“Live music is the cure for what ails ya.” Henry Rollins
Well, what a crazy old year this has been!
A lot of things are broken. A lot of people are unhappy. Hell, a lot of people are bloody furious.
There’s a new breed of anxiety that exists within our collective consciousness. We like to think we’re more aware of things, that we’re “woke”, as they say. Personally, I just think we all worry more about more things. Mainly because we keep getting told to worry about more things, more of the time.
Better click on this article, this seems worrying! Oh, look, a discount for Papa Johns!
Am I implying that media creates friction with outrageous headlines and divisive content in order to engage a fearful audience and therefore give advertisers higher numbers to aim at whilst also influencing society’s political and moral outlook?
Damn right I am.
2020 in opticians’ terms means full clarity of sight.
Let’s remember that and see things more clearly for what they are. This also goes for what we hear.
If it looks and sounds like bullshit….
I think it’s time we stopped looking at the world through a screen and stepped outside our own front doors and took a look around.
Kanye will still be there when you get back, don’t worry.
As a lifelong music obsessive and musician, I have watched as “progress” has shut down countless venues in towns that needed them as a hub for the communities of budding artists, thinkers, creatives and misfits.
I know my life would have been drastically different if I didn’t have my local music community when I was growing up. Screaming fuck you down a microphone is much more productive than doing it in the face of a policeman…I’d imagine.
But wait, this isn’t a doom and gloom clickbait advertorial word spew for you get upset about. This is a story of hope.
I played my final show of the year the other night and shared the stage with a few other bands who entertained our beautiful audience of sweaty angels and felt the same joy I felt at my first ever performance as a spotty 16 year old.
This is the basic interaction we have enjoyed as humans forever. Being together and sharing a moment. Whatever your opinions on this year’s events, I am sure we all agree we need to share more moments together.
I had a phone call the other week with today’s Bigger Bubbl guest and we spoke for much longer than a normal work-related call would last. This man is a kindred spirit, a positive energy in a world hellbent on reducing all of us to lifeless gristle.
James Eddleston saw the need to help local grassroots venues and identified a lack of a national, centralised location to inform fans and fellow bands of events happening in their area. Obviously, my Bubbl head immediately knew we could help to deliver info based on location, hence the reason we had a call (I do actually work as well as writing my mad rambles).
I wasn’t expecting to be so inspired by him and his journey. My back was sore so I didn’t stand on my desk shouting “Captain, my captain!” but I was definitely buzzing about seeing Giglist soar and become part of grassroots music.
James, I salute you and will be supporting you in 2020 and beyond.
Eat a mince pie and read this interview. It will bring you joy and it will give you hope:
1. What is Giglist and how did it come about?
GigList is a platform that aims to provide music fans around the world a single place to find events. It came about when I kept missing gigs that I would have liked to have attended if I’d known about them. After a bit of digging around, I realised that in the information age it’s actually a lot harder to find out what events are taking place around you. We wanted to create a site that focuses not on the transaction of ticket sales, but more on the information that fans want to see. It’s a work in progress, of course, but our vision is to create the world’s what’s on guide for music.
2. What challenges does the live music industry face, especially at grassroots level?
I think the streaming and content side of the business is pretty healthy, with the mechanics in place to support a lot more artists than previously. I think the real challenges are on the live side of the industry. Live touring is where most acts can make a genuine career, but finding new fans in a live setting is much harder than it used to be. Quite often gigs are competing against other entertainment options – like the movies or eating out, as it’s no longer a cheap option, and there aren’t as many vehicles to promote and highlight new acts. Plus, smaller venues are still struggling with closures taking place across the country. Finding a platform that enables smaller venues and newer artists to make tangible connections with fans is vital. This is what we’re trying to deliver, with GigList.
3. How is tech contributing to the live music experience for fans? (ticketing, live stream etc)
The live music space is probably a late adopter to technology, which has driven huge disruption in industries like financial services or retail. As a technologist at heart, I believe there is a huge amount of legacy left in the industry that tech can improve for fans. Ticketing has been a contentious point for some time, and there are a number of companies out there exploring options to eradicate the reseller market quickly – such our friends at True Tickets are exploring through the use of Blockchain. Location technology like Bubbl is very interesting too, particularly for those grassroots venues to build engagement, and with tourists and visitors. The potential to use things like live streaming and VR to expand the reach and experience of a gig worldwide is also pretty interesting, although it can’t really replicate the energy of a live audience. Fundamentally though, what really needs to shift is the adoption and acceptance of technology and what it can bring to the industry, which, as I said still has a lot of legacy in how it operates.
4. Is it more difficult for artists to gain a following now, compared to the pre social media days of bands like Oasis, or are is it simply that the challenges are different?
I think the way in which we are exposed to, and consume all content forms is vastly different. Technology advances have meant that people access various types of content on the move and in a continuous stream. Music is no different. That means that instead of just competing for airwaves against other artists, they now have to compete for eye (or ear) space against everything. Social media is a great way of engaging with existing fans, but I’m somewhat doubtful it works to win new ones. Ultimately, artists today have to understand how to brand and market themselves for a much more savvy audience, whereas bands like Oasis innately knew about their brand, but were probably less aware of how to take that brand to market.
5. How important are live music venues for local communities outside of bigger places like London?
Absolutely vital. I think the grassroots and smaller venues are the lifeblood of the industry and unfortunately, with the rising taxes on alcohol and business rates, it’s getting harder and harder for them to make a living. I guess that’s why there’s been a raft of alternative temporary venues, such as churches, laundrettes and bookshops in recent years playing host to fantastic music. However, outside of the main cities, it’s hard, as potential audiences are smaller or have to travel further, but places like the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge show that with the right bookings it’s possible to thrive.
6. What is your dream for GigList?
For us, GigList is our attempt to create genuine value, not only for the fans but also for the parts of the industry that need support. Our dream is to create something globally that offers symbiotic value to the fan and the industry and seeks to bring them closer together.
7. Speaking of dreams, if you could be anyone in any band at any gig or any year – who, what, where and why?
Phew. I think I’d avoid being any of my main heroes like Lennon, Jim Morrison or Robert Plant as it’d ruin it for me, but being James Brown at the Apollo in New York in 1963 sounds like it could be a LOT of fun!
James Eddleston, GigList