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Piracy Didn't Kill the Record Industry

- posted by Sudara on August 17, 2009 - 73 comments -

Hi there!

For those short on time, here’s the news: We have a new blog, hopefully more enjoyable to read.

For those with a few minutes, I want to tell you a bit of a story.

The other day, I crawled into bed and was flipping through the New Yorker magazine when I ran into an article by John Seabrook about the Music Performance Industry. (full article text requires login)

I began to read, comfortably getting drowsy and enjoying the article until I hit this quote:

With the collapse of the record business, as a result of piracy (album sales are almost half what they were in 2000, and, according to some surveys ninety-five per cent[sic] of all downloaded music is stolen), the business of selling live music has become the main source of revenue for the popular-music industry.

I sat upright in bed. I was very disturbed. For those who haven’t had their coffee yet, this is what just happened in that sentence:

  1. The record industry collapsed
  2. The collapse was due to piracy
  3. The collapse is proven by dropping album sales
  4. Piracy is the cause of this collapse because up to 95% of downloaded music is “stolen”
  5. Because of these industry-killing pirates, live music is now the #1 revenue source

What disturbed me the most is that the author is not (that I know of) a shill for the record industry, but an established writer from the New Yorker. I expected more.

So, I pulled my laptop in bed and began to write a letter to the editor. I couldn’t say all that I wanted, nor could I really get into details (you only get a few sentences), but here is what I ended up sending to them today:

I was disappointed that despite John Seabrook’s insights into the music performance industry, when it came to the recording industry, he seemed content to play the same broken record that the major labels play - attributing its collapse to piracy. Major labels largely failed to recognize the value and opportunity that the internet provided (it rendered the cost of distribution close to nil). They fell into a state of panic, suing customers, crippling their digital products (DRM) and generally acting in a protective manner hostile to their audiences. Definition of piracy aside (can you share what you own?) and the true effect of sharing music on record sales (many studies show it is has either no effect or a positive effect), the failure of the industry is more simply attributed to greed and lack of innovation in the face of a new technology. Fortunately, an increasing number of Artists see the changing landscape as an opportunity and have decided to bypass the industry altogether in favor of connecting directly with their fans.

If one were to take Seabrook’s quote and replace “piracy” with “inability to address the changing market due to the internet”, then everything would have been fine. Instead, audience members around the world apparently shoulder the blame for the poor poor industry and - oh, and anyone who shares music is a criminal. (Read up here for more history on the subject)

The author of this article should have gone to the trouble of googling “music sharing studies sales” and reading any of the studies that have been done that prove that “piracy” has either negligent or positive effect on sales, such as this, this or this.

Furthermore, album sales, though perhaps lucrative in the past for record companies, were rarely lucrative for the artist, even pre-internet. Another google search would turn up classics like Steve Albini’s early 90s article “The Problem With Music”. The Riaa testified to congress that 2 million records need to be sold before an artist would break even. Does this sound like a healthy business model, where less than 1% of artists in the system have a chance at making a decent living, and the rest are left in debt to their labels? And what about the tens of thousands of artists considered too risky?

People like music. Music is social. Sharing music with our friends is a deep part of our culture, and could never be controlled by corporations, even if it was contributing negatively to their bottom line, which it wasn’t. Music is simply too important to people. I’ve turned on countless people to new artists(as I’m sure you have), both on major labels and here on alonetone. Heck, when I turn on a friend to a new artist, I’m basically marketing on behalf of that artist - I’m converting my friend into a potential fan who will now/later be a recurring revenue source for that artist. Not many folks will drop $10-16 to buy an album from an artist they’ve never heard, but most folks (given that they have money) will spend the money at the drop of a hat to support an artist they like.

How could the record industry not see that digital distribution was one of the greatest marketing opportunities that they could possibly posses? I have no clue, but what I do know is that major labels have spent over 10 years fighting against their audience, their artists and technology itself. Simply put: They caused their own collapse. Musicians and Music lovers around the world deserve better.

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Guest said

I agree with most (upon an admittedly quick read of what you say.. except this:

"but most folks (given that they have money) will spend the money at the drop of a hat to support an artist they like."

as I think we live in a situation where music is de facto available free, and that's considered to be quite right and proper!

Sudara

Sudara said

The success of Radiohead's "In Rainbows" (which grossed them more than all previous records combined) is a good example that people will gladly pay for something they love. The album was offered either for free, or for any price you named.

Though not many artists have such a wide and loyal following as Radiohead, I'm fairly confident that selling music will not go out of fashion any time soon. It may change faces, but people generally want to support what they love.

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Guest said

I hope so. It's a complex subject -- for example I'd like to see more examples of otherwise unknowns selling music, and of music selling clearly unrelated to any other visual gimmick or tribal affiliation. Closer to home, do alonetone artists gravitate to each others web stores after leaving nice comments? Why should they? Etc etc....

glu

glu said

it amazes me how people defend their oppressors-glu

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Guest said

Responding to Guest - yes, so far this month I have bought two albums from unsigned artists. And I'd put more of my money where my mouth is if the music wasn't generally free for download. And...very few of us are genuinely trying to sell.

Geoffrey Armes

Geoffrey Armes said

"guest" is logged in now...

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Guest said

waves at Guest :-)

Geoffrey Armes

Geoffrey Armes said

grabs a moment... wonders if it's a shame or a blessing that alonetone creators aren't selling (i.e we get it free), as much of the stuff here most superior:-)

Wildgeas Music

Wildgeas Music said

In the old days we used blank 8 track and/or cassette tapes to share music. I recall the same reaction about it causing damage to the record industry.

I DO NOT buy music without hearing it first. The Internet makes that a lot easier.

The music buying population here in the U.S.A. is girls 14 to 17 yrs old. If you do not appeal to that demographic, you ain't sellin' sh*t and you ain't gettin' signed.

I would add to this conversation the economic aspect. Americans today, have other issues to spend their money on. Perhaps the economy has taken the record industry's 4.2 billion in profits not MP3's.

Like people, music should be free. If you wish to support an artist, go see them live. If you like my songs then tell me the check is in the mail.

Sudara

Sudara said

I'm really curious how many alonetoners have a serious desire to earn a living from their music vs. are content to make it and be heard. My guess would be that in these times many talented musicians dismiss the possibility of earning a living as a realistic option. I think the chancesare much higher when a group of talented people get together and create something new. As an unknown artist, producing and marketing an album on your own is tough, and seems to be rarely successful.

glu

glu said

btw, my comment was about the author of the article, not guest/Geoffrey. My ideal situation would be to find a guild of rich benefactors to keep me locked up in a studio writing and recording music.

@ Sudara... Alonetone Records!

glu

glu said

Alonetone CO-OP?

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Guest said

The Riaa testified to congress that 2 million records need to be sold before an artist would break even. Does this sound like a healthy business model, where less than 1% of artists in the system have a chance at making a decent living, and the rest are left in debt to their labels? And what about the tens of thousands of artists considered too risky?

What about the tens of thousands of unsigned quarterbacks who will never have a shot at making a decent living?

glu

glu said

American football has little to do with this topic, but a critique on the sports-industrial complex would also be an interesting discussion too.

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Guest said

Glu, I am sure that you can see the simple comparison being made above your last comment. Though I think that this would 'also' be an excellent topic 'too' 'as well' 'and in addition to' the current discussion. STOP redundancy in your comments please.

brando

brando said

The problem seems to be one of inflation. I have music on my computer from friends of which I'm not even really aware. I may like Jane's Addiction and occasionally listen to a track or two, but if I had to buy an album for 12-16 bucks... well there's just no way. Like Glu, I would love if someone payed big money for me to just hang in a studio, but when it comes down to it, I just want to share music, and it's hard to charge for something you're willing to give away. Also, record companies are debt machines for the vast majority of their clients. (If anyone wants to correct any of MY grammar, please sign in first.)

glu

glu said

proofreading FAIL. :-) haha, how careless of me. haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.haha, how careless of me.

Sudara

Sudara said

@Guest:

I'm not very familiar with the sports world, but it seems likely it is also top-heavy to the detriment of the larger group of players who are not million dollar superstars. On the other hand, the internet has put musical culture back in the hands of the people, and opened up amazing distribution possibilities. In this sense, I can't see a valid comparison to the sports world.

AMUC

AMUC said

I don't pirate music, but I've been steering clear of the RIAA-affiliated labels, since I'm frankly tired of sitting here and watching them consistently making asses of themselves.

I've never in all my life ever seen another organization so absolutely hellbent on making the rest of humanity despise them.

It sickens me, and I'm not fooled by the goddamn mask the RIAA wears. I realize when I say RIAA, it's really a disguise for the four largest record labels (Warner, UMG, EMI, and Sony), and all their sub-labels. Will I purchase their music? No. Not until they get off their high horses, and remember that they're nothing without the consumers they've been dumping on.


As far as me profiting from my music? Ha! I'm happy that people even take the time to listen to it. Perhaps someday when I develop this thing called talent, and no longer have the HMO job to pay the bills.. In the meantime, I'm content with this being a hobby.

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Guest said

Its all about live music now. everyone and their brother plays an instrument since all these rhythm games got popular and rock music is kind of at an Indie-apex. the bands that just throw a bunch of money at a studio and these records labels that round up some pretty faces and strap a guitar to them are done, the party for them is over. the internet has brought many a rising star to the surface for people to experience FOR FREE. I'm not going to spend 12-15 bucks to buy a CD, much less a set of intangible mp3s, when i can go to a show and FEEL the music for 10 bucks. besides, the little neighbor kid can play all their hits anyway :)

Wildgeas Music

Wildgeas Music said

@Glu - I'm for the Alonetone Single Payer Option :)

@ Sudara - Looks like we'll need an Artist Contribute button ;)

To answer your question, I've been all over alonetone, listened to many artists and I find, in my opinion, very few who appear to be pursuing stardom. If I had to show it in numbers, I'd say about 2% are seeking stardom, 30% are professionals, meaning they play out and get paid but not regularly. The rest of us, just jam at home and share our music and experiences with everyone.

@ Guest - I failed English 101 so please, spare me the red ink.

Bottom line here is capitalism. Don't matter if it's music, football, cooking, fishing, racing, programming, engineering, etc., if you ain't in the top .01%, then you best get a day job!

PayPal me
wildgeas@hvc.rr.com

Thanks for your contributions............. I want a set of bag pipes.

Geoffrey Armes

Geoffrey Armes said

@guest excellence in sports can be measured empirically, i.e. did the goal go in... defining good music is far more messy...

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Guest said

I sure wish someone would buy MY album. I can't think of anyone that listens to my Alonetone music who has purchased anything from me... not my $9 full album, not my $2 EP.

I've learned over the course of the last seven years that you just can't count on friends, family, and casual acquaintances to give you a dime. And I'm literally talking about a dime.

Alonetone is not a place for me to build real fans, unfortunately. I can send friends toward my page to listen to what they want. It's a place for Alonetone cohorts to browse each other's music. But it hasn't proven to garner a single sale for me.

brando

brando said

I'm not much for buying albums (a select few maybe), but if you were to play out in Tucson, JW, I'd bring my wallet. Live seems to be where the modest money is these days. $2 is pretty reasonable though.

dougsparling

dougsparling said

I was glad when my CD on CDBaby sold out. I lost money on each and every one I sold. I'm not bagging on CDBaby, it was the cost of manufacturing CDs, postage, etc. I've gone to Creative Commons and free downloads ever since I discovered Alonetone. The only way I've made money outside playing live was selling music to music libraries, and I've pretty much let that go so I can just write what I want to. Thank you Alonetone :)

AMUC

AMUC said

Josh: Even if it doesn't translate into sales, I wouldn't totally overlook the benefit of the exposure. I haven't seen one red cent from any of the music I've posted online, but sites like Last FM have gotten me a ton of exposure. I have people who listen to my music religiously in Russia - it's something you never would have had happen prior to the internet.

Can that be turned into profit somehow? Perhaps - maybe the album itself is going to become more of a promotional tool, and it's going to take creative people to find other ways to turn it into a profit.

Sudara

Sudara said

@Wildgeas My guess is that there's a much higher percentage of people on alonetone who would probably prefer to be doing music as much more than a hobby, but don't have the outlet and/or marketing skills and/or desire to interact with the current industry.

@JW Hrm, your comment made me stop and think. Why haven't I bought your album? It's got nothing to do with your music. I like your music. Maybe it's a mix between the facts that I never drilled down to the place on your site where it's for sale, that I regularly enjoy your music here on alonetone, and hrm, I'm one of those dudes who despite liking the idea of physical product, is more into the instant gratification of digital downloads. Consider it bought by yours truly, though. :)

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Guest said

@AMUC - So, I get that people listening is inherently good, but what would you say that you are personally promoting by having an international group of people listening to your music? Are you playing live? Selling discs at performances? Somehow promoting other projects through people listening to your music?

Or is it just a general promotion of the AMUC name? My thing is this, I WANT artists (music or otherwise) to live off their art... and what is the point of promotion if it's not furthering a specific cause?

@Sud - We're in an EXTREMELY passive phase of the Internet. Thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter, people rarely click through to additional information... they just accept, with an uninvolved attitude, the content that is in front of them. While these passive time-waster sites dominate, it will be easy enough to get people to click on a free streaming file, but hard to get them to click the link to your website to buy an album.

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Guest said

Additionally, I missed this the first time:

AMUC: "...maybe the album itself is going to become more of a promotional tool, and it's going to take creative people to find other ways to turn it into a profit."

This is EXACTLY why record labels exist. Because artists are typically not businessmen, either because they're not interested, not good at it, or too busy making music. The "creative people" that have historically made profits grow from music were, in fact, the labels.

While the "record industry" may currently be in the process of fossilization, labels, distribution companies, and manufacturers still exist and are still viable.

Sudara

Sudara said

The idea that selling recordings Doesn't Make Money is a misconception in my opinion. Especially with digital downloads, there's no reason why selling music can't be extremely profitable. True, it is rarely profitable for an artist on a major label, but that's because of bad contracts and huge overhead. It's also will never profitable for the unknown musician because most likely they are busy making music and not cooking up a sizable enough audience and marketing to them (assuming they knew how to do so). Outside of these two extremes, I believe that selling music is a viable model, you just need good music and the ability to hook a decent sized audience. I'm with JW: Third party is essential. Someone needs to "find" the music and deliver it to an existing audience.

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Guest said

I think that for a while there was an "if you build it, they will come" mentality rampant on the Internet. That simply isn't true anymore, if it ever was. The problem with musicians and artists is that, much of the time, they are not able to devote the time and money to really promoting their art and making it work. Finding people willing to just listen to you is not TOO hard, but finding the true fans who will start to support you financially is another thing altogether.

I also agree that you can still SELL music. I know I'll still be buying!

Geoffrey Armes

Geoffrey Armes said

Sudara, that thing about getting people to actively click through and buy is key, as is having the ability to offer instant gratification, i.e. instant downloads. So.. if a musician can't build that... he needs to find someone who can. Sort of like she needs to find someone to do the genius marketing bit, as most of us are not cheery extroverts with steel clad egos... and even if we are, that energy is heading into the.. music. We're back to needing a record company or at least a team of people to handle the ancillary tasks. For example, I've got one segment in place -- a great web designer/programmer/graphics guy. Neither of us, however, have the head to do good promotion.....

Geoffrey Armes

Geoffrey Armes said

The internet hasn't leveled the playing field at all. Along with digital technology it's filled the field with even more people producing and displaying wares.

Also, a lot of the younger people have never really had to buy a recording, and don't see why they should, when they can get it free. It's shortsighted of them, but I don't blame them in a way-- there are so many options now, for getting new music gratis on a daily basis

Sudara

Sudara said

@JW I'm 100% with you on the 'if you build it, they will come' thing - That's a common misconception all over the web, not only with music. I made the mistake of using the word "just" in my prior comment. I don't believe that it is easy to build an audience that will buy music, but I do believe it is possible and that there are listeners out there ready to throw down cash for good indie music. That being said, alonetone would be a terrible place to try and sell anything at - it celebrates free digital music and really it's artist-centric, not audience centric. There are small pockets of audience around individual artists (depending how hard the artist works to bring folks to alonetone) but nobody here has 10k fans.

another cultural landslide

another cultural landslide said

"I sure wish someone would buy MY album. I can't think of anyone that listens to my Alonetone music who has purchased anything from me... not my $9 full album, not my $2 EP."

Hmmm. Geez, JW - don't we count? ;) Sheesh.

(We'll join this discussion as soon as we get a little time here.)

Sudara

Sudara said

@Geoffrey I do think the internet has leveled the playing field, but only when it comes to distribution. These days, both you and the major labels could send 100,000 copies of an album out to fans. The cost of distribution is affordable (at most around $800 if using the same technology as alonetone) and would probably cost the label more than an indie musician. Unlike 15 years ago, one can also produce a pretty high quality sounding album with relatively little budget. The marketing and promotion is the area where the unknown artist can't compete, like you say. RE: Youth, I just saw a study that said 1/3 of teens buy music online, up from 20% a few years ago - supposedly it is rising, as is the paid digital download in general. Sure, they download stuff for free all the time, but people are quick to bring out their wallets for convenience and consistent quality.

Geoffrey Armes

Geoffrey Armes said

Ja, that seems right Sudara. And, so it's not the 'youth' who have the sense that they are somehow entitled to free music eh?:-) Or that music is not really worth buying. You are probably right, and that's nothing new.

yelyah

yelyah said

I prefer the moral grey area that is Spotify.

I get to stream from a huge collection of music for free, and it only requires that I fake my residency in the UK once every 2 weeks.

Wildgeas Music

Wildgeas Music said

  • Sudara Yup, I would agree that most would rather be rock stars or at the least making some money with music.
  • J.W. They built it, they came, I agree that lasted for about a month if it was true at all. The internet is overwhelmed with music and music sites. So how does one get music buyers/listeners to find their music and then get them to buy it? It's nearly impossible without the experts and the gerbils in suits :) It would be nice if all artists could live off their art.

As far as Alonetone goes, there are many songs I would purchase at say 69 cents to one dollar (U.S.). So, I could buy my favorites list for 50 bucks. A fair deal indeed.

Me personally, I have a good ear for music. Well trained and experienced. My music sucks and I wouldn't buy it. I don't expect anyone to want to buy it.
What I do is just for the fun of it. A hobby.
Should I ever achieve a professional sound on my own, then things might change.
I devoted 36 years of my life to music. I've been there, and I did that one.
Even now, I hope someone might pick up one of my songs and do it proper. That would be cool and I guess that's one reason why I do it. I'm still dreaming...........

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Guest said

hey sudara
i liked your article :)
best wishes
bAumi

kavin.

kavin. said

I gotta jump in. The RIAA (Big Music) is the devil. As a live musician, I have seen them harass venues using extortion to prevent businesses from using live or recorded music. They have made their own customers adversaries through lawsuits and stupid DRM schemes. They deserve to fail, and I will not give them money anymore.

So now I only buy ind. and unsigned music and support local musicians. And I HAVE bought music and supported musicians from alonetone, RPMC, reverbnation, etc. And I agree with JW, alot of us do have commercially available music out there, and could use the support, which is lacking. I have maybe done a little better than breaking even from gig and digital sales, and that's ok with me.

So if you love making music, you have to be prepared to give it away, and maybe later on through hard work (live shows, promotion), reap any monetary reward, which will be the icing.

AMUC

AMUC said

I'm of the opinion that record labels are still viable, but their purpose is going to evolve. You're going to see less labels owning musicians (and their works) body and soul, and more of them offering a cornucopia of various services to musicians.

It's similar to how human resource companies work - they'll offer to do some of the HR functions for employers. The employers can choose what they want the HR group to do from a list. (Benefits election, Payroll, etc.)

Now, as far as making money from music without selling albums goes. JW, if I were you, I'd look into getting music included on television and indie film soundtracks. Some of your stuff sounds like it would fit nicely in those Sundance-style movies.

Regardless, though - I think there are other ways to make $$ from music besides selling the album itself.

I personally don't care about the money, though - I'm happy enough being heard. The HMO job pays my bills. If I had to rely on my music for that, I would be miserable (and also most certainly screwed.)

Anu

Anu said

I was one of the people who helped create Rhapsody and I've been working in the digital music business for over a decade.

Not all artists play live, so saying you're going to take music for free still hurts artists.

In 1999 about 34K albums were released. Last year the number was over 100K. There's a ton of music now. In some sense, this can drive the value to zero, especially when so much is free.

However, for individuals the value of music varies. You might want to pay $50 for the new Radiohead. You might have to pay someone else $50 to listen to it.

Rev Rant did a great bit about a month ago (www.youtube.com/watch?v=joOZ8DlT2sU) where he basically said "why do we insist on supporting a model where we pay $20 to find out we don't like something (buying a CD after hearing 1 song), but refuse to pay $10 for something after we enjoyed it? (donating to Anu after you heard his music on AloneTone)"

Yes, the industry is a mess and continue to hurt themselves. But our attitudes, as musicians and listeners, has to change too.

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Guest said

"JW, if I were you, I'd look into getting music included on television and indie film soundtracks. Some of your stuff sounds like it would fit nicely in those Sundance-style movies."

This, I believe, is where ACL needs to chime in :)

Id do a soundtrack in a second, if I could figure out where to get that gig. It's eluded me for years.

Geoffrey Armes

Geoffrey Armes said

JW, I think getting a soundtrack -- especially one that pays -- is a hustle, and probably THE hustle now, as it's seemingly one of the last places where you can get paid to write 'music'. That being said, the hustle to get in is doing student films, working with start up producers etc etc.. and.. these days, as you know, almost anybody with a laptop can produce a score, frequently does, and frequently will for a sum of money that bears no real world relation to what it's all really worth. Scoring aside, the other big hustle now seems to be everybody trying to place a song on a movie, or television ad/commercial.

brando

brando said

...and in the end
the money you take
is equal to the money
you make

What has happened to us?

Wildgeas Music

Wildgeas Music said

Interesting conversation.

@Kavin - even in the old days of 45 RPM records, we had to give them away at shows. 100's to radio stations to give away, family, friends, everyone wanted them for free. It paid off later with crowds in the 1000's.

@everyone - I know many ways to sell music.
I'll put together a list of ideas for you all and post it in the forums.

I was recently notified that a song of mine will be used in a documentary. The song was apparently discovered in the public domain. My family wants to know how much I'm getting paid :)

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Guest said

Yeah, I've done two documentary soundtracks in the past, and as with most things it was all about knowing the right people and being in the right place. Now it's just hard to find someone who would rather get real music than use loops from GarageBand in their film.

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Guest said

and @brando, I'm not sure if you're insinuating that we shouldn't want to be able to pay our bills solely by making music, but the Beatles sure were able to... and then some.

brando

brando said

@JW, haha I was aware of that massive flaw in my wit as I wrote. I just had to put out a little non-materialistic world view after reading the posts of the previous 24h. I've spent plenty of my own time trying to figure out how to make a buck off this task on which I so consistently spend my time.

glu

glu said

Listening to music is practically free if you have high speed internet + computer/web capable device and I see this fact as the centerpiece of the 21st century musical paradigm. Whether or not you agree that music should be free, people will continue to share music, and it's only becoming faster and more efficient to do what we once called 'bootlegging.

For most cases, I strongly believe that selling records is not a viable way to make a livelihood in the 21st century unless one is already well established-- and I'm not going to get rich nor famous, let alone make a living by trying to sell my songs on itunes or some other music vendor.

We are a part of an historic efflorescence of music production and distribution that is changing how we acquire and relate to music. I'm not sure I know where this is taking us, but it's comforting to know that even corporate music labels are also struggling to figure it out. They will refine themselves into what they mastered at the turn of the century with Brittany Spears and Backstreet Boys-- mostly image and marketing. For the rest of us, I think it's our responsibility to help pave the way in through this shifting musical landscape. Not to over-romanticize too much, but I think we need to step up and be visionaries.

brando

brando said

Agreed. I hope the future holds both money for more musicians but also a sense of community, like alonetone. Musicians helping one another. Most of us have day jobs of a different sort, and thus different skills and ideas to bring to the table, i.e. web design, marketing and pr, instrument creation and repair. We need community on the web and on the local level. We must expand the cross-section of music actually heard. When I look at the limited number of artists that dominate the charts over decades and compare to the endless number of great musicians I've found on alonetone and locally, I feel sad that most people don't have a more comprehensive exposure.

another cultural landslide

another cultural landslide said

Double Ditto to what glu & brando said.

I've been thinking about this blog & these responses, and I'll be writing up a big response to these posts - and will post it tonight (I hope)..

AMUC

AMUC said

If you're looking for a potential route for both exposure and some residual money, what about independent video game producers? Background music for their games?

With X-Box 360 (and possibly Nintendo WII), a lot of independent video game groups are posting games to be downloaded right to the consoles, bypassing the usual method of selling games.

Hypothetically, if you were able to get your background music included for one of these indie games, just imagine the exposure you would get.

Video games are one of the #1 sources of exposure people have to music nowadays. I think it even bypasses radio for some demographic audiences. A teenager is probably going to play a video game for a considerable amount of time, and during that time, he'll probably hear that backing soundtrack dozens and dozens and dozens of times.

childhoodsend

childhoodsend said

What interests me is the fact that some kinds of music are associated with being a big star!!!

A good friend in my earlier life, Maurice Isaacs, played the Violin well enough to be hired as a contractor for various london orchestra's. He made a living, had a family, owned a house etc.

His career and profession seemed to equate to that of a computer programmer. A reasonably good life was possible doing what he was good at.

It seems we have gone through this phase in our culture that only big stars can make a living in the music industry. Big business made it this way. They select promote and sell a small # of stars and try and make us buy.

If that business is dying it might be a good thing. We need more variety in our music and music creation needs to go to being something that many people participate in. The internet is having the same effect on news and opinions. So we should expect to go the same way with Music.

At some point though I believe people will pay for quality. How do you find reliable news if you don't pay for it? How do you find the music you like if you have to wade through 100,000 artists every day? Eventually someone will answer that question.

It would be fun if the Alonetone could come up with an approach which would work. Why don't we sell Alonetone mix albums on iTunes. Build a brand, make a reputation for quality and make some money for the artists.

AMUC

AMUC said

Childhoodsend: Hm - mixtapes for sale on iTunes. Not a bad idea, but you'd need some way to push people to actually want to purchase them. Music videos might be good for that.

IMHO, music videos do drive album/single sales, even if they're not terribly good music videos. People are more likely to remember music when there's something visual they can associate with it.

Is there some equivalent to Alonetone for film people? If so, we should collaborate with them on something. Music videos, short films, etc..

another cultural landslide

another cultural landslide said

Okay. That was a long, uhh, day. <:0

In making notes about several of the topics brought up in this discussion, what I was going to write has now turned into a long, wangly post - so I'll try to chop it up into bits so as not to overwhelm the reader.

• First things first - I love the new blog look, Sudara! Very clean and inviting. (You might want to remove replies to the blog from the comments section, however - and this post will demonstrate why. ;) )

another cultural landslide

another cultural landslide said

• As for the article that started this discussion - well, let's just say I'm somewhat startled at the piece - and not just the opening supposition, but the entire piece itself. Lots of factual errors. LOTS. It's a freakin' sloppy piece of psuedo-journalism...

But this just helps illustrate how incredibly uninformed, accepting-at-face-value or in-the-pocket most mainstream media has become in this issue. The misinformation being reported as fact on a daily basis is appalling; but you don't have to dig deeply into all issues concerning content/IP & commerce to discover that the mainstream, old-school media - and that includes the New Yorker - have several dogs in this fight. They have never been more frightened of the future than they are now - with massively dropping circulations and/or viewership, and a growing unfilled ad inventory, panic has set in big time... resulting in a renewed interest in paywalls and DRM models - backed up by lawsuits & lobbying for stronger legislative protections...

another cultural landslide

another cultural landslide said

The turmoil in the music industry represents (to them) a horrifying vision of their own future - and many inside corporate media are consciously making the decision to propagandize the music industry travails in hopes that by highlighting the damage done by file-sharing (and the heavy punishments visited upon those who take part in it) they can scare/re-educate the public to the evils of file-sharing while attempting to shore up the paywall system as a new economic model.

In this, they are dreaming - and delusional.

But that's okay - by pursuing this old-school thinking, they're making it much easier for new & better models to come about... except that these models won't include them in the equation. ;)

What - there are new models that actually might work? Yup - there sure are - but that's in the next post. ;)

childhoodsend

childhoodsend said

Hey AMUC.. I like your idea of getting some videos... I am always amazed that we have to buy albums - why not dvd's ? The labels are eeking out the artistic content like its really really valuable.

Maybe we should go to the other extreme and create a whole new format. OK its video. But not just the tracks. Remember those old LPs we used to by? Photographs, stories, list of contributors. all that stuff. I used to like knowing who created the music and what their art was and what their words were and what they cared about.

So Album notes, photos, lifestyle views, words, art, music and VIDEOS.. The albums need to be mixed so the tracks play together and sound good.

All for 99c per track. Wow what a deal. And you are getting access to the next great thing!! This is how music is going to go. A dvd - interactive - playable and can be copies to your computer as an alonetone app,

Hmmm....

childhoodsend

childhoodsend said

Lets do something like this. Count me in for the investment. Anyone got a business model?

No pic small

Guest said

"I am always amazed that we have to buy albums - why not dvd's ?"

Well, my initial thought is that I don't wan't a DVD, I want an album, which is why I would prefer to buy an album of music. Every now and then I get an album that has a DVD included... and my response is typically, "Oh yeah? Huh, okay." I may play it once, then it sits on the shelf until I decide to get rid of it.

I am interested in music. When I purchase music, I want music. I don't want the life story of the band, I don't want promotional videos, I don't want animatics or a slideshow of images. I want a well designed album cover, some liner notes, and the SONGS. I don't think that musicians should need to become multimedia vanguards. Sure, some of them will be, but for many musicians this would be a terrible idea.

childhoodsend

childhoodsend said

I really think the world is changing. We are increasingly buying music online. Record stores are shutting down. I am not arguing whether this is a good or bad thing. Its happening. There is lots of music on line for free. I see that as a kind of backdrop.

So I am trying to address the issue of how musicians are going to make a living.

I observe that when I buy an album of my favorite bands I rip it into itunes. (or I just download into itunes) Or I stick a copy of the CD in my car to play. This is not like the old days when I had a 12" LP with lots content and we used to meet friends just to listen to music. So I don't see the record labels as really offering value for money any more.

I am trying to find a way that you can start something which is interesting and which offers value. There is a lot of good music here on Alonetone. How does it get out there so you guys can earn some $$?

Anyone else have an idea?

AMUC

AMUC said

Childhoods: Ah, you're talking like those old BBS art groups that would distribute the zipped multimedia volumes with all their latest artwork and stuff. I still remember the old ANSI art format - that was something really lost when DOS got removed from the picture, and Windows took over.

Josh: There's no denying that people tend to remember things better when there's both a visual and sound element to it. It's why music videos took off as a means to promote music. There's nothing wrong with a musician focusing exclusively on the sound, but I don't think it hurts for them to pair up with visual artists, who could potentially use the music alongside whatever they're doing. I think the cross-exposure can help both.

On a side note, in reference to the bots that we keep getting here, I found this awesome site that will tell you which IP addresses are known bots, and who owns them:

http://www.botsvsbrowsers.com

Wildgeas Music

Wildgeas Music said

.....a bit from my own reality.

At one management company I dealt with, I don't recall the name. I remember them sending us for pix with our shirts off.
"Gotta turn the girls on", they said.
I'd call that multimedia.

Anyone remember J.C. Superstar? That album had all kinds of extras in it. Possibly the first "Boxed Set"?
I know I spent hours looking at the album covers of the band I was spinning. Double albums were exciting because you just knew there was something visual inside.
How about The Beatle's Sgt. Pepper. Who didn't spend hours looking at all those faces on the cover. I would also touch on the Beatle's White Album with the whole Paul is dead hoax. Everyone who was aware of the rumors was looking for the phone number.

How about Cheech & Chong's Big Bamboo, which included a huge rolling paper }:> now that's my idea of multimedia.

@AMUC - I was one of those old DOS hogs. I ran a Wildcat 4 board. Level Seven BBS.
I did a lot of that ANSI art. When the internet became available the BBS went dead in a matter of days. There's still a few out there. ANSI and all.

@J.W. I still firmly believe that just the music can make a band. It still happens.

@all, the days of one hit wonders are not over with however, management will expect a video.

AMUC

AMUC said

Wildgeas - I ran a BBS as well. Ironically enough, I actually was exposed to the internet first, and then created the BBS later. My BBS existed at the tail end of the BBS era, but it was fairly popular. I ran it using the VBBS software, which was ugly out of the box, but very customizable.

Mannequin Races

Mannequin Races said

Great write-up Sudara and lots of interesting discussion in the comments. Nice blog!

childhoodsend

childhoodsend said

Hi everyone!

I love your music Joshua. Especially Winchester Session 29: Distortion Reds. Hits the spot. So I buy your basic beliefs and wishes. It's all possible. Keep on going!!

At the same time I am contradictory. I just received spam http://www.livenation.com/artist... the movie attached to this page made me want to go see this act. I don't even like country. Is this country? They look good. Hmm.

But I am still a child at heart. :)

K. SCOT SPARKS   79+intercessions

K. SCOT SPARKS 79+intercessions said

...I dig; you're a terribly bright - and busy - guy.

You should probably [also] publish a 'personal management advice for artists' book. :8^)

Best,

kss

Gary Fox

Gary Fox said

Well, let's be honest with this, shall we? The music industry as we know it collapsed because it produces a poor product. It has failed like any other business that ceases to create a product the public wants. I listened to hit radio a few hours ago for a bit, just to hear what was going on. In a fit of serendipity, the bumper-sticker on the car in front of me summed it up nicely: "Yes I am old, but your music really does stink"

I haven't heard any real compelling new music on the radio in YEARS. I am sure everyone could name me one band that they think is great, vital, etc, but seriously, nothing has caught on in a big way for a while. The reason for this is simple:

The record industry "demographic-ed" itself to death. It "test-marketed" itself out of existence. It "target audience-ed" itself into oblivion. Music, as you all know, is visceral. You may not be able to describe brilliance or unique, but you know it when you hear it. And I am sure you, like me, haven't heard it in ages in the traditional channels. Music interacts with the brain in so many complex ways that it can't be treated like a pair of shoes, a cell phone or an article of clothing. It may share traits with those items, but it is so much more. The industry tried to create or mold existing artists into demographic pleasing machines. On one side of the coin, they narrowed each target market so much that they lost any economy of scale. On the other side of the coin, over the decades labels made a commodity out of music (it became PRODUCT) and devalued it as much as the cassettes, CDs and MP3 players it came on. Both are losing propositions in business.

Gary Fox

Gary Fox said

And now part two of the post:

There is this brilliant scene in A Hard Day's Night where some smarmy ad exec tells George Harrison he's supposed to like this girl in a commercial because she's the trendsetter. Here's the interchange:

Simon Marshall: If you don't cooperate, you won't get to meet Susan.
George: And who's this Susan when she's at home?
Simon Marshall: Only Susan Canby, our resident teenager.
George: Oh! You mean that posh bird who gets everything wrong?
Simon Marshall: Excuse me?
George: Oh, yeah. The lads frequently sit around the telly and watch her for a giggle. One time, we actually sat down and wrote these letters saying how gear she was and all that rubbish.
Simon Marshall: She's a trendsetter. It's her profession.
George: She's a drag. A well known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things.
Simon Marshall: [horrified] Get him out of here! He's knocking the program's image!
George: Have I said something amiss?
Simon Marshall: Get him out!
George: Sorry about the shirts!

Well, we're all George and the industry is Simon. Most acts now are just tarted up pseudo movie stars lipsynching and spending 5 hours in the gym. Their music is throwaway, they're throwaway too. Harsh? Yes. True? Yes again. We didn't leave the music industry, it left us.

All the other stuff about artists getting screwed over by labels is true too, but the average listener doesn't know about that. We might, but that's because our interest is great in this regard. The other discussions in this thread are good, and relevant, but I just wanted to address the original article.

Cheers All,

Gary

skishore15

skishore15 said

I am speechless...Thanks a lot for adding me and my tracks in your celebration!!!

No pic small

Guest said

Well what do you expect seriously? most teenagers and people in general like Lady Gaga or whatever else they have on tv, it's the trend. furthermore the record industry is not necessarily collapsing it's the majority of taste in the market and the availability to provide that need in an instant.
I never expect to make money out of my music, i just like doing it for fun.
Jake