Results 26 to 31 of 31
07-04-2012, 03:09 PM #26
"You won't get rich doing these things, but many, many musicians survive by doing this. The late Chuck Brownhadn't recorded an album with a major in thirty years, but he could still pack the old Tramps in New York which, I'll ballpark, could hold 1000 people. At $20 a ticket, it was a pretty good day's work. (Chuck and his eight-piece band would usually drive back to DC after the show.)"
Can anyone breakdown how much money would make it to the artists in the band in this situation? Plus, does anyone know how sustainable this type of performing is? I.e. the band can't play this venue 7 nights per week or even come back the following week and expect a sellout.
07-04-2012, 03:15 PM #27
- Join Date
- Jan 2010
- New York, NY
- Blog Entries
Yes, you can't play New York every night. But Chuck, being based in D.C., would routinely play at venues in Maryland and Virginia, as well as do tours in the south.
Again, Chuck never got rich doing this. But it was sustainable at some level, and he was a pretty obscure musician (though one of my favorites).
07-04-2012, 05:37 PM #28
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
There are two books that you might want to seek out to get some background on the finances of making a life as a musician:
Tour Smart and Break the Band by Martin Atkins is written from the experiences of 30 years on the road both as a musician, band manager and road manager. It dispels many of the overly romanticized notions of being in a rock 'n' roll band on the road and breaks it down into all the operational, logistical and financial fine points of touring that will make or break you artistically and financially.
All You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald S. Passman is written from the viewpoint of 30 years in the music business as a lawyer representing both artists and music labels (obviously not at the same time). It explains in plain language all the aspects of contract law in the music industry and the long term financial implications of that kind of contract law on an almost clause by clause basis. This book has been revised and updated on a fairly regular basis to reflect the changing landscape of the music business.
The two books combined are a pretty good primer on all the ways bands can make and/or lose money and go a long ways towards explaining why there are so few financial success stories in the music business.
I have no connection to or association with any of the authors, books, publishers and views expressed in the books mentioned above.
07-05-2012, 12:28 PM #29
The characterization of most working musicians as being "lower middle class" is probably not far off the mark, aside from the very small percentage who become well known. Chuck Brown may have been a bit obscure, but he established a brand and a strong following, at least regionally, and he was by no means wealthy. Pretty much all the full-time musicians I've known supplement their income by teaching and/or doing other odd jobs, whether music related or not. My brother's a classical musician, and I think they have it a bit easier (if they're good enough), since, among other things, they can get university-level teaching gigs with good benefits (but bear in mind that classical music is horrendously competitive, with many, many players chasing fewer and fewer full-time jobs). My brother's set himself up pretty well, but he hustles pretty hard. (Another factor to consider is that musical talent and business acumen don't seem to be a common combination.) I've always thought a career in music can be very rewarding (in a spiritual way), but in most cases it's not going to make you rich or even terribly "comfortable."
07-05-2012, 04:56 PM #30
- Join Date
- Jan 2010
- New York, NY
- Blog Entries
@orgel Thanks for providing some numbers. One of the most frustrating things about addressing the piracy issues is the paucity of good data. I think it's beyond contention that the RIAA is massively fudging its numbers, but we don't know what "massively" means.
Putting on my economist's hat, I wondered about the number of albums released each year. If the music industry were getting much less profitable -- or not profitable -- you would expect to see the numbers of releases drop. But that's not the case.
According to Digital Music News (and I have no idea who they are), the number of releases has more than doubled since 2000 (which, I will argue, is when Napster took off and piracy started becoming a real problem).
Releases have declined since 2008, but the economy's been in the tank since then, so I don't think that's a surprise.
I couldn't verify the numbers at SoundScan, which has a supremely unhelpful web site, but this Billboard article backs up several of the numbers used in the graph.
Nothing here suggests that musicians are being paid fairly. But I find it hard to square this data with the recording industry's cries of poverty. Whatever is happening, it's not forcing people to stop making albums.
07-06-2012, 01:14 AM #31
- Join Date
- Aug 2008
A lot of good things in the linked articles, I really like the Steve Albini quote from Lastgoodbye. I live in Southeast Asia, definitely one of many markets that are poorly serviced by traditional distribution. Unless you want International top 40 or Asian Pop piracy is often one of the only realistic ways to get content. That said I do try to buy music whenever it's practical to do so, and that means leveraging digital distribution - smaller labels, bandcamp, hdtracks, etc. The audiophile distribution channels get less of my dollar as I'm generally not willing to pay the audiophile premium to what's often marginally/debatably better quality for content that in many cases I already own in redbook. It's really frustrating that so many smaller labels haven't jumped on lossless digital - e.g. Numero Group, Mapleshade, etc. IMHO a big part of the reason smaller players/more established suffer economically is because they're too slow to change their ways and adopt digital delivery channels.
I would also note that the majority of the music I've bought over the years has comed through used record channels (no used in most of Asia, shopping sprees in ANZ or the states) - I've always thought it funny that piracy is so heavily demonized, but purchasing used almost never brought up in the same light. In terms of direct financial support to the artist & label it's basically the same thing. But the used market & piracy have similar long term effects - the lower cost per album has exposed me to a lot more music, and my favorite new discoveries often get first-hand purchases - without piracy or a thriving used market my overall spending on content would be much lower.
I see issues with both the Trichordist article and the NPR blog. I feel like the guy from Trichord is trying to guilt people into supporting a dying business model. Without data sources I don't fully trust his stats - a lot of stats these days ignore the shift to digital downloads, and even digital download stats often fail to properly account for all the distribution methods. The implication that piracy killed his friends was a bit heavy handed as well. As far as the girl from NPR - I also mis-interpreted the original article thinking that she had never purchased a CD but had purchased digital - on a re-read I see she makes it quite clear that she's only paid for T-Shirts & concerts - frankly I find that pretty poor. I think she's naive in the wish that services like Mog or Spotify are the future of the industry and the only thing the next generation will pay for - again lastgoodbye's stats here show that this is not really viable for artists.
A lot of my friends are Musicians, and I would agree that lower middle class is about right, and most of them can't even do that without supplemental jobs. Most musicians I know also freely pirate music or live in the used channel as well. They simply can't afford to keep on top of the frequent changes in their industry on their incomes. The thing that remains most questionable about the future to me does relate to something mentioned in the Trichordist article - about how major labels make significant bets/investments in artist to support them when they're unknown. One of my friends is in an L.A. band backed by Warner, and Warner has definitely been betting/investing - supporting several European & American tours, recording, videos, etc. Should the big labels fall apart I don't really see who would have the resources to invest to that degree in upcoming artists and make those bets.
Feel like I should plug Bandcamp by the way - it occasionally gets mentioned on the site, but I think it and similar services are a huge part of the future of music in context of this discussion. The majority of the revenue goes to the artists, and they choose the price of their content. Most artists charge in the $7-8 range per album which is IMHO the sweet spot where albums should be priced. The revenue stats are also posted on a ticker on the front page - it really looks like the site is taking off over the past month or so $1.2 million revenues in the last month out of $20 million total. But for the interests of computeraudiophile forum members it's great too - lossless is standard - artists have to upload 44/16 at a minimum, but higher bit rates/sample rates are allowed and passed on to the buyer. There is no audiophile price premium targeted at those of us who care about care about the content quality.mpdPup maintainer