Kids Would Love To Pay For Music, Says Undertones Singer Turned Industry Wonk

Jun 18th, 2008 // 3 Comments

According to a University Of Hertfordshire-conducted survey, 80% of UKids aged 14-24 would be happy to pay for a legal file sharing service that allowed them to access any music they wanted with no DRM or streaming restrictions. While it could be noted that the music industry might have a hard time surviving on that little bread, the head of British Music Rights, a group that represents songwriters and publishers, thinks these numbers show a lot of promise. “The music industry should draw great optimism from this groundbreaking survey. First and foremost, it is quite clear that this young and tech-savvy demographic is as crazy about and engaged with music as any previous generation. Contrary to popular belief, they are also prepared to pay for it, too. But only if offered the services they want.” And do you know who the CEO of British Music Rights is? Feargal Sharkey of the Undertones!

Feargal Sharkey enjoyed global success as lead singer of The Undertones and as a chart-topping solo artist, before embarking on a wide-ranging career, encompassing A&R man at Polydor, managing director of EXP Ltd and Member of the Radio Authority. Since 2004 he has chaired the UK government’s Live Music Forum and, most recently, has been tasked by the Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Secretary of State for the Department for Children, Schools and Families to take forward government’s commitment to establish a national network of professionally equipped community rehearsal spaces for young people. He takes up the role of CEO at BMR on February 1st 2008.

So that’s why he can’t be bothered to perform with his old band! Other aspects of the survey do point out that as much as the music industry is worried about how they’re going to get people’s money, people want music enough that they’d buy if they had to, or if it was really cheap. And seeing as how well trying to force them to has gone, Sharkey might have the right mindset to suggest they work on making it cheap.

That “engagement” with music was well demonstrated by a survey question in which the respondents were asked to pick the top three items they would take with them to the proverbial desert island. Personal music collections topped the list, with mobile phones and books filling out the top three spots.

While people indicated that they would be willing to pay for music service offered on their own terms, the majority of 14 to 24-year-olds have not actually paid for most of the music in their personal collections. The research found that 14 to 17-year-olds had paid for only 39 percent of the songs that they owned (whether these came from legit download services or CDs), while 50 percent of songs were paid for among 18 to 24-year-olds.

The claim that young people really are willing to spend money on music is also borne out by questions about their actual spending. Respondents said that 60 percent of their music budgets currently went to seeing live music, with only 40 percent reserved for recordings. This fits with current music industry thinking that Touring and merchandising is the way to cash in for many bands, but it also means that artists who don’t like to tour or are unable to do so might have a harder time making a living until some form of equitable, widely-adopted P2P payment system gets worked out.

Yeah, yeah. Anyway, the important thing is that Feargal Sharkey is awesome. Even when making horrific Stevie Winwood knockoffs like “A Good Heart” in the ’80s, he was still kind of awesome. I mean, for some reason people wanted to hear his voice over crap like this. This song went to No. 1 in several countries! Keep it up, Feargie.

Survey: young people happy to pay for music–on their terms [Ars Technica]
Staff [BMR]
Undertones – Teenage Kicks [YouTube]
Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart [YouTube]

  1. bburl

    I always thought his name sounded like a painful fungal infection in the nether regions.

  2. Captain Wrong

    Teenage Kicks? Being the CEO of British Music Rights apparently.

  3. mrblifil

    The only reason people bought A Good Heart is they unconsciously knew they had been duped out of enjoying Feargal when he mattered.

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