This post features a pod-cast of Roy, Greg and Pete from ‘Scouting For Girls‘ being interviewed by Radio One’s Huw Stephens. The session was one of a number of conference themes that I implemented as part of the 2008 SWN Festival at the ATRiuM in Cardiff in conjunction with The Welsh Music Foundation, The Centre for Small Nations, and The Music Academy. The refreshing thing about the session aside from the modesty and humility of the band was that their initial aim was to develop themselves slowly by not attempting to get a record deal at the start. Unlike many current artists who are interested in quick success, the band decided to focus on developing their compositional, industrial, personal and performance skills to ‘professional quality’ prior to considering a record contract. This is reminiscent of how bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones started, and begs the question if this process leads to a longer career, and equally as important a better recording contract (there is a research paper in that somewhere!!).
It was interesting to note how the ‘Cottage Industry’ the band developed prior to securing a major contract seemed to be such an important aspect of the bands success – not only enabling them to learn about the various aspects of the industry, but actually earn more money from CD’s and merchandising when sales were low (They discussed how they currently get a small fraction of CD sales as opposed to the 80% of retail price via the DIY method). These cottage industry activities also involved pressing CD’s themselves, organising ‘personal’ mailing lists, but more importantly seemed to give them the attributes to move through the system very fast once they were signed. They found that once their success was beginning to be noticeable via factors such as My Space hits, comments and gig attendances, the age old procedure of the ‘industry coming to them’ occurred. Indeed their manager signed them on the basis of viewing a rehearsal, as did Sony BMG six weeks later (The Epic subsidiary). The album (which they started recording 4-5 days after signing) took six weeks to record, two weeks to master, leading their manager to describe them as a “managers dream” (mainly due to the lack of development time required to perfect their art). It is also interesting to note that the band had no complaints regarding artistic autonomy with their contract – is this because what they have developed ‘works’, or because they are probably one of the last bands to escape the dreaded 360 degree deal?
I generally got the impression that this was a band that had ‘served their time’ and their main priority was and is THE MUSIC – not money, lifestyle etc. Their local fan following was built personally, gradually, and was still an important factor of their professional lives, despite their success. Related to this, they also believed that it was important to try and get A&R depts to see bands on their local territory, with local audiences, rather than attempting the ’empty London venue’ experience.