Anyone who read Mark Nohr's fascinating insight into the world of the A&R men back in the August issue might be forgiven for feeling depressed at the current prospects for securing record company interest in their music. It seems that the signing of new talent - at least from the point of view of the 'majors' - rests largely on artistes already having made a name for themselves in some way. These days, notoriety appears to be the attribute most likely to open record company coffers - particularly if it has brought you to the attention of the tabloids. Only those with a starring role in a current soap opera or prepared to run naked across a football pitch need apply.
As someone who has followed closely the machinations of the record companies over the years, nothing has given me greater pleasure than to have seen them consistently caught wrong-footed by ignoring popular interest in virtually every significant musical development until the ground-swell of opinion has forced them to act - usually belatedly - to supply demand. Dance was but the most recent example.
One of the ways this regularly occurs is through bands amassing an intensely loyal following through the consistency of their live performances. Build up a substantial cult following and watch the record companies fall over themselves in a race to sign you up. No matter how small, a sell-out gig, is in microcosm, the success a band could well being enjoying nationally. And record companies know it.
Of course, this places considerable demands on your professionalism - an area paid scant attention by all too many bands. And for those involved in the hi-tech side of things, there's the added burden of dependency on equipment ill-suited to live work. Nothing is guaranteed to kill a gig stone dead like a three-minute wait to load new data into a sequencer - no matter what your vocalist's skills as a stand-up comedian.
That's why Music Technology is committing itself to regular coverage of the techniques and equipment, used in live performance - beginning this month with the problems faced by those who compose on sequencers at home or in the studio and then have to risk taking them on stage.
There's still a popular perception of bands only being worthy of the name if they are capable of turning in a live performance. And this, perhaps, is no bad thing. If a band who have sold as many records as Kraftwerk can still take the trouble to get up and do it on stage, those further down the ladder have no choice but to pack their gear and head down to the Rat & Screwdriver for the Tuesday night gig.
Music Technology says: keep musicians alive...