How to make money in music: go ask Gary Glitter
In the cut-throat music world of digital downloads, how you make the money isn’t important as long as you do
Nickelback, arguably one of the groups that can claim to perennially and deservedly hold the title of worst band in the world, has received a small windfall thanks to an unlikely source. That’s after US President Donald Trump tweeted a meme using a still from the video for the band’s insipid 2005 hit Photograph.
It showed the band’s lead singer Chad Kroeger holding a photograph which depicted Trump’s current bête noir, Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president Joe Biden, standing next to his son Hunter and two other men, one of whom was given the label “Ukraine gas exec”. This is all in the wake of the stepped up campaign by House Democrats to get the impeachment ball rolling after revelations that Trump had asked Ukraine’s president to do him a favour and investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings in that country.
Trump and the White House were forced to remove the post after copyright complaints but the incident has resulted in a reported 569% surge in downloads of the song, bringing the actual number of people who decided to download it and have Nickelback inflicted upon their ear buds to a modest 1,000. This is not a good thing — just when we thought we would never have to remember Nickelback, the devil himself rode in on his Twitter horse determined not to let us forget.
Nickelback meanwhile seem to have taken the few dollars Trump’s recognition earned them without complaining how they landed in their wallets.
In another musical controversy doing the rounds this week, Todd Phillips’s Joker film has come under fire for its use of Rock and Roll Part 2, a 1972 track by artist and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter. The Sun tabloid dubiously reported that Glitter, who is serving time in prison, stands to make “hundreds of thousands of pounds” as a result. However, as The Guardian has observed, the final amount may be far less due to the machinations of music publishing rights.
In the US, Glitter’s song, known as The Hey Song, due to its memorably difficult chorus, is often used in sports games to rev up crowds and so perhaps the filmmakers could disingenuously claim that context is everything and that over the pond Glitter is just the hey guy and not known for his extramural activities.
Either way, Glitter will not be complaining when he receives his Joker cheque and the filmmakers aren’t about to let moral quandaries get in the way of their bottom line.
In both cases it seems that in the cut-throat music world of the new era of digital downloads and viral interest, how you make the money isn’t important as long as you do. Whether that’s thanks to a shout out from the world’s most powerful madman or the toe-tapping antics of Joaquin Phoenix dancing maniacally to a song by a convicted paedophile, we’ll all take what we can get while we can before the sun finally burns us all to a crisp.