There's comfort in a day job, no matter how mind-numbingly boring it may be. But it turns out that even the even the biggest indie artists could use the reliable paycheck: according to a surprising close-up of Grizzly Bear published this week, 'success' still means financial struggle, tremendous day-to-day uncertainty, and dramatically long hours. And this is a band that recently sold out Radio City Music Hall, opened for Radiohead, and has been a Pitchfork and indie darling for years.
Vulture journalist Nitsuh Abebe wrote a highly-detailed piece on the band, and found a group absolutely dedicated to their music, but also struggling and surviving financially. Consider these aspects:
"Obviously we're surviving," Grizzly Bear founder Ed Droste said. "Some of us have health insurance, some of us don't, we basically all live in the same places, no one's renting private jets. Come to your own conclusions."
"We live in a world of blogs that are super-judgmental, and we're not in the clear yet—we don't have a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card," Droste conveys.
But they also recognize that mainstream radio is largely controlled by major labels.
"No," Droste flatly stated. "I'd have to keep doing this forever. But the biggest thing you can't do is focus on money."
@dromusic90 Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Reality of being a musician.
Ricky Bautista Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Reality of being an american.
American Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Here's a thought: Grizzly Bear gets a good amount of play on Pandora, enough so that users are tweeting about it at least once a day:
Now do a compare contrast with this article about Grizzly Bear against any of the pandora executives. SEC filings make their salaries and benefits public. Can they afford health insurance? Are they flying on private jets? (hint: yes, they even share photos from those private jet flights on twitter)
Something doesn't fit. What's American is this: adapt or die. executives are behaving like it's the 1990s. What's American is to make their business work without evoking the politics of fear and paying off congressmen. Instead, what's American is to stop paying themselves more than they can actually afford so that they are able to pay royalties and both sides of an industry can survive the flu, in harmony.
Visitor Wednesday, October 03, 2012
At least they are making money? How about 90%+ of musicians who can't even make $100 of revenue from their music (and those are just counting the ones who try to make money in the first place, eg: via content aggerators)?
Making money as a musician is like trying to make money playing video games. It's possible... but for the vast majority music creation it is seen as entertainment, not a career or job for that matter.
Visitor Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Is it the drummer or something?
@mattadownes Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Thank you Radiohead and Kanine for 75% of our success.
Visitor Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Any good management team would get them group insurance via the AFofM. You can get a quote online (varies from under 200/month (Empire/Blue Cross/Blue Shield) to over 1300/month depending on what kind of insurance you want). Granted, under 200/month does not allow for doctor visits, but has no deductible. 500/month gets you a 2000 deductible with another company. Surely their publishing income could start to cover health insurance..???
Jeff Robinson Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Republican controlled corporate radio strikes again! Anyone still think that Telecom Act of 1996 was a good idea? The loss of 'regional radio' is the travesty here.
CrabCake Wednesday, October 03, 2012
With situations like this becoming more and more common, why would anyone, save the independently wealthy or the masochistically inclined, choose to pursue a career as a musician?
You could make twice as much money, with half the talent, half the work ethic, and orders of magnitude less risk, doing pretty much anything else.
At this point, if the guys behind Grizzly Bear can't even afford health insurance, then the world simply doesn't deserve them.
MDTI Friday, October 05, 2012
commen sense suggest that you MUST NOT pursue a career in music. It is a music career that should pursue you if you are worth it....
in other words, make it a job only if someone asks you.
but work other skills in order to get a job and be able to make music outside of a "career"... career will choose you if you are worth it...
Umm Friday, October 05, 2012
yes but music careers don't just happen. No, you can't control a lot of factors, but you have to be out there in order to be discovered and have a career.
in order to be out there and give yourself the best shot, you have to invest a lot of time and money to put yourself in the right spot for success. you have to play as often as possible and practice much more.
If some of the most talented and relatively successful musicians can't work things out, what hope does anyone have really? why put so much effort into something that seemingly won't pay off? it's hard to sacrifice so much of your life to have a shot in music and even harder if the shot leaves you with nothing but personal satisfaction of being an artist. That satisfaction would wear-off after being jobless and having tour debt, I'd imagine.
BooHoo Wednesday, October 03, 2012
I'm sorry, but I don't feel for them. They're doing what they love and getting paid for it. Now, is it as much as big named artists? Hell no. I know that. But coming from someone, who is also in an art field and making slim to nothing from it, and struggling to find work elsewhere, I really don't care about them whining about not having health insurance.
Do they know how lucky they are to be doing what they love and making some money from it? To be considered "successful" even though they can't afford a private jet (my heart bleeds, by the way).
I love music, and am in awe and admiration for the people who provide it. But I can't stand that most (not all) musicians come across as so entitled. They don't need a private jet. They don't need half the crap rich people waste money on. Would it be nice for them to feel secure and comfortable financially? Yes. I agree, that would feel nice. But again, they are making money playing shows. How many people out there don't get to do what they really love because they have families to support? Tons.
Sorry, this is just another musician pity party I won't attend.
ben Thursday, October 04, 2012
having two top 10 albums and selling out radio city music hall makes you a "big named artist."
boa constrictor Wednesday, October 03, 2012
sorry kids, but a bunch of hipster blogs do not make you great.
granted, grizzly bear has a few really nice songs, but so have many artists and bands over the years - unless you can more than competently exercise your craft 9-5, mon-fr (at the very least), in a variety of work related to your discipline - and treat it as a job, you're being unrealistic - in many respects - and lacking perspective on the real business of being a musician / artist / bricklayer / teacher / engineer....whatever.....
the best artists who ever lived - mozart, bach, beethoven, michelangelo etc - all worked very hard, never made much money, and were often treated like shit. (Handel was an exception in that era.)
also, there's no money in being cool - unless you wrote the book of cool (chanel, lagerfeld, mcqueen, etc...)
Econ Friday, October 05, 2012
Sorry, but I have no sympathy for the stupid.
The reason the can't afford health insurance is because they live in New York, where everyone has to pay the same premium regardless of one's health.
In a sane health care system, the younger, healthier people pay a LOT less because they will be paying for 50+ years. If these guys were willing to move to Illinois for example, their health care premiums would be about 67% LOWER because of their ages.
Every state where everyone is forced to pay the same rates is pricing out the young - it has NOTHING to do with them being in the music business.
Alex Friday, October 05, 2012
"Can't afford" is taken out of context. Nowhere does it say they can't afford health insurance. It says that some of them have it and some don't. In no way does that mean that they can't afford it. Makes for a good sensational headline, though.
Visitor Saturday, October 06, 2012
Why would anyone that could afford it not have health insurance?
ethicalfan Saturday, October 06, 2012
It has gone beyond just musicians. Piracy is a significant contributor to the worldwide depression. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that musicians wages are down 45% since p2p technology arrived. US Home video sales (DVD, BluRay, PayTV, VOD, Streaming) are down 25% to $18.5B in 2011 from $25B in 2006.
The first BitTorrent search engines debuted in 2004. Recorded music is down worldwide from $27B in1999 (Napster) to $15B in 2011. Video Game revenue is down 13% from 2007. Those are real jobs lost that are not coming back until the public realizes that these are your friends and neighbors whose careers are being destroyed by lack of copyright enforcement. Who is destroying these industries? ISPs who ignore the law 17 USC 512 (i) and do not terminate repeat infringers. US Telecom makes >$400B a year, creative industries less than <$80B a year. Verizon $120B a year, Viacom (CBS, MTV & Paramount Pictures) $14B a year, Warner Music Group $2.4B a year.
Visitor Sunday, October 07, 2012
Also, just because your music career failed does not mean that musicians should be greatful to work for beer and praise.
anton newcombe Saturday, October 06, 2012
i can afford health care and pay all tour,recording and production costs from the money i make in music.however i can't break through the corporate blockade against real outsider art that is against the machine and thus for humanity and i sell more units then grizly bear.
what should i do?
p.s. fuck pitch fork.
Visitor Saturday, October 06, 2012
Anton. A. Newcombe bang on as usual.
BJM Fan Saturday, October 06, 2012
Listening to "Food for Clouds" on Psychic Grafitti - very cool!
Mike Monday, October 08, 2012
I like Grizzly Bear, but this is crazy. If they can't afford things like health insurance or to move out of their apartments, while still being a hot commodity right now, then they need to charge more for their tours. It's pretty simple: if their primary revenue source is touring and they're 'breaking even', why wouldn't they just up the asking cost for their shows so they have some more money to enjoy doing what they love?
Also, to the point of 'blogs don't make bands money' - NPR, the NY Times, Rolling Stone and more have raved about their newest album - hardly limited to the blogosphere.
Visitor Monday, October 08, 2012
You can't dream of being Led Zeppelin unless you're Led Zeppelin. My point being is that they're missing the big picture and the mass appeal. Yes selling out venues and yada, yada, yada is good but the sales of music has changed dramatically.
Musicians must come to realize that music is a vocation and not necessarily an "in" to millions in income.
Let's face it, to be financially successful in music is a "Long End" endeavor which means diversification and great advisors.