KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

Music Business

* I don't want to be managing director of the world, I just want to be managing director of myself. (1980, Sunday Times)


*I'm not a businesswoman at all. I just want to write and play and sing and dance. I don't feel I'm biting off too much. I understand my music better than others. I can judge. They can't. So I'll cram in everything I can. After all, I might not even be around in [??? Line missing !!!] (1980, Sunday Times)


*How much say do you have in what is released by your record company.

Quite a lot actually. Probably more then than I am entitled to. But we discuss it. I mean, it's not really me saying ``I want this'' and them going ``We want this.'' We do come to a compromise in a discussion, it's quite human.

Quite amicable.

Yeah. (1979, Personal Call)


The conflict between a performer and the record company in who decides which song is going to be released as a single?

I think that situation differs greatly from artist to artist and in my situation I'm very lucky, I seem to normally have the last say in which the single will be.

You're an adamant lady in other words [Kate laughs] and get your own way.

I guess so, yeah. [Laughs] (1982, Dreaming debut)


I've always had an attitude about managers. Unless they're really needed they just confuse matters. They obviously have their own impressions of a direction and an image that is theirs, and surely it should come from within the actual structure rather than from outside. I often think that generally they're more of a hindrance than a help. (1978, July, Melody Maker)


I think probably one of the most amazing things about the music scene today is the fact that music is purely one aspect of it. It is in fact a very large commercial business. This is why it is so hard for new unknown people to get into to - because it's a money-making business. A lot of companies are into creating formulas that will actually make the money for them and it's hard for people who have got something new to get through. But then again, there are the people in the companies who are aware of this and I think that that's where the magic lies because if you get through to them then you're all right. (1978, Self Portrait)


At first, Kate was opposed to having any sort of management, feeling strongly that fewer mistakes are made if you deal with situations yourself, directly. But she quickly found out that this sort of idealism does not work, and now has peter lyster-todd handling her business affairs.

He has worked more on the theatrical side of entertainment than music. I like that. I think most managers are crooks - greedy and nonmusical; and that mixing with other music managers is contagious. I think Peter is amazing...

[Ironically, Kate and the Bush family almost immediately set about the difficult business of severing connections with Lyster-Todd, who, according to at least one unofficial source, was suspected of dipping into the till. Lyster-Todd was replaced by Hilary Walker, who is still connected to Kate's current holding company, Novercia, Ltd. - ied] (1978, The Blossoming Ms. Bush)


With the help of a music industry lawyer, she set up Kate Bush publishing and Novercia, a management company with herself as md and her parents and brothers the board of directors. Thenceforth, these companies licensed her work to EMI. Because my family were involved I was with people I could trust, she says, then breaks off. I'm sorry, I feel quite worried about mentioning the companies' names. But they're on the album sleeves. They are, aren't they? You're absolutely right. It's my paranoia again! There have been things in the past... Oh, I can't remember. When you're doing interviews you have to be almost like a security guard sometimes. Anyway, for me, one of the most important things to come out of managing myself is the fact that I could decide how long I spent on each album. (1989, Q)


What is your opinion on the commercialization of art?

I think the purpose of a record company is to sell as many records as they can, and that is their total main concern. If something is successful, they are happy. If something is artistically good, but is not successful, then they can't really be prepared to follow that through. Their business is not art - it's money and selling records to make money.

I think that's part of the reason why the business is so hard, because you're talking about two completely different forces having to be integrated. Artistic people, a lot of the time, don't have a good business sense, and a lot of the time it's totally against everything they feel - it's about money, commercialization, exploitation. It's not anything to do with a creative spirit, which deals in sensitivity and observation of people, emotions. They're two completely different forces. And I think to survive in this business, you have to be realistic, and if music is what matters to you, there's a certain amount of business that you have to be involved in in order to be able to keep making music.

So, I think for me, the way I cope with it, is to try and keep a realistic balance between the things I like and don't like doing. I have to do things I don't like in order to make sure my work will survive.

Sounds like a good answer to me.... (1985, love-hounds)


On the business side, especially Jay is involved, and my father too. There's so much to deal with.

What [Does] your father do?

Well, he sorta ... He'll go along to meetings because he's a director of the company. And...

What company?

Our company, we have a company. And just sorta sort out the points? Things that I just couldn't really have the time to do, or really the knowledge either.

And can you explain what you do for kate.

John carter bush: Yes, well it's a sorta coordinating process, really. The company was formed when it looked as though she was going to become popular and there's the administration of that basically. We use a solicitor and accountant, alot of people in advisory capacities, so there's liaison between them as well. And the whole thing is really to just structure it so that the final decision on anything becomes kate's, which tends to be unusual in the rock music. Especially when sorta somebody has suddenly become popular, they usually then find that they got a lot of hassles with their record companies and so on, which weren't thought of, you know, before they become popular. But it's been avoided in kate's case. (1980, Kate Bush in Concert)


I am lucky to have a family I love who can give me advice when I need it. I like to think of myself as director of the force but I'm not a business woman, for example, and when it comes to legal jargon I need some help. (C.1980, Music is my life)

I think from the outside it does look as if it's been very easy for me - if you believe what the media say. But in fact it hasn't. Everyone thinks - knows, because it's true - that you need that lucky break, but what really counts is the determination that has to be there in the beginning.

Basically it all comes down to personality, you have to be very strong to get where you want in this business. I mean some people have been going ages, like Elkie Brooks, she's amazing.

Elkie's been knocked down so many times, and yet she always gets up again and fights back. It's the same with me. Because I want to keep going, I can. I don't deny that I've been lucky though. (1980, Smash Hits)


So what happens? Do emi breathe down your neck and say, ``come on, kate, the punters are waiting!'' or do you wind down after one album and then just get into it gradually yourself?

Well, I think the record company know me well enough by now to know that really they just have to leave me to it. I'd really like to be able to make an album quicker. I dream of making an album in eight weeks, but if I did, it would be something that I wouldn't be happy with. Unfortunately, it's just a very slow process for me, and I think they realize this. And they know there's not really much they can do about it, because I couldn't possibly give them an album until it was written and finished. (1989, Greater London)


Jay: You got to remember that record companies are only there to make money and if you saw them as washing machines, manufacturing companies, it's like that. And I can't really blame them. If they don't make the effort in some direction its something that they don't think is going to make them money.

Paddy: They tend to promote at the time, when there is something to promote.

Jay: And if they see something that they think is going to work... And certainly the accessability of the last album, for most people, and they did it and it worked. (1985, Romford Kate Bush Convention, Paddy and Jay interview)


But you belong to a business where it's not really the little things that matter. The music business is notorious for being selfish, and everybody looking after themself. Isn't it difficult to maintain that?

I don't really think that I am part of that, really, because I spend so much time just working on albums, being at home. Working in the studio. It's a very small part of my life, really, that. And I do have to conscientiously make an effort to keep it at a distance sometimes. But I'm very lucky that I've been able to get the priorities right, because there's always such a lot of pressure to do things when you don't want to do them. It's really up to you to try and be strong. (1989, Greater London)


Were you strong when you first signed to emi?

I think in some ways I was at my strongest, because I was completely charged with the desire to be doing an album for the first time. All I wanted to do was to make a record. I never really got beyond that on any level.

So it was making the music and having the music heard. Was it necessarily fame that you wanted? And loads of money?

No. I think it was very much making an album. I just wanted to have ten, eleven songs that were good enough to go onto an album, because that's what meant a lot to me. Writing songs. Trying to get that little collection together, and get it out to the world. (1989, Greater London)


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