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Old 02-03-2005, 11:57 PM   #1
paulrg's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
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What is integrity?

I was just looking through the thread, initiated by the one who likes to make us scratch our heads and ponder, that posed the question "Yes or No only: Do U2 have less integrity now than in 1987 (JT era)?"

Now of course that thread contains more than just yes or no answers but I didn't want to drag it completely off course with what I'm going to say here.

What is integrity?
When people accuse musicians of losing their integrity they are usually referring to the band or soloist making money, other wise known as exploiting the marketing potential or maximising earnings potential etc.

Everyone has their own opinion on this. I just don't see what is unintegral about making money. It's okay for footballers, golfers, racing drivers, lottery winners, businessfolk, and actors. In fact for almost all walks of life except those of the writer and the musician. Like we expect them to slave away in bleak surroundings. As if some kind of life of suffering in an underworld is the means to great art. I find that bullshit.

It would in a way be more false and pointless for someone in U2s position to ignore the commercial side and play gigs to church hall crowds for $5 a ticket. It would be like myself turning up to work for a dollar-a-day - I'd soon find a new job and it would be fooling myself.

I find it in some ways astounding that music has become this kind of commoditised product where you pay the same for a masterpiece by x as you do for a piece of lip-synched, computer generated, soulless garbage by new teenygirl y.

For me U2 would have lost their integrity if they weren't offering sub-three figure GA tickets. Look at the Vertigo Tour so far - almost all venues sold out and scalpers or touts selling tickets at up to 10x value. If U2 were purely a business the cheapest ticket might retail at $250. There would be enough takers and this might maximise profit. But they haven't done that. That would be to destroy the integrity of their relationship with their fans.

I respect the way U2 run their business (with the exception of anything web-related) i.e. quality musical production, quality DVDs and limited ed. booklets, t-shirts, etc. And the fact that the band members regularly make time in their day-to-day lives to speak with fans, and help noble causes (and emergencies).

Back in '87 U2 had a very earnest image - seemingly quite serious young men who dressed in rags and sung for every non-profit organisation under the sun.

Now they are older, wiser and more focussed.

They cater for a very wide ranging market from the obsessive decades long fan who'll blow thousands on every U2 branded item released to the kid who like Vertigo and downloaded it for 99c. Plus you can find countless concert bootlegs online for free every week.

If they pretended they weren't commercial it would be false and I couldn't respect them. It is a difficult balancing act, and with u2.com they have fallen off the tightrope, but I'm confident they will be back on it and deliver us an exceptional tour.
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