Subject: Fish 98 (part2)
So I came back to the UK dreading the upcoming shows. Once again gaps in the tour drained the already weak income stream and the merchandise wasn't the saviour as now the UK leg comprised of over 20 gigs and we were heading into areas not known for "spending power", where we'd been near before and fans had already bought the store or gigs where audience figures were unreliable. Cue shitstorm!! At the end of the tour I lost in the region of 35k pounds sterling!! I could have made more money growing veg in the garden as my Dad pointed out or as my wife said we could have spent 6 months in the Caribbean!!! Hey!! no regrets, I had a great time and met some brilliant people. Adventures are priceless and I wouldn't change the last 7 months for anything. The band and crew were immense and the sense of camaraderie that we had and the bonding that occurred I'll never find anywhere else! Boy's own stories are all well and good but at the end of the day a reality has to be faced and 35k is too much to lose for a small indy label! A major would be OK supporting 128 dates in 20 or so countries for that bill but an indie lives or dies on amounts like this.
The situation has been compounded by the fact that the sales of SOE, which I hoped would grow as the tour generated profile, didn't increase as we thought and all the albums we did sell were soaked up by the tour deficit. The strong pound also meant I was losing on currency exchanges, sometimes as much as 20%, and as I was paying UK wages costs were high. If you apply this to all incomes from T-shirts to gig takings it becomes a nightmare out of our control!! The live scene is in a mess, too many bands, too expensive to advertise, not enough money around generally and too many middlemen, it doesn't take a genius to work out what's happening in Europe. I simply can't afford to entertain another tour like this again. It's not only me that's suffering.
This year I am planning only a limited tour to support the album and before anyone asks I have no idea apart from it'll be sometime in October and as long as I have a label which is working for me the USA and Canada is in the equation. Ironically I lost money in Europe and did better overall in the States! Go figure. Maximum touring capability from now on will be in the region of 3 months around an album excluding open airs which we plan to attack as much as possible this year. I simply cannot afford any more to take on tours where I lose money. I will only gig when I have a guaranteed income that pays me as well as the band and crew. This means concentrating more on recording and writing as far as my music career stands.
I am however totally frustrated at my inability to be recognised for what I do now rather than what I've done historically. I've read the list and your comments on inadequate promotion on not only myself but the Marillo's and other bands and all I can say is that the whole field is uneven and we will never be able to play fairly with the others as long as promotion, advertising and marketing is so ludicrously expensive and we don't sell the amounts required to allow a competitive budget. Majors will not invest in late 30/early 40's musicians no matter how well they write, play and perform when they have young media accessible, good looking, fashionable, hip, trendy icons that can be put into a manipulable (if you have the necessary capital) market that has the attention span of a 2 year old and the carnivorous lust for precocious young talent that borders on the perverse. The turnover of bands is obscene and they will never understand the loyalties that people like yourselves show to bands like ours. We do not fit into their demographics. The masses have been brainwashed in recent years to accepting the glamorous but mundane, the wrapping instead of the content, the volume rather than the quality. It's sad and I don't really want to subscribe to their ethics, taste or values. I no longer identify with the "music business". It has become a parody of itself. There will always be acts out there, and there ARE many, with integrity, sincerity and high values but I feel they are being forced further and further underground as the common denominator of general public taste dips ever lower fattened by the drivel fed by the all-powerful mainline music industry. I accept I will never attain those heady early career highs and my days as a viable platinum selling act are numbered at least in Europe and the odds for the USA are similar to Scotland's world cup chances. I don't have the money to compete and what's the point of entering a Formula 1 grand prix with a great car when you can't afford the fuel. Radio should be open to all comers but isn't. Commercial radio exists because of advertising and advertisers aim product at that demographic that enjoy Spice Girls, Hanson, Backstreet Boyz and all the other products from the battery chicken school of pre-pubescent wunderkinder! The ageist pre-occupation prevalent in the majors is carried over into radio and ultimately into other media! It's got to be new coz new must be better and if it isn't then the next one might work etc. etc. Cue a dearth of maturing musicians and modern songwriting plagued by plagiarism and cover versions thinly disguised as reworkings! The current music business is a corrupt, manipulating, greedy, monopolistic parasite thriving off the dreams, imagination, aspirations and naiveté of artists. Also it must be said , their greed in some cases, a trait prevalent more so now as the industry attracts bands with the knowledge that superstardom and it's riches might only be weeks away rather than years and that a lack of talent doesn't preclude you from trying. Fame can be easily bought these days but the rent is expensive. The whole thing thankfully is self destructing and my raving and opinion means nothing at the end of the day. Now I have to deal with my reality, which is not a nice place to be without medication. I can forget singles. I can forget spending lots of money on promotion etc. I can forget the mainline media. It leaves me with the comforting knowledge that I am a secure cult artist with a small but loyal and passionate following and that is my corner and that is where I will stay. I plan to continue to write and record but that will only be a component of my life. Dick Bros as a working label (we never really got started!!!) will cease to operate. Jane and Shona, my assistants in the office are leaving the end of January to advance their promotions co. Hurtle Parrot. The distribution will be handled by an outside company leaving the mail order with the Co. Scotland. Jez will continue dealing with the business affairs. All in all we're downsizing and recognising our limitations.
I'm also looking to move from the "Funny Farm" and get a genuine family home somewhere in the area where we can have privacy, a far less stressfilled and better quality lifestyle and peace and quiet. This will be funded by bringing investors into Millenium studios which has a current turnover of 115k a year. This turns our home into much needed residential accommodation and further enhances the studio. I can then have the time to get on with other neglected projects and work such as acting and "serious writing" and other things that interest me but which I've never had time to do because of my commitment to music.
SOE was my best album to date and realistically my last chance at breaking through into the 'big time'. I knew that if it didn't achieve what we hoped then I would re-assess my career and promised my wife such. After her diagnosis with cervical cancer and the subsequent successful operation I promised one last shot with a major tour and if it failed then I would re-examine my approach to the industry. I've found my family means more than sales and I owe them my time rather than an endless roadtrip. I've done that now and made my decision. I just thought I'd tell you as well!!!!
Anyway enough for today. Visit your doctors for some strong anti-depressants before our next instalment sportsfans!!!!!!!!!!
Tomorrow the dog dies...........
Email 17th January 1998