Bachelor Girl’s shows with John Farnham in late last year coincided wit the 20th anniversary of the debut album release. By the time their second album was released in 2002, the music world had changed. Napster was introduced.
Bachelor Girl have rarely played since 2004. Apart from the Farnham gigs of 2018, they had only done five shows back in 2011 and you had to go back to 2004 before that. The upcoming show at Melbourne’s Memo Music Hall will indeed be a rare chance to see Bachelor Girl live once again.
Bachelor Girl is James Roche and Tania Doko. James still lives in Melbourne, Tania lives in Sweden.
In the 20 years since that first album the music business has been completely turned upside down. “The usage of Napster may not have been as significant as to the way people relate to music,” James Roche tells Noise11.com. “Nowadays, when I want to hear a song I open up YouTube and play the song as many times as I like. When I was a kid I had to go and buy the single or sit by the radio and wait until it came on. YouTube supposedly pays royalties but if you go into the fine print it is the worst of any revenue stream there is. It’s decimated the business. The words ‘Music Business’ has had ‘Business’ slashed to pieces. Nowadays, people are gigging a lot more and making records a lot less because you still can’t Napsterise a live performance.”
Generating an income from recorded music is now near impossible for artists outside “superstar status”. “We have to stream millions to make up what we once sold. At 5-10 million it starts making a difference. At 100 million streams you start to go ‘well this is a good year’.”
Chart figures are now calculated by including streams. “Everything is fuzzy in that world. They just make stuff up,” James says. “They are making it up for themselves. There are some organisations trying to legislate some rules around it but right now they make up their own rules and decide what’s feasible for them. At the moment no-one is on the side of the artist or the songwriters. Record companies and publishing companies who have a stake in the game are trying to get legislation through so there is a formality around the process. It’s a lot better now than 10 years ago. Every year then the music business was getting smaller. That has stopped happening. Maybe we are going back”.
Streaming does have a positive side but even that comes with a negative. Getting known internationally has been simplified for Australian artists so far away from the action. “It’s a lot less regional than what it was,” he says. “A release today means it is extended out into the globe. Australian artists could not leave here until they became big here and then persuaded some foreign record company to take on the risk. Few artists were able to reach globally but you had more focus. Now we are drowning in music. Who knows how an audience finds an artist except for blind luck”.
The decision to put Bachelor Girl back together was organic. “We really enjoy working together. We did a gig on Australia Day in front of the Opera House. Tania was in the country at the time so we did it and had a great time. The next day we wrote a song together and had a great time doing that. It was a lot of fun so we decided to end our hiatus and get back together”.
“The last gigs before the recent Farnham shows were 2011. It had been about seven years. It was about seven years before that when we did the previous shows. In 2011 we did five shows to promote a compilation album called ‘Loved and Lost’. Prior to that you have to go back to 2004”.
Bachelor Girl will perform at Memo Music Hall in St Kilda in 18 May, 2019.