This Week we interview Graham Sclater , Author , Musician, PR.
Graham has written several amazing books, including his brand new release ‘Love Shack’ set in Amsterdam’s red light district and the east end of London. He also runs Tabitha Music an independent music publishing company formed in 1976
NBT: The World of literature and the world of music would seem very different planets to live on! How does your expertise as a screenwriter and novelist feed into getting new musicians and their songs heard, what ‘tricks’ (and I use the term in a positive way) work in both fields ?
The worlds do appear to be very different but anything creative does blur into other areas of creativity. I have played music since I was seven years old, originally playing the piano accordion and playing only from music.
In 1965 joined a group where I played the Hammond organ M103. We travelled to play in Hamburg and over the next five years played throughout Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and Sweden. Much of my time was based in Hamburg where I played at the Star Club and Top Ten with many times with different bands as well as the other clubs around Hamburg.
Following my return from Germany I began writing and recording more than 150 songs and I also worked as a session musician in the major studios in London. I feel this creative process helped me to set up the way I write my novels.
When I write I try to use song titles of the chapter headings and also for the book titles. i.e. Love Shack, Ticket to Ride and Too big to cry. My next novel will be entitled “More than a woman.”
I have contacts in the media all over the world and am able to get new music in most genres, aired but it has to be well recorded and, of course, a quality song.
NBT: Your storytelling within your latest book, ‘’Love Shack’’ seems informed both by screenwriting (especially for television) and the art of lyric construction. There is a wonderfully breathless quality to the action and the way the plot moves. How much are you influenced by what you hear on the radio or what you see in the movie theatre when you sit down to write, even when it’s a non-musical subject or passage?
Everything I have written to date has taken a very long time to consolidate in my mind before I begin to write. I spend years researching every novel and where possible spend time in those cities and counties. I need to visualise every scene in my books - as though they were a film and I make sure I tie up all loose ends as I go.
When I write I always listen to music in most genres and also to writers who submit their music to us. Sometimes I use their song titles for my chapters and loosely the content of the song in that chapter.
The music I listen to when I write sets the mood for that passage or chapter and I often have the same songs on repeat for hours on end.
NBT: As we are of course, a music based project, let’s focus on that. How much has the internet changed the way you get the artists and their songs out there? Are the traditional resources like terrestrial radio and music shops still important?
The internet is a very important way to promote new music and artists and it gives a platform for them. All ways of listening to music is important and terrestrial radio is still the leader especially the mainstream stations but little new music gets heard on those. In my opinion there is too much new music, so it is therefore diluted. And, there is very little quality control of the music being offered to the internet and terrestrial stations and clogs it up.
NBT: What advice would you give a young artist trying to get their first set of songs out there to, say people like me at the NBTMusicRadio?
NBTMusicRadio does a fantastic job to play new and varied music and in my opinion is carefully selected. Anything presented to a radio station should be the best that could be achieved. It needs to be, as so much new music is badly presented, mixed or mastered and the songs have not been suitably developed. Many tracks are not Meta tagged which means that the majority lack the information needed to ensure that the listener can find the track to download or buy the CD.
NBT: Even before the process of promotions there is the huge deal of creating and producing the music , which can be extremely expensive, what tips do you have for a young band wishing to get their 1st EP out going bankrupt (or causing their parents to go bankrupt ha ha)
As I said in the previous response the songs need to honed rather than record and promote them before they have been suitably developed. It is too easy to record, master and send out an mp3 these days.
Songs should always be demoed before they are recorded property (I believe a lot of tracks offered are no more than poor demoes.) When songs have been demoed they should be set aside for a week or so and then listened to again. In most cases I guarantee that they will be rewritten and recorded in a different way. Why send out sub-standard recordings? But so many do.
NBT: In your opinion, how healthy is the independent pop music world/business/scene in these chaotic times. Is it a good time to be wanna be pop star?
The music industry is the worst it’s been since I set up Tabitha Music Limited - our music publishing and record label in 1975. Major record labels no longer listen to new music and those left in business are only interested in signing bands and/or singers with a huge following on the social media. Even then, they don’t listen to the music instead they look at numbers of followers etc.
The days of signing to a major record are over. Major Record Labels no longer exist. Much of the multi-national companies incorporating music have their income derived from repackaging their back catalogue and now that vinyl is back in vogue all of those albums will be rereleased again in vinyl.
Publishing royalties have been reduced to little more than a few pence each quarter and recording royalties are none existent unless you happen to be Adele or an already successful worldwide artist or band.
Money can be earned from touring and merchandising providing enough people come to see the band and there sufficient gigs, but venues are closing everywhere.
My suggestion would be to write songs and demo them and when you have a quality track - feel the radio market and then if it gets a fantastic response then go all out to promote it. At the same time play the music live if at all possible.
The music business will turn but I’m not sure when that may be.
Nevertheless I love to hear new music and get excited when I hear something that I consider to have a chance