Sophie Law: New bands need your support more than ever

Turn off Spotify and go to see a live band, says Sophie Law.

Turn off Spotify and go to see a live band, says Sophie Law.

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Red Pine Timber Co. are a collection of Scottish musicians who have been gracing the country with their unique Celtic-Americana sound since they formed in Perth in 2009.

They’ve just finished hand-crafting their second album. It took three years and 15 people to make, and all it needs now is for people to hear it – and see them.

In days gone by that’s where the record company machine might step in, with some marketing ­money to help secure radio play and a little bit more to get them on the road.

Instead Red Pine Timber Co. have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money they need to actually take their music out of the studio and onto stages around Scotland.

The band’s bid to raise ­money highlights a sign of the times. Crowdfunding has become a fundamental tool in the arsenal of many bands, and it’s a strategy that has helped level the playing field for artists who don’t have record label money propping them up.

On Saturday night, the BBC Scotland documentary Big Gold Dream told the story of the nation’s post-punk music scene and two ­independent record companies, Glasgow-based Postcard Records and Edinburgh’s Fast Product. Between them they help propel a host of artists and bands – Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Josef K, The Fire Engines among others –from the studio and rehearsal room to fans the length of the country.

In Scotland today, record ­companies are a thing of the past. Music scouts and hefty advances for tours and albums are a ­distant memory and ­Scottish record labels are few and far between.

Unless a band is One Direction’s successor complete with an X ­Factor-worthy sob story, they’ve got to claim success on their own.

This is mainly due to the shift in the way we buy and listen to music. Streaming services offer an instant service to listening ears, but it has damaged the essential music industry’s infrastructure, with financially devastating consequences.

Shockingly, the revenue bands make from one stream works out at less than a penny.

Surely we have a responsibility as listeners and music fans to support these bands at grassroots level? Otherwise, how are musicians – who need to make a living too, after all – going to get their music heard?

While the digital era continues to encroach upon every element of our lives, one thing that remains consistent is the Scottish passion for live music – go to most gigs and the audience appreciation almost becomes part of the performance.

Live performances will always capture our attention. The best way to absorb music is to see it ­performed.

Next time you’re tempted to stream on Spotify, Itunes or Youtube, hit pause instead. Buy the song, buy the album, or even better, go see them live.

Sophie Law is from Glasgow. She is studying journalism at University of Strathclyde.

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