There are no guarantees for the talented musician.
It was in the late 80s when CDs started showing up on the shelves of your favorite music store. They were the rage and everyone was buying them. Well, everyone except me. Most of the time, I would still purchase the cassette over the CD. There were many reasons for my decision. There was the nostalgia of playing a cassette tape. After all, I played them for years. Cassettes really transformed the way we listened to music. It was smaller to keep around, and we could trash our 8 track tapes that were clunky in nature. The 8 track tape could be played in your car, but they were less convenient and the sound wasn’t as good as the cassette.
Then, as the CD was making its debut, I was reluctant to make the transition. I thought, why should I spend $20.00 on a CD when I could get two cassettes for that price? The cassette worked just fine for me. Besides, I didn’t want to be forced to upgrade my other stereo equipment. After resisting, I eventually started investing in technology. I said that this was the last time I was ever going to update my system. Boy, was I wrong! Next came other types of media; DVDs, Blue Ray, MP3, ACC and other formats. However, each was a necessary upgrade to an existing system. I thought my upgrade to CDs was going to be the only one that I would need to make. Who would have thought that “tech” would transform our lives forever?
The above was just a small interjection. However, between each line I recall many reasons for my resistance to upgrade to the next popular piece of media. I only recall pushing back when it came to the media that I played my music on. All other technologies were open for discussion and/or purchase.
30 years later, switching to what was popular (media) would be the start of a downward slide for musicians. Some would say that the MP3 was a curse. Yes, it made it easier for us to play music on our mp3 players, iPods, and mobile devices; but it also allowed opportunity for illegal downloads. Everyone remembers Napster. They were the pioneers of the illegal download. What I meant to say was “file sharing” pioneers. They were later sued by Metallica for sharing the music without legal permission to do so. From the day they went to court, many other celebrities joined the fight against platforms that would allow illegal downloads.
How smug it was for a person to download a song illegally. Somehow, they were able to convince themselves that it was ok. “It said FREE download online, so it must be legal. Plus, everyone else is doing it. So why can’t I”?
There is nothing intelligent about downloading music without paying for it. Eventually, people started getting fined or even arrested for downloading music illegally. This didn’t solve a problem. It meant that another concept was needed. Another platform was required in order to make this happen. Yes, they now have legal ways of downloading music that require a purchase. Though, in my opinion, it should still be illegal. Platforms should not allow downloads to be purchased without the entire album being downloaded. If you want the convenience of downloading it for your mobile devices, etc., then the entire album should be required as a purchase, regardless if you don’t like the other songs. Just like the old days, you have to take the good with the bad. Some songs are made to be hits, and some are just there to be “fillers”. That is just fine with me. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
An entire industry is suffering, and it is time that we change how music is distributed. If they do not want to change the methods for downloading music, then they should increase the cost of each download and prevent music sharing in any capacity. We need more restrictions and increased fines for illegal usage of music that has a copyright.
Offering FREE music is not a great marketing strategy
"Why shouldn’t I offer my music for FREE? After all, if I give it away, then I will gain more fans”. So, you're telling me that the first interaction with a fan should be telling them your music isn’t worth purchasing? You invested countless hours writing lyrics, recording, editing and producing and yet, you want to offer it for free. There is no argument that makes sense for offering music for free. Give consideration to what you are doing for the entire music industry. Why should I pay for someone else’s music when I can get yours for free? Now you are putting someone out of a job and reducing the value of your brand. “Great strategy my friend”.
See related article on our website called “Should an artist have to continue to pay out money for their music to be heard”?
Pulling CDs off shelves. Pay to play. Retailers are doing what?
So, I got up this morning and viewed my newsfeed on social media. I found very disturbing articles by Billboard online. They were entitled “Best Buy to pull CDs” and “Target threatens to pay labels for CDs only when they sell”. So, stores are moving on. They no longer want to back the music industry, like they should. All of those decades, the music industry has been good to these retail chains. This is how you repay the music industry? This is how you treat your faithful shoppers? I can recall shopping at these retailers just because of their music selection. I could spend hours just sifting through the CDs that were available. Always looking for the best price, and even willing to pay the higher price, just so that I could enjoy my music. Technology and greed has crippled a once lucrative business and industry that is on the verge of going extinct. If you don’t believe me, talk to some of the musicians that can no longer make money off the music they spend hours upon hours making, promoting, and singing. That is why some just give up; because there is no money to be made anymore, unless you already have a name for yourself and can book tours, concerts, commercials, and T.V. shows.
Honestly, I could look past the nostalgia of it all if the music industry was making “real” money off of digital downloads. Don’t get me wrong...they make money. Just not the kind of money they were once making with other types of media like CDs, cassettes and vinyl records. As previously mentioned, there are websites providing users the convenience of downloading music. The current plan is not working in the best interest of musicians. Out of that $1.29 or less, the artist gets a small percentage of each download. It’s not even worth it. I have made some suggestions, but more are needed and on a larger scale.
The one thing, that no one can steal from you is your love of music. No matter how much they devalue your music, your love for your music will not be diminished. When you truly love your music, nothing else matters. Because of this love, you are willing to look past the thankless retail stores and individuals that choose technology and convenience. These individuals choose technology and convenience over the livelihood of their neighbor. Until things change, count on “true love” as being the payout for your music. In the day we live, there are no guarantees for the talented musician.