Big question! Where is the money in today's music business?

I was thinking about the future of my studio. What innovative idea it could be to make this a cost- effective business again?

Bedroom, decent mic and computer in a corner are all we need for making music with low noise level and decent quality. Add knowledge and skills and you have studio quality in your pc or laptop. The hard part comes when you do this kind of job for a living. Low cost recording software and gear makes people think that service you offer is something cheap. They think that music you write is for free and you do this only for pleasure. Average human being can never walk in your shoes and will never understand why you hate torrents and youtube… No, actually- I like youtube if I need to promote something. But if you do not want to share your music or movies you need to be online 24/7 just to write youtube about violations of rights every time they upload something. It could be exhausting.

Actually I am concerned abot our future. I heard that new movie called “resident evil” is in torrents already. It officially came out September 14th. What is going on? Are the music and movie makers supposed to do this all for nothing?

If we can’t stop piracy- obviously not anymore- can we do something about it? For example some kind of worldwild license center for honest people for simple registration of their pirate copy of some movie, music for a small fee. Better a small fee than nothing?

Aloha A,
Here is one possible direction.

If we can’t stop piracy- obviously not anymore- can we do something about it?


I believe that in about 40 years or so (two generations)
the entire subject of ‘Intellectual Copyright’
will become a major debate in the United States of America
and will end up being decided in the Supreme Court.

And that the decision will be:
'There is no such thing as an ‘Intellectual Copyright’.

So in the future If you want to protect your sh!t, keep it to yourself!
Or only give it to those that you are sure will not copy it.
If you release it to the public, it’s gone.


OK. So you can’t charge $5 per single or $25 per album.
So you sell them for a smaller fee. iTunes they go for what, $1 single or track. Well bypass that and sell at $0.25c on your website. the money is all yours and the product is so cheap. Who but a proper bestid would begrudge that for music they like?
Depends what you want. 50% of commercial sales (stuff it objectors, it’s just an off the cuff example) of which most gets pirated or sell it on your own site dirt cheap and make 100%.
If the material is that good it will sell especially if part-samples are judiciously applied via your website and wider like YouTube.
Nobody is pirated unless people like them aka they’re good. So bypass the guys they pirate which is the corporate machine. The price is set by what you see. Don’t misjudge the majority. If they think that you can make a living off a small amount they will give their money. (although you might have to develop an “honesty box” approach)
You might not get to be a millionaire but that’s the problem with this industry is that too many people DO expect that their next song will make them a fortune but forget that reality is that, as in any profession, making a living wage is enough.
This is also affecting the live end of the industry in places as too many “brilliant” or “awesome” bands are willing to perform for nothing in exchange for the “absolute certainty” that they will be millionaires in 6 months. :laughing:
Find the going rate for your songs and sell them at that rate.
However, live and studio work, you will charge the hourly rate for a skilled technician just like any plumber or mechanic as it’s not the equipment or your expertise they pay for as that is “free”, they pay ultimately for your time.
Don’t let anyone waste it for you.

Plus too many performers expect that sound engineer is god who snaps fingers and all their performance will sound as Whitney Houston or Celine Dion… Dissapointment is a mark of misjudging their own skills.

It’s actually easier to sell plumbers time- you can see and smell the difference.

This is actually where my question began. Where is the money for living in music industry after 40years? Since music is an art and requires full commitment and lifetime education it seems pointless educating young musicians, investing on studio gear and so on when they need to be plumbers for making everydays wage. The only way in the future seems to be in selling commercials during concerts, at web pages ( I am sure the concept of TV is about to change very soon).
I just believe that every job well done needs to be paid well. One great song requires a commitment of many people and they need their launch money as much as any plumber does. Otherwise we end up in time 4 centuries ago when great composers ate leftovers.

If for example, you said Celine Dione sold 100 units and 200 were pirated then you could surmise that too much is being charged per unit. With that figure you get a 1 to 3 ratio and so I’d see that as a sign that selling at 1/3 that price might bump sales up to the point where the casual “pirate” would actually buy the thing because for that price who needs the hassle of being prosecuted for piracy. 1/4 the price might actually increase sales revenue.
Are you a collectable masterpiece or just a good print? We go figure.
And all my examples are very approximate.

They do miracles with plastic surgery nowadays… :wink: Dont know about that gay part…

There’s a fundamental problem here. If you pitch them at the going rate you’ll never sell them. If you give them away for free however, well its still unlikely anyone will want them then either. :confused:

This is what I do, but I DON’T rely on it for a living, but rather more a sporadic source of pocket money. I have also encountered the issue you refer too one or twice… where impressions seem to be more important than actual results. But mostly the people that come to me actually like the small ‘homely’, more personalized and affordable option I offer. Big studios with lots of expensive gear can be a little intimidating to some it seems, and then of course there is the cost! Most musicians after all, or certainly the ones I know are broke!

I have one client who has recorded close to 20 projects with me in the last few years so my ‘low-cost’ look and offerings hasn’t put him off at all. He’s been more than delighted with the results. I think more and more people these days are becoming aware now that you really don’t need a big “state-of-the-art” studio to get a professional sounding result and of course there will always be the few that think gear is everything and will insist on nothing but the best (well - that is to say most expensive)!


There’s a fundamental problem here. If you pitch them at the going rate you’ll never sell them. If you give them away for free however, well its still unlikely anyone will want them then either.

Jeez! :unamused: :exclamation: That’s what I mean. ? DON’T pitch them at “the going rate”
Pitch them at the rate they’ll sell with the minimum piracy. And I don’t mean free.
Either they’ll sell or they won’t and you can still give a copy to your grandma. :laughing:

The trouble with this forum is too many look for (usually non-existent) problems instead of solutions. :mrgreen:

“Musicians” are broke mostly because they aren’t professional enough. Look at the dinosaur rock stars and the most successful jazz and blues players. They were pretty rich from sessions and gigs for many years before they got to being successful recording artists because they properly learned how to play just like classical musicians and who can do what they do all day non-stop. The people who are the “poor” musicians are mainly people who think they look and sound good and want a million quid for five years or less of pretty easy work. After their “fashion model” attempt at lifestyle fails they suddenly become “poor musicians”. I know a lot of musicians all up and down the pro scale some are millionaires while some are jobbing musicians who make a living just like other tradesmen and can afford a family and a home like everyone else. I know the others as well.

Well, this is the Steinbergs forum- I usually come here when something doesn’t work the way it supposed to. The truth is that to not talented musicians- complaining is all we have left :smiley:.

Actually I started this subject to gatter some ideas what the future of music business could look like. It is only matter of time when we all will be online 24/7. Every second of our time will be worth more than ever if we have attention to success in what we do. People will not go in store anymore not even for food. They will order it online or let the 3d printer to print the meal they desire. They want their gargo right away without an effort. So CD, Blue Ray a.s.o. are history pretty soon just like we lost vinyls, MCs and other great stuff. The world is about to change. Peoples minds and the way of thinking is changeing.

How can we get benefit from these changes?

How can we get benefit from these changes?

I’ve told you about one aspect of financial benefit. Another is playing live. When the oil runs out (soon as there was in the 80s enough oil in the North Sea to fuel the UK for 200 years and now it’s gone after 25, go figure) you won’t even be able to go back to vinyl. :mrgreen:
Mind you, in the 70s we were supposed to be out of oil.
There’s always money and there’s always “starving” musicians. Musicians are like farmers. There’s always a disaster going on amid the enormous profits.
Rich or poor, there’s always a rat around to lick your boots. :laughing:
And if you’re too set in your ways to change then you don’t have long anyway. (Dan O’Sore 30,000000bc)

Quite right. You won’t make money off a home studio. Unless you’ve invested in the expertise and the outboards to do a few specialist jobs well. There are still folks out there who have studios but they are smaller and usually (and named as) office suites. If you’re serious about makng music as an art then you will still need places to record where you won’t get disturbed by phone calls from aunty Beryl or the kids coming home or the owner walking the dog so you still will hire a place where you can get relative privacy and room to concentrate.
However, a few friends of mine have, over the years they have been using DAWs, managed to get a respectable network of ad, radio and TV agencies to commission what they produce.
A couple have expanded their space for rehearsal rooms with studio and besides getting the run off from rehearsals and normal bookings they specialise in digitising and cleaning up old recordings and in some cases completing old tape projects which they digitise and add to.
All (it seems) the drummers in LA now have their own studios to save themselves schlepping their kit about the country they stay in one place and get sent the masters copy to record their drums over which they then send back with a few versions to sample.
The money seems to be in doing more work with these “labor saving devices”. :mrgreen: Thinking up new ways to use them rather than using them like old tape machinery.

My best advise: Find your niche by digging into it being “you” … if you fail, you either need to find a different approach or do something else that is in more alignment to who you are, and that doesn’t have to be forever.

My advice: Get yourself into a profession that is lucrative enough to support music as a side-line.


Neither miracles nor plastic surgery excludes any specific parts of the body…


Just popping by, thought I’d contribute

When you say making money, what do you mean?

In most reasonable size towns there are one or two pretty good function bands working hard and making a modest amount of money playing covers at weddings.

In most big cities there are one or two fresh new bands doing the live circuit and making beer money. some of these will get picked up by an indie label and paid almost proper money for a year, tour release an album and then sink into obscurity, maybe one or two each year may make that leap into the big time and become the next Muse, some will last a while others will not.

Meanwhile the big media companies will manufacture a handful of autotuned pre-fabricated shrink-wrapped acts and market the hell out of them and the auto tuned pre-fabricated shrink-wrapped act will make a great deal of money for a very short time. Almost none of them will ever be remembered in 10 years.

But on the whole, for the vast majority of the people in the ‘music business’ are not really making much at all.

On the production side, there is pretty much no money to be made and that’s why there are very few new studios around, and why even some of the most famous are struggling. Even at the top of the tree, big name producers who can count among their credits the likes of Madonna, Genesis, U2, etc are only living in modest houses driving modest cars. It is not a business where many people on the operational side of the glass ever get to drive a porsche.

I will recount a small tale.

Back in the day (I.e. when there was enough money around it allowed EMI to indulge Pink Floyd the luxury of giving them the keys to abbey road for a year) A friend of mine lucked into a job as an engineer in a rather prestigious London Studio.(when such jobs were to actually be had) Over the next few years he worked at most of the big studios in London, winding up as the studio manager and in-house engineer for the personal studio of someone who is a household name and seller of millions of records over a long and illustrious career. From there my friend set up his own residential studio, in partnership with someone else and an investor. The gear in the facility alone cost a large 7 figure sum. During those days he was recording big A listers, plus meanwhile he was recording stuff in his own right with a band and they were doing pretty well (well enough that gold disks were bestowed) They could not make that place pay, whoever they had in there recording whatever hits, and in the end it was sold. When I got to know this particular person he was living in a rented flat, didn’t have a car and was working for a small provincial theatre. His walls are bedecked with gold and platinum disks, His phonebook is full of household names, many of whom he’s on first name terms with… I’ve heard his work as an engineer. This guy is good… Really good. Now he’s not in the biz at all and has gone into the catering industry. Not, I am sure an uncommon tale.

So take swamptone’s advice. Get a job that pays well enough to subsidise your music.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

I compromised a little further and have been living on half an income fro a while, but one that has been for the most part a ‘livable wage’ - well it was seven years ago when I started! :open_mouth: - but its certainly never been a ‘financially get ahead’ income. (And as it happens that could all change very soon as the the axe now swings overhead… :confused: But that’s another story). One thing that probably helped make it doable for me living on a part-time income was my inherent skepticism regarding gear. I think there are many G.A.S. sufferers who have unneccesarily invested much, far too much in fact, constantly lured, seduced and succumbing to the percieved need for the ‘latest and the greatest’, etc. I never ever believed gear was going to impact in any significant way to the final outcome and that believe that excellent recordings are quite possible with quite modest tools and ‘out-of-the-box’ plugins etc.

So yeah, I reckon have a job that can subsidise your musical indulgences and don’t allow yourself to get lured into buying stuff you don’t really need - stuff that really isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to your product in any way that actually matters. And, if you’re lucky you may be able to earn a bit of additional pocket money on the side from your recording/production services but I certainly wouldn’t rely on it as your sole income.


^^^ Best advice in this thread.

I remember once people jokingly complained that they wish they could buy stuff like I do. I don’t buy a lot of stuff, but when I do I tend to splurge. The reason is because my day job pays me an absolutely obnoxious salary.

(On the flip side, since I’m not reliant on music to pay the bills you get one song every 3 months from me if you’re lucky. :laughing: This is especially ironic since I own enough equipment to start a decently equipped small studio meaning that you’d think I’d be more interested in writing / recording or at the very least recording someone else to make a few pennies here and there.)