The Levellers new album
The Levellers are probably the best loved underground band in the UK. They have been releasing records and touring continuously for nigh on twenty five years without being bothered by the mainstream media at all. Their latest album is Static On The Airwaves and is being hailed as a defining album for the band, reviews are comparing it to their best known album from the early 90's Levelling the Land. In actual fact it combines many of the best elements from several of their albums over their career, and it features some of their best songwriting and musicianship. You can read our review of Static On The Airwaves here.
Of course, the music industry has changed more in those twenty five years than anyone could have imagined. What challenges face them in the current economic climate?
'The days of releasing an album and making money off it are long gone, breaking even on a release is now a measure of success - even for the top bands.
'The main thrust of our office through May and June is the release of the new Levellers album, we're really really happy with it, I think we've got a great record. I know we're going to connect with the bands's fanbase, I just hope we get picked up by the mainstream media and press because I feel this really deserves to be heard by a wider audience.'
I wondered if there was a mismatch between the broadcast and press media coverage with what is actually happening in the real world - 'We do struggle with the British mainstream media, BBC radio playlists don't seem to reflect what is happening touring or festival wise. There are a lot of bands on daytime radio that would be lucky to pull a hundred people to a gig and whose careers just won't last. It doesn't reflect with what's happening on the live scene and I think the BBC need to sync up with that, there are some good evening programmes that are good but the daytime stuff is a bit weak.'
Printed media is changing too, whilst circulations for existing titles are falling significant new titles have appeared covering classic rock and prog. Recently one of the acts Dave has booked for Beautiful Days, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, has been on the cover of many of these titles, something that just a few years ago would never have happened. But sales only seemed to be achieved with lavish bundles of album and dedicated magazine. 'Circulations are falling but we need the printed press, despite the rise of the internet and social networking you do need to cover all of the outlets when marketing an album'
'Something we are doing new this year is to make a video for every track on the album with Dunstan Bruce who did the 'blogumentary' videos with the band on a recent tour. We are looking to involve the fans in these as well. Dunstan is also spending 18 months with the band making a documentary combining a bit of history with the current stuff. So a lot is happening.'
Maybe this is the time for bands that have gained popularity in an organic way, with an audience that was virtually ignored by the mainstream media, to really shine. Someone else that DMF manages and promotes is Seth Lakeman, his recent album Tales From The Barrelhouse won critical acclaim. For the first time ever he had a short tour of Australia organised by DMF. Surprisingly, overseas promotion was something that EMI never did for his releases whilst he was signed to them. 'Those dates and festivals in Australia went down very well, I just had an enquiry from a major Australian promoter who wants Seth back there for twenty dates in March 2013. His brand of rootsy music seems to go down very well over there and he had some great press. We do need to open up some other markets, you cant keep slogging it around this country.'
Beautiful Days 2012 is 17 - 19 August 2012, hopefully you have a ticket! Our feature page will have competition, pictures and reviews.