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New Music Boss, Worse Than Old Music Boss 567

frank_adrian314159 writes "David Lowery, musician (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven), producer (Sparklehorse, Counting Crows), recording engineer (Archers of Loaf, Lamb of God), and geek (programmer, packet radio operator, ex-CBOT quant) talks about the economics of the music business and how the 'old boss' — the record labels — have been replaced by the new boss — file downloading services, song streaming, and commercial online music stores. His take? Although the old boss was often unfair to artists, artists are making even less money under the new boss. Backed with fairly persuasive data, he shows that, under the new distribution model, artists — even small independent ones — are exposed to more risk while making less money. In addition, the old boss was investing in the creation of new music, while the new boss doesn't. This article is lengthy, but worth the attention of anyone interested in the future of music or music distribution."
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New Music Boss, Worse Than Old Music Boss

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:43PM (#40102039)

    Actually, I think the moral here is: Don't trust someone with a history of burning artists.

  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:52PM (#40102175)
    your example is the music industries reactionary response to itunes and the rest of the online music migration? There are lots of services that are not just more of the same from the big music companies where the artist gets a fair share like []
  • by xrayspx ( 13127 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:59PM (#40102253) Homepage
    Amanda Palmer [] just posted a very long and informative blog about where all the money goes when people donate to her Kickstarter effort to finance her upcoming tour/album. In that post, she references Steve Albini's classic rant [] against an industry churning through young talent and keeping all the candy for themselves (well, one of his rants on the topic, anyway).

    I'm glad to see these issues starting to get major traction and hopefully change can come from without, since it will never come from within.
  • by sdavid ( 556770 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:06PM (#40102315)

    Today, musicians can record with (nearly) the same quality in their house as they can in a major studio.

    Just to be clear: they can't. The recording equipment has become much cheaper, but the the cost of making an acoustically designed studio has not. Nor has the cost of hiring an experienced engineer for the recording. I love what can be done with today's PC-based recording equipment, but a real studio is still a real studio and a garage is still a garage, even if the tracks ultimately end up on a Mac either way.

  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:10PM (#40102361)
    It's all ass-backwards! The artists should be paying someone to market/produce their music, not wait for some tiny percentage cut of their sales to come back to them.

    New artists can't do that, because they don't have the funds upfront.
    The old school recording industry was not only music discovery and production but also the finance arm/bank. It would be no different if a new act went to a regular bank, and convinced them to loan $1,000,000 (which wouldn't happen anyway) for 'production costs and marketing'. All but 'some tiny percentage' would go directly back to the bank to pay off the loan. The 'recording industry' just inserted themselves in as the bank. And profited heavily off of that function.
  • by Bootsy Collins ( 549938 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:31PM (#40102621)

    Then maybe you should pick a different career where you CAN make money. If there are too many musicians, just as there are too many hamburger & fry flippers, than the income will plummet and be crappy. So choose a higher-paying income, rather than being a musician or McDonalds employee.

    NOBODY is owed a living just because they want to do something. *I* happen to like writing science fiction but I'm not stupid enough to think I can make a career out of it. The field of writers is waaaay too full. So I became an engineer instead..... something few people can do, so I get paid big bucks. You (and others) ought to try the same if music isn't working out for you.

    Your response strongly suggests that you didn't actually read what I wrote. So just to make a couple of things clear:

    1. I'm not *trying* to make any money in music; my "real job" is as a physicist. I'm paid just fine. My post wasn't about me or my situation in the tiniest bit.

    2. In no way did I assert that anyone deserves to make money at something simply because they want to do it. How you got that out of my post, I'll never know.

  • by lars_stefan_axelsson ( 236283 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:39PM (#40102707) Homepage
    That artists made any money from recordings was never really true, except for a few really big acts. Witness Roger McGuinn of the Byrds (testimony [] before the house judiciary committee) to name just one:

    In 1973 my work with the Byrds ended. I embarked on a solo recording career on Columbia Records, and recorded five albums. The only money I've received for these albums was the modest advance paid prior to each recording. In 1977 I recorded three albums for Capitol Records in the group "McGuinn Clark and Hillman." Even though the song "Don't You Write Her Off" was a top 40 hit, the only money I received from Capitol Records was in the form of a modest advance. In 1989 I recorded a solo CD, "Back from Rio", for Arista Records. This CD sold approximately 500,000 copies worldwide, and aside from a modest advance, I have received no royalties from that project.

    So there's nothing new there. Live gigs were always the life blood of any musician in the "recording era".

  • by KhabaLox ( 1906148 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:24PM (#40103357)

    I've talked about this with lots of artists that are big enough to sell out venues that range in size between 500-3000 people and they all say the same thing: no artists, except those at the absolute top of the heap, are making a living selling their music anymore.

    We bought our house from, and are friends with, a couple who are both symphonic musicians - she with the LA Phil and he with Long Beach. AFAIK they don't have other jobs, yet they are doing fairly well.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:38PM (#40103503) Journal

    Historically patronage was like the few millionaire musicians today - yes, it happened to a few, but it was far from the norm, as there were only ever a few lords at any given time (that rarity being sort of the point).

    That didn't stop ordinary performers from making a living, finding places to play for a meal and, if lucky, a little coin. The notion of a bar hiring a musician or group to entertain its customers is hardly a new thing, nor is the idea of a musician travelling from small venue to small venue to make a small living,

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger