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Forum Full Member

Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 3876
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Re:Stop Selling Music
Friday, February 22 2019 @ 08:57 PM CST

Quote by: MikeRobinson
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.”

Don't be paranoid Mike. It would seem that I have that honor.
What's your beef, Daug?

it's all too much
Forum Full Member

Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 961
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
Re:Stop Selling Music
Monday, February 25 2019 @ 01:20 PM CST

Don't be paranoid Mike. It would seem that I have that honor.
What's your beef, Daug?

“Well, I sincerely hope not.”   Rest assured that the feeling is not mutual, and that I have the greatest admiration for both of you.   Please ... let’s just discuss.   That’s all that I am trying to do here.

To my way of thinking, these arguments are actually being presented by people who have confused “the mere ability to generate music ... as every single one of us did, as we plinked-away at our upright pianos (or Hammond® Organs) in the innocent days of our oh-so-mechanical youths” ... and “the actual ability to sell it.”
Forum Full Member

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 3030
Location: Austin, TX
Re:Stop Selling Music
Friday, March 01 2019 @ 11:07 PM CST

Quote by: jgurner

That being said, my music is free (though at times in my life I have actually been paid by suckers... er fans...

Yeah, I never know what to contribute to these discussions. I occasionally make a penny off playing live (played with Symphony the other day, doing a Harry Potter soundtrack live) but mostly I have a day job that allows me not to care about what I do with music.

But talking to orchestra musicians, even for people in the business of live music, in a context where live music is in demand, life is harder. They have to have multiple hustles to make ends meet.

Talk of recorded music being publicity for live gigs, and performance being a vehicle for selling merchandise, makes me wonder how recorded music as such can make money. Mike Oldfield spends months doing Tubular Bells on his own. Apparently it once got performed, but he's not a touring artist: he makes recording. How do you do that when you don't get a buck per album sold, but a fraction of a penny per album streamed.


-- My CD.
Forum Full Member

Registered: 05/31/04
Posts: 590
Location: N/A
Re:Stop Selling Music
Saturday, March 02 2019 @ 12:08 AM CST

What's so different? The great majority of musicians have never made a great deal of money from selling their music.

In the 60's I heard music on the radio at the cost of putting up with ads and obnoxious dj's. I innocently thought that anyone who had a song on the radio had "made it" and was making lots of money. So untrue! I loved The Boxtops who had huge hits with "Cry Like A Baby" and "The Letter". As so many groups they were basically just one guy who wrote the songs, did the vocals and played guitar. Imagine my shock in the mid 70's when I found out he was now washing dishes in New Orleans.

Record companies used this same innocence to hoodwink artists into some of the most one sided contracts in the history of business. Oh sure, as long as they were putting out hits the record companies would put them up in nice hotels and furnish them with limos, drugs, booze and food. But little did the groups realize that all of this was being charged to them and would be subtracted from their revenues leaving them with little or nothing to show for their time, work and artistic achievement. The groups also paid for studio time, tour costs, roadies, accountants etc.

In many cases, groups that didn't sell well actually owed the recording company money. When this happened the group was dropped from making anymore music but amazingly the record company would not let them sign with someone else until the end of the contract.
Forum Full Member

Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 961
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
Re:Stop Selling Music
Sunday, March 03 2019 @ 06:55 PM CST

Well, Bronco, those contracts are long gone, now that the word is out.

As for “fractions of a cent per song, streaming ...” today the great majority of our royalties come from streaming.   This is the “jukebox” of the modern era, where a fraction of a penny falls into your lap every time(!) your music plays.   (Unlike the money that comes from the physical sale of an album or the sale of a download, which the consumer is then free to play as many times as he likes without owing anything more to you.)   Even though the increment of money seems to be quite small, each coin-drop is tabulated anywhere in the world, and the planet is very big indeed.   You are being paid for each event, when your song is coming out of somebody’s speakers.   If this is the fifth time in a row that the same person is listening to it, this is also the fifth consecutive time that you get paid.

A physical performance is strictly limited by how many physical performances you can do, and by how many ticket-buyers actually show up.   “Mechanicals” are similarly pointless:   you get paid only for the vinyl, while the songwriter gets paid for the song no matter how it is physically represented or who played it.

The actual intellectual property that is worth money is – is only(!) – the song, itself.   To have your name on that copyright registration.    It pays you no matter what you do ... even if you do nothing at all.   And it is purely a numbers game ... how big is your “catalog?”
Forum Full Member

Registered: 06/13/06
Posts: 7182
Location: N/A
Re:Stop Selling Music
Sunday, March 03 2019 @ 07:13 PM CST

this is 100% my opinion. ignore it

the arts are generally known to be produced by starving artists. not just music, but all arts. and across many, many years

that music became a cash cow for certain musicians is an anomaly

(film is a close second, but it's a little harder to figure it out, since those things involved huge numbers of people, at least over the last 80+ years. but that's a whole other discussion)

most of the money raked in by popular music in the last, what, 50+ years, was not collected by the artists. it was earned by other people who bankrolled the costs to capture, manufacture and distribute recordings

i'm sure this is a way-oversimplified view, but i think it's not far from the truth

we are all blinded by what we've seen all during our lives. over history, artists generally starve, unless they have a "day job" - music is not exempt from this
Forum Chatty

Registered: 12/15/04
Posts: 61
Location: , Tennessee United States
Re:Stop Selling Music
Monday, March 04 2019 @ 08:36 AM CST

I'm in the process of trying to make a living as a musician. I have produced two albums with online distribution and physical packaging. Over the few years that I've been selling music, I've probably made over $1000. I've also given a lot of CDs away to be nice to people that genuinely like my music and as promotion.

My living has come in various forms, and it has been a struggle. I've actually made a reasonable amount of money through recording others. It would seem there are enough hobbyists most places to justify a small recording business. I got lucky in LA to find a songwriter who worked with me on a couple hundred songs over a few years. I've made probably about $40,000 recording other people over a few years.

Performing also seems to be a decent source of revenue. I am finding that it is best to aim for booking private events where I am starting to pull in $300-$600 per gig.

Also, there are musicians that are doing very well online. I recently discovered a YouTuber that grew relevant through making prank videos with his significant other. They would prank each other and post well produced videos of the pranks. Slaiman, the YouTuber I'm discussing, would use his own music as background for the videos and eventually created a separate channel to post the full versions of the songs. He would link to the full versions of the background music in the prank videos. Over the years that he has been producing videos and music, his production skills have grown and now he's producing some pretty good stuff and through the popularity of his prank video channel, he has a sizable active audience. YouTubers can make good money and I think he is. The great thing about this is he was able to build his following independently.

Also, I have a view on the exceptional guitarist that can't tour in the US. In my estimation, music is mostly digested through a cultural lens. The degree of excellence is somewhat irrelevant. I think a lot of popular club type music that plays on the radio is the evidence of and also leads the way for dark cultural trends. There is some jazz that requires a special kind of listener. I would say that is the jazz that is designed for technical appreciation. I've been to jazz concerts where players spend the whole night alternating showcasing and perhaps stretching their capabilities over somewhat arbitrary song choices. I think what you, Daug, have mentioned here is somewhat different than that but I thought it worth mentioning. I think this excellent guitarist may have a problem with cultural relevance, and it's a shame in my opinion. I think a lot of music and media in general has pandered to the baser instincts with disregard for ethics. To craft music in such a way as to attract a listener to digest something that challenges the listener to change for the better is hard. To seduce a listener to deep disco beats and sexual voices and lyrics, easy. Both sell.

I'm sure there is an audience for the recreation of traditional jazz, blues, and rock, but the mainstream audience is not that. People want sounds and textures and lyrics that are relevant to their current state of intellectual and cultural development. You've already said some things along these lines.

I have felt frustrated that I don't have connections to people that can elevate my productions to a popularly listenable level. I think my songwriting ideas have surpassed plenty of what already becomes popular. I started to think I needed to spend my money to make that happen. I haven't been able to get good enough at everything. Recently, however, I've been thinking I should be patient, and work hard. My plan is to stay dedicated to building my career on a local level so that I am the go-to performer for local events and weddings and over time build rapport with excellent bass players, drummers, guitarists, etc. It will be hard work but it should pay well enough and it will lead to excellent records. Hopefully some of the songs are culturally relevant.

Anyway, hope that contributes to the conversation!

Quote by: Daugrin
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.


"When those who are honestly mistaken learn the truth, they will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest."
Forum Full Member

Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 961
Location: Chattanooga, TN United States
Re:Stop Selling Music
Monday, March 04 2019 @ 04:46 PM CST

The idea of putting out “laugh videos,” backing them with serious music, and then providing links to that serious music, sounds to me like a damned good idea in this day and age.

The problem that many people encounter – including myself – is that they put out a product and no one knows that it exists, or ever will.   We never really understood what those “song pluggers” were doing, back in the day, until they weren’t there.