Moola for mu­sic? Lily’s learned that if you don’t schmooze, you lose

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

With a No 1 sin­gle in Ire­land and the UK and strong show­ing in all the Euro­pean charts, Lily Allen did very well with her come­back sin­gle last De­cem­ber, a cover of Keane’s anaemic Some­where Only We Know. But just how well ex­actly, Lily? “I only made about £8,000 from that song” Allen has said.

She’s un­der-es­ti­mat­ing a bit, but the truth is that a No 1 song no longer amounts to much more than a quick spin around Top Shop and a few drinks af­ter­wards, once the tax­man and other in­ter­ested par­ties have taken their cut. Some­where Only We Know spent three weeks at the top of the Ir­ish and UK charts, sold 400,000 copies in the UK alone and had 17 mil­lion views on YouTube, which tells you ev­ery­thing you need to know about the glam world of to­day’s pop/rock star.

Over at the BBC, they looke­dat the fig­ures be­hind the song. There is still money to be made from a pop mu­sic hit. For ex­am­ple, one play on BBC Ra­dio will earn £76.20 (and typ­i­cally a hit song is played about 30 times a week), thogh most of that goes to the writ­ers.

As for all those YouTube hits, the la­bel (not the per­former or the writ­ers) gets about ¤1.50 for ev­ery 1,000 views – but only if an ad­vert screens be­fore the video. With Spo­tify you’re look­ing at about ¤0.0050 cent per play.

Lily Allen has been ab­sent from the mu­sic scene for the past five years. Hence her shock at only mak­ing beer money from a No 1 hit. But she quickly de­ci­phered where

Lily Allen: these days it’s all about at­tend­ing prod­uct launches

the dosh is at these days: “If I’m asked to sing Some­where Only We Know for some rich kid in Rus­sia’s birth­day party, I’ll make money out of it.” Other than pri­vate ap­pear­anc- es for bil­lion­aires, there’s money to be made for just turn­ing up at a prod­uct launch: “We all turn up at these launches be­cause we get paid to be there,” she says. “You can make any­thing from £2,500 to £100,000. Now that people don’t buy mu­sic, we have to find other rev­enues.”

So, if there’s more money avail­able for just pos­ing for the paps at the launch of a new “pre­mium” bot­tled wa­ter, why bother with a come­back sin­gle? Do­ing the John Lewis ad (in which Allen didn’t do any­thing as vul­gar as ac­tu­ally ap­pear in the video) and us­ing an al­ready proven chart hit al­lowed her to para­chute back into the mu­sic world, with the No 1 tak­ing the place of a tra­di­tional promo budget.

It sketched out a tra­jec­tory for Allen’s come­back al­bum – last month’s Sheezus – and the buzz around the John Lewis cam­paign meant she didn’t have to sit on the BBC Break­fast news couch ex­plain­ing who she was to people again.

It also put her name in the head­lines at the same time fes­ti­val book­ers were get­ting their line-ups ready. Be­tween now and the end of the year Allen will all be over Europe (in­clud­ing Glas­ton­bury), the US, Canada and Aus­tralia.

In fact, cov­er­ing Some­where Only We Know for a Christ­mas ad was hugely prof­itable in the medium to long term for La Allen. And that’s why pop and rock stars – and even sanc­ti­mo­nious in­die types – are jump­ing through any pro­mo­tional hoops The Man throws at them.

bboyd@irish­times.com

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