The Music Business Is Not A One-for-One Model. Get Over It

When a hammer manufacturer makes a hammer, this manufacturer expects to sell the hammer for a price that is appropriate for the market of hammers. 

Someone who needs a hammer will pay for that hammer.  If the hammer manufacturer sells enough hammers, he/she/it will eventually make enough to cover the costs of creation and the cost of living.  The end.

The music industry does not work this way anymore.  Some could argue, it never did. Musicians used to create an album and hope someone would want to pay them for that album. Well that’s the romantic statement that the streaming /free download naysayers exclaim. However, the hammer model never worked for musicians.

Before the internet enabled musicians to (theoretically) reach their fans directly, musicians would sign to a label. Musicians basically sold away all of their rights for the hopes of stardom (well this hasn’t changed). Musicians would create an album funded by the label. The label would then set a price for this album and sell it to retail outlets. The labels banked on enough people purchasing this album to justify the millions poured into the musician advance, manufacturing costs, shipping and marketing.

After the label covered every possible expense and recouped all the money it paid to the musician for the initial advance, they might pay the musician something. This usually didn’t happen until millions of units were sold. Courtney Love explained how a musician in a 4 piece band that sells a million records with a million dollar advance would have about $45,000 to live on. For one year.

Lyle Lovett, after selling 4.6 million records, has received $0 in sales payments from his label. Oh wait, I missed a decimal point. $0.00.

Label musicians have always counted on alternate sources of income such as tour revenue and merchandising to offset the lack of payment from their recorded music.

“I’ve never made a dime from a record sale in the history of my record deal. I’ve been very happy with my sales, and certainly my audience has been very supportive. I make a living going out and playing shows.”

– Lyle Lovett

There are countless cases of labels never paying musicians for successful albums after the advances. And after taxes, lawyer fees, management fees and recording costs huge advances only go so far. And labels don’t give out huge advances much anymore.

So What Are Musicians To Do?

Look towards multiple sources of income. Today, more than ever, there are ways to make money with music – as beautifully illustrated by these 10 musicians.

Concentrate on offering attractive merch items at EVERY SHOW (even – especially – local shows). Target your fan base with souvenir-like items (posters, t-shirts, vinyl records) that you can charge a lot for (like a $50 package offered on your website and at shows). Work on your on-stage sales pitch. Work on your negotiating techniques to make sure you get paid a good guarantee for private performances and get a decent cut of the door at venues. Establish yourself in your market – be it local to your geographical scene, or online in various niche communities.

Research licensing companies and pitch your music to get placed on TV shows (royalties!), commercials (even more royalties) and movies (err no royalties, but a lump payment).

Make sure you are registered to a Performing Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN, etc) and make sure all your songs are registered so you actually earn money EVERY TIME you play a live show and every time you have songs featured on TV shows, the radio, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, Satellite Radio, Jukeboxes and the like.

Make sure you are registered with Sound Exchange so you get paid from Pandora, Satellite radio and other internet streaming services.

Above all, stop bitching about how no one is paying you for your recorded music like they do a hammer and figure out how to make it work!

142 Responses

  1. TuneHunter

    Music industry is operated by confused strangers.
    Current business model, ad supported Tube or subscription based streaming is an equivalent of old fashion German butcher shop taking the live stock and delivering just melamine infused dog food.

    First they where killing the Napster.
    Now Mr. Keeling is promoting and co-owns Spotify and Veevoo – the Napsters on steroids – desperation, confusion and hopeless activity.

    Money is in instant monetization of discovery. 100B industry by 2020!

    • Nick

      Doesn’t instant monetization of discovery already exist? I mean, if I hear a song on Pandora, Shazam it, whatever, there’s always a link to buy it on iTunes.

        • Recording Artist Sebastian Portillo

          I like that! It’s sad in a way, isn’t it?!

      • Me

        He wants people to pay to find out who sings the songs. “Like the song you’re hearing? Give us a buck and we’ll tell you who’s performing it!”

        • TuneHunter

          Sooner the better – if done properly quarter will do.
          Listen for free to any crap in the air – you have interest to listen again – PAY – it is not funny – it is overdue and easy to implement.

          • Nick

            How is it free? A song on iTunes costs $0.99.

            And people aren’t going to pay for a song to be identified. The idea of listen free once, pay to listen again, sounds like another concept that people could easily get around with piracy.

            Where does the $100B industry number come from?

          • TuneHunter

            At the best, one Shazam ID out of ten becomes $1.29.
            If you count others and lyrics ID that conversion goes down to near zero. ID providers just keep the music in the open and prevent conventional merchandising.
            If we convert the same entities to mandatory ‘purchase only option,’ minor adjustments will allow to convert over 100,000 Radio stations and few million websites into music retailers.
            Paul’s DMN can become a music retailer with Shazam as a remote cash register.
            Can you imagine how much of other artists music Justin Bieber or Rihanna could endorse and sell on their web sites? Exciting to get stuff that “my Bieber” loves!
            Today we cannot do it – any unmarked sample of music – will be passed by the ID service to the freeloading public. ID providers are an efficient choke of piracy and key to a profitable future.
            A new “fair use doctrine” would be the best. If this route is impossible, generous financial persuasion will do.

          • Nick

            I’m not sure I fully understand what you’re getting at. Are you saying people on Shazam would tag a song, then be able to purchase it, or that people save their credit card information to Shazam so they are able to make music purchases anywhere by signing into Shazam, similar to how PayPal works? A mix of the two?

          • TuneHunter

            Shazam would give you few “buttons” to grab the tune – you would press the one where you have credit card backed account.

            To allow for proper distribution of cash all tunes would have “liquid license plate issued” by one of the “Central Banks of Music” listing artist, song writer, label, and the music source (Radio station, Pandora, DMN or any busy website, restaurant chain or elevator maintenance company – you name it).
            Shazam would receive from “your bank” 9 cents out of 39 the balance would be distributed to all participating parties with small fee for the bank.

            YouTube, ITunes or Amazon MP3 are perfect candidates to become “Central Banks” and it would be the best if they would acquire or would partner with one of the ID services.
            There is many ways to skin the cat, the CRITICAL issue is to monetize at the discovery moment. It will choke piracy and bring overdue cash.

  2. Yves Villeneuve

    Hey Ari, how much does Spotify pay you to bitch about people complaining about unfair stream rates? What percentage of music recording revenues are from streaming?

    I understand streaming is not like selling a hammer. It’s more like leasing a hammer and because the label and artists assume more risks by delaying revenues they in turn should receive a premium rate over the ownership sale price. See economic theory of “leasing”.

    You speak from the perspective of label situations on one side of your mouth and from the perspective of the indie/unsigned artist on the other side. Recommendation: Keep it clear and consistent.

    • PiratesWinLOL

      “Hey Ari, how much does Spotify pay you to bitch about people complaining about unfair stream rates?”

      Exactly the same amount of money, as you make from your music.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        I see you are still fishing for my numbers. I now count 2 attempts from you seeking that info. Recommendation: don’t get sick over it because you will never receive official totals. It’s not about units sold, revenues generated or total fans. Fair Warning: don’t be fooled by illusions.

        • GGG

          LOL. “I don’t sell any units, have any revenue or fans, but I’m still a successful musician dammit!” – Yves Villeneuve

          • Yves Villeneuve

            This is also the second time you are fishing for numbers, GGG.

            If not, I’ve challenged you many times before, prove anything you see is not an illusion. I extend the challenge to anyone or everyone.

            I don’t expect anyone will report back with evidence, even though it is quite easy to do unless you lack some imagination or creativity. If anyone needs suggestions, let me know, I won’t hold it against occasional lapses, as everyone experiences their own occasional misgivings.

          • Anonymous

            Your music is god awful. Not awful in a ironic Rebecca Black sort of way. Just completely awful.

            I’m not saying this because I hate you, I’m just saying this as an objective observation. You are a lost cause.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            As I said just below, like everyone else, you are certainly entitled to your personal tastes and opinions, the latter justified or not.


          • GGG

            I’m not fishing for numbers. I’m genuinely curious how you measure your success as an artist if it’s not about records sold, money made or number of fans? And it can’t just be you’re some undiscovered genius because your music is terrible, as well.

            So really, what metric am I missing here?

          • Anonymous

            One of the worst things about art is its entirely subjective. This causes fields associated with (music being one of them) to be full of posers and charlatans.


          • Yves Villeneuve

            Is that an opinion or an admission of personal tastes?

          • GGG

            It’s a statement of fact. Lyrics are an over-wrought attempt to be deep and are mostly either meaningless or cliche. Which wouldn’t totally matter if the music wasn’t some of the most repetitive, boring, mediocre attempt at music composition I’ve ever heard. But it is, so it makes the silly lyrics stand out. And your voice is super creepy, which sure, I guess that’s personal taste, but I’m sure one shared by about 95% of all human beings.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Another sidestep. Sounds like opinion to me, justified or not, though you are certainly entitled to it. You seem to be well educated in my music with only 90 seconds previews.

            “Statement of fact.”? Get off your high horse and stop filing your nails, GGG. I like how you try to impose on everyone else your personal tastes and opinions.

            The challenge: post this same review on a retailer’s site. If someone else wants to copy and paste it, this would be fine by me. I expect a chicken shit to sidestep this challenge.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            I don’t expect you or anyone to gather the courage to disprove anything I claim, maybe you or they have but are not admitting it. The fact you are sidestepping these challenges like your life depended on it makes me believe the latter possibility is what actually happened.

            In any case, you have proven over and over again that your words and reviews are meaningless in this matter. 17% of the population are predominantly Rock fans and according to you, yet without any evidence or music authority (no one has this), only 5% of the general population love my music or 5/17 = 29% market segment fan approval. It is your prerogative to keep running away by sidestepping simple dares to finally put this to rest. The fact of the matter is, I could care less if you attempted my challenges because I’ve already made my point and have no need to repeat it in this thread.

          • GGG

            lol, you’re great, Yves. 1) You’re the one who has said time and time again 90 seconds is enough to judge a song, so I just followed your own rules. 2) I like how you continue to to try and trick me into writing a review on your pages by what you think are insults. Nice try, not gonna happen.

          • Anonymous

            As I said already, you are certainly entitled to your personal tastes and opinions, the latter justified or not.

            The best metric of music success is: percentage of population that love or like your music. #48Percent

            The best metric of marketing success is: unit sales, revenues and population reach. My challenge still stands though you keep sidestepping it. Do you have evidence anything you see is not an illusion?

          • GGG

            Yea, except you keep throwing out those percentages to make yourself feel better, when they are based on such a small sample size, that probably includes your family and friends (if you have friends, not sure), that it proves nothing. To say with a straight face that 48% of the population likes or loves your music is so ridiculous it’d be hilarious if you didn’t have a history of being scarily delusional.

            And yes, the evidence is in your complete lack of existence on the internet outside of here and your website. Literally nobody talks about your music anywhere. Oh wait, sorry, I forgot, iTunes is conspiring to keep your play counts and popularity bars and sales down…my bad.

            Seriously dude, there’s plenty of weird people out there that might enjoy your shit music. Stop pretending like you are successful when you aren’t and actually try to do something. Something is seriously wrong with you…

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Doesn’t add up. Why not have one real profile and one fake profile? Why 2 fake profiles a 0 real profiles? Anonymous hit the nail on the head. GGG is paranoid and desperate with stories made up on the fly.

          • GGG

            As I said, they aren’t fake, per se, just not anything filled out or that I actually tweet from. One is essentially inactive, the other is just used to follow and read tweets since it’s still a media outlet of sorts.

            Anyway, the burden of proof to show you have followers is on you. Which you’ll just deny and say something stupid about an illusion, but we’ve all been on the internet long enough by now to know that means you’re full of shit.

          • GGG

            Sure I can. But as soon as I follow you, and post about it, you’ll block me so it goest back to zero. I wasn’t born yesterday, Yves. To paraphrase the great Bane, you merely adopted the internet. I was born it, molded by it.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            If I blocked you then I know your twitter handle but I don’t. Can you list your twitter handle? Obviously, you’re not afraid of people knowing what it is otherwise you wouldn’t have used it in this fake test.

            Anyways, everything I said was true. Thanks for participating in my occasional “Skeptics Campaign”. According to new steady profile traffic and new followers stats from Twitter staff, you’ve been a good help. We’re done here. Have a good rest of the day.

          • GGG

            Well, you didn’t block me, but it looks like your trick did work on someone else who now follows you, so is that person a computer genius, too?

          • Yves Villeneuve

            It’s twitter trying to generate more discussion to drive more traffic to twitter in general.

            Go ahead, try your test. Twitter is in control here. I’m not blocking anyone.

          • GGG

            Sigh. Why do you do this, Yves? What is the point in making up these wild stories? What test would you like me to try? Do you want that man to suddenly unfollow and follow you again?

          • Yves Villeneuve

            If you are curious, send my twitter follower a tweet asking how long he’s been my follower. Use a fake name/account if you prefer. I seem to be halfway down his following list. Be polite and please, not everyone send him a tweet or you might scare him off.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Twitter may have decided to hide follows again or they hid the profile completely which may have hid the follow at the same time…. Can’t find profile on twitter. Do you have a better explanation with proof? My profile was halfway down his following list yet his profile mysteriously disappeared when I mentioned this.

          • GGG

            Yes, the better explanation is I wasted 5 minutes of my life proving a crazy person is crazy.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            I see. That’s the best explanation you have? Not very convincing. Try to do better.

          • GGG

            No, you’re right, I don’t have one. It was a compete coincidence a mysterious follower appeared after you told me to test your illusion and then also another total coincidence they dissappeared after you saw said person and commented to me about them.

            All a complete coincidence…

          • Yves Villeneuve

            No it wasn’t a coincidence… Twitter management are in complete control. They are trying to encourage discussion and increase more traffic to Twitter in general. What are you suggesting and please be direct?

          • Yves Villeneuve


            A little stoned, are we! You’ve already admitted you are a regular pot smoker.

            You keep avoiding being direct. A sure sign of everything you said is BS or delusions. Clue: You lied about the apparent test you did on my twitter profile.

            You have a bad case of feeling powerful and important. Btw, I didn’t see the movie, read the book or Wikipedia entry.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            That said, my recommendation is: be direct and stop trying to be grey because you sound like you regularly imagine your life inside of Hollywood movie scripts.

          • GGG

            Maybe Twitter will add another follower today to get traffic. Because they are struggling so much and Yves brings in all the hip kids.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Just got back from an appointment and see there is a new follower.

            If you had something to do with this then you are not the person you say you are. Probably a major label music executive (Grainge or Morris) with connections to twitter management and deciding to have a little fun at my expense.

            Or you know some hackers who can pull off these stunts. In the past, you did strongly imply you spend a lot of time in secret chat rooms where pirates, hackers, paedophiles, drug dealers and murderers hang out.

            So which is it? I know what my deal is with Twitter management so it is on you to reveal yourself properly, though I understand you have a general sense of paranoia and like to pretend you are other characters for various reasons including hiding your true identity.

          • GGG

            Calling someone else paranoid in that of all posts might be the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen.

            Anyway, I’m done with this, since I’ve proven you full of shit twice now. I’ll just leave you with some helpful suggestions, free of charge. You should either devote as much time as you do pretending to have a fan base to actually acquiring a fan base, and/or practice a lot more and get better (you’ve written a number of songs, so no matter how bad these are, you have potential in theory) and/or seek psychological help because something might be seriously wrong with you. You’re probably just lying about all these things you say happen (out of fear and/or maybe just a compulsive liar), but in case you aren’t, Lucien Grainge and Doug Morris don’t care about you. Apple doesn’t hide ratings and comments. Twitter doesn’t hide followers. Nobody is conspiring against someone as unimportant as you.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            You obviously have a bad case of feeling powerful and important. You may have denied you are Grainge or Morris but you didn’t deny the other thing however. That’s twice you had opportunity to explicitly deny these allegations.

            The fact remains, a little hacking job doesn’t make you truthful or righteous, simply a criminal like the rest of your secret chat room buddies. I stand by my agreements with iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The fact is Grainge and Morris will never do business with you.

            Now we’re done.

          • GGG

            Jesus, dude. There was no hacking. Literal join and follow. You are delusional. Seek help immediately.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            This is the third time you did not explicitly deny allegations of access to these secret chat rooms frequented by pirates, hackers, paedophiles, drug dealers, thieves and murderers.

          • GGG

            We are on a very large music industry website, so I cannot truthfully deny I am not frequenting a site filled with pirates, hackers, paedophiles, drug dealers, thieves and murderers.

            But funny how you’re now avoiding addressing the fact that you were caught red handed in your bullshit delusional lies. You’re pathetic.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Ok so you admit to hanging out with these criminals like you are one of them. I understand your screwed up unwillingness to betray or deny your criminal friends because you love being one of them in addition to being party to criminal dealmaking, plotting against innocent victims and receiving stolen information. That’s why Grainge and Morris will never do business with you. Blackmail is your only option.

            I stand by my agreements with iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You or a friend of yours hacked into Twitter’s system and manipulated the blocking/hiding code.

          • GGG

            No, I admitted that people in the music industry that visit this site might be those things, I’ll never know for sure. Also, one of the artists I work with is signed to a label in the UMG family, so technically I’ve already indirectly done business with Lucien Grange. So bahahhahaa, epic Yves fail once again.

            But now I’m done with this for real, gotta run to some meetings. But have fun attempting to convince other people I hacked into Twitter. Which, not sure why I’m not making millions in tech with that ability, I must be a genius because I didn’t even know I was doing it! It’s almost as if you’re just a complete liar and/or crazy and/or too much of a little bitch to admit it now. But no, it’s ok, keep believing your lack of success is an industry wide conspiracy and not just that you suck and make terrible music. You’ll get far with that mindset. See you in another thread, I’m sure.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            So you like to play with words. In that case, this is the 4th and 5th times you did not explicitly deny allegations of having access to secret chat sites involving a large array of criminal elements.

            UMG signed your band? Funny. Never heard of your band. What’s it called? What’s the label called? Oh I know, it’s all a very big secret. The fact is your band is not signed to any major label. Are you even a manager? Unlikely

            Lastly, if there are legitimate twitter profiles that remain a follower of for a minimum of 48 hours then I’ll believe you didn’t hack twitter. The challenge goes to you and anyone. Be a hero and make me a liar.

          • Anonymous Marc

            Yves, keep doing what you do. Great challenge, you nailed it.

          • GGG

            haha, yea, I ran away….to meetings and shows and actually doing things in the music industry unlike your sorry excuse for a life acting like you have any idea what you’re talking about. Making a shit record in your parents’ basement doesn’t make you anything. Maybe if you actually got out of the house and talked to human beings in real life for a change you wouldn’t have to pretend anyone gives a shit about your terrible music or that you have special deals with large companies or other large companies conspire against you, some nobody in Bumblefuck, Canada. Truly the epitome of a pathetic human being.

            Also, you want to know which band was signed to a UMG label? Well, here’s a list. So start going through it and you’ll find them. Also, look up every band’s manager and you’ll find out who I am, too.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            For the 6th time, you did not deny your association with criminal elements in secret chat rooms.

            Your most recent petty defence, lack of real facts and spreading distortion is testament of you grasping at straws. At least give me a challenge that can easily be defeated, like the one I respectfully afforded you and everyone… I guarantee no one can realistically accuse me of hacking to fake a win.

          • GGG

            Ok, challenge; Prove anything you say is true. You always tell me to do so, yet never do it yourself. If you’re so popular and successful and have so many followers and sell so many records, you prove it, I’ll eat my hat, and we’ll move on with our lives.

            Funny how someone so adamant about other people proving what they say never does anything to prove their bullshit. Typical delusional psychopath mentality, I guess. Stop ‘sidestepping’ as you say.

            And as I already told you, I do not visit secret chat rooms (what is this, 1998?), however with being active on such a large music industry site I cannot say for a fact I don’t frequent a site with criminals. I’m sure many people on here are crooks, stealing from artists.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Yawn. More deflection. Sounds like your now tripping over yourself to betray your criminal friends and the entire music industry to save face. Did you lose your recording contract, if one actually existed (unlikely)? I guess I missed your denial of cavorting with criminals in secret chat rooms. It’s possible. A link to it would be nice. It wasn’t that long ago. People who’ve been reading this publication for awhile know that you express yourself like a crooked politician/lawyer.

            As I said, I have no need to prove anything and don’t care if someone believes I only made one sale, the one I purchased, or I have zero twitter followers or fans. Thanks for participating in my “Skeptics Campaign”.

          • GGG

            And you say I’m the one deflecting…hahah. I proved your Twitter bullshit by following you easily twice. It’s your move, Yves. Stop deflecting and prove me wrong.

            Typical crybaby trying to avoid the truth.

          • GGG

            “Whatever” Translation: “I’m a liar and I was caught red-handed.”

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Translation: you’re a waste of time because you believe readers are stupid enough to forget what was said in this thread, or that DMN readers are stupid in general or that people in general are stupid. When you provide a link to your initial denial of cavorting with criminal s(including hackers) in secret chat rooms and my challenge is actually defeated without hacking twitter, easy to defeat with a legitimate twitter profile, let me know… I won’t accuse you of bribing someone to follow my profile. Be a hero and make me liar.

          • GGG

            1) Forget what was said? It’s all right here…I have no idea what you’re even talking about.

            2) It doesn’t warrant a denial a) because it’s a stupid, childish attempt to make fun of me and b) it’s a convenient way for you to avoid proving anything you say is true.

            3) I became the “hero” (your word, not mine, since defeating you is sort of like Michael Jordan playing basketball in the special olympics) twice when I followed you by simply signing up and hitting follow, then hitting unfollow after you saw.

            4) Oh, so now Twitter works overtime for you and only hides legitimate followers, but not ones made in 2 minutes? bahahahaah, jesus Yves, do you read this shit you come up with? You’re so pathetic it’s scary at this point.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            The sad thing is you actually think you’re believable. Anyways, since you can’t help yourself, I’ll let you have the last word.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            You still haven’t given concrete evidence. It’s well stated at my website I am somewhat an underground artist and have publicly stated I’m not interested in media or celebrity attention.

            In addition, the fact that retailers are suppressing any ratings and reviews at my behest, it discourages fans from openly speaking about it on the Internet but may be speaking of it offline, which I have no problem with. This is where anyone can prove me a deceptive person by anonymously rating or writing a review at no cost. This challenge goes out to anyone but I expect certain individuals will continue sidestepping it.

            Another possibility to discredit my assertions is to prove you are a follower of however I expect certain individuals to continue sidestepping this specific challenge too.

            There are certain individuals who feel high almighty and often intentionally mislead or argue for the simple sake of arguing. I expect it to continue.

            Why am I challenging? It’s part of a marketing strategy to turn skeptics into potential fans of Yves Villeneuve and his music if their personal tastes allow it.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Another sidestep. Prove what you are seeing is not an illusion and become a follower even if it’s temporary to make your point. Anyone can do this. Truthfully, I don’t expect a chicken shit with an imaginary crown on his head to accept this challenge.

          • Anonymous Marc

            I’m supposedly a follower of @YvesVilleneuveX since last summer but Yves is right. What you see “0 Twitter Followers” is an illusion like he said.

          • GGG

            Fail. Just followed you with a fake twitter name, checked out your profile with another fake twitter name and it said 1 Follower. hahahaahah nice try, Yves.

          • Anonymous

            GGG, I did the exact test you did but I got a totally different result. Yves is right. 0 twitter followers IS an illusion.

            Secondly, I don’t understand why you needed a second fake account to see Yves’ profile. Paranoid much or desperate enough to make up the whole story? Probably both.

          • GGG

            Well then apparently I’m a genius computer hacker who can change Twitter’s code without even knowing it. News to me.

            As for the two fake names, I have two fake (more like unused) names with a combined 6 tweets each; I don’t have an actual twitter account, one is just mainly used to follow/read tweets. Secondly, it was to test if maybe the 1 (or more) followers would come up with the handle that followed, and the ‘illusion’ was for non-followers. So I was giving Yves (you actually, since you are clearly just Yves under a different name, nice try) a slight benefit of the doubt, but that failed horribly so…I dunno. You go through a lot of trouble to pretend you’re successful when you can just use some advice from this site.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Sorry, Anonymous is right (I’m not this person, btw). You’re paranoid and full of BS. Not one but 2 fake twitter accounts and no real one (Scooter Braun has one, btw)? And still no concrete evidence to confirm your chicken shit stories including the twitter test on my profile. As they say, when I believe GGG is when pigs fly.

          • GGG

            1) I’m flattered you think I, a manager of some regional acts, should have a twitter because apparently I’m as interesting as the guy who manages one of the biggest pop stars in the world, but alas, I disagree. I’m afraid it wouldn’t be a very exciting account. As you know by now it’s hard for me to contain my writing in 140 characters.

            2) This feigned anger and claiming I’m lying to get me into signing up with my real name on Twitter so you can see who I am are so obvious it’s hilarious.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Repost: Doesn’t add up. Why not have one real profile and one fake profile? Why 2 fake profiles a 0 real profiles? Anonymous hit the nail on the head. GGG is paranoid and desperate with stories made up on the fly.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Doesn’t add up. Why not have one real profile and one fake profile? Why 2 fake profiles and 0 real profiles? Anonymous hit the nail on the head. GGG is paranoid and desperate with stories made up on the fly.

          • Obviously delusional.

            Obviously delusional dude (Yves) is obvious. No use arguing.

          • GGG

            Oh, I know. Sometimes when I’m waiting for emails to get back I like to see what new things Yves can come up with. He’s great entertainment. Unfortunately, however, his music is not. 🙁

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Sorry GGG, now your just trolling and deflecting from your lack of ability to prove anything. Whatever makes you and your fake names/accounts feel better.

          • GGG

            Says the guy who spends more time pretending people care about his music than actually trying to get people to care about his music.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Everything I said was true.

            Thanks for participating in my occasional “Skeptics Campaign”.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            And my Facebook page shows 7400 fans(also an illusion by my request) and not one of them is a twitter follower.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Think in terms of “reverse”. Small and declining fans total is the reverse of ….

          • Anonymous


            Yves is really underground. His popularity (despite being lower then the dump I took last night) is not a indicator of his raw lyrical genius and grit. Once your hear the soothing Songsmith-like music of Yves Villeneuve, you will instantly fall in love.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Like everyone else, you are certainly entitled to your personal tastes and opinions, the latter justified or not.


  3. Jeff Robinson

    Wait, is the music the product or is it the band that is the product?

    The hammer concept doesn’t work unless you are actually manufacturing something.

    If you are manufacturing something that exists in tangible form- not wispy, digitally-exploited nonsense, then you should be able to exchange capital for it.

    • Me

      I think that’s his point. The music industry isn’t like other industries where you have one clear, tangible product

      • Yves Villeneuve

        Any businessperson can diversify. What does vino, hot sauces, nail polish, perfume and clothing have to do with music or acting?

    • GGG

      I’d say it’s both, though varies depending on what you’re trying to do. Pop stars that have the cookie cutter hits written for them that are forgotten about a year later, they are the product 80% to the music’s 20%. Many other bands the music is the product first and foremost and the band is secondary and/or eventually even and/or eventually surpassing.

  4. JTVDigital

    “Lyle Lovitt, after selling 4.6 million records, has received $0 in sales payments from his label”

    What was the amount of his advance?
    If the label did not recoup it there is nothing surprising.

  5. soniquarium muzika

    Yawwn More useless stories about “Money” and Artist. Just go make money, period. Find a way. Stop trying to justify this or that. Tour, sell tracks, sell merch. If you can’t do a combo of this, then go get a day job.

    • Yves Villeneuve

      Doing a combo of these is not always needed to survive. Do what works best for you is probably better advice.

  6. Brian

    It’s not just the exploitative streaming rates. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube train fans/potential customers to get everything for free. I have been to too many shows where really good emerging bands tell everyone that their music, their merch, the door is free. Then they spaz when they play a door gig and no one shows, or cry about their quarterly joke check from Spotify or they can’t get any of their social fans to come out and throw a buck in a jar, much less pay to see them play or buy a cool t-shirt.

    The streaming sites sell a couple of different delusions. The article is mostly correct about the less harmful one. The more damaging one is that is you give enough stuff away, someone is gonna magically find you and take care of you. It’s wrong. But S/P/Y will keep shoveling it as long as the principles/founders have the chance to get acquired, cash out or IPO, thereby turning a their duplicity into cash in their (not your) pockets.

  7. Stan

    You’re all a bunch of whiny bitches. And Ari speaks as if it’s so easy to sell merch at shows. As if someone wants to buy t-shirts from a nobody. That doesn’t work for the struggling artists/bands who are deparately trying to build a following. Once you have the following of course you can sell merch. A little perspective in his posts would be appreciated. Ain’t as easy as the master thinks.

    • PiratesWinLOL

      So, does anyone want to buy a CD or a MP3 from a nobody? Obviously they don’t. Actually they don’t want to buy music from anyone and consequently both paid MP3 and CD sales are falling like a rock. What you will get is streaming and what amount of money that will give you, because that is what the consumers clearly want. Get over it please.

    • Ari Herstand

      Hey Stan, I started as a local musician. Check out these tips on how to effectively sell merch (even to a local crowd). I sold massive amounts of merch to my local fan base when I was starting off:

    • GGG

      Maybe you just suck. (not you, the macro you, though maybe you do too, who knows) The biggest problem I see is whenever someone doesn’t get rich and famous in two years they blame everything on institutionalized issues. SOme band bringing 10 people to shows blames their lack of success on Spotify. It’s fucking stupid. People are morons.

  8. Minneapolis Musician

    In the 1950s and 1960s a would-be music star began by playing live. A small few got noticed, and with big-money backing and radio payola, became household names loved by millions. But the majority were never “discovered” and had to return to a day job.

    Then the Internet appeared, and multiple millions of young folks decided it would be a great life to make music for a living, because all they had to do was post their Garageband/Fruity Loops tracks to the Web and use social media and their great art would be discovered.

    All these articles are aimed primarily at the young artists of today that are still trying to get famous and successful.

    99.999% unfortunately have no fans to sell a T-shirt to, and can’t play live with any skill. Garageband does not translate.

    And a few have turned to giving advice as “music marketing consultants” on blogs just like this one. It kind of ruins credibility for people like Ari, who does seem to have a good niche as a performer and does have some useful advice. But that can go only so far in this crowded, crowded, crowded music space called the Internet.

    But when I see these “how to do it” pieces…It feels like get-rich real estate seminars for people by guys who supposedly know how to do it. Former real estate salesmen how now seem to make their money telling others how to get rich.

  9. FarePlay

    “Above all, stop bitching about how no one is paying you for your recorded music like they do a hammer and figure out how to make it work!” Ari, the new guy.

    Ari, this is bad advice, stop having such a limited view of what can and can’t be done. We need to start promoting the sale of recorded music, not abandon it. And people like you, who continue to say that the sale of recorded music is over, only make it harder. You’re not helping.

    If you choose to have this as your strategy, fine. But how hypocritical of you to promote the various ways musicians, forget songwriters, can monetize their work AND then be an advocate for abandoning the one proven way to make money, selling songs.

    People will pay for things, if you market them right. Some guy on another post talked about water being free and then I promptly posted the revenue for bottled water; an 11 billion dollar US valuation and growth of over 6% in 2013. You are only demonstrating your lack of knowledge about marketing. I think it is great you have found your way to make money and type, but don’t sell the rest of us short or try and cut-off possibility with your prejudice.

    Many of us are not fans of Spotify and believe that the labels sold music down the river when they signed the equity deals with Spotify and opened that door. Sorry, but those dealings stink.

    Talk about what musicians can do and not what they can’t do. Also, I read the Courtney Love piece awhile ago. You might want to look for a different source. Actually forget that. As you proved in such detail on an earlier post, you can find data that will support any and every position on the internet.

    After all, if we can find a way to transform the perception about recorded music and get more people to buy it; it would be good for everyone. Even you.

    So talk about what we can do, NOT what YOU think we can’t do.

    • GGG

      Pretty sure saying “figure out how to make it work!” is literally the opposite of having a limited view of what can and can’t be done.

  10. Ari Herstand

    Appreciate the civil discourse guys. Respectful, healthy debate as always!

  11. Paul Resnikoff

    One thing that’s often missed is that recording labels were once the nucleus and birthplace of an artistic career, with recordings making it possible. Labels may have screwed artists, but they also invested a lot of capital in those artists (unlike anyone in today’s climate). The labels may have been bad at capturing all of the resulting revenue-generators beyond the recording (merchandise, touring, Hollywood, etc.), but their investments ultimately created them. That includes fame, which is an incredibly powerful and lucrative asset that can long outlive any recording contract (but often requires a lot of capital to create).

    Ask yourself, would we even have heard of Lyle Lovett without the involvement of major label capital? I doubt it.

    • Ari Herstand

      No question Paul. When artists succeed on a label (to the point of fame) it’s because of the label’s financial investment. My point is that artists never relied on their album sales for income – they found alternative ways to use their fame to generate income. The same philosophy should be applied across the board for all musicians – on a label or DIY.

      The debate on how much musicians should earn from streaming or digital downloads seems to ignore the fact that most successful musicians never made anything from sales, but still built a career. This philosophy can be applied on a smaller scale for DIY artists (like how I’ve done it).

      • Minneapolis Musician


        But without the fame (from the label’s big money investment) they could not make money from “alternative means”. That’s the point I think is being missed in these articles about bootstrapping yourself.

        Having the name recognition and the “expectation of excellence” from a potential audience member is the key driver to sales through other means they require good attendance at live performances.

        • Ari Herstand

          I don’t disagree on belief, I disagree based on, well, the fact that I have made it work as a full-time DIY musician using alternate means. I outline how on

          • Minneapolis Musician


            I looked at your site and I think it is very well done.

            Overall your site does an outstanding job of portraying what it takes to be a working entertainer providing a fun show for the audience…and get as much money out of that job as you can. It’s largely about image and showmanship, banter, a good time, and as you said on your page your “story”: what your are generally “about”.

            I did this sort of thing for quite a while back when there were more paying clubs and no Internet. I do think it is quite challenging today. But if you can find your niche and work it as hard as you do, I can see how a person can pay the bills with it. But I think it is a challenge today and most who are making tracks in their home studio won’t be able to do it.

          • Minneapolis Musician

            That’s two. And I am sure there are more.

            But then again, there are millions of people now making tracks from their home studios and marketing them on the Internet.

      • FarePlay

        Ari, wrong, wrong, wrong. Tell me Bruce Springsteen, led Zeppelin. Billy Joel, Elton John, the Rling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, etc., etc. didn’t make a boatload of cash from recorded music sales and advances.

        Through no fault of your own, you’ve come into this business at a very challenging time. As someone on the opposite side of the conversation said recently. So Beyonce sold 1 million full release downloads, big deal. And to that I say, you’re right, it just goes to show how bad things have gotten.

        Music was never meant to be the prize in the box of cracker jacks. Or simply a tool to sell advertising or T-Shirts.

    • hippydog

      It seems everyone pretty much agrees to be a major artists, the primary catch is access to “fame”
      Then Ergo: Ari is correct,
      as the 21 century as shown that it is much easier for people to grab that “15 minutes”. You are a lot less dependant on the “gatekeepers” to supply it.. IE: the ‘direct to the people’ happens a lot more..

      What a person does with that ’15 minutes’ depends on their talent and skill..

      Yes, there is a lot more “noise” happening (which offsets the increased opportunity), so there is good chance it turns out to be a ‘wash’ (IE: Your opportunity to become famous has neither increased nor decreased due to the loss of the labels, just changed on how it must be gained)

  12. David

    The author seems to take Courtney Love’s screed as gospel, so it should be pointed out that her assumptions are extreme and her figures don’t add up.

    For a start, she assumes that an unknown new band spends half a million dollars recording an album and a million dollars (!!) making two videos. Well, if they do they can hardly blame the label for their own profligacy or their manager’s incompetence.

    She also assumes that the label contributes $0.2 million towards tour costs, which is recoupable from record royalties. But she ignores the fact that if the tour itself is profitable, on her assumptions the band retains all the profit, and the label benefits only from any resulting increase in record sales.

    Again, she assumes that the label pays $0.75 million in publishing royalties, but ignores the likelihood that the band receives a part of these (as rock bands nowadays write most of their own material).

    But even if we accept the assumptions as plausible, I can’t get the figures to add up. If anyone can explain how the label can ‘gross’ $11 million, while the band’s royalty of 20% comes to $2 million, I would be interested to know. I also wonder where the distributors’ and retailers’ cut, and the various other costs and sales taxes, are coming from. Maybe she is interpreting the labels ‘gross’ as net of these other costs, but if so, what is the band’s 20% a percentage of? It is plausible that in the year 2000 (the date of the article) the retail price of a CD would have been around $15, so maybe she is assuming the labels ‘gross’ is some percentage of a larger retail sales figure ($11 million is about 75% of $15 million), but if the band’s 20% comes to $2 per record, as stated, there is an unexplained baseline of $10 per record.

    • Anonymous

      If you are a nobody and someone offers you a record deal, it will naturally be shit (10-15% of revenue. All of the record label’s costs remotely and completely vaguely related to you, down to the janitor cleaning their toilets are advanced against you getting a royalty to begin with). It’s safe to say, you’ll never get a royalty check from your first record contract. Even if you are a hit.

      But if you are a record-record selling artist like Micheal Jackson (RIP) and you are signing a new record deal, you are going to get four hundred million dollars of the record label’s equity as part of your record deal. Not as an advance on royalties mind you, just money for agreeing to the record deal.

      Basically if you are signing a record deal and you actually want to get paid, you are much better off already being famous.

      • David

        Fair enough, I’m just saying that Love’s example has the numbers rigged to make her point. If you make different assumptions about how the band spend their advance (e.g., they spend $300K making the album, and $200K on videos), they could come out with a healthy income. For some reason, whenever an artist complains about record labels, they seem to be automatically believed, even when on any other subject you wouldn’t trust them any further than you could throw them.

  13. PlusLogic

    Well if he compared oranges to oranges it would be “one for one” Comparing a Hammer manufacturer to a music performer is not 1 to 1. Or is he comparing the hammer manufacturer to the recording label? Also not 1 to 1. A hammer manufacturer can at best be compared to a cd manufacturer which is exactly “one for one” Comparing one manufacturer to an entire industry or comparing the manufacturer to the hammer designer/salesman is disingenuous and misleading.

    • PlusLogic

      Well if he compared oranges to oranges it would be “one for one” Comparing a Hammer manufacturer to a music performer is not 1 to 1. Or is he comparing the hammer manufacturer to the recording label? Also not 1 to 1. A hammer manufacturer can at best be compared to a cd manufacturer which is exactly “one for one” Comparing one manufacturer to an entire industry or comparing the manufacturer to the hammer designer/salesman is disingenuous and misleading.

  14. Adam

    What’s more important here isn’t how much money Mr Lovett or any other musician who was part of said major label didn’t get paid based on sales… It is the very fact that he didn’t pay anything to record his music or release it, and the fact that he got an advance – meaning he got money up front period. Theoretically he could have bought instruments, paid rent for a few months Etc. In today’s system, where those licensing music no longer pay you anything until after the music sells (no advance,) musicians not only get paid little or nothing as the music sells, but they also get no advance, must pay for the recording, mastering and release of their album, cover more touring costs out of pocket, and often need many jobs to cover the costs.

    • Jeff Robinson

      Exactly. The CD is the product. The band is the vehicle or the reason associated to sell each disc.

  15. DIY Industry Constultant


    Thank you for your post. I appreciate your perspective. I consult an average of 50 DIY artists a year. I will take much of what you’ve said with me.

  16. Brett

    frankly, I’d love to think that everyone on the planet would be willing to pay every artist 1 penny to listen to a song. A penny. That’s currently about 400x what Spotify pays per play. I find that to be a reasonable threshold—no one picks a goddam penny up off the ground these days, why not charge a penny per play that goes directly to the artist. The internet conduit that offers the content makes its money on advertising and corporate sponsorship, as they are allowed to use the content to attract listeners to their site, who are then exposed to ads, etc. Simple, fair.

    • Ari Herstand

      Factually incorrect. Spotify pays between $.006-.0084 per stream. Which is over half a penny. Not “400x what Spotify pays.” Please use facts to support arguments. Time to stop bashing Spotify based on feeling and alleged numbers. They released their numbers.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        Why are they giving a range? Why not one simple average? Is it because the average is much closer to .006? Is it because the average indie rights holders receives is .006 while major label rights holders receive .0084 or 40% more? Maybe North Americans receive .006 and Europeans get .0084, the difference explained by exchange rates or some other reason? What is the one true average, inquiring minds would like to know? In any case, according to fair calculations, .012 is a fair average North American stream payout regardless if indie or major, free or paid tiers. You should work to get us fair stream rates and not cheerlead for Spotify’s empty promises to rights holders for the purpose of launching a larger IPO offering.

  17. Malcolm Hume

    Lyle makes plenty of money off of songwriting royalties for all of those records he sold. Period.