We can always get what we want, the Stones tell Glasto organisers

BBC rolls over on band’s demands


The Rolling Stones at Glastonbury could go down as the greatest rock’n’roll swindle of the year. The band only allowed the BBC to broadcast nine songs out of the 20 on their set list. Five will get you 10 that all 20 will be available on a deluxe album/DVD set (with price to match), to be flogged in October for the Christmas market.

The whole online world was LOLing and OMGing over the Stones’ frankly rubbish Saturday night performance – aided and abetted by embedded BBC Glastonbury journalists who, once they get that Access All Area laminate around their necks, seem contractually obliged to judge every single performance by every single musician as “Absolutely, Mind-Blowingly Brilliant!”. Inevitably, the real story of The Stones vs Glasto was lost in the media love-in.

The deal for every headliner at Glastonbury is the same: you appear for a fraction of your normal asking price. The Rolling Stones were paid about £400,000 for their gig, whereas they would normally only go onstage for a few million. That’s because (and people forget this) Glastonbury is a charitable venture, raising millions each year to provide access to clean drinking water and essential medical supplies for those who are denied it.

Part of the deal is that the acts also sign over the TV rights for overseas transmission on BBC World and assorted repeat performances. Apparently the haggling between the Stones management and the BBC went on to the very last minute. It may be only rock’n’roll, but there’s big money in those foreign transmissions and repeat fees, as The Stones well know.

Originally the band told the Beeb that it could only transmit four of the 20 songs, but later went all soft and gave it a whole nine (the worst nine too). Mick Jagger preposterously argued that televising the full set would be unfair to the fans who had paid for a Glastonbury ticket.

Jagger’s concern for expensive ticket prices is somewhat at variance with the Stones’ response when they were roundly criticised for charging £106 for a seat up in the gods and £406 for a floor ticket at last year’s London O2 show: “We feel no bad thing about ticket prices. We’ve got to make something.”

Glasto founder Michael Eavis has been after the Stones since 1971, so he was always going to bend the rules and take a hit to finally get them on the Pyramid Stage. But for the BBC not to ask the hard questions of the band’s hold-out is pure journalistic cowardice. Jagger, it seems, can always get what he wants.

If The Rolling Stones want to make millions, they can bash out I Can’t Get No Satisfaction at a corporate gig for drunk German bankers. But Glastonbury is a charity. Treat it as such, Mick. It’s not always one for the money, two for the show.

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