And Finally Artist News

Old man doesn’t understand new music industry, assumes it’s wrong

By | Published on Monday 21 March 2016

Primal Scream

“The digital thing has destroyed music”, says Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie. Destroyed it. He announced this in an interview promoting the release of his band’s eleventh studio album.

The problem is that no one is buying physical records anymore, he says. Except him. He sometimes listens to stuff on the Spotify premium account he was given for free, but then he will go and buy it later if he likes it. Which is something only he has thought of, apparently

But what about all the young people? His teenage son “streams [music] but he also watches YouTube”, Gillespie told the BBC, as if the two are different. “He loves music but he wouldn’t buy it. It’s just the culture they were born into. You can’t turn it back but as an artist, I have to try and express myself and the best way to do that is to make albums”.

It’s not like in the old days. These days “[major labels] beholden to shareholders … only invest in Ellie Goulding or puppet girl singers or boybands they know they can make a killing on. They’ll never invest in art, they’re not artistically driven people”.

That statement, of course, could definitely not be applied to any other time in music. He continued: “In the 90s and early 2000s, we could sell hundreds of thousands of art rock albums, but it’s not like that anymore”. Yes, remember the 90s when every art rock band was guaranteed to sell at least 100,000 albums?

Although Gillespie does then admit that his band’s biggest successes were with more commercially-minded tracks, saying: “We’re commercial songwriters, ‘Movin On Up’ was a commercial song, ‘Come Together’ was, ‘Rocks’ was written as a commercial rock song, we have got that side. It’s not like a pressure but to fund the band, to fund this art project, you need commercial success. We don’t have a massive label giving us money anymore, so commercial success would be great because it keeps things going”.

Of course, it is possible that the label giving Primal Scream money back in the 1990s – which in turn was backed by a major likely sitting on cash it made from selling records by chart-topping boybands – helped with the hit making. Which then assured Primal Scream a decently sized audience to sell tickets to.

Not that that’s any fun either. “At the level we’re at and a lot of other people are at, you’ve just got to get out and play lots of gigs, but it means the gig circuit is choc-a-block”, he says. So chock-a-block, I imagine, it almost impossible to sell any tickets these days.

Primal Scream will play three sold out shows in Glasgow, London and Manchester starting later this month.