This week’s heartwarming story comes from Leeds, where fans of indie band Four Day Hombre have bought shares in a record label to get their first album out on the streets.
Like a lot of emerging bands, Four Day Hombre had found a commercial recording deal somewhat elusive. So they financed their debut album by selling shares in their own label - one fan even sacrificed a new kitchen to get their music to the masses.
As keyboardist Ed Waring tells it, ‘We put a mailout to our mailing list and said that we wanted to start a label and needed investors and the offers of money that came in absolutely amazed us. Three months later we were directors of Alamo Music Ltd. It was absolutely incredible... two years of inert apathy blown out of the water in about ten weeks because we made one simple decision.’
Of course, it only works if people believe. And in the case of a band, they only believe if you’ve done the gruelling circuit of pubs and clubs for longer than you can remember.
But isn’t it strange how sometimes a good idea becomes a great one when you take the risk of involving people, and letting them deliver the verdict on your efforts? So many programmes designed to create sustainable communities miss the point because pleasing the authorities is regarded as more important than convincing the people. Get through the hoops of officialdom first, get your programme signed off by all the right agencies, get your funding together, and then go to the community: it’s a familiar story.
Could Four Day Hombre teach us a thing or two? Instead of applying here, there and everywhere for grants to prop up our projects, dare we risk going to the people of our towns and cities and asking them whether they’re prepared to put something into the pot?
The risks are legion. The popular backing we fondly imagined might prove to be a figment of our fevered imaginations.
But think of the rewards. Real evidence of community support. Stakeholders who actually have a stake. An opportunity to work towards genuine local ownership and control. A counterbalance to the fickleness of government priorities. Perhaps it’s not such a stupid idea.
Julian Dobson, editor
- New Start Online Online magazine