Bob insists the industry can’t survive on divas, pretty boys and smug festivals but “rock’n'roll needs to be against something”

Bob Geldof

Don't get rich, get mad: Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof says the music industry can’t survive by relying on TV gameshows, moulded pop stars and fashionable festivals, but rock can save the day – if it can find it teeth again.

Speaking at the South by South West festival in Austin, Texas, the former Boomtown Rat calls on musicians to remember: “Rock’n'roll needs to be against something. It can’t just be.”

Geldof feels modern technology is nothing more than a distraction from the real issues. “This hyper democracy of the web simply gives the illusion of talent,” he says. “Everybody has got the means to say anything they want – but nobody has anything to say.

“Can you imagine the 1960s without the bands interpreting the fast-moving agenda of the times? Where are our Ramones and Sex Pistols of today? Do we need them? ‘Yes’ is the answer. Will they be found? Probably not.

“I’ve heard a million cool bands at complacent and smug festivals, but the music I hear is continental navel-gazing. Don’t do it – look up. Address the world with confidence. Don’t turn inward. Don’t be scared of the future: look at it cold-eyed and try to create a new world with your values.”

The singer, who’s set to release new album How to Compose Songs that Sell and who performed as part of a Thin Lizzy tribute band at SXSW, says the industry can only recover from its current slump if rock musicians find their political voices again. And he pleads for artists to remember how powerful their music can be.

“People talk about the demise of the industry and people in the industry are worried,” he says. “But the industry is only a function of the music – and the music is only successful when it’s relevant.

“The industry will not survive on the caterwauling of divas or pretty-boys with lovely mouths. The thing we call ‘content’ is actually the conversation society has with itself.

“Rock music provided that. This little minor art form is intensely powerful – and when politics is unconvincing, then entertainment might be the politics of our time.”

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