The music scene ain’t what it used to be (and it’s all your fault)

Tom corneill house

Have you ever asked a great local musician “How are you not famous?!” after a great set? Well, this article answers that question. In this article I'm going to come across sensitive, angry and more than a little sorry for myself but it is in fact a cry for help. Your help. On behalf of musicians everywhere.

Yep, I know, it’s a pretty damning title and I deliberated over it for a long time but you know what? It’s true in too many cases. It’s a topic that’s so pertinent to me it’s made me almost give up music several times and as recently as...well, now.

There is of course one simple reason why an artist might not have ‘made it’ and that’s that they just don’t appeal to a lot of people. But aside from the fact there is an audience for everyone (see George Formby, through punk, through Tom Waits and beyond) it also simply isn’t true; I know several unquestionably brilliant musicians who appeal to the masses and have still become disillusioned and given up.

Question: do you pay for the music you listen to?


Think of the music industry like a shop. If you need something you can go into a shop and buy something. The shopkeeper now has money to live on. If you buy more things or your friends buy from the shop too, the shopkeeper can even employ some staff and they too will have money to live on. A few more purchases and all the people working in the shop will have enough money to go and spend in other shops and so on and so on and so on...

Or you could just steal from the shop. No one gets paid. No one gets to go shopping. The shopkeeper must close his doors. You just killed the music industry.

Tom Corneill guitar down

Let me ask that question again: do you pay for the music you listen to? Or wider than that, do you make the effort to go and watch the music you like? What, not even if it’s local? Are you getting the picture now?

“I’ll see you at the gig!” “Of course I bought your album!!” We musicians hear this all the time, these are conversations that take place again and again among my community. Often people close to us, too often to then discover it just isn’t true. Ok, sometimes maybe you said you'd be there or you'd buy it but later you remembered you're busy or you're broke. But not all the time.

I’ve spent much of a lifetime working with music partly because I enjoy doing it and partly because of the continual encouragement of people around me. I often think it would have been kinder if they hadn’t been so encouraging - or at least not if they weren’t actually going to eventually put their money where their mouth is.

For now I’m going to stick at it - I still have plenty to say and lots to try - but people, you have to help us out. Support your musicians not with your words but with your time, your presence and - yes, I’ll say it - with your money. Paying for your music and going to gigs means that fantastic artist you saw at the pub who “...should be on the radio!” just might be one day, and for many days to come.

There are also some fantastic people among you who support us in every way you can - you know who you are and so do we, and we salute you.

That's all for this one. Think about it.

Thank you x

Credit for the photography.