March 15, 2019

Pay for play: is it coming?

Pay the pipers

“I must say I wouldn’t be against [cash incentives],” Kenny MacLeod of McCallum Bagpipes said. “It’s no different from guitar and drum brands paying rock stars to play their stuff, as well as providing the instruments for free. As a trade, bagpipe makers should run their business in a similar way to other manufacturers in the general music field.”

But, even then, incentives beyond free merchandise will only take a product so far.

“Let’s face it, no top-class piper or drummer will play something they don’t like just for money,” MacLeod added. “It’s so competitive now at the top level and a relatively short career, you can’t afford to play anything that doesn’t suit you 100% to give you that sound you desire.”

Indeed, there have been rumoured instances over the years that pipe-majors have gone with what seems to be an inferior product, costing the band prizes. If true, these instances would certainly undermine the band’s trust in their leader to do the right thing – for the band.

In addition to instruments, some manufacturers have been known to help bands defray expenses by covering things like buses and even food and beverages, but these are more good will gestures, rather than formal aspects of a sponsorship agreement.

“I’m not so sure we are at a stage where top bands/competitors are being paid money to play products, but more so playing products because they are free rather than believing they are the best in the market,” Munroe said. “I’ve also heard that bands also receive extra add-ons such as bags, reeds, covers, uniform items, discounted drums etc. if agreeing to play chanters for free.”

Like Wallace Bagpipes, G1 Reeds Ltd. entered the market relatively recently, and the company has seen great success with its chanter reeds and chanters being adopted by Grade 1 bands.

“Other manufacturers often adopt the financial incentive approach and although it does entice a lot of bands, it is not an approach G1 Reeds will ever adopt,” G1 owner John Elliott said. “These manufacturers will offer various financial incentives if a band agrees to play their products. It happens aggressively and on a large scale with bands in many grades and areas of the world being approached. It is not only offered to elite bands, as would be the case in the majority of sport.”


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