Jared of The Black Lips- Jackie Roman/Hell Gate Exclusive- image is copyrighted, not for use without permission
Well I guess these things are cyclical… Doesn’t seem so long ago that the live experience was being held up as the savior of the music bottom line. Now we hear more about the explosion in platforms, great performance figures for internet radio despite Pandora & Rhapsody & artists placing their work in all kinds of original & relentlessly commercial ways… Maybe there is a buck or two in digital….
This article in The Independent yesterday points to some uncomfortable numbers & a few things that have become obvious to the regular gig enthusiast. As the Summer Festival season winds down(don’t forget that Lollapalooza is tomorrow kids and steaming live on Youtube) thoughts are scattered about like the field on the last night Glastonbury.
I don’t like the idea of super groups touring the world for a year earning money the size of a small nation’s GDP. As a music lover I also don’t like the financial commitment involved in sharing a field with a bunch of pasty hipsters for 2 days constantly worrying about going to the bathroom. These sums can start businesses or get your ass to a Mediterranean beach. The cost of regular gig tickets on any night of the week are also way too prohibitive for these shows not to be events. Events are tied more to the hospitality industry, they don’t intertwine with your life in the way a gig used to.
The Chalet/No to VIP area mentality of the likes of ATP are a breath of fresh air & you just hope the glut of small independent festivals can buck the trend of this article.
I’d say the innovation of the likes of Sixth Man is great as long as some principals hold up – getting fans closer to the point of creativity & closer to the artist. Boats & trips abroad are a few upgrades (so hospitality would say) away from straight up elitist BS at ridiculous prices– a bad marketer/Premier Package nightmare.
Great music should come out of the small venues & the clubs & I’d love to see innovation happening there. Day in day out. Now that’s aspiration I don’t need a brochure for.
To revisit tom foolery on the high seas go to Jackie Roman’s photos of The Bruise Cruise
Photo of the Biters by Jackie Roman/Hell Gate Exclusive- image is copyrighted, not for use without permission
Rarely a day goes by where The Hell Gate isn’t discussing the state & the craft of music photography. We are obviously vested in this very subject, as are the people we work with.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of seeing this in print… A Paul Natkin article The Shrinking World of Music Photography in Elmore ( tagline “Saving Music”) goes through some repeated truths: the rise of publicity & sometimes dumb publicity, the three song rule & the rise of “the contract” & how the bottom has fallen out of anyone ever actually getting paid to shoot a gig. All true, point well made.
But let’s talk about what is music photography, let us offer a couple of thoughts;
What is music photography when most artists we work with would never define themselves as music photographers? They would not define themselves in such singular terms when they understand the landscape (& marketplace) they work in. Great photographers quite often shoot great musicians & frequently produce great, great work. The next week, they shoot great actors, fashion designers & architects. Check out a news stand – Is that Adele or Florence Welch cover from a “music photographer?” – All I know is that its great work.
The people who commission and the artists who seek out that photographer know that too. Lets separate great photography from hagiography & iconography. A great music photograph can be drawn from reportage (Kim Badawi) through to high end portraiture (Danny Clinch).
The volume of print media (yes, print media) covering music has exploded in recent years – As above, the lines have blurred between singular (fashion/design/women’s titles/ general pop culture) worlds. There’s nothing singular about the guys taking advantage of that. Not to say that this democratization hasn’t had an effect on budget. This very pervasiveness (One in 6 Americans use Pandora etc) & an explosion in platforms & digital is, again, a huge opportunity. More artists have an opportunity to be heard & to be seen visually than ever before. Think of one break-out band from recent years & I can pinpoint the 1-3 great photographers who carry the content authority on that band- their “go to” photographer.
The guys at the front at the gig: The world is full of live music material & guess what, the laws of supply & demand apply to photographers as well. If what we produce is produced for a wire, then guess what, it will be subject to wire pricing. If what we produce is no better than wire, then guess what, it will be subject to wire pricing.If that is music photography then I wish it would go away.