A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The Lies Of The Beautiful Record Labels And The RIAA

During the recorded music industries heyday, there was this widespread idea, sort of like an unwritten law, that we (the fans of music) could purchase music and own it, the same way we purchased and owned the toaster and any other commodity.

Of course when it comes to music, that was never the case. What the music fans actually purchased was a non-transferable license to listen to the music under very specific and strict conditions. Nothing else was transferred to us with our expensive $30 purchase of a CD, other than the right to enjoy the music in private, over and over again.

So what do we have now. We have sales of music falling. Actually they have been falling for some time. The RIAA and the record labels are attributing this to piracy alone, linking the decline of sales with the increase of P2P file sharing usage.

So for the RIAA and the Record Labels, plus some misguided artists, it is simple, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move.

The thought that fans of music have changed the way they consume music doesn’t compute for the Majors and their association.

The arrival of iTunes and the chance to cherry pick what we want rather than complete albums is a pretty good indication that revenue streams would reduce. Instead of spending money on an expensive shiny piece of plastic for two songs, we could now just download those two songs.

The arrival of YouTube and streaming services have also put a dent into the traditional sales model. Of course, piracy does play its part, however with the increase in people attending concerts and festivals, one needs to ask the question, did piracy assist in this?

Watch the Iron Maiden doco, Flight 666. Nicko McBrian talks about not selling an album in Costa Rica, however they have sold out the local sports stadium. Twisted Sister haven’t released any new music, however in Europe they have a massive fan base that includes both old and young. Did piracy cause this?

The arrival of many platforms that allow DIY bands to release has caused a flood of new music to enter the music business. Competition is now at an all-time high.

What about the price of music? Normally if demand for a certain product drops, the prices for that product fall as well, to reflect the lower demand. It is simple economics. So what do the record labels do? They maintain the high prices so that they can maximise profits. So the recording industry is holding on to high price points and they blame piracy in the meantime for the decline in sales.

So if people are purchasing less music or illegally downloading content, how is this effecting the income of artists? Do artists still have an incentive to create music.

For starters, the majority of artists do not get into music to be millionaires. They get in to music because it satisfies a basic human need to be creative.

In relation to less incentive, this doesn’t seem to be the case. There is so much music hitting the market that no one has enough time to hear it all. In addition, if the artists is doing the live circuit, incomes in this arena are increasing. Some artists that don’t sell a lot sure get a lot of people into their shows.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Beyond The Horizon – The Future Of Music

Beyond the horizon lies a very different musical and entertainment landscape, one that has been completely reshaped by technology. Back in the Eighties, the goal was to work in the music business for a record label while you dreamed of being a rock star. Fast forward thirty years and the goal is to work in technology. The new rock stars are the tech heads.

The control that the entertainment industries had on entertainment has diminished with the rise of the Internet as a distribution and marketing platform.

Barriers of entry have been lowered. Artists don’t need a middle man to distribute their music. However, artists are in love with the story of fame and wealth. Artists today seek to have what the megastars of the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties had. The reason why we had megastars in the music business is that those acts took risks. Today the majority of acts play it safe. The ones that sit on the fringes are the ones that end up building a career.

The aim of the game is to outlast the competition.

So what will the new landscape look like?

Ownership and Premium Content – Once upon a time we paid money just to hear the music. I just looked at my Amazon purchases for 2013 and I have purchased $750 worth of music so far. I am sure by years ends I will have done close to $1000 of music purchases. There is still a sense of ownership. However the ownership aspect has shifted more to premium products.

Sound – Once upon a time we paid large sums of money for hi-definition sound systems, just so that we can listen to our music in aural bliss in the comfort of our homes. Now we listen to compressed mp3’s on headphones in the car, at work, in the gym or on the running track. The focus is now on expensive hi-def. headphones. I believe it is an expensive fad. The majority of music consumers will still remain on the cheap alternative headphones however the push is on for better alternatives.

Performing Live – Once upon a time we used to wake up early to queue in massive lines so that we can buy an affordable ticket to the rock n roll show. Back then, we could afford to go to a show every month. Now, tickets are so overpriced that we can go to a show maybe twice or three times a year.

Actually this year, I have gone to a few concerts. I have seen Coheed and Cambria ($70 ticket), Bullet For My Valentine ($70 ticket), Periphery ($60 ticket), Black Sabbath ($160 ticket), Motley Crue and Kiss ($200 ticket, in total $800 for the family) so far. In December, I am taking the family to see Bon Jovi ($250 a ticket, in total $1000 for the family). That is $2,160 spent on concert tickets so far.Add to that figure merchandise purchases of $500 and you have a $2560 bill for live entertainment.

The Pirate Bay – While the Entertainment lobby groups are high fiving each other about getting court orders for ISP’s to block access to The Pirate Bay, they are failing to see the New Pirate Bay slowly coming over the horizon. Remember that the initial plan of The Pirate Bay was to create a small BitTorrent tracker for an extended circle of friends. No one predicted what was to come. The Pirate Bay’s aim was always to be copied. It never wanted to be the biggest or the most visited. It wanted to spawn a billion offspring’s.

So if you are an artist starting off today, there is a very good chance that you have downloaded a lot of music via The Pirate Bay. Don’t fight it, use what if offers and exploit it.

What needs to be done now to sustain the system?

Artists hold the key. They are the ones that the system thrives on. They are the ones that can set the rules. We are in the midst of a creative renaissance. It is the Labels, Studios and Networks worst nightmare. They used to be in control. They had the money for production and they had the control on distribution. If artists wanted to play in the game before, the needed to sell out, they needed to kiss butt. Those days are over. The means of production is in the hands of the artist.

Distribution is free. The world television is YouTube.

So what happens when everyone can participate? Only great will win. If an artist is great and they are willing to be in the business for a long time, then they will become an icon. Success and the audience will catch up with their greatness in due time.

Today it’s all about being the king of the individual and creativity. Money comes last.

How do artists transform their businesses to succeed in this new environment?

Repeatability – Music isn’t for the once anymore. iTunes is dead. I have spent over $700 on purchasing music this year so far. I am moving to the streaming option. It is for the many. The fan needs to immediately click on replay once they hear the song. If they don’t, the artist has done it wrong.

The era of taking a year off to make an album is over. The hard-core will buy the album and then it is over. We can listen to everything for free online. We only have time for great. The concept of buying an album and finding out it sucks is over.

Delayed Acknowledgement – An artist needs to keep at it, even though there is no obvious chance of success in sight. It is the lifers who last. This goes against the message of the era, which is that we need to be paid and we need to be paid right now. Volbeat is a perfect example of delayed recognition. The success they had in the USin 2012, is based on a song that was released on their 2008 album. Eventually the audience will catch up with the artist and when it happens the artist needs to be around to capitalise on it. Volbeat released a new album in 2013, and they still had their 2010 album selling decent numbers.

Mindshare – There is just too much content out there looking for attention. That is the nature of the new music business. Piracy hasn’t dented the recording business. The statistics from the record labels are all bogus. The flow of constant new content is the killer of the recorded business model. When there is so much competition, only great will rise to the top. So if the record labels and other misguided artists whine about piracy, they should know that what they released was just not great. The money is now spread across thousands of bands instead of hundreds of bands.

The “rock star myth” was a deliberate creation of the major labels. Wannabe musicians bought it hook, line and sinker. The Record Labels licked their lips at all the talent waiting to be exploited. Generally speaking, every artist puts in over 40+ hours per week just to make it. Once they get some traction, those 40 hours a week goes up to 60 hours a week. Artist need to be prepared to put in the hard work on a consistent basis as music doesn’t last these days because it’s too accessible.

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