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Article from Making Music, January 1987

"Expensive Habits" by Simon Garfield (£5.95)

"THE MORE informative subtitle on the front is "the dark side of the music industry". Mr Garfield's scheme is to tell the story of how various musicians and songwriters (often both) have been ripped off. He reports that most artists, when finally offered a deal after months or years of trying, thoughtlessly and rapidly sign away the financial and business side. It can cause terrible trouble in later (or not so later) career, he shows.

Stories of Duran's MENCAP disaster, the sorry tale of Lindisfarner Ray Jackson's solo career, the lengthy outro on Hazel O'Connor, and the publishing traumas of Gilbert O'Sullivan are well worth reading through to the end.

There are some fascinating titbits along the way. Let's see. The Nolan Sisters' fan club told its members which shops to get their free poster from when they bought a single — and Gallup said a high proportion of these shops happened to be chart return shops. Gallup's annual fee for running the chart in 1985 was £300,000: the BPI (ie record companies) paid £150,000, the BBC £34,500, and 'Music Week' trade rag £115,500.

A few more samples? OK. The concept of packing in punters beyond safe fire regulations is known as 'rubber walls' in promoterspeak. Morrissey's rider for £50-worth of flowers per gig to distribute to the audience specified the inclusion of gladioli and "no roses or other flowers with thorns, please". And point number 16 in Malcolm McLaren's Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle 'manifesto' for use with the Sex Pistols was: "Remove any members of the group who show signs of developing musical ability. Replace them with gimmick's designed purely to upset people."

The final implication of this book is that power can only be fought by power. Like when Sting momentarily "shook a smug industry" by issuing a writ against Virgin Music over royalty splits on publishing. You and I haven't really got a chance, runs the subtext.

Or have we? As Pete Townshend says, "I don't think any band worth its oats ever picked up a guitar because it wanted wealth..." Read this book, and you'll at least have an idea of who often ends up with that apparently unwanted cash.

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Skill Centre

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Hard Times

Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Jan 1987


Previous article in this issue:

> Skill Centre

Next article in this issue:

> Hard Times

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