The Bullog – January 2022

Happy New Year Bullogers!

Money versus Music?

Let’s start the new year with a quick quiz.

What’s the connection between the following numbers?

550 – 250 – 325 – 50 – 250 – 84

No idea?

OK, here’s a very big clue:

Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Paul Simon, Neil Young.

Might these be the artists who appear on my Spotify playlist entitled “Music from my Youth”? Well, you would be partially right. However, the answer I’m looking for is that these are all artists who have recently sold the rights to their back catalogues of music – either to big record labels or to private equity investors. The list of numbers is in order, the reported amount in US dollars that each artist received (or in David Bowie’s case, his estate given he passed away at just 69 years old in January 2016).  It leaves me wondering, is this a good thing for music and musicians, lesser known ones in particular? Indeed, is this a good thing for the rest of us who simply love listening to music?

As regular Bullogers know, I use this monthly epistle to critique some of the less savoury sides of capitalism – not to jump on the business-bashing-bandwagon, but more from the viewpoint of how we might make it a bit better. I’ve been pondering a lot about these deals and although the music industry is certainly not my area of expertise, I have to say that I have some significant concerns.

In order for these investors to make money, they’re going to have to sell on the rights to use these songs to a mixture of filmmakers, advertisers, streaming service providers and the like. Are we going to be fed a diet of Simply the Best, Bridge over Troubled Water, Born in the USA until we are blue in the face? Don’t get me wrong, these are brilliant songs from fabulous, talented artists – I love them all.  However, the music is in many cases decades old. How are we going to create the next Beatles, Bowies and Dillons if all the money in music is going to those who have already benefited massively financially from the days when the industry seemed far more egalitarian. My understanding is that streaming services like Spotify are slowly killing grassroots music. If you are an up-and-coming artist, even with a fairly significant following on social media and tens of thousands of monthly listeners to your music, you’ll struggle to pay the rent and the bills from the royalties you receive from our friends at Spotify. Where’s the incentive to learn to play an instrument or write music if you’re destined to live on the bread line? 

I doubt we’re going to reverse this trend any time soon.  So what’s to be done about it?

Well, one idea could be to channel a share of these royalties into a Global Fund for Music.  After all, we already have a Global Fund for Health and a Global Fund for Education.  These are a mix of multilateral donor funds combined with private money in order to provide health and education to the most needy around the world.  I wonder if the same logic could be applied to music, where some of this vast private wealth could be matched by government money to provide something analogous to a Universal Basic Income to up-and-coming musicians. While we’re at it, might we want to do the same for grassroots art by tapping into the spiralling sums of money which great art works are traded for?

I doubt that the people who are benefiting financially from these deals, be it the investors or the artists themselves, care much for this. But it could be a perfect initiative for a young intrapreneur in the likes of Sony or Warner Chapell Music to initiate an internal initiative to create a grass roots music fund.  After all, it might just make their company more attractive to other well-known artists considering such a deal.

Who knows – with a bit of creativity and lateral thinking, we might be able to turn this slightly unsavoury trend into a real opportunity to catalyse and promote a need breed of talented musicians around the world.

2022: Ready for a reset?

I don’t think many of us will be mourning the end of 2021.  It’s been quite a difficult year for all sorts of reasons, the obvious “p-word” (or is it a c-word?) in particular. However, I recall feeling exactly the same way this time last year after nine months of periodic lockdowns.

Naïvely, I’d hoped that one year on we might have been able to really celebrate Christmas and New Year with family and friends in the traditional way. Once again, we found ourselves subject to varying degrees of restrictions and many of us being nervous about mixing indoors. 

Last January I was inspired to write a blog “Brake or break? A new pace for business in the new year” and I think as relevant this year as it was in 2021. Take a look and see what you think.

Again, like last year, The Craigberoch Business Decelerator is going to be organising another virtual event called RESET 2022 which is free and open to all.  We got great feedback last year from participants of all ages, stages and backgrounds who found it a very refreshing way to start the new year at a different pace.

Go on, take 30 seconds to register here today. What have you got to lose?

Best of the rest……

December was a much quieter month on the work front than normal and I have to admit, that was a welcome slowdown after a very busy year. That said, it was a good opportunity to do some strategic planning for the new year with the Core Team and I’m really excited about what 2022 has in store.  We will be looking to bring on some additional support in the area of Comms and Marketing and on the Finance and Accounting side. In an ideal world, we would hire local staff based on the Isle of Bute given community impact is part of our mission, but we are open to having virtual support from literally anywhere in the world. So, if you, personally are interested or know of any friends /colleagues with the right skills, then please do get in touch.

On the personal front…….

The snow arrived early this year and it was great to get back out on the skis.  In mid December I drove back to Scotland with Penny the Dog for the festive period, however managed to have a lovely little Christmas party in Geneva’s Old Town with some friends before I left.  As part of the road trip, we stopped off for a few days in London where I was able to take part in a traditional festive golf match called Whisky and Mince Pies, at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club in Richmond. The rules are a little complex and played in a Texas Scramble format (for the golfers amongst you) but basically involve downing a tot of whisky for good scores and a mince pie as a penalty for bad scores.  I’m not sure which hurt more the next day – my head or my stomach.

The Isle of Bute was a perfect place as ever for Christmas or New Year spent with my mum and sister’s family. On both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day I joined some friends for a dip in the rather chilly Firth of Clyde for some open water swimming which is growing in popularity nationally.  There was of course plenty of dog walking when back on dry land in the amazing rural countryside.

OK, that’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here.  Until next month,


* The Bullog  = Bulloch + BlogMake sense?  Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.