A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Rock Star Lifestyle, The 2014 Way

In an interview over at The Guardian, will.i.am mentioned an important point about the current rock star lifestyle. He said that he had made more money from his Beats Electronics equity stake than from the sales of the Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling” which has the honour of being one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes.

To put it into context, if you go over to the RIAA Gold and Platinum Database, you will see that the digital release of “I Gotta Feeling” was certified on June 29, 2012, 8 x Multi-Platinum, That means 8 million in digital sales in the US alone. Let’s assume that all of those sales came from iTunes. That is $8 million dollars in sales. Apple takes in 30% which comes to $2.4 million dollars. That leaves $5.6 million for The Black Eyed Peas. For just one song. Of course the record label will take a large portion of that $5.6 million and the remainder will be split between the songwriters, the band members, the manager, the producer and so on.

Will.i.am further stated that “Our music sells other people’s hardware, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.”

This is reality. It is a reality that a lot of musicians do not get in this age, especially the ones in hard rock and heavy metal.

Sure sales of recorded music have declined. In all honesty, how much did bands rely on sales of recorded music as a source of income. And let’s not confuse the generous advances that the labels gave only to claw back that same advance with a lot of creative compound interest.

Look at the above example from will.i.am. Even he states that the money earned is a fraction of what he can NOW make from other ventures. This is what MUSIC has allowed him to achieve.

An artist starting off today needs to realise that music is in competition with technology. Whereas the kids from the Eighties spent their money on cars and music, the kids of the two thousands spend their monies on technology like iPhones, tablets, laptops and other IT style gadgets and they expect to have music on these devices 24/7.

The new rock star lifestyle according to will.i.am involves sleeping about four hours a night. The rest of your time is spent on the vast number of projects you are associated with. For will.i.am, this involves is his own self-funded i.am+ consumer electronics business. It involves serving as Intel’s director of creative innovation. It involves creating and co-founding the Coca-Cola company’s EKOCYCLE recycling strategy. It involves founding and hosting the TRANS4M conference. Way down on the list of activities is the writing, producing, recording and performing of music.

Are the metal heads understanding this? A career in music is not about getting together, drinking a few brews, smoking some green and jamming. There is a lot more to it. Music is the ENTRY. You write a great song or a great album that connects with people and you have one foot in the door to take on other projects.

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.

Music, Piracy

Bon Jovi – The life cycle of What About Now – From 1 to 76 in six weeks.

The release of What About Now happened with a bang.  Due to record label collusion between Universal (Bon Jovi’s label) and Sony (Justin Timberlake’s and David Bowie’s parent label), the album was released the week before Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 album and because of that it went straight to Number 1, beating off David Bowie.

The second week saw the album slip to Number 7.  The third week saw it drop even more to 34 on the charts.  By the fourth week, it was down to position 50.  On the other hand, the Because We Can tour, was selling out arena’s and stadiums.

Digitally, the album performed even worse.  The iTunes chart had the album debut at 52 on the 12 March 2013, and by the March 15, 2013, it was out of the Top 100 iTunes chart. Three days.  That’s it.

Songs from the album do not even rank in the top 25 of the streaming charts.

The fans have clearly spoken.  The hard-core fans like me purchased the album so that we could have it in our collections.  It’s a collectors thing.  The fans that the band picked up during the Slippery/New Jersey era and the It’s My Life era, prefer to buy tickets to the show.

So where is the album, 6 weeks after its release.  Sitting at position 76.  Bands like Imagine Dragons and Mumford and Sons are still in the top 20 and their albums have been out since mid 2012.  Adele’s 21 (released in January 2011) is still charting and selling more than Bon Jovi’s new album (released in March 2013).

The labels will scream piracy.  However, data clearly shows, that if you release good music, it will sell, and it will be around for a long time.  Release crap music and expect it to be ignored.  Thank god, Bon Jovi delivered some classic albums in the past.