Email 23rd January 1998

Dear freakers,
I'd been hoping to carry on the postings and bring you up to date with the London visit and the unfolding story but it seems I've got to retrack for a moment and deal with some reclarifications.

The 98 parts 1&2 were not whining. I appreciate some of you have followed an initial response to the post and reacted accordingly in your eyes but there's been some misunderstandings. I sincerely appreciate the e's I've received personally and the defences offered to the list after Darren's attack. I have sat down and thought about this reply although my first reaction on returning home after 6 days in London on a very positive visit was somewhat explosive especially after a bottle of rather punchy red wine!

After reading Darren's post I realised I'd been inadvertently attending a "cry-babies" convention down there!!

I accepted "personal responsibility" a long time ago and you're right Darren, when it comes right down to the bottom line it's all my fault.

Let's examine your points - You want to know about Viceroy's promises?

Tour support? I didn't receive any. Not a dollar. If I hadn't already set up Dick Bros and had a catalogue of material available to sell at venues the tour wouldn't have made any sense and would have stalled 3 weeks in. I accepted responsibility.

Without Eric Rosen working his ass off at college radio and various freaks and friends from previous encounters hassling stations airplay would have been virtually non-existent as Viceroy didn't have the staff to embark on a serious promotion. They wouldn't pay for an independent radio plugger to work alongside their one staff member who was expected to cover the entire USA. They wouldn't pay for outside press even when a proven and respected PR. co. offered to drop their rates because of their belief in the album. Even Eric did his duties for well below his normal fees and to my knowledge still hasn't been paid yet. These services were promised. Viceroy told me they had the budgets, agreed with Jim Pitulski how they would spend it and then proceeded to duck and dive. I agree with you that the distribution supplied by WEA was excellent and Lightyear who were the co. who supplied the "in" for Viceroy to WEA were also supportive. It is all well supplying the records but as we all know if people are not aware then they won't even be enticed to investigate never mind buy the CD's. Viceroy exploited the fan base and sat tight because they didn't have the capital to spend on further promotion. I wouldn't have signed to them if I had known the outcome. Radio needs to be worked, hassled, continually reminded about the artist. One person sitting in an office in NYC will have little effect. Our deal with Viceroy was structured so that they would have more money for promotion in the early stages i.e. we took a smaller royalty. They ended up taking a minimal risk while I as the touring artist took a huge gamble. Radio is different in the USA (you might not know this!) It is possible that songs can gravitate onto playlists after undergoing "Testing" by the listeners. A good song stands as good a chance as any and with Bro52 this was happening in areas. There was no-one to follow up. In Europe the shelf life at radio is very short and unless you hit top 10 you're begging for plays.

Let's move onto radio for a moment. In the USA you can at least tune to rock radio. In Europe the rock radio PROGRAMME is a dying entity as more and more stations adopt very strict playlist policies along purely top40 guidelines filling late night slots - traditionally the haven for rock music - with dance music programming aimed at youth markets which are more attractive to advertisers aiming products at the same demographics. Yes, you're right, it's all money, it's all a business, but if you don't educate an audience and just simply follow the competition then you'll gradually lose the chance to even qualify playing certain genres of music. As an example I hosted a programme on my local station, Radio Forth fm, the biggest station in east coast Scotland. I was given free play, i.e. anything I wanted. I quadrupled the audience in 3 months. There IS a demand but there are few brave enough to try like Forth who are one of the very, very few stations in the UK to have recognised rock shows playing a wide variety of music for all tastes and from all eras. It works, they secure good figures in both audiences and advertising revenues and rock music can be heard alongside top40 material on daytime shows. Their figures are well above radio 1's, the national UK pop station up here. The audience has been educated. Songs are judged on quality as well as on the hipness of the act and it's not unusual for DJ's to get behind unknowns. This is however very unusual in current European trends. Just ask our Dutch and Polish friends how much it's changing out there as more and more stations copy the formula of top40 plays only. You are quite right. It's all money. Does that excuse their bad taste? I don't know much about airwave allocation in the States and won't presume to do so. In the UK bids are put in along with station play policies which if the bid is successful must be strictly adhered to. It seemed that Virgin was a godsend to rock musicians but since it's inauguration has become very safe and very trendy and recently got rid of Alan Freeman's programme which was the one show which was an outlet for both Marillion, myself and other like-minded bands. I agree with others on the list that radio would be an interesting topic and I can if you want research on this side of the pond as to where rock radio is and where it's going. While talking to other "cry-babies " in London a darker side of radio was mentioned. I cannot name names but you can be assured that the sources are impeccable. Payola has now arisen in a different form. To assure plays it's often "advantageous" if you can offer flights to foreign climes as competition prizes especially if winners are accompanied by station "personnel". Giveaways i.e. 100 albums, tour jackets etc. etc. are also a good idea especially if you're buying advertising space for either that specific artist or others on your label. Buying advertising especially late night is a very influential way of convincing stations to play your record. In one country last year it was hinted that should I buy 3k sterling's worth of advertising at EACH of 3 national stations I'd be guaranteed a certain amount of plays in THAT week and should I require more it could be "negotiated". One of my "cry-baby" friends at a major record company said they write off 70k sterling for a single before it's even out the "box". And that's a very cheap video, basic promo and set up. If the single takes off treble that for a basic lift!! It's now customary in certain co's standard deals for artists that the contract does not include a royalty OR MCPS (Payment for writing the song, i.e. publishing) on singles. Singles are done for free!!!! Fair? So tell me how do indies compete, Darren? Tell me of the glories of the free market economy! Tell me about retailers who DEMAND 50 % discount on singles and free units (1 in 1 anybody!!) who won't rack albums unless you've bought in-store displays in their shops, listening posts in their shops, corporate ads in-magazines with their logos, advertising in their in store magazines etc. etc. and they STILL have the right to "sale or return". Level playing field?????? Retailers stock act z because acts a, b, and c who are big sellers are on the label, and free copies always are available because it's in artists a, b and c's contract that a certain allowance is made for promo (10% of 300,000 CD's in the UK). Big acts buy favours on lots of levels.
No names no pack drill!!! This happens.
So don't call me fucking naive!!!!!

Before I finish this post (and believe me I'm not finished yet!!!) I want to get something of my chest which pissed me of more than anything else in your rave against me. I am not an alcoholic and never have been. For you to surmise I am from having a propensity towards drinking I find deeply insulting and libellous. You don't know me and as far as I'm aware have never met me. For you to assume I am is like me assuming you are a right wing thug from your posts. I was not drunk on stage in Barcelona and the injury had nothing to do with being incapable on stage. You have insulted me on a professional and personal level and I DEMAND an apology. Your comments were not opinionated they were unacceptable. If an apology is unforthcoming you should pray you never meet me in the flesh. That is not a threat, that is a promise, and unlike some I keep mine!!!

More to follow in another part...
 

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