TORONTO — Torquil Campbell, one of the singers in Montreal indie rock outfit Stars, is putting his songwriting skills on the open market in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The musician, actor and playwright recently jumped on Twitter to pitch his services to fans, saying that "in an effort to…survive" he will write custom songs for or about them for $1,000 a pop.
In a phone interview, Campbell described the project as "an experiment" to eliminate record labels, streaming services and other "middlemen" from the financial negotiation with listeners.
He says he's been commissioned for 40 songs since tweeting the message on Dec. 30.
He says the idea was inspired by Scottish songwriter Momus who undertook a similar endeavour more than 20 years ago.
Campbell is trying it out as Canadian musicians face another year of adversity as the pandemic drags on and provincial leaders shutter live music venues again without offering new financial support measures for artists.
Campbell says Canada's live music industry has "crumbled to such a degree" that he thinks it will need a decade to recover.
"I don't think that people are aware of just how bad it is and how little government support there has actually been for direct payments to artists," he said.
"People see big numbers thrown around about how much arts institutions are receiving in support, which is great, but little of that money ends up funnelling down to actual individuals."
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2022.
David Friend, The Canadian Press