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Daugrin
Forum Full Member


Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 1188
Location: , Extraverse
 
Stop Selling Music
Tuesday, February 19 2019 @ 10:42 PM CST



This guy here has interesting ideas to add to the seemingly never ending discussion we have been having about selling music.
He makes a passionate argument that music is now worthless but still valuable in a cultural sense. His notions do not come from the historical Freeper Movement. His deal is that music is a vehicle to stream, or sell merch.
Play for pay is how I started. I have played thousands of live gigs. I find what he is suggesting to be irresponsible. I grew up before Cds, and live music was everywhere, or there was no music but the radio. People owned 30 45s and a few LP records and listening parties were cool but became rare. People danced together and then stopped with discos burnout.
The way he thinks about music is wrongheaded to me, but I wonder how you people who have never played a live gig interpret what he is putting down? Is this how popular music ends?

Daug
MikeRobinson
Forum Full Member


Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 941
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Wednesday, February 20 2019 @ 04:50 PM CST

Meh ...   Sometimes, opinions are very cheap, especially when they are uninformed.   There exists not a single person on this planet who does not somehow have to make(!) a living by the produce of his/her own hands ... except for the fortunate progeny of successful ancestors who – by the by – did so.

Actually, the economic equation is pretty darned simple:
  1. The artist, like everybody else, has to make a living.   (If he can’t make a living, he can’t produce art.)
    • And it wouldn’t make a difference that he could, if the produce of his labors did not wind up in your local record-store or download or what-have-you, masterfully mastered and produced.   These pros don’t work for biscuits ...
  2. “So, you like what you hear?   And do you not have a little jingle in your pocket?”   Then, give the Devil his due.   Your “little” jingle adds up to the money needed to cover the expenses of ... giving you more music.
    • Yes, your “jingle,” multiplied thousands and maybe millions of times, pays not only the artist but the entire “down-line,” right up to the wages of the schlep you put that music into the box where you just picked it up.   Most of whom are professionals whom you never dreamed existed.   All of which combines to give you access to a work-product that cost millions of dollars to produce and to distribute ... now plunked into your un-appreciative hands for less than a dollar-or-ten.
The folks who seem unable to comprehend this, such as the author of this video, really don’t command much attention from me.   Because, not only do they not seem to understand “how the present system works,” but they also don’t seem to realize that “the present system ... works!”

If you don’t understand the economics, or somehow consider that economics have become unnecessary, why should I care that you know how to make and post a YouTube video?

(Video) “The Art of Making Art Is ... Putting It Together ...”   Never forget that “vinyl is expensive!”
bud
Forum Full Member


Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 3874
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Wednesday, February 20 2019 @ 11:13 PM CST

I realize how hard it is for professional musicians to accept what this guy is saying. It's even hard for ardent fans to accept. I have about 1,000 LPs and 400 Cds, some of which get played from time to time. But I'd say that's changed for the majority of people and will not return to a significant degree.

Concurrently, the means and costs of production have dropped precipitously, democratizing what it take and means to be a recording artist. Bedroom artists releasing their work on YouTube, etc. have changed the track to recognition. From there, some do get deals and a proper budget to record and mount a tour. The rest carry on at a local level, and eventually enter the couch tour circuit until they make it or stop touring because they're beat. That doesn't mean that they stop creating and releasing music, not if they can't live without making art.

The notion that an artist can't make art if it doesn't pay the rent was never part of the equation for visual artists and writers. The prohibitive cost of recording created a different scenario for musicians, but that's no longer the case.

The popularirity of art schools created a generation of artists expecting/hoping to make it. We know that very few do, but every city has a program showing and selling those who are trying. Nobody is getting rich except the few standouts (pop stars) who rise to the top. Actually, the people getting rich in the art world are the collectors who resell work at a high profit, if they have the money to enter the market at a decent level in the first place. The artist does not get a piece of this action.

Point is, artists continue to make art against tall odds, as they always have. Now recording artists are able to join the club of the starving artist. Highly trained musicians working as session players are not dissimilar from illustrators and designers in the visual arts.
As was mentioned in the video, pop stars now develop their brand as much as their output; starting clothing lines, tv production companies, or record labels.

So, music has had a seismic shift in who owns the means of production and the means of distribution. Marx would tell us that the surplus product accrues to society at large. One could argue that we are culturally enriched by the ability to hear from the masses in ways we never have before. People hanging onto the old model will only find disappointment, whereas those stepping into the new stream will see possibilities.

it's all too much
Loob
Forum Full Member


Registered: 02/27/10
Posts: 890
Location: , United States
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Thursday, February 21 2019 @ 02:43 AM CST

People need to re-invent themselves. The trajectory of this is not going to change. You can't control them, you can only control yourself.

zzzzzzzzz
jgurner
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Registered: 05/20/04
Posts: 1981
Location: The Valley, Mississippi USofA
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Thursday, February 21 2019 @ 09:42 AM CST

I actually do agree with a lot of what he said. The music industry has changed drastically in the past 20 years. In the ways music is created, distributed and consumed. The music industry has been slow to adapt to these changes and it does need to be more responsive and flexible in order to meet the changing needs of consumers.

That being said, my problem with this guy's arguments is not the facts. He's right about much he said, as far as I know (which may or may not be that far.). And his solution has valid points. But my problem is he considers it a one size fits all solution and we don't live in a one size fits all world. It's not a situation where you have to do either/or. And let's be honest. If CD and digital download sales weren't making money for someone, they wouldn't exist. Vinyl went away and now it's back with a vengeance, so obviously there IS a market for physical media. Hell, I've even noticed bands starting to put out new material on cassette tape (why, I have no idea. Maybe it's just nostalgia for poor sound quality an easily destroyed media.)

I'm sure there will be a day where selling music - at least what he considers selling music (and I have a problem with his definition, but that's a different rant) - will go the way of the Betamax, DHDVD and the Dodo, but a lot of us old fogies will be blaring our albums in the Great Beyond before that comes to past.

That being said, my music is free (though at times in my life I have actually been paid by suckers... er fans... to play music for them, so I guess that sort of makes me "professional"), but I've never had serious aspiration of being a working musician (other than my dream in junior high of playing French horn for a living and a brief, delusional period in college) so I have the luxury of giving it away to whoever I can force it on. But, again, that's what works for me. I've sure Cardi B or Mumford & Sons don't have a library job to fall back on. (Maybe they do. I just don't know.)
MikeRobinson
Forum Full Member


Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 941
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Thursday, February 21 2019 @ 04:23 PM CST

Trying to follow-on to what you’ve just said, jgurner, let’s also bear in mind that “music” is not – and, actually, never has been – “physical.”   We all drove down the highway listening to tunes on the AM radio, and we all (like it or not ...) remember Muzak.®   (Even though they have apparently re-branded themselves as “Mood Media dot com,” it is functionally the same thing.   Ick.   But ... by gawd, it sells!!)

“Waitaminit ... are you telling me that they actually count the elevators?”   Yes, they do!!

My point is – “music” does not have to be “a thing that is sitting on your shelf” in order to be a thing that can be bought and paid for.   Did you bother to notice that there is music playing, all the time, anytime you are in any department store or grocery store on this planet?   Well, someone out there is dutifully counting those plays, and, “somewhere, there’s a meter running.”

(I actually get royalty statements, connected to songs that you probably have never heard of, recorded by an artist who you have(!!) heard of, and I am constantly amazed at the list of countries ... and, the list of uses.   Yes, it all adds up.   BMI does not miss anything.)

I frankly think that there are too-many people out there who simply do not understand what music is worth, and that you can actually make very good money tenths-of-a-cent at a time, as long as there is somebody out there counting.   And there are companies out there (PROs) that make it their business to count.

If you look very closely at most professional songwriters (and musicians), what you will see is the size and the breadth of their so-called “catalog,” all of which is for sale.   The revenue that these people earn from their “number-X hits” just might actually be the icing on the cake – not their actual bread and butter.   They do not exclude any opportunity to sell it ... and it all adds up, maybe a tenth-of-a-cent at a time.

“Axiomatically, your odds of ‘selling something, somewhere, all the time’ are very significantly better if you have 2,300 products to sell, than if you are banking your hopes on a dozen or less.”   (And many professional songwriter’s catalogs are every bit that large – or larger.)   It is, very much, “a numbers game.”
bud
Forum Full Member


Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 3874
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Thursday, February 21 2019 @ 07:47 PM CST


it's all too much
Daugrin
Forum Full Member


Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 1188
Location: , Extraverse
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Thursday, February 21 2019 @ 10:00 PM CST

All this discussion and only the one troll! Thank you all for your seriousness. We want to make music pay. I get that, in the early 80s and into the 90s I got paid to play in a regular manner. If I was hanging around the studio I could play bass, guitar and keys on stuff and make four or five hundred bucks a week just hanging out. I could take a regular gig with a local band as well and make 40 to 100 bucks a couple nights a week playing live dance music. Sunday I normally had a gig in a church. I have played thousands of gigs over the 40 years I worked in this manner. But you guys can't or won't make music pay.

Robin Ford is a fantastic guitar player and music educator. He has been on the edge of the popular music scene forever. He was gigging as a teen. He gigs with the who's who of serious musicians now and is widely respected as a player, performer and writer. He can't sell records. His brand of jazz, blues and rock is traditional, what is termed as "from the vein". He plays live appearances with people like Larry Carlton in Europe but complains there is not enough money live in the states to support what he does. How can that be? The guy is flat-out killer musician and he can't make a living?

Tedechi/Trucks Band, easily the outstanding road band in America today. This is a twelve piece blues, rock and r&b outfit with two drummers and a full horn section. The vib is Allman Brothers meets Delany and Bonny and the band is solid, professional and creative. They make their way on live gigs. They make records but don't crush the charts and as a business can't exist on what they make selling CDs, streams and other merch.

Previously I have suggested that the only way I can see to make money in the current music business is pander to commercial work. The field is dominated by a small group of providers that know each other and they steer the work. It takes a year of heavy spending In L.A. or New York to get into the small circle of friends that does the big money work. Local work in commercial music is viable, but not steady as increasing this work is done by agencies and not independents. The reason for this? In my opinion, grand commercial music works stylistically to defeat the country cousin. The independent can not compete with a big studio due to the costs of new must have gear and the ever changing production cycles.

Traditionally, local guys made commercials for Lawyers, Doctors and Indian Chiefs in their area. This worked out because each area had a style of their own. Style was regional. The local BBQ joint needed a commercial in the local style. I made commercials for laundry mats and dry cleaners. Lots of work was available in the local area.

For instance, money could be made creating boutique records for the significant others of these special kinda local wealthy types who can all sing great with the aid of auto tune and want to make their own vanity CDs. Now big studios create karaoke mixes of popular tunes. The biggest secret in the world is that thousands of versions of Fleetwood Mac and Eagles tunes mixed with popular standards are collecting dust under the seats of BMWs all over upscale 'Merica.

To stream or not to stream? I am convinced the company hosting and enabling the streams makes money. Is there a success story from this kinda independent release? For acts with a popular cultural message, like rappers who work live, this might be a viable alternative to selling merch at an event. Having worked in the studio with soul and funk bands to create musical backgrounds for rappers before the advent of sampling I can suggest all bets are off that an independent musician can still make money in this type of work today working with local talent. Music has been dumbed down to the point that musicianship is no longer a necessary component for much of popular music.

So what can I suggest? If a business is willing to pay the upfront costs for live music in the form of the quarterly copy write use payments required by law to the likes of BMI and ASCAP
live music maybe a viable opportunity if the band is small and nimble. Hype the streams and sell merch at live events. Be prepared to keep the same cast and crew together and have a front line, or front person, that loves to perform and interact with the paying customers. Work hard, stay sober and work your ass off and I bet you can still make a little money playing live local music. I have not down this in eight years. But I am aware of nothing which precludes the bushiness model. Yer not gonna be The Tedechi/Trucks Band and yer not playing in a piano bar, so their is a chance...

I feel sorry for Mr Ford. If he was only transgender or something... Dam that guy can play.

Daug
MikeRobinson
Forum Full Member


Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 941
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Friday, February 22 2019 @ 03:19 PM CST

All this discussion and only the one troll!
I’m just going to graciously assume that you were not aiming that little barb at me, because I think that everyone who is party to this discussion is, as you say, “serious.”



There’s a tidy little building just off Music Row which handles the catalog of Al Jolson , who died in 1950, and they seem to be making enough money to keep the place up.   (I don’t think you can drive up to the unit that handles the estate of Irving Berlin.)   The point is that you don’t make money by performing music.   You don’t make money by selling physical copies of things ... so-called “mechanicals.”   You make money as the writer of the song itself, and the PROs comb the Earth looking for every place where even a snippet of that song is played.   That © symbol is a precious gold coin.

Let’s say you wrote a great set of songs, made your own CD, sold a few hundred at gigs (if you’re lucky ...), and that’s it.   That won’t make you a fraction as much money as having that same song syndicated to be played as background music at department stores or bumper-music in a popular commercial or a TV show.   (For a glimpse of that side of the business, visit taxi.com.)

This is money that you literally are making in your sleep.   If one of them happens to be a number-one hit, then please put my name on your Lamborghini's license-plate.   But you can make a lot of money from a suitably curated collection of “moderately-producing oil wells,” the larger the better, because someone is out there fighting for you, seeing to it that every scrap of money that you are entitled to is collected and paid.   This is entirely passive income.

Let’s say that your favorite artist made an album that sold 5 million copies.   If he only got the mechanicals, he would make somewhere around 35¢ per copy, once.   (And since he just pegged the top-of-the-meter tax-wise from that $1.75 million one-time check, the government is going to get more than half of it.)    But if that song becomes popular enough that people absent-mindedly listen to it on the PA system at Wal-Mart, that money is going to continue to come in both to him and to his heirs for the next hundred years ... a tenth of a cent at a time.

... i-f(!) they were good negotiators at the time. Loretta Lynn wasn't, and when she sued to get royalties after the owners of her record-label died, she lost.   So, the coal miner’s daughter doesn’t get one thin dime unless she sings it herself.   And the Rolling Stones don’t get no satisfaction from their hit, either.   Notice how the copyright of your latest Paul Simon album is very different from your first one.   We can all thank Prince (RIP) for spearheading that fight, and winning it.
 
MikeRobinson
Forum Full Member


Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 941
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
 
Re:Stop Selling Music
Friday, February 22 2019 @ 06:10 PM CST

Jeopardy!® Question:

Who is Stuart K. Hine?

Well, at least until March, 2059, the answer to that question will continue to remain important to you.

... and worth many millions of dollars every year of entirely passive income, therefore, to his descendants ... none of whom will ever have to lift a finger to profit from what their ancestor had done – and, most importantly, had copyrighted and registered.

I don’t know if they earned a nickel from my grandfather’s funeral, all those years ago, but they were legally entitled to it.   Yes, you know the piece.   Everybody does.   But, somebody owns it.

Nobody really has to care if you’ve written yet-another great song ... unless and until you can turn it into a commercial product.