A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The Winners In Music are always the Gamblers

REFORMS and CHANGES present challenges for every business. So why should it be any different for the Music and Entertainment Business?

AMC is a large power player in TV at the moment. So if they employ the Record Label business model, AMC should now scream piracy and get different laws passed to help protect their past incomes.

However they are not doing that? AMC recently announced that two new pilots have been ordered in Galyntine (which looks like a competitor for Revolution) and Knifeman (set in 18th century London and telling a story about a genius who challenges the normality of society in his quest to discover.) On top of that they already have ordered pilots for Line of Sight, Preacher, Raiders, The Terror, an Untitled The Walking Dead Spin-off and White City. Add to this list shows that passed the pilot stage and are in the scripted stage, with debuts set for 2014 like Better Call Saul, Halt & Catch Fire, Turn and King Of Arms.

That is a lot of gambles they are taking in order to remain relevant. Are the record labels doing that? Are artists doing that?

Then you have Netflix. Netflix is an innovator when it comes to movies. They provide a service to fans that the actual movie studios refused to provide.

Recently they branched out in original programming. House Of Cards was a success. Not just the show, but the way Netflix released it. This is the “all at once/binge viewing” model. This is what fans want today instead of the old school weekly episodes model.

So it was only a matter of time before other players came knocking on Netflix’s door. And that was Marvel.

Marvel will produce five shows for the platform, one each about heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage (formerly known as Power Man) and Iron Fist. The four individual superhero shows will then merge into a fifth show called The Defenders where the four heroes work together as a team. If these shows prove to be popular, no one knows, however it is a risk that a lot of people are taking.

The above demonstrates that entertainment is all about the new. If artists are not investing in their future, they might as well scream piracy or move into another career.

In business, you need to adjust your way of doing things to suit the reforms, otherwise you will go out of business. So why is it that in the Entertainment business, the major players need laws to be re-written, they need people prosecuted, they need websites taken down, they need the police to act on evidence provided by the Lobby Groups and they just scream and complain about everything else.

Music was always a risk game. The great success stories in the music business always came from left field. Even now, if you look at the great mainstream success stories recently, no one predicted Adele to sell over 10 million albums of her “21” album and she did that with her album available for free on all the illegal downloading sites.

No one expected an unknown New Zealand singer Lorde to out sell “the superstars – backed by a huge marketing budget” like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. Of course, she got a big boost by Sean Parker, who added her song “Royals” to his Hipster Spotify list, which has over 800,000 followers.

Money spent building up and marketing an artist doesn’t always make money. What the label or the A&R rep believes in doesn’t always equate to what the fans of music believe in.

No one predicted that the self-produced and financed Five Finger Death Punch debut album would be certified GOLD in the US, three years after its release. “The Way Of The Fist” was released and distributed via Finnish record label Spinefarm in Europe and in America it was distributed via artist and talent management company The Firm. They didn’t even have a major label behind them.

The album came out on July 31, 2007 in the U.S, selling only 5,400 copies in its first week and debuting at No. 199 on the Billboard 200 chart. In relation to charting, its highest position was No. 107 on the Billboard 200 chart. However, the album just kept on selling on a weekly basis and it was certified gold by the R.I.A.A for selling in excess of 500,000 copies as of April 1, 2010. Don’t be surprised if the album is certified platinum by 2015.

There is plenty of money to be made if the artist is good and if the artist is in a position to take it. If the music is poor, then it is no one’s fault except the artist.

No one has a guarantee that they will make it in the music business. No one is entitled to make it in the music business.

That is what art is all about. Entertainment is not a safety net. It is always about the new. If artists can get by in music, good luck. If they can’t, then they need to write better songs. No one cares if family and friends like the song.

In Australia, we have a shortfall of skilled fitters and machinists. We are even importing them from overseas. However to be musicians, the queues stretch across city blocks when X Factor, Voice, Idol and Got Talent shows hit town.

Today there is a new generation of artist that have grown up with the “everyone gets a trophy” paradigm regardless of how good they are. So you have a new generation cruising on sub-standard effort. It is those artists that didn’t play in the local soccer team that end up succeeding.

In my opinion, the music business began to decline when the label executives tried to become as famous as the artists. That is when the labels stopped caring about music and started caring about the Forbes Top 100 and profits. That was when reforms, innovation and changes went out the window, to be replaced by maintaining the profits that came.

In relation to profits, if artists are not making any money from music, what that means is that they are basically not good enough at the moment to capitalise. This applies to artists starting off, to artists paying their dues and to artists who were once successful. Artists need to realise that they are not entitled to people’s attention today based on past victories.

Look at your local sporting franchise. When they start losing, they struggle to fill stadiums, however when they are winning, no one can get a ticket.

In relation to music, I love Metallica, however everything they have done since the Black album has been worth a listen, but that’s it. There is no desire to go back and give it multiple spins. To prove my point, go and name the full track list of Reload without Googling it. However, they have taken gambles. St Anger was a gamble, the symphony concert was a gamble, the LULU project was a gamble and the 3D movie was a gamble. Some pay off and some don’t.

YouTube and Spotify allow us to sample and move on. If it is great, we stick around. But the music industry complains.

The truck drivers that transport CD’s are out of work, the people who work at the CD manufacturing warehouses are out of a job, the $2000 a day recording studios are out of business because people can record at home. Finally, you have the recording industry propping up the large record stores like HMV.

It’s not like anyone wants to go back to the days when we paid twenty dollars to buy an album, just to get home and find out it’s terrible. It’s not like we want to go back to the days of not being able to afford the great records that we couldn’t hear because we outlaid our money on duds the week before.

If the music is that good, the fans will come out to seek it and when we do, the artist needs to be in a position that they can capitalise on it as there’s plenty of money to be made.

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