My name is Scotland and I’m an alcoholic.
If you care about the biggest social problem that blights this country you should be troubled by the changing face of our live music industry.
This weeks sees the launch of THE MILL – described by Miller Genuine Draft as “an exciting new platform for emerging music talent in Glasgow and Edinburgh”. It should sound familiar. It’s the same business model that has already been adopted by Jack Daniel’s under their JD Set banner, not to mention the likes of Beck’s Fusions, Tuborg Music, Smirnoff Electric Cabaret and the Red Stripe Music Awards.
It doesn’t end there. Carling’s brand name is permanently glued to the Academy venue in Glasgow; Tennent’s, of course, have long sponsored music events in Scotland with the likes of T in the Park, T-Break and now Tennent’s Mutual, the self-proclaimed gigging revolution that allows fans to vote on artists, locations, venues and ticket prices… though unfortunately not on how much punters should be paid to drink their foul cooking lager.
Let’s get this straight. Alcohol companies aren’t stumbling over themselves to sponsor live music because they care about breaking new acts or supporting creative talent. Guitar bands are cool as fuck and the people who watch them are the choicest cuts for the drinks industry, i.e. young adults spending the night in a licensed premises with money to burn. If a similar demographic turned up in similar numbers to play chess you can guarantee Guinness would be trying to endorse the pieces.
So what’s the big deal? Why is The Pop Cop complaining about wads of cash getting pumped into the music scene in return for a bit of product placement. It seems like a no-lose situation but here are a few facts about Scotland:
- 30 deaths a year on our roads are as a result of accidents involving drivers who are over the limit
- 62% of domestic abuse cases involve alcohol
- 50% of people who commit suicide have a history of alcohol abuse
- 45% of prisoners admit they were drunk at the time of their offence
- Alcohol-related deaths have more than doubled in the past decade
- 70% of assault victims who end up in A&E do so as a result of an alcohol-related incident
- When someone gets murdered, not only will two-thirds of the suspected killers be drunk but so will half of their victims
- 40% of 15-year-olds drink alcohol at least once a week
Scotland has a problem. Perhaps not me, or you, or even anyone you know personally, but alcohol abuse stains this nation and, as far as we can see, nobody is taking it seriously enough.
Two years ago NME reported on a study that called for a total ban on alcohol advertising at music events as part of a major crackdown on binge drinking among young people. The response from InBev, who own Tennent’s, was telling. They warned that many cultural events in the UK would not happen if drinks companies didn’t provide funding. A similar message was delivered by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport. A spokeswoman said: “Many music events rely on sponsorship from these companies for events like T in the Park. Where would they be without it?”
In other words, the Government doesn’t care about the long-term effects the promotion of alcohol through music is having on our population – just so long as 80,000 people can be shoehorned into an abandoned airfield in Balado for one weekend every summer. Cheers.
The Mill @ Oran Mor, Glasgow*
August 27: How To Swim, The Moth & The Mirror
September 3: Tokyoblu, Kazoo Funk Orchestra
September 10: Twin Atlantic, Kobai
September 17: Injuns, Punch & The Apostles
September 24: Be A Familiar, Endor
October 1: We See Lights, Pearl And The Puppets
October 8: Dbass, Underling
The Mill @ The Caves, Edinburgh*
September 18: Punch & The Apostles, Injuns
September 25: Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Pearl And The Puppets
October 2: The Ads, Found
October 9: Dbass, Underling
*All events free but ticketed