Morrissey is in a weird space at the moment, isn’t he? He’s technically unsigned, but can sell out four consecutive nights at Sydney Opera House for the end of May. And while a seven piece mariachi tribute band called Mexrrissey are storming the internet’s headlines for existing and being quite good, the real Morrissey is filtering his public opinions beneath UK radars via foreign language interviews. The latest? A chat with a Spanish newspaper. His hot take? Crowdsourcing sucks.
In the interview with El Pais, which ran yesterday, Morrissey said of bands who have taken to crowdfunding: "It is a desperate measure, and insulting to your audience. We have already provided sufficient amounts of money. What is the next thing you're going to ask? What brush our teeth?"
It’s another one of those ageing-music-icon-offers-opinion-on-modern-life stories that can’t help but make you think: “Well, that’s easy for you to say.” Like when Thom Yorke blasted Spotify and encouraged everyone to pack up and move to Bit Torrent, it’s a luxury point of view that fails any artists who don’t already have a global reputation, a quietly earning discography, and an ability to sell out shows. And the truth is, if Morrissey did ask me to brush his teeth, I definitely would, just for the story. Imagine the scenes in his bathroom. Face to face with Moz, toothpaste dripping out of his mouth, staring into each other's eyes. His melodic gurgling echoing off those pristine tiles. Just me, Moz, and a tube of Sensodyne.
In all seriousness, is crowdfunding really “desperate” and “insulting” to an audience who have the option to choose whether or not to donate to an independent project which they also get to contribute to? While the bigger articles about crowdfunding might always revolve around TLC raising $430,000 or Megadeth launching a Pledge Fund, that doesn’t negate the fact that a butt load of fairly unknown artists use the platform efficiently. Yes, their perks might often include such flatulence as “Donate £5 and get a 'caffeine break' with our bassist” or “Donate £10 and you can be our roadie for the day” or “Donate £15 and we’ll give you the EP 48 seconds before everyone else”. But, regardless of that, it still helps artists - who’d wither and die if they had to rely solely on their local Chesterfield gigs - to unite their disparate fanbases from anywhere and everywhere into one pot, funding their next piece of whatever.
Maybe Morrissey’s jibes were directed at the big acts, like TLC or De La Soul, who are raising sizeable piles of cash from their loyal followers and have long careers casting a shadow behind them. But even then, at least these crowdfunded projects enable those artists to make a true product without heavy handed label involvement or any undue commercial bias, based on the input of the fans who still care they exist. It even helps facilitate stuff that a label exec would have spat their Fiji water at, like Run The Jewels’s cat tribute album or Amanda Palmer’s art book.
Morrissey’s last album in 2014, World Peace is None of Your Business, wasn’t exactly a commercial success, and a barney with his label, Harvest, resulted in it coming out 3 weeks late with him consequently parting ways with them soon after. And despite these comments, there’s probably a lot of fans looking at Morrissey, pondering a new album, looking at crowdfunding, then peering back at Morrissey and his freshly cleaned teeth and thinking, “Cheer up mate, just let us pay you.”
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