“Rock bands were only supposed to last around 5 years. The Beatles, as far as Americans knew them, were only around for 7 years and that seemed like an eternity to the millions of musicians that they inspired, many of which became famous rock stars themselves.”
Jay Jay French
Once upon a time, that was the case. All of the good Seventies band had more or less finished up or turned into bad imitations of themselves by the early Eighties. Some of the musicians went onto successful or not so successful solo careers.
- Deep Purple
- Bad Company
- Led Zeppelin
- Pink Floyd
- Alice Cooper
Throughout it all, the world was changing.
People suddenly had access to more credit than ever before. Their wages increased at an astronomical rate. Ownership of music became a big thing as MTV put our heroes into our lounge rooms. On the heels of this new cultural phenomenon, suddenly there was more money to spend on entertainment products.
So what do all of these bands do?
They reformed. It didn’t matter if it was with the original band members (if that was possible at all) or with different musicians. The labels would bring in extra songwriters.
Aerosmith cashed in. So did Alice Cooper. So did Kiss. Desmond Child and Jim Vallance proved to be songwriters most hard rock bands started to use.
Suddenly we had rock bands lasting 20 years, then 30 years and in 2015 we have rock bands that have lasted 40 years.
But, it is the fans of music that made it all happen.
The fans of music made the record labels rich and the fans of music are the ones that ruined the record labels business models that relied on physical sales.
It is the fans of music that turned Spotify and streaming into a billion dollar industry. That’s the power of the people.
We will play the same song over and over again for decades and under the new model we are generating cash for the streaming service who then pass 70% of it on to the rights holders, which in all cases are the record labels and the publishing companies (who are also owned by the record labels). $4.5 billion dollars have been paid by Spotify and Pandora in royalties. All of that has gone to the record labels or to entities controlled by the record labels. You can see why songwriters are frustrated. Where’s all that money going?
Regardless, when it comes to consuming music and what price should be charged, the people have spoken.
The people decide what is of value and what it wants to pay for something. And artists’ should do everything they can to hook them into a new system or their system.
Look at Coheed and Cambria. I am hooked into the way they release their albums with the Super Deluxe Editions, instant digital downloads and VIP membership.
Remember when the book publishers said that e-books are undervalued and people must pay more. Did they ever think that the people don’t want to pay more?
Amazon finally relented and gave the publishers a chance to set their own prices. So what do the publishers do, they set the e-book price the same as a hardcover price. So the people screamed “Rip off” and E-book sales tanked.
Apple Music launches and it has no free tier after the three months sweetener. By default Apple along with the record labels are excluding people and to really succeed, streaming services like the artists need to hook in the casual users. Fans will always pay top dollar. But casual listeners are important as well. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are at least servicing these listeners.
In the end the recording industry, along with the artists need to get more people paying for streaming. The bigger the streaming pool, the bigger the payouts, as long as the record labels are honest.
But that works by first exposing people to the service. It could take 3 months, 6 months, 12 months or years before people lay out cash. Instead, the labels put a high fee on licensing and then they want streaming services to raise the price immediately.
Did everyone miss the memo?
Music has completely changed. Once upon a time, songs would be sent out to radio or a video would be sent to MTV, with the hope that people would be hooked in enough to go to the record store and buy the album. It was all about monetizing up front. Today, songs are available instantly and monetization comes last. First comes attention. If people are checking something out, and if it sticks…it will grow.
“I think this is the new millennium Number of the Beast. That was one of our best albums and the follow-up to that (Piece of Mind) was probably the best of the lot of them. It has something for everybody. Take Speed of Light, for instance. It is the old Maiden. That intro is a testimony to Deep Purple.”
Nicko McBrain – Iron Maiden drummer
I purchased the album, however I didn’t hear it on CD. As a collector, the CD went straight on the shelf. Through the magic of the internet and Spotify, I can hear the album without paying for it. Isn’t that a better outcome than keeping the music locked up behind paywalls?
If people like it, they will spread the word.
If people like it, they will pay for the CD, pay for the vinyl, or pay to get a higher quality stream.
This is the new world, everything is different now.
The charts are irrelevant, while listens are in. If you don’t believe me, then have a look at the paltry sales that lead to a number one album in Australia.
More people are accessing music through streaming and that is a very good thing. Has anyone heard Iron Maiden complaining about their box office returns after each show, or the fact that they are one of the bands that has huge P2P traffic. It takes a non-rocker to sum up the effect of people accessing music easily.
“I’m playing three Wembley Stadium (shows) on album two. I’m playing sold-out arena gigs in South America, Korea, south-east Asia and Australia. I don’t think I’d be able to do that without Spotify or if people hadn’t streamed my music. My music has been streamed 860 million times, which means that it’s getting out to people. I get a percentage of my record sales, but it’s not a large percentage, (whereas) I get all my ticket sales, so I’d much rather tour. That’s why I got into the business — I love playing gigs. Recording albums, to me, is a means to an end. I put out records so I can tour. For me, Spotify is not even a necessary evil. It helps me do what I want to do.”