This question has come up in a few separate conversations recently. And I find it interesting in that it reveals a number of camps of belief. There are those who believe that all musicians should always be paid, and to ask them to do otherwise is a serious insult. “I don’t ask you if you’d come round and do your professional job for free, or for ‘the exposure’, or for maybe a free drink…” There are the equally passionate camp who believe that all music should be for free. And anyone who charges for it is an artistically bankrupt sellout who is no better than one of the major record labels.

I also find it interesting, because when I was at school I had it drilled into me by my guitar teacher that no musician ever really makes money out of music. You’ll get ripped off by the industry, or just waste your time for pennies. We had a joke: “What’s the difference between a professional guitarist and a 12 inch deep-pan pizza? Answer: the deep-pan pizza can feed a family of four.” So I resigned myself to music just being a hobby. Then it occurred to me that it might be a part-time income. And now I’m really taking the idea seriously that it might be a full-time income.

But I still do work for free, provided it is (a) fun and (b) not a huge drain on my time. It can be a good way to meet new people, try new things, and I feel there’s no pressure because, hey, you’re not paying me! Music is like any other job: it has its quirks, and it’s less easy to rigidly compartmentalise as you might think. A mechanic, for example, might well fix a friend’s car for free, because that car is an original Shelby AC Cobra, and it is a pleasure just to touch it. But they’re not going to help you out with your Ford Fiesta. Continue reading

“This is the real me, ladies…”: Midnite Vultures by Beck

Do you ever get that thing, when you’re scrolling through your music library and choosing what to listen to next, and you happen upon an album that you used to love, and you think: “Oh, I forgot this even existed! And now… I know I’m going to hate it.” That was my experience a few days ago when, tidying my office, I was looking for something upbeat and energetic that I hadn’t listened to a million times recently, and I happened upon the 1999 album Midnite Vultures by Beck.

Obviously, I didn’t hate it, or I wouldn’t be writing about it for a website called Eulogize This. But what I loved about it was absolutely not what I was expecting. Not least because this time I was really, really expecting to hate it. But let me backtrack a little. Continue reading

There ought to be a German compound word for ‘an artist working primarily in popular music, but for whom their music videos, album art, clothes, iconography and general sense of style are almost as important’.

‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ comes close, although that describes the art itself, not the artist. Anyway, if there isn’t a German word, there’s definitely an Icelandic one: Björk. But others include Madonna, Prince, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae… and Canadian musician, songwriter, record producer and visual artist Grimes. Continue reading

If you were to approach me (and you wouldn’t, but if you did) and say you wanted to make a video with you rapping in a park surrounded by 20 of your mates, I would tell you not to do it. And that’s not a reflection on your rapping skills. I mean, you might be terrible, but that’s not the point. Even if you were really good. I would tell you it’s a really bad idea. Continue reading