Before Napster, the only way a band knew that their music was spreading was by record sales. However, the fact that if a person purchased an album and listened to it once or a million times was never taken into account.
Today, there are so many different distribution outlets. The old way has been blown to bits and 15 years after Napster the record labels are still failing their artists because they haven’t done their due diligence properly in creating tools that can measure “REACH”. Yep, that is the new catch cry for 2015, REACH, not sales.
However, the labels are still confused and the artists more so. Imagine the conversation;
BAND: We should tour [insert country or city or state].
LABEL: Why, you have sold no albums there?
BAND: But we are one of the most downloaded artists there?
LABEL: Well those downloads are not legal ones and P2P is illegal.
BAND: What about Shazam look ups? I see our name all over that report on your desk from Shazam. Our songs are one of the most looked up songs in [insert country or city or state].
LABEL: Look all of this doesn’t mean you have a fan base there that will support you financially.
BAND: But, our streaming numbers are huge there?
LABEL: Leave it with us, I might get the lawyers to get together a 360 degree that will protect us both.
And the cycle of the record label shafting the artist starts again.
The record labels need the artists. It is from all of the copyrights that they own the record labels have achieved this power. With power comes great reach. And the labels abuse that power.
They increased the price of music to cater for the “start-up costs” in the CD manufacturing process back in the early eighties. It was only meant to be temporary and they promised the consumers that the price would be cheaper once they started manufacturing at a certain scale.
However that price never came down when they saw these unbelievable profit margins from CD sales and guess what they decided to do. They colluded to price fix the price on a CD and they killed off vinyl.
And now they are using overpriced vinyl again to increase their bottom lines.
Vinyl isn’t making a comeback just because there are dedicated people out there that purchase it. I purchased the four vinyl singles that Machine Head issued for the “Killers and Kings” demo. I still haven’t opened them and the reason why I haven’t opened them is that vinyl has become a souvenir item.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound of vinyl. I have so many great memories around dropping the needle however the turntable that I have at home just doesn’t get used. It’s easier and convenient to bring up the music on the phone and to be honest, I can’t see myself sitting back on the coach, listening to the record and reading the credits while following the credits. I am pretty sure I would end up on my iPhone.
We multitask. Yesterday I was cooking a BBQ and I called up the Evergrey Channel on iTunes Radio and listened to that. While the meat is sizzling, I am writing lyrics and listening to music at the same time.
Kids today have grown up with the internet. They are full-blown digital natives. They know nothing of the music business before Napster. If they did, then P2P downloads would have dried up when The Pirate Bay was raided in mid-December. Instead, the kids just found different outlets because the past is never coming back.
I have three boys aged 9,8 and 3. The older two are high YouTube and Spotify users. The younger one knows of YouTube and everyday he asks me to find Thomas The Tank Engine, Batman, The Wiggles, Planes, Garbage Trucks, Twisted Sister or whatever else has his interest for that moment.
And I am pretty sure that my kids are not the only kids that access content via these outlets.
I’ve said it many times, we always gravitate to something that has reach and YouTube and Spotify have got the reach.