It’s certainly harsh, but is it fair?
I come at this as an unsigned artist. I also run a Spotify playlist which exclusively features unsigned artists and there’s now over 60 of them on the playlist.
I also get sent links to a lot more unsigned artists and so I get to hear a lot of songs that are written and performed by unsigned artists.
Let’s just leave aside that Moyles is employed by a commercial radio station and needs to play songs and entertain listeners to keep them listening to the station in order to sell more adverts which generates the revenue needed. Let’s just stick to the question – are most unsigned artists crap?
The first thing to acknowledge is that music is subjective. What I listen to and what I like is almost certainly not what you like and what you listen to. Yes, there will be overlaps where we can agree that we both like certain songs, but you’re not going to like everything on my personal playlist and vice versa.
There’s also the issue that most artists pour huge amounts of time and effort into their work and quite rightly get a little pissed off when someone says some derogatory about it.
Where I feel Moyles might have a point is that most unsigned artists simply aren’t professional enough when compared to their signed counterparts. Their web presence, their social media, their image all probably lack the finesse that signed artists expect.
The production of their songs, the arrangements, the shear commerciality of their music is unlikely to have the same standards as someone backed by a major label and spending a fortune to deliver. Their songs are unlikely to have been ‘crafted’ by a team of professional songwriters quite often running to more than half a dozen collaborators.
They also won’t have had professional producers working from high end studios like Abbey Road and AIR Studio and their songs mastered by top mastering engineers.
So if that’s what you’re looking for in an unsigned artist you’re going to be disappointed.
But, if you want to hear quality songs delivered with passion and no small amount of skill I can tell you that there are lots of very talented unsigned artists out there. But also, don’t kid yourself that the majority of unsigned artists are hugely talented and produce great work because that’s not true either.
As I mentioned above I listen to a lot of unsigned artists and being honest the majority simply aren’t that good. They’re often generic, the songs aren’t good, the singing and musicianship isn’t always great and quite often the production is lacking. Plus, a lot of unsigned artists are producing music that I don’t like and we’re back to the subjective nature of music.
So has Moyles got a valid point? Yes, up to a point.
For every successful artist there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of unsuccessful artists. Most of those will never get heard but the fact that they are making music and making it available should be celebrated, even if to the listener it sounds crap.
Let’s face it when you turn the radio on you’re going to hear a lot of crap songs and the occasional great song. You’re also going to hear a lot of crap DJs and some great ones. Moyles is right, but he’s also wrong.
And whilst you’re agreeing or disagreeing with that take a listen to my Clip Bait playlist of unsigned artists, you’ll be amazed at how good they are – or at least Chris Moyles would be if he ever got to hear the playlist.