wears the trousers magazine

thea gilmore offers fans a £1 a week subscription service
June 25, 2009, 8:33 am
Filed under: news, trouser press | Tags: , , , ,

250609_theagilmore“Partnership” scheme will offer exclusive benefits

Having carved out a fiercely independent career since the age of 18 when she broke out of Oxford with her debut album Burning Dorothy, the only thing that’s surprising about Thea Gilmore’s new plan to offer her fans the chance to become an “Angel In The Abbatoir”, that is to sign up to a “partnership” scheme that will give them exclusive benefits in exchange for direct-to-artist financial support, is that it didn’t happen sooner. With her brief and fraught dalliance with major label subsidiary Sanctuary Records long behind her and a young son to raise, Thea’s more enduring fans have gone along with her for a bumpy ride that has seen the singer-songwriter battle with depression and struggle to turn her massive critical acclaim into commercial record sales, and it seems only logical that the next step would be to develop that relationship into something along the lines of what Kristin Hersh has achieved with her “Strange Angels” sponsorship venture through CASH Music.

“Those of you who have followed my career to any extent will know of my wariness of the corporate wheels that oil the music industry and the labels who allegedly ‘invest’ in artists – but also frequently draw them in, chew them around a little and spit them out leaving them owing money and, to all intents and purposes, on the scrapheap,” says Thea. “We live in the age of dumbing down. It may be possible as a musician to have a successful relationship with a big label if you make nice music, look nice, say nice things – in other words tick the right boxes. But if you’ll pardon the pun, the label–artist relationship in the present climate has become a case of the bland leading the bland. Musicians like me who seek to retain some semblance of artistic control over their output and the way it’s promoted are bad news for big labels.”

And there’s more. “I don’t indulge in lowest-common-denominator trendiness, I won’t throw shapes for tabloids and glossies…hence my ‘marketability’ is, in some people’s eyes, limited,” she continues. “But, worryingly, musicians who don’t conform in these ways are beginning to disappear. Not only does this deprive us of the talent of such musicians, it means that we are accepting popular music that is so beige that true creativity and individuality has been quashed. More than ever, I don’t see how it is possible to maintain integrity whilst attempting to conform to all these industry templates.”

Thea’s answer is to supplement her current recording contract with Fullfill – a label she says “is peopled with genuine souls who are in the business for all the right reasons” – by inviting fans to contribute £1 a week (that is, a lump sum of £52 a year) in exchange for:

• A new, original and unreleased track download delivered to your inbox every month; this will amount to a full, exclusive album every 12 months which will not be available anywhere else.
• A lyric sheet, handwritten and signed by me to a song of your choice.
• An entry into a ‘Thea Gilmore Song Lottery’ – all members can suggest a song they want to hear me cover and once during the year I’ll pull one out of the hat and record it!
• A namecheck on my albums. For the duration of your membership you will recieve a special thankyou on my albums
• A lyric sheet, handwritten and signed by me to a song of your choice.
• Opportunities for exclusive live shows and backstage passes to gigs.
• A set of four exclusive badges, unavailable elsewhere
• Access to a members-only website. Designed and run by me, featuring: video diaries; an ‘ask Thea’ forum; previews of new releases, merch and generally getting the news before anyone else.

The price tag may seem a little steep, but it’s in line with what Kristin is doing, though perhaps with fewer benefits. “I’m not after sympathy here, but maybe partnership,” says Thea. “This little business of mine will strive to be organic and centred around you. A kind of musical veg-box scheme, earthy, real and direct. There will be no middle-man and no industry firewall. We’re in it together. The idea that we, listener and musician can be a cottage co-operative is exciting. But more than that, it threatens the status quo. And those of you who know me will know that is one of my favourite pastimes. Can we do this together?”

Wears The Trousers will be chatting to Thea about all this in more detail next month. Watch this space!

Alan Pedder


‘Old Soul’ [live]


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