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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What's it all about, Sandi?

The singer Sandi Thom’s much-discussed online ‘meltdown’ attested to just how upset she was that her latest single had not been play-listed by any of the big radio stations (i.e. the ones with lots of listeners). She was particularly aggrieved that Radio 2 had ignored it, because she considered it to be catchy and ‘perfect’ for their format. She exclaimed, tearfully, that: “It’s a fucking good song, OK? There is no reason why they need to do this to me!”
We must assume from this that it simply did not occur to her that the Radio 2 producers may not have liked her song, thus ensuring that “22 million people won’t get to hear it.”

You may recall that Ms Thom came to fame in 2006 on the back of what was essentially a clever social networking campaign, when reports suggested that 100,000 people were watching shows being streamed live from her ‘bedroom’. The internet is a wonderful thing, the story suggested, because it allowed unknown artists like Sandi to connect with huge numbers of fans and to be ‘discovered’ in a whole new way. Apart from the fact that the technical specifications required to handle such a massive number of live streams would have been beyond the simple ‘bedroom’ artist that she purported to be, Ms Thom was also already signed to a record company. The ‘100,000 live streams for an unknown independent artist’ story had, in the immortal words of Damon Runyon, more than a touch of the old phonus balonus about it, but whether we believed it or not, it certainly gave her career a splendid kick-start.

Since her big hit (You may remember it: 'I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair'), her sales have been on a relentless downward curve and, without wishing to be unkind, it is clear that her appeal has become rather more selective.

The online commentary on her confessional has been divided as to whether it represented:
a) A blubbering, pathetic illustration of an utterly bewildering sense of entitlement. She’s written a song … so what?

b) A depressingly public display of her fragile mental health. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean; it looks like there could be something more going on than ‘nobody likes my brilliant single’.  
c) A tawdry marketing ploy. How many folk were talking or writing about her single last week? How many folk are talking or writing about it now? After the meltdown and attendant furore, she was invited, among other things, to appear on the Chris Moyles Radio Show (now who could have predicted that?) 

You can judge for yourself as to what her rant really means. My feeling is that options a, b and c are all, to one extent or another, probably close to the truth.
I am, however, going to make a more charitable observation and suggest that Sandi has –intentionally or not- aired a refreshingly candid snapshot of the pathetic little beast that dwells within the heart of every creative person, the needy critter that raises its voice whenever a work of art is released into the world at large.  

It’s an abject, pitiable, whimpering thing that says:
“Look. I’ve made something. It took me a long time and I’ve put a lot into it. Like it, please. Please, please, please … like it.”

Scuttling around in the dark, neglected cellar of creativity, this wretched creature nurses a devastating and little-uttered truth:

So your sense of self-worth is based on how complete strangers react to your creative endeavours. How is that working out for you? 

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