Call me old fashioned, but there used to be a time when I really liked the idea of ones rock stars or heroes being enigmas; mystiques, beyond reach or contact, or simply, up on a pedestal.
I first felt like that with Jimi Hendrix (who I never got to see live). I have since met people who did, but I was happy not to have for the above reasons. The same went for Marc Bolan of T Rex. He was a true enigma for me, but not having the chance to meet him meant that no illusions were broken. Meeting Pete Townshend was different. In all honesty, I did not know who he was when I became friends with his brothers Paul and Simon. I had joined their group and that was it.
I first met him when he was sitting in Simons’ bedroom one afternoon, playing an acoustic guitar (not very well I thought) when Simon introduced me to him; but I was none the wiser. It was not until my cousin took me to see the film Woodstock subsequently, that it dawned on me that my mates had this 'demi-god to millions of people' of a brother. But still, from that point in time, I only saw Pete as their brother.
Another instance many years later was when I went to see Genesis at the Hammersmith Odeon. I arrived very early and saw the Genesis crew loading/unloading gear into a very large truck and saw a few flight cases with Mike Rutherfords name stenciled on them. I couldn’t believe how much that set my pulse racing; it was the closest I thought I’d ever get to him (I met him many years later in Belgium and related that story to him; he was a complete gentleman).
So what has this got to do with Pledge Music? The ethos of Pledge is to allow artists to closely relate to their audience in terms of raising funds for their projects while developing their potential audience, but having that potential audience feel as though they have a greater stake in the fortunes of the artist.
After being in Big Country for 20 odd years, having (basically) been through what was then, the traditional band send demos to record company, record company go and see the band, record company sign the band, record company pay for all the expenses of making, promoting and marketing the product (in our case, a long term investment strategy for development), record company demand a huge slice of potential profit via rights and royalties, I understood that, and found that as the artist, the only interaction we had with our audience was playing live and meeting them at stage doors to sign autographs (later through the band website).
Since I have come back to the music business fray, I have had to re-educate myself because of how much the industry has changed (too much to go into detail here), but more importantly, re-assess my attitude about being the enigmatic artist. A steep learning curve for me, but I have found that I really like the fact that I have had to get close to my potential audience through the wonder of social media, which is the bedrock platform of Pledge Music.
I found that I really enjoy communicating with people interested in my project and that a lot of my time (sorry) is spent on my over-worked laptop, engaging with you guys. It made me chuckle to myself that when I start performing live, I will most probably know most of the people who attend the shows.
I don’t see myself as an enigma or untouchable, and the biggest revelation for me is hat the Pledge music ethos really agrees with me. Getting connected with our audience was part of the Big Country fabric, so I was well trained for Pledge.
The people at Pledge have been very supportive in terms of getting me up to speed with social media (and I am still learning), but it is the Facebook, Twitter and my Website friends I have made that have encouraged my new attitude, which has in turn, fortified my ambitions to see this project through positively.
One thing that both Pledge and Ian Grant encourage me to do is to get more folk on board; which means I have to get you guys to help by Sharing, Tweeting/Re-tweeting/hash tagging etc. I feel weird having to do that but it’s the way now.
60, and still learning.
Ps, my next series of blogs will be about the tracks on My Time.