I'm back from an enjoyable holiday in Italy, doing romantic things like sitting in a boat going around Venice... trying to read a newspaper over someone's shoulder after my partner has pointed out an article about Yes's upcoming Italian shows... (Not knowing Italian, I couldn't decipher much, but they got Benoît David's name the wrong way around!)
Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was the latest Rick Wakeman Communication Centre newsletter. It makes for interesting reading, including some damning criticism of the current Yes line-up. Wakeman also talks about plans for future live spectaculars after 6 Wives at Hampton Court, and it's here he says some revealing things about money.
To some extent, the commercial success of music is irrelevant to the listener. If I enjoy a piece of music, I enjoy a piece of music, regardless of whether only 10 or 10 million others share my view. Some of my favourite albums have sold in tiny numbers (e.g. Biota's Object Holder or Andrew Booker's Ahead) and I've seen great live music with single-figure audiences. However, generally speaking, some degree of commercial success is needed to fund musical projects. If too few people are buying, projects simply don't happen, and many interesting ideas have foundered through lack of investment (e.g. the proposed Steve Howe/Annie Haslam album and the proposed Rick Wakeman/Keith Emerson live shows).
And this isn't just about the musicians making a decent wage. Musical acts need a throughput of money, where the income from the last covers the up-front costs of the next. Or, as Wakeman explains in his case:
"Negotiations are quite far advanced as to putting on Journey to the Centre of the Earth and possibly Return to the Centre of the Earth as well at the O2 next May .
"To be brutally honest, a lot will depend on how well the DVD and CD of Hampton Court does as income from this would have to go straight into the production of the potential O2 show and also would hopefully help to attract investors and sponsors"
It's this cycle of money, one project paying for the next, that is often forgotten by fans.
PS: Watched 5 minutes of music television in Italy, and saw two videos for songs produced by Trevor Horn (from forthcoming albums by Robbie Williams and Kid Harpoon). He's one Yes alumnus with few money worries, I'd guess.