The Changingman: JOHN MICHIE is back, and he’s got plenty to say

THE artist formerly known as The John Michie Collective is currently teasing the release of January 2025’s album ‘Explore’ with a series of videos under new name, MICHIE.

“It’s just the videos right now, but at some point I will be doing physical formats,” he explained. “I can’t do them yet as Bandcamp won’t allow a presale until October, so I’m saying to anyone who may want physical formats, don’t buy yet as I don’t want to rip people off.” 

Based in the North-East of England, the multi-talented musician has meticulously planned the release of six carefully curated songs providing a glimpse into the sonic landscape of ‘Explore.’ The first, ‘Did You Ever Wonder,’ was released almost a year ahead of the new album.

“One of the reasons I am doing such a long run up is a story about the Chemical Brothers,” he added. “They gave Kate Gibb the album ‘Surrender’ at the end of 1997, asked her to do the artwork, album was fully done, but it didn’t come out until 1999. I think the secret is just to emulate what major labels do, even down to the historical release of your singles on Mondays.”

And the ever-outspoken Michie, whilst acknowledging the current concerns within the world of the unsigned musician, believes the industries current ills may in time become their blessings, despite recent radical changes to the way musicians are paid – or rather not paid – for their work.

“There have been a few significant challenges for indie music. Firstly, the change in payments at Spotify where every song now needs 1000 plays, effectively demonetising a large portion of the industry, including songs by artists like Ringo Starr and Status Quo. Even the big boys and girls are feeling the impact.

“While the money was never substantial to begin with, it played a crucial role. I used my earnings to invest in plugins for mixing, a new computer, guitars, and so on. It helps top up the pot even if it is 20$ here or a few cents there. Other musicians, who essentially run loss-making cottage industries, likely are doing the same.

“However, this change also affects small independent record labels that nurture new talent. They often sign acts without an established fan base and that money was key to try and break even. Moreover, artists in emerging genres, comparable to reggae in the 1960s or the like, will find themselves with limited financial resources. Those creating culturally specific music in regions like the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, face similar challenges.

“The game is now even more skewed than before, and until solid legislation and regulations are in place to ensure fair compensation, artists will continue to struggle, repairing the mistakes made by those like Ek, who overspent on podcasts, yet somehow has millions to spend on companies focused on weapons development. But hey, musicians have always been poor, so I guess what’s new there.

“Then there’s the Tory government, wielding a sledgehammer against the BBC, trickling down to the gutting of ‘BBC Introducing.’ Areas like ‘Introducing Norfolk’, for instance, have been folded, a somewhat expected move from the cowboy builders in blue, I guess.

“On top of that there’s the cost of living crisis. Anyone with some knowledge of economics could predict governments would attempt to inflate their way out of debt caused by Covid, but factors such as the war in Ukraine, and consequently eye watering energy prices, sent the whole policy into the absurd. It’s led to about 15% of all UK music venues closing or discontinuing gigs.

“Despite this, there are still numerous fantastic songs being produced, which I get to hear daily, and that isn’t going to end no matter what is thrown in the way. However, for those less fortunate, the kids knocking around with a shit guitar, and artists looking to tour, the situation isn’t great. The overall picture is quite bleak, and all these challenges seem to stem from choices made by the governments.

“You likely would get a similar downbeat response if you asked a doctor about the state of the NHS or teacher about education. We are not in an era of optimism, but that is usually when something culturally significant happens, so God knows what will be kicking around as the child of this in ten years.”

Released January 20th 2025, ‘Explore’ is set to captivate listeners with its distinctive blend of old-fashioned indie rock pop, infused with a welcome dose of psychedelia. The album showcases a fast-paced, ever-shifting mood, constructed to replicate the experience of listening to a cassette, with tape hiss accentuating many tracks.

Connect with MICHIE online: @MICHIEmusic | Instagram, TikTok | Linktree

1 Comment

  • Joe Miller says:

    Interesting article and a great read.

    Love Michie and his open no nonsense approach, a very talented individual and one of the good guys. The industry needs more like him.

    Arise Sir John the Robin Hood of the North East.

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