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Monday, 29 April 2013

The adventures of Robbie Williams and the Billy Bragg experience

So Robbie Williams is wondering aloud where all the protest singers are.
(He did this in The Sun. So most will be forgiven for missing it.)

Well it may surprise him, but they didn't go the way of the dinosaur, but are in fact alive and well.
They're everywhere, but I'm not surprised that Robbie hasn't noticed them, as the music business isn't looking to invest in anyone who predominately pushes a political message.
That's why they aren't in his line of sight.

Consider the music business as being run in the same manner as a supermarket.

As soon as you walk in the door then at eye level is your Rhianna's and One Direction's.
The stuff they want to sell you, and that they know is popular.
Meanwhile your protest singers are in the aisle where the boot polish is kept, and even then you have to dig deep behind the fire lighters to find them.
They're at the back of the bottom shelf on the least visited aisle in the supermarket.
That's where they are.

Then if you consider that Robbie probably gets his meals delivered to him, and doesn't actually take a trip to the supermarket, then it becomes completely understandable why he thinks that the protest singers are the Dodo's of the music world.

This is just the way of things though.
Nothing has changed really.
What people need to accept is that the music business is viewed as having a lower case m and capital B by those who sit on the boards of labels.
They aren't about investing in talent, or promoting music as an artistic statement.
They are interested in profit, and that alone.
The financial bottom line is everything to them.

The only time that they will look to invest in an artist who could be described as a protest singer is if that person has drawn enough attention to themselves as being someone who can generate a buck for them.
If you want to broaden that out a bit to beyond the individual then consider rock and roll.
It was the devils music and no business was willing to put any money into it.
Fast forward a bit and then when they seen the dispensable income of the teenager floating about in the post war years they decided they wanted a slice of the pie, and all of a sudden rock and roll was absorbed into the mainstream.
The same thing has happened with every underground scene.

Basically there has to be the lure of filthy lucre, or they have no interest.
It's a case of there has to be a demand for it, and then they will supply it.
They don't play the game the other way around.

So the answer to the question put forth by Robbie Williams is that they are out there, but not where you are looking Robbie mate, and that's not going to change any time soon.

Unfortunately it doesn't matter how much some of us would wish to change this, because part of the problem is that more people want to watch The Only Way is Essex than Newsnight, and in the same way the audience is there for The Saturdays but not TV Smith, and until that changes then we are stuck with what the majority want.

If Robbie really does want to hear some songs with a bit of attitude about them, songs that challenge, ones that reflect the ills of society and demand to know why things aren't changing for the better, then what he can do is drop me a line.
I'll happily fix him up with some protest singers.
I'm knee deep in them here.

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