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Ian Anderson
 
Photo: Judith Burrows

The Editor's Box

Ian Anderson's comment column

I’m sure you know that old joke about the folk musician who wins the lottery. The reporter asks “Now that you have a million pounds, what are you going to do with all that money?” “I'll just keep on gigging until the money runs out,” comes the reply. Well, it would be funny if it weren’t so close to the truth – and not just in the roots music world either. A recent press report highlighted the plight of once self-supporting authors who can no longer scrape a modest living from their hours at the keyboard because the general public now unthinkingly believe that any sort of art which can be reproduced digitally – be it music, writing, photography or film – has no value: it ought to be theirs for free.

Some of this is the downside of the great democratisation by technology that has taken place over the past couple of decades. It has put a decent recording studio, film editing suite and publishing platform inside every iMac and made high-quality musical instruments, cameras and the tools of other creative trades available to millions who could only have dreamed of them not so long ago. But just as all those newly-franchised musicians, photographers, writers and film makers have had their previously latent talents liberated, the possibility of them fully developing and honing their skills in the way that can only be done when working at something full time professionally has been removed.

Even more cruelly, this has happened at a time when available funding for deserving artistic projects has been savagely cut by the government. We were very grateful for the Arts Council funding which covered the rehearsal and development costs of our thrilling Bridges project (reported this issue), which couldn’t have happened without it. Outside our two Looking For A New England CDs it’s the only funding we’ve had in our whole 35 years. You suddenly realise what a difference it makes in terms of being able to do things to a professional standard.

 

Recently privatised Royal Mail just pulled one on us. When we got the details of the postage rates changes that took effect from 31st March, we found that they increase our annual postage bill by 12 percent. That, I’m afraid, is something that our ever-frayed shoestring can’t absorb. It unfortunately means we’re having to increase our cover price by 3 percent, up to £5.10, from the next issue. Our apologies.

So it’s probably time that I gave one of those occasional reminders of our Lifetime Supporter subscription scheme – a one-off payment that means you get fRoots from here onwards without ever seeing another subscription reminder again, whilst helping maintain the musical ecosystem that we’re part of. The first people who did that a decade ago are now ahead financially! There’s a minimum rate, but if you feel like being a more generous patron of our area of the arts, don’t let us stop you! Think of it as a music-supportive alternative to giving everything to the home for retired Facebook kittens. Find all the details here and thanks to all who’ve done it so far.

Ian Anderson


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