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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ex-CBOT quant) talks about the economics of the music business and how the 'old boss' — the record labels — have been replaced by the new boss — file downloading services, song streaming, and commercial online music stores.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 alen ( 225700 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:38PM (#40101995)

    the bosses aren't the problem, the problem is the amount of product

    i like most rock from the mid 60s to present day. there are so many good bands to listen to that its impossible to buy it all on CD. too expensive.

    recorded music is your advertising and you should be making money on live performances from the real fans

    just like almost every line of business these days. break even or lose on 90% of your customers and make your profit on the rest. something like 4% of dropboxe's customers pay them, yet they make A LOT of money

  • Competition? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zaphod The 42nd ( 1205578 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:43PM (#40102029)
    There are more music acts than ever, and they are each individually able to reach a FAR greater audience than before. The number of people and the amount of spare money the public has to spend on entertainment has been fairly constant. So, of course, each individual artist is going to make less. There's new genres and new artists every day.

    Futhermore, now we have videogames and other new media competing for our entertainment dollars.

    Its not that artists are making less money. Its that there aren't as few mega "rock stars" as before. You don't have the beatlemania where people are going crazy for a particular one act, who effectively has a monopoly on popular music.

    Finally, they can't force us to buy 12 song albums with 2 hits and 10 crap songs anymore. We've broken their hold on that business model. Now we expect to be able to pay .99 cents to get the 1 song we want. That isn't "unfair" to artists, rather, it was unfair to the consumer before, and now its been made right.

    I'm so sorry you can't afford to drink top shelf champagne on your private jet anymore.
  • by Zondar ( 32904 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:46PM (#40102071)

    Not to be prophetic or philosophical, but it will be in the end like it was in the beginning.

    In the beginning, bands formed and recorded music in their garage, with the best equipment and recording technology that they could afford. The collaborated in the best space they could find (someone's garage) and they self published the recording they made. Maybe they made money, maybe they didn't.

    Today, musicians can record with (nearly) the same quality in their house as they can in a major studio. Musicians can collaborate over the internet either directly or with the help of a collaboration service that helps musicians find each other and exchange / submit tracks. Musicians can publish their tracks on services where they either get money per track or as a donation model (see for a perfect example of this).

    Musicians can self-promote on the internet, and perhaps reach greater audiences than they can through traditional media and distribution channels.

    The musicians simply need to embrace these new ways of doing things and be willing to take on these tasks directly instead of having someone else do it (and probably rip them off in the process).

  • I can believe it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:47PM (#40102083)

    The internet is hurting everybody, by making things cheap. DJs, singers, authors of books..... Correction: Not everybody; it helps the billons of people who are lower and middle incomes to afford buying entertainment and education online.

    So it's a matter of choice: Do we choose to help the small 0.1% of singers, artists, authors by protecting their income with ~$15 CDs and ~$25 hardback books. Or do we help the other 99.9% by offering them cheaper $3 albums or $5 books that you can download from the comfort of your chair? (And also a lot of free material like college lectures.)

    I choose the 99.9%.

  • by arbulus ( 1095967 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:47PM (#40102097)
    The thing is, the old model is nearly dead. There are not going to be "rock stars" and big record company profits anymore. Those days are done. And it's a good thing. The record companies kept a strangle hold on the distribution of music for decades. They used that hold to make millions of dollars and made it look like they were a good thing for artists. But they aren't. And their hold is now broken. But instead of trying to adapt, the labels are taking more and more money from the artists.

    Are we going to see millionaire musicians anymore? Absolutely not. Those days are done. But is music dead? Certainly not. But the record labels are no longer needed. An artists can make it on their own. Will they make the same money? No. But this is the point: yes it's less money than before, but it's either that or nothing. The old days are gone and people are going to have to accept it. But it's good because now the artists will own their own creations and can sell directly to the fans and keep all of the profits.
  • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:49PM (#40102131)

    "Many indie artists tried the service for several months and when the payout time came, they found out they only got a few hundreds (if even that) from the service. It was serious degrade from their previous earnings."

    In tradition of claiming problems without giving us any kind of reference, I still was kinda interested how big their previous earnings are and what kind of contracts they had with their publishers before going online? :) Just really want to know, already thanks for any reply.

  • by starworks5 ( 139327 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:51PM (#40102157) Homepage

    Just because what you do is time consumptive and requires skill, doesn't mean that your somehow special and entitled to make large sums of cash. I mean the food that you eat is inherently more important than any music you make, however people slave at near or below minimum wage to produce it for you, and somehow you presume your labor is more important? Because you have the force of government on your side to protect your interests, because you end up lobbying them with massive amounts of money to do so? The idea that you should limit a limitless resource, so that you can extract alot more value out of it, sounds alot like extortion to me. Just because that sort of extortion is propping up our economy doesn't mean that its right, its a form of non productive consumption and people would rightfully so, switch to a form of production that the market finds more valuable and scarce otherwise.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:52PM (#40102177) Journal

    This is rather fundamental to the entire copyright debate when it starts to focus on artists being unable to make a living anymore.

    Well, how is that different from ANY other profession being unable to make a living anymore? In Holland it has been decades since the coal mines closed and not because of lack of coal. How would you, or indeed any artist, support any law dictating the installation of gas networks to keep the demand for goal high?

    It goes further. With printing and the translation of the bible came the possibility for the faithful to get their fairy tales from outside the church and my my did the church hate that and not just try to ban this but committed murder on a massive scale to stop this.

    Tech, changes, the, WORLD. It is not just about you holding a computer in your pocket now more powerful then early spaceships BUT it is about our very society changing because of tech. Anything from the pill, to the automobile and the post office box (before the post office box, women could not post without everyone knowing about it, mail became a great liberator long before the Internet).

    And that change isn't always good for everyone. Modern artists have taken the bread away from many of their predecessors. Recorded music? Took the place of live music. Once every movie theater had a small band playing and of course movies took the place of real life artists on the stage.

    You can't stop tech, well you can, red flag in front of cars and all that but ultimately, tech will prevail because for the majority, the good outweighs the bad. The Internet will continue to be. You can't stop the digital age just because you don't like that bits can be copied at near zero cost and be distributed for only slightly more.

    And if you argue different then why do you care about artist who make millions while ordinary factory workers are unable to feed their families because that same tech has outsourced all their jobs? When those same millionaire artists flee the country to tax heavens and buy foreign goods?

    Oh sure, not all artists are like that, they just dream of being like that one day.

    There is still a normal average salery to be made as an artist, you just got to work hard, just like everyone else and not hope people will just buy your 1 good song with ten crap ones for what amounts to several times minimum wage EVEN if you had to perform it live. 5 minutes 1 dollar == 12 dollars an hour wage. Takes more time to write it? Take me more then 8 hours to keep an 8 hour job to and I know who is in more danger of throwing in his back.

    The world has changed, either change with it or get steamrolled. If the artists cared that much about it all, let them strike. I will happily they get the same treatment as the coal workers around the world.

    And if I sound angry? In Holland we have a recession, so how does the leftist (elitist) green party react? Impose taxes on public transport reimbursement payed by employers so you can make art and antiques have a lower tax rate. FUCK THAT.

    And you might think I am extreme but when I voice this in real life, you see people going... well I don't agree, sure I don't buy any music anymore either and I am totally untouched by any plea from the industry or artists... oh wait... I do sorta agree.

    Once people loved artists and were fans of record labels. Now that is no longer true except for the future burger flipper generation.

    And if you don't believe me... do you have adblocker installed? Yes? So it is okay to steal from websites but not artists?

    See? Once the people have been pushed to far, they can stand by and see a group destroyed with no remorse whatsoever. Human beings ain't nice and the world does not owe you a living.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:53PM (#40102189)

    They can always go live and get paid for concerts. The days of being paid for a lifetime over a month's worth of work is going the way of the do-do.


    The situation is similar with e-books. A few people can upload one book and make a million bucks, but the majority will make a few thousand per book, if it's well written and the writer isn't particularly unlucky. Which means they need to actually do a normal work week writing multiple books a year if they want to make a living at it.

    Expectations are hideously skewed by the experiences of the last few decades, which are far from the historical norms. For most of history musicians did actually have to work for a living rather than perform once and go on vacation for a year.

  • by Tharsman ( 1364603 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:53PM (#40102193)

    Jonathan Coulton was talking about this a few months ago in the TWiT podcast.

    Streaming services pay garbage to independent artists because the big studios (the old boss) bullied them into accepting horrible terms or literally take them out of business.

    Make no mistake; the big studios get a generous split of the Spotify profits. But for Spotify to survive with such a "generous" deal, they had to screw someone else: the indie musician that "can't really bully" them.

    Mind you, in some ways, if all indies got together and left Spotify, they would suffer (right now they average their profits with a mixture of indie and big studio playbacks.)

    I would not be shocked if the studios want it to work this way, to discourage the next gen of artists from pursuing an indie career.

  • This Part (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:53PM (#40102195)

    It took a while to find anything solid but these I considered informative,

    Under the new digital model I calculate that most label artists get between 15%- 35% of wholesale. For example the most recent of my recording contracts says I should get a total of 20.5 cents on a 99 cent song (including mechanical royalties). This works out to 29.7% of wholesale. So this part of the new digital paradigm is about the same as the old record label system.

    So when you compare share of revenue for artists on record labels under the new digital system to the old system it looks pretty good. At least until you consider the fact that the price of music has dropped. For instance, an artists royalty on an album is now calculated at 6.90 not at a $10.00 wholesale price as it was in the 1980s. . This drop in the price of music was inevitable. But the record labelâ(TM)s expenses fell considerably in the switch from physical to digital products whereas the artistâ(TM)s expenses (the recording budgets) did not. So this had the effect of reducing artists net revenues and shifting revenue towards the record labels. For the new digital distribution model to be as âoefairâ to the artist, the artist share of download revenue should have increased. It stayed the same or increased only marginally.


    And then there is that iTunes store 30%. Seems kind of high to me. What is their risk? Today in 2012? Do they really deserve more per album than the artist? At least the record labels put up capital to record albums. At least the record labels provide the artist with valuable promotion and publicity. Historically in the music business when someone was taking more than 20% of gross revenues that had some âoeskin in the gameâ. They risked losing a lot of money.

    This does show a problem with the economic system that the industry has set up. Consumers ran screaming from one oligopoly to another. Is it this really surprising that artists are still taking the brunt of it when you are still dealing with the same businesses?

  • by Maudib ( 223520 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:56PM (#40102213)

    The artists were part of the problem in the old system. So long as they are trying to perpetuate the abuses of the current copyright system, they are still a problem. Until the DMCA and CTEA are overturned, we should celebrate the losses of any musicians that rely on these for profit. They are party to the greatest theft from the commons ever. They can work for free until that debt is repaid.

  • by Bootsy Collins ( 549938 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:02PM (#40102283)

    Are we going to see millionaire musicians anymore? Absolutely not. Those days are done. But is music dead? Certainly not. But the record labels are no longer needed. An artists can make it on their own. Will they make the same money? No. But this is the point: yes it's less money than before, but it's either that or nothing. The old days are gone and people are going to have to accept it. But it's good because now the artists will own their own creations and can sell directly to the fans and keep all of the profits.

    The problem isn't that we aren't going to see millionaire musicians anymore. The problem is that your statement that "an artist can make it on their own" is, for the most part, not true. Never mind millions -- almost no artists are making a basic living selling music anymore. I am a musician -- only an amateur, but I get around enough to know and meet lots of professional musicians, some of whom are pretty well known; and I nobody that makes enough money to eat and pay their rent/utilities from music sales. And this is pretty pervasive -- 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. You curse the big labels and champion the independence the modern era has allowed artists to have, and those are worthy sentiments to have, and I agree with them. But it's important to remember that perversely, the practical effect of these changes has been that only a small number of artists are making money from music sales, and by and large they aren't independent artists.

    These days, to the extent that an artist or act is able to make enough money to continue to make music, that money isn't coming from music sales. It's coming from shows: what they make playing shows (including merchandise sold at shows) minus the costs of doing them. It used to be the other way around: shows existed to promote record sales, and record sales were where the money came from. Now, if you like an act and what them to continue to make music, the best thing you can do for them is go see them live and buy their stuff at the merch table. If I go to a show and I really, really like a band, I'll almost always walk out with a CD (even if it's music I already have -- I'll give it to someone as a gift) because I know that that's what will keep them going.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:04PM (#40102305)

    A lot of his criticisms of the current "new" system are valid. But the fundamental problem, as I see it, is that instead of truly "breaking the paradigm", everyone is treating the business the same way it had been.

    In short, they know the players have changed, but nobody's realized that the game can be changed. Artists still expect some form of publisher to pay for their studio time, they still go to some publisher to publish their music. And now they complain that the publisher is still taking too much money.

    Here's an idea (and it's just that, an idea): Go completely, 100% independent
    Use Kickstarter or the like to get the cash to record an album. Having a demo of one or two songs should suffice, if you can market yourself properly, and you can self-fund demos easily enough.
    Once you have the album, sell it on your own site instead of iTunes or Amazon. Maybe Humble-Indie-Bundle it with other, *similar* bands, if that can give you more publicity.
    Either use the profits from the album, or ticket presales (Kickstarter may work well again), to go on tour. Get merchandise to sell - t-shirts, physical CDs, posters, etc.
    Make sure to have some sort of contact for licensing. If Hollywood Director Q wants to use your song in Summer Action Movie Part XIV, you shouldn't make it hard for him. Commercials. Radio play. Anything - if someone wants to pay you to use your music, it needs to be possible. And price yourself lower than the Big Media bands do (since there's no publisher to take a 90% cut, it should be easy).

    Between album sales and concerts, it should be possible to make a good living. The era of the multi-millionaire superstar is probably over, but honestly, I won't mourn them.

    There are some problems with this. The publisher is normally the one to do all the advertising, so you'd have to do that yourself. It means a band *will* need some sort of marketing person to succeed, from Day 1. Music critics will also have to do a much better job - they can't just look at the list of what Big Media inc. is publishing this month, listen to the CDs mailed to you, and write down 4 stars for all of it.

    There's probably a million other problems, too, but we won't find them until someone at least *tries*.

  • by pedropolis ( 928836 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:23PM (#40102509)

    True story:
    A friend of mine and I were at the 9:30 Club in DC circa... July 2006 to see Cracker play. The opening acts finish up and here comes this tall, lanky, scruffy-looking dude who is laying down cable and taping up mics. He's setting up guitars and stuff, roadie jobs. I turn to my friend between sips of beer and say, "You know, that's David Lowrey." At the 9:30 Club you're about 10 feet from the stage once up front, max. We've got a clear view of this guy and sure enough, it's David Lowrey, roadie.

    As you'll read in the article, David Lowrey is a math grad. If he's calculated that his band can't pay a roadie to do set-up, then you know they're making next to nothing for these shows. I'm not saying he's supposed to have a designated cape handler like James Brown, but a roadie - sure.

    Point is - I'm not sure they were making anything off this show. He was his band's roadie, and they drove Johnny Hickman's microbus to the show from Richmond. This was a harbinger of things to come.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:26PM (#40102547) Journal

    that money isn't coming from music sales. It's coming from shows: what they make playing shows (including merchandise sold at shows) minus the costs of doing them. It used to be the other way around: shows existed to promote record sales, and record sales were where the money came from. Now, if you like an act and what them to continue to make music, the best thing you can do for them is go see them live and buy their stuff at the merch table.

    Most musicians made their living from live performance for all but 60 years or so of human history. It's always a pain when technological changes screw over the way you're in the habit of making money, but that comes to just about anyone in any industry - no reason for musicians to be immune. However, I think long term it will work well, and we'll have as many milionaire musicians as we've ever had (a few each generation), as any musician can now reach a vast potential audience, and it doesn't take much when you have 10 million fans.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:28PM (#40102575)

    You know, with all their creative vision, artists don't necessarily know which songs are going to be crap songs and they certainly don't try to write them. They still had to invest time and money into the songs you don't like: maybe one in five turns out good, and those good songs are what they make their living from. You're subsidizing their efforts to make more good stuff by also paying for the ones they developed but didn't turn out. The artist is assuming a hell of a lot of risk when you come out and say "I don't ever plan to buy most of what you make, and I won't know what I want until you put it on the shelves".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:29PM (#40102579)

    So are you saying you don't want new music, art, books, etc, or you are just too fucking cheap to pay for it?

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:30PM (#40102591)

    Quick question: how many people are selling entertainment? It seems to me that there's a glut of entertainment, which means that supply completely overwhelms demand. The result: very low prices for a product, with only a select few making lots of money in it.

    That's the free market for you. If there would be only a few hundred musicians in the world, I can guarantee you they would make out like bandits. Put since there are a few millions, most live hand-to-mouth.

    I think what happened with the new bosses is not so much that they are worse than the old bosses, but that there are now far, far more musicians around chasing that same entertainment dollar. Before, supply was artificially constrained. Now, it's not, and people find out that it is even harder to make a living - because suddenly, the competition got that much fiercer.

  • by Bootsy Collins ( 549938 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:52PM (#40102911)
    Related story: at a sold out Sebadoh reunion show I went to maybe a year ago, also in DC (hi neighbor), my wife pointed out when we arrived that Lou Barlow was working the merch table. I've seen a lot more of that lately -- big artists working the merch table themselves. It's probably good for all parties: fans get an opportunity to meet and actually talk with performers they love; performers save money on another person in the van during the tour, and likely sell more stuff because people enthusiastically come to the table and interact.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:59PM (#40103005) Journal

    It's not even am original scam. It's just an extension of the "marketing your record costs lots of money" scam. Stealing royalties via exaggerated expenses and inadequate invoice management is hardly an innovation. Why do you think everyone from the Beatles to King Crimson have had to take legal avenues to even get accurate sales figures?

  • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:00PM (#40103011)
    The new 'boss' can be used to drive people to buy things from you that can't be freely copied. The 'boss' is you. Spotify are indeed just a revamp of the old, but the tools now exist for anyone to be able to produce/record quality music and distribute it far and wide at very little cost.

    You don't *need* the labels anymore. It's the known and comfortable thing, but if you change the business model from selling music to selling actual 'stuff' using the music now your potential market is as vast as the internet.
  • by daniel.benoy ( 1810984 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:04PM (#40103081)

    If you talked to someone in 1912 and you told them in 100 years that high quality, diverse music would be as common as grains of sand on the beach, and nearly the same price, they would probably say the future sounds awesome.

    The last thing you'd hear from them is 'That sucks. I hope it remains super expensive so top artists can get super rich in perpetuity.'

    I think the discussion has gotten so wrapped up in the issue of intellectual property. People have become so invested in coming to some societal consensus on how artists get compensated, that they didn't notice when music became phenomenally easy produce and distribute.

    People need to realize that paying someone money to create music has gone the way of paying someone to repair your shoes, or paying someone to deliver fresh milk to your door. The concept is obsolete.

  • Dear Mr. Lowery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:10PM (#40103179) Journal

    Dear Mr. Lowery,

    The Internet is so, so sorry if you are having a harder time because it exists. However, in general, it seems that it is easier for many other musicians because it exists.

    Details can be found at the Techdirt article where you prove, in your reply posts [], that you're an idiot, in either your business skills, your public relation skills, or both.

    Oh so sincerely,
    The Internet

  • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:18PM (#40103279)

    Just to be clear: they can, but I wholeheartly agree on having good engineer at least and/or recording producer for it. Having acoustically perfect studio is overblown. You can record vocals in it, but for rest lot of interesting tricks can and is used. Radiohead recorded their last LPs in various places, most of them wasn't studios.

    But having good engineer at least is a must, because it speeds up things considerably.

  • by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:42PM (#40103555) Journal

    yeah, but funding was largely a sham. Dave is right that studio time and agents don't get paid a percentage of record sales, but there are numerous errors in that chart he shows as well as his rebuttal of it, and I can see where this bass player was coming from. Fees for agents, studio time, and expenses all come out of the musician's pocket, not the studio's pocket. The chart completely missed the 10-15% songwriter cut, which for my band was a slightly larger share than share the entire band got (admittedly it was a bad contract, but we couldn't afford lawyers), divvied between all of us, but we never saw a cent of it - all those earnings went to pay studio time (primarily). Our singer songwriter made money on the album, the rest of us didn't.

      All in all it wasn't a failure, though - the band actually made a meager living on the road, and I made a decent living by also playing in both a variety band and as a cellist (solo and quartet) at weddings. In the early-to-mid 1990s both of these gigs paid MUCH better than my band, and both were organized by my variety band's business - I was more like an employee, not an owner, unlike with the band (technically I wasn't an owner, but we divvied the profits) - I'm sure the owner took a large %age, but still $2k-5k (I made 5k twice doing both cello solo and variety band) a gig was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, variety bands ceded to DJs in the mid-1990s and I went back to school and finished my degree so I didn't have to live by random and becoming much more sparse income anymore. The band had broken up by then anyway (mostly over the financial dispute with the record label, and then refusing to make another album without renegotiating our contract - if this sounds familiar, it is hardly rare - see the Stone Roses as an example, and they were much bigger than we were).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:47PM (#40103629)

    As an indy artist, I agree completely. I've put together 4 albums in the past 3 years and made over $200,000 on them. Mind you i've done this mostly in my spare time and i could do two to three a year if i was doing this as full time work. For me, I create the albums for a charity i care about then release all the right to them to create some residual income outside of their immediate (sometimes fickle) supporters.

    I thought everyone doing this knew that streaming services were more for getting your name out there than making money. no? remember the

    Most of our sales come from iTunes, AmazonMP3, then Physical CD's. People are loose with their wallets for digital downloads. We send out a message to our fans and usually make 80% or our annual sales in the first two weeks the record is out, then over the next month about 15%, it drops to a fairly consistent sales baseline and the rest of the year of sales fills the last 5%.

    I could fairly easily do this for a living, but for me i don't want it to become "work" I want it to be fun and a fun "episodic challenge" like a crazy game. and it does take the pressure off not having to rely on it for my sole income.

    I say put the time in, make good music establish a fanbase and go for it! you wont get-rich-quick but you can certainly make a decent living doing something you love.

  • by HapSlappy_2222 ( 1089149 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:58PM (#40103787)
    Well, of course they would. But I think the GP's point is nobody would ever take a loan like that if there were alternatives, and there most definitely should be. Granted, not every musician has what it takes to start a business, but not every inventor or programmer or barista does, either, yet I still see new products, software, and coffee being sold by someone who does have what it takes.

    What I don't see is Starbucks able to get away with locking small shops completely out of competition based solely on not allowing competitors to rent the space, like the big record labels can do ("Can we buy up every minute of the day's radio signals and refuse to play nice with artists, period? Well sure we can!!").
  • by petsounds ( 593538 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:09PM (#40103889)

    Wait, what? Why must a musician either be a millionaire musician or a bedroom noodler? Why can't indie artists make a decent living at their craft?

    This idea that artists should simply suffer in obscurity for their art, that they should learn their place and not expect to earn a living doing what they love, is bullshit. That they should get a "real job", is bullshit. Of course, that's part of the American experience – as a culture, we don't value art – and artists – as much as the Europeans. We value invented royalty in the United States.

    Getting the big money out of music is a lot easier than getting rid of that attitude. Digital music and streaming services have only enforced that attitude that music has very little value, and that the artists behind them don't need support and compensation for their work.

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @07:09PM (#40104901)

    For me, what sucks isn't that John Doe or Jane Schmoe don't make a living at music; it's that seemingly nobody does anymore.

    That's ridiculous. There are tons of people still making money in music these days. They may not be making as much for just the music anymore, but the shows still bring them in a pretty penny. The merchandise still makes them money. There's still plenty of money to be made in music, even if you completely remove the proceeds from selling the music itself, there are other avenues to make money in that business. Just the advertising hits on a Youtube channel, in the right hands, can bring in a decent amount of money. How many fucking bloggers are out there making a living doing nothing but blogging and now vlogging? And you're trying to tell me that musicians aren't making money anymore? Come on...

    It's not that people aren't making money anymore, it's that the barriers to entry are much lower so the pie is getting cut into smaller pieces all around, but there are still people making a decent living doing what they love. We may never see another Elvis or Beatles or Michael Jackson, 'rich beyond the dreams of avarice' artist again, but I really can't feel too bad about that. There are equally talented artists out there that didn't make diddly squat when the RIAA was doing everything they can to make sure we only hear the artists they want us to hear [] that now have a shot to actually make a decent living, thanks to the internet.

    This is not due to illegal downloads (despite what the RIAA says) this is about a fundamental shift away from the antiquated distribution methods and business model that the RIAA members themselves created solely to drive profits into their own pockets. We don't need to buy a 45 to hear a single anymore, we can go to Youtube and hear it whenever we want, not to mention view a video that we likely never would have seen (MTV being just as bad with the Payola-esque bullshit as the radio; towards the end of the days when they actually played videos, remember how often they would play the same tired bullshit video over and over and over? Ja Rule and J-Lo and fucking Puddle of Mudd and godawful Nickelback 24/7). They no longer get to monopolize the market and shove that shit down our throats, and we're supposed to feel bad for the people that were the ancillary beneficiaries of that twisted crap?

    David Lowery of Cracker benefited from that shit just as much as the other "grunge" artists that had videos on MTV. I bought a copy of Kerosene Hat solely because I loved the song "Low" so much and the rest of the album sucked in my opinion. I wonder how many other millions of people out there bought that CD for that one song that was endlessly pimped on MTV over and over and over again back in '93. Also, remember how often the production values across even a single CD would be dramatically different? Three polished singles and bunch of filler garbage that was recorded on a 4-track in some dude's garage (listen to Tracy Bonham's The Burdens of Being Upright [] for a good example of that, but there are many to choose from that originated in the grunge era like Cracker). Anyway, their label may have eaten 99% of the $20 I dropped on that CD, but it's not like I had any other alternative. Not like today. Now I get to preview an entire album before I buy it, although honestly, I usually pirate the CD (especially if it's a major label) and buy some of the band's merchandise instead. I've got a ton of posters and band T-shirts to show for it. Know why? Because the artist gets a large percentage of the merchandise proceeds, and not only that, it allows me to pay it forward a bit by advertising on their behalf as I'm wearing their shirt in my day to day life. They get next to nothing from their label, unless they're one of the dozen artists the label actually gives a shit about. That's been true for

  • by DeathElk ( 883654 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @08:30PM (#40105369)

    If your friends aren't making any money, then there's either too much supply or not enough demand.

    Or too many people downloading valuable product for free.

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