, we can’t really complain when the charts are filled with nothing but trustafarians wearing Jimi Hendrix T-shirts. 

Note to charities: be nice to donors.

Earlier this summer, I had a first: a completely plain letter from a charity I support – no leaflets, no disposable pens, no stickers with my address on – asking for a donation. The charity admitted that it got very negative feedback when it sent out the free crap. None of us, it seems, wants a cheap calendar.

But it also pointed out that it gets more money when it sends out freebies, so this was a test run to see if it got the same return. As blackmail goes, give us your money or we pelt  you with junk is a sound move. I sent a cheque.

This week, it sent another letter with a lowest suggested donation of double what I usually give. I had to write the amount of my usual donation in the “Other Amount” box, like a cheapskate. I know charities have to make money, especially in a recession. But this one has removed some of the joy of giving – I now feel scabby instead of generous. Isn’t it a risk that if people can’t feel good about giving, they won’t give at all?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent