While I was in the Grassmarket I opened the door one day to find a small package that had been put through the letter box. That wasn’t too unusual so I put it on the counter and went about opening up. Fifteen minutes later I got round to opening it only to find £1,500 in £50 notes and a short note saying they had read the blog manifesto and wanted to help. Not only was it indeed a great help but psychologically it was a huge boost that somebody had made such a gesture. I was of course unable to thank them and at the time didn’t want to make a thing of it online but always hoped somehow I’d find out who it was but never did.
It was an incredibly generous gesture and I’m not expecting anything like that again. However if I’m to continue I am going to need to cover basic costs and as I’ve said before in terms of future official funding showing people have made a contribution no matter how small is a great help. As the cliche goes just the price of a cup of coffee would help a lot. I will of course keep everybody informed of what is being achieved thanks to the donations. I can also provide bank details and I’m very happy to discuss sponsorship.
Those not familiar with the idea behind the centre will find lots more on the blog just scroll down. http://www.avalancherecords.co.uk/
A few things have become clearer and I’ll cover them briefly here. I knew I would have the wherewithal to have the centre up and running in some way by March but I’m thinking it would be best to hold out and get the best location possible. The centre will undoubtedly be a destination but I really want to have people who pass by to be enticed in too and for that there needs to be people passing by ! I have a preferred location and will persevere with that for now. I am still working to a March deadline and that with support is possible.
My intention had been to use Avalanche’s reputation and contacts to help establish the centre but then let the centre stand on its own two feet. However all the people I have spoken to have said that the Avalanche name should not be lost as that is an asset to the project and I have no problem with that at all so long as it is clear it will be a different type of Avalanche.
The intention will remain to be even-handed among all the genres we intend to cover but as has already been well documented contemporary rock and pop as I have to call it is an area that has little to no representation among lobbying groups so it may be necessary to fight that corner sometimes just to make the playing field level. You only have to look at this year’s BBC Sound of 2017 to see what happens both in terms of geography and genre when lobbyists get their way.
I met with the Scottish Music Centre (“a member development organisation with classical members and two youth music projects” according to their press officer) in Glasgow who were concerned that folk might think the centre was dedicated to them and suggested a name change. Considering “The Only Fun In Town”.
The response has been fantastic and the centre has been offered many items and in particular photos that haven’t been seen for decades but I now need to get the finances in order as it simply isn’t possible to dedicate this much time to a project of this size without some assistance. Moving forward when dealing with bodies like Creative Scotland and Edinburgh Council they look for evidence of support from the public.
To be fair everybody thinks it is a great idea but these days there are such limited funds out there that being able to show public involvement and engagement helps a lot. To this end I will set up a simple donation button and will see what the response is. Even a small donation will help with the “engagement” numbers and that old cliche about donating the price of a cup of coffee will hold true. I’ll prepare a mission statement much as I did when we moved to the Grassmarket and take it from there.
1.= Conor Oberst – Ruminations
1.= Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
4. Mogwai – Atomic
5. Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack
6. Emma Pollock – In Search Of Harperfield
7. The Filthy Tongues – Jacob’s Ladder
8. Teenage Fanclub – Here
9. PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
10. Steve Mason – Meet The Humans
11. David Bowie – ★ (blackstar)
12. Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
13. King Creosote – Astronaut Meets Appleman
14. Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
15. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
16. Richmond Fontaine – You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To
17. Modern Studies – Swell To Great
18. DJ Shadow – The Mountain Will Fall
19. Savages – Adore Life
20. Minor Victories – Minor Victories
Simply couldn’t decide between the top two and what fantastic albums they are. Leonard Cohen knowing he is dying produces one of the best albums of his career and Conor Oberst returns to form just when it looked like he might never produce another truly great album again. Another year Nick Cave could easily have been at the top !
Thanks to everybody who came along yesterday (Saturday 19th) to St Mary’s Street, Avalanche really couldn’t ask for better regulars. If I have a worry it is that there was no passing trade even on a Saturday something that wasn’t a total surprise after our time there last year. It did of course coincide with the festivities starting around Princes Street and as I’ve said for many years now the harm this causes to businesses outwith that enclave should not be underestimated. It will be interesting to see how The Arches fare this year.
I also had people in to chat about the History of Scottish Music Centre which was good to see. As the Tron proved it isn’t just about footfall but the right footfall and the vast majority of Edinburgh’s visitors definitely seem to fall into the “tourist” category. Edinburgh should really consider following what every other major city does and actively aim to attract those who want to see beyond the tartan tat shops and the castle. Again a big thanks for all the interest and support.
Some of you may remember I did originally intend to have a small selection of stock in Gerry Gapinski’s new gallery shop in St Mary’s Street but in the end I settled for simply using it for our click and collect as there really wasn’t the space. However after a pop-up shop I had hoped to get from the council in time for Christmas fell through he’s kindly offered me enough space to offer a decent selection of vinyl, CDs, DVDs and one or two other things more of which later. We’ll struggle to find space for posters but we will reassess that once everything else is in.
The shop will also act as a point of contact for the History of Scottish Music Centre and I will be about Thursday to Saturday. More on the HofSMC also very soon. This really is just a brief cameo to help me clear stock but I’ll bring in all the Discogs stuff which is a 1,000 plus interesting items straight away. There will be a large rack of Scottish band CDs and of course Avalanche t-shirts. I saw Gerry today to provisionally work out some space and we’ll have something in place for this Thursday.
Those who don’t know the shop you won’t be able to miss it ! There is a large bull’s head above the door going back to when it was a tannery. If anybody has any memorabilia that they think might be of use to HofSMC do pop in for a chat.
Nothing I think sums up how hard it is to actually get people to buy stuff these days than my recent Aztec Camera tweet for “High Land, Hard Rain” . If we have something exclusively then social media is a great way to let people know and for us twitter works better than facebook. If the artist involved lets their followers know then we will sell even more. However with something like the recent tweet posted a couple of times for this seminal Aztec Camera album on vinyl for a mere £11.95 we drew a blank and that is by far the most likely outcome. A fair few told their followers and I’m always grateful that people do that. A lot of people “liked” we were selling it but sadly as of yet there has been no sale.
To some extent this is to be expected as you are “preaching to the converted” but the hope is always that only one person needs to be tempted. My hope though for the History of Scottish Music Centre (or whatever we end up calling it) is that we can introduce new folk to the wonders of Orange Juice and the Shop Assistants but most of all that we can bring them right up to date with the new releases of current bands. With such illustrious predecessors today’s artists might want to think about upping their game !
When I said The History of Scottish Music Centre (The Scottish Contemporary Pop/Rock Music Centre when dealing with Creative Scotland or Edinburgh Council) would definitely open in March I realised it wouldn’t be the best fund raising thing to say. The trick with crowd funding in particular is to have a target and then drum up support on the basis nothing will happen unless the target is reached. A very reasonable premise in most cases. So just to be clear there are a lot of opportunities available to a well supported centre. As I’ve already said the extent, size and location will be determined by the initial support. I’m not holding my breath waiting for any arts funding and the council certainly want to help but if all else fails I will be able to get a basic model up and running myself.
However while some opportunities are not time sensitive others are and it would be a huge shame to lose them due to lack of funds. Many artists and bands have already offered their support which is greatly appreciated and in a way the centre will be very focused on bringing Scottish music new and old to visitors but what is needed now is help from those who are already well aware of the wealth of great Scottish music produced over the last five decades. Supporting local Scottish bands was never a financial decision. Selling lots of Bright Eyes albums meant we could support Withered Hand and Meursault for instance and when they started to do well that enabled us to support the next wave of new bands like There Will Be Fireworks. Of course now that idea is squeezed at both ends and at the expense of reaching new people.
Many of you have suggested crowd funding and I will have news on that later in the week. Again delays there have been caused by the amount of interest which is of course a positive thing. Lots of support from the media too which I’m always grateful for. For now from as little as £1 a month you can sign up for emails and information on your favourite band(s). Just a hundred people signing up for instance would make a big difference when discussing the interest there is. To be fair not many need persuading but it is often stats like this that help. You can sign up here
You can also support the Avalanche label by investing, getting all the releases for free as interest and then getting your money back if you wish after a year. More on the blog below or via the shop link
More later in the week and many thanks to all those who have already been in touch.
When the indies were a lot bigger the non-indie shops were more prevalent too. There was not just HMV but Virgin, Our Price and several other “chains”. Indies had their own section within major record companies and for one of the largest that department could be maintained so long as the indies’ share of the sales stayed above 12%. At that time indies sold a lot of indie stuff from indie labels so 12% seemed a lot. It transpired that half of these indie sales were not really sales at all but certain indies being sold CDs at a price they could then wholesale them on. It wasn’t too hard to spot as 1,000 CDs of the same title even then going to a fairly small shop clearly wasn’t right. In the end with the indies only really at 5% it wa decided the pretence could go on no longer and things were restructured.
When Virgin were clearly in trouble Branson wanted to distance himself from the shops closing and gave his management team a large financial incentive to take over and rebrand as Zavvi hoping that when the inevitable happened people might have forgotten they had all been Virgins. A year later when the inevitable was about to happen Zavvi blamed their supplier who also supplied the failed Woolworths rather than admit they were about to go under anyway. Nobody questioned why they weren’t being supplied directly from record companies to start with. This is how things have always been but it has never been more important. HMV’s model leads inevitably to continual downsizing and eventual closure while the vinyl revival is the smoke in the smoke and mirrors so often deployed.
The reason it matters so much is because by the time everybody has to hold their hands up it will be too late. This is not about shops this is about new music. The current model is so skewed towards artists with an established fan base that new music doesn’t stand a chance. Again the music industry can pretend otherwise but people aren’t buying new music and they aren’t going to the gigs either. Yes not all sales are registered and sales are lost but you add in all those things and sales are still dreadful. And no it is not because people are illegally downloading !
It is in just about everybody’s short term interest for things to continue this way so don’t expect any change soon. However do expect to see this blog piece in two or three years time !
Old Avalanche label stock still sells to this day and of course is known worldwide. I’ll be using the label to reissue some older Scottish bands’ albums, more recent best sellers and indeed some new artists too mostly but not exclusively on vinyl. There is a lot of love for both Avalanche and Scottish bands throughout the world and all the releases will be made available on every continent simultaneously along with some exciting promotions. The label will look to break even though that is not to say I won’t be trying to make money from releases. What it means is any money that is made will be put back into other releases that I suspect may do well but not quite break even.
I can afford to finance one release at a time but would like to do more. It is certainly more cost effective to have several releases at one time. To this end I’m looking for investors who will put in £500 for a share. In return investors will receive copies of all the releases, be credited on those releases and after 12 months can ask for the money to be returned. A fair rate of interest I think ! Certainly people can buy more than one share if they wish and of course all involved will receive regular updates. Very happy to receive investment from other labels many of whom have a soft spot for Scottish bands.
Bank details can be provided if preferred. All questions to email@example.com
Purchase your label share with this link
One concern Creative Scotland seemed to have was that all genres wouldn’t be covered by the centre. I had thought this had been addressed in the blog and in conversations we had had. In particular it was made clear that traditional folk music would need its own custodian. Indie folk of course was a different matter ! As for other genres such as pop or dance or jazz they will of course have a place but the greatest body of work in terms of history undeniably belongs to the punk / post punk / indie world and in fact part of my research I made clear would have been to make sure earlier 60s and early 70s bands were fairly represented. From the mid 80s of course Avalanche was open and the shop had covered all Scottish artists so I was well versed in all genres after that.
This from the first blog “For context firstly I discovered I inhabit the world of pop/rock if I’m talking to Edinburgh Council and contemporary music when speaking to Creative Scotland. Not a great start as it became immediately apparent that they don’t differentiate between Ed Sheeran and Withered Hand. Secondly it also became clear early on that commercial pop rock being so “popular” meant it was deemed not to need the help other less popular genres and arts needed. This seemed counter intuitive to me meaning the less popular something was the more chance it had of being supported but those already involved in this world confirmed this was exactly the case. Similarly music in general being more popular than other areas of the arts meant it again often received the short end of the stick.”
Of course it is still my intention to provide a balanced view over the decades. My first blog ended with the comment “So a Scottish Contemporary Pop Rock Music Centre (only with a far better name obviously)”. May still need to work on the name !
The original blog can be read here