My mailbag is one one of the best things about this job. Yes, there are flame-o-grams, but these are quite rare, and the people most likely to send them are too busy reprogramming their computers to show pictures of bunnies when my name comes up to flame me. Another reason I don't seem to get very much hostile email is that …
"Just one quibble: I think the existence of (say) Robbie Williams demonstrates that the major's promise isn't entirely a false one. There will be a global market for global entertainers, that's fair enough. But there aren't too many Robbie Williamses."
I would argue the opposite. I think there are far too many derivative 'artists' out there, or are you about to claim that Williams is, in fact, some sort of musical genius with originality seeping from his very pores? I don't see it...
hi Ed, I wasn't making an aesthetic judgement on RW either way.
Merely that there are some artists want to be mega-world-famous, the market supports some mega-world-famous artists, and this market exist in the future, it's not going to go away. The majors are undeniably very good at this.
I'll have to reply to my own post, rather than yours, as your server seems to think your post has 'gone'. That may be a bug related to the deleted post below - if so, might be worth looking into...
Anyway, I'd agree with you that there are artists who want that kind of fame. The question is, whether the big record labels are the ones to give it to them. It seems that RW in particular has been quite active in promoting himself, it would be interesting to find out how much of his success is down to his own activites, and how much is down to his 'representation' as it were.
one robbie = more than enough.
1st letter would have had a little more impact if the guy writing it would grow up, stop whining and realise that his band has not been signed because it's no good rather than because the labels are ultra conservative in their signing policy as a result of downloads, and get down to maccy dees and get on with his true calling.
The business is more pluralistic now than ever. There was a reg article this week about (BPI's year book or some such) how No1's are selling less, but chart entry sales threshold is way up) ie also rans are selling more, but fewer sheeple running with the pack. ie. it's easier now to make a living than in the past (think sting, elton and boneheads millions shared between thousands)
The Martin Mills piece was great. rather than sit on his arse whinging, actually looking at the business landscape and making it work for him (and therefore his bands), that all I want to see. makes me think that I might even stop being a freetard one day :D
but dont hold your breath.
MK got it right
'that aint working, thats the way to do it, money for nothing and chicks for free'
or actually the guy in the consumer goods store who said it in MK's presence (IP bunfight anyone?) got it right.
Because there's no evidence for it?
"Most musicians will give up seriously pursuing music when they realize they can't make anything more than a subsistence living without signing to a somewhat decent label.
Why don't freetards realize this?"
I know lots of musicians that seriously pursue music. Most of them teach a bit, perform at various gigs and are members of at least one band. All of them are very professional and regularly play great music. Only one of them makes any money directly from sales of published material. None of them are starving artist types.
The "musicians" who expect to get rich are the manufactured pop groups that generate most money for the record labels who in turn push radio coverage. This is a relatively modern, self-fulfilling, parasitic system that has been going on for far too long. "Freetards" are both bypassing and hopefully, as the commentard suggests, killing this system.
You've missed out quite a lot of evidence
What you're saying is that you know a lot of musicians whose output isn't very marketable.
You then say the only people who desire to market their rights also fail your Anonymous Coward Morality Test: they are either synthetic or greedy. (Or both). In other words, they don't deserve to market their rights.
From this you imply that these music rights should be destroyed, and nobody would mind much.
But there are lots of people who do have marketable rights, and are entitled to pursue them. Your argument takes rights away from people, only you don't quite like it when it's spelled out so clearly.
The question is why anyone would listen to self appointed moral arbiter who can't describe things honestly.
One of the reasons musicians output isn't marketable may be that they're not very talented. Another is that they can't afford to - and by removing marketable rights, you actually make that even less likely.
The one professional musician I know is a session guitarist, who makes his money from teaching and, unsurprisingly, session work. Although he has done work for bands signed to big labels, I'm pretty dure he has no sort of contract with the labels himself, and wouldn't have trouble finding work without them.
An unreasonable assumption
"What you're saying is that you know a lot of musicians whose output isn't very marketable."
To be fair Andrew, you can't know that for certain. A more realistic assumption would be that AC's musicians in questions are crap at promoting themselves. Now, there maybe a few exceptions to this as you say, where the band might be genuinely god-awful, or the musicians simply have no aspirations of progressing beyond back room pub gigs.
Consider this; If you, as a band, start off with no/few followers, then you need to be very good at promoting yourself and pulling in a crowd. And if you're not, then you're going to die the death wherever you play. Arguably, this is one of the most important services a label/promotion team can provide. And for any label to get where they are today, the very nature of the business means they have to be VERY good at it.
marketable rights..."rights"... ok here's my problem,
we live in a world that is full of this entitlement attitude where everyone believes everyone else owes them something.
RIGHTS do not exist, RIGHTS were created by individuals/corps who want/wanted to monopolise on a "product" (whether tangible or otherwise) to their own ends. now, because of decades of these fabricated rights, entitlement attitudes and the like have become instilled in every facet of the western world.
i dont believe i (or anyone else) "deserve" to be paid for producing music or anything else for that matter. i live in an environment where society and a handful of my fellow humans TELL me i "deserve" compensation for spending time and/or money on producing something.
F*CK THAT, i would rather give away my product (possibly offer the opportunity for donations) for people to enjoy knowing that any other person out there could produce the exact same thing for themselves. i CHOSE to spend my time producing the product, not because i wanted money but because i LIKE DOING IT.
As far as im concerned we should be sharing media and information freely, it is part of the progression of our species to expand our collective knowledge and share it so we make the WORLD richer (specifically richer in knowledge). i dont believe we should be paying obscene prices for anything where some stupid %age (i.e. 40, 50, 60%) goes straight into increasing the underlying bank balance of some unnecessary multi-billion dollar corporate.
If you produce music and consider yourself a "musician" you will be producing music because YOU LIKE IT! it seems that all the people who knock the so-called "freetards" are bitter contemptuous individuals who have decided that because they like making music and are "good" at producing music they are ENTITLED to make money out of it.
maybe just maybe NO-ONE wants to pay for your product because its crap or they just dont see the same or any value in what you're offering.
Im one of these so-called "freetards"... HOWEVER, i also buy a hell of a lot of my media (mostly games...thank you steam)
I feel that by paying the over-inflated prices for the products i do pay for, i am effectively paying for everything i dl for free because i "know" that it doesnt cost £20 to create a cd which is sold at that price, therefore i am balancing the scales and paying closer to the true worth of the total media i consume.
If a few WEALTHY individuals want to disagree, fine. But dont expect me to suddenly stop my activities by lobbying the western gov'ts into supporting your rapidly-aging business models.
a final note, regardless of what industry insiders or anyone else says. WE DO NOT NEED RECORD LABLES or in fact the recording industry. the internet gives every artist in every element of the arts or otherwise every opportunity to make money and self-promote. if your product is crap or you cant promote yourself, get another job. otherwise, quit your whining and ENJOY what you do because you're doing what you love.
Now that's off your chest
You're still arguing that creative people ...
a) get poorer not richer
b) give up rights, so somebody mean doesn't have to pay
These aren't progressive values. In fact, they have more than the whiff of fascism about them. They show an abnormal sense of entitlement.
Most labels are small, most performers get very small amounts in royalties.
I haven't seen a technological advance since the printing press that has made creative people poorer, less autonomous, or have fewer rights.
£20 for a CD??
Dom S, if you're paying £20 for a CD they must have seen you coming. Seven quid is the going rate now, most albums are a fiver on Amazon.
You are so out of touch you probably just don't like paying for music. You shouldn't even be posting your saddo little rants here then.
Couldn't agree more
I would argue that if a musician gave up being a musician because they couldn't make any money from it then they were never really motivated by music - just money. I would also argue that this is probably one of the main reason's why the music industry isn't making as much money as it would like. Constantly manufacturing bands that churn out bland ditty's designed to try to appeal to as many people as possible has cheapend music in general as it no longer has any creativity, certainly no longevity and is therefore no longer as valuable to people. It's the complete lack of integrity within the music industry as a whole - from the manufacturing of the bands to the marketing to the actual music being produced - that devalues the music to a point where people are no longer willing to pay for it.
Back in the 1970's / 1980's I would spend a huge percentage of my weekly income on records and CD's. This was mainly because the music industry had complete control over every aspect of the music they released and could charge whatever they liked. They liked to charge a lot. They got used to being very rich and somewhere along the line managed to convince everyone that they were entitled to their vast wealth because "producing music video's was so expensive" and the music "industry" provided jobs to "thousands" of people. I'm not convinced that even in those heady days there were more than a few horrible "Our Price" cashiers, some psychotic recording engineers and perhaps a couple of people who worked in a vinyl factory who actually depended on the music "industry" for their incomes. Most of the money they made seemed to go straight into the hands of a very few people who became incredibly wealthy - and who are still incredibly wealthy.
The fact that they have now lost some of their control and possibly some of their profits I think can only be of benefit to the industry. Take away the vast amounts of money and the music industry might regain some of its integrity. It would be great if musicians created music because they enjoyed creating music and not just because they wanted huge amounts of money.
That was more than 2 cents
2000 or more. This is the best comment I've read here.
"Take away the vast amounts of money and the music industry might regain some of its integrity."
That's what has happened. Acts selling 2m now sell 500,000 as Mills says. It is half the size it was. And now you have Jedward.
"It would be great if musicians created music because they enjoyed creating music and not just because they wanted huge amounts of money"
New here? Jumped in because your bored?
Read the original interview, or you'll be labelled a slow child.
Sounds more Communist than Fascist.
As for the printing press, I take it from your last comment that you think Gutenburg should have been hung?
I also presume that the original Luddites didn't count as 'creative' types?
Now you're just being silly.
out of touch...?
ok im so sorry mr "anonymous coward" i forgot that if SOME cds sell for less than £20 im wrong... idiot.
if you want something thats truly good, you will be charged a stupid amount of money.
if you're happy listening to Simon Cowells latest manufactured morons then you may pay a little less. but then... you get what you pay for.
hope you're enjoying Jedward nowadays.
As an SF author once pointed out: "It's. Not. That. Simple. EVER!"
Great music communicates. It is therefore not fair to complain about artists using whatever means they can find to ensure their messages reach as wide an audience as possible.
Freetards will naturally argue that this means you should give your work away for free and get the greatest exposure. Except...
... how are people even supposed to know _of_ your work if you have no talent for self-promotion, nor enough money to pay a promoter to promote you?
And what about the billions of people who do not yet have cheap, fast internet access? (Yes, that's right: "billions". The internet, as the West knows is, is not as ubiquitous globally as some people like to think.)
Sturgeon's Law states "90% of everything is crud." One of the *purposes* of publishers and their A&R people is precisely to filter out as much of the unpopular crud as they can. They provide an editorial screening service, with a guaranteed minimum level of technical quality. (As for the actual music: there's no accounting for taste.)
The West's ageing population is another of the reasons for the fall in overall sales, but this is a distinct issue, only tangentially connected with the disruptive technology of the internet.
People are living longer than they used to, and they not only have more time to spend, but also their retirement money too. (That's why all those hoary old has-beens keep coming out of retirement.)
But probably the greatest issue is that there's simply not much technical innovation in music any more:
We've just seen a truly spectacular century for music production and performance technologies, which has taken us all the way from orchestral (so-called "classical") music, through Big Band, Jazz and Swing, right up to electric and electronic instruments and production studios—including the invention of sampling (1940s, "musique concréte") and audio synthesis (beginning with the discovery of electricity and invention of instruments like the Theremin).
My generation grew up with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's musique concréte (and, later, electronic synthesis) output ringing in our ears during the 1970s, followed by the rise of the synthesiser keyboards, electronic drum kits and samplers. The rise of computers and DSPs brought about even more changes, until today, pretty much *any* conceivable sound is relatively easy to create.
We shall not see the 20th Century's like—in music's evolution, at least—again.
Today, all we see from the musical technology companies is refinement, not revolution. The pioneering days of seeking new "sounds" are drawing to a close. Music industry simply has no more new worlds of sound left to explore through technology alone, leaving the music itself as the only differentiator. This is as it should be, but the older industry veterans will likely take a long time to adapt.
And so will listeners.
Sturgeon's Law is actually "Nothing is always absolutely so."
"Ninety percent of everything is crud" is more properly known as Sturgeon's Revelation.
What about the musicians/artist whose first consideration is not money.
Not so sure...
Yes, money will not always be a primary consideration with all musicians, but even those that produce music for whatever other reason will still need to live on something.
The only thing that bugs me about the whole situation is where certain pro-copyright campaigners use the artist and their earnings as a reason when they know damn well that they themselves have been screwing the artists over for years.
"What about the musicians/artist whose first consideration is not money."
Same as ever. No change.
Less money to go round the pro's also means more Jedwards. Happy yet?
from May 2002
Really on the ball.
But did you bother taking the time to actually parse it?
It would have made sense in 1992 ... or 1982, for that matter. And it'll still make sense in 2042 (assuming the entire planet doesn't disappear in 2038, that is).
May I somehow find this red circle with a regbird in the moodpic section?
Why do you stop at music? Why don't you claim that nobody should ever earn a salary, because they should just do what they like and give it away for free?
...Maybe it could be because you earn a salary yourself, and are not willing to give it up?
You mean you are doing your job for the money? Why don't you quit your job, forgo your salary and do something you ENJOY, you capitalist pig?
didnt stop at music
i in fact did refer to creative industries and creators on the whole...
your point is moot anyway, i dont work solely to earn money and become rich. i work because i need money to live in this world (like everyone else).
i know full well that you can in fact live perfectly happily without money. BUT (and its a big BUT) the system (as a whole) is set up in such a way that you cant get fresh drinking water without paying someone for it, you cant eat without buying the required tools, land and seeds to produce it (for yourself WITH NO PROFIT). you cant use a tiolet because the water has to be paid for... etc etc etc.
its an endless cycle. we live in a world where its not possible to live for "free" because someone always wants money for something you need.
in the world of creative industry, we dont NEED the products they supply, we want them. we are all capable of producing music or art but we prefer to obtain them from others who are quite often better at producing these things.
of course, it would be easy to say "ah-ha well now you've confessed you want these things, pay for them" but i refer to my previous statement, i would love to obtain art (in ANY form) from someone who LOVES to do it and would APPRECIATE a return for their efforts rather than someone who dictates to me that they must be rewarded FINANCIALLY when they did it (apparently) because they love it.
there was no suggestion of as you put it "claim that nobody should ever earn a salary, because they should just do what they like and give it away for free?" my point was that people who create content and complain that they arent getting rewarded are doing it for the wrong reasons.
i maintain that if you LOVE creating something, dont necessarily EXPECT reward but rather seek it out from people who see value in your work and are willing to pay you WHAT THEY BELIEVE IT IS WORTH TO THEM. if the price aint right for you dont sell it or bite the bullet and be grateful taht someone has seen value in what you have produced/created.
final response to this... i would happily give up my salary if i KNEW that i could live without it. but i cant because it would cost me just to set up my own self-sustaining environment in the first place. just remeber that we live in a world where money rules and capitalism is the way. i dont like it but im one person who cant do much about it on my own.
All of this is a lot of nonsense.
The labels started to become ultraconservative and risk-averse long before the age of the internets horrors.
They were only prepared to take risks while there was still competition. Once they've become "corporations" risk-taking is the last thing they want. The only thing they want is comfortable coupon-cutting, guaranteed return - that's why they only sign up the bland, stereotype-conforming bunch of adolescent peasing "Modern Talkings".
In fact I would be surprised if anyone is "signed up" at all in the old sense of things. I believe they just order some "music" and "lyrics" inhouse, hire a girl(s) or an androgynous looking boy(s) (depending on the target audience) who get's to play the role of the "artist", hire a bunch of mixed ethnicity students to contort in the background in promotional videos and come up with a pretentious title. And there you are - a new wonder group is "found".
Next step, depending on the declared orientation of the "new group", is for its employees to be sent on a sexual abstinence promotion tour or, alternatively, encouraged to "rebel" (preferably with some drug taking involved) at a Facebook-advertised venue in front of some journalists, to create the appropriate image.
Best thing will probably be if any of the "front-lint employees" ODs and dies - a lot of tribute merchandise can be sold on that occasion and all of the crap that has ever been published can be reissued and sold all over again to tearful teenagers.
Linus Torvalds gets paid!
How exactly is this wrong?
Beethoven , Mozart, Da Vinci, Picasso, Miles Davis, etc were paid and in many cases very well paid, so becoming rich from your art is neither a recent thing norequal to being no good.
If something changed in the 20th century is that more and more people can support their artists of choice, instead of being a thing of the "ruling class" has it was in Mozart's time )for instance).
This is even more true now with the Internet.
That said, I refuse to lose my civil rights to save *any* industry, especially when there is a lot more that industry can do for itself, as the Beggars Group and a huge amount of other indie labels the world over show.