Neil McCormick: Drunk on Music

The White Stripes

I had an interesting email from Martin Mills, founder and head of independent record label Beggars Banquet. In my opinion, Beggars is a model of a record label, with a thirty year history of consistently releasing interesting music, never over-extending itself, just staying true to the kind of principles any music lover can appreciate. Beggars’ sister label XL is arguably the best label operating in the world today, with a roster that includes Adele, Damon Albarn, Dizzee Rascal, The Horrors, Peaches, The Prodigy, Radiohead, Raconteurs, Sigur Ros, Vampire Weekend and White Stripes.

Responding to my article ‘Is there too much music’, he suggested the real problem might be too much marketing. Reflecting on the difference between major record labels and independents, he writes ‘the majors squeeze the lemon til the pips squeak. They do big deals and no artist can really complain when they try to sell enough records to make a profit. Thus they market, hype, market.’ Not naming any names, he asks where are the big major label bands of even just a few years ago? ‘Generally, they’re over now – because they have been overmarketed to the point where there is no mystery, no intrigue, no more to know.’

It is an interesting point, especially in the light of the commercial underperformance last year of albums from supposed…

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