I love freedom.
The freedom to live where I want, do want I want and when I want to.
I also love music and I also love to hear music wherever I go and when I want to. Today, there are a lots of ways to hear music.
- to buy a digital mp3
- to stream for free
- to buy a CD
- to pay for a streaming subscription
- to illegally download it via P2P
Pre-Napster, the only way to hear the song you liked was to purchase the album or single it came on. Alternative methods involved waiting for the radio to play it and you dub it to cassette or you dub someone else’s original copy onto cassette or CD.
The big difference between then and now is availability. Did you know that Slash also used BitTorrent to release “Live At The Roxy”.
His reasons for it are real simple.
To allow people to access his music from any outlet they desire. He goes to Spotify to consume music and like many others, he still likes to have a physical copy in his hand.
I enjoy my music and I enjoy it a lot, however in the Eighties and early Nineties, I couldn’t enjoy it as much because I simply didn’t have enough money. Thank god that second-hand record shops became big business by the early nineties and it allowed me to purchase a lot of Seventies and Eighties LP’s that I couldn’t afford to purchase before.
Even though the clueless mainstream press always toes the RIAA and Record Label viewpoint that music is in dire straits, I say the opposite.
Look at how much money the labels are making from the various streaming companies who are paying a lot of money to license the labels catalogue. Here is a list of the top eight streaming companies out there;
- Google Play
- Apple Music
- JB HiFi (in Australia)
Each of the above companies paid the record labels a high license fee in order to have music on their service. They then pay the record labels (who are the major copyright holders) 70% of their profits for songs streamed. When you take into account that streaming services made over $1 billion in the US last year, 70% of that went to record labels. From the other 30%, the record labels took another cut via their licensing fee system.
Apart from streaming bringing in billions of dollars and putting a massive hole in piracy, it has also changed the way people view sales of music, the charts and every other metric associated with music.
The Top 40 once upon a time was a benchmark for what was popular. The metric used to judge popularity was sales. The view was that if an album or a song got into the Top 40, the artist would go on to become a household name. In 2012, the charts started to include digital sales and streaming. Streaming listens enable songs from the past to re-enter the charts, even though the band or artist who wrote it are retired or have departed this Earth.
Quincy Jones said recently that there is no music industry.
Maybe he meant to say that the record labels are making a lot of money from other avenues, however they are just not passing on those monies back to the artists and the songwriters. Maybe he meant to say that the recording industry does not have a monopoly on music anymore. In the end, the music industry as a whole is very much alive and well.
Quincy Jones also said that artists “can’t get an album out because nobody buys an album anymore.”
Umm, Quincy, or Gene or Paul or Yngwie, no one wanted to buy an album at all. All we wanted to do was to listen to music. Maybe he meant to say that people only want the best, so the concept of an album with a few good songs and a lot of filler is not working in 2015. Maybe he meant to say that instead of a handful of gated releases each week, in 2015, we have thousands upon thousands of albums released.
Quincy Jones said newer online distribution model’s don’t mean anything.
Maybe he meant to say that the newer online distribution models have taken away the record labels gatekeepers. With no filter in check, people are overwhelmed with noise. It’s a good thing and only the best will end up rising to the top. The fact that streaming services bring in over a billion dollars each year means nothing. The problem is the record labels. Those monies are just not getting back to the artists and the songwriters.
Quincy Jones reckons that selling 4.5 million albums today and thinking it is a hit record is a joke as he used to sell 4.5 million records every weekend in the 80’s.
Maybe he meant to say that selling 4.5 million records shows that you have an audience, people who care for you and people who will come and watch you live. The fact that people listen to the music over and over again is irrelevant to Quincy Jones. Yes, Quincy, that’s right, people streaming your music are just as important as selling 4.5 million records a week. Maybe he meant to say that I am so out of touch with what fans want, the only thing I know is sales and sales only.
I know that Quincy is not metal or rock, but his viewpoints echo similar viewpoints from Gene Simmons, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Stanley, Scott Ian, Duff McKagan, Kirk Hammett, Joe Perry and Roger Waters. You could easily change the name Quincy Jones above, with Gene Simmons, Yngwie Malmsteen and so forth.
Overall, being a musician is tough. It always has been and always will be. There are no overnight successes. Never have been and never will be. Ignore all the crap and make your own way. There is a lot of money to be made in music and it doesn’t just involve writing and releasing an album.
Remember back in the Seventies and the Eighties. Artists had to conquer their local area first, then their state, then the next state and so forth.
With the internet, artists have a global audience right off the bat. But the need to win fans city by city is still the same.