Want to make money out of music? Become an executive! Universal Music Group boss Lucian Grainge is set to rake in £150million this year – and he’s never written a single song…

Time was if you wanted to make money out of music, you’d need to have at least some musical knowledge and ability to help you get there. Such rules no longer apply – these days, instead of being a songwriter, performer or producer who actually does something, you essentially just need to know who or what to cling onto, so you can make money off their hard work.

And such is the case with Universal Music Group’s boss Lucian Grainge, pictured far right above. He has never written a single song in his life. His talents have always been in finding other people who could do what he couldn’t. Ever since his career in record labels startedout in the late 1970s as A&R at April Music, his trade has been either finding talented people or managing them.

Some might say this is a talent in itself. And they’re not entirely wrong. Ever since he was put in managerial positions, starting with Polydor Records in 1997, those labels have always been in a better shape when he left than when he arrived. He’s obviously doing something right.

But let’s be honest – the amount of money Grainge is paid is obscene. This year, he looks set to earn around £150million. At a time when artists are complaining that streaming simply doesn’t pay their bills, such pay just looks crass. The Intellectual Property Office in the UK previously worked out songwriters were paid roughly the same amount for their work in 2019.

In other words, Grainge’s pay for this year is about the same as all songwriters – and there are many thousands of them – in the UK are going to collectively receive.

If that doesn’t tell you how utterly warped, twisted and heavily slanted towards majors that streaming is, then frankly I’m not sure what will…

More songwriters will start driving for Uber if they’re not paid more for their work, warns Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus

If you’ve ever wondered why so much music in the mainstream charts sounds similar, the fact that most of it was written by one of two men might have something to do with it. This suits the record labels fine, as we’re in age where the majority no longer seem to care who writes it.

And this problem could be about to get worse – songwriters just don’t get paid for their work in any meaningful way. Don’t take my word for it. Take it from Bjorn Ulvaeus out of Abba.

In an interview with the New York Times, he tells us in no uncertain terms what will happen if this trend isn’t reversed…

“Everyone is going to find out that more of the songwriters have turned to driving Ubers instead of songwriting… The top, elite layer, they will always make it. But there was a layer underneath that used to be able to live from their songwriting, and sometimes would push their way up to the elite because they had the time to develop.”

He also speaks about how “Waterloo” enabled him and Benny Andersson to make a full-time living out of writing songs – something that most people simply would not be able to do nowadays.

The only question is – is the industry listening? And what on earth are they going to do about it? You can’t have good songs without good songwriters…

Songwriters, pop stars and zero sympathy

So, it appears that a group of songwriters want pop artists to stop taking the credit for things that they didn’t do. It seems they’re fed up of the practice in the music industry of “change a word, get a third”. Read all about it here.

The songwriters, they want our sympathy! Well, I’m not remotely sorry to say this, but they’re going to get absolutely none of it from me. They’ve been perfectly happy to go along with this practice since the days of Elvis Presley. Why are they only speaking out now?

Ah yes, it’s because their share of the royalties is under threat. Nothing to do with artistic integrity or being proud of their work. No, it’s entirely to do with their bottom line bring squeezed. How incredibly noble of them!

If you’re really not happy with changes being made to your work, take control of the situation. They either accept what you’re offering them or you walk away. I’m constantly being surprised in life at how much people actually appreciate speaking to someone who stands their ground.

And besides, let’s take a look at some of the absolute shite that’s in the charts these days. Would you really want your name to be associated with some of this stuff?

Last year, for example, a song came out by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. It was called “WAP”. What does WAP stand for? It’s not exactly something that can be published in a family newspaper, let’s put it that way.

The song has no less than five different writers credited. And whilst I’m aware this song has its fans, I’m of the opinion that it’s utterly repulsive. The lyrics are just crass.

I have no issue with women being more confident about sex – but I have one hell of a problem with this being placed in an area where children might come across it. Is that really a song you’d willingly want to be associated with?

If you play the game, you cannot change the rules halfway just because you’re losing…