In an interview over at The Guardian, will.i.am mentioned an important point about the current rock star lifestyle. He said that he had made more money from his Beats Electronics equity stake than from the sales of the Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling” which has the honour of being one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes.
To put it into context, if you go over to the RIAA Gold and Platinum Database, you will see that the digital release of “I Gotta Feeling” was certified on June 29, 2012, 8 x Multi-Platinum, That means 8 million in digital sales in the US alone. Let’s assume that all of those sales came from iTunes. That is $8 million dollars in sales. Apple takes in 30% which comes to $2.4 million dollars. That leaves $5.6 million for The Black Eyed Peas. For just one song. Of course the record label will take a large portion of that $5.6 million and the remainder will be split between the songwriters, the band members, the manager, the producer and so on.
Will.i.am further stated that “Our music sells other people’s hardware, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.”
This is reality. It is a reality that a lot of musicians do not get in this age, especially the ones in hard rock and heavy metal.
Sure sales of recorded music have declined. In all honesty, how much did bands rely on sales of recorded music as a source of income. And let’s not confuse the generous advances that the labels gave only to claw back that same advance with a lot of creative compound interest.
Look at the above example from will.i.am. Even he states that the money earned is a fraction of what he can NOW make from other ventures. This is what MUSIC has allowed him to achieve.
An artist starting off today needs to realise that music is in competition with technology. Whereas the kids from the Eighties spent their money on cars and music, the kids of the two thousands spend their monies on technology like iPhones, tablets, laptops and other IT style gadgets and they expect to have music on these devices 24/7.
The new rock star lifestyle according to will.i.am involves sleeping about four hours a night. The rest of your time is spent on the vast number of projects you are associated with. For will.i.am, this involves is his own self-funded i.am+ consumer electronics business. It involves serving as Intel’s director of creative innovation. It involves creating and co-founding the Coca-Cola company’s EKOCYCLE recycling strategy. It involves founding and hosting the TRANS4M conference. Way down on the list of activities is the writing, producing, recording and performing of music.
Are the metal heads understanding this? A career in music is not about getting together, drinking a few brews, smoking some green and jamming. There is a lot more to it. Music is the ENTRY. You write a great song or a great album that connects with people and you have one foot in the door to take on other projects.