Never has it been easier to get the information you need online whether that be wanting to start up a business or make music and yet never has there been more hands-on help available either thanks to lottery money. In a world with infinite funding that would be fine but as we all know new extra funding is now closer to infinitesimal than infinite these days and maybe it is time for some of the current funding to be redirected.
I suggested a drop-in centre several years ago to Creative Scotland and they agreed that it would great for bands to have somewhere they could go to for advice but they didn’t have the extra funds needed. Not that long ago I suggested the same thing so somebody was on hand to help with all the form filling. Again I got the same response about lack of funds.
As with my comment last week about professionals trying to fit job-related tweets into a Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule, the same is true with the help for the arts. I understand the need for forms and checks as a lot of the funds come from the lottery and grants need to be justified but the whole system is now so regimented that it is not geared towards the creative but more to the well organised and persistent. Worthy traits these may be but not always top of the list for rock ‘n’ roll bands. Think of a few of your favourite bands and then imagine them being asked to fill out forms, attend meetings and network !
The same applies in business, especially for start-ups. I’ve often met people laid off from their office or bank job with a decent pay-off and they want to start a business and can’t get enough of meetings, seminars and mentors because that is what they are used to.
Others though, be they simply younger folk or “creatives”, can find it all a bit off-putting. Especially with young people I think to be honest it is good to give them all the information they need and then let them get on with it, with the proviso they can return for advice as and when they need it.
Creative Scotland and all these business help organisations insist all this current “help” is necessary but struggle once you remind them that it wasn’t that long ago businesses and bands started up with little to no help at all. There is an overwhelming feeling that the needs of those being helped are not the first concern.
At least with businesses there is focus on actually reaching the public with your product or service. Nowadays making music is easy and the difficulty is getting anybody to listen. However all the focus and money is spent on the relatively easy part of making music and putting on a few gigs for those that have taken part.
In the early days of the internet young folk were told by older folk who knew no better that making physical product and getting it into shops was not the be all and end all that it used to be because now you could now put your music on the internet and the whole world could hear it. “Could” was the key word, of course. In reality the whole world would ignore it, when at least in a shop it would be on the shelf and yes it could be ignored too but at least it had a chance.
Nowadays I would say shops are not really the answer either but can still play a part in a wider scheme to reach people with music that is still tangible. As for drop-in centres for advice I suspect they will not happen until current funding is redirected.
We must get the nostalgia balance right
Nostalgia is rife on social media and never more so than at Christmas. I’m as guilty as most and of course there is nothing wrong at all with looking back to happy and some would say simpler times. Also to a large extent, unless you buy the T-shirt, it is free. You can spend all day watching old Top of the Pops, classic TV and reminiscing about old football matches and not spend a penny.
However I do try to get a balance and we must still look forward too. Most of all I think this applies to music as it seems to have suffered more than most from the nostalgia boom. I say music but really what I mean is new artists. Nostalgia has kicked in, nowhere more than in the vinyl revival, but it also extends to the music being bought. This year more old music was bought than new music, and this applies even more to vinyl than any other format.
Sadly, young people cannot be relied on to support new young bands in the numbers that are needed – and by support I mean spend hard cash. On the other hand young bands are often not giving people something worth buying. My hope for 2017 is that new artists produce something worth people spending their money on and then young and not so young alike support them.
Festive figures need scrutinised
After that amazing increase in year-on-year footfall for the “city centre” I mentioned last week I fully expect an amazing increase in ticket sales to be announced.
I noticed that Edinburgh City Council, which gets a share of the profits both from Christmas and New Year, got nothing for 2015 “due to decreased ticket sales from the impact of the bad weather, the Paris attacks and the extended closure of the Forth Road Bridge.” Hardly difficult to beat this year, especially after mostly good weather.
It still isn’t clear what happens to all the stall rents which must raise a significant amount of money and of course are received whatever the circumstances. So far the council have received nothing from the profit share in two of the three years it has been in operation which is red flagged in their report under “Ensure the council is not financially exposed”.
In fact, despite having supposedly transferred “all financial risk” the “council continued to cover unbudgeted costs of £144,901 as a result of the police charges”.
Surely given the council’s finances all of this year’s figures need to be closely scrutinised as soon as they are available.