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The 13 Most Insidious, Pervasive Lies of the Modern Music Industry…

It was the future we all wanted so desperately to come true…

pinocchio

Lie #1: Great music will naturally find its audience.

 

The Lie: The greatest music and artists will eventually connect with their audiences, naturally, thanks to a perfectly-lubricated, social, and borderless internet.

“Our kids are going to watch exactly what they want to watch, not necessarily what’s marketed to them,” then Topspin CEO Ian Rogers said as recently as 2010, while constantly underscoring that “quality is hyperefficient.”

The Truth: Just like the analog old days, most great music gets left behind and wallows in obscurity if not substantially backed or otherwise supported financially.  In fact, the biggest songs on the planet are often those blasted the loudest on the biggest platforms – and oftentimes, granted the most money from major labels (ie, Katy Perry, Pitbull, Flo Rida, etc.)

 

Lie #2: Artists will thrive off of ‘Long Tail,’ niche content.

 

The Lie: The musical landscape will increasingly be dominated by smaller and smaller artists, with smaller (but stronger) audiences.  And, they will all make more money through direct fan relationships.

“Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts,” Chris Anderson famously wrote in his ‘groundbreaking’ Wired article that started a misguided revolution.  “The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.”

The Truth: Instead of unleashing a torrent of successful niches, the internet has actually made blockbusters bigger than before.  All while artists starve down the tail.

“So, while the tail is very interesting, the vast majority of revenue remains in the head,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt brutally revised just a few years later.  “And this is a lesson that businesses have to learn.  While you can have a Long Tail strategy, you better have a head, because that’s where all the revenue is.”

 

Lie #3: The death of the major label will make it easier for artists to succeed.

 

The Lie: No more major labels to choke the supply!  No one to hold the artist back!

The Truth: Sadly, the avalanche of unfettered, unwashed content was never quite filtered by the music fan.  Instead, it was all mostly tuned out, except by a small number of trusted curators.  Which means, most artists are deluged in all that stuff, and have a hard time gaining traction.

“We’ve had 10-11 years of American Idol, so you’ve had 100 or 110 top ten people, and you can count on your hand the number of careers that have sustained off of that,” Irving Azoff said late last year.  “So that just tells you that even with the massive exposure of network TV, how hard it is to make it in the music business.” 

 

Lie #4: There will be a death of the major label.

 

The Lie: Major labels will die out completely, while unleashing a utopia of contract-free, liberated artists.

The Truth: Majors are weakened but far from dead.  But more importantly, they are still controlling popular music and its consumption, and building and maintaining artist careers.  It’s the reason why Jay-Z is still signed with a major, and why Macklemore did a deal with Warner Music Group.

It’s also the dirty little secret behind Amanda Palmer’s current name brand (you’re welcome, Roadrunner).

 

Lie #5: Digital formats will produce far greater revenues than physical.

 

The Lie: The absence of major manufacturing overhead, shipping, and brick-n-mortar retailers will drastically reduce costs and pave the way for greater revenues and income.

The Truth: Digital sales volumes are not only lower, but an era of singles eviscerated marked-up, album bundles.  And the current era of ‘digital dimes’ means that per-track, per-stream, or per-whatever payouts are far lower.

These days, artists that can actually sell physical (like vinyl and CDs) make more money.  The same is true for nations: Japan is now the largest recorded music market in the world, thanks largely to strong CD and physical sales (and even rentals).

 

Lie #6: “The real money’s in touring”

 

The Lie: If artists just give away their music for free, and let it be social and free-flowing, they’ll make it up on the road.

The Truth: Fabulously true for artists like Pretty Lights and plenty of EDM artists, but not most other artists.  In fact, most artists are struggling to survive on the road, and even established names have been forced to can tours because the money just doesn’t make sense (see Imogen Heap).

 

Lie #7: There’s an emerging middle class artist.

 

The Lie: Internet-powered disintermediation will create a burgeoning ‘middle class’ of artists.  Not the limousine, Bono-style outrageous superstars, but good musicians that can support families and pay their bills.

The Truth: There is no musician middle class.  Instead, the music industry has devolved into a third world country, with a wide gulf between the rich and struggling/starving poor.

And, those ambitious middle-class artists that try to make ends meet by spending 350 days on the road are probably not raising very good families.

 

Lie #8: Kickstarter can and will build careers.

 

The Lie: Superfans will come out in droves to support their favorite artist projects, and power their awesome careers.

The Truth: So far, it’s happened for Amanda Palmer, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Murder by Death, and a few other artists.  Which is great for those artists, but most irrelevant for the broader artist community.

 

Lie #9: Spotify is your friend.

 

The Lie: Streaming on Spotify will make artists money, if they just wait long enough.

The Truth: Spotify will make Spotify and Wall Street tons of money, if they’re really lucky.  And they’ve already made tons of money for major labels, not artists.

And even superfans rarely stream enough to equal the nice, upfront, transparent royalty offered by an iTunes Store download.

 

Lie #10: Google and YouTube are your friends.

 

The Lie: Google and YouTube have anything but their own profit-maximization goals in mind.

The Truth: This is business, not altruism, not matter how it gets spun.  And, the interests of Google and rights owners are diabolically opposed and will continue to be so.  Which also means that anything that is DMCA-compliant is ultimately great for Google, and fantastically bad for content owners.

So if you want exposure, go to YouTube.  If you want a paycheck, find it somewhere else.

 

Lie #11: If Pandora could just lower royalties, they could then survive, and really help all the artists out there.

 

The Lie: Sadly, Tim Westergren’s bubble is making him one of the biggest boogeymen of the modern-day music industry.  In an impassioned (but largely deceiving) letter to artists, Westergren asked artists to sign a Congressional petition asking for lower royalty rates for internet radio.

The Truth: What Westergren forgot to mention was that by signing the petition, artists were also supporting their own rate cut, which led to high-profile protests from groups like Pink Floyd.  Meanwhile, Westergren – whose Pandora cashouts now surpass $1 million a month – has devoted endless amounts of time towards both publishing and recording royalties in the courts and Capitol Hill.

 

Lie #12: T-Shirts!

 

The Lie: Not only is the money in touring, but artists will make a killing off of merch table sales and t-shirts.

The Truth: Very, very few artists are (a) supporting themselves through touring, and (b) if they are, making tons of money from merch.  Sadly, the greatest merch tables sales came from CDs — that is, up until the early 2000s or so.  It supported tours then, it doesn’t support anything now.

 

Lie #13: ‘Streaming is the future…’


The Lie
: Access will trump everything, and lead to a better, richer music industry for everyone.

The Truth: Let’s see what this green pasture ultimately looks like.  Spotify is hundreds of millions deep in financing without a profit; Rhapsody is laying people off; YouTube has been subsidizing free music access for years.

So here’s your future: YouTube, which has driven the price of recorded music most aggressively towards $0, will be around tomorrow.  Spotify, Rhapsody, Deezer, Rdio, and Pandora may not be so lucky.

 

Image by Grubby Mits, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Written while listening to Pretty Lights.

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Comments (449)
  1. Visitor

    Thanks, Paul! Somebody had to say it.


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      spot on and entiely accurate.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        good one!


        Reply
    2. Musicisdead

      God, here we go again. When will musicians wake the F up, quit bitching and get a real job. Then they can make all the self indulgent ‘look at me music’ they want. You might as well complain that you can’t make a living off being a telegraph operator! Times are changing people.


      Reply
      1. Personal jeebus

        So you want your favourite musicians to work day jobs instead of creating and performing the music you love? Music is and will always be relevant, it’s not an outdated service. Your comparison is idiotic. This article addresses the fact that money is being made with music, but not by many of those who are actually creating it. If you’re ok with a limited selection of pop hits, and no niche genres at all, many of which spawn more universally loved works, then that’s fine. But you can’t deny there is a problem, and the Internet hasn’t helped in most cases, it’s made things worse for many new artists. This article explicitly explains how. But you can keep misinterpreting it as musicians whining. This article simply debunks the simplistic assumptions of the implications of free music on the internet.


        Reply
        1. GGG

          You really think less new artists are making any money or making than were any time in the past? Let’s look at the differences:
          1) Barriers of entry. There are NONE, except fans and breaking through the clutter. Is it hard? Of course! But it always has been. It’s no harder than getting some A&R guy out toy our show, actually getting signed, actually selling enough records to actually get paid.
          2) There are more revenue streams than ever, and not only that, they are all accessed from anywhere in the world. So while recorded music doesn’t yield the same numbers, you can make a career cutting out any middlemen you want. It’s 1993, you want to self-release a record? Have fun hanging out the back of your car. It’s 2013, wanna self release? Available around the world instantly for free or a few bucks. How is that worse?


          Reply
          1. GGG

            The numbers don’t lie. There are only half as many musicians making a living from music as there were 20 years ago according to the IRS and the Labor Dept. You need to stop listening to the hype and look at the reality. This has been a disaster for musicians and music fans. The pirates are the only ones getting rich and they are doing it off the backs of the artists.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              Way to creepily use the same name as me…
              Anyway, those numbers are misleading without more info because it can be two different aspects of musicians. Chances are most of that loss is not like rock, pop, hiphop etc. It’s local/regional orchestras closing down and/or having absurd budget cuts. It’s jukeboxes and DJs replacing big bands and bar bands and jazz quartets. It’s Broadway shows cutting orchestra budgets and replacing 5 strings and the horn section with two guys on synths. Those things are not due to piracy nearly as much as the changing landscape of what live music people care about seeing/hearing. See the MET article for another example. And all those things are extremely sad, don’t get me wrong.
              But if you’re some college kids who want to start an indie rock band, there are so many options and evolving ways to make a career it’s crazy. And don’t for one second act like it was any easier to make it 20 years ago.


              Reply
              1. Cali KON

                Looks like GGG got that Biz degree. They ain’t even knowin


                Reply
              2. Working Musician

                The IRS is a terrible way to judge how many musicians are out there. In most bar circuits or circuits where working musicians play, you get paid cash now a days and most of them don’t pay taxes. Actually, in the area i’m in there’s a rich live music scene, and in most major cities you can play with various bands at least 5 times a week. Live bands are coming back quickly from what I’ve seen in most areas, but you could classify a DJ as a musician too, for tax purposes, and you’re still looking at getting paid cash. It’s hard for people who’ve never made money as a musician to understand that you can actually make an ok living at it as long as you have decent business sense.


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              3. dave

                You’re an idiot dude. Do even have any part whatsoever in the music industry?


                Reply
                1. GGG

                  Yea, I do, bro. What do you do, champ? I bet you’re a real big shot, right, pal? Lay some knowledge on me, sailor.


                  Reply
                  1. Mr Angry

                    Hey GGG, where can we hear some of your stuff, sailor?


                    Reply
                    1. Steve

                      Shut up retard


              4. Christopher Bingham

                That quote about half as many musicians making a living is a single cherry picked line item from the IRS. In reality, half as many musicians are making a living working for the recording industry as in house musicians that much is true – but more than twice as many are making a living as indies.

                Then there are 30,000+ making a living as orchestral musicians from local orchestras. In a country of 300 million, those numbers are incredibly small, but it’s not as grim as presented.


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                1. Lam

                  You misunderstand the statistics. The indies are not making a living. I live in indie ground zero, Brooklyn, and all the indie musicians, including the ‘successful’ ones, are rich kids, bankrolled by their moms and dads. How else could they afford the 2500 dollar rents? They don’t get it from working at coffee shops or ‘touring’.


                  Reply
                  1. WestCoastBestCoast

                    You seriously think Brooklyn is Indie Ground Zero? Okay, you just destroyed any sort of credibility you might have.


                    Reply
                    1. Hhmm

                      Hmm, indie ground zero isn’t just in one place, It’s at a level. Hahah…..


            2. dat lame attempt at pseudonyming

              Pirates are making money? I’d like to see the thousands of dollars made by basement-dwelling teenagers from downloading Lady Gaga, depriving her of her seventeenth diamond-studded swimming pool.

              Oh, wait, I can’t, because your point that people who download music are in it for profits is an indication you have no idea what you’re going on about.


              Reply
              1. Kwmthom

                Well, no, the pirates don’t always make money. But, for one example, did you ever notice all those ads down the sides of PB and other torrent sites? The people who sell that space are making assloads of cash, essentially off the media piracy traffic. Somebody always makes money, it’s what keeps those things going. The musicians aren’t among them, though.


                Reply
                1. CLT

                  I’m sorry, but you should explore the economics of running a website of that magnitude. I love how people think servers, routers, etc are free. They’re quite transparent and their estimates are realistic – yes, they’ve provided estimates on profits they make.

                  They were severely unimpressive.

                  Also, as the guy after me says: people making proper cash are the people charging you £30 a month (well, $50) to run an extra wire of electricity to your house. I’m not saying that’s the entire process, I’m just trying to prove the point that it’s ridiculous. Broadband providers, teaming up with phonecompanies, crossovers, all those conglomerate businesses, are the ones which truly make money; at the end of the day, what place online does it matter to use if no one else is?


                  Reply
                  1. Anonymous

                    als we iets willen bereiken .nl ; wie zijn zij om ons tegen te houden ; niet is vrij meer tegenwoordig ze snoeien onze oren door de zogenaamde kosten om Google en de automatische machinery te dekken en ons in de waan te laten dat we de economie vooruit helpen ; inderdaad laat ons zelf de keuze bepalen om die transparantie erin te brengen ..overal zijn die verdomde blokkades ,we hebben genoeg doorstaan, wat een wereld!


                    Reply
                  2. ProbablySmarterThanYou

                    Spot on. The music business is a business, and the objective of most musicians is to be able to receive a fair exchange of money (yes, MONEY) for their product. I have a background in accounting and business management, and there is no other industry in which the workers make so little as individuals – one reason so many musicians wait tables and tend bar is that it pays better than performing! We don’t live in a world where artists can live on compliments and a few bucks tossed into a hat, no more than anyone else can. “Musicians should make music for its own sake” is a childish response at best, something that devalues the entire effort of creating the music. I’ve been a professional musician over 20 years, and during that time I saw the paradigm shift: My band’s music is more popular than ever, but our revenues are less than half of what they were in the late 1990s. Why? Many of the reasons are listed in this article, but the most important of these have to do with the inverse relationship between the artist and the listener. So many comments here promote the idea that the fans will support the music when they go to shows thereby cutting out “the middle man”. The statistics reported by the IRS and Department of Labor say otherwise, and the idea of shifting the payout to sponsorship or branding is no better or different than signing with a label. “Put your music out there for free and the money will come from thousands of new sources (that don’t even exist).” Sorry, that’s a classic example of “somebody else will take care of that, I can slide”: it shows how little understanding fans have of how much time, work and money it takes to produce something that’s not bedroom drivel. We spent serious money building our own recording studio, paid promotional companies tens of thousands of dollars to do absolutely nothing that we couldn’t have hired a telemarketing outfit in India to do the same thing for us, paid (happily, I’ll add) renowned artists to create artwork for swag, thousands more for SEO and advertising in our genre categories – all that and more just to get the fans’ attention and give them a professional product. The fans may come out to see the band, but it’s the rare act that is able to perform for money every night – how might you feel if you worked seven days a week but were paid for only two? Touring no longer works for most bands, because the actual cost of living “on tour” is exponentially higher than it was 20 years ago: fuel for an band’s tour vehicle(s) is 300% higher than in the ’90s; production costs for merch (t-shirts, physical media, swag) have doubled in the past 20 years – mostly in the form of “fees” to utilize the production outlets even when the artwork and layout for the merch has been created by the artists themselves; lodging and per diem costs have increased similarly; venues that used to book acts now claim they can’t afford to have live music, so bands have to produce their own shows or play for tips and a chance at merch sales – if the venue allows it; festivals frequently have steep application fees, exclusionary agreements (no gigs for 3 months within a 100-mile radius, for example) and the competition of hundreds of other acts for just a few performance spots – and the first thing the music selection committees do is looks for all that promotion that costs so much. Bottom line- don’t devalue the art or the artist, or eventually there won’t be anything worth listening to at all.


                    Reply
              2. Total Normal

                Pirates aren’t making money. Labels and streaming services aren’t making money. The only people who actually make a lot money from streaming services are… the ISPs (servers and bandwidth providers). Nobody talks about it because it’s geek stuff that nobody cares about.


                Reply
                1. Casey

                  They don’t care because it’s not true. Most internet providers still provide unlimited bandwidth or have caps high enough hardly anyone reaches them. Internet providers don’t like it when people actually use their connections… because that costs them money. They have to pay for upstream, pay for upgrading their network. The only internet providers who make money off the traffic are backbone providers, but legal Netflix or illegal bittorrent is all the same to them.


                  Reply
          2. jerome

            You are absolutely correct, I don’t know about all the ‘numbers’ people come up with at their convenience, but in the field of music, you have to be versatile to make a decent living. You can create music and produce and sell your own music, like myself, in that I have a website and a music store to sell my music, cutting out the middleman! I also teach music and have written books on music that are published. I love music so much, that I cannot fathom not doing it full time, which by the way was not easy to accomplish, but I did! Yes, the challenges are there, but if you truly love to make music and want to make a living from it, I say that you can! I’m living proof of it! Every dime I’ve made in the last 18 years or so has been from some sort of music related task! It can be done, even in these recessive times!


            Reply
            1. i an ii

              Good for you that you have business skills as well as musical talent. I reaally mean that, but some musicians (eg me) only know how to be creative. Bad for me


              Reply
          3. GoG

            “The pirates are the only ones getting rich” ?? How does that work it doesn’t make sense to me.


            Reply
        2. ImpureScience

          It was good enough for Charles Ives. He would have a thing or two to say to musicians who insist that the world owes them a living for the pretty sounds they make. You need to be self-sufficient to be able to do what you like as an artist.


          Reply
          1. Jeff

            Charles Ives was a special case, to be blunt. But if the world is going to insist on listening to music, then yes, the world does in fact owe musicians for the services they provide.


            Reply
            1. bubba

              Charles Ives wrote very little music after becoming a successful Insurance guy. His creative boom was very short and then he suffered from horrible nervous ailments for years until his death.


              Reply
            2. Goat

              Musicians CAN’T do anything else but make music? I’ve been in bands since 1982 (longer if you count marching bands, classical ensembles, etc.), have been involved in acts releasing recordings since 1985, and since I graduated college in 1990 I have continuously had a day job (save a few times I got laid off). My current act will be celebrating its fifteenth anniversary next June. Working has not in any way stopped me from writing, performing, releasing, gigging, or any other aspect of making music–and that is true of everyone else I know in the scene I inhabit. The people I share stages with work in factories, pizza places, janitorial companies, schools, record pressing plants, etc, and none of it stops us from making music.


              Reply
              1. Doc Holliday

                Goat NAILED it. When I was a kid, my mom (barely) paid the bills by gigging until chasing the “dream” drove her almost nuts and she stopped playing altogether. I’ve been in bands for over a decade, and many of my closest friends have been in bands for much longer. We ALL have day jobs. The vast majority of what I listen to (in bars and at home) is the music coming out of Canada over the last 10 years. I buy the recordings and go to the shows because I know the artists, and I love what they do, and I LOVE that we can continue to afford do make great music in our basements and play a few shows on the road, while still having the money to feed our families.

                Also, FUCK chasing the “dream”. What makes music so amazing is that it’s a shared performance art form with unparalleled potential for group participation, so maybe if we were a little less worried about our band’s “likes” and “views” we, we’d have deeper musical experiences jamming in the back yard with our friends and families.


                Reply
          2. NS

            If the world doesn’t owe a musician anything for making music (and their lives more bearable) the musician doesn’t owe the world his time, effort or any entertainment. People listen to music because it gives them pleasure, a way to de-stress and forget the world or simply because they love music and somebody out there is working his/her ass off to make that happen. There’s no such thing as free lunch and there’s no reason why a musician should have a day job to pay his bills and entertain the world for free by night.


            Reply
            1. Elonious

              im on this guys side, i do share my music for free, but def gets frustrating and hard to write the best music and be most effectively creative when your stressed about your living situation or how broke you are. if you want the best music that has been giving the proper time to be great art then you need to give the artist time, Food & Coffee, a place were they can focus , (maybe some killer cronic if thats there thing) and the best tools that they know how to use to do what they do.


              Reply
              1. Ærica Renee DiPonzio

                As a singer/songwriter I find it helpful to have a trade outside of music, doing something with my hands like carpentry is a helpful respite that makes me less burnt out working on songs and more eager to return to my home/project studio. I have finished more songs driving and sanding wood than i have staring helplessly at my piano. But it’s not good to go overboard with the breadwinning, i worry for my father, a far more accomplished musician than i, who has sacrificed so much time for his business he has very little left for playing. I always tell him dad, you know, we would all still be happy if you gave all of this up and went off to live in the woods with a piano, and he wants to one day, but he is just so involved with his business. And this culture does make us all feel ashamed if we aren’t working like dogs. But i feel like not only do musicians not have to work like dogs at some career, i truly feel that no one should work as hard as people are expected to in this country, in soul sucking thankless jobs, or even decent jobs that we love but put so much into that we have nothing left to create, to leave in trust to our legacy. I dont mind living like a pauper on a part time job, in an industrial mill without running water, if it means i can still have the time to create things and connect with people for this very short amount of time given for a life. I would rather work hard having a simple, sustainable life than feeling heartbroken that my resume looks like that of an indecisive drifter. Thats ok. I would have only ever made a mediocre perfect citizen, i am a fair to excellent indecisive drifter.


                Reply
                1. Timm

                  Best post on the whole thread.


                  Reply
                2. Colin

                  Well put.


                  Reply
                3. Anonymous

                  Well said, I’m going to share this if you don’t mind.


                  Reply
                4. Shapleman

                  Nice poetry and panache in your pangs. The odds may be infinitesimal for most of us, but if your drive cannot be extinguished, then you/we might as well continue to pry the warped wood around us in pursuit of becoming distinguished.


                  Reply
                  1. Ned

                    Words of wisdom.


                    Reply
                5. Mark

                  I like this comment. I do think there’s a “woe is me” component to this article. Artists have to do the work to win audiences, and not until that audience is won can they imagine they entitled to anything. But you bring up a great point about the ethos of the US. We love to talk about “freedom”–and freedom is essential and important–but we never pause to think about the quality of life we have as we stress about our jobs, our bills, kids’ education, health care, etc. Meanwhile culture is devalued and taken for granted. Our European counterparts have all sorts of grants and funds available for artists that assist them in their work, allowing them to enrich our lives. Why? Because those societies deem it “important” that their people be allowed to create culture.


                  Reply
                  1. JJ

                    Well us Europeans… I can’t speak for the whole of Europe (especially the UK, where a strong business ethic is combined with the most baffling sense of general welfare and culture) but in Eastern europe, the grants etc. often seem to go to the established elite. Imagine if you will Lady Gaga getting a government grant on the basis of her being deserving since she proved with her success she is good enough. It is very annoying, and the reason I personally turn to the market for salvation – but here you find business owners, bar and pub managers who think live music is worth less than a waiting staff’s wage, expecting a lot for a very small sum of money. In December I have 4 gigs at a prime location – outside at winter freezing temperatures with small heaters to detune instruments). We are very good, and people like us, and so we got the gigs, many don’t. Each gig means 4 hours of playing, + lugging our gear setting up and clearing out. For the sum total of 100 EUR – about 120 USD – there are only three of us – the whole process takes 5,5 hours if we are really fast – so at 40 usd a head – divided by 5,5 – that is 7.2 USD per hour (and we spring for our own gas money). – At the end of the day – no grant, and hardly any money from the market seems to tell me – In eastern Europe there is much less demand for live music than there is on offer. Quality is not translated into money (persisting communist ideology – how money is bead for character, typically benefiting a select elite that get to keep all of it). So thereare two reasons I keep doing it – 1) I love it enough to make it seem worth it 2)It pains me to see a much lesser crowd that would fill the live venues if better musicians gave up. I am sorry to sound conceited, but it really is painful to see a friend from abroad look at the stage in the centre of the city and visibly refrain from commenting, because all the good musicians got ‘real jobs’ and the only ones willing to work for peanuts are just really bad and clueless to that fact. Oh and the giant concert halls are dominated by the same few names that have managed to be the first ones on the minds of the deciding officials in charge of government and EU music funding. I think the market is fairer, and were it not for stupidity of business owners, this would quickly become clear. In the mean time it is important to continue doing what we love, doing it well, doing it as good businessmen with honesty integrity and accountability… I think this is how we can help this period of intermittent bad faith conclude fater and at a better position.


                    Reply
                    1. Chandrama

                      Absolutely correct in my opinion. Some Americans assume that the State funding for art and music in more Socalized countries is Equal, or based on how good it is. What a laugh. If you think it’s hard making it in the free market, or getting signed to a major label, try getting a grant from the Central Committee.


                    2. Clay

                      The LAST thing that needs to be involved in music is the government. I don’t care how bad it is for musicians. It pains me to see people indulge their bad taste and hum any old crap that gets piped into their ears, but the world doesn’t owe you anything. And yes, I am a musician.


                6. Lucas S.

                  Loved this post!


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                7. Josh @ Halcyon Tone

                  I might have made a mistake with the math equation above this comment box to even enter this comment. Which shows how useless I am in terms of normal concrete skills, the ones that society places value on and will pay you to have. Which is why I relate to what Ærica Renee DiPonzio said. I dug my own hole, as far as not preparing myself for what society was willing to pay me for. I was and always have been too busy creating, and I’m okay with that.

                  I always will be creating and so it will never feel like much of a hole I’m in, because making the music itself, getting better at it, playing live and striving to carve out my own style is the only objective I will ever care about.

                  Being poor is only occasionally an issue for me, but everyone I know including my family know that this is what I do. I work jobs that I don’t care about but that allow me to be occupied while I finish songs in my head (or on my laptop when nobody is looking).

                  The tradeoff for doing something like music in this day and age is that you have to be okay with working somewhere that doesn’t demand too much thought or effort, that leaves you with enough energy to go home and create. That also means learning to be poor (at least for the time being), and not letting that get the best of you, even when it gets to you. But what better motivator can you ask for to get really good at something, to not give up on something than to be poor? It puts you in a corner, where the only possible way out is to get as good as you possibly can at what you already love to do anyway.

                  I think the majority of complaints about not making money come from artists who are still in the amateur mindset of making music and then wondering upon finishing a song or album “What do I get out of this?” –when the answer they aren’t seeing is that it’s the work itself.


                  Reply
            2. Hmm

              Ridiculous logic. I don’t owe a musician anything. They made their choice to do music because it makes them happy. They haven’t gone into music for purely altruistic reasons, I don’t believe anyone ever has.

              The music “industry” is a business. No matter how artistic you are, it doesn’t mean you’ll be good at business. I don’t owe a struggling musician any more than I owe a struggling investor. You may be amazing at creating music, but it doesn’t mean you should automatically get all the money and materials you desire, because life just isn’t that kind.

              The music business is no different than any other business. You are not owed anything for going into a line of work that you enjoy but aren’t good at making money from.

              Don’t pretend you are doing the world a favour by choosing to do music as a career then blame the public when you don’t make as much money out of it as you want. If you don’t want to make music, then don’t. There are thousands upon thousands more who will. Stop being so ridiculously arrogant and selfish.


              Reply
              1. Dre

                I think you’re missing the point. Anything you consume you should be paying for. If you don’t like or consume music then fine, but this article isn’t about you, specifically, it’s about a problem common to many creative industries wherein people simply do not get paid for the stuff they make that others consume. Artists are not the entitled ones, it’s the public who is. I don’t see how music is any different from any other output that is consumed, used, etc. Even of you personally actively do not like music, you have to admit its broad public use, it’s place in marketing and advertising. Where do you think the stuff that makes it comes from? And when it’s made it, why would you refer that creator to continue wasting their time doing something else?


                Reply
                1. Pavlik Marozov

                  Exactly. The point is not “the world owes us luxury,” it’s “the piper must be paid.” If you listen to my music, there must be money in it for *me* who has made it, not (primarily) for youtube or google, or s p o t i f y (damn you autocorrect).


                  Reply
              2. matt

                78% of YOU PEOPLE
                Seem to either be missing the point, have uneven theories about how free market consumerism for INTELLECTUAL products work OR have made up theories in your head about how music/commerce SHOULD work… however, you are just uninformed.

                The music/streaming industry by-and-large has devalued music’s monetary worth
                example: Itunes has convinced EVERYONE in the world that a song should cost no more than .99

                Technically (in a perfectly CAPITALIST system) every-time you hear a song… you SHOULD be paying for it, the cost MUST COME FROM SOMEWHERE

                As with other major American industries, the music industry’s artists are suffering from INTENSE MALPRACTICE in an effort to cut costs, usually the first thing to go is payroll expense for workers (in this case ARTIST) — either from media outlets

                Its a very strange phenomena because we have now 2 youth generations born in this 21st century, who will make the argument that music by-and-large should be a FREE (or extremely devalued CHEAP) service, because that is what they’ve known.

                The price we are paying for this cheap convenience, is a complete lack of identity, homogenous musical tendencies and just a general LACK of serious musical innovation in the past 13 years now…

                OH YOU LISTEN TO ROCK MUSIC
                — well the radio is still playing FOO FIGHTERS, NIRVANA & RHCP at the same (or greater) rate as they were 15+ years ago… and they are still the biggest bands in the world LIKE 15 YEARS AGO

                challenge :: think of how great the musical turnover rate was with at ANY OTHER TIME IN RECORDED MUSIC HISTORY — the difference between music of the early 60s to late 60′s


                Reply
                1. "any recorded time"?

                  Actually musical style ‘turnovers’ or innovation were for the most part MUCH slower than they are now and there just happened to be a boom with a fast turnover in the last 100 years or so which was brought on by a multitude of factors in travel and communication cross-inseminating the various world musical traditions into one and other.


                  Reply
                2. Yea Right

                  Couldn’t have said it better myself – it’s amazing how misinterpreted this article is judging from the comments.
                  Loved everything you said. Amazing how there’s so much argument here over whether artists should be paid, even though everyone wants to consume their product.
                  Funny how no ones mentioned the cost TO the musicians that have to pay for rehearsal spaces, studio time, mastering, and any other number of costs. But no one should have to compensate them for their creations.


                  Reply
              3. Simon Iridium

                What?!? So, by that logic no-one deserves support while they train for a job? Artist, architect, chef etc. If you want to do it so badly, pay to learn. You had better be good at business management though otherwise you’re wasting time you could spend stacking shelves in the supermarket. Learning how to co-operate, share and support other members of the unit for the benefit of the whole is one of the main reasons we have survived as a race. Without this instinct we would have become extinct long before we invented the wheel let alone created musical instruments! You should really spend time researching your arguments before wading in with ill informed opinion and persuasive rhetoric.Good job others have spent THEIR time and effort learning about the inticacies of the subject and are here to help you understand why you are wrong.


                Reply
                1. M-RES

                  Yes, that’s exactly how the world works. You have to pay your way while you train to do any other job, so why not music?

                  As a musician I don’t expect to be paid for what I do, and to be honest I couldn’t give a flying fsck about it. Since when has any artist ever been anything other than ‘struggling’. The arts aren’t well paid and never have been and nobody gets into the arts to be wealthy or even to make a living. They do it because they are driven by something inside which compels them to create.

                  If the major labels collapsed entirely tomorrow and nobody ever bought music again it wouldn’t stop millions upon millions of musicians worldwide learning to play an instrument and getting out there to play to other people, even if it cost them a lot of money to do it.


                  Reply
                  1. Jamie Curcio

                    Sure. Which is well and good but starving sucks. And unless you’re talking a hobby (and especially with disabilities), it really is an either-or prospect — professional artist, or full time whatever who does some stuff on the weekends.

                    All the same as some people have said, none of this is exactly new. It’s really the same old issues by and large, some say a little worse some a little better. The larger issue is the tertiary or non-existent role the arts play in our culture. And that’s not getting solved by a blog comment so I’m shutting up now.


                    Reply
              4. CG

                Correct. I was a musician and honestly I made music for me and for share with people, for money. All, absolutely all musician write music as a personal satisfaction. So, we do not owe anything to them.


                Reply
                1. rose

                  so anyone who gets personal satisfaction from ther job shouldn’t get paid for it? Wow, lots of employers will be happy to hear that, all those doctors, nurses, teachers, office workers, graphic designers who actually enjoy their work for the most part will from now on work for free, hurray!
                  Those of us who listen to music because we love it are getting personal satisfaction from listening to the result of someone else’s work so why shouldnt we pay for it? Of course it is an amazing thing to be able to earn a living from something you love, and something as “unessential” as music (I would argue that music is essential but in comparison to doctors and nurses lets say its not) or the arts in general is a tricky one that incites lots of jealousy and resentment (I’m slaving away all day while those guys and gals live the rock n roll lifestyle and have it all just for strumming a guitar or splashing a bit of paint on a canvas….) but it is not easy. Making an album is not all fun, touring non-stop for a pittance is not all fun, maybe half an hour, an hour on stage is, or can be, but a lot of it is gruelling and soul destroying, there is a hell of a lot of work – and discipline – behind the few moments of true pleasure or personal satisfaction, as is the case with many jobs.


                  Reply
                  1. M-RES

                    What a stupid argument. You choose to do a job, you’re not forced to do it. If you don’t get paid for doing it then you’re perfectly entitled to get the hell out of Dodge and do something else. All those doctors, nurses, teachers, office workers, graphic designers could just do something else if they didn’t get paid. I’m sure their ‘happy’ employers would soon find zero staff in their employment as they all feck off to work for somebody who does pay. And in the same way we, as musicians, make exactly the same choice. We can choose to do it and maybe not get paid, or choose not to do it at all. I chose to do it and manage to make money in various ways through music and related work, but I don’t expect to make any. That’s the gamble everyone takes with self-employment, there are no guarantees and nobody owes you a living. Welcome to the real world.


                    Reply
              5. Ah yes

                With the variables. Successful booking agent/agents in the right markets you can play and make money. Some gigs will need to be cover songs and weddings mixed with a couple dates of your original music. Merchandise can help but really is not beneficial while on the road. Blasting out miles is a great experience but with captiol and management that is backed a tour will not produce anything and will put you debt. Record as much as you can with the cheap tools available. Do not put it online to idiot sites like Pandora, Spotify, reverbnation, soundcloud, bandcamp etc but find ways creatively to distribute to the millions online. These companies appeal to the lazy, stealing majority of population who as much as they deny it…they think music is free. They will pay for water to drink and shower in but they literally think music is free. A doctor gets credit for his job and gets paid but a musician makes a choice to do music and not get paid? anyways. To all the artists out there. Research, learn, adjust but just keep making music however you can. All the people in this post that keep saying we are babies and whiners are the ones getting our music for free, they are passionless, talentless and have no idea what contribution we have made to their lives. Eating, sleeping, sex, arguing, showering, dying, hating, playing, the car, at work, and 57,000 thousand activities are fueled by the sound of music but yet everyone seems to be on the bandwagon that those who create it aren’t worth anything.


                Reply
              6. bosco

                What are you, some kind of heartless Ayn Rand objectivist? That’s what you sound like. If you ever need charity, don’t knock on my door! You make your own karma.


                Reply
            3. Simon Iridium

              Bang on NS
              I think we NEED music in our lives. It is an element of life that is bonded to the very core of our animal selves Many artists (not just musicians) seemingly have no choice when it comes to expressing themselves through art. Almost as if that creation was as essential to them as sleeping. These artists need the time to learn their craft, to harness and tame this imperative and learn how to vent it through artistic expression before it drives them over the edge of reason, How are they going to reach the point at which their expression meets our need if we are not prepared to give them the chance? It is estimated to take 14,600 hours of practice to become a virtuoso musician, How long did it take your favourite artist before they had the skill set to create the thing you hold so dear? Could you feel the empathy you so desperately yearn for if the piece were only half formed? We need to shift the paradigm back in a direction where the act of expressing ourselves through art and the ways in which we consume it sustain the artist, give them the time to hone their craft and support them as they build the vehicles that lift us out of our mundane, day to day experiences and remind us of how FUCKING AWESOME it is to have awareness and feelings.


              Reply
              1. rose

                ;) yes!
                Though there never really was a time when the majority of artists and musicians made a decent living…”lived in abject poverty” seemed to be one of the most frequent comments made about many artists who only became famous after they died.


                Reply
                1. Jeff

                  Annnnd… Are you suggesting this was somehow a GOOD thing that we should ensure we replicate…?


                  Reply
          3. DJ

            Well…that’s BS, isn’t it? You get paid for the work you do, right? You wouldn’t accept anything less for that job that you thought you were worth, right? Then why should I, as a musician, accept anything less than I think I’m worth? Or work for free for…”exposure.”


            Reply
            1. Colin

              You truly are lost when you equate your worth to money. I’m a performer and my happiest moments are when I didn’t base my decisions in money.


              Reply
              1. willowhaus

                That sounds really good, and makes sense when you’re talking about the theoretical motivation for creation – however, the plain fact is that we live in a society that, first and foremost, requires one to make money to survive. It doesn’t make you greedy, or a sellout, to be concerned about that fact – it makes you a realist.

                Part of being a working musician is being a business person. That doesn’t necessarily make you any less artistic.


                Reply
                1. Hmm

                  I think what you said there is the point. There seems to be a big difference, to me, between being a musician for the career and doing it for the fun and enjoyment of being a musician. You said it yourself, it’s a business, and not everyone is good at business, no matter how much talent they have for other things. I’m not sure why the general public should feel guilty just because not all musicians are successful with money (I understand you didn’t explicitly say anything about guilt, but that’s what all of this is pointing towards). We certainly don’t put that kind of pressure on the public when it’s any other business where there is the same huge pay differences.

                  I don’t owe a struggling musician anything. The same as I don’t owe a struggling investor anything. They chose to do that with their life, they just aren’t as good at making money from it as others.

                  I understand and agree with the frustration, but it’s clear to me that the music business is no different than any other business. It surprises me that people expect it to be any different.


                  Reply
                  1. mellion

                    If you enjoy music and take something from the music then yes you do owe the musician who created it something. Using your logic I can come into your house and steal your stuff and say that you should have been more security conscious to justify the theft. Being a musician is a skill and although you claim tens of thousands of musicians are waiting to take a given musicians place it simply isn’t true. If you don’t believe music is worth paying for, only listen to music that is given away for free on myspace etc that was recorded in bedrooms and see how long you last. Music takes time, skill, effort and money to create properly, most living musicians can’t have a job and tour or take time to record it is impossible to find a job where we can disappear for 3 weeks then come back. If you enjoy music then you should pay something at least towards the musicians otherwise don’t listen to music. No one else is expected to work for free why should artists? If any other workers were treated like musicians are, there would be an outcry. Touring is bloody hard work and if you want you can join me for a tour, for free to see what it’s like. It’s not what you imagine it is, it’s averaging 4 hours sleep a night (not because of partying but because of late finishes and early starts for the journey) hours of travel, carrying 40kg of equipment up and down stairs, waiting for delayed trains and planes, not sleeping in your own bed and being separated from your family and loved ones often for weeks at a time. You do that for next to nothing and then bitch about us being ‘Owed a living’. You obviously hate your job but that is not our problem. Being a musician is hard work, people like you are happy to enjoy the music but not happy to support the people who made it, do you go into independent shops and just steal stuff because whoever made the product probably enjoyed it. Your logic is flawed beyond belief and it’s sad that your ignorant attitude will end up robbing the world of those talented people that will never have the chance to express themselves properly because there is simply no money going towards underground musicians. I’ve been in the music industry for 20 years and it is very bleak, not because people aren’t consuming music but because if pig ignorant attitudes like yours. I think you should do your job for free and get another one to pay for that one how does that sound?


                    Reply
                  2. rose

                    If the musician is talented and good at what they do and is only struggling because you listen to their music for free online and never buy anything then yes you do owe them something. There are plenty of awful and mediocre musicians out there but there are also many incredibly talented musicians who just cant survive. Venues pay less and less to unknown bands and people expect to get to see the gig for peanuts even though theyll pay hundreds to see the mainstream crap – and spend more on their beer than they did on their ticket – and if they liked the band theyll go home and listen to them on youtube.
                    I now plenty of people who still play music in their spare time because they love it – that is great and admirable and it makes them happy, but they will never be known beyond their small circle of local pubs and fans – I even know people who make great music but have never once sung or played in front of a single person, its only for them, also great and admirable, but you cannot expect someone who has the talent and dedicates their life to making music, making themselves happy but also making 1000s of others happy too in the process, to not want to make money out of it, there is nothing wrong with that, ridiculous nonsense this belief that creative types should be ashamed of wanting to earn from their creativity when people are obviously benefitting from it.


                    Reply
                    1. Jeff

                      What Rose said + 1.
                      It’s not about thinking artists are ‘owed a living’, but some if the posts on here indicate that there are plenty of folks who feel they are OWED recorded music for free, because… what? Because ‘no one forced you to be a musician’ – so what?
                      No one forced you to wear a pair of runners, but if you want them you must buy them.


                  3. adco

                    I really fail to understand why anyone has an issue with musicians getting paid for their work. If you download or stream music you are listening to something that cost money to produce in a studio. The least any musician deserves is to be paid for the product he created. If I was an author and decided to write a book no one would have an issue with paying for that book yet when it comes to music it is expected to be free. Yes it’s true that I made a career choice and if I don’t make it, well then, it’s my hard luck but if you use my product then I deserve to be paid for it. Musicians are looked down upon as a lower level of life form by those who think we don’t deserve to be paid for what we do. We are not slaves for your listening pleasure.


                    Reply
                    1. Jamie Curcio

                      “I really fail to understand why anyone has an issue with musicians getting paid for their work.”

                      Makes a whole lot of sense when you consider that it’s coming from the same mentality that hasn’t been paying for albums for the past decade. Oh, right. ;)


              2. Matt

                Really, that’s….questionable. I’ve played music for well over forty years, and was professional when younger. And when I say “professional,” I don’t mean “emo kid who knows three chords and wants to write about how mean his parents|girlfriend|cat is,” I mean “a person who has studied music, can read and play sheet music, and can operate in a variety of musical contexts.”

                ….and the paying gigs have dried up in the last quarter of a century. I’ve played everything from singer-songwriter gigs to musical pit shows, and across the board, the paying gigs just aren’t there. As about getting paid scale? Go anywhere outside of NYC or LA and you’ll get laughed at. I’ve had more ‘opportunities’ pitched at me by restauranteurs than I can count – and they don’t pay, the show is ‘all about the exposure.’

                Yeah, exposure has value in a VERY small way, for a pop music market which is notoriously fickle and which will abandon you two days after discovering you. Which brings me to the next point: exposure is a thing you die of. All the exposure in the world won’t pay your bills if there’s no way to get paid for your work.

                A plumber won’t come to your house and fix your pipes for free.
                A doctor won’t diagnose your illness and treat you for free.
                An engineer won’t design the next cool thing for free.

                But somehow, people expect that musicians will work for free.
                Over and over again.

                Does this mean I won’t work for free? For a friend, yes, if they don’t abuse it. I had a friend who did art events and I played one for her for free, just as a gesture – and then she started trying to lend me to her friends for free, and telling them that I’d do it for free for them without consulting me. That led to hard words and hurt on – I kid you not – HER part.

                I guess the prevailing view is that music is just something that anyone can do, and it just leaks out of people like sweat, and is basically a byproduct that we gather up and use when it’s appropriate. As for me, I pay the people whose services I use, because it’s right.

                Assholes who download content and listen to it and say “yeah, it’s OK, because I wouldn’t have purchased it and they wouldn’t have made any money on me anyhow” will continue to be assholes, as will club owners who can pay (sort of) their waitstaff and kitchen staff but object to paying the players.

                Music takes work. If you want someone who can legitimately play, can engage and audience, can sound good and give a crowd something they like, then pay them.

                Otherwise, put a CD into the player and don’t pretend to be musician-friendly.


                Reply
                1. Jeff

                  Couldn’t agree more Matt.


                  Reply
              3. Pavlik Marozov

                Missing the point again. Sure, love your job, and “I don’t do it for the money” but you (and not someone else) DO GET PAID for A JOB DONE by you.


                Reply
              4. ashenk

                nailed it Colin.


                Reply
            2. scoob

              You’ve a very high opinion of yourself and your musical talents , music by its very nature is a very personal thing. I , and everybody else that heard you and your music might actually think your music completely blows and has little or no redeeming qualities. If that was the case , in what way do I or anybody else owe you a living ?. Just because your mum says you sound great doesn’t mean you do . Now obviously I’m generalizing ,but you see my point. Great , if you want to make music…do so , you could be the greatest talent on God’s green earth right now. It still doesn’t guarantee you’ll make any money, nor does it entitle you to. It’s a very hit and miss affair. Always had been and always will. Massive amounts of luck has been the launchpad for innumerable bands and acts. Being good ( if indeed you are ) is just a small piece of it. You’ve chosen your path and now it’s up to YOU to make it pay, it’s not a God given right.


              Reply
          4. enness

            The world was not prepared for the genius of Charles Ives. But since you mention him, he apparently believed in paying for music — he secretly financed composers.


            Reply
        3. Linden

          here here!!


          Reply
        4. Ben

          Thankyou for saying that. I was about to reply to that comment too. You took the words right out of my mouth. Hope you have a great week.


          Reply
        5. lol

          The truth is, all musicians have day jobs. If you were a musician you’d know. Once you make it big you chose to take the decision to quit your job and concentrate on your music. Why? Because the label that signed you is requesting your complete time.

          Go off the label, do like the THOUSANDS of bands this biased article decided to ignore that make it well on their own, and keep agreeing with an article that does not cite a single source for their obvious propaganda.

          Go out to bars and talk to musicians, learn how the business actually works, not what some label shill is throwing out on the web without a shred of evidence to back any of their claims.

          I had a good lol. I’ve been a musician for over 20 years. I’ve made lots of money without ever having any contract to any label. I’ve always had a day job. It’s called life.


          Reply
          1. Matt

            Every musician has a day job?

            NSM. Guess practice time and such doesn’t count as work….oh well.

            If musiicians don’t have time to practice and they sound bad, that’s the price of having a day job, because practicing music isn’t ‘real work,’ by your definition.


            Reply
        6. Bob Presnell

          Right on bro.. I agree with you. We need and want, I know I do, a varied mix of music so the younger musicians can get a good mix of what music is and what it can be.


          Reply
        7. J

          There are plenty of people making money from toilet roll and it ain’t the people creating it. Times are changing. In large part due to the message of a generations artists and music. No matter what is done the price paid for information, intelectual discoveries and art will be reduced until it is at an absolute minimum. This has always been the aim of the artist; to present his vision to the world. Well he did it and now he will have to live with the consequence. It is no surprise that the old gate keepers are squeezing the last pennies from their dying cash cow, how else will they sustain their lifestyles? It is to be expected. If your waiting for the golden era of music it will be along right after we have forgotten the value of the busking guitarist.


          Reply
        8. Visitor

          Spot-on Personal Jeebus! The author that you replied to is a pin-head.


          Reply
        9. Stuart Mitchell

          Define ‘real’ job you idiot. Sounds like someone with zero artistic talent who is happy to lick the A-hole of the machine until hes dead and buried and guess what ..FORGOTTEN into Oblivion. haw haw..


          Reply
      2. Hazze Wazeen

        To Musicisdead!
        Another complaining Non-musician wining and telling us real hard working people that we should get a job!
        Wow, get a real job yourself.

        If you had any money invested in music that pirates are giving away for free with a nice profit for themselves (oh yeah, they are cashing in on ads, and so does Google) you would shut you mouth right away.
        You have no right to an opinion since it is not your table, come back when you have been investing some thousands of dollars like me and the big guys have, then we are talking.

        Til then, learn to play an instrument and stop stealing!


        Reply
      3. rebeljuke

        Your missing the point completely.
        The lies essentially implied that the revolution of the music industry was now in the hands of the DIY artist and that if your music was deserving it would rise into the right places and eventually you could monetize your art into quite a high revenue return, providing you put the work in and used the relevant digital outlets and services and used smart marketing nouse. It was purported widely that you wouldnt need labels to invest to get national radio or high end press backing which could up your exposure platforms. It was not downplayed that musicians could earn a good standard of living by dedicating their full time to their music, it was discussed far and wide accross all corners of the industry that this was a very real proposition and the old school should be quaking in their cuban heels.
        Musicians are more than happy to take a day job and do music on the side, its how the majority still manage to make music but the idea that perhaps it could go further just by being caught up in the right social media hubs or that a million streams on myspace (remember that?) spotify or Youtube is going to up your net worth is a complete and utter load of of old codsh*t. The idea that a great song youve just produced can land on BBC radio 1′s playlist without any backroom dealing or hounding by experienced pitchers who are on a labels payroll is also just not possible..ever no matter how many fans/followers cash investment you can summon.
        The doors are still firmly shut and the doormen who guard them are the same hags and shakers from the industry of old, the Labels ofcourse! there maybe less of them but they have the stranglehold, hegemoney what ever you want to call it. Nothings changed, no digital revolution, no ‘down with the Majors’, no nothing. And if you dont believe it, just turn on your radio and tell me when you here a DIY self financed artist playing their song on their own cottage industry label. Amanda palmer? pah! i smelt the bullsh*t a million miles away and it sucks that this is how contrived and manipulating the PR is becoming because it de values every other true DIY’er in every way, cynical marketing rolling deep and dirty as it always will, bankrolled by guess who?
        This is a spot on article.


        Reply
        1. Minneapolis Musician

          I totally agree.
          This lines up perfectly with what you see out in the gigging world.
          Look, consider oil paint artists, They would love to be paid well and be able to do what they love as well.
          Or sculptors.
          They all find that it’s almost impossible to make a good living at it unless you “win the lottery” and get noticed by those who control who gets spacein their galleries.
          In the meantime, you set up shop at crowded art fiarts and flea markets.


          Reply
          1. Shannon

            I see all these musicians complaining to the people who say “get a real job” but that’s what it comes down to. There are literally THOUSANDS of musicians in any given city. They ALL can’t be paid a livable wage just so that they can make music and not “stress out over having to pay their bills”. Being a musician is not cheap. It requires money. Money to buy a guitar, amp, drum kit, etc. Not to mention how you’re going to lug all that stuff around. Get a job, play, and get to the point to where you can live off what you make as a musician. If it doesn’t work out, then maybe you just weren’t cut out for the gig anyway.

            I have a “real” job. What I’d love to do, however, is make a livable wage taking pictures of musicians on stage. I’m good at that, too. But in this day and age, it’s rather hard to do make a living off of concert photography. So, in the meantime, I have to pay my bills, raise my kid, feed the cats, and play golf. So what do I do? I work a “real” job.

            Making money off of music isn’t easy. Just ask the MILLIONS of musicians out there trying to do it.


            Reply
            1. Dan

              There used to be a solution to that problem, there was a market for music. The market for small gigs has been shrinking since the 80′s and now there is no way to sell the music itself.


              Reply
      4. Jeff

        Fuck off, troll.


        Reply
      5. fart husks

        i wanted to tell you off and all, but then i remembered that most music is bullshit nowadays. compare i dont know, any rapper to say mahler. who do you think spent more time honing their talent? maybe people will be less inclined to steal music when actual hard earned talent comes back into fashion.


        Reply
        1. Wrong

          “i wanted to tell you off and all, but then i remembered that most music is bullshit nowadays”.

          This is absolutely false. Most music you are aware of is bullshit, in your opinion. The fact is that there is more quality music now than ever before. You just have to dig for it. If you’re turning on the radio hoping to catch some great new shit, you will likely be disappointed, and that’s one of the points of this article. The cream does not always rise to the top simply because the internet exists.


          Reply
          1. THANK YOU

            “This is absolutely false. Most music you are aware of is bullshit, in your opinion. The fact is that there is more quality music now than ever before. You just have to dig for it. If you’re turning on the radio hoping to catch some great new shit, you will likely be disappointed, and that’s one of the points of this article. The cream does not always rise to the top simply because the internet exists.”

            Thank you for this. Finally I see this opinion making it’s rounds. Some of the most talented musicians to live (at least in recorded history) have released albums this year. I think a part of the problem is apathy in the fans, and the streaming services with their pockets stuffed with Big Label money. If only we could find a way to eliminate the middle man…


            Reply
        2. willowhaus

          OK, let’s get this straight: you think it’s OK to steal music because it’s crap?

          If it’s such crap, why would you want it at all?

          The fact that there is a demand indicates that the music in question has value. If so, then it’s not unreasonable to expect something of value in exchange.


          Reply
        3. g

          Hey fart guy,
          Gustav mahler actually made music as a part-time endeavour.
          And furthermore, let me guess, you are a middle-class, white, male? Who else would suggest that rappers don’t work hard. Those homies hustle more than you have probably ever hustled in your life. But I guess the only music by black people you acknowledge is along the lines of John Coltrane prior circa 1960. Get your mind right!


          Reply
          1. Jeff

            Mahler wrote music part-time. The rest of the time he was… a conductor.


            Reply
        4. Jeff

          That assertion that ‘music nowadays is bullshit’ is ridiculous.


          Reply
      6. Anonymous

        Hey, asshole, I’ve been playing for 40 years, and I studied my ass off with the greats to get where I’m at. You probably studied at the most 4-8 years to obtain your salary at your mediocre job. You probably haven’t had to learn anything new to keep collecting a bigger paycheck, while because of you ignorant statements, I have to keep learbning and figure out new ways to keep mine at the same levels as it was 20 years ago. The sad part is I bring a lot more happiness into human lives and souls than any job you have had or currently hold, but ignorant people like you who are really just jealous don’t want me to make a living, since they don’t have the talent or creativity to do what I do. Can’t I make a living from it considering I do and have done much more to hone my craft and create than you have ever done???


        Reply
        1. Cannabis_Files

          You must be your biggest fan also.
          If you’re all that and more, bragging is not necessary.
          I’ve worked with some well known Classic Rock Artists and you dude, like I said, have to be your biggest fan!


          Reply
        2. dingo

          40 years and you’re still struggling…time for a reality check….this is part of the problem..people who play for 40 years think they are entitled to a well paying career..bottom line is…if you haven’t made a living off it..you’re not good enough….your songs aren’t well crafted and you clearly only appeal to a small audience…this is fact…or you would have ‘made it’ by now…musicians are always whining about how poorly paid they are instead of facing the facts that they just need to move on career wise….


          Reply
          1. kelinsmART

            What do you consider “making it”? In any business? After 40 years of whatever it is you do, you must be the CEO-top executive or the owner of the company right? Or like most people that work at a “job” – you work every day for a paycheck, as do musicians.

            If “making it” in music means having a hit in the charts and mega fame- then almost NO musicians have ever “made it”. Many musicians are “side-men”, some are studio musicians (recorded music and music for TV and Movies), some work cruise ships or Broadway shows as pit musicians- very few land TV band jobs (some you can name- Paul Schaffer from Letterman for instance- most you can not- Name the musicians “making it” on Dancing w the Stars).Most of us work night after night in bars, clubs, pubs, – damn well anywhere to further our careers and eek out a living playing for people like you who think we should give up “making it”, making music because we’re are not famous or known by you.

            Making it to me is performing nightly and getting paid to do it- sometimes the money is good- sometimes not so much- some are free- sometimes we volunteer our services for charity. Very rarely is the money steady. I have had very few day jobs in my life. I’ve been “making it”…”making music” for over 36 years, I’ve been to over 600 cities in 100 countries – and I do sm’ART as well http://www.kelinsmart.com. I’ve performed with some amazing musicians and some that were/are famous.

            I, and many musicians, “make it” night after night. Getting adequate compensation for a job is something everybody tries for- music/art are no different. Fame and fortune are not the same as “making it”.

            Maybe next time you won’t be such an insulting douche-nozzle to musicians


            Reply
            1. catherine

              Very well said. I totally agree with you on this.


              Reply
            2. dingo

              congratulations…im not being sarcastic…im truly happy for you that you ‘made it’ …ie…making a living off music..my comments were directed at the whining musicians who cry they can’t make a living..every industry has it’s high and low earners…but I don’t see any articles bemoaning the fact that low level plumbers don’t make enough…or from sub-par accountants whose practice is failing…maybe this article should be titled: “Have you been making mediocre music for 40 years and can’t pay the bills? Here’s 13 things you can blame it on while talking to your parents about living in their basement for another decade while clinging to your delusional hopes of ‘making it’ (ie…making enough money that you don’t need to whine about it online”

              i work in the music industry on the marketing side and there are far too many people who think their average talent will allow them to make self indulgent crap while being supported by their community…ie..the constant refrain to ‘support live music’….

              sorry if being realistic seems like being a ‘douchenozzle’ to you but fact is fact….if after 40 years you’re still struggling to the point that this article makes you feel better about your career choice…have at ‘er…I’ll see you at the local pub on jam night


              Reply
              1. Shnogbogalin

                dingo, you are still insisting in your argument that many people who can’t make it is because of their ‘average talent’. this is absolute garbage but it doesn’t surprise me considering you apparently work for the music industry and therefore the machine. The mass music industry appeals to the mass populace and let’s face it, the mass populace are usually complete idiots and douchebags. You mean to tell me that you can honestly take a look at Lady Gaga or even worse, 50 Cent or most other modern hiphop and tell me that this stuff isn’t mediocre? Rap is the worst it’s ever been, at least in the days of Public Enemy or Del The Funky Homosapien it was well-written and stood for something. Now I can’t tell a badly written Puff Daddy or 50 Cent or Asap Rocky song from a badly written copcycat made in a suburban basement with Fruity Loops, other than a suspicious league of music executives with their own insidious agendas are backing the former. And the same goes for every kind of music. The most popular music these days is awful and appeals to a bonehead audience. if it were still about legitimate talent and skill then the Pink Floyds and the Mozarts and the Faith No Mores of the world would still be there but instead we have generic unimaginative vomit being continually regurgitated and respewed out by vampiric vultures like yourself. Bands like Arcade Fire are a minor exception in that their music is actually well-crafted and they are immensely popular, but you’ll probably rarely hear them on truly mainstream radio. Who listens to mainstream radio anymore anyway? Idiots who deserve a slap probably. Another thing going into the fact that most mainstream listeners are completely retarded is that they have been trained by television, mainstream radio, and other forms of narrow-minded media to think in the closed-off ways they have. This has been done deliberately, to form a nation of ignorant zombies so its easier to spoonfeed the slop to them, but that’s a whole other rabbit hole I am not going to pry open right now. Do you think someone who has been trained to absorb Brittany Spears, Kim Kardashian, and reality shows is going to understand a Mr. Bungle, Animal Collective, or an equally talented and original equivalent soaring under the radar? It doesn’t matter if it’s the most skilled symphony imaginable, if it’s too forward-thinking or over their head, they aren’t gonna get it. And this isn’t because it’s how they truly feel, it’s because they’ve been trained to feel this way by years of intellectual dumbing down and corruption on part of your precious music industry, television, and other poisons to free thought. People like you are swine and you should be ashamed of yourselves.


                Reply
                1. dingo

                  wow…so the whole world is full of boneheads and zombies cause they don’t buy music that doesn’t appeal to them…i agree that mainstream music is a crock of shit right now – but there are tons of bands making a good living that aren’t on the radio or video channels….why?…..simply put…people like their music, they put on a good show and don’t waste their time whining about the scene on message boards….i like tons of bands that fly under the radar, I don’t like mainstream radio and I DONT STEAL MUSIC…if it’s good I’ll gladly buy it….if it’s bad or boring…I won’t…end of story….musicians seem to be more interested in complaining about the state of the scene rather than facing facts that the industry has changed…the term ‘starving artist’ has been around for a long long time…you knew that going in….quit complaining and get to work….it can be done…you just have to work harder…good luck.


                  Reply
                  1. Jeff

                    Your faith in the system is truly touching.


                    Reply
                  2. margot

                    “quit complaining and get to work….it can be done…you just have to work harder…good luck”

                    Yeah, ‘Murica! Just work harder, the system isn’t rigged against you!

                    Ignore the fact that even when people are spending their money to support music they like, it’s going to some CEO and not to the artist. Ignore the fact that we do not live in a meritocracy and blind luck and marketability has more to do with a musician’s success than talent. The free market solves everything, you’re just not working hard enough. Problem solved!


                    Reply
                    1. Jamie Curcio

                      big ups!


                  3. F

                    Actually Lady Gaga “made it” because she knew someone from a previous internship who then remembered her and introduced her to Rob Fusari, who was looking for a rocker chick. Of course she’s talented, but without that lucky acquaintance, all her drive, talent and ambition would have probably gotten her nowhere and she’d be working a desk job now at a label.

                    I’m just saying this to dispel your idea that talent has a lot to do with who gets famous in the music biz. It’s more of a politics, who-you-know thing than anything else.


                    Reply
                2. MoFo

                  Well said and oh so true…….I had my 15 minutes of fame once upon a time as a working musician and must conclude that the revolution is on life support.


                  Reply
                3. Steve

                  Please, please don’t hate on Lady Gaga unless you’ve listened to full albums. I’m not going to argue that Lady Gaga is particularly innovative, or that she should be as big as she is, but she’s in a different class than the “artists” she’s usually compared to.


                  Reply
                  1. F

                    Steve, she might be a more talented musician than the average pop artist, but it doesn’t mean anything when the music she puts out is still mediocre, run-of-the-mill pop. Talent is only as useful as the way it’s put to use.

                    Not hating, I promise.


                    Reply
              2. rose

                If you are working in the marketing side of the music industry then of course 90% of what you hear will be mediocre. The real talent, and the true musicians can be found in venues all over the country, the world and will never ever come anywhere near your marketing and the music “industry”. Yes there are lots of terrible and mediocre musicians out there, but your idea of “making it” is embarrassing. A plumber can generally live reasonably well, much more comfortably than an unknown musician, because people pay the prices a plumber asks without having the faintest idea if he or she is good at what they do and because the prices are set. If people were prepared to pay ten dollars instead of five, twenty instead of ten to see lesser known bands, and bought their music on CD, online, whatever, then many talented musicians would be able to make a reasonable living overnight. You would still probably say they hadnt “made it” and should give up but joining the celebrity circus with a string of top of the pops hits is not everyone’s idea of making it.


                Reply
              3. Lefty

                Dingo is a troll. Must have lost a hot girlfriend he was crazy about to that dude on stage. Maybe more than once. Douche.


                Reply
            3. Doc Holliday

              Yep.


              Reply
          2. Total Normal

            Not every musician want to appeal to the greatest number of people, and not every audiophile listens to music that appeal to the greatest number of people. Even if one’s music appeals to limited circles, that does not mean it is not “good”. It is a personal and aesthetic choice.

            I would be very bored in a world where every movie was made to be a blockbuster, every book written to be a bestseller, etc.

            There is, and always has been since any art has been associated with an “industry” or “business”, a difference between exploitation and art. In exploitation movies or music, a marketing team has calculated that something could be lucrative, and money is invested in it. That is how you get your super-hero flick and your Miley Cyrus. But you still have independent movies that appeal to marginal audiences, and that does not make that movie “less good” than you latest super-hero flick. And the people making those independent movies can still get a reasonable enough paycheck so that they can keep doing it (they don’t have to whine and people don’t tell them to get a real job).

            The difference now between music and other art forms, is that the only way to earn a living with music is to make exploitation music and be backed up by a team of marketers. If that is what a “musician” wants, than yes after a while he should abandon the idea if it doesn’t work.

            So I gather from your post that you only listen to exploitation music; good for you since that is pretty much all you will have very soon the way things are going. But not everybody is like you, and some still like to have alternatives to superheroes, Miley Cyrus or reality shows. When those alternatives are gone, so will the concept of art and we will live in a very boring world.


            Reply
        3. Lifer

          So well put ~ Thank you!


          Reply
      7. me

        fucking dick


        Reply
      8. cas

        idiot!


        Reply
      9. mark kelly

        love brother love


        Reply
      10. PROMUSICIAN HERE!!!!

        Well I tour and record nonstop with tons of independent and major label artists!!! and the music industry has picked up and is really going stronger than it has in years
        !!!!! don’t believe everything you read..


        Reply
      11. IfMusicIsDeadSoAreYou

        dude, music has defined YOU more than you will ever know. Wether you like it or not, it defines your culture, your environment, history and your future. Its sad when folks think musicians are ‘bitching’. It perpetuates nothing but your ignorance. Addtionally you actually missed the entire point of the article. Billions are being made from music. Its quite possible you have no actual abilities/skill/talent or gift of anything for that matter but if you do yourself a favor and educate that mind of yours, you’d be surprised how you too can be of use to society.


        Reply
        1. jimmy

          Genius u are for this…

          “dude, music has defined YOU more than you will ever know. Weather you like it or not, it defines your culture, your environment, history and your future.”


          Reply
      12. YourBestMat

        ooooohhhhhh look at me!!! musician who earns moneyyy!!!


        Reply
      13. Anonymous

        Do you not listen to music then ? ..why is being a musician not a real job you fucking fool


        Reply
      14. Dread

        I am wide awake and the article is dead on correct.
        Thank you.


        Reply
      15. Andy

        Excuse me!! A musician is a profession as much a banker, a doctor or a fisherman! Up yours!


        Reply
      16. Ash Ra

        Wow, are you really that much of a maggot? Die now.


        Reply
      17. Anonymous

        Gee, didn’t make it in the music industry, huh? Keep all your self-indulgent frustrations to yourself.


        Reply
      18. sally

        stuff you


        Reply
      19. Jens

        I tend to agree. Musicians need to learn to be more humble and less convinced of their own importance,


        Reply
      20. Anonymous

        Twit.


        Reply
      21. Jarret Marcel

        This is why I run a small business during the week and work on “my music” outside of that time. Unless you are a Justin Beiber, or some EDM artist or a 1 in a million Kanye…forget it. Just being pragmatic.


        Reply
      22. JZ

        you don’t deserve to have ears.


        Reply
      23. altstud

        you’re a nasty person. I really don’t think you’d like a world without music (or any other kind of art, for that matter). But, with that attitude, I’m probably wrong.


        Reply
      24. Matt

        I DO have real job.


        Reply
      25. Hissyspit

        Sarcasm, right?


        Reply
      26. AllNewMusicIsGarbage

        100% agree with Musicisdead. The music industry needs to just lay down and call it quits. Everything that’s come out in the last 20 years is garbage. Absolute GARBAGE. When was the last time we’ve heard a Beatles? A Pink Floyd? A Led Zeppelin? A Stevie Wonder? A Miles Davis? A Duke Ellington? We haven’t, and it has NOTHING to do with lack of advertising funds or proper promotion, the talent ISN’T THERE ANYMORE.

        And don’t even try to argue about how hip hop or EDM is “music”, it isn’t; those “artists” don’t even play real instruments. Anyone who thinks clowns like Kanye West or Radiohead or Adele have an ounce of music integrity in them are completely out of touch with reality.

        Quit your hobby and go get a real job, and spend your free time doing something meaningful (like community service) rather than listening to and making what is little more than garbage liberal propaganda set to the rhythm of a soul-less drum machine.


        Reply
        1. Tim

          have you even listened to The Hold Steady?!?!


          Reply
      27. Eromeda Records

        Some of the points made here are accurate, some id argue with.
        Merch still sells very well in Europe, especially T Shirts, i know this first hand.
        And to ‘Musicisdead’ i dunno what made you so cynical but if you’re one of the many
        people who think music should be free, you are dreaming. (If not i apologise)
        It costs money to buy instruments, to rehearse, to tour (as pointed out in this article)
        to have Merch made, and to record in studios. Why should bands who make music
        that enriches peoples lives be told their craft is not worth paying for ?
        Would you expect a Builder to build you a house for nothing ? No.
        As for streaming being the future, it could be, IF companies like Spotify weren’t so
        damn greedy.
        The industry is and has always been changing, this is not new info, and to small
        labels like us, we can assure you that with the right PR, the right amount of commitment,
        bands can make a living if they drop all other activities which might prevent them touring.
        If you are working in a 9 to 5 job and trying to be in a successful band the chances of you
        making it are slim. It’s an all or nothing leap and without that drive and ambition, your snookered
        before you start.
        Im glad you mentioned that CDs still sell, lots of people are very badly clued up on that.


        Reply
      28. Music lives

        I’m assuming you’re an audio book guy or a mute, or maybe just completely stupid.


        Reply
      29. hypostaticunion

        So I guess me being in the music industry for 16 years and never working a ” real job ” since then is the reason I can spend time off any time I want and living comfortable? For the first 4 years I worked every aspect of the business myself including writing all the songs working 21 hours a day 7 days a week for years and I made enough to raise 3 kids and take care of 3 families!!!! I didn’t do it for the money, but rather the need to hear music I wanted to hear! All music made was for me and if someone heard it and wanted the song and didn’t ask it for free, I sold it to them. Not every artist is looking to make themselves look like a god, but simply filling a need! Music is and never will be dead as long as there still is a need!!!!! Doc


        Reply
      30. Jroll

        MUSICISDEAD you are a cunt.


        Reply
      31. George007

        Pick your nose until it glows, jerk.


        Reply
      32. Annoyed

        You stupid, stupid philistine bastard


        Reply
      33. Yea Right

        Yea that’s it. Musicians should give up. Funny how everyone seems to WANT music, but when the subject of compensating the actual creator of it comes up, its up for debate. Then you’ll go and complain how all music sucks today.


        Reply
  2. FarePlay

    And I tought the answer was……

    Access and convenience.

    on YouTube


    Reply
  3. :-(

    Wow… seriously depressing article for musicians.


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      Site to be re-named Digital Music Blues


      Reply
  4. GGG

    2) If you don’t think the internet has grown niches, I don’t know what to say. But no, they will never become as big as the head, that’s why they’re niches…

    6, 12) The problem with how too many people argue this point is that you look at it as an either/or idea. Very few people that say these things are saying to cut out selling music entirely. Yes there are some, and as you noted, people that actively practice it. But most people point to these things simply as what income avenues you HAVE to reach to be a well-rounded, earning musician in 2013. Again, we’d all love to sell $18 CDs, but if you started selling music in the last decade and your business plan was simply selling music, you are a fool. Plain and simple. All the complaining in the world won’t change how things work now. So people get upset, for what? To prove some point about record sales everyone knows? Wow, what a rebel.


    Reply
  5. TheSilverConductor

    Truth is a wake up call isn’t. If you are seriously paying attention, you would know these facts, they are all around you. The new record industry is Social Media.

    The once easy street of a major label doing the leg work for are over. To make it in the new World Order of recorded music content, you are goimg to have WORK YOUR A** OFF! I know that is a bummer to hear but what do you expect, those hard knock days of paying your dues are called American Idol, The Voice, Americas Got talent, So You think you can dance, and many more I can’t even think of, but just look how many audition vs only a few lucky winners. If you want this game to work for you, YOU are gonna have to Work It!

    MusicLuv,

    The Silver Conductor (www.thesilverconductor.com)


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      Work your ass off, and believe it is in your control.

      But at some point if it ain’t working out…you have to have retirement savings and health insurance…or you will end up in a rathole rooming house, or out on the street.

      And for God’s sake, do it before you have children to support. For their financial protection.


      Reply
    2. Jeff

      And if we all take your advice, then what? Will the number of “winners” grow?


      Reply
      1. dingo

        no…the number of not quite good enough whining musicians will shrink


        Reply
  6. AllAccess

    This is such an invaluable piece of generalities with very little evidence to back it up. Shame on DMN for posting it.


    Reply
    1. wufoo

      Yup, ten point cry for attention


      Reply
    2. hd

      just about every point has been an article and discussed.
      Maybe to help you out, paul should have posted links to those articles :-)


      Reply
    3. Hazze Wazeen

      Don’t cry over Paul’s article, cry over all the copyright owners who gets robbed every day 24/7 of their work and property.
      DMN got it all right.

      Come back with some facts yourself which holds and are not too patetic;
      Everything that defends piracy and free music is patetic though.

      If you are willing to give up your paycheck every month and still going to work, good for you. Remember to say hi to your landlord from me, tell him he won’t get payed, because everything should be free now that we live in an internet age.


      Reply
      1. Scissor

        If I went to work and they stopped paying me, I’d find a new job. Problem solved.


        Reply
        1. F.G

          Scissors, you are perfectly right!
          If I had problems getting steady pay checks or having checks bouncing, I would change job. But the thing is, I’d still be doing the same job, just working for a different company and I guess I’d kinda be hoping that it wouldn’t happen again.
          What if it did happen again and that for the next 15 jobs you’d applied for. That would piss me off!
          That being said… Four obvious options are available:

          1: You keep hoping you don’t get fucked and apply for an other job.
          2: You come to realize your studies was a waste of time and you should maybe go back to school and go in a different field and literally go back 5 years. (10 years (average for a musician)
          3: start your own business and make your own rules but in exchange of thousands of invested hours that
          Might not even pay off.
          4: fight for your rights to get paid for a genuine service/your time.

          Either way,
          no 1 wants to regress in life.
          Some do it for fun and some do it as a profession… I think the we the consumes are mixing apples and pears and expecting the same service or wage…
          No one wants to be replaced in a company by a kid who doesn’t care about money because he or she doesn’t have kids or assurance or a mortgage to pay for.. and he or she is coming on top and in black in the budget. And that’s I feel we stand in the industry… There’s always those passionate OR desperate people who will do it for free and deprived the ones who actually did invest their time and money. Which in honesty happens in every field possible (research, technology, energy and infrastructure) but the percentage at which the proportion of it happening in the music business is alarming, 60% if you factor everybody .

          Food for thought,


          Reply
      2. dingo

        oh,.,so it’s the internet’s fault you are struggling…how does that explain john mayer for example…he came up in the internet age.. …or as the article explains…”Amanda Palmer, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Murder by Death, and a few other artists”..

        oh wait…their music is actually good….

        quit blaming the internet and look in the mirror…if your good…..you succeed…if you’re mediocre…spotify, you tube and iTunes can’t help you…


        Reply
  7. Visitor

    “YouTube, which has driven the price of recorded music most aggressively towards $0, will be around tomorrow.”

    Wasn’t the price already driven to zero by Napster, Pirate Bay, etc? The median price someone on the internet accessing music has been nada for 13-14 years. iTunes didn’t change that. Streaming hasn’t changed that (but could it given critical mass?).


    Reply
    1. Total Normal

      Pirating was illegal, the real change is that free music is now legal. Hence, as the majority of the people posting here imply, people naturally expect music to be free, because the offer is there. This is a big change from having to choose between buying music and stealing music.


      Reply
  8. FarePlay

    And I tought the answer was……
    Access and convenience.


    Reply
  9. Visitor

    “YouTube, which has driven the price of recorded music most aggressively towards $0, will be around tomorrow.”
    Wasn’t the price already driven to zero by Napster, Pirate Bay, etc? The median price someone on the internet accessing music has been nada for 13-14 years. iTunes didn’t change that. Streaming hasn’t changed that (but could it given critical mass?).


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      Not everyone in the world became a digital pirate in the late 90


      Reply
      1. Jack

        Yes they did, and if they said they never downloaded anything theyre lying.


        Reply
        1. Sorry, Jack

          You are a liar. There are still people with ethics. I have never downloaded anything illegally and I know lots of people who can claim the same. If you can’t then you need to find yourself a better class of friends and seriously look at your own life.


          Reply
          1. AssyMcgee

            Everyone that complains about downloading free music is a queer. I make music, work a job, and download free music. You might as well get with the times, rants and complains are meaningless. The struggle of the artist is part of being an artist. It always has been. Unless your music is on the radio no one has the right to complain about not getting paid. If you want to make money and make music, work as a band bar or try and make a cheesy ass radio hit. Plenty of musicians never make it in their time but eventually are discovered. Music is art not a job. Like Edgar Allen Poe, some of is will be dead and broke before any of our art is appreciated. And bringing our struggle to the masses will do nothing for us. The voice of the poor and the minority doesn’t matter and can’t change anything. Only the 1% have the power to change anything in this money drivin society.


            Reply
        2. Jackson

          I did some downloading in the wild west days of Napster, but much of that was to get digital content of content I already owned or had lost.

          That which was plain old downloaded, some of it was to check out artists I’d not known before or wanted to learn about. Much of that was deleted or never played again. Some of it opened me up to new artists I have since bought many new albums of and / or since seen live shows, some repeatedly.

          Pretty much since the end of Napster, I’ve been paying for all of my music, and it is a large part of my annual budget. As a musician, I respect artists need to be paid. As a human who respects property rights and the idea of consent, I buy music. Although, I am glad for services like Grooveshark, where I sample lots of music before feeling obligated to purchase something I want to repeatedly listen to, which is very easy since I can download a song vs. a whole album that I don’t want.


          Reply
        3. rose

          I have never downloaded music or films or anything illegally….as far as I know. I once downloaded an episode of a TV series from some torrent site and the whole thing freaked me out so much I never did it again.


          Reply
    2. alan

      The reason YouTube has driven the price to zero is less important than the fact that they’ve driven the perceived “value” of music to nothing. Since YouTube subsidizes the copyright materials on their site through ad revenue and licensing deals, the general public has no cost barrier or concept of something having value. You don’t pay anything to access this material, so it inherantly has no value to you from a financial standpoint.
      The problem with streaming in general is that it is also hard to value something you can play at anytime for practically no cost since you pay a flat fee for unlimited access. If you valued it in the past, you had to purchase it. Now, almost all music can be had at a whim.
      Talk about the negative aspects of record companies all you like, I won’t defend them, but in the end, the artists who make the media you love are the ones who will suffer.


      Reply
      1. Jackson

        The irony is so many in the music industry and musicians themselves have spent a great deal of time railing against property rights of others. No wonder the culture of youth they’ve influenced since the 1960s with the socialist idea of that “we all own everything” and “profit is bad”, have no internal compass that tells them stealing is wrong. They’re just living up to the standards that we, as musicians, are not entitled to profit.

        (never mind, that most people don’t think of their paycheck as “profit” for their own labors…. An upside down world, it is…)


        Reply
        1. Jeff

          HIppie-bashing has been the national pastime for more than 30 years. Your linkage is not that well-founded. Besides, you don’t even really know what socialism is (kinda like the hippies, I suppose).


          Reply
  10. hippydog

    Excellent article Paul!
    I may not agree with all the points, but well done!
    This is kinda what dmn has been saying for awhile in a simple list..
    but now what?
    Could you also make a second rebuttal list with possible futures or even solutions? (because some of the “lies” could easily be turned into truths if small changes happened in the industry)


    Reply
  11. Tune Hunter

    Brilliant summary! Thank you.

    I wish I could comment individually on each one the “lies” you brought to our attention.

    Looking from perspective it calls for following action plan for labels and RIAA to execute:

    a/ All discovery and similar tune suggest services (over billion users) have to be converted at once to Discovery Moment Monetization mode. Time to remove all those services from venture capital beggar mode. We have to bribe them with part of new revenue generated or use “fair use” doctrine to move them to sanity.

    b/ Stop working on VEVO deals with YouTube and start YouTube to cash deals – YouTube is and will stay the biggest talent discovery place – lets work on conversion of YouTube to the biggest media retail outfit.
    Topping 10 billions in five years is a modest goal for YouTube.

    c/ Time to create Central Music Bank!
    Google/YouTube is the best candidate to open and operate this entity.
    It would deliver coded tunes to all: iTunes, YouTube(for sale only zone), streamers, Starbucks sound track and radio DJs. Each tune would have a license plate containing always artist, composer and label if there is one and custom distribution route code generated on flight.
    Once a month CMB would make statements and payouts to all as involved musician, writer, label first, then radio station, Shazam, Starbucks (New Muzak for any micro crowd monetization). We could introduce no subscription streaming – rent to own 10cents for stream #1 + 6x5cents = $.40

    This new back bone of the industry would allow to grow to 100 billions by 2020 with fairness to all.
    Radio DJs could become micro-labels which would encourage them to intensify discovery and allow for financial participation in global success of tune they have promoted.

    100 billions of revenues with tunes at $.39 would mean 250 billion tune/transactions.
    Just 2 cents per tune would provide 1.25 billion in revenues for this central entity.
    Co-ownership by current main players and Google, Amazon or Apple as an executor would be the best solution.


    Reply
    1. hippydog

      QUOTE “lets work on conversion of YouTube to the biggest media retail outfit.”
      monopolies are illegal.. for a state sanctioned monopoly to exist, neither the RIAA or the labels could implement this.. only congress..
      You better start posting your idea in more forums if you want your ideas to change multiple laws in this country..


      Reply
      1. Tune Hunter

        It would not be monopoly – iTunes and Amazon would have a chance to survive.
        Radio stations as a new “music stores” would successfully compete with YouTube.


        Reply
        1. hippydog

          Sorry , just “saying” it wont be a monopoly doesnt make it true.. What you are asking for is directly against current monopoly LAWS.
          Which means ONLY congress could implement this idea.. not you, not the artists, no one.. Except the govt.


          Reply
          1. Tune Hunter

            Right now YouTube is becoming a monopoly!
            Labels gave YouTube blessing to become the biggest monopolistic pirate boat on the music sea.
            They have finished the war with piracy.
            We have to live with single monopolistic pirate boat dumping some breadcrumbs to traitors of the industry.
            To get staff for free you do not need to go to any torrent site anymore – why would you?
            We got it all on trusted and friendly YouTube.


            Reply
            1. Tune Hunter

              I am sorry, new Napster, Spoofy can and will outcompete YouTube since they operate in the avangard Streaming Sea!
              The traitors just have to make sure that all musicians comply.


              Reply
            2. hippydog

              QUOTE “Right now YouTube is becoming a monopoly!”
              Please google and read about the ‘anti-trust’ laws (or monopoly laws for other countries besides the US).
              Its actually pretty simply..
              A company is allowed to become a monopoly on its own. (it can happen, mainly because no one else wants to compete or doesnt have the same talent or expertise or technology, a-la-microsoft for example)
              BUT!!
              ANY! type of outside force, ANY type of collaboration, that tries to encourage the monopoly TRIGGERS the monopoly laws.
              do you understand?
              you talking about labels are the RIAA in anyway making one business a monopoly
              WILL NOT HAPPEN..


              Reply
        2. Tune Hunter

          You are correct – tune serving and payouts would have to be done by multiple parties. In the meantime RIAA has always been very commpetent and with personal conections of mega stars is one of the most successful lobbyists!
          If they could only put Music ID, Lyrics ID and simillar tune suggest engines under “fair use” jurisdiction it would be the end of the struggle.
          Those services are “pocket pickers” of the industry, they do it for FREE as they burn investors cash (all but Google are in the red!)- the only winner is freeloading public!
          Just this motion would erase 80% of piracy and would double in three years.


          Reply
          1. hippydog

            QUOTE “If they could only put Music ID, Lyrics ID and simillar tune suggest engines under “fair use” jurisdiction it would be the end of the struggle. ”
            AGAIN
            they can’t..
            There is nothing in the copywrite laws that would allow the RIAA to inforce this..


            Reply
            1. Tune Hunter

              Lobby in new rules!
              No matter what, something has to be done – exactly those guys keep the industry in the OPEN to ALL STATE.
              We got to bribe them or force them legaly to sanity and productivity zone – now they are in demolition mode.
              IT IS OVERDUE ISSUE.


              Reply
      2. tune Hunter

        Give them 8 cents out of 39! and you will see billion dollar IPO in 12 months.
        In 13 years Shazam never made a profit.
        Crazy kids in business kindergarden at venture capital expense.


        Reply
        1. hippydog

          QUOTE “Give them 8 cents out of 39! ”
          and,
          where is that 8 cents or 39 cents coming from?
          How are you making the public part with their money?
          IE: the public DOES NOT have to use Shazam or ANY id service.
          And if they had to pay money to use it.. I will guarantee the public WOULD NOT USE IT..


          Reply
          1. TuneHunter

            I think you have lost it!
            The public does not have to pay….?
            …they have to pay and they will pay and industry players do not have to change much to get cash for music from guy like you.It is long time overdue and they have deserve it.
            Unless you are a zombie – then you do not need radio, tube, spoofy or any music source and we don’t need your cash!
            Folks love, need and will pay for music – we just have to put some common sense in to this BAZZAR! … by the way, Patent Laws do allow for Monopoly!


            Reply
            1. hippydog

              QUOTE “I think you have lost it! The public does not have to pay….?”
              I never said that.. I asked a question..
              where is that 8 cents or 39 cents coming from?
              How are you making the public part with their money?
              I think you know what i asked, but because you dont have the answers, you decided to go off on a tangent..
              Can you answer my questions or not?
              QUOTE “by the way, Patent Laws do allow for Monopoly”
              AGAIN, please read the antitrust laws.. Monopolies ARE allowed, but no ‘outside’ force is allowed to encourage it or try and make it permanent.. which is what your talking about.. attempting to “MAKE” a monopoly. which has NOTHING to do with patents.
              but hey.. feel free to throw some more red herrings out.. I’ll just keep shooting em down..


              Reply
              1. Tune Hunter

                39 cents comes from your pocket via Shazam!
                You love the tune? Wow, to here it again you have to make mandatory payment to Shazam on your way to free Spoofy or free Tube.
                No info on radio dispaly and no free ID from Shazam you and any freeloader is finally screwed.


                Reply
              2. hippydog

                now your just repeating yourself..
                you did not actually answer my question, you just rephrased your first statement..
                How do you institute a MANDATORY payment?
                and remember we all ready went over..
                1.) You CAN NOT force Shazam to collect payments.
                2.) you CAN NOT make them a monopoly..
                so.. ergo
                if people have to make payments to use Shazam,
                they will simply stop using it.. and either NOT use any type of ID service, or use a competing free service (and Shazam will never willingly implement that)
                poof..
                you entire idea becomes useless..


                Reply
                1. Jeff

                  “How do you institute a MANDATORY payment?”

                  It’s called “retail”. I think Amazon works that way. Oh, and iTunes, too. Yeah.


                  Reply
    2. hippydog

      Quote “at once to Discovery Moment Monetization mode”
      You do realize that if you charged people to use the services your talking about, those people would simply stop using those services..
      They only reason people use those services is because they are free.. any type of charge would the destroy the very base of people your are using as your numbers..
      you know what $1 times zero is? its still zero..


      Reply
      1. Tune Hunter

        If you convert all current discovery services (over billion users) to mandatory purchase-only mode you and anybody else will seperate with 39 cents. (possibly few times a day)
        You will do it just to extinguish you curiosity and to prevent anxiety buildup. You will have to do it – there is NO REASON for free Shazam.


        Reply
  12. hypebot hater

    in general – spot on.
    #8 – kickstarter didn’t build any of those band’s careers. all of them were around before kickstarter ever happened, ON LABELS.


    Reply
  13. Johnny Gagnon

    It’s another wallstreet take over of the individual,sel-starter-entrepreneur by wealthy corporate (friends of friends of friends) Power clicks / gangs who simply followed the people’s latest market hangout,internet,and simply bought it all up with their effective volumes of sound recording catalogs …. to negotiate a monopolization for themselves at rates to satisfy their disgusting and at the same leave out the small man starving,pure and simple!


    Reply
  14. David Gillespie

    “Our kids are going to watch exactly what they want to watch, not necessarily what’s marketed to them,” then Topspin CEO Ian Rogers said as recently as 2010, while constantly underscoring that “quality is hyperefficient.”

    The Truth: Just like the analog old days, most great music gets left behind and wallows in obscurity if not substantially backed or otherwise supported financially. In fact, the biggest songs on the planet are often those blasted the loudest on the biggest platforms – and oftentimes, the most money from major labels (ie, Katy Perry, Pitbull, Flo Rida, etc.)

    That’s a tad selective though and not entirely accurate? Teenagers and all of us can lock in with communities or blogs specializing in whatever it is they/we love. So that math rock site you’re into is just a search away


    Reply
  15. Kodyne Music

    Yes this is all true and so succintly put. Artists should try to gain traction in their immediate neighbourhood first and cause wider ripples. Seems counter intuitive when trying to achive scale but I know from my other engineering business that word of mouth can generate demand and growth.


    Reply
  16. Me

    Paul, the band’s name is Murder by Death, not Death by Murder.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      Digital Music News: it automaticaly corrects itself!
      Actually if you’re a Murder by Death fan or just want to read an awesome case study on a successful Kickstarter campaign, then read this:
      A Detailed Interview With One of the Most Successful Kickstarter Artists Yet…


      Reply
  17. tippysdemise

    Good piece, Paul. Excellent summation of the major arguments. Just a few observations:

    #1: Great music will find its audience, but not “naturally”.
    #2: The internet both unleashed a torrent of successful niches and made blockbusters bigger than before.
    #5: Artists who can sell physical are big enough to sell everything else, and thus will make more money. This one is not a lie in the sense that digital products are more revenue efficient.
    #6: Revenue from touring is often indirect, and delayed.
    #8: To fundraise successfully, an artist needs a fanbase big enough to make it almost unnecessary.
    #9: Spotify is a major issue for artists who sell either massive amounts of music or next to none. They are not your friend (as no business is), but for a lot of artists in the middle, there absolutely is money in it, and it is capturing revenue from an audience that likely will not pay for individual downloads.


    Reply
  18. Dieter

    There should be a web site where we can donate directly to the musicians. Needs to be open and transparent.


    Reply
    1. Hobo

      A lot of music on Bandcamp uses this model, ‘Pay as you feel’ so you can purchase it for whatever value you ascribe to the album/EP (it also supports fixed price sales). The artist gets 85%-90% of the price. I know that I personally will happily pay money because I know it isnt split between the portal/aggregator/label/artist with the artist getting sweet FA. This is the business model I would love to see succeed.


      Reply
      1. damage

        but without a label having the money to fund marketing and PR campaigns, you wouldn’t have even heard of your favorite bands (this also applies to hearing about a band from a friend etc). see lie #1


        Reply
  19. jw

    I think the jury is still out on a lot of these issues.
    It’s clear that internet advertising is in no shape to support the recorded music industry, but the jury is out on premium streaming. I don’t think rhapsody is a proper case study for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it’s just been around way too long without reaching critical mass… without a total relaunch, no one is going to pay attention.
    Also I think that everyone is missing the point with Kickstarter. Sure, artists with previous label relationships can get loads of cash if they want. But I have friends with no label affiliations who raised $4,000 for their first record, & $12,000 for their second. And I’d bet good money that they’ll raise $20,000 or more for their next. Another friend of mine raised $25,000 for his first & just raised $35,000 for his second. And these aren’t people I’m picking off the internet, these are people I carpooled to work with (not music-related) & played youth soccer with. The Amanda Palmer story is important, but it’s the smaller, less sensational success stories that are going to determine kickstarter’s effectiveness. It’s easy to write kickstarter off when an artist who already had momentum raises money, but if you’re going to be fair about it, you have to give artists that had no momentum time to build momentum, which oftentimes takes years. Just ask any band who’s broken “overnight.”
    And Pandora will probably never be the source of income that content owners & songwriters want them to be. Gouging them may or may not help, but it’s clear that people within the industry just see money & they want it, & that added pressure & these new expectations for start-ups is not going to encourage the longterm growth of the industry. Apple will not save the music industry (just the opposite, actually), & relationships with other tech companies are going to have to get better than just contentious if things are going to get better.
    At least, that’s how I see it.


    Reply
    1. GGG

      Yea, the Kickstarter argument is kinda dumb. I too, have both seen through friends/people I know and been involved in campaigns that ranged from $5K to $85K! Granted the latter had built up her fanbase for years on Youtube, but she was still unsigned and 100% independent. But I’ve also seen a number of bands with regional sized fanbases raise 15-25K. You don’t hear about them because they aren’t famous. Yet, they have fans willing to do that? Pretty remarkable and a good sign if you ask me. People are absolutely willing to pay for music, IF they have reason to. Have to earn that trust and admiration.


      Reply
  20. John etkin-Bell

    As a friend (& music producer) said of the music industry last week…
    We are left looking for lost pennies down the back of the sofa!!!


    Reply
  21. Glenn

    #2 Was the lie really that niches would dominate the music landscape? How does a niche dominate over the mainstream? A niche ceases to be a niche when it becomes mainstream.
    Anderson was wrong that hits would cease to exist. In fact, hits are doing just fine and control a larger share of digital sales. And he was mostly wrong about the forces behind democratization of entertainment — there’s far more to success than distribution (marketing and promotion matter more). But he was right that digital distribution would give niche content a chance to be found by consumers. And he was correct about niche content changing the entertainment business. Indie digital distributors, YouTube and on-demand services depend on niche content as much as hit content.
    #3 and #4: These aren’t as much lies and myths typically perpetrated by uninformed journalists and occasionally artists (such as Billy Corgan, who said MySpace would replace major labels). That said, many indie labels are thriving and new indie labels are starting all the time.
    #5: Check the numbers. The headline is wrong, the second part is right. Digital formats accounted for 58% of U.S. recorded music revenue in 2012. (Sweden and Norway were also in the area of 58%, give or take. South Korea and Australia were in the 40s.) The cost benefits of digital distribution have indeed played a part in the rise of digital revenues. As for the “far greater than” part of the lie, I’m not sure who ever said that. But digital and physical revenues are definitely headed in opposite directions.
    #6: Touring…This has definitely been one of the biggest lies out there. It’s often told by people outside of the music business who don’t know any better and think touring and T-shirts are the solution to copyright infringement.
    While some artsts — and all superstar artists — make a majority of their money on the road, it’s a different and more competitive situation for mid-tier and lower-tier artists. Not everybody can charge the Eagles prices.
    #7: There is an emerging hobbyist class, not an emerging middle class. Because more music is available, some sales have shifted from the middle class to far less populat titles. I see the same thing happening with syncs, too: buyers will pay large sums for hit artists or very little for no-name, soundalike artists. The middle class appears to be getting squeezed.
    #8: I don’t think this lie ever existed. It’s a commonly held belief that an artist can’t build a career on Kickstarter. First comes the fan base, then comes the ability to monetize that fan base. You can’t monetize what doesn’t exist.
    #12: Ah yes, the ol’ T-shirt argument. Unfortunately selling more T-shirts in order to give away your music doesn’t do anything for songwriters. It’s true that artists have many great tools to sell merch to fans, but T-shirts were never the solution to what ails the music business.
    #13: You’re both right and wrong. Streaming is indeed the future, but it’s not necessarily going to lead to a richer music business.


    Reply
    1. Dick Weissman

      Good analysis. As for #8, Kickstarter, this tip jar mentality, besides being demeaning (help me, oh rich man,) inevitably will only work for a handful of artists.

      Dick Weissman


      Reply
      1. GGG

        It will work for any band that is deemed deserving by people. Gone are the days of artists standing on a pedestal like they’re above everyone else. Interact, be a real human with emotions and faults and opinions, and people will treat you as a human.


        Reply
  22. anon

    #14 – Lie: Digital music will make royalty payments more transparent for artists signed to major labels.
    Truth: The major labels have found ways to extract numerous, huge payments from digital service providers that artists never see a dime of.


    Reply
  23. LT

    Good points.
    What amazes me is that people are still trotting out lie #12 -T-Shirts.
    This was always assbackwards. If anything, nothing is more disposable than a T-Shirt. Artists that were going down that road should have sold the music to fans and gave the T-Shirt away for FREE.
    Otherwise, you’re just a glorified T-Shirt salesperson with a music hobby.


    Reply
  24. #1 billboard chart hitmaker

    Great article. I am active in both the higher echelons and the independent sector and you have hit the nail on the head with every point. Anyone arguing any of this either is living in denial or is not knowledgable. It truly annoys me when people in the comments section do not know what they are talking about. These truths are not relative, they permeate the industry and now we know the truth we are at the place we can find solutions.
    Great job.


    Reply
  25. JDM

    It’s hard to trust anything that obviously wasn’t proofread.


    Reply
  26. Cosmic Ryder

    All the more reason why eventually the bubble will eventually burst. History is repeating itself, and like it naturally does every generation or so, something has to give.


    Reply
  27. hippydog

    QUOTE “All the more reason why eventually the bubble will eventually burst.”
    Exactly! I’ve said that afew times, history has shown that when critical mass is reached their will be some even bigger changes..
    I dont know exactly ‘what’ the critical mass will be this go around, but i got a feeling its close..


    Reply
  28. Anon

    I’d really like to know why music artists are such big whiners compared to visual artists? Visual artists have known for a very long time that unless they’re producing work specifically for commercial purposes such as on commission that their artwork is effectively worth pocket change if it’s a physical original, and if it’s a reproduction it’s only worth what it’s printed on, or in the case of digital it’s $0.00. There’s a reason the term “Starving Artist” is a thing. Other than a few big names, you don’t expect to support yourself. Yet somehow musicians expect to “do their own thing” and “express themselves” and expect to support themselves off that work?

    Please, the huge drops in revenue you’re seeing are the result of a market correction from the giant media cartels getting undercut. Welcome to reality starving music artist.


    Reply
    1. Anon

      *I’d just like to note things I would consider music for commercial purposes would be thinks like music on commission, commissioned performances, etc. Playing a piano in a restaurant or lounge may not be the rock star dream you were hoping for, but it is steady work, the kind anyone who had dreams of doing artwork in movies or comic books but is instead churning out boring graphics for webpages like this one has learned to live with for a while now.


      Reply
    2. Jeff

      We don’t expect it. But we sure have a right to aspire toward it.


      Reply
    3. Anonymous

      I think the point you missed here is that musicians don’t expect a free living but that they expect compensation proportionate to consumption. So if Google/Youtube, Piratebay, Spotify, Pandora, etc are all making millions/billions off of ads and subscriptions, musicians expect to make a fair amount of money. Those companies all depend on vary degrees of legality of course but the point is that comparing a recorded musician to a painter is not analogous in this situation. 100,000 streams on spotify will get you $350. Google searches and torrent site downloads will net you nothing.


      Reply
        1. willowhaus

          …which goes to show the ridiculous nature of their business model. You can bet that Sean Parker & co. are not working for free, holding second jobs in order to fund Spotify.


          Reply
  29. Corey

    While I don’t necessarily disagree with most of these points, this article is poor and close minded.


    Reply
  30. Real Music Biz

    I find these types of articles interesting to read but mostly because nobody seems to have it right. I’m not even saying that ‘I’ have it right but I do know for a fact that this article has to be written from personal experience and lets say the writer was in the music biz 2 years ago – its outdated. The music business is a pyramid, it gets smaller at the top. Almost every genre creates a different path to success. Almost every artist has a different path to success. Almost every label, management, tour strategy etc…
    These articles are slightly entertaining because everyone wants to feel like they know something about the ‘inside’ of the entertainment industry but all in all this is far from reality and simply not true.


    Reply
    1. Who Cares

      Agreed.


      Reply
  31. MattT

    Wow really? “There is no musician middle class. Instead, the music industry has devolved into a third world country, with a wide gulf between the rich and struggling/starving poor.”


    Reply
    1. Margaret Cheney

      I know. Really …. It don’t make no cents to be above the poor lookin down on them…. If you want to be a somebody , an any buddy you may as well be with the poor Artist because that will be where every buddy that is any buddy is . If your not a buddy then you have no claim… You cannot raise your flag .Your audience has no money so why apply a charge…The unemployed are every where and are free from slavery…. they can appreciate Art …oh ! for Arts sake The employer ie. the middle class the slave masters … are brutal and heartless. and the high class the first class is likened to the plantation owners…who are despicable pathetic and stupid ….The first world is goin down takin the second world with it. Artists make way for the change…..in your spare time…Don’t throw in the hat. … You are gonna need it in that there will only be the third world in the new world order….maybe it was written that the poor are with us always because the rich died out or were replaced by the poor. oh the poor rich. My heart goes out…..I don’t think so. And the beat goes on. Sunny and Share alike …. la de da de de…La de da de daw….


      Reply
  32. tweedledum

    So youtube, major labels, indie labels, spotify, touring,kickstarter and basically everything ever sucks?
    ok , well since you said even if I made a good record it still won’t find an audience I guess I just won’t bother (that’s what you were going for right?)

    How about you make a record,put out the single on youtube, go out there and fucking tour and see how it goes, damn


    Reply
  33. brianbotkiller

    Ok, sourpants. You need to slow the fuck down. I’m not sure if you’re actually a musician, or just another blogger who thinks they know everything about making music, but your point of view here is skewed and flavorless. Your writing is terrible – if I could get paid for finding all your errors in this article, I’d make out pretty well. Some of the points you make here are well placed, and yes, the music industry is a wasteland of broken dreams and misplaced intentions, but what you are saying here is tantamount to “Just give the fuck up now”. You do realize that when you reference Mackelmore, you’re also talking about someone who thrived pretty well without a major label contract for years, right?

    What you need to realize is that success, whether it be in music, or in any other industry, is based on the work you put into it, not what others do, or offer you. Maybe you should go write some music in Garageband and call yourself a musician. However, before you do that, please go learn how to write.


    Reply
  34. Whatever

    Stop crying about lady gaga or rihanna or another two-bit slut making it bigger than you.
    You have TWO options:
    1. Work hard, make a mega-hit and make it mega-big in the world. Caution: you may have to suck some record exec cocks in the process.
    2. Find a friggin day job and do your ‘art’ as a hobby and not as a revenue source. Be happy with what you have and stop crying about other people succeeding more than you, you self indulgent brats.


    Reply
    1. Jeff

      Well, we want more options. Are you saying we’re wrong to want them?


      Reply
      1. Whatever

        no dude, I’m saying it is what it is and you’re wrong bitching and moaning about it. The music business is NO different form ANY other business – and in any business some succeed more than others. The solution is simply to be better at what you do. If you’re a niche artist (music, painting, photography, whatever) and your audience is small, well, tough. Make stupid dance hits, take off your clothes like Ms Gaga or Rihanna or heavens forbid young Ms Cyrus, and make more money.

        Oh and btw… Since when is money the object of art? I have always believed in my innocence that ART is the object of art?


        Reply
        1. django

          Musicians have every right to ask for more, even the “niche” ones like myself (jazz). It was better for jazz musicians (both in terms of playing at venues and selling music) in 1993 than it is in 2013 and the supposed “golden age” of that music ended in the 1960′s! Am I supposed to believe that it was ALL based on the internet just existing now? It’s probably a decent part of it, but by far not the whole story.


          Reply
          1. Pescadero

            They have every right to ask.

            …and the buying public has every right to refuse.


            Reply
  35. daniel

    wait, who won on kickstarter?? death by murder? or murder by death? Thanks!


    Reply
  36. nick watt

    The simple answer is Rome wasn’t built in a day. If the music business spent less time moaning about their lot and more time coming up with innovative solutions the industry might not be in the mess it’s in now, and artists are complicit in this too. Stop bellyaching, admit things have changed FOREVER and get on with it. OR YOU REALLY WONT HAVE A FUTURE. But it will be of YOUR making. We are going through an economic upheaval that may end up to be way bigger than the Industrial Revolution. Once famous businesses and industries are dying. In 2011 Kodak went bankrupt. They invented the digital camera. But did nothing with the technology. It’s only value is thew $3billion patents it owns. Thats more than the value of the global record business. Disruptive innovation is turning any number of industries on it’s head, the record business is therefore nothing special.

    Lots of the blame seems to be aimed at Spotify, which lets not forget is only 5 years old and GLOBALLY has ONLY 6 million subscribers, that is less than the population of London. There are 740 million people in Europe, so less than 1% have a Spotify subscription. Get that figure up to 10% and thats £740 million pounds to share between artists. Then add 10% of the people in the US and Japan subscribing (the two biggest markets for music alongside Europe) you take that up to over £1 billion. From one service. In my house we spend over £340 a year on three premium Spotify accounts. The average spend per person in the UK is under £60. We are spending double that, JUST ON SPOTIFY ALONE. Never mind purchases on things like BANDCAMP, Amazon etc. Get real, and get thinking, and try and be a bit cleverer than the average drummer


    Reply
    1. rose

      You have a point. In fact I was thinking that actually things have changed an awful lot and some of these lies may well become truths in the not tooooo distant future if people learn to use the internet etc. as you mentioned. The music industry may seem stronger than ever but its not, its an old dinosaur thats battening down the hatches and holding on with all its might but it will change. Our attitudes to the internet are changing and laws are changing, people have actually started paying for things on the internet – tv, films etc. models that would never have been successful in the early days of the internet – the quality is better, methods of payment are better, and the prices have become a bit more realistic and flexible (being able to pay to see one article instead of having to sign up for an annual subscription etc.) as our computers morph into “multimedia” centres replacing tv, radio, computer, newspapers, cd player, it will start becoming more and more normal to pay, just as (many of us) pay for tv licences and newspapers etc. I think some of these opportunities still lie ahead, however, as there are far too many of us nowadays, it will probably be difficult for people to reach superstar status, and talent will drown in the masses, there may be more but it will be hard to get heart, but it really is time for the end of celebrity for the sake of celebrity, and I wouldnt wish Elvises or Michaels or Brittanys or Miley’s life on anyone, my idea of hell (thinking child stars), not to mind all the greats aside from Elvis and Michael who died far too early because of the music industry machine.


      Reply
  37. David Oppenheimer

    Bottom of the barrel are the music photographers. Without us, you wouldn’t know what your favorite artists even look like, yet everyone thinks that concert photography should be free, especially artists and publicists.

    Quoting Hunter s. Thompson: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

    PerD


    Reply
    1. Malte

      Come on…really?


      Reply
  38. Janie Dare

    I’ve been making music for the past 30 years without any pay or interest from record companies or publishing companies (although I do believe you have to contact them, which I have never bothered to do). The thrill I get is from people who listen to my music online (and the occasional radio play) and my fans are real people, not manufactured sheep or ring wraiths. I shall continue to make music, and ignore the music industry until the day that I die. Because of that, my music is uncompromising and continues to improve without interference from ‘interested’ parties. This attitude also allows me the luxury of telling many A&R people or ‘Company men’ to go fuck themselves without fear of any real retribution whenever the occasion arises. I enjoy this aspect of my music very much. Also Mr ‘MusicIsDead’ I do have a ‘real’ job 5 days a week, 8-4 as well, in IT – where real musicians go to die :D


    Reply
  39. WilsonTking

    As an artist of over 20 years who has toured in bands across the world whether playing as support in an arena or every toliet in the UK the above article is spot on.

    I have seen so many talented young musicians give in because there is zero way to survive if your making NEW MUSIC that doesn’t embrace the auto-tuned pop world.

    The clown who says musicians get a proper job is a FOOL. I currently employ a large team of coders and not one of them works as disciplined or with as much verve and passion as my “PROFESSIONAL” music friends.

    See its a profession and a craft that takes years upon years of practice and dedication, for your then work to be considered of little or no value because some soulless digital looser who couldn’t play a note wants it for free is an injustice not just to the profession but to the art of music itself.

    The whole digital model has left the “middle class’ of musicians who previously sold 10-100,000 albums , produced and mixed these records and played on them without work or a way to get themselves heard.

    That was the foundation of the music industry and its been decimated by an “economic model” that can only be described as pure financial tyranny.

    Its a sham and a scam for those who just don’t care about music , especially new music. On the one hand we are told to embrace the digital world via kickstarted/spotify/ pandora but at the same time are told that having our work stolen or being used to build billion dollar digital empires is just how it is ?

    A fact , Youtube, Pandora , Spotify, Apple, ISP providers and numerous other companies built or were saved by either the illegal downloading of music or financial rape of artists income.

    Earth without art ? eh …….


    Reply
  40. TuneMan

    I agree heartily. What has yet to happen, though is any sort of amalgam between all the interested parties to the music world. Where are the sources where I can find out exactly how the guitar amps were set up on the most recent album by Foo Fighters, or the vocal settings on Grohl’s vocals. Why are the artists so isolated from the public? I guess some of the answers are in your write up.

    I’d have liked to see how PAYOLA is still working, and stronger than ever. I believe it has simply been removed and the path of rewards made more convoluted, and deniable. There is no evidence I see that it has vanished. In fact, with the results we see, it must be stronger, and more active than ever before.


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  41. Mike Tremblett

    I’m an indie musician and have been waving the new Music Industry flag for a long time… but as much as it hurts there’s a lot of valid arguments here. ARE things getting any better for indie??
    miketremblett.com


    Reply
  42. BonaDeaMusic

    Great honest points here. Yes, even the definition of ‘album release’ has changed. If your music is on iTunes or Spotify, it doesn’t mean anything, doesn’t really exist in people’s minds unless people are listening and/or downloading. (What is the sound of a tree falling in the forest if no one hears it?) Your ‘release’ is when you draw attention to the music (market/publicize.) And since most people just download one song at a time (new bands) you should consider ‘marketing’ one song every 4 to 6 weeks, with a video and other promotional ideas, and do this for a full year, keeping your name in people’s minds.
    We build a business around each band now, that is our model. Music, now days, sells ‘something else’ and you have to identify what that ‘something else’ is, and make your income off that. What services can you offer, and use your band to promote some of those services. This allows our bands to stay creative and use their music to support themselves in new and innovative ways.


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  43. Brian

    YouTube can be your friend.. Phil x us touring with bon jovi and the singer if journey was discovered on youtube. Adam rafferty is a fingerstyle guitarist that tours all over the world thanks to his awesome talent and youtube


    Reply
  44. pwlsax

    Some commenter, referencing one of the broken links in the article (ie: all of them…my god, it’s over a month old… what ancient history!), had the best point. People will still support live music…but only certain kinds.

    If you’re a bar band in a college town playing not-very-original originals, you have a chance. If you’re trying to sneak under the radar and bring something different…well, bub, you might as well dream of the big rock candy mountain, because even the modest goal of a semi-regular gig and a few c’notes worth of CD sales is just as far out of reach.

    Music can’t start a scene anymore. It’s very lucky just to latch onto one that’s already there, and it has to be just the right kind of music.

    I suppose audiences are less hip about music as such – or food or drink or style – but they are much, much hipper about hipness. Those exquisitely fine nuances of belonging and outsider-ness are known and studied as never before. And they shape people’s tastes as never before.


    Reply
    1. VainSaints

      PWLSAX-

      Studied by whom and how? Are you saying that the masses actually study the ins and outs of “in” and “out”? I would find that hard to believe.


      Reply
      1. Matt

        Dude, you are SO not from the Bay Area or Brooklyn, both of which locations displaying a painfully self-involved and self-referential community of professional hipsters, who think they’re cooler for liking the ‘right’ artists and bands and whatnot than the actual creators of content.

        Truth.


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  45. Maddie

    That and help from the Illuminati.


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  46. Ben

    Get out and play a couple years. If you start to have a following that’s growing, you might have something. If not, be honest with yourself and call it a hobby. Most importantly, enjoy it always, and don’t let vain visions of fame make a home in your head. Life’s to short, relationships are too important. Contentment is everything.


    Reply
    1. Scissor

      Sounds like the most sensible piece of advice I’ve heard on the subject yet.


      Reply
    2. Rik

      I’ve read through a lot of the tosh and this just hits the nail on the head. Play music you love, enjoy it and if you happen to gather a following then that’s a nice bonus.


      Reply
  47. Anonymous

    Whine…whine…WHINE. No one likes a whiner. THAT is why your music “career” is in the shitter, not this nonsense list of WHINE.


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  48. Anon

    This is the truth.


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  49. Bass is Bass

    There are two sides to the music coin”

    1) The music industry transformed from art to money at the era where Elvis and the Beatles dominated the airwaves. At that time, most radio and TV stations were independent. As the money model became the target, radio and TV stations were bought up to the point where a small handful of corporations now own and direct what is broadcast. The North American music system pioneered and championed the process of turning music scenes into an “industry” where the majority of music is now written by studio musicians putting out simple, pop based songs waiting for the next Elvis, or the next Beatles, or the next Britney Spears and so on and so on. Nowadays, shows like XFactor and American Idol, which draws millions of viewers, launch new pop stars based on votes and the talent they actually have. In the 45+ years I have spent listening to music, I can’t even begin to count the number of one hit wonders in all decades that have hit my brain with some admittedly catchy tunes. Buying a full album or CD in the pop industry is tricky since so many times the one hit wonder has only one catchy tune, with the rest of the songs being filler (the quality of the song and the sound of the song is often lacking compared to the hit song, it’s not hard to hear the difference). There will always be a pop music market, especially now, because TV shows, radio, commercials, movies, video games etc. use those songs to bolster sales, listener or viewership. While there is talent in the pop industry with some amazing singers and dancers performing the songs, it is indeed very image dependent.

    2) The other side of the coin, the somewhat starving side, is your grassroots bands, your independent artists who choose not to turn to the pop industry for financing, marketing etc. to further their careers, rather they dedicate every waking minute to their craft and their existence. There have been many surprises from the grassroots side of music, where songs and albums tend to be more carefully done, express the artist’s true expressions, and allow them the freedom to write and record songs without a producer telling them how to write their songs. This side of the coin is undoubtedly more challenging as the musicians and artists who follow this road. Record labels do not have the deep pockets that media corporations have, nor do they have the PR and marketing spread as well…. but that is not to say success cannot come out of that either.. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Grateful Dead, Nine Inch Nails, Devin Townsend.. all have full creativity power over their offerings, and have been greatly successful in making their mark in the world of music.

    Each side of the coin offers their challenges. All you can do is follow your passions, and if you want success badly enough you will find away around the obstacles without selling your soul to someone who will only use you for their own profits.

    Pirating, while at its worst in the 90′s and early 2000′s, has undoubtedly reduced the profits of a lot of major record labels. Keep in mind, the major record label is NOT interested in the music of the artist in any way, except if that artist’s music is outselling his/her competitors. The ones who sell the most undoubtedly get the most attention. There has always been pirating, whether recording your favourite song off the radio or 45rpm or downloading the mp3 from a torrent site, it will always be a problem to those who count every penny of their profits. Some artists I know have used piracy very effectively to promote their own music to bolster their own notoriety to give their own career a bit of a boost, increasing their popularity and spreading their name. Pirating has hurt both the music industry and the grassroots sector of the music stream, but it would seem that the pop industry is the side screaming the loudest.

    Unfortunately, any artist who uses a record label and radio to bolster their career and earn a living gets paid very little for each album sold, for each time the song gets played or used in another mainstream media system. Contracts are written to make sure the Labels and Corporate owners get their money back, quite often leaving such artists penniless.. I can’t even begin to count the number of great bands who are penniless due to standard contract crap even if the artist’s songs and albums go platinum.

    Grassroots is more uncertain, but at least your returns in revenue and fanbase are a bit more guaranteed without the interference of Labels and corporations.

    Each side is work… each side separates the cream of the crop from those who simply are not talented or imaginative enough to succeed…. take your pick.


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  50. iconiquemusicgroup

    spot on.


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  51. wideyes

    Interesting how the approach to the article and to its responses all lie on the negative side. Times have changed and so have the distribution channels, mediums of creation and fan outreach. Its the time for creativity and restructuring. Rather than complaining and discussing, you should be spending more time creating and concocting ideas for the industry’s growth.

    What about being able to reach more fans with the use of the internet and its channels? What about the incredible way in which up-and-coming bands are forging relationships with brands in order to reach the next step? What about the role of musical instrument brands that expanded its customer base ten fold by presenting it to an everyday consumer?

    Hey, these might not be the most fruitful or rewarding responses to the changed scenery, but its a creative start.


    Reply
  52. Working Musician

    Number 7 isn’t completely accurate. There has been a good amount of middle class musicians for years and still are. I am not talking about people who wrote their own music, record it and go on tour – that is not the only definition of what a musician is. I’m talking about sidemen. People who make perfectly good livings playing in local circuits such as the bar scene or the church scene – sometimes playing as much as 5 times a week, and maybe also teach on the side. There was a whole article supporting this that broke down how a musician can make $50,000 a year at least 3 different ways which broke down how much of each thing you need each year to make that goal. I know several musicians who make at least $30,000 a year doing this.


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  53. Tom

    Well . . I think most of this is common knowledge -but what is pop music without the dream ? Isn’t that the whole point ?


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  54. Stew

    What do you think the future of the industry is going to look like if it isn’t streaming or digital downloads? Streaming and digital downloads are both growing like crazy while physical sales are plummeting. Do you think Americans are still going to record stores and purchasing millions of records? They’re not. What’s your solution?

    #5: If digital sales continue to rise, while physical sales continue to fall, digital revenue WILL exceed physical revenue. This isn’t difficult to foresee.

    #9, #10: Spotify isn’t without its flaws, but I don’t know an artist that would rather have someone pirate their songs than listen to the songs on Spotify. The same goes for YouTube as they can at least make SOME ad revenue.

    #13: Again, the current model of Spotify might not be the answer, but streaming is definitely the future. If you take away Spotify and other streaming services, piracy will skyrocket. Streaming is rising exponentially every year. How is this not the future? Until someone develops a better model for the digital age (good luck), streaming will continue to rise and eventually be the most popular method of music consumption.


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  55. Lane

    As hard as it is to make it in the music industry, it’d be a very sad world without all the people who make beautiful art.


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  56. jackharrybill

    So we all want to return to the days when music was controlled by A&R people, labels made advances to bands who then ended up in massive debt to them and a relative handful of acts made it big do we?

    People really need to stop thinking like there was a golden age when it was easy. That is a myth peddled by the labels who hate seeing their control removed. People, realise that the opportunities for those who will take them are better now. There is scope for more artists to make a living, not become ridiculously rich and famous, but to make music work for them, in a way that the old style record/CD selling industry never did.


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  57. Laddme

    Vinyl. It’s tangible and purposeful. It also acts as merch, bring it back:)


    Reply
  58. mark kelly

    well put . im a independent and live off it for the last 5 years. im british but living in switzerland , these guys pay good money and the royalty system has paid me good money over the last few years. still to get to the next level . requires one setting up a team of my own which puts me in the manager spot which means lots of ball breaking work. with eventually more cash or 2 signing one of those lovely lets drip the artist dry and make and give the artist the glory that his ego requires contracts (hence why they love the young artists who have not yet started working on keep that in check) ive been at music all my life . and have refused to sign anything. growing up read about my heros all being ripped off made me plant a seed never to do it. but the fact is we live we die if we get ripped off will it really make this life any hard . i try and look at now if i get ripped off means the music was dam good and somebody who can create was jealous enough to steal it. but thats not going to help pay the bills lol . street music is a great revenue house concerts are my new best friend. im trailin off and just enjoying talking to fellow musicians. i nearly quit music last year . why am i doing it? whats the point? so i left it behind for 5 months went traveling and learnt i couldnt stop it heals me and others around . most songwriters have a clearer vision of the lie based system that is what we call the world but then why we would we be blind enough to want to jump into . im asking the questions myself and wonder what will become of my own career ive got the talent . but ive got fear of the biz. so do i let fear control where i go ? do i let it stop me from reaching more people ? after getting loads of comments like mark thank you . you made me feel .you sang right to my hear. do i need more than that? is that not sucsess already?

    ego says go sign a contract and get all the love you need
    heart says its ok man youve got everything relax

    well there its helped me know where im at hopefully it helps others as well
    good luck what ever way you choose


    Reply
  59. Pickers

    Try relying on yourself to build an audience. If you want a loyal audience you have to earn it. Get out there, gig, meet people, make them like you and give them something back. Being a musician is a business NOT a dream, the sooner musicians realise that the sooner they will have careers out of it. The truth is the career of a musician has been leveled from an unrealistic superstar status down to having to earn your money like everyone else with reflective salaries. No you are not entitled to a penthouse and a limo because you are good at something.


    Reply
    1. Pickers

      Best mention that I am a musician who earns money before anyone starts to rant at me.


      Reply
      1. catherine

        Exactly. So many musicians are bad at the business side of their career. This is a key element missing in most of the singers I have seen come and go. You can’t just sit back and wait for someone to discover you. You have to go after it day in day out. If you are really good then hopefully you will be noticed and your songs will be used in TV and Movies. Opening for a larger band helps a career. More fans hear you, more CDs sold. There will always be that unknown “luck” or being in the right place at the right time to further your career. There are no guarantees in this business or life.


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        1. willowhaus

          How, exactly, do we make the jump from expecting to get paid for one’s work, and not be exploited by these large tech companies, to “the world owes me a living”?? I keep seeing this argument, as if getting paid = entitlement.

          Do you not see music as a valuable profession?

          If you do, then please explain how is it OK for these major corporations to generate profits from artists’ work without giving something back (or sometimes even without their consent)?


          Reply
  60. Weedleplop

    What a petty way to spoil a good article.

    Can someone please point me in the direction of Amanda Palmer’s comments where she claims to be something other than she is? I have never thought of her as anything other than a signed artist. She supports and encourages quite a large troupe of characters who aren’t though.


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  61. Lola Kedar

    …You had me at “niche content”…
    Huhhhhhh! Crackin’…!


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  62. DJ

    What’s the saying? “Used to be one hundred bands selling a million albums, now it’s a million bands selling one hundred albums.” Music, unfortunately, has always been on the patronage system. These days the “patrons” are for-profit music outlets looking to fleece artists in favor of a vulgar profit using the old “it’s good exposure” routine, as if to say, “You’re an unknown and a loser and the only way you could possibly be a winner—and entirely awesome, like us—is if you play by our rules.” It’s no different than having your expensive tennis shoes made in a sweatshop in Taiwan, except as artists, we work in sweatshop and the Taiwan I’m speaking of is the current music business environment in the US.


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  63. Missy

    I think they meant Murder By Death in the successful kickstarter list, not Death By Murder.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      Yes, for some reason it got reversed and stuck!


      Reply
  64. craigzarah@msn.com

    soundcloud?
    possibly the most ‘neutral’ (as yet compromised?) venue?


    Reply
  65. Thengine Co.

    Thank you for the post. I think it might be a bit over stating the problem, but when there is a fire in the theater you don’t whisper “fire”….

    I think one of the problems musicians, and all artist who create digital content face is the idea of being an independent business man. Most artists loved the old system where someone would “affirm” their talent, do all the business “heavy lifting”. The double edged sword here is that is harder to make a living as an artist if you swim in the “to-hip-to-care” waters. You really need to do the work yourself. While a lot of musicians get that, the game is still skewed toward those artists who are inside the traditional “big box” media distribution system.

    The other point I’d like to make is that, fans are the real commodity for artists these days, not the content they create. Content is simply a way to engage fans. It’s the artists job and responsibility to honor and maintain that relationship. The question becomes, is there a way to monetize the fans?

    We think so. We hope so. We are trying.


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  66. RJ Whetstone

    The reality-check is in the mail…! Good insight to the current industry of music.


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  67. Dave

    Wow, this has changed my way of thinking entirely. Screw it, let’s go back to 1995 and pay $15 – $20 for CD’s with only a couple good songs. No vinyl option but who buys vinyl after the studios and labels told us CD’s had perfect listening quality. And those great brick and mortar outlets who made their money selling Michael Jackson CD’s to casual music fans while the snot nosed teller would pass judgement at the cash. I don’t know why people don’t want to experience that anymore. Also, screw all the indie labels who started the careers of most of the great artists out there, the majors are the ones that truly care about the artists and their careers, I don’t recall ever hearing anyone say they were mistreated by a major label. Yes sir those were the golden years, when you were forced to listen to whatever was playing on the radio, because radio stations never cared about profit or the bottom end unlike all these greedy streaming services with access to all the music you could ever listen to, I need some hipster DJ (or blog writer) to tell me what I should be listening into instead of you know, my own taste and access to every song ever recorded. Yep, those were the days alright. Thanks for pointing out all these lies, I finally realize it, we can fix everything by just going back in time. I’m sure Blackberry wishes we could go back in time as well, steam locomotive manufacturers, CRT TV manufacturers, Atari, I’m sure Apple would like another crack at the Newton to.


    Reply
  68. Trevor

    I find it odd that my favorite band the Infamous Stringdusters gives 100 percent of their music away for free on their website. They promote it on YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora. Yet they continue to sell more tickets each year and increase revenue without a major label backing them. They’re far from rich but yet maintain a living. Some of this may be true, but some I just can’t agree with.


    Reply
    1. kyonpalm

      “They’re far from rich but yet maintain a living” is the key sentence. Can I ask if they have day jobs in addition to their band?


      Reply
      1. Dave

        Who cares if they have day jobs? some people have to work jobs to make ends meet, that’s a reality and not just in the music business. Besides is making music and making a bit of money from it really a job?


        Reply
        1. kyonpalm

          Not at all. I often tell people that artists shouldn’t expect their art to be their livelihood. It’s far more level-headed to expect that you have to get a job like any other productive member of society, and your art comes funded through your work. I was just curious as to how the band Trevor mentioned was making a living – was it through the band, or did they have jobs? I’m a firm believer that you should get paid for real work.


          Reply
  69. kyonpalm

    This is really messed up. Allow me to correct some of these points…

    #1: Whoever wrote this article clearly must be underage, because anyone who doesn’t understand the immeasurable impact the Internet has had on exposure for independent artists/bands must have grown up alongside it to not appreciate it. This person probably doesn’t even understand what a local music scene even means.

    CONCLUSION: Not a lie. Majors don’t mean shit. You can still get a healthy amount of international exposure without one.

    #2: This is indeed a lie, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest that “smaller is stronger and there’s more money in direct fan relationships”.

    #3: The idea that the collapse of all major labels will coincide with a collapse of public interest in music itself is a rather extreme theory. If the majors go completely defunct and the lemming-minded masses no longer have top 40 radio, they would be forced to find music they like themselves. Most people can’t be bothered to do that, which is why we have things like Pandora, top 40 radio, and major labels to begin with.

    CONCLUSION: We have no way to predict what would happen if major labels ceased to exist.

    #4: This may or may not be a lie. The way that majors are running right now, they’re on their way out. Their refusal to adapt to a new business climate and persistence in shoving 15-years-outdated business practices down consumers’ throats would undoubtedly be the death of them at some point. The only reason I can imagine majors will survive is because (as previously mentioned in the third subject) the general public probably needs them.

    CONCLUSION: Could be a lie, depends on how they handle themselves.

    #5: It is patently false what is being said here. Physical sales do not outnumber digital sales. That anyone could say something is a lie whilst lying this much through their teeth themselves is astounding. Here’s the real truth: digital files accounted for 50.3% of all music sales (source: http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/05/technology/digital_music_sales/).

    CONCLUSION: Not a lie. The author of this article is so full of shit I can’t even quantify it.

    #6: I can’t even touch this one because even the author mentions that it depends on the artist.

    #7: As a middle-class musician, I will be the first to say that this is entirely untrue. I know plenty of friends who are independent musicians who would be considered middle-class as well. And I suppose the author never knew that there have always been middle class amateurs, even in punk scenes. This article is getting worse by the minute.

    #8: Another case of “this is indeed a lie, but I’ve never heard anyone say it”.

    #9: Spotify IS your friend, as long as you don’t expect it to make you money. It’s exposure, nothing more. Stop whining about royalties.

    #10: Google and YouTube are not your friends, that is correct. Google has essentially ruined everything it’s touched. YouTube, Skype, you name it. For once, I agree with the author (but anyone with a head between their shoulders could agree with this – it’s just a fact).

    #11: I don’t know anything about Pandora’s business practices so I won’t touch this one.

    #12: Give me a break.

    #13: “Spotify is hundreds of millions deep in financing without a profit; Rhapsody is laying people off; YouTube has been subsidizing free music access for years” …And nothing of value was lost.

    So here’s your future: people will continue to write bullshit articles about stuff that hardly matters from the perspective of anyone who can call themselves a normal person who also happens to be a musician.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and bet that the author believes all artists have the right to make a living out of their work. Then the whole article would make a lot more sense.


    Reply
    1. millennialmusician

      how can you say the author is full of shit ( #5 ) and quote just one CNN.COM? Here’s a cnn.com link that refutes your stance – http://money.cnn.com/interactive/technology/itunes-music-decline/?iid=EL chill on the big fighting words friend.

      I’m a fourth generation professional musician and I’m sustaining. IMO if you’re a pro nowadays you make music from 9-5 and from 10-4. It’s hard but then everyone would be doing it. Nevertheless people are complacent nowadays with an increasingly exploitive social media industry and have no qualms benefitting personally at the great expensive of a vulnerable community – that being artists. It is worse.


      Reply
  70. JIM


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  71. A Black Helicopter

    The real artists and music loving public need to begin (or continue as your case may be) to flagrantly subvert the laws and regulations that control the industry. We need to continue to eat away at the structure of the current industry model and move towards it’s downfall. We also need to train / educate / encourage our kids to embrace true music, played on real instruments by real creators and to denounce the significance and role of physical beauty in the industry. We need to re-embrace the truths and ethics pioneered in the sixties and work off that model — not undermine it as a campy nostalgia but to literally renounce it and synthesize it with subversive intention into the current structure.

    You need look no further than the YouTube awards to see that those with the wealth are steadily taking over the internet, steering it back into their control and using it to influence us in negative ways. Instead of the ‘home spun’ modest offerings (that were most common on YouTube at it’s inception) that should be given the spot light, it’s obviously that only expensive productions are being given the time of day. This is not the voice of the people! There is no sincerity there at all. More lies. These are exactly the sorts of things that need to be ignored and panned by the masses — not embraced.

    There ARE niche markets online… if you can relax your definition of ‘market’ a bit. I have seen them with my own two eyes and personally know the people behind some of them. Not many make big money — but that should NOT be your goal if you are a true artist. In fact, you should accept monetary return as a potential side effect at best. Your only goal should be the creation and display of your art and your complete and utter control over it. There are people who will love what you do and if you persevere you WILL get noticed. It is an indomitable law of the universe. What you do with this attention is a different matter.

    Articles like this one are fairly poisonous because they extoll as truths what are really half-truths – and these can be worse than lies because they purport to have your best interests at heart — suckering you in and moving you towards a complacency that will only benefit the current system. Really, the article is only telling you to “play the game” (by the industry’s rules). It’s polemical.

    Minions of the current system will say this line of thought is just paranoid. Real artists probably aren’t even reading this sort of shit because they already know the truth and are moving forward in a meaningful manner. If you lie somewhere in between these two factions you can still make the right decisions and help create a better reality for us all.

    IGNORE THE MACHINE.


    Reply
  72. Trevor

    kyonpalm no day jobs per say, unless you consider working, writing, and playing music during daylight hours a day job. Then again sometimes they play at festivals during the day.


    Reply
    1. kyonpalm

      They’re quite lucky to make a living off of nothing but their music, then. That’s not how it works for most people (and generally not how it should work, but it’s nice for those lucky ones when it does).


      Reply
  73. Grant Maloy Smith

    The article is a great list of everything that apparently doesn’t work … so what DOES work?


    Reply
    1. Dave

      Good point. No one knows what will work yet but they’re all quick to point fingers and say see it’s not working, i told you it wouldn’t.


      Reply
  74. cdp

    An immensely complex subject, reduced to emotionally charged bullets with a couple of short justifications. People with any degree of perspective in the music industry know that there are different, legitimate views on each of these 13 points. How convincing is an argument about great music and audiences (#1) that’s evinced in 4 sentences?

    And many of these questions are just poorly formulated. For example, no one is really asking if the majors will disappear. What’s truly mysterious, and important, is what the new industry will look like.

    I can see how each of these points can strike a nerve with struggling musicians, but beware of people who would resort to demagoguery to make a point.


    Reply
  75. duude

    this misses the overall point, music as an ‘industry’ is dying and being reborn currently. paradigms relating to profitibility, practicality, reach, and exposure for artists and their product are being re-aligned. this article takes a primarily negative view of the internet as it relates to the artist’s ability to monetize music, and assumes based on some questionable sourcing, what the predominant narrative and/or conventional wisdom currently is for artists making music now. i have been an indie/underground musician in both signed and unsigned nationally touring acts for about 15 years, and one thing i can say definitively is that people want free music and unfettered access to music, but they still want someone to help them sort the good bands from the garbage, and if you are both good and smart, you can definitely make money touring, but if you’re stupid and your band is marginal, your ‘career’ in performing will be over quickly. good riddance. this is the first iteration of the digital music age, so lots of commonly accepted practices, etc need to be reevaluated if musicians want to make money going forward, but they will, and lots of artists will get weeded out along the way, deservedly so. in any case, you certainly can’t hold back the tide, so bitching about it would make you kind of ridiculous and myopic.


    Reply
  76. quack

    if u really loves music, then you dont minded if your artwork in music streaming or uploaded at any kind of social media for free .i believe when people keep listening your music for free online, if they really likes it, they will buy VVIP ticket concert and CD and all stuff that related to the musician.

    as a musician, u are just one in billions of stars. the fans as a human sometimes can not easily to decide whether your music is good or just really really good. they confused because too many good stars, they dont have much money, and they only buy the very very best one only. you cant blame technology makes u suffer. but anyway, i think google should pay each click at youtube for the musician. youtube should pay the artist anyway because google earning much money from youtube advertising video. sorry for my stupid comment, im not expert but i know some of the market that people loves about.


    Reply
  77. Don't be a dumb-ass

    Toad the Wet Sprocket was around WAY before kickstarter.


    Reply
  78. Chris

    Me & my brother just recently bought a record player because we’ve decided to collect our favourite music on vinyl as a hobbie. And I’ll tell you that I’ve never been so excited to listen to music as I have since. The internet & spotify is great for finding new stuff but you can’t beat the feeling of physically owning your favourite music. It’s expensive I know, but all that means is I’m not gunna spend £15 – £20 on a shite album.
    I doubt it would ever catch on cause it is a bit of a backwards step but we’re having an awesome time spining some tasty vinyl :)

    P.S it’s so jokes how angry people get on stuff like this. Everyone chill the fuck out and have a biscuit :P


    Reply
  79. Russell Dust

    supply vs demand
    way too many people rehashing the same old bullshit
    the audience = deaf
    the musicians = deafer


    Reply
  80. Lazy Reporting

    I see you don’t care much for “research”, “facts”, or “statistics” to support your claims, eh Paul?

    Good job refuting these “lies” by shitting some baseless, shallow statements out your ass.


    Reply
  81. Jacob Chang

    Express Yourself by Madonna inspired both Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and Christina Aguilera’s Not Myself Tonight http://goo.gl/2rdW3f


    Reply
  82. Voice of reason

    Here’s the deal. Art is beautiful, it’s fun, it brings joy to our ridiculously empty ladder-climbing lives. Everyone’s worried about their future and bullshit and maintaining their livelihood, getting enough health insurance, making sure them or the ones they provide for don’t die, and also making sure they dont go crazy working a job that some automated computer could do with maximum efficiency. These machines need to be created and provide the country with the revenue it needs to make sure that people dont have to worry. What if robots did all the work and everyone got paid a base amount so they dont have to worry and can choose whether or not they want to chase the tigers on a gold leash or diamonds on a time piece. There would be immense amounts of creativity in all areas and no distractions from these goals because you couldnt pay your bills. Of course, i mean there would still be wealth and luxury but there wouldnt be anyone wanting to do something they didnt have time for, filling that time with ways to just survive. And its not like the country would be worse off. Most of the money in the Us goes to stockbrokers and such. This change would bring about huge advances in science too, like musicians, scientists often have to struggle to get the necessary grant money with their proposals by presenting it in a way that would be useful. What if science was allowed to flourish in every direction, not just the ostensibly useful ones? Wouldn’t there be more pieces of the puzzle and exponential growth of knowledge in the world. Eventually all the knowledge would lead to us living forever throughout space working on art and music with the utmost vigilance and dedication. people who think that humans were meant to be slaves to a machine that doesnt help them are deluded and should die because they’re killing everyone and they will be the reason that the human race dies out


    Reply
  83. Newman

    It’s called “The Music Business” and if you can’t do business as well as you do music then you are going to have issues earning a living as a musician. The most successful people in the music industry are business men (women) not great musicians.


    Reply
  84. MtvPublicity

    WTF! Who Wrote this shit, I bet it was a pretentious narcissist. Someone with such a low self-esteem, or yet someone with no talent. Keep the Music Flowing! “Keep It Real and the rest of the world will follow.”


    Reply
    1. Serge Gainsbourg

      “MTV Publicity”? You must either be a very clever cyber-satirist or a bottom-end corporate whore! A lot of people commenting on this article want to shoot the messenger, which is a shame, because he’s just telling it like it (now) is.


      Reply
  85. assholes

    There was a short period from the 60′s to the mid 90′s were a musician could make a great living but the days of the wanna rockstar are OVER, sorry about your luck.Anyone complaining about not being able to make a living making music shouldn’t be making it.

    I’m more that willing to give my hard earned money to the real musicians who tour endlessly, put all their money into their records and barely make a dime. They do it for the love of it not to be some bullshit rockstar. Wanna make a decent living? get a fucking job.


    Reply
    1. Serge Gainsbourg

      Good ol’ right-wing Reagonomics! Still, that particular economic philosophy applied to music is going to price – hell! has ALREADY priced – a lot of talented and committed people out of the market. (Real jobs? Show me where they are! And don’t say Mongolia for 3 bucks a month.) I know it’s somehow reassuring to make a virtue of the inescapable, and no King Canute could have held back the tides of technology even without the Friedmanite/Chicago School hucksters dismantling the real economy elsewhere, but it doesn’t hurt to tell the truth about where music is now, and that it stinks!


      Reply
  86. Leftylin

    The truth is music is like any other business, without proper ownership you’re only managing it and you’re going to make peanuts compared to what mainstream artists make. So either find a way to get ownership or settle for a job in the industry.


    Reply
  87. Dwight

    Read the authors credentials. It’s about as much information as you need.


    Reply
    1. Serge Gainsbourg

      Yeah, he sounds like a complete jerk. Which makes the fact that he’s telling the truth all the more disconcerting!


      Reply
  88. bloody1

    if you are good people will take notice and follow, period. how you handle the money is your own business and many a musicians downfall. I like the article, but like so many musicians there’s this defeatist attitude, of woe is me we can’t do it, the system is rigged. I guarantee the bands that are out there making it do not have that attitude.


    Reply
  89. admastrTF

    No matter what medium music gets voiced in, there will always be a percentage based following. Music appeals to a fan base because of several reasons. Mainly the energy that is created by the performance. Amanda “Fucking” Palmer (like she was posted as in Kickstarter) brought her gun to the head by writing a love poem to one of the Boston bombers) yet many music aficionados I know in the Boston area couldn’t stand her music from the beginning.

    This technology driven, marketing hype star making industry is exactly what it was 50 years ago…70 years ago. The top is filled with garbage and greats. The middle has garbage and greats. The bottom has garbage and greats. There are still over 90 thriving industry related jobs to be had if you want them, train for them and tool for them. Most pay really well compared to other mid level corporate jobs. If what you want is to have a hyper-paying job but are not willing to woodshed the talent out of you to be really good, diverse and vastly knowledgeable about your industry, then you will remain in obscurity and if your lucky, can live a middleclass life in a community which will make room for your vocation. It’s a perfect world. The mediocre stay put, the good work, the hard working good get better, the very good get great, the machine gives us crap but it also gives us Michael Jackson’s career at its high-point in collaboration with Quincy Jones. It gives us countless in the trench working musicians who go about being very good and make a great living. If you are really good and understand your market, no industry can control your destiny. Don’y worry about the Amanda Palmers…they will rot beside the 15 minute road to non-talent land. This whole article sounds like the typical musician rant. I’m not rich because of the machine that holds me back. Ha…if you’re really good…you are rich.


    Reply
  90. Roy Gerbil

    My dad said I could sell The PoopTube®…


    Reply
  91. lahva

    Fuck it. Still quitting my job to do music full time. 9-5 is a soulless venture.


    Reply
  92. Sean

    I believe music careers can still be fostered, but it requires a sustained effort and better management. Unfortunately for newer artists, its difficult to find an operation that will have the machinery in place to provide such a service. But we should embrace them when they do come about.


    Reply
  93. JERRY JONES


    Reply
    1. scoob

      I even bought a tie for it , I didn’t think I’d even have to pay for it , but I was sick for my demons , chasin my Armani suit in my war-drobe … er yea !


      Reply
  94. Anonymous

    On POINT


    Reply
  95. Blurb

    I have yet to find a struggling musician that was interesting to me. Sorry but maybe all the musicians that are complaining about how they can’t make a living are just not good or special enough. To me all the garage bands and indie singers sound the same :/


    Reply
    1. rose

      Thats a pity. There are many amazing struggling musicians out there – and not indie or garage bands.


      Reply
  96. Janez Usenik

    Come on, guys, this is all the ABC of economics. The new channels have effectively increased the supply of products (music), while the demand stayed more or less the same (people are as interested in music as they were). So, the job gets tougher, competition is grater and you need luck, talent, or both to make it. In long term, only those who will adapt to the new situation will survive. And usually this means these steps:
    cutting expenses – obviously touring makes no sense if you want to preform as a superstar, while you are a middle class musician. You have to go back to the roots and do a solid modest show.
    diversifying the product – it’s not enough to make good music. It has to be different, new. Something that sets you apart from the rest of the competition.
    diversifying the income – search for donors, sponsors, other business opportunities, cooperation with other fields.
    And most of all, realize that now the consumer is the king in this business as well. Forget about the cynical rock gods of the past, a new musician has to realize that his fans are his costumers and has to build a good relationship with them. Of course, a good artist does not just please the audience, but he can make steps for the audience to understand his work and appreciate it, by being more approachable and ready to truly share his passion with the listener.


    Reply
  97. Teacher and performer

    You guys are silly… Just teach.

    if you work a full 40 hour work week teaching at $50 per hour and take 2 weeks off for vacation you make six figures a year
    (40 x 50) x (52-2) = 100,000

    work just a quarter of that and you can support yourself and a band pretty much anywhere but new york

    just don’t work for TakeLessons.com they will take half your money and drive down the overall teacher’s wage


    Reply
  98. On the sidelines

    I’m 62 years old and made my living performing in a local group for over ten years along with many great band mates. Some of whom are “still at it” in one form or another. We performed in and around “Funky Town” and if you know where that is, you know how many members of our local music community ‘made it”. The vast majority did not. However, the legacies, culture and momentum still exists and at the end of the day, more will emerge regardless of which dominant technology and business models deliver it to the public. You can approach your music career however you like. It’s a choice, and you may or may not have that song in your heart powerful enough to be shared with enough people willing to pay for it for more than a week to keep you from having to find another income source. My hats off to all the great musicians I have had the pleasure to know and work with all they did and still do to make their music and share it with all of us. My hats off to all those who “made it” because of their undeniably creative efforts to produce one song or volumes of material that appeal and connect with enough people to secure their financial futures. Now go write a hit….


    Reply
  99. James

    This article is negative garbage. If you look at most of what is listed it has to do with defending the major labels. It’s to scare entrepreneurs. Everything is in the mindset and the fact that people work together to use the tools on the internet to succeed. The competition is high, but what would you rather be? Mediocre? Or the best you can be at your craft while getting your music out to the hardcore fans?

    I don’t put any weight in this article. You can’t stop the information age you OLD RECORD LABEL dinosaurs..


    Reply
  100. T Clifton

    music is fucked now


    Reply
  101. like it or not, u're a capitalist

    If you consume it, you should pay for it.


    Reply
  102. teledyn

    Only mostly true, and missing the one most important fact: All online content, even this article itself, shown for free, all your emails, all your selfies, every chan4 and tweet is all in the service of the telecommunications companies who did not build the Internet, do not maintain the Internet and do not enhance the internet but who do no more than gate your access to the Internet and keep the routers plugged in. These are the biggest winners, and there number is very small.


    Reply
  103. Producer

    I just signed up for this..actually looks interesting for the artist..


    Reply
  104. DrummerMan

    This article will probably kill off some artists dream (not necessarily bad). Kinda of like those nasty college departmental Biology tests where they “filtered” off the students that REALLY wanted to study medicine versus the ones that just meh.


    Reply
  105. Ben

    Depends how you do YouTube…base79 is a great option


    Reply
  106. Orange Mannequin

    We need musicians. That is their job. It’s creativity unmatched by the nine to fiver.
    Today state of socio economics is quantity over quality, with the pipeline enriching
    Non musicians. Only the top gets the money, and musicians (and artists) have not moved
    the needle in their direction. We can blame spotify, and jazz clubs, and live nation, but when
    will we take the non status quo road to (1) ensure ecomic value to the musician, (2) cease calling
    your performance a “gig:, and (3) demonstrate your value to society? I want
    musicians to win, but musicians are devaluing by selling out to the money man in droves.
    You have the power or art literacy, opinion, cool factor, musical skills, and the
    ability to fight back. Unfortunately some of the big names make it hard for accomplished musicians.
    So ask yourself, do I keep doing the same things from the past?
    Or do I reshape the message, landscape, and ultimately find a way untethered to the mass producing executive?
    Perhaps start with it’s a performance, it’s an art, it shapes communities, and it is not a gig. If it’s a gig,
    Then it is short lived, low pay, out moded, odd job…maybe ok when you are young and starting out.
    But then move on. The musician can be a mentor (not spotify); the musician can be an ambassador (not spotify)……long live the authentic musician (not Katie Perry) who shapes our community.
    For more on this see SLIVER film for free on youtube, and it messages on the plight of the American Musician. He finally responds with his artful and true performance, and dismisses the “job” question. Thank you youtube for letting us be ambassadors for 8 minutes. Please excuse my typos as all of this was typed on a phone of quantitative nature.


    Reply
  107. Scribbleface

    Interesting article and some thought provoking arguments. I was going to write my opinion of the current situation the global music industry is in. Then I decided that rather than waste my time giving my opinion to mostly ignorant, uneducated and ill informed people who anonymously post, what we call in the UK “utter bollocks”. My time as a working musician who solely makes a living from producing music and DJing would be better spent working on what I love and choose to do for a living, rather than feed the shitmongers!


    Reply
  108. David

    Why all the fuzz about making a living from being a musician? If you are a true musician, you have an internal motivation to write, play and record music whether you make any money or not. True, it doesn’t hurt if you see some of your investments returning to you so you record another album or do another tour, but that doesn’t mean that you have to make a living from being a musician.

    You can be a recording and a touring artist and have a part-time or even a full-time job. Being financially independent from your musical efforts not only makes music more fun and less burdensome, but you might even be able to insert some of your wages into your music, thereby being able to buy better musical instruments, hire better studios and engineers, increase promotion and exposure, and financially support tours which you could not afford from royalties, concert fees and other artist revenues.


    Reply
    1. Chester Stevenson

      agreed. well put.


      Reply
    2. rose

      Why all the fuss about musicians having to be happy to pay for free?


      Reply
  109. www.Datboygp.com

    I agree digital distrubition has motivated artists and created significant indie success.
    Internet mediums can be a gateway or a long term dwelling place. If your marketing skills are good and you can advertise and promote, you’ll generate real revenue at no less than %70 per unit! Stay Indepedent, maintain creative control, Be your own boss, IF you’re Good, its only a matter of time before your fan base grows. The rest is up to you. Go to http://www.Dayboygp.com


    Reply
  110. www.Datboygp.com

    I agree digital distrubition has motivated artists and created significant indie success.
    Internet mediums can be a gateway or a long term dwelling place. If your marketing skills are good and you can advertise and promote, you’ll generate real revenue at no less than %70 per unit! Stay Indepedent, maintain creative control, Be your own boss, IF you’re Good, its only a matter of time before your fan base grows. The rest is up to you. Go to http://www.Datboygp.com


    Reply
  111. Chester Stevenson

    Reading this it’s as if artists think they are all entitled to a paying career in music however inaccessible their music is.
    If you want to make money and be an artist then learn the economics of the industry and play the game.
    If you want to make music, go and make music. If someone listens to it. Sweet. Who gives a shit if you make money.
    Don’t demonise people that have made money by mastering the economics of the industry. That’s just bullshit.


    Reply
  112. John Olsen

    Could someone please clean up this article? What has occurred is that traditional journalism has been replaced by dashed together online posts that aren’t spellchecked or edited for readability. There are a number of unreadable and poorly composed sentences in this article.


    Reply
  113. Andrew

    Unfortunately it just comes down to the simple fact that music can be gotten for free, and you cannot compete with free. Musicians have to eat too you know. The bottom has fallen out the industry and so labels cannot afford to invest in equipment/studio/tours for upcoming bands anymore, just a sad fact.

    People who are on here thinking they are entitled to music for free (hiding behind an “all art should be free” agenda) would soon change their tune if they were not getting paid for their work or time and someone else (pirate site operators) was.


    Reply
  114. Ganesha

    You look at music as material produced by artists in factories which it is not. Playing live music in front of a crowd made up of real people just like you, that my friend takes a lot of courage! Thats where the real music happens! The real magic. Thats where the money should be. Celebrity musician status does not include guaranteed flow of money for the rest of your life. Music is emotion.


    Reply
  115. millennialmusician

    My grandfather – 1rst generation immigrant and a member of the greatest generation – played alto, tenor and clarinet after the war and supported a family of eight playing in big bands and doing union gigs. All of his kids had the opportunity to go to college and a couple actually went on to become professional musicians – like my father. My father performed in clubs, on tour and had ambitions to have a record contract and be a professional recording artist. When that didn’t pan out he became a composer, producer and engineer of commercial music. Now I – as a third generation musician – am trying to make money making music any way I can so I can continue to make music. What people don’t understand…especially the people rifling off gems like, “all musicians have day jobs” and “people just do this for enjoyment” is that being a musician was once a means to support a livelihood and a family…a part of the american dream. The ailing music industry not effects composers and performers but also the prospects of those who played the game and didn’t become a corporate exec or a celebrity. But heck…there are people a world away earning $2k a year at foxcon so the affluent (and those who try to appear affluent) can enjoy their free music a little more affordably. I bet slavery was good for cotton fans. I’m going to go now and maybe “experience” some free late lunch from someone who’s passionate about cooking. (btw…I make a decent middleclass living as a working musician and a sound engineer but not by being an artist. That’s a full time job )


    Reply
  116. Hatsune Miku

    I disagree completely with the article.


    Reply
  117. FromFarAway

    I would like to be able just to live off it.
    No need for luxury or big mansions or anything associated with excessive wealth. I just want to be able to provide for my future family. It’s one of those moments in life (for me that was six years ago) when you finally realize what you want to do with yourself, what you want to become, and what will you do in this very very very short period we call life.
    You think life for musicians around the world is bad? You should check out Croatia. It’s a dead end street. Even if you go to college (like I do), questions like: “Am I going to be able to find a job with this?” are rarely answered. Our labels don’t give a shit about young bands. Anything with distortion is automatically banned from the radio. It’s all “You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours”. You got your pop stars who make absurd amounts of money and then you have the rest of us, the bands (and a few artists), who mostly get a few hundred kunas (7.62 kunas -> 1 euro) and beer. And we’re even signed to a major label!!
    We got a “firm” that pays out artists every year based on the amount of plays their music gets on the radio and the amount of times our music videos have been aired on ONE national channel! (This for me was about 5,500 kn last year, which is 721 euros, for an ENTIRE year!!!) Granted, we’re not that popular but still it’s pathetic.
    So what happens? You got your bands (and Croatia really has some AWESOME bands) and your artists(those too!) who are finally accepting that there is no bright light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone is leaving. That is, only the ones with the ability to leave.

    I make music because I love it more than anything in the whole world. I spend my time playing every day. Making songs every day, while I walk to college, walk to the grocery, eat, sleep, talk to my friends, hang out with my girlfriend, in the bathroom, sitting at my PC, wait for the damn bus to arrive… I played in a lot of shit holes, and I don’t mind that. Punk rock, man. I’ve played in venues where you’d frequently get shocked by a little electricity. Places with no running water or heating. I’ve played in some old hangars where we had to look out for cops so they won’t kick us out. Played in people’s backyards, in abandoned buildings and also in the biggest venues Zagreb, Croatia has to offer.
    But, after a while you gotta pay some bills, man. You have to buy new strings. Your cable died. You need a new guitar, you need more pedals. You need to buy gas to even get to said venues. You have to prove to your mom and dad that you won’t just slowly starve when they’re gone.
    After a while, and I’ve been only playing for about 6-7 years, you just keep losing that smile you had when you started. You start to question your music. You start to question yourself. You start to hate yourself. You start to hate life.
    The only thing that seemed like worth doing was to start another band and sing in English. Go outside. Tour Europe. Bands active before the 2000′s toured non stop. And yes, I’d like to prove You wrong:
    “Lie #1: Great music will naturally find its audience.”
    That is no lie. Good songs, great songs will find their way. Sure, backing and funding will push it faster, but great music has and will always find people. Only if it’s from the heart and true. People smell fakeness from a mile away. Thanks to Youtube, we have an enormous amount of exposure. Yep, there’s a million bands out there but the truth is most of them suck. It’s just that. I may suck. I don’t know yet. I’m in the middle of recording an album with the band. I sing and write lyrics, I play guitar and write music.
    And yep, maybe I suck. I’ll get slapped by life and wake up, if that is the case. But I know what I want.
    F*ck it, one day I’ll be able to tell anyone that, at least, I tried.


    Reply
  118. FromFarAway

    I would like to be able just to live off it.
    No need for luxury or big mansions or anything associated with excessive wealth. I just want to be able to provide for my future family. It’s one of those moments in life (for me that was six years ago) when you finally realize what you want to do with yourself, what you want to become, and what will you do in this very very very short period we call life.
    You think life for musicians around the world is bad? You should check out Croatia. It’s a dead end street. Even if you go to college (like I do), questions like: “Am I going to be able to find a job with this?” are rarely answered. Our labels don’t give a shit about young bands. Anything with distortion is automatically banned from the radio. It’s all “You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours”. You got your pop stars who make absurd amounts of money and then you have the rest of us, the bands (and a few artists), who mostly get a few hundred kunas (7.62 kunas -> 1 euro) and beer. And we’re even signed to a major label!!
    We got a “firm” that pays out artists every year based on the amount of plays their music gets on the radio and the amount of times our music videos have been aired on ONE national channel! (This for me was about 5,500 kn last year, which is 721 euros, for an ENTIRE year!!!) Granted, we’re not that popular but still it’s pathetic.
    So what happens? You got your bands (and Croatia really has some AWESOME bands) and your artists(those too!) who are finally accepting that there is no bright light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone is leaving. That is, only the ones with the ability to leave.

    I make music because I love it more than anything in the whole world. I spend my time playing every day. Making songs every day, while I walk to college, walk to the grocery, eat, sleep, talk to my friends, hang out with my girlfriend, in the bathroom, sitting at my PC, wait for the damn bus to arrive… I played in a lot of shit holes, and I don’t mind that. Punk rock, man. I’ve played in venues where you’d frequently get shocked by a little electricity. Places with no running water or heating. I’ve played in some old hangars where we had to look out for cops so they won’t kick us out. Played in people’s backyards, in abandoned buildings and also in the biggest venues Zagreb, Croatia has to offer.
    But, after a while you gotta pay some bills, man. You have to buy new strings. Your cable died. You need a new guitar, you need more pedals. You need to buy gas to even get to said venues. You have to prove to your mom and dad that you won’t just slowly starve when they’re gone.
    After a while, and I’ve been only playing for about 6-7 years, you just keep losing that smile you had when you started. You start to question your music. You start to question yourself. You start to hate yourself. You start to hate life.
    The only thing that seemed like worth doing was to start another band and sing in English. Go outside. Tour Europe. Bands active before the 2000′s toured non stop. And yes, I’d like to prove You wrong:
    “Lie #1: Great music will naturally find its audience.”
    That is no lie. Good songs, great songs will find their way. Sure, backing and funding will push it faster, but great music has and will always find people. Only if it’s from the heart and true. People smell fakeness from a mile away. Thanks to Youtube, we have an enormous amount of exposure. Yep, there’s a million bands out there but the truth is most of them suck. It’s just that. I may suck. I don’t know yet. I’m in the middle of recording an album with the band. I sing and write lyrics, I play guitar and write riffs.
    And yep, maybe I suck.

    F*ck it, one day I’ll be able to tell anyone that, at least, I tried.


    Reply
    1. anonguitarist

      right on! go for it brother, no regrets eh.I almost starve when I’m away from my family making my own music and paying for food by busking, but I don’t care cos I do what I love with all my being. If it wasn’t for music I’d probably be dead! :)


      Reply
  119. Anonymous

    So there are plenty of musicians making good money at their

    trade. Please describe that process and how to make that happen.

    Thanks


    Reply
  120. Anonymous

    Pretty Lights <3


    Reply
  121. WW1968

    I have a few friends who make a pretty good living at making music. So the guy who thinks all musicians should get real jobs, you can f*ck off. You have no business on a music site anyway. Thank God some of the greats didn’t have his sh*tty attitude. My friends have worked their asses off and two of them actually own houses. They’re not rich and famous and they’re not studio session players either. They’re in local bands, they write and record and play out like crazy. And it’s paying the bills.


    Reply
  122. Dewitt Mercante

    Believe it or not unlike the Brits in The very best Exotic Marigold Hotel, who want to leave England I might like to retire to England. I really like that country!


    Reply
  123. Eponymous

    These two are ‘diabolically’ opposed. Thanks for the cheap laugh!


    Reply
  124. Keenan Baxter

    Maybe some of you live in a major metro area, but as for me, I’ve found it all to be true. And I have:
    1. Great Music
    2. a great niche
    3. Had a major label
    4. Major label died out
    5. HAve my great music on all digital distributions
    6. Can;t get anyone to spend money at gigs.
    7. My music is not middle class
    8. it’s very hard to create loyal, agreesive super fans.
    9. I’m on Spotify
    10. I’m on youtube
    11. I’m on pandora
    12. Again, people don’t have spending money to spend on t-shirts
    13. Have been “streaming” for 10 years.
    All You’ve said is true! Thanks for documenting it for all of out here in the real world.


    Reply
  125. Donovan Pugh

    Real musicians have real purpose endearing hunger pain through snow sunshine and rain. I have a friend who plays the drum and regardless of the outcome he will bang that drum! Long live in love! MusiContinues to play I say!


    Reply
  126. Robin

    Well said and true. Sadly, the same lies/realities exist in the film industry (my particular line of work). Even “independent” film has changed into “low budget studio” material. Listeners/viewers don’t have the time or resources to curate or filter material, so most of it never gets seen/heard.


    Reply
  127. President of Mad

    I’m a musician who has been scraping from the bottom; doing painting, moving, gardening, and bike messengering to make ends meet for gas, equipment, and recording. I think this, and the email from Whitey is a little misleading and self-pitying. The ‘industry’ isn’t youtube, google, and Spotify; they took just as big a hit as the artists. Having music available for free is more good than bad, it can propel its’ evolution. I almost like that there isn’t as much money in it, it weeds out the ones doing it for any other reason than love.


    Reply
  128. Anonimous

    FUCK YOU ALL


    Reply
    1. Bobby Whitlock

      ~That’s a brave statement from someone who will not let their name be known~


      Reply
  129. gregg kostelich

    yesiree, we’re feeling the losses!


    Reply
  130. Bobby Whitlock

    ~If you are in it for the money, then you are in it for all the wrong reasons~


    Reply
  131. Bobby Whitlock

    ~If you are in the music business for the money, you will never make a dime~If you are in it for the love of it and because that is who and what you are, a musician, everything necessary for your fulfillment will follow~


    Reply
  132. just an artist

    Sadly, this is true for all genres of art, across the board. There needs to be a shift in cultural education, separate from the traditional education system, in order for art to have its own voice, and be more than just relevant. It needs to be needed, in our educational system. Only then will it benefit the artist, rather than the multi-mega-millionaires club.


    Reply
  133. Mystic Mark

    Very perceptive article.


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  134. Anonymous

    I just hope the great musicians out there do not quit what they are doing. Shame on any of you that think a musician is not worth their weight in gold… I would not could not live on this selfish uncaring planet if it were not for musicians and music.. thank god there are creative people out there… GEt a real job says the person that is selfish and tone deaf and does not care about the good stuff.. I say to that person that commented on that get a life because I know you are not happy if you do not like music..


    Reply
  135. F.G

    If I had problems getting steady pay checks or having checks bouncing, I would change job. But the thing is, I’d still be doing the same job, just working for a different company and I guess I’d kinda be hoping that it wouldn’t happen again.
    What if it did happen again and that for the next 15 jobs you’d applied for. That would piss me off!
    That being said… Four obvious options are available:

    1: You keep hoping you don’t get fucked and apply for an other job.
    2: You come to realize your studies was a waste of time and you should maybe go back to school and go in a different field and literally go back 5 years. (10 years (average for a musician)
    3: start your own business and make your own rules but in exchange of thousands of invested hours that
    Might not even pay off.
    4: fight for your rights to get paid for a genuine service/your time.

    Either way,
    no 1 wants to regress in life.
    Some do it for fun and some do it as a profession… I think the we the consumers are mixing apples and pears and expecting the same service or wage outta both party’s…
    No one wants to be replaced in a company by a kid who doesn’t care about money because he or she doesn’t have kids or assurance or a mortgage to pay for.. and he or she is coming on top and in black in the budget. And that’s I feel we stand in the industry… There’s always those passionate OR desperate people who will do it for free and deprived the ones who actually did invest their time and money. Which in honesty happens in every field possible (research, technology, energy and infrastructure) but the percentage at which the proportion of it happening in the music business is alarming, 60% if you factor everybody .

    Food for thought,


    Reply
  136. Olsen Koch

    With AFM going on this week, lots of interesting articles on the state of the industry, indie production and sales. And while “Independent” can have a very wide definition as far as budget, producer and director – good revenue in foreign markets is essential to a distribution strategy. And that is based on recognizable stars they can sell to their audiences. Not that it can’t be done without stars, but most deals made are commensurate with who’s on the screen. And of course, good story, production value, etc.
    For us, as animators, we went with filmbay and are very happy with them. Our animated feature “Bulgarian Prophet” is now available as web stream VOD: http://www.filmbay.com/shop/shopdetails.aspx?ID=4620 and they also enabled access to our film in all Asian markets. They did the subtitling into other Asian languages free, at no cost, and went out of their way to support and market it worldwide. Our film is even available on airlines now, including KAL, JAL and Singapore Airlines! I wish you would run a full story on them here, since they awesome, to say the least, and yes, we are getting solid royalties, which we are investing into our next feature project. Thanks and have a great weekend. We love nofilschool, Yavor and Ilse Batchev:-)


    Reply
  137. Anonymous

    “We’ve had 10-11 years of American Idol, so you’ve had 100 or 110 top ten people, and you can count on your hand the number of careers that have sustained off of that,” Irving Azoff said late last year.

    Whoever this Irving is, they are an idiot… OK, a hand’s worth of musicaians have created a career out of this mass-exposure-x-factor music industry… but thats not to say that careers have not been sustained by it… hundreds of lawyers, middle managers, administrators, and Simon Cowell have all done incredibly well out of it…


    Reply
  138. Anonymous

    Great, except you obviously have overlooked the Jazz music scene, where a vast majority of professional Jazz musicians are indeed “Middle Class Musicians” where they make enough to feed themselves, and in the cases of professional Jazz musicians who have gotten a decent Music Degree and started teaching at a College Music Program, they can support a family.

    Excluding the Jazz Scene, this is totally correct though!


    Reply
    1. Matt

      Teaching != playing for a living.

      It’s a day job. It may be a day job in a related field, but it still is a day job.


      Reply
  139. yitzchaq f.

    whatever. fuck this article.


    Reply
    1. yitzchaq f.

      because i am sick of “whoevers” talking about something that isn’t completely real as if it IS completely real and they really know something about it.

      do things.


      Reply
  140. Anonymous

    I’m a musician and 90% of the people that downloaded my last EP pirated it.
    I don’t feel sorry for myself.
    Hell, I wouldn’t buy an album from my favourite band…. unless it was vinyl of course.

    But the point is, music is a commodity, just like meat in a butchers or bread in a bakers; its our product that we sell.

    People don’t want to buy music anymore, thats just how it is.

    So instead of whining about it, adapt.

    Afterall, the customer is always right.


    Reply
    1. Jeff

      Should the butcher or the baker just shrug their shoulders and think “that’s just how it is” if their customers make off with their products without paying for them??


      Reply
  141. Convivial Cannibal

    There are two types of people whom choose to pursue a life from music. One whom has a pseudo-religious experience, purely from the music itself. And the other type whom would make a sado religion out of it all.


    Reply
  142. Tony

    be good or great at most of your performances. This is a starting point…


    Reply
  143. John Ross

    Seems like it’s simply cycling back closer to the mean where musicians historically weren’t that well paid for their services, ergo the time when there were no recordings to profit off of, they either performed live or were paid to write and that’s it. At least there ARE recordings to sell, so it’s still a whole lot better than before Edison.


    Reply
  144. me

    great eyeopener for masses of naive and in most cases good people, (read while listen to Pretty Lights ;)


    Reply
  145. glitter

    as far as im concerned spotify is the best thing since sliced bread. looking as far as my nose is long of course…that is purely for my own selfish reasons


    Reply
  146. Anonymous

    Everybody wants to be prez, but there is only one spot and its not always open… So, a portion of people settle to be less than the prez… Those slots are very few also and not very open.
    The music business is no different than a circus business, which is no different than any other business. Even under the most Ideal conditions, how many people really make a good top-dollar living in the Circus? How many special circus acts does a Circus feature at any given time? The trouble here…is that everybody wants to be that ever so cool, whacky clown, who gets all the attention and all the money. You have to accept that the odds are 1 zillion to one that it ain’t you, who’s gonna be that clown…To change that, you’d have to write the next generation of songs that are construed to be the voice of that generation. Sorry folks, that’s a special gift…Not something you merely ‘will’ into your life.


    Reply
  147. happy musician

    some of his is wildly inaccurate as I’m one of those “middle class musicians”. Myself, nor my bandmates are starving on the road, we make a good living. making our own records has been wonderful. We don’t owe anyone anything and sell a few large runs of records a year at both large festivals and club dates. I feel like this article is a bit bitter. while some of it is accurate (especially some of the comments about spotify and the like), some of this isn’t (we sell lots of merch and CD’s at every show) and do make money touring. Don’t fret everyone… there is money to be made you just gotta work hard to get working and get paid what you are worth!


    Reply
  148. Rich Thomas

    Dismal, discouraging, despondent article with no note of redemption. You thoroughly explore the problems and present no remedies or solutions. Even if you’re right, who is helped by your hopeless message? This is the most unhelpful thing I’ve read in a year.


    Reply
  149. RJ

    why do we find lies everywhere? well because it profits someone else of course. problem is that when time passes it ends with one person on top of it all. and those who could be great probably dont get to be it because they are born today and not twenty years earliler.


    Reply
  150. swampiti

    as any other business, music service provider try to attract their audience with catchy emotional messages. they have to convince you that they are exactly what you are looking for, otherwise they cannot make money enough to survive.
    once that you are convinced, and you accept and you pay, it does not matter anymore if their message is true or not. youtube, deezer, soundcloud, and all these service are just living on our illusion that internet can make
    all of us well known and well paid. but they just put some fuel on the fire, they just struggled our already hard competition. it s for that reasons that the writer of this article is talkin about lies and i completely agree with him. but wake up! this doesnt ha ppen only with music!! whatever product you love or you hate is sold in this way.


    Reply
  151. Troys

    Music is a business.. If you want to be successful you have to find out who is willing to buy it .just like any other product..You have to produce it.package it and distribute it ..where it is profitable to do so.You have to market it..In ways and places it is profitable .you have to know who is willing to pay for it.how much they are willing to pay for it.where they are willing to go to get it..How to get it in the places they will go get it. ..It changes at the drop of the hat…If you want to be successful in the music buisness.you need to first admit it is a buisness..you can make the best music in the world….But it wont make you one penny if


    Reply
    1. Troys

      You fail to understand music is a prduct…It is hard fucking work….if it was easy everyone could do if..You dont have to have a licence to fly these friendly skys.But if you dont know how to take off….you cant learn to land…


      Reply
    2. walter t kuebler

      right onbrother


      Reply
  152. Troys

    To the guy who said musicians need to go get a real job…if you think you know someone who needs one ,well go out and get one brother..


    Reply
  153. Merle Hagard

    Hell, It’s as easy as picking up the phone and calling Willie Nelson and telling him you are going to be in Austin Tx on The 4th of july …


    Reply
  154. Anonymous

    i agree with some of this stuff but disagree with others as well because of the facts stated in IFPI digital music sales report 2013…. da figures look pretty good


    Reply
  155. Ric Birtill

    This is interesting as I put these frustrations into a song recently called struggling musician.


    Reply
  156. legit

    as a full time musician/producer who has been working in/at it for 13 years, this is pretty accurate stuff…

    merch costs money to make and doesn’t usually make you loads of money back. touring is a very tough lifestyle and is not that lucrative. spotify and other free streaming services have pretty much dried up all of the money that used to help most of my musician friends barely scrape by on a monthly itunes check. i’m not pulling a “woe is me” thing here, just stating the case. i feel immense gratitude to be able to make enough money to live as a musician.

    all of the people that feel entitled to free music are going to keep downloading it free. in this culture where music as a commodity has been devalued as much as it has that demographic is only going to get bigger and bigger. the vision of a society determines it’s course.

    most of us are willing to tip a barista a dollar for making us a coffee. we are willing to tip a bartender a dollar for pouring us a drink. we are willing to tip a valet a dollar for getting in our car and putting it in a parking space for us. an increasing number of us are ENTIRELY UNWILLING to tip a musician a dollar for … spending countless hours learning about music, becoming skilled enough to eventually write an incredible song, spending time writing that song, and then dedicating even more hours and also money to making a great recording of that song.

    i think a large part of why some of us feel so justified in being unwilling to pay for music is because we don’t have to look the musician (or for the sake of this example let’s just call them “other human being”) in the eye and say “sorry, i refuse to pay you for this song because what you do holds no value for me regardless of whether or not it has enriched the experience of my life”. that would be a pretty awkward moment for anyone involved.

    it’s not easy stuff to make good recorded music. it’s hard hard work. i critically listen to a song upwards of 100-500 times during the process of making a recording. maybe not all, but most of us musicians do it to give something back to the world and enrich the lives of others, while also struggling to realize their own dreams and potential in a society that loves to beat you up and dehumanize you for trying. if you truly succeed then you’re a rich iconic god like beyonce or jay z, but until you get there you’re an idiot for even thinking that the world needs your music and that you shouldn’t have to work at starbucks in order to afford health insurance.

    i get it; capitalism is dumb, we’re all broke, there’s a growing saturation of new music that you don’t HAVE to pay for so why should you pay for any at all, musicians should be happy enough just to get noticed for making music, yadda yadda… it’s all fine. tell yourself whatever makes you feel better. the truth is that if you listen to a song more then 3 times because it makes you happy and enriches your life experience in ANY way, you kinda owe someone a $1 tip for dedicating countless hours of their life to it’s existence. i say $1 because that’s been the value of a song since music was first sold as a commodity. it doesn’t even account for inflation. i think at this point most of us on the receiving end would settle for like 20 cents.

    i will not respond to any comments on this comment because i’m busy working on a recording that you might just eventually hear. i’ll be up till 2 AM doing so, and then i’ll be in recording sessions for 10 hours for the next 2 days, and then editing and rough mixing that stuff for another two days. at night i will be putting the finishing touches on other group of songs that you just might hear so that i can submit them to a mix engineer by my deadline. i sleep 4-6 hours a night and have almost no time off at all for weeks on end. writing this was my break from a 12 hour workday. you can’t “do this at night in your spare time.” you can’t “be like charles ives”. it doesn’t quite work like that. also when was the last time you listened to a charles ives composition over “single ladies” or “burning down the house” or anything on “in rainbows”? (wink wink)

    it’s all good. i know this comes off as antagonizing but it’s not meant that way. i’m seriously not even mad. like i said earlier i feel truly blessed and lucky to be able to make music i care about with people i love. i’m literally “living the dream”. i’m not trying to get rich. i just want to put positivity into the universe in the form of wavelengths (and also be able to procure food).

    love and light always.
    c


    Reply
    1. Rem

      I’m also a full time producer.. I’ve worked both and major and indie levels. Your comment and this article are both spot on.


      Reply
  157. Socionic

    And the end result will be a ton of crappy, formulaic music when the most talented artists are not able to support and further themselves through their craft. The industry as a whole will be lesser for it.


    Reply
  158. BandGrrl

    The music industry, like any other industry, operates under the rules of economics and the free market. Musicians need to recognize that and, frankly, take responsibility for their own success. There are more tools and channels out there today than there have ever been to make this happen — you need to have guts, a strong stomach, a thick skin and a whole lot of willingness to risk everything. We need to stop whining and start doing.

    My take on the opportunities and challenges of the modern music industry is a little more optimistic. Here’s my “lie by lie” rebuttal of Mr. Resnikoff’s post…

    I love music and those who give us the gift of it, and I want them all to find success – how ever they define it.


    Reply
  159. Anonymous

    #2: “The Truth: Instead of unleashing a torrent of successful niches, the internet has actually made blockbusters bigger than before. All while starving artists down the tail.”

    You forget the untold numbers of musicians who are able to earn 6 figures from their music without having to be ass -raped by the major labels.

    Blockbusters are the same as they ever were, and there will always be starving artists, but the internet has allowed a middle ground where people can do rather well for themselves.

    Your reply to #7 is a lie in itself. There IS a large middle-class of musicians who are able to support themselves and their families. I live in Nashville, and know several who definitely earn enough to support themselves and their families.

    Do not try to cover up the truth with YOUR lie. Just because you wish there was no middle-class like that does not make it so.

    THAT is the truth.

    #4: “But more importantly, they are still controlling popular music and its consumption, and building and maintaining artist careers.”

    Forget about “building” artist careers. Unless you already have some success with a music career, the major labels are not going to “build” one for you. The days of artist development are long gone. Anyone who thinks differently is a fucking idiot.

    #8: “Kickstarter can and will build careers.

    The Lie: Superfans will come out in droves to support their favorite artist projects, and power their awesome careers.

    The Truth: So far, it’s happened for Amanda Palmer, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Murder by Death, and a few other artists. Which is great for those artists, but most irrelevant for the broader artist community.”

    SO…you contradict yourself by saying it is a lie that Kickstarter will start or fund careers, then you turn right around and name several who have been successful in their use of Kickstarter.

    YES, Kickstarter DOES fund musicians’ careers. Period. How many artists it funds depends entirely on how many decide to use it.

    You are going to have to come up with some more intelligent logic for your reasoning. So far the author is not making a strong case….

    #10: “Google and YouTube are your friends.”

    Yes they can be.

    Or not.

    Like any other music-related website, it is up to the musician to make good use of the services offered.

    Just claiming that Google and Youtube are out for profit does not mean they are evil or out to be your enemy.

    Item number 10 is simply someone crying because they cannot use Google and/or Youtube effectively.
    Successfully using them for publicity is a part of earning money as a result of promoting your music.

    Again, it is up to the musician to effectively use Google and YouTube as tools to promote their music.

    Anyone bitching about those two entities is an idiot. Google and Youtube will only help those who are willing to use them effectively.

    So….overall, some of the items listed are spot on. But at least a third of them are irrational, or purposely ignoring the facts.


    Reply
  160. Lorenzo Tomici

    Its been a really hot industry, based on the aspirations of millions of bedroom musicians, through fuelling their dreams based on these kinds of lies, millions of KRKs, Pioneers, copies of Ableton and subscriptions to soundcloud premium have been sold – the internet has less of an ability to open up the music market than most think, but more of an opportunity to grow more products for consumers – in the end, the opportunities for musicians are slightly better than they used to be, but also, the means are available for musicians to make great music much more easily, this can be consoled by the thought that we strive to make great music as a means of expression and self fulfillment – which is, in perspective, more valuable to most creative people than money is anyway…


    Reply
  161. andrew berg

    How are any of these things lies? Who said them? Basically, these are guesses that different people occupying different vantage points have speculated, but the future of the profitability of music is anyone’s guess. In general anything that can be had digitally is clearly the subject of a great many questions, all of these “lies” you have mentioned are just speculations about it from different points of view. Really, no one knows what the future of music is, we’ve probably seen the end of a great many thing that are still culturally ingrained in us as “what the music industry is.” What it will be is anyone’s guess.


    Reply
  162. Inquisitive

    I’m a successful working musician and have many other friends thriving as well. We do music all day, every day. I do not see anyone posting reference links to sad ‘facts’ being spouted about how badly musicians have it lately. I don’t jive with hear say.

    There are opportunities for licensing/music syncing, being a studio session performer, gigs, economically well planned tours (sorry Imogen Heap’s wasn’t), teaching, producing and much more. Frankly, musicians who aren’t capable of making a living off of their craft, need to tighten up their skills and reach out in many other areas besides just doing their personal creative thing. The money and opportunities are out there to truly be successful and fulfilled creatively as a musician. Especially if one is entrepreneurial and carves out their own success. It’s not easy, but absolutely attainable. We are living examples that it can and is being done.

    Any artist that is sitting around ‘waiting’ for opportunity is the artist who is starving… and rightly so. It’s no different in any other discipline.


    Reply
  163. mr man

    I wonder how many of the folks posting here are musicians who make their living from music?
    I am full time musician, and have toured under a major label, and played basement shows. I can tell you that the new model sucks for actually doing music as a career. The folks who bitched about labels and the industry generally don’t know what they were talking about. I always was recording odd, not very commercial songs, but folks at labels had their money makers, and their pet projects that stood on merit.
    Now, nobody makes money but the commercial trash that can be played at the super bowl.


    Reply
  164. steven frame

    You know what buddy – whoever you are or what your aims – knowledge IS power today, and anyone who has any guts whatsoever to tell something real and true is okay by me. Very honest reality check that is as positive, strangely as it is a buzz-kill for those youths that perhaps haven’t realized this yet.


    Reply
  165. Cthuhlu

    Trouble is, music is such a disposable commodity these days. In ye olde days, a musician would start learning an instrument from a young age, hone their talents through days and nights of practice, then get small gigs with big bands, working their way up until they could “name their price” for a performance, and people would pay it, gladly, it was worth every penny.

    Similarly (kindof) with “bands”, they would start out in their parents garage with hand-me-down instruments, play obsessively for years, get small gigs in any toilet they could find, get a crap old van and drive themselves around, making a fanbase until at some point an A&R man “discovered them” and threw money at them. Again, kind-of, they earned it – the fans wanted them, there was demand for their “product”.

    These days, you get someone leaving school who “fancies being a singer”, they audition for a talent show, spend more time in make-up than learning their trade, and then they are “the big thing” and we’re supposed to throw our money and knickers at them. What? And if we don’t, Record Companies spend big money playlisting them, making flashy videos, which are then saturation-pushed at us until we like them. It’s like… Food chain. Comes up with s**t flavour burger. What do you mean you don’t like it? Oh ok then, we’ll spent billions convincing you that everyone eats it, and its the nicest thing ever, so you’ll want one. ALL marketing, all record companies generating the next revenue stream (ie from us). And if your “artist” flops after six months? they get dropped like wet fish and companies invent another.

    As for there being more music around than ever before. True. But how much of it is good? Again, in ye olde days, music was limited because it was an artform, and one you had to commit to. You had to save to buy a sax, you had to spend years learning it. Now you can download an app to your iphone in 30 seconds, spend a day fiddling with, and upload straight to the internet. Then complain that “no-one is buying my music! omg!”. Well duh, you expect them to?

    I still buy music. Hell I still buy CDS. Lots of them. Regularly. But they are all artists who have grown, evolved into it, learned their instruments, learned their craft, over years (decades some), played every toilet (at a loss), and in the end produce some of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting music that (wo)mankind can make. That’s a product I will pay for. Everything else. No. Go away.


    Reply
  166. Pingback: Breaking Through The Music Medium | Affordable Video Production

  167. Tim

    This article is such a bummer. Back to the studio I go…


    Reply
  168. Peter Csathy

    Paul, that’s an awful lot of doom and gloom. If all of that is true, should music artists — and the music industry in general — just hang it up? What’s your guidance? What are your answers to artists and individual segments of the music industry?


    Reply
  169. Pingback: Tantra Talks to Release Emotional Triggers Audio File(MP3) - Beyond Jealousy !! | RepairManualsPro

  170. Pingback: Your Weekly Music/Entertainment Industry Social Media Wrap-Up (April 7) |

  171. manu M

    IT’S NOT LIES IT’S JUST THE F:::TRUTH
    BUT BECAUSE ARTISTS AND AUDIENCE ARE NAIVE
    MUSIC IS AND EVER WAS A BUSINESS JSUT READ SOME BOOKS LIKE “BLACK VYNIL AND WHITE POWDER”

    best musical regards


    Reply
  172. from down under

    Blunt but very informative


    Reply
  173. Pingback: A Response to Paul Resnikoff’s “13 Lies Most Insidious Lies of the Modern Music Industry” article

  174. Missxiola

    I guess my only question is how the Partner Program factors in for YouTube. Vloggers can mike a tidy living this way and via product placement/endorsement. I’d assume a popular YouTube artist does the same?


    Reply
  175. TT

    Total Normal
    Monday, November 4, 2013

    Not every musician want to appeal to the greatest number of people, and not every audiophile listens to music that appeal to the greatest number of people. Even if one’s music appeals to limited circles, that does not mean it is not “good”. It is a personal and aesthetic choice.

    I would be very bored in a world where every movie was made to be a blockbuster, every book written to be a bestseller, etc.

    There is, and always has been since any art has been associated with an “industry” or “business”, a difference between exploitation and art. In exploitation movies or music, a marketing team has calculated that something could be lucrative, and money is invested in it. That is how you get your super-hero flick and your Miley Cyrus. But you still have independent movies that appeal to marginal audiences, and that does not make that movie “less good” than you latest super-hero flick. And the people making those independent movies can still get a reasonable enough paycheck so that they can keep doing it (they don’t have to whine and people don’t tell them to get a real job).

    The difference now between music and other art forms, is that the only way to earn a living with music is to make exploitation music and be backed up by a team of marketers. If that is what a “musician” wants, than yes after a while he should abandon the idea if it doesn’t work.

    So I gather from your post that you only listen to exploitation music; good for you since that is pretty much all you will have very soon the way things are going. But not everybody is like you, and some still like to have alternatives to superheroes, Miley Cyrus or reality shows. When those alternatives are gone, so will the concept of art and we will live in a very boring world

    You cannot put music in a bottle. You cannot own it. It is a unique moment in time. Every time. When you pause a video you have a still image. When you pause a Sound wave, it ceases to exist. Those manipulations of sound in real-time are the essence of music, the very essence that cannot be traded like a commodity. It can only be experienced, and every time it is experienced, it will be different.

    If artists can figure out a way to add real value where people are prepared to pay every time for a quality experience, rather than clinging on to a failed notion of repeatedly selling the same thing over and over again, then the industry will move on. 60 years ago, and forever before that it was about the experience, and so it could be in the future.

    At present the “experience” of listening to a compressed low bit-rate internet stream on a mobile device through some crappy little ear buds whilst riding on a noisy train is not really something to be cherished.

    Having proper analog sounds delivered skillfully through a big sound system… People are far more likely to pay for that. Time and time again.


    Reply
  176. addamb

    SCREW IT .. MUSIC IS MUSIC AND BUSINESS IS BUSINESS .. ADDAMBONGG theband CAN BE HEARD 100% F R E E AT OURSTAGE.COM .. 24/7 .. YOU KEEP THE MONEY WHILE WE ENTERTAIN YOU .. ADDAMBONGG LOVES YOU .. WE ARE THE COOLEST BAND IN THE HISTORY OF MUSIC .. YOU’RE FORTUNATE IF YOU EVER SEE US IN LIVE CONCERT .. WE DO NOT SUPPORT CORPORATE CRAP LIKE BOOZE OR OVERPRICED CLOTHES .. WE ARE NOT ABOUT “PRODUCT” BUT ABOUT MUSIC .. ROCK ON!!!


    Reply
  177. Anonymous

    Well well. Most if not all viewpoints have been presented. So at the risk of reinventing the wheel .It could be said that the man hours wasted on computer and internet related virusus’ and proprietory software has possibly
    been the best or worst boondoggle in history,depending on which side you ask., the earners or the spenders!!
    that pretty much sums it up.


    Reply
  178. D Wall

    Terrible article. All negativity with no outlook or suggestions. What was the point of writing this? Oh, duh. Traffic. Damn…


    Reply
  179. Anonymous

    @D Wall — The point of writing this is to explain the “13 Most Insidious, Pervasive Lies of the Modern Music Industry”. A bang-on analysis supported by relevant citations. The outlook and suggestions are implied. What were you looking for? Some kind of secret recipe for success? I respectfully suggest putting the rose-colored glasses back on and popping another tab.


    Reply
  180. Jazzooo

    You know, the suggestion that a musician should have a day job isn’t all that insulting. I made a decision in my 20s to pursue a different career–as it turned out, it was a parallel one. Over the years, I made my money in one career and spent it in the other, creating only the music that i wanted to make (20 indie CDs, an indie filmscore for which I’m still waiting to be paid, musical directing a show or two, gigging, playing on peoples’ albums and producing a few of them for others, putting on pretty big shows in a small town) rather than making the music that sells/pays the most.

    Today I am fortunate enough to be retired at 58, but I’m still pretty busy musically and loving the creative process. I can look back on about 40 years of compositions, performances, recordings and stories about music-making and be proud as opposed to cringing with embarrassment at projects I couldn’t afford to turn down because I was starving.

    not for everyone, I know, but the dream of being a star just seemed dumb to me at some point. I’ve love more recognition today, of course, but what else is new?


    Reply
  181. anon

    Welcome to the new paradigm of lower music value, courtesy of the major labels being complicit with the end of hard product infrastructure and ultimately cashing out their artists by making their catalogues available to streaming subscription networks. Endpoint result, recorded music has a lower aggregate value.


    Reply
  182. Tom Jackson

    Not very many great shows out there,so of course there is not a lot of money in touring.There are thousands of tight bands,who are good, even great players but have NO idea how to create Moments in their shows. I am not talking about goofy crap onstage ,I am talking about moments that drive people to the merch table,cause people to sign up for your email list and attract sponsors for your tour.Unfortunately most people who read these kind of blogs are musicians who think their shows rock…Honestly it doesn’t!… It might be good but not memorable for those in the audience..Your show may be great for musicians and you and your band (musical masturbation) but you don’t REALLY speak from stage in a language your audience understands.I am not saying for a second you change who you are!!!! AND of course there are nights when it is magical …..but if you are being honest,When those nights happen you don’t know why. My recommendation? Learn why. You may think i am just an idiot or hater that doesn’t have a clue,but i am tired of reading stuff like this and know that the artists who honestly want to learn to do a great show can. I have been a part of this process for over 20 years and have watched merch jump as much as 600% (no BS) and helped these artists aquire over $100 million from sponsors. Yes, some are stars ,but the majority are indies….If you want a quick fix it ain’t gonna happen. If you take the time to learn just like anything takes time and dedication and make it a priority there is a payoff.


    Reply
  183. brick

    LOUD NOISES!!!


    Reply
  184. Big Poppa

    I am a musician, with a decent following and I can tell you from first hand experience that the guy wrote this article hit the nail in the head. The underlying issue here however isn’t the internet, the issue, the reason why no ones making any money is because of an over saturated market. There are too many people out there who want to be the next Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, 2pac. To many people have the narcissistic dream of being endlessly admired and adored and becoming rich because of this. Well take this into consideration, if your mom and everyone else you know opened up a flower shop and all of them advertised the same general things about their flowers no one would be making any money in the flower business. Well now a days everyone is trying to sell flowers, and they all think their flowers are so much more special than everybody else’s. Oh wait I meant music not flowers

    So whats the key to the music Industry? How do you make it?
    Same way you make it in the flower business
    Its called money, find money somewhere else and invest it into your music, thats what any entrepreneur does, the author is right all these semi successful indie bands have money before they become musicians they blow all their money on building a following, a following costs money it always has.


    Reply
    1. Justanothershittysong

      The reason most musicians dont make it is because their songs are total crap…. technically they’re great and think their songs are awesome too – most of the time they are not – crap lyrics, crap formulaic chord structure boring melody, too long, all played really well on great gear but the song is CRAP – GREAT music DOES make it – 99% of what’s out there stinks – write better songs and then your 20 year career might get you somewhere


      Reply
  185. This Article Sucks

    I’m trying to read this article, but its filled with fragmented sentences, what-ifs and maybes. “All while starving artists down the tail.” What the hell is that supposed to have meant?


    Reply
    1. Congressive Online

      Amazing. Nobody gets it. Especially the author. YouTube can be monetized. I make five figures off of YouTube plays through AdSense. Look it up.

      Pirates don’t make money, ISPs do. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon etc. all make billions muling contraband while denying they know what’s in the brown paper bag they’re delivering from pirate to pirate. ASCAP and BMI worked because they collected intellectual property revenue from the point of final distribution, NOT consumption. Radio pays to play. Concert halls pay to play. Bars and restaurants pay to play. The “digital paradigm” is bullspit. It’s the final point of distribution, just like radio. AT&T knows what you’re up and downloading. They charge YOU for the value added by your ability to pirate stuff.

      There is no “peer to peer” file sharing. It’s “peer to isp to backbone to isp to peer” and the guys in the middle are charging billions to enable pirating. There’s the money. Go get it. I’m working on it, but for some reason the RIAA would rather punch dorm room moms in the face for their child’s music sharing than go after the source of their stockholder dividends…oh, wait…never mind.


      Reply
  186. Sean

    You are all money grubbing assholes. Music and all other forms of art are exactly that. If your not happy simply creating it, your not an artist, your a business man.


    Reply
    1. getoffmylawn

      The act of creating music is indeed art. Sharing it on a significant level with others is all business, don’t delude yourself.


      Reply
  187. George Flores

    THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS DOING WELL & IS SET TO RECOVER STABILITY SOON…LOL LMFAO


    Reply
  188. djentist

    http://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/mar/03/djent-metal-geeks

    “More than most genres, metal has a chequered history when it comes to the internet, not least Metallica’s public spat with file-sharing website Napster. For the old guard, it has been something to fear; but for this new generation, it represents opportunity and a way to circumvent the established networks. “It’s very hard for someone who has built their entire careers or empires on a certain way of life to accept something which transforms that as anything other than destructive,” Mansoor says. “But people who are able to see opportunity in the new system are the ones that will survive. We are taking advantage of this uncertainty, this blank page, of how the music industry is going take shape over the next five or 10 years.”


    Reply
  189. djentist

    “It’s very hard for someone who has built their entire careers or empires on a certain way of life to accept something which transforms that as anything other than destructive. But people who are able to see opportunity in the new system are the ones that will survive. We are taking advantage of this uncertainty, this blank page, of how the music industry is going take shape over the next five or 10 years.”

    -Misha Mansoor of Periphery


    Reply
  190. Sam

    Have we got any facts or figures or ANYTHING at all to back this up? Citations needed.


    Reply
  191. independent

    Any independent artists who have good song writing chops and production quality that aren’t gaining traction on the usual sites should check out cashjams.com.
    Only company/site I have used that actually gives a sh*t about music and is trying to do something about it


    Reply
  192. musician

    As a large determined group, we all need to change the habits of society towards artist support:

    -purposeful merchandise purchases that you know go to the artist – such as merch at the show, online store from band’s website, etc.

    -purposeful ticket buying at the door instead of always requesting to be on the list / sneaking into shows

    -purposeful word-of-mouth spreading by fans, knowing that word of mouth is the best way to spread the name of an artist.

    -telling people that steal or bit torrent their favorite music that they need to think about supporting artists actually, because if we don’t actively support them, then many popular and talented up-and-coming artists will be forced to work other jobs to survive instead of create art, thus limiting the art that we are exposed to and create as a culture.

    bottom line: change the general consumer’s habits concerning art as a culture, and we will lead ourselves to an art-rich time period because all artists live a little better, make more and better art, and all of society gets to see/hear/touch/taste/smell/share/enjoy all of the great, new, progressive creations.


    Reply
  193. Sam Awry

    SO who is telling these lies?


    Reply
  194. Marco Raaphorst

    YouTube is also streaming. It’s the biggest streaming services as we know off.

    Attention is the new scarcity. So much stuff available. Which is a good thing. It’s wealth. But it turns everything upside down. For many people filtering nowadays starts on SoundCloud. If you want to see what’s going on in the music world, that the thing. It’s the new “underground”.


    Reply
  195. Ronald Marquiss

    Where a lot of this may be true, this article is a lot of BS and no doubt propaganda for the loosing Majors. Now we have the big three in record companies which to me tells us a funneling of funds and a last ditch effort to do everything in their power to hold on to what they are losing. This article states nothing about all the thousands of new record companies out there who are pushing their artists without the help of the big three. This author is out of touch …..


    Reply
  196. Brewski

    So where are the solutions, or productive ideas? I have a problem with writing like this that lists fairly obvious circumstances, in a doom laden scenario. How does that help anyone? Is the answer “give up”? Part of the problem all along, to me, is attaching the word “industry” to one’s music.
    Much like food “industry”. It breeds unhealthy results. Not getting as rich as McDonalds is no reason not to grow your own food.


    Reply
  197. Pingback: The NEKST News; 6/10 - Nekst

  198. zeeeeen

    to get famous you need a publicist (and music, a book, or something to hock…preferably with some substance)… and the good ones cost 5k a month or more. you think rihanna doesn’t pay for that every month still? she does… and she’s already famous. you need money to make money… and you need skills to get the attention of the people who have the money. it’s totally available for all of us.. good luck.


    Reply
  199. Chris Allen

    So…either suck label cock or tell yourself you have no future? How’ bout’ not.


    Reply
  200. Lisa Mann

    YES on all counts! I have heard every one of these myths in my many years of working as a full time professional musician, composer and bandleader. From my point of view in the trenches, none of them have proven true. Thank you so much for speaking this truth!


    Reply
  201. TASTESLIKEADICKTASTE

    Every fuckwit has an opinion -

    Just make some fucking music and enjoy !

    Fuck cash –

    Fuck the internet –

    Fuck 2014 -


    Reply
  202. Carol

    We need to remind ourselves that its important to nurture and care for the things we love. How many beloved things (and people) have slipped away due to neglect?
    We love music. Music comes from people who are writers, singers and musicians before it gets to a label, download, cd, YouTube video. Love your Artist friends and go out to see their music. Buy their songs and CDs. .
    Sing to their words and drum along to the beat!


    Reply
  203. Timbotao

    These threads are heaps funny to read…
    http://www.chuparosa.com.au
    http://www.facebook.com/chuparosaband

    I agree with most of you… in some way! just get down and diggety… Keep playing whatever your story is…
    In Australia we are dealing with much of the same… the stories are remarkable similar… just keep doing it, music is one of those things you just can’t get rid of once you enjoy doing it… if you can make a living, do it, if you are just a bedroom hero… still do it, if you can make it in the sharkey world of the Music Industry, do that too, if you can forge an indie career your own way using the internet do that too… the time we just spent writing on this blog you wasted 5-30mins reading and replying that you could have been doing something musical… forget the arguments just do what you love, and get paid the best you can, the system is imperfect (the world is full of imperfect systems), and non-creative people will never experience or understand what you do… its not their fault… :) PLAY MORE!


    Reply
  204. Congressive Online

    The ISPs make billions transporting files from point a to point b, while the “pirates” make friends, but not much else. Follow the money. It’s not “peer to peer,” it’s “peer to ISP to backbone to ISP to peer” and the guys in the middle are muling contraband for profit – billions in profits – while pretending they don’t know what’s in the brown paper bag they are paid to deliver.

    Collect it at the point of final distribution, just like radio and concert halls with ASCAP, and problem solved. Problem is, AT&T likes charging you for the value added service of torrents AND they don’t have to share the cash with intellectual property rights holders.

    As for YouTube: monetize through AdSense and stop whining. It pays way better than Spotify. Way.


    Reply
  205. Paul Dresser

    The Biggest lie concerning today’s music industry is…that they are anything about music. They (The Fools) have no idea who Music is; http://www.pauldresser.net/


    Reply
  206. Pingback: Greatest hits, volume 1 – Jeffrey Auriemma

  207. Anonymous

    something everyone knew but were too afraid to say. BIG THANKS !


    Reply

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