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Luddite and paranoid - why the big record labels failed at digital

Martin Mills

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The patrons are going to be largely commercial so brands that see an advantage to a certain kind of artist, and that is putting art far to close to commerce. That would mean marginal music wouldn't exist, you'd only have music that had a commercial upside for sponsors. That's a world none of us really want to see.

We shouldn't make it impossible to earn a living from music. The fact is in Britain you can't earn a living from live music. You can if you're a covers band in America – there's an opportunity to go out and play a couple of nights a week in a bar in America. You can't do that in the UK, not a chance.

Any band playing in a venue up to and in some cases including Brixton Academy are being subsidized by the record company. So bands that play Shepherds Bush Empire, or The Garage or The Forum aren't making money.

Frankly that's one of the cancers at the root of the industry – the cost of playing live and the revenues from playing live don't add up. It's not viable on its own. As a result you can't make money from playing live - so you have to make money from the commercial replication of your recordings.

The London music venues are sewn up with one promoter.

And partly it's to do with the cost of property in the UK, with salaries, staff, with security - you've got to have all of these things, and in an unsubsidized arena it costs a lot of money to put on a show.

I find the debate around the secondary ticket market that MPs looked at recently quite fascinating. It works pretty well, even with the distortion created by the agencies getting big allocations first. But if tickets are undervalued shouldn't venues charge more?

Maybe. Perhaps you could invent a flexible pricing model based on the way EasyJet fill their seats. That would be quite interesting. That's not my business though.

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