Dare I say it, but I’m starting to like Rebecca Ferguson. Over the past year or two, she’s decided to take her position in the music industry and do something useful with it. In her case, she annoys lots of people in the business by calling them out on their nonsense.
Her latest target? How the major labels look after – or more specifically don’t look after – the artists they’ve signed. And whilst I don’t entirely believe some of the stories which go around, I absolutely accept this is a problem. And her first proposal to fix it is welfare officers who artists can see when they have a problem.
It’s an interesting idea, but the practical side of me has questions. Who would pay for this? If the record label is paying them directly, they cannot be independent. As much as they might try to be independent, they would just be a stooge at the end of the day. If the record label paid an external company to do it, that external company might put the officers under pressure not to rock the boat for fear of losing work.
So the only way I can see this having any chance of working is to have the labels all pay into a fund which pays for these welfare officers. You’d then probably need another organisation in the middle to keep the two away from each other – because you just know the record labels would want to influence the welfare officers.
Because as we learnt during the streaming inquiry in Parliament, the majors simply cannot be trusted. Several people who gave evidence said the majors were ordering people to stay quiet or their careers would be damaged. And not one of the three majors – who, as we also learnt, are run by some deeply unimpressive people – denied the allegation when given the opportunity to speak.
As logistically difficult as Ferguson’s suggestion is here, I honestly think it’s worth exploring further…