Record label founder urges bands and fans to shun Scotland's rogue music festivals
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Lost Map Records founder Johnny Lynch, who runs the label on the Isle of Eigg, urged artists to speak out collectively, and called on music fans to shun rogue events which are named and shamed for failing to pay acts their agreed fees.
Lynch, who performs under the name Pictish Trail, runs the Howlin' Fling festivals on Eigg and previously staged events in Fife when he was director of Fence Records.
Lynch did not identify any festivals when he set out his views in an article in The Skinny magazine.
However entertainment unions have previously raised concerns about the running of Doune the Rabbit Hole, one of Scotland’s biggest outdoor festivals, after its organisers went into liquidation last year. The festival has been revived under a different company, despite “significant levels of debt,” affecting artists, crew and suppliers.
Electric Fields, previously staged at Drumlanrig Castle, in Dumfries and Galloway, went into liquidation in 2019 after a backlash when its organisers announced its relocation to Glasgow.
Lynch said: “So much of the narrative around music these days seems to play upon an audience having to make ethical choices.
"Buying a record or a gig ticket is often presented as a way of ‘supporting the artist,’ a philanthropic act, as opposed to a personal choice because you happen to like shaking your ass to their music.
"If you’re someone that makes music for a living, it’s a tough one to navigate.
"You want to convince your audience to invest in what you’re creating, because the pittance generated from streaming services ironically doesn’t even cover your monthly Spotify subscription.
"If you start whining about the state of the industry, though, you come across as a sad charity case, or – worse – an old, bitter charity case.
“However, we need to talk about certain festivals in Scotland. In recent years there have been events where the organisers have decided they simply don’t need to pay the artists. Or pay the crew. Or hire the companies they’ve used.
"As an artist, you don’t really want to publicly complain about not being paid, because it’s embarrassing, and it’s just a rubbish, negative story.
“But it’s a reality, it’s happening frequently, and it’s bulls***. Artists need to collectively speak out about festivals taking the p***, and fans need to ‘support’ them by boycotting.”
Lynch said warning signs included failing to pay deposits in advance, artists and contractors pulling out, and headliners failing to promote their appearances.
He added: “I should say, this isn’t every festival. Scotland’s blessed with plenty good ones, that have built up a loyal following, and thrive on a sense of community.
“But there’s been a number over the past few years that have taken advantage of the goodwill generated by people enjoying music together.
“These events are relatively easy to spot. If you go to their Instagram page or their Facebook, they’ve turned off comments on posts – and deleted posts from previous years’ events, due to artists (and fans) complaining.
“Don’t support; boycott them, and avoid any other events they put on.”