Many of my regular readers know that I love music. Music is the reason this blog even exists. I review a lot of music both here on this blog and on a few other music sites that I am currently writing for.
I work hard at my writing and spend a huge amount of my time exposing myself to new artists, listening to music that is new to me and checking out bands live. I try not to be unkind to musicians even when I don’t like the music.
One thing that I have learned in the time that I have been doing this is that most musicians struggle to make a living. I have been lucky enough to meet some fantastic people on my journeys around the grassroots festivals, many of the musicians I have met I am now proud to call friends. I know first hand that these people work incredibly hard to scrape a living, they are constantly away from home, sleeping in tents or in their cars, driving thousands of miles to play in front of anyone who will listen.
The music industry is notoriously exploitative, for those lucky enough to get signed to a label punitive contracts often mean that even successful bands struggle. Streaming makes things even more difficult, services like Spotify pay artists a pittance and the sheer volume of online music makes it increasingly more difficult for talent to find an audience.
I thought I had seen it all until yesterday. I came across a blogger that is trying to charge artists to review their material. £5 for a review of a single or EP. £10 for a review of an album. Now this wasn’t a major outlet but a small time blog with barely any following. The reality of this is that an already struggling artists is being asked to pay out without any realistic prospect of receiving any exposure in return.
I have been lucky enough to build a reasonable following on this blog and can offer exposure in mediums with considerably more clout than I have. Let me say this very clearly. Never in a million years would I ask an artist to pay me to review their music. I regard it as a gift that artists are willing to ask my opinion on their art. If I can help them even a little I regard that as a gift too.
I am perhaps fortunate in that I get a small income from my writing elsewhere and from selling the odd photograph but in any successful relationship both parties have to benefit. If I were a high profile blogger with millions of subscribers then I could probably earn a decent income from advertising and from amazon market place but I would never and will never ask an artist to pay me for reviewing their music.