Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hi everyone,
I just ran across a heated debate regarding a quote from Moby. Basically, he is saying the day of the "The Album" and making money from music is over.
I posted a reply in the discussion and it is below along with Moby's quote. I would love to hear what you guys think about it.
"There are a lot of musicians who are still desperately trying to pretend that it's 1998 and by having a huge marketing campaign, they somehow believe that they can sell 10 million records. That's delusional. No one sells 10 million records. The days of musicians getting rich off of selling records are done. People can make a living, but the profit motive has been so diminished that now it seems that the only way to approach making music is for the love of it. Anyone who wants to start a band in 2009 because they want to get rich is, quite simply, an idiot. The only people who are getting rich are like Elton John, who go on tour and sell tickets for $500 a pop. The older, established artists can get rich, but new artists have to make music for the love of it because there is no real financial incentive, which I think is actually a really healthy thing."

There was alot of talk about how this is easy for him to say and that he is saying "while I have made it, you little guys just give up on making money" etc..
Also, several commented that "when quality music is being created again, then people will start buying it again" hmmm...interesting...
Also, the buffet analogy: in the past you went to restaurant and had the appetizer and a the main
course from the menu. Everyone had the same few entree choices (the old music industry) Now,
everyone has access to "the buffet" but less of each of the many items available will be consumed.

I threw in a curve ball to the discussion because I think it is important to remember this fundamental concept:

"I just want to add the idea to this conversation that people who create and/or play music have a definable skill and deserve to be paid for it. All other discussions aside, this is what is "right". None of us work for free unless we are working in a charitable capacity. The self fulfilling prophecy is this: if artists can't support themselves, then much of the good music
will disappear. In today's busy (60 hour work-week) world, no one will be willing pick up that guitar and try and see what will come out. All the great players/songwriters/bands mentioned above [which were the Beatles, and the Stones and Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed etc..] were paid/sustained and allowed to have time to create and grow and thrive. This takes time, literally. This whole concept that everyone can just sell their songs on the internet and everything will be great is kind of silly. [I mean, of course you can sell your music but is it a realistic and total answer?] The record industry needs a *major* overhaul-yes. But, we need "the industry" to nurture and support artists so they can do their thing. It should be a partnership.

What do you think?

My main points are these:

1. Yes the record industry is broken and greedy and perhaps this has lead to it's downfall.

2. The industry is scrambling to answer this question and whoever figures it out will be the next David Geffen. 

3. But, the more important point I want to make is that despite the fact that Record companies have made huge megabucks selling CDs for $14.00 and giving the artist $1.00 per CD the artists need record companies. (if you were lucky! remember when MJ -top selling artist in the world- and his sister made a BIG stink trying to get --$2.00-- per CD?) We need them to develop good talent. They are the financial backers that have allowed MANY of the great artists to create their art and support them until they are self supporting. 
I am not defending them. They have absolutely Abused this privilege! And many of us non-business-savvy artists have allowed them too while we took limos to our thousand dollar a night hotel while drinking Dom....night after night. 

The only reason I give a rat's butt about this issue is that I think that I think it is very difficult to have a situation where and artist can really work on and develop 
their talent without substantial financial backing. Look at the history of most all the great records, they had talented Producers (which the record company hired) the best studio musicians (Record Company Paid) if they were not a band (and many times if they were!) The best Studios and recording engineers (RCP) Despite what we all think, we still can't get the sound of a Neve and a great room from our basement. 
The list goes on and on... I guess what I am saying is, many say that there is not as much good music out there, only that there is A TON of music. If this is true...I think this is why. Mozart and Bach had record companies. They were Kings. Their support allowed them to work on their music Every Day and not make sandwiches at Subway which would have taken 9 hours a day away from them focusing on music.

OK, I don't want to be one of those negative complainers that just talks about the problem and leaves the room so, (off the top of my head) here are a few ideas, I would love for you guys to add to them! 
(Side note: even though this original discussion really is about music for media, visual and otherwise, I believe that the Pop Music Industry sets the pace for the rest of us and that if music is free over there then why the heck should I pay for it over there? KWIM?) 

Big Labels have become the enemy. This is bad for everyone. They have forced musicians into a corner and now we all have to go to business school. 
Even though we don't like it, we're the better for it. We gotta team up. You guys get rid of all the unrealistic slime balls in suits and we will try to keep the pot smoking Drummer out of the meetings at the adult table. (I'm a drummer, so I can say that)

Labels have got to get back to DEVELOPING ARTISTS!!! After which, if said artist becomes successful they fully deserve to split the money and make a profit. I mean that's what business is about, right? Making Profit. 
Noticed I used the work "split". Ok, ha ha the joke is on us. You got us good in the 90's when we believed that CDs and artwork and Jewel cases cost $9.00 a piece to make. heh heh good one.

I love my iPhone, my iPod etc.. BUT, I think the lack of a physical product is a huge factor in the cheapening of music. I would like to see the standard become- the buyer receives a physical product AND an mp3 download. There is still plenty of profit for everyone.

Lastly, and I *really* don't like this one...we need better regulation. I really, sincerely hope that someone comes up with better, newer and revolutionary way to allow music creators to make money (other than licensing for advertising which many industry leaders are holding as the new holy grail, yeesh) Please someone come up with a whole other paradigm. But until then, better regulation. We are the frogs in the slowly boiling water. We put our blood sweat and tears into what we do and try to make a buck a song and if someone decides they would rather just take it, there is no one to stop them. It's sad and offensive.
On the fresh idea approach. I like what Radiohead did. They allowed the fans to pay whatever they wanted for "In Rainbows". If I remember correctly, they averaged $9.00 per Album. That is pretty darn good! Of course they did already have a substantial fan base at that point which the Record Company helped them develop...

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