Bands, the way we have known them will be no more.
It will be the era of the songwriter. It might look like a band on the outside but really it will be the main person or two and the supporting musicians. Sort of like how it was in the 50s and 60s up to a certain point. Until The Beatles changed everything.
For example, like James Hetfield and The Metallica Band or like Jon Bon Jovi and The BJ Band or like David Lee Roth and The Van Halen Band or Rob Halford and The Judas Priest Band.
Maybe they will just use their name like Bryan Adams, Keith Urban, Don Henley, Neil Young or Ozzy Osbourne.
Even Alice Cooper started off as a band and morphed into a solo artist with musicians supporting the artist.
Maybe a return to the Crosby, Stills and Nash kind of names.
These are just examples of using artists that I know. The new artist could use just their name or their name with a backing band or a group name but the reality will be that the group is really just the artist with other musicians supporting the artist.
If you look at bands right now and in the past, most of their songs are written by one main member. Sometimes two or three members, especially when bands had artists who paid their dues and had experiences before joining.
Ignore pop songs for the moment who seem to have 10 writers to start with, and if the songs are a hit, there is a writ and more songwriters are added to the list.
Yeah I know what your saying, U2, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath and Van Halen just to name a few, have albums saying that the songs are written by all the members.
But the truth is, what is in print for us to see on the lyric sheet or album, is not always the truth. Songs are complicated beasts when it comes to a band setting. It didn’t used to be that way but it is that way now. Especially when there is money involved.
For example ASCAP is a music publisher in the US, had total revenues of $1.226 billion dollars in 2018. They paid $1.109 million in royalties back to artists. And they kept $117 million in administration costs. Basically money for nothing and the chicks for free to the publishing company.
That’s just one of many in the US. Then there is BMI who had total revenues of $1.283 billion and paid out $1.196 billion to artists by 30 June 2019. And they kept $87 million for administration costs.
And each country has multiple publishing companies. And each country has record labels. And everyone is making multi millions from music for nothing.
The actual copyright registration and the splits associated with the song plus the band agreement which also has percentage splits determine who is entitled to what. Van Halen even took Michael Anthony off the songwriting credits when they renegotiated a multi million dollar publishing deal in the early 2000’s.
COVID-19 has changed the game.
A normal band makes their money on the road.
Some bands might have streams in the billions and own their own copyrights, but if they are that level, they will have a team of people in their organization like managers, legal, accountants and other employees who do fan club and website.
Right now, no one can tour and they don’t know when they can start touring again because having so many people in a room, theatre, arena or stadium is a problem when it comes to social distancing. And even if concerts are allowed, will people just go back to life as normal or be cautious. Maybe concerts will resume with a cap of 500 people max.
And no one gets into bands or starts writing songs to get paid. They do it because they love it and there is a need within them to create. But with any artist that starts to become popular, money is a byproduct of creating something which resonates.
And then it becomes about the revenue streams and how is the artist going to make money.
Streams will pay and the artist will get more if they own their rights. And the person who wrote the song will get two bites of that revenue. One from the streaming service to the Copyright owners account and another from the Rights Organization which administers their catalogue. This always causes resentment between members because one person has more than others.
Especially when the band agreement in place favors one over the other. And the other member feels like their songs should be considered but they are not up to standard.
Remember when Kirk Hammet told everyone he lost his phone with riffs and that’s why he had no song writing contributions on the “Hardwired” album but James set the record straight when he said that Kirk’s riffs just weren’t there, meaning they weren’t good enough to James and Lars to consider.
We wait to see what live music will look like post COVID-19.