Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Charity begins at the cash register 

Not surprisingly, "Help end poverty" more immediately turns into "Help end declining music sales":
They came out of charity. They left with booming record sales.

The galaxy of rock stars who took part in Live 8 concerts on Saturday to help beat the curse of poverty have seen their records fly off the shelves in British music stores, proving that cash balances as well as consciences were the winner.

According to HMV, one of Britain's main record retailers with 200 stores nationwide, Pink Floyd's Echoes album posted a staggering 1343 per cent increase in sales on Sunday compared with the same day a week ago...

Next came The Who's Then & Now, with an increase of 863 per cent, Annie Lennox's Eurythmics Greatest Hits (500 per cent) and Dido's Life For Rent (412 per cent).
This is hardly unexpected - the original Live Aid has had similar impact on participants' album sales (and is, among other things, credited with reviving the career of Queen), which meant that while 20 years ago, stars had to be strongarmed by Bob Geldof into lending their lungs to the cause, this time around musicians were queuing to get in on the act.

Idealists and pure-hearted activists will scoff at millionaire superstars prancing around the stage ostensibly to help the poor but in reality to also help themselves get even richer, but we should be more indulgent, and not just because some Live 8 stars might actually be quite sincere. This is, after all, another example of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" - or, in this case, "invisible larynx"? - in action: whole lot of people acting out of self-interest whose actions in the end contribute to the general well-being. As the great man would say today: "It is not from the benevolence of the aging rock legend, or the upcoming pop star, that Africans can expect dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

The questions whether and how the Africans will get their dinner, and if this is the best way to deliver it, are something else, of course, and well beyond the scope of music-making.

P.S. Fausta at Bad Hair Blog is not impressed: "Live8 was at best an exercise in feel-good banal uselessness. The final 'nah-nah-nah-nah' chorus from Hey Jude was the sonic statement of its jejuneness."

Hey, even rock'n'roll can't make everyone happy.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?