Miki Berenyi wrote this letter to the editor in
response to an article which appeared in The Guardian a few days
before, about the financial inequities of the music industry.
If you read that article (available
here) you will completely understand why Miki was compelled to
Letters to the Editor
AS A member of the band Lush, I completely agree that there are alarming discrepancies between salaries within the music industry. I would, however, like to clarify a couple of points regarding Chris Acland and the somewhat sensationalist use of his tragedy in illustrating your article (Arts, April 7).
It is true that Chris was on £150 per week (a figure, as you rightly say, that hadn't altered throughout the apparent successes of Lush), but this sum also applied to the other three members of the band. There are several artistic advantages in signing to an independent label but hefty million-pound record company advances are not one of them.
For this reason, a publishing deal was of significant importance to us. Though Emma and I, as the band's songwriters, were the ones to benefit contractually from this arrangement, we have always handed a percentage of our advances to Chris and Phil. The £150 per week basic wage you ascribe to Chris was just that - a basic wage, which was considerably upped by publishing monies.
Finally, the "friend's back room" that you had Chris supposedly wasting away in is, in fact, the front bedroom of my two-bedroom flat. Chris and I had agreed that since we were going to be spending most of the year away on tour, it made financial sense that he stay at mine till he could take full advantage of whatever rent he might have to pay on his own place. Ultimately, the truth is that none of us as members of Lush have exactly raked in the millions. Getting in the charts and having your face in the papers does not mean you'll be up to your eyeballs in cash. If you are lucky enough to sell millions, then it'll be record companies, publishers, managers, agents, licensees, PRs that take their slice before any money finds its way to you - the band. My real gripe with the financial system is not that these people shouldn't be paid but that they can work with as many bands as they choose whereas musicians will generally have only one shot at the big money. In this regard, money within the industry is disproportionately divided and musicians will always end up making more money for other people than they do for themselves.