Archive for October, 2016

High Land, Hard Sell

aztec-camera-high-land-hard-rainNothing 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 !

The Scottish Contemporary Pop/Rock Music Centre opening March !

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.

There Will Be Fireworks sleeveHowever 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

Avalanche – the label – History of Scottish Music Centre

   More later in the week and many thanks to all those who have already been in touch.

The State We’re In

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. 

zavviWhen 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 !

Avalanche – the label – History of Scottish Music Centre

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

Purchase your label share with this link

The Scottish Contemporary Pop/Rock Music Centre

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.

Scars Associates Josef K Fire EnginesThis 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

The Scottish Contemporary Pop/Rock Music Centre

History of Scottish Music Centre grant application

Many people asked if there might be any grants to help with setting up if not maybe supporting the History of Scottish Music Centre. Against my better judgement I did apply for a grant from Creative Scotland to help over the next six months but despite being very encouraging and indeed supportive I was told last week they were unable to help. The main thrust seemed to be that the money they had available had been applied for more than six times over. I had been told the research and development grants were under the least financial pressure so that was a surprise.

The other comments were to be honest fairly spurious but will be helpful in confirming over the weeks the direction the centre will take. I could of course reapply but to be honest the points raised were actually already covered in the application, covered in links provided for further information or covered in the meetings we had had and more importantly it would be too great a delay. Things are still on course for next March despite the delay that the waiting to hear has caused and funds were always going to be needed beyond any grant anyway so it just means I’ll need to work even harder on that front.

Fundraising will take the form of sales, subscriptions and donations and there will be far more detail over the coming week or so. As ever thanks to everybody so far for the interest, support and encouragement. Cheers !