- 27 Jul 20
He offers an honest and heartfelt assessment of what life is like for an independent musician during the Covid-19 pandemic
Last week, Hot Press reported on Luka Bloom's announcement that he wasn't going to service his new album, Bittersweet Crimson, to Spotify and other streaming services.
This triggered a wave of reaction from other Irish musicians who talked about their experiences - good, bad and indifferent - of streaming. Having read all the comments, Luka has sent an open letter via-our man Stuart Clark, which clarifies his position and teases some of the issues out further.
We've also included the links to the first two articles and, crucially, a review of the excellent Bittersweet Crimson, which can be ordered now direct from Luka. This is a debate, which is going to run and run...
Greetings from a wet and windy West Clare.
I sit here looking out at the rain, wondering how an innocuous post on social media, has brought me into the realm of debate and controversy via-your good self and Hot Press.
The responses to my post were shown to me, and tickled a little.
I would love to take a moment to correct some misconceptions about me, and my intentions.
Anyone who read the post I generated regarding the non-streaming of my record Bittersweet Crimson (available now at www.lukabloom.com) would see that I am not anti-streaming. I absolutely respect the decisions of so many singers and musicians to present their music and song for streaming, as a tool of promotion for themselves. And I have no issue with any of the streaming services themselves. I simply made the case that this is not a model of business that has any relevance to me, or my needs as an active singer-songwriter, especially in 2020.
The presentation of my appeal as some sort of political statement against streaming is nonsense.
I had no desire to make a stand against anyone.
My appeal was clear.
If people wish to experience my record, all I ask is that they actually buy it from actually me; because I actually generated the songs and the momentum, and paid all the people who helped get the record done, over a period of 2 years.
My only motivation in this appeal was clear and simple. I need the money.
And my experience of streaming of music through my working life is that it contributes literally nothing to my work. And then takes the streamed income and pockets it. I have no problem with that at all. it’s just that I have no desire to avail of this ‘service’.
But respect those who do.
I will say this:
I am old enough to remember things called Record Companies.
They were mighty fun altogether; very talented at structuring complicated contracts and then exaggerating expenses, to minimise the payments owed to the people who generated the ‘product’. Van, Al Stewart, Gilbert O’Sullivan... there is an endless list of people much more gifted than me; who had challenging relationships with record companies. But at least the record companies participated with us. They funded recording; they employed people to market songs.
For God’s sake they even came to the gigs and told us we were brilliant! Great craic.
Part of my problem with streaming is that it’s just no craic.
I do literally EVERYTHING, and then they LITERALLY pocket the dough.
To me that is LITERALLY no craic.
So there's no higher motivation for my humble statement.
If desperation has a lofty dimension, well that is grand. For it was indeed desperation that inspired it.
2 years of writing. Rehearsing with my gifted friends.
By the time this baby is financed, yours truly will be in the hole for 30K.
This is the sole reason I have no truck with streaming in 2020.
All my gigs are gone.
Lockdown happened as the record was being finished.
I didn’t panic.
I saw it through, with the help of some amazing people.
I am SO proud of this record.
And that is why the only 'stream’ that interests me in 2020, is the stream of moola making it’s way into my bank account via www.lukabloom.com
While I’m here, one of the contributors to my post offered this: 'For household names like Luka, I understand this move….’
Wow. Household name. What the fuck is that?
The only household I am a 'name’ in, is the rented house I am privileged to live in.
I never have been, am not, nor never will be, a ‘household name', whatever that is.
I am a 65 year old solitary man, living alone in a rented house in North Clare.
And very happily so.
My life is simple, and it is amazing.
The world owes me nothing.
And I expect nothing.
Because, I get to sing.
I am as vulnerable and as scared as everyone else.
My path to poverty is the same as everyone else’s.
But I am so positive.
Because I get to sing.
And because, I love people.
Readers uninterested in my music will have stopped reading ages ago.
If you have any interest, all I hope is that you will simply do what you might do; and buy my new record Bittersweet Crimson, directly from www.lukabloom.com
And ALWAYS, thank you.
Be safe; be well, and be kind,