back to article Music biz now runs on Viagra®, not cocaine

The UK music business shrank almost 5 per cent last year, with lower concert revenues as fewer major acts played stadiums. So reckons the annual economic survey conducted by the Performing Right Society (PRS), which pegs the UK music industry's income at £3.75bn this year. The headline fall masks some very healthy figures, …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. JohnG

    Via Gra and the music industry

    Via Gra is a band, well-known in their native Russia...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Of course...

    Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that most of the up-and-coming acts are largely repetitive, offering nothing new other than occasional chanting to a rhythm, or singing someone else's songs as a 'creative reinterpretation'.

    1. bill 36

      And Maybe

      Its because they are Crap!

      I saw a "new" band recently and the lead female singer walked onto stage with an Apple Mac in her hand.

      Who wants to pay to watch that?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Now you know...

        ... why it's the stones that got to make the windows sound!

        But anyhow. Yes, that graph tells us that the state of music is Very Bad Indeed, and moreover it's something that's squarely on the heads of all the A&R and other smooth cri^Wsuits that do collect a handsome paycheck but haven't come up with much of anything at all for more than a decade. It's been widely known in the 'biz too, but nobody saw fit to a) admit it or b) do something sensible about it. Hence the knee-jerking. If only they'd put all that ACTA effort where it'd create wealth instead....

        1. chr0m4t1c


          >... why it's the stones that got to make the windows sound!

          That would be Brian Eno you're thinking of, the Stones were paid vast sums for the right to use a few bars of "Start Me Up" in the adverts for Win '95.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            I'm actually glad I got those details wrong.

            Not going to bicker and argue about who did what, exactly. My sanity doesn't need trips down redmondy lane. Thanks for the correction anyway.

            I was thinking of the incredulous reports about the money at the time. The "music" I turn off at the very first opportunity whenever I need to deal with such systems. With blunt force if necessary. I find submarine compatability mode* to be a sensible default.

            * Just what software documentation contained that reference for bonus points.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      That's what my mum used to say in 1967!

  3. PsychicMonkey

    that graph

    makes perfect sense to me. If the lead singer of a band/group is older, the band or group is more likley to have been around longer and have created more fans through that longevity.

    I wasn't around when the stones started but I'd go and see them now, whats tragic in that?

    I'd prefer to give money to a decent band than the x factor type shite.

    To me it's tragic that an x factor winner can release a song that is a year old and have it chart higher than the original just because the bulk of ITV watching public can't think for themselves.

    It's no wonder I drink....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why yes, and you're not the only one.

      That is exactly the point. Moreover, it means the music industry is failing to come up with real talent. The "talent" that they come up with invariably fails to live up to the hype, has no staying power, has no lasting original work if any at all, and so on, and so forth.

      In other words, the biz is in it for the quick buck, causing a lot of churn, and has a future for as long as the old guys live. That's right, they're here still by the grace of fourty year old successes. Not only are they not investing in the 10+ years it takes for new talent to become as good as the old ones, they're not even trying, opting for a "throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks" approach. That, in short, is not doing the state of music any favours. You could even argue it's quite destructively making a mockery of the term "popular culture".

      It's no wonder they want copyright terms extended into eternity and are fighting tooth and nail to keep that old goose with the golden eggs from expiring; they're clearly failing to come up with new ones. This, of course, isn't the only thing the music "industry" is doing utterly wrong, but it's bad enough already.

      The graph merely shows what every music exec already ought to have known for a decade or more, and what most music aficionado must have noticed by now too; that's how it's making sense to you. It is no less damning on the music industry for all that. Rather the contrary, I'd say.

      1. CD001


        And the upcoming talented bands you're unlikely to hear about immediately because they're eschewing the big industry altogether - if you look carefully at the music scene, you might notice that smaller, indie labels are making a comeback - along with self-publishing now that PCs (ok, normally Macs) can virtually replace an entire studio for less than two grand, and if you're punting it online you don't have the overhead of the physical media so you don't NEED the backing (or the loss of creative control etc).

  4. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Viagra Delivers What...

    ...cocaine promised.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Viagra Delivers

      I hear viagra is very important to Simon Cowell's love life.

      The thing is, he's never taken it.

  5. Zimmer

    Retail Down 8%..

    ...not surprised since Virgin and Zavvi shops have disappeared from many a High Street.....

  6. Tom Wood

    Quite logical

    Your average fan of an artist in his/her 60s is probably going to be middle aged, in a decent job, with a reasonable income, probably owns a house, and can afford to splurge money on expensive tickets for arena tours.

    Your average fan of whichever young singer/group is topping the charts these days is also likely to be young, and either still in education, or in a poorly paid job, and/or saddled with massive student debts, and can't really afford to chuck lots of money on a massive concert. They might save up for a festival once a year, but the tickets for that will still cost less for 3 full days' muddy entertainment than three tickets for one-act arena tours would.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      or to put it another way

      your average fan of an artist in their 60's is probably going to be middle aged, have a massive mortgage - far greater than the value of the property, contemplating a significant increase in pension contributions and funding their kids through university, and little job security....

      If people - fans care enough about the band they'll find a way to be there. Thats why wrinklies go to see the stones.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Well, it makes sense ...

    Most new music today is a mere shadow of the past.

    Consider Rap/Hiphop, for example. Try listening to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (1965), and/or Blondie's "Rapture" (1980). And virtually anything done by John Cooper Clarke in the late '70s. Today's variations on the theme are just a bunch of angst, bluster and swearing with a simple "sampled[1]" 4/4 back-beat, with no thought put into it ...

    But don't look back, it's alright.

    [1] Borrowed or plagiarized, you decide.

    1. Naughtyhorse



    2. Richard 102

      Sampling or stealing or honoring

      This, my friend, is nothing new. I'm a blues fan and I've often heard people talk about white rock stars stealing from black blues men, but trust me, the black blues men stole all the time. Hell, Robert Johnson stole the pennies off Leroy Carr's eyes before the body cooled.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Richard 102

        I play the blues (Precision Big Block) ... The difference is attitude. Clapton, Knopfler, et ali all pay homage to the earlier greats.

        Side-note: Robert Johnson is part of my permanent tunage rotation :-)

    3. CD001

      As opposed...


      Today's variations on the theme are just a bunch of angst, bluster and swearing with a simple "sampled[1]" 4/4 back-beat


      As opposed to say oooh, the Sex Pistols who didn't have samples.

      Seriously - if you don't actually LISTEN to any music newer than the mid-80s you don't really have a valid opinion on the state of music.*

      * TV "talent" shows DO NOT COUNT.

      1. jake Silver badge


        Note which specific genre I was discussing.

        The Sex Pistols were a marketing meme[1].

        The latest new band that I'm kinda fond of is out of Elk Grove, California. Their name is "So Called Tragedy" ... I'm not unaware of current music, but I am mostly bored by the sameness of it all.

        Current tunage: Jan Fanucci's cover of "Bubbles in my beer"; see:

        Computer says the next track will be Janis Ian's "At Seventeen", followed by my personal bootleg of George Thorogood's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer", taken directly off the mixing board at Candlestick Park when he opened for the Stones in 1981 ...

        [1] Johnny Rotten was a cartoon; John Lydon is not.

  8. Owen Carter

    Oh, a chart.

    I'd like to see a similar chart based on attendance, not gross income. I bet the yoof get better represented there.

    Super expensive gigs from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Metallica and Sir Paul distort this chart quite badly; especially since it probably only counts 'venues' and bar/club earnings will be absent.

    And since this is supposed to be about the Music not the $$, and the audience for these superannuated rockers is dying off, I think the future for music performance is not nearly so bleak as that chart suggests.

  9. Bassey

    Re: Quite Logical

    There is also a question of what works. I've been to see new bands/artists and, frankly, I tend to feel disappointed. They only have one or two albums with a couple of hits - the rest is filler or covers. The artists themselves haven't got the background or experience to carry off a live gig. You can easily pay £35-50 to watch a new band going through the motions and they might only be on stage for an hour.

    On the other hand, £50-70 can get you good tickets to a major star with 10+ albums, 20+ well known hits, decades of experience, real music talent and a fantastic band playing for 3 hours or more. Much as I like supporting new music I usually come away from such gigs feeling like I've been had. I've never failed to be impressed by the major names - even if I'm not a fan of their music. There is just something about the guys (and gals) who have been making a living playing live for 30-40 years that impresses the hell out of me.

    Just as an example, I am NO fan of Elton John but I can assure you seeing him play for 3 hours, just him at a piano, with no band, is an amazing experience. Same goes for seeing Clapton, The Who and others. In straightened times, when money is tight, people want to spend their hard earned on someone they know will deliver.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Saw Rush at the O2 in London a few months back. Fantastic sound (where I was), a great show and a huge back catalogue of songs to draw from. The band members are in their 60s and still going strong. Most of the audience was in their 40s or 50s, with a few youngsters - hopefully not just attending with their parents.

      The older groups that have the staying power are still going because they really are good. Maybe some of the new bands will do the same in 20 years once they've had time to mature. But I won't hold my breath.

    2. Tom Wood

      Whatever, Grandad...

      If you're not old, you certainly sound it. ;-)

      Kind of proves my point.

      Mine's the one with lots of £8-£12 ticket stubs from the proper local gig venue in the pockets...

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Surely they're doing well, still?

  11. sabroni Silver badge

    Good Grief

    what a bunch of moaning old gits. There's plenty of new music around, tons and tons of it, a lot is rubbish but watch the totp repeats from 76 on bbc2 and you'll see that's nothing new. There is also a load of great music from new artists around, and it's easier to discover than ever with sound cloud,, pandora in the us, and any number of other services. And where I live there's plenty of venues that promote gigs from small local bands, where it's not uncommon to hear something original and moving. Never mind the massive amount of foreign music that is easier to discover than ever before thanks to youtube.

    Stop with the moaning and start looking around! When your parents told you the music you listened to was all rubbish they were wrong, and it's still bullshit now you're coming out with it yourselves!

    1. Patrick R
      Paris Hilton

      @ Sabroni

      The article is not about music, it's about music business, it's about what gets in your face/ears on TV or on the radio. Tits and ass mainly.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        the article may be...

        ..I was replying to the comments which are mostly moany old gits complaining that they don't like new music because it's not the same as the old stuff they used to listen to.

  12. Richard 102


    How long do bands these days last? Last year, almost to the day, my favorite band from the 00s, The Elms, played their last gig. They'd release four albums and, to be honest, they were veterans among the current young bands. They played real rock and roll. They understood the music's roots, including a hard-rocking version of the hymn "I'll Fly Away". The older, veteran rockers loved them.

    And they couldn't get a break or get a booking outside the Midwest or upper South.

  13. Bounty


    blah blah younger acts... explain to me what happend to the 50 year olds? Why the odd drop there, then huge jump for 60 year olds?

    1. jake Silver badge


      Simple. Children in college.

  14. Goat Jam

    The music industry

    At the risk of sounding like my father, I have to say that music today is complete and utter crap.

    I had my car in for service a couple of days back, and the loan car I had was tuned to some godawful FM station (

    I don't know what was worse, the inane banter masquerading as humour or the mind numbingly terrible beat based cacophony masquerading as music.

    All in all it was an excellent example of the dumbed down to the lowest denominator state of the music industry these days.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    I like them!

    I seem to remember reading, and more than once, that live concerts by 'wrinkly oldies' (e.g. Macka, Stones, etc.) always have a substantial proportion of young people in the audience. I wonder why? 'Cos, for sure, I wouldn't pay the price they command for a gig just because my mother/father liked them! Maybe they do actually play good, timeless, music?

    Skipping off, humming, donning coat....

    1. jake Silver badge

      @AC 08:35

      Macka B comparable to the Stones? Please.

      Stoners, maybe ... The only reason The Grateful Dead made so much money over the years was because nobody in the audience ever noticed that from minute to minuet, the entire show sounded exactly the same.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021