An interesting (or at least I thought so) extract from an online article I was reading:
P2P makes it hard for everybody to get paid, but it does make it easier for everybody to get heard. These days anybody can make a movie or record music, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. There’s an ocean of sh1t out there proving it.
Nielsen Soundscan in America recently posted some sobering statistics. A total of 98,000 albums were released in 2009, and only 2.1% managed to sell more than 5000 physical units (in the States).
In the UK it’s not a lot better. According to the UK-based Musicians’ Union, 87% of member artists are making less than £16,000 a year.
But you know what? Maybe it was always that way. In May this year Sir Mick Jagger said this in an interview on the BBC. “When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn’t make any money out of records because record companies wouldn’t pay you! They didn’t pay anyone! Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone. So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn’t.”
So those few years of good times for the artists were an anomaly all along Mick reckons.
I don’t get what the point is. Because the music doesn’t sell, it’s sh1t? Nonsense.
I love that there is so much available music these days. On the surface it seems overwhelming, but there are so many ways to refine your search for good music (detailed sub-genre, “like” artists, etc) and so many sources to find them (iTunes genious, Amazon recommendations, Pandora, 30-90 second previews, free music sites, etc) that all said and done, it’s actually easier than ever to find great music. I buy more music now than I ever did.
That said, 2010 was a TERRIBLE year for commercial music, probably the worst in the last 10 years. It might have been the worst year of all time. I really can’t think of a single album I bought that was released this year that would make my top 200 of all time. By comaparison, last year was a really good year. Next year should be a good year with expected releases of a lot of my favorite artists, almost none of whom released anything in 2010.
The author similarly suggests that P2P etc has made it possible for everyone to be found and get heard. The only issue you really differ on is the fact that for you it’s actually meant greater CD purchases, where as for the vast majority it’s seemingly quite the opposite.
2010 has been a year to taste living in the future, moving from physical to digital. The year-on-year decline of physical album sales dramatically continued in the US. In 2008, the drop was 14%. In 2009 it slipped 12.7 percent – even though Michael Jackson died that year. This year the American sector is again down 13% year to date.
What I meant to say is that 2010 was a terrible year for the quality of great releases, which has little to do with physical vs digital distribution. I think it had more to do with the timing of album releases by good artists.
Tony – is it fair to say that, in your opinion, 2010 was a terrible year musically in terms of Metal releases? Because I thought 2010 was pretty good – I agree not as good overall as 2009, but still worthy. But then I don’t buy much Metal – most of what I buy is Indie Rock and what I’d call “Alt-Pop.” Having said that, I would agree that the mainstream wasn’t particularly great in 2010, but even there, there was some good stuff… Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban (damn – I’m citing Country guys here!) Kings of Leon… I did buy a few Metal albums but they weren’t major releases… like I bought Reb Beach’s latest solo album – man, that dude can PLAY! Maybe not as good as Petrucci or Gilbert, but in a way, more melodic and satisfying. Highly reccomended
It’s probably fair to surmise that it’s probably our generation (plus or minus) that do the vast majority of CD purchasing these days. I notice a growing number of commercials here pitching re-releases of ‘classic’ albums from decades past- presumably targeting the baby-boomers with disposable income who still have an interest in spending it on CD’s.
Like Mick says, artists got a bad deal years ago too. I don’t see the likes of Simon Cowell doing anything different to what Motown did back then. Like now, it was more about singles back then too, from what I’ve heard. It was when buying albums became ‘the thing’ in the 70s that some superstar artists made a lot of money. Even then though there were pop acts that didn’t make much.
Didn’t one of the guys from Bucks Fizz, or at least it was a similar group, end up working on a burger bar in Scotland? Not every one made loads of dosh even if they a some chart hits and were on TV.
IIRC that was david van-day from dollar… incidentally Trevor Horn’s first commercial success lol
MJ is right, before modern pop music there was tin pan alley where just a few writers were responsible for the majority of ‘creative’ output… and again got shafted by their publishers… no recordings in those days… just HUGE sheet music sales. it’s nothing new at all, it’s just gone full circle unfortunately.
Even up to the mid 90’s most acts didn’t make a huge amount from recordings, rather they used a record to promote a tour and made money on merchandising… metallica being the most prominent to spring to mind… AKA the tee shirt band within the industry.I remember having a very in depth and long conversation with a certain gary numan about this in the mid 1980s after one of his shows back at their hotel, he said even at the height of his success when he was shifting millions that he made the most of his money from touring(which was all financed from his royalties)… hence the two huge world tours he did, beggars shafted him apparently! The problem with this in the UK now is that the vast majority of medium sized venues (2-4000 seaters, which were mainly cinemas) have either closed or don’t host live bands any more forcing people into cattle sheds and stadia where you can hear bugger all and see even less! and get butt raped for at least fifty quid for a seat at the back where the sound in unintelligible and the stage is way in the distance, hence a LOT of concert goers just don’t bother going any more… it’s all about packing em in and fleecing them, i remember seeing a documentary on take that a few years back where they used the euphemism ‘doing a cream’ for their tour… i.e. creaming as much out of 12 year old little girls and their mums as they could!
I saw MANY fantastic bands in places like birmingham odeon, hammersmith odeon, oxford apollo etc etc… and how many of them host live bands now? not many!
So WHERE is the up and coming band supposed to garner a decent sized audience now as there are pretty much no support slots left to do so.
This is in conjunction with falling sales, not helped by the recording industry’s myopic view of the internet and keeping prices artificially here in the UK and most of europe, their arrogant and greedy approach to their up and coming acts, the removal of development deals and the pure greed of cross-collateralisation clauses in contracts.
Another part of the problem is the fracturing of the media the digital revolution has caused… when i was a kid there were THREE tv stations and only a handful of radio stations here i the UK and pretty much every one watched or listened to them so there was pretty much a captive audience… these days there are literally hundreds of thousands, a huge amount of which cater for more niche tastes… we now have kerrang radio to cater for the rockers, radio six where i can get my regular funk fix, one extra for more ‘urban’ tastes etc… instead of it all being lumped together into half an hour on tv on a Thursday evening or a couple of hours on the radio on a sunday night… where else now would you be likely to hear iron maiden and bucks fizz on the same playlist where a significant proportion of the population are all watching/listening at the same time? people tend to like what they know (hence covers versions selling so well) so naturally most people gravitate toward a station that caters for their tastes… most of the general public aren’t musicians either so they don’t seek out new and stimulating music as much as most musicians do so acts find it incredibly difficult to access new or different audiences…
Bit of a ramble sorry but there are a LOT of reasons why the music industry is in the sorry state it is, those are just the things i can think of off the top of my head… but… ironically, creatively it’s never been a better time to be a musican recording wise… gear is CHEAP compared to when bands like the stones were at their height, not only cheaper but a damn sight more capable too… how many 256 track 96Khz digital facilities were there in the 70s? virtual instruments etc…
To me the next BIG worry is the alarming rate at which media companies are buying up/into ISPs… i can SERIOUSLY see the internet changing models in the next few years to something very similar to the walled garden approach of the mobile telcos… eg… gold, silver, bronze subscriptions… bronze you get access to 100 websites which are chosen for you… pretty much like a digital tv package… silver say 200 webs sites and with gold 500 and maybe 50 of your own choice too. Applications too are likely to become subscription based instead of buying a licence for say ms word… you would do it online and pay per document say… don’t think it’s not on the way, look at the amount of free cloud services there are currently, they’re just being trialled at the moment, again they will work on a tiered subscription service… so, with the media companies buying ISPs they will also control pretty much ALL the delivery methods too!.. so then what?
What you call your ‘ramble’ helped me to consolidate a lot in my mind.
This bit I quote:
And I say “Oh Bugger!”
I’ve seen over the last few decades how pricing of ‘things’ has become shifting sand, and how the things themselves have become de-thingified. Last year I saw the Video ‘Money as debt’ on Youtube, and the corollary is ‘Thing as leased service’. ‘Planned Obsolescence’ was my first taste of that mindset … where cookers, washing machines and refrigerators suddenly stopped working, unserviced, for thirty years until the man would come round, tell us the rubber in the grommets and seals had perished, replace them, charge £3, tell you his life story over a cup of tea and promise to get his grandchildren to update your grandchildren next time it needed a service.
You’re saying they could take over the delivery methods. Huh. I’m glad this forum is private. I wouldn’t want them to cotton on to this. Nah. I’m seeing what you’re seeing, and I’m seeing it happening.
Friend of mine in South Africa has megabytes of download metered like with electricity. That’s one way of controlling, but … the idea of the big media producers getting control. Then restricting access. Damn … there’s too much ‘value added’ to established power bodies to let that pass. Great firewall of China … so that kind of access control is possible. At the moment, I experience some pipeline control, when I click on the product of some free streaming provider, and get “This is not available in your country.”
Heck, Matt, I’m not adding anything useful to what you’ve written. I’m just depressing myself collecting, all to easily, more evidence to support your proposition.
All the best
Hmmmm … er … could there be a different paradigm emerging?
EG … MY ISP is Virgin Media. An arm of Branston’s empire. An empire which is, as far as I know, a major player in the music industry [I could be very wrong there, because I don’t follow those kidn of facts]. High download speeds with no capping or access restrictions is its major selling push. Now … it could be going for 'hook ‘em and then retract’. Er … indeed it could. I wish I could find a convincing ‘however’ statement to follow this. Damn.
OK … how’s about this: there’s loads of people accessing more and more and faster and faster … billions of people who’s weight of numbers would make it difficult for restrictions to be imposed. News travels increasingly fast. The backlash would be overwhelming.
I see facebook, and it gives, imo, the reality of quick access to ‘who’s doing and thinking/feeling what’. And twitter.
Like surely … the Cat has been let out of Pandora’s box?
Try to stuff it back in and surely it’ll miaow ruddy loudly.
Then again, I’m not a total idiot, but it was not until some of my American friends vigorously opened my eyes that I realised that CCTV’s all over the place were NOT a reason for me to feel happier and safer. I’d bought into the nanny-state ethos … WITHOUT at any point feeling that that is what I had done. That’s frightening.
But wait! “We’re going to take public action to stop the X-Factor Winner from getting the Christmas Number One slot in the charts” - civil action did get the desired result, but the bread and circuses are still thriving, and could continue to do so, but this time with the addition of a ‘Christmas tradition’ of the ‘People’s Choice’ to overturn 'X-Factor Number-one-ism. The revolt becomes incorporated. Another phone-in scramble in between checking prime-time TV for the Lottery Numbers.
OH BUGGER. This post script was supposed to be the ‘aaahhh but let’s just Hang On A Moment’ of hope.
Schrodinger’s cat: Alive? Dead? It’s still in a ruddy Box.
Schodinger’s pussy: Knowing? Naive? Miaowing loudly … still gets screwed.
I’ll get my coat.
Though I’ll keep looking round, because I desperately want there to be something nice to believe in.
Yep i totally agree with you mate!
But the thing is you can guarantee if i’ve thought of it then some money grabbing sh1t w(b)anker type has already thought of it.
But yeah i agree… i think most of us musos are idealists and with recent events in london and around the world it seems a lot more of the population are too which is encouraging… i DON’T condone the violence one bit but i can understand it, and yes you’re american friend is dead right… on average here in the UK we are picked up over 300 times a DAY on CCTV!!! mind you at least we don’t have the TSA… yet!
Things started going wrong here in the UK with the introduction of the criminal justice act which was supposedly bought in to curb those ‘evil acid house parties’ in the late 80s early 90s, those of us switched on enough realised what the real reasons behind this were… do you know it is technically illegal to meet up with and hold a conversation with more than two people in this country? or that it is technically illegal to sit in a public place with two or more people listening to amplified music… like your car stereo? yep! The right to free mass association was the real reason behind this so as to prevent people from holding impromptu demonstrations… ah it all seems clear with hindsight doesn’t it! The states followed some years later with the patriot act and is rapidly starting to overtake the UK with regard to loss of personal freedoms, nope it’s not a conspiracy theory, nope it’s not underground either… last week i was in our local disabled adaptations shop where a group in their 60’s-70’s were sat around discussing just that!
Of course the internet as we know it will be clamped down on and controlled, it’s already monitored via GCHQ and echelon here in the UK and by a system called pitbull stateside… as of now the only really secure way of having a voice conversation is via skype or msn as they are encrypted… for now.
… which brings us back to cowell et al… basically state endorsed!
Indeed – the best music being made anymore is (for me) the Indie and Underground stuff – bands and artists that have accepted that they’ll never get rich making music, but do it anyway for the love of it. However, I don’t begrudge anybody making a living
I’ve seen the new paradigm regarding “getting signed” here just lately. A local band called “Icon For Hire” just signed with a sub-major and they were in negotiations for MONTHS. They hired a lawyer to represent them – to the tune of $5,000 retainer plus a percentage. I kept thinking “Dudes, this is KILLING the music.” Indeed, during all this the bass player quit/was terminated and they weren’t playing out much if at all. From what I gather the terms of their “deal” was 0/100 for the first album, 20/80 for the second, and if I heard right, 25/75 if they make a third. They also had a big fight over publishing rights – the label wanted them to sign away all such rights for a nominal amount of upfront money, but the band fought this and retained a good bit of it – I think they ended up with a 50/50 split. They’re in the studio now recording. They’re a rock band (think Evanesence meets Paramore) but they’re using MIDI to record bass until they find a new bass player
Well yes it does exist now, you’re right. YOu with commerical music the turds have been sifted, but some would say many turds have been added.
I surely wouldn’t expect a professional artist who’s used to making a good living just giving away their efforts with all the work by many who made it possible. The free stuff would have to mostly come from the ‘home grown’ music population.
I wouldn’t expect a transient shift where commercial music was banned, but times evolved into a situation where there was just music being made for fun and for free then I doubt it would spoil our listening pleasures.
Well, the idea that I should share what’s cost me thousands of dollars and thousands of hours with people just for THEIR appreciation is rather pointless, isn’t it?
The only people that are making money from music are corporations. They used to be the one’s screwing the artists. Now everyone is screwing the artists, and calling them greedy if they don’t want to “share”. What a completely hypocritical argument.
It’s terrible for the sea of bedroom pop artists but not too bad but still very low for anyone who can actually produce the goods live.
Using actual ears to hear actual artists playing is now the future and your small gig prices will probably start going through the roof sometime soon as more discover the joys of live music without computer generated chatter of aliassed varispeed and pitch correction. And imperfection’s role in perfection.
Some pop artists didn’t get paid in the 60s because they were stupid and it took them until the 70s to learn what a lawyer and an account ledger was.
As late as 1980 one bandleader was very miffed with me because I insisted on my fees for being on TV rather than him pocketing it and saying it was “good advertising” for the act. No-one else bothered asking!