Funding – Born To Be Wide and Wide Days

After Olaf’s comments on Facebook about the lack of support he receives re funding for Born To Be Wide and Wide Days I felt it was the right time to comment myself.  

The problem with the funding process going by what I see from the outside is that giving out funding is a job in itself. It gives people work. Of course there will be some successes but nobody ever judges whether there is any better success rate than simply sticking a pin in all the applications. If a lot of funding doesn’t work, and there is plenty of evidence that it doesn’t, nobody is ever going to say so because they would be out of a job. Similarly if you are a studio being paid to give a young band the “experience” of being in the studio then you are not going to send them on their way saying they aren’t ready.

Things have to be done properly and boxes have to be ticked and and I totally sympathise with those handing out funds that this is the case and not of their making. However almost by definition it means the kind of person who thinks to apply for funding is the kind of artist who shouldn’t be given funding in the same way that who the fuck goes to music school to be in a band. Just get a few mates together and form a band.

What I do see is good work being done by community facilities in places like Fife and West Lothian giving kids who have formed bands a chance to record. I regularly get kids in asking me to listen to their recordings and of course they are shit and sound a bit like the View or the Arctic Monkeys or god forbid The Stone Roses but they have got it out of their system and will hopefully come up with something more original the next time. You may think I’m being harsh here but generally the kids do really appreciate being told the truth and do go away looking to do something better. I always do encourage them to come back and many do.

There is a lot more needs saying about funding and certainly virtually all I know comes from those who have been involved in giving out funds or have been successful. The argument dragged up over and over again is that those who complain are merely doing so cos they were unsuccessful themselves.

I hope I can call Olaf a good friend. I’ve known him since he was a boy ! I have however criticised BTBW for perpetuating some of the problems the music industry faces. Seminars on how to get on the radio or onto a festival bill just have the usual suspects say the usual things which we all know aren’t really how it pans out in reality. Some of the people who go are the sort of people who go to music industry things because that is what they do. However he does get important people to speak that very few others could get to come to Scotland, he does it on a minimal budget and for all my carping a lot of good is done which is more than can be said for many of the projects I see funded by various bodies.

I normally claim to have no vested interest in these things but even I am fed up with hearing dreadful and dated advice that has been given to the kids who come in to see me. There is no joined up thinking in the whole process of what happens after recording and often the advice seems to have come from those who are clearly “out of the loop” when I would say there are others including myself far more qualified to help. There are many people who know how many hours a week I spend helping young (and sometimes not so young ) bands but there is no box that ticks in terms of being paid for my time. To be fair I could organise a proper advice seminar after work and that might attract funding but in the real world that is not how it works and even in these precarious financial times I will always find time for the bands that come to see me.

Most importantly many cynically use the funding process to get money, sometimes over and over again, and Olaf is definitely one of the good guys whose heart is in the right place. In the cliquey, back slapping Scottish music industry that counts for little and indeed may count against you.  

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