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Topic ClosedMartin Orford August 2009

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Martin Orford August 2009
    Posted: September 23 2009 at 11:33
Thanks for that Jim. That was a very interesting read, and as Finnforest says,a very 'sobering' read.

I sympathise with Martins views, and think it an tragedy that he hasn't even touched his keyboards in months, and doesn't even listen to much music AND doesn't see any value in 'art for arts' sake. The money side of things aside, Martin is clearly a great musician and writer, and I would take some comfort in knowing that he will eventually start playing again, even for his own enjoyment, if nothing else.

Whatever he ends up doing I wish him all the best, and thank him for all those great albums; all of which I acquired legally I hasten to add. I'll not forget the shiver down the spine I got when Mr Orford played the intro to 'The wrong side of wierd' at the Mean Fiddler a few years back. Good days.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 23 2009 at 12:03
Death threats!!!
 
How many of us have had those in the course of ones work or expressing an opinion???, not many methinks.
 
Opinions or positions aside, it is without doubt it such a shame that someone so talented has decided to give up on music.
 
None of us work for free.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 23 2009 at 12:13
Law enforcement of some kind certainly needs to find a way to discourage free downloading, but it seems unlikely given the world we live in.  I sympathize with Martin and wish him all the best and hope that something works out for him.   The demise of SPV doesn't bode well for many artists as well. Perhaps musicians should create an Internet based "Record Label"  to promote their art, where consumers would have to pre-order albums before they are recorded. Once the pre-orders reached a critical profitability mass then recording could commence and the work would delivered before it could get out into the free-net ? Marillion are one group already doing this ( somewhat )  but I could see it expanded into a large collective. The trick would be marketing the music to stimulate the interest...perhaps small clip previews or live teasers, coupled with artist information and testimonials by fans or peers. Maybe even fan requests for the type of music they would pay for ? There must be some possibility of sucess under such a format ?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 23 2009 at 12:48
I think Progfan1958 is onto something here. *Thumbs up*
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 23 2009 at 15:16
Me again !   I would MUCH rather give my $$ to the artist directly.   
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 23 2009 at 15:28
I think MO is a down to earth guy and tells it like it is.  His opinions may lean toward being extreme but I respect where he is coming from.

The creating of music has two sides.  The romantic one where you make hits, sell records, become a star and make a lot of money.  The other side is the cold reality that very few musicians make a decent living at it.  I have a hard time feeling real sorry for people who want to earn a living being a musician buy don't understand the business side of it.  Supply and demand are going to dictate your success more so than the pie in the sky notion that you can write a better song than the next guy.  Sad but true. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 24 2009 at 02:11
Originally posted by Progfan1958

Me again !   I would MUCH rather give my $$ to the artist directly.    
 


Progfan1958 speaks with wisdom - cut out the middle man & make sure those who make the music reap the benefits.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 24 2009 at 03:02
Nice interview there, great work.  However it does make a very sad read indeed.  Martin comes across as very bitter and that is both understandable and very sad.  I'm also extremely disappointed to hear that the parting of the ways with IQ was very acrimonious.  After all their years together I really hoped for better.
 
I've known IQ right from the beginning and remember speaking with Martin after a couple of gigs back in the early 80s.  He was a really nice guy (as all the band were in fact) and I remember being particularly pleased that he was a huge fan of Eddie Jobson, one of my favourite keyboard players. 
 
It's such a shame that it has come to this, and one of the very best modern keyboard players is now gone for good.  He will be missed both by us fans and also by IQ themselves.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 24 2009 at 04:01
There've been a couple of suggestions (including my own endorsement ) of cutting out the middle man... now to us laymen (ie those outside the industry, this seems a perfectly reasonable & logical step - one to increase the earnings of those actually making the music.

Following some further e-mail contact with Martin Orford, here's his take on the matter:

I see that the comments following my interview are already going along familiar lines... "cut out the middle man and sell direct to the fans". Unfortunately the middle men were actually really useful, and it was through them that the serious volumes of sales were achieved. They also provided access to the major players like Amazon, Play.com and I-tunes, avenues which have been pretty much closed off to the smaller labels following the collapse of Pinnacle and SPV. Direct sales via the Internet are a lovely idea, but unfortunately in reality they amount to peanuts compared with what the big distributors used to achieve.

Even with access to a database of over 4,000 e-mail contacts, I only managed about 200 direct sales of The Old Road. Direct mail-order is also incredibly labour-intensive, and you need at least one full-time employee to handle it all, which rather negates any financial gains from the higher profit margins...

...In fairness to the person who suggested cutting out the middle man, I think they were only trying to be helpful, but it's still frustrating that people don't stop to consider that the small labels have already tried everything we possibly can to make this work and stay in business. Direct sales/sales at gigs/small wholesalers/big wholesalers, we sold to 'em all, without limitation. I've even got The Old Road on sale in my local pub. But ultimately the high volume sales through the big distributors (middle men apparently hated by the fans, but not by us) were the bread and butter which paid for new albums to be made, and those sales have vanished.


Again - many thanks to Martin for clarification on this; all a matter of perspective isn't it? Seems logical to us, but one e-mail from someone who's been there, seen it & tried it....

Edited by Jim Garten - September 24 2009 at 04:34

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 24 2009 at 17:35
Here in Canada many musicians get Government grant to create  music, and recording, marketing expenses are not always 100% out of pocket for the artists. This program has been running many years and has helped quite a few people along through their carreers. Sadly our current Conservative government has been cutting this program considerably. They figure investing in the Military protects our culture more effectively. Meanwhile all the artists starve.... I guess Shana Twain and Avril Lavigne will be the sole survivors when all is said and done in a few years.... hey maybe Martin should do a cover of "Skate R Boi" ?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 09:55
Originally posted by Jim Garten

Many thanks for the kind comments - MO did not think his views would go down well on an online community, but the few views expressed so far (happily) prove him wrong.

The responses he gave to the other contributors and myself in this interview are (to me) an object lesson on how illegal free downloading seriously affects music production & I'd again express my thanks to Martin Orford for being so honest & open on the subject.
 
Nice one Jim Thumbs Up
 
Got to admit I totally agree and can't blame him for for his views on Illegal downloading. It's not surprising he's very bitter about it. It was always hard for bands at his level to make a living, now it's practically impossible I would think.
 
I'd highly recommend The Old Road by the way, an excellent album! (which I bought, not downloaded Wink).


Edited by Nightfly - September 25 2009 at 10:00
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 10:15
Thanks Jim for an incredibly interesting, and ultimately sobering, interview. Certainly, the bitterness that Martin feels with the internet and with (sadly) IQ comes pouring through so strongly you can almost touch it coming out of the computer screen.

I have to say that I don't understand how he has come to such a sorry financial state. Sure, IQ were never a huge band, but they have sold fairly steadily over the years, have a loyal fanbase, and I include myself amongst them, and are not a curiousity band by any stretch of the imagination.

Therefore, playing devils advocate as a fan of both IQ and Martin himself, I would be interested in hearing this from (say) Peter Nicholl's perspective. Certainly, he has not rubbished Maretin in recent interviews (quite the opposite), but I mean from the financial perspective. Is he comfortable? Have the internet difficulties Martin talks about hit other band members in the same way? Or, and I will be controversial here, is Martin just extremely poor at managing his financial affairs?

I ask this because I remember the old illegal taping is killing music campaign run by the British Phonographic organisation in the 70s & 80s. We all did it, including myself. I also spent (and still do) far too much money on music/prog. The illegal taping of vinyl LPs did not kill off music then, and I do not believe that illegal downloading/file sharing will now. As ever, the good artists will survive and prosper in the new way of doing business, just as artists did back then.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 10:37
I'd just like to add one thing, though hopefully it will not be seen as being contrary for the sake of it. Though I can understand Martin's bitterness, I have to wonder at his painting the Internet as the root of all evil (same as people I knew in the past used to do as regards TV). As our site proves quite effectively, most prog bands nowadays would get no exposure at all without the web. It is because of people like us, who invest time (almost always with no financial gain) in discussing prog, reviewing albums, interviewing artists and such, that the genre has been able to survive, even thrive. Without sites like ProgArchives, ProgressiveEars, ProgGnosis, DPRP, and all the others we know and love (including the 'local' ones), very few bands but the ones signed by major labels would get any kind of recognition. I am sure that, without the Internet, the plight of those bands or artists would be much worse.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 10:39
Originally posted by lazland



Therefore, playing devils advocate as a fan of both IQ and Martin himself, I would be interested in hearing this from (say) Peter Nicholl's perspective. Certainly, he has not rubbished Maretin in recent interviews (quite the opposite), but I mean from the financial perspective. Is he comfortable? Have the internet difficulties Martin talks about hit other band members in the same way? Or, and I will be controversial here, is Martin just extremely poor at managing his financial affairs?


I can't speak on any one's behalf, but I think you will find that in IQ it was Martin's "day job" to run the business side of IQ, and the other band members had "day jobs" in non-musical fields. Therefore, rather than being poor at managing his financial affairs (quite the opposite, Martin has always been a good businessman) Martin was hit by downloading in a different way, it efected his main/sole income. IT also means that no other IQ member was in fact managing IQ financial affairs.

It's often like this in bands, one person has the business weight upon his/her shoulders. The other members tend to be the one's with day jobs and use the band like "lad's weekend away" not really that bothered or interested in the financial arrangements.  And whilst during the good times people will think it's unfair that this one member seems to be scraping the financial cream off the top, you can pretty much guarentee that those same whingers will be heading for the hills/unanswering phone calls/e-mails when the leaner times come.  There are very big risks in this game, and nerves/balls of steel are required, But for Martin the line was drawn. He had done a stirling job for many many years, but outside forces drove him out and he has no financial buffer, this was his sole income.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 10:49
Originally posted by Raff

As our site proves quite effectively, most prog bands nowadays would get no exposure at all without the web. It is because of people like us, who invest time (almost always with no financial gain) in discussing prog, reviewing albums, interviewing artists and such, that the genre has been able to survive, even thrive. Without sites like ProgArchives, ProgressiveEars, ProgGnosis, DPRP, and all the others we know and love (including the 'local' ones), very few bands but the ones signed by major labels would get any kind of recognition. I am sure that, without the Internet, the plight of those bands or artists would be much worse.


Good point Raff - I think the other side of this particular coin though is yes, although sites such as this give these bands exposure an otherwise lethargic music business would balk at with such a genre, this does not necessarily translate to legitimate sales (although I'm certain there are bands who have benefited financially)... there are evidently plenty of people out there who think "great sounding band, are they on my favorite illegal download site?"

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 10:58
seems to me to be a classic case of taking the good with the bad.. . without the internet...  these bands would probably be playing the local pub on Saturdays night.. getting free beer perhaps.... however with the internet comes illegal downloading.  So what has one lost.. without the internet.. there would be no illegal downloading... without the internet...  musicians like Orford would be hard pressed to make any of kind of living in the first place. Outside of some local fans..  no one would know them. 

musicians are no different from the rest of us...   we work...  and we take the good .. and the bad.  Sometime we get lucky and get a great job that pays us for our hard work .. sometime we get f**ked and are laid off the day before X-mas with a lousy tasting ham as severance pay. 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 11:05
The problem is that those illegal download sites are often much easier to find through a Google search than legitimate sites. I know it very well because, every time I want to do research on one album for reviewing purposes and I type its title in the search bar, I often get hit after hit for  torrent sites before I can get to a review or other practical information. Even if those sites get closed down with some regularity, it's like cutting off the mythical hydra's head - most of those heads will grow back immediately.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 11:12
I'm not so sure, the "golden days" of earnings for bands like IQ or indeed Pendragon were PRIOR to the internet, or at least prior to illegal torrenting. They were definitely NOT playing in some obscure pub on a Saturday night during the 90's! 



"Sometime we get lucky and get a great job that pays us for our hard work .. sometime we get f**ked and are laid off the day before X-mas with a lousy tasting ham as severance pay. "

You have a fair point,  but if you, or I or any other member of PA was laid off on Christmas Eve with no severence pay, I think members of PA wouldn't have the "well sh*t happens" philosophy about it, I think people would expect some upset and bitterness and be respectful of that.   And because this kind of thing happens does it make it fair or right or just?  Of course not, I don't think Martin is claiming to be the only person in the world this has happened to, he was asked about HIS experience, not the experience of others, so you will get a response based on his experience, and based on the facts that he has being in this business.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 11:43

Re the analogy to taping in the old days, there is no comparison.  Yes, a few people stole back then too by illegally taping, but nothing near the magnitude of what is being ripped off now from artists.  Much easier to do now, many more people doing it than the tapers of the old days.  Millions more. Sorry to be blunt, but that's another weak justification. 

In terms of the positive effects of the Web, surely they are there in terms of promotion.  But they do not make up for the financial loss from the theft of established musicians, obviously, nor should it be used as some kind of moral tradeoff to minimize the crime. 
 



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2009 at 13:44
I hadn't read Jim's interview until now (nice job pal!) and I think Martin has done a great job in explaining it in layman's terms. He's not making it up, illegal downloading is killing the bands we love. We all have a duty to think twice about illegal downloading and certainly as consumers of music it is our duty to buy legal product. I'm no angel but I buy at least one Prog album a month as well as DVDs and special editions. Album sales are a fraction of what they were 10 years ago, the only thing that has changed is the arrival of the Internet and downloading culture. Rush's last studio album got to #3 in the Billboard Album Chart yet struggled to shift 100,000 units! Moving Pictures got to #3 in 1981 and went Multi-Platinum.

Some struggling firms recently have asked their workers to work a certain amount of time for free, the majority have told them in no uncertain terms to get lost. Why should musicians work for free? They have a product and there is demand for it, why would they not want paying?


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