If the money left music, why is more music being published than ever before in history?
If VCs stopped putting huge bets on music startups, why are so many entrepreneurs itching to get in, even while dangling by a bootstrap?
This is not the aluminum siding business, and the rewards for creating and publishing music obviously go far beyond the money. Just ask the millions of artists scraping by on basically nothing, or working day jobs to keep the dream alive. Or, just ask your parents, who would love nothing more than for you to get a ‘real job’.
Actually, a huge number DID go out and find jobs in other businesses once the roof started caving. The rest are still lucky, smart or ‘legacy’ enough to be earning a stream of cash. And the rest? They are feeding their addictions to music, and putting money second.
They say passions like music are ‘healthy addictions’. But it goes one step further: because these healthy-yet-illogical addictions could be incredibly healthy for the future of this currently-disrupted business. Simply because the hungriest artists and entrepreneurs are busy trying to forge working models to feed their passions. Just like the earliest entrepreneurs helped to create the Bay Area and Silicon Valley of today. And, just like legendary music guys did decades ago, when labels were earning a fraction of what they did in the late-90s.
But did all the money really leave music? Of course not – there are still billions floating around – and a small sliver still enjoy ridiculous returns. Some even still have overpaid jobs at major labels (and are understandably low-profile.) And, others are striking that rare zone of extreme fan and consumer connectivity – like Coachella, Lady Gaga, and Apple – and are hopefully spreading applicable lessons for everyone else.
But those are the houses on the hill. Ian Rogers wants to help build the musical middle class, but this business is still at the earliest stages of creating that reality. So far, it looks like the upper-crust will continue to coexist alongside a huge musical underclass – just like the old days. But addictions will always keep the creative firehose alive – both for the music itself, and for models to support that music.
Paul Resnikoff, Publisher.