My Stories, Stupidity

Money, Money, Money

I have been listening to Machine Head’s “Bloodstone and Diamond” and “Unto The Locusts” albums a fair bit lately along with Serj Tankian’s solo albums “Elect The Dead” and “Harakiri”.

To me, Robb Flynn and Serj Tankian are great writers that take a stance on an issue and put their viewpoints out there. The music business is lacking heroes like these. A lot of musicians just seem to be sitting on the fence. Jon Bon Jovi is singing about moving mountains while Serj Tankian is singing about drum fish and blackbirds committing hara-kiri.

Serj Tankian’s “Elect The Dead” album came out in 2007 before the GFC. It has the same themes on that album that “The Circle” and “Wrecking Ball” from Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen that came after the GFC.

What a great inequality divide we live in. The mega wealthy artists need to hear and read about financial corruption after the fact to write about it. It just goes to show how much they are wrapped up in their own bubble to see how the real battler is really doing. While the wealthy got bailed out by the government and went on speaking tours, the working class lost their houses and their livelihoods.

Even though Serj Tankian is known and recognisable  his lifestyle is nowhere near that of the blockbuster duo from Jersey. But his reach and impact might not be far off.

Artists have the power to spread the truth in world where misinformation rules, however a lot of them choose to not do so. They conform so that they don’t upset the powerful ones just in case they are excluded from the social circle.

“Money isn’t everything” is a common catch-cry but the truth is we live in a money economy.

It’s the number one aspiration. My sons third class play from last year was about what they would like to be when they grow up. Some wanted to be famous at a sport they liked and some just wanted to play video games. But, the majority of the kids, especially the girls, all wanted to be rich. It looks like that’s the new norm now.

The belief is that if you’ve got money, you’ve won and no one can say a bad thing about you. The dirty little secret is that it actually costs money to save/make money. If you don’t have any money, how can you save money. The simple math is $0 in money equals $0 saved.

Now if you earn a wage and have $10 a week lying around, you  might put that into a savings account. By the end of the year you would have saved $520. Over the course of 20 years, you would have saved $10,400, Sounds great. However, I am pretty sure that something will come up that will need you to dip into these savings. Dental care for your children, costs around vehicles maintenance or some other urgent event. You could get sick, take extended leave without pay and then there goes that $10 a week saving plan.

Seriously if you work for a company with a lot of employees with different ethnicities, how many conversations do you overhear or are involved in when people just say the words “we can’t afford to do [something]”. And it confuses the fuck out of me when they say that they have created a budget, crunched the numbers and made a decision that something they want to do is not affordable.

So what’s the point of the budget?

Isn’t a budget put in place so that you can AFFORD to do something that you like?

To me it looks like we are all putting budgets in place to live within our means. That is why the rich get richer and the working class remain poor.

Isn’t that sad that we have come to this situation in life. Crunching numbers over our quality of life and then purchasing a lottery ticket when the jackpot is astronomical, hoping that the rays of luck will shine down on us.

I for one am terrible with managing money and saving money. I am sure I am not the only one in the world, but we all hide it and pretend that we are better off than what we really are.

While we see losing in sport as acceptable, we don’t have that same viewpoint when it comes to money. In the money game we see winning as the only acceptable outcome.

But money alone doesn’t give you a reach that art/music can provide and that is where I will leave you today, with some words from Robb Flynn, heard in the song “Darkness Within”.

Fill your heart with every note, Cherish it and cast afloat, ‘Cause god is in these clef and tone, Salvation is found alone, Haunted by its melody

Music it will set you free
Let it set you free

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories


Creators Don’t Have A Clear Definition Of Success

On one hand, Nirvana sold 7 million copies of “Nevermind” in the US. By December 1992, all the band members had to show was a house. The rest of the monies went on fees, lawyers, accountants, managers, record labels and miscellaneous expenses.

While on the other hand, Tommy Emmanuel has a career in the music business. He releases new music frequently, tours frequently, runs master classes, works as a session guitarist and songwriter. He doesn’t have the 7 million multi-platinum sales on the board however he has been in the music business since the mid Seventies.

What is your definition of success?

Define that first.

Creators Are Not Sure On What To Focus

There you are, in your room, writing and demoing away the killer song that will break you to the masses. Time goes by and suddenly you have created 5, then 10, then 15 songs. When do you say enough and start focusing on that one song and putting that out to market and seeing how it floats in the sea of twenty million unheard songs.

Then once the song is out what do you do. This is where you will need to focus on three things:

1. Are new people gravitating to your song
2. Put time frames in place and measure it and then compare the time frames.
3. Work and finish off the next song.

Creators Don’t Put Their Time Into Understanding Metrics

How is your song being used? How is it being listened too? Which musical platform is getting the most traction?

There are a few ways to do this. Talk to your fans. Create fan groups and give them ranks. Tell them to email you so that they can join one of those groups and talk about the songs released, the new songs in the pipework and so forth. You would be surprised how much goodwill and loyalty this fosters.

Creators Have No Budget

You need to invest in yourself to launch your music onto the world and after that is done, you still need investment in yourself to maintain it.

No Sign Of Life

In IT/Product launches, the actual creators of a new product get really scared right after their products launch because of the very typical “launch bump” and the eventual “pit of despair” when the press and social media stop caring about you.

So let’s take that analogy and apply it to music.

You create your song, record it, mix it, master it and then release it.

And nothing happens.

There is no sign of life that your song is even alive.

Maybe it wasn’t good enough for fans to like it enough that they couldn’t live without it.

Songs have a funny way of finding their way into people’s lives. The big difference today is that the get paid right now paradigm of the past is gone. That paradigm worked when the Record Labels had control of the distribution and acted as gatekeepers. Todays paradigm is different. A song released 5 to 10 years ago could connect with an audience right now. Are you still around to capitalise on this change of fortune. If you are in the music business for the right reasons you will be still around.

No Idea On How To Grow

I am sure that any business entity has come across the following three questions;

Why are we not growing?
Why is growth slowing?
Why are we shrinking?

In order to plan for growth businesses put someone in a position to build that plan, execute that plan and study the results so the next plan can be 20% better.

Apply that to music and ask any artist if they have a growth plan and how do they measure if they are growing.