Music Industry

posted on #1
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We are all here because we love music.
We don't give's woven in our soul to create, to write whatever is in our hearts and on our minds.
Some of us do it as a hobby. Some of us are looking to further ourselves.
Yet most of us won't go further than Wikiloops, I mean, actually get onto radio, tv, or any other form of music industry.
Personally, I've felt like I've been in a revolving door, just going round and round, nobody there to open the door to you, or tell you when to get off. I've tried hard honing the skills I've learnt, both musically and lyrically, I've tried lots of different platforms online, but Wikiloops and the people here is definitely my favourite place to be.
Edited by Anon518 on Settembre 24 2017 23:27
posted on #2
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Ah dear Stella. I'm sure there are many who can relate to where you're at. I'd hate to be young and aspiring in a world where the music industry is less about talent than hype and business. The spectre of the successful commercial garbage that's foisted on a non-critical public is disgusting. It's even worse for those of us who aren't singers as the average Joe doesn't understand that music can embody emotion without being told what they should be thinking/feeling.

Some here have been professional musicians so can look back, but can’t professionally look forward as their talents are no longer in demand. I don't see any future where "the industry" is opening up. So much good music is available for free (us included). It's only the big distributors on the internet who seem to be able to tell the public what they should download that's in fashion and reap the $$ rewards.

We really aren't at all fashionable here and may never be. When has quality ever counted in a commercial world compared to what can be hyped for $$?

Hopefully all of us are glad to have this oasis of culture and quality in which we are not subject to the dictates of popular taste or commercial hype.

Being good, different, gifted, or even good looking isn't a guarantee of anything in the commercial world of music. I especially feel for those who have put in the extra effort either academically or to their craft as there are few or no opportunities out there. Many have turned to teaching but how many jobs are there for music teachers when there is no prospect for students to ever work in music? The music teaching industry can't continue to expand either.

The only bright spark is here, where we can indulge ourselves in creating and playing music for the joy it brings us and others who can be bothered to listen. There is no need for us to feel left out or lesser in having not made it in "the industry". We are in the best of company. All we have to do is listen to confirm that.

Wishing you peace and happiness.
posted on #3
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I totally agree with Wade. And here is another way of viewing it.
I consider myself being an amateur at heart and i would be very hesitant of accepting any professional offering.

Let me explain. The word amateur has evolved to have two distinct meanings. One recent where it is denoting some novice or substandard performance and its original meaning which is derived from "lover" i.e. an amateur is somebody who is engaged in something for the love of it, not for financial benefit. It is noteworthy that the etymological development of the word amateur is parallel with the evolvement of corporate thinking (coincidence?).

Also consider what the word professional means. It means that somebody is getting paid (on a regular basis). Even here the meaning has shifted from someone just being employed to a person performing way above average.

The evolvement of both concepts is imho not reflected in reality. On the contrary, most professionals perform pretty much on par(with alight fewer exceptions), much fuelled by ever evolving technology. Also the standards are being constantly lowered for a plethora of reasons. Amateurism on the other hand is very alive and well and evolving rapidly, mainly thanks to the internet. Wikiloops is an excellent example of this but there are lots of others.

And there is one more aspect of professionalism that is worth reflecting upon. Money has many more aspects than just just being a means of payment. One is that a payment also implies an adjustment of values and standards. What this has lead to in the case of music should be obvious by now.

So i choose to be an amateur, playing music for the love of it. And not being dependent of adjusting my preferences, values and standards just in order to earn my livelihood. But evolving by my own means to my own ends.

PS: I still enjoy kimbos story of how a practice at the airport turned into a busking session earning him 50euros in half an hour.
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posted on #4
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Stella, it is very hard indeed. I know from personal experience in the world of sports how hard it is to get a foothold - talent and ability are often not enough - sometimes you need pure luck and someone who will give you a chance. Unfortunately there are thousands and thousands of young people who have the same dream. But the good thing is, your music is something that will always stay with you no matter what, and you will have lots of fun even if it is for a small audience only. And yes, Wikiloops is a great place indeed!!
posted on #5
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Happy to quote Mr. Snuts' opinion to this thread:
Life is.
posted on #6
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Many wise words already written but I'll chime in too...

Firstly, I don't mean to be negative, but barring some fundamental change in the way people view and consume music, the chances of making a good living as a 'professional' musician playing _original_ music are vanishingly small. You might as well start putting money on the horses and use your winnings to hire Wembley Arena! ;-) Hard work, talent, perseverance might make a small difference but at the end of the day the numbers are against you - remember you only ever hear from the ones who worked hard, persevered and were insanely talented (in their own minds) AND got extraordinarily lucky! (BTW - I _really_ recommend David Byrne's book "How music works" which goes into this in much more detail; even as a 'famous' musician he has to work quite hard to make a relatively modest income.)

So with that said, what would success mean anyway? I'll be honest and say that I sometimes find it slightly dispiriting to know that my 'art' is listened to by at most a couple of dozen people and even that's mostly out of politeness! ;-) A few hundred would be nice but then I'd be wondering why it wasn't a couple of thousand, or ten thousand, or... well you get the drift. The point is it's easy to think that there's always just one more rung to climb before you've reached your goal. (Another strong book recommendation ... "Stumbling on happiness" by Dan Gilbert really drives this home.) I know a couple of musicians who've achieved considerable 'success' - one told me of the time he had just finished playing Wembley (really!) and had to borrow the tube fare home!

Anyway, so what's left if it's not going to be money or adulation? I suppose that leaves the satisfaction of having created something 'in the moment' that I'm (occasionally) proud of and the feeling of being part of a community. I'll be honest and say I miss playing live in 'real-time' with other musicians but on the flip-side there is no way I could ever hope to meet and collaborate with so many talented and incredibly diverse people without Wikiloops!
Edited by GrooveEnth on Settembre 25 2017 21:05
posted on #7
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every note from any individual is really never played exactly the same. like a fingerprint all different,but it's a language we all understand , together, we hear, we learn,we teach,we play
posted on #8
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Many true words spoken above.

As someone who's been there, done some of it, failed and then ended up working in IT, I can offer some insights (more likely, opinions!). I will temper my comments with the fact this is aimed squarely at mainstream, commercial chart music which is sadly the only realistic chance most have at making enough money to get by:

The industry has immeasurably changed since the late '90s when I was a working professional. Technology is partly responsible for both the massive switch in the consumption of music and also how it's recorded. What I would've given in those days to have the equivalent of several hundred thousand pounds of professional recording studio inside a 15" laptop.... But I digress.

This is my take on the matter. I probably, as usual, won't be able to keep it short:

- Most importantly, to me, is that talent, sadly, has very little to do with it any more. It's something that hasn't hugely changed but it has taken increasing prominence as the inexorable march of 'celebrity' slowly strangles the global pool of IQ points. You only have to listen to that pseudo-soulful, throat-singing inarticulate wailing bulls**t 'reality shows' that ooze out of one's TV like a lanced boil on an elephant's ar*e to realise that. Those with 'proper' talent end up in the shadows, if they're lucky, backing a crooning, auto-tuned cretin with a nice haircut and shoes with no socks on.

The ultimate irony is those with the talent are holding up the idiots. Because they have no choice if they want to earn a living.

- Which brings me onto the general lack of respect for professional musicians. You're underpaid and overworked for starters. Even with some of the biggest bands out there, if you're the supporting drummer, etc., then don't expect more than a couple of hundred notes for your time. Producers and execs will not tolerate humanity anymore. Everyone is used to hearing 'perfect' music these days - quantized and compressed into a gain-optimised machine - and now expect performers to meet that standard. The ability to not only never make a mistake but also stay perfectly on a click is more important than ever.

- Then there's the cult of celebrity. Marketing and marketability - which I appreciate has always been a factor - has totally taken over. You can be borderline talentless now, but if you look the part and are willing to be shaped into a preening, farting nothing for a quick buck by a bunch of even bigger celebrity egos (not naming names), then the job's yours. As long as they see potential social media attraction to wheel in a few million cow people and, most importantly, are willing to end up on Celebrity Big Brother to finish your career off as a weeping alcoholic in full view of the public, knock yourself out!

- Then there's the inverse of my talent comments: genuinely talented people who are forced into churning out cynical, cash-cow music. Beyonce springs to mind. A genuinely, super-talented vocalist who's stuck in a stylistic corner reaming out dirge because that's what got her famous and what the fans now expect.

- Record labels. The last couple of nails in the coffin of being 'signed' are now waiting to go in. Long gone are the days where record companies would take a punt on you and, most importantly, give you the advance necessary to both make the record and actually stay alive and keep a roof over your head. These days, you do all the work, market yourself on streaming sites and social media and once you break through, they might give you a listen. By then, you don't need them - they're just chasing the smell of easy money. Accountants run everything now and they're highly risk-averse. This is the reason the same rubbish is churned out over and over. It's the same reason Hollywood are churning out re-boots of successful films and comic book franchises.

I could go on and on, and usually do. But I'll stop here before the veins in my temple start bursting and covering my colleagues in blood.

Success in the industry depends on one single thing: national lottery-winning levels of luck. You could be one of the most-talented people out there and you're more likely to just get a few views on YouTube at best if your hair's the wrong colour or the shoes you wear were so last year.

Sorry to be a doombringer but the best trait for any musician is to be happy in what they do. Do not chase success - it will only come when you're not looking for it.

And Wikiloops is an awesome place for musicians to really work together without commercial or creative constraints. And for that, it’s simply one of the most honest places on the internet for appreciating music in all its forms.
Edited by mpointon on Settembre 26 2017 13:14
posted on #9
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I agree wholeheartedly with the comments posted so far. I’m sure that a good proportion of the members on here have been through all the motions at some point in their musical journey…the gigs, the late nights, the travelling, arriving home at 2am after slogging away at various venues, the frustrations, the ups and downs, spending lots of dollar in a recording studio…….
It’s a sad thing to say, but the industry isn’t really about quality anymore, it’s about rushing an “act” into the studio quickly, and cutting a track that usually talks about how much gold and bling they are wearing or about their “motas”, “jewellery” and “women”…and with accompanying music videos that generally have hordes of people wobbling airbrushed body parts about and bums n ar$es everywhere and hanging around a swimming pool in a penthouse in some location…this isn’t a particularly new concept in the the good old days they talked about love instead …but joking aside artists used to be passionate about crafting quality music that had melodies and good musicianship.

Modern technology is a double edged sword, its more accessible for the real musicians to get previously inaffordable studio quality at home, but on the flip side, it means that the current crop of “acts” – yes “acts” can be in and out of a studio quicker than ever….the thing is, is that it’s not really that important to people like it used to be as the kids just need a background noise while they sit on their mobiles, consoles and social media / websites. I’ve been playing live for 20 odd years and have seen a big decline in venues doing live music, and also to a lesser extent the numbers of people going to watch live bands.
I think this is why all current music generally sounds the same. I’ve have many conversations with my musical friends and it’s a general consensus that the last great music period was really the Britpop era of the late 90s, some people may disagree, but I’m talking generally here. It was an exciting time when bands had individuality, catchy songs, quirky haircuts and clothes, and were great live also.

About the comment above about Hollywood churning out re-boots, its absolutely true, but also in my opinion indicates that generally people have run out of creative steam, which I think is a knockon effect of a generation of uninspired kids who've forgotten how to interact and communicate - I don't recall seeing any personalities coming through like there used to be in the 80s for example.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get into the music business with a couple of bands I was in, but both were rejected. Even though its disappointing, I still had an amazing time doing what I love which is being involved in music, learning so many things and having experiences that I will never forget! That’s what really matters I think.

Of course, wikiloops is flying the flag for real musos, the ones who can play instruments! WOW!  and have talent. I wonder how many of these “acts” we see write their own tracks? Very little – and usually they need the sort of people who are on wikiloops to do that! So who really has the last laugh?!?
posted on #10
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Like writers, comedians etc... musicians and composers want to be listened and appreciated. It is normal for a creator to have a necessary feedback.

As far as I am concerned money is not an issue in this process. I do what I want, I don't care about intellectual property and I don't want to be a clown begging for appreciation. I don't care about the industry and all this crap.

Wikiloops and other sites give me the opportunity to share music and songs with people all around the world. This is what I amlooking for. If this would change, I would go away...
posted on #11
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Here's a bit more dismal information:

Like at the dawn of streaming, musicians are still complaining that it's next to impossible to make money from it.

The RIAA has calculated that a music creator only earns US$1 from 58 hours of streaming video on YouTube -- the company most often blamed for the "value gap" that plagues artists. Other industry leaders are more generous, but that's not saying much. On average, an artist earns US$100 for 152,094 streams of a song to Spotify subscribers. That's dismal; you have to be extremely-popular before you can earn enough for food.

Only the oligopoly of record labels that control the intellectual property -- Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music -- are reaping profits from the boom. Warner Music posted a record profit in the three months to June; no wonder it now controls one of the world's top streaming services, Deezer, which once planned to go public.

At Sony, music is one of the strongest profit drivers. UMG consistently provides most of the profit of its corporate parent, Vivendi.

In its recent forecast for the music industry, Goldman Sachs predicts that record labels' share of the music industry's revenue will increase by 133 per cent between 2015 and 2030, while the share that goes to musicians, venues and tour organisers will only grow by 60 per cent. So the investment bank expects the labels to continue reaping a disproportionate share of the benefits.
posted on #12
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What Wade states raises a very interesting question:

How does the money flow? Per definition the flow always starts at the consumer, but where does it go then? I suspect the flow is very indirect since streaming does nor generate much and records do not sell any more. So what is left? Live events, Radio play and licenses from TV, movies and commercials.

I have some friend that managed to sell a song for a commercial for a well known beverage. Their income from that was HUGE! Several 100k within a year. This gives some indication of where the large money flows are.

The sad thing here is that the consumer has very little power over how his money is used. Yes, you could stop watching TV (not much interesting there anyway) and buy only local produce and goods from non corporate manufacturers but that is not realistic for most people.

What surprises me a little is that no politician i know of has made any attempt at all to increase consumer power, they all seem to shy that issue like a plague despite the fact that this may be the one issue that can both distinguish them from other politicians and get them large vote shares. Most political movement seems go move away from this also.
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posted on #13
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Very interesting discussion here, let me give it another twist:
First, yes, I do share a little "biz" experience, too, and it is actually quite striking that we have members from all ends of the globe reporting the same feeling & situation in the "music industry" all over the place.
Now, what has been stated before could be misunderstood as "a bunch of folks complaining they didn't become rockstars, and blaming the world for that", and there have been some ideas offered on why the music business has changed the way we all agree it has.
Nilton raises the question of "where the money goes" and talks about "consumer power", and that is an interesting way to look at this.
I'm not sure if what is playing on the radio has to do with lack of consumer power- consumers have quite a lazyness to use their power in the first place, and looking at successfull buinesses like american fast food chains, one can not conclude that consumer power will lead to a high quality of any product. Most people want cheap, easy to digest and easy to choose products, and that is what is playing on the radio, too.

Now, to give the discussion a new twist, let me offer a totally different approach of explaining what we are experiencing here.
We are talking about the "music business", and there we have two words combined into one idea, and from our lifetimes experience, we have been led to believe these two went together naturally.
Well, they don't.
I think (someone with more historical knowledge may correct me) that the music industry as we know it is a side product of the 20th century mass media evolution, which had very little to do with music itself, and rather discovered music to be helpfull in its (the medias) evolution. In a world where the demand for basic products could be met easier and easier, the industry was in need of new luxury goods to sell, and music albums and devices to play them back served as a great way of creating artificial value and showing some wealth, like cars or other items do (or used to do) as well.
He who had a record player and two albums used to be the king of the town, and that aspect had little to nothing to do with music, but made a lot of money for sure.
Music however has traditionally always been made by people who either earn very little to nothing for it, or by a few very priviledged ones who were sponsored by some rich person (think of the classical writers who all sat at someones court, and composed to entertain the elites).
Even looking into other cultures, one can see music masters who are dedicated professionals, but who will both have students whom they have to teach to exist, and who may not receive a lot of financial reward for their mastership (I'm thinking of the afghani music tradition, I had a chance to learn a little something about that).
Looking at it that way, maybe our thinking music and industry together is somewhat poisoned by having lived in a time when we were lead to believe the two belonged together - maybe that was a hoax and all we witnessed was business using music to make business.
Even if thats so, let's stay aware that music itself will not take damage, it will just retreat to smaller circles from being "mainstream" - let's face it, the "mainstream" listeners never understood that much about music anyways, or am I wrong saying that?
Even in todays world, there are rich people sponsoring quality music (think of the existing jazz scene, no need to complain about lack of quality there IMO), and there's lots of people who do it for the love of music, like most of us around here.
Mabe it is an option to look at streaming sites and think: Yes, thats the media, and what we do is making music, and one has nothing to do with the other.
I can live with that fairly well,
and I have had the honor to play some small gigs for no pay, where I could see people with tears in their eyes from being touched by our music, so I have no regrets about not being the king of spotify who probably never experienced that. Being an independent musician who can afford not to run after the market trends is a very enriching experience, just not financially ;)
posted on #14
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Hey, me again ;)
I've been thinking about this a little longer, and felt my bold approach might have been a little harsh, especially realizing not anyone reading this will be as much at ease and peace with the state the music biz is in as I have presented myself.

As I gave the whole topic more thought, I realized there are still a lot of jobs in the "music biz" available, be it recording jingles for advertisement, producing soundtracks for film production, entertaining people at weddings, play in a state-owned orchestra (we still have such in germany) or play music at worship gatherings of any kinds - if you want to make cash playing music, there you go, these things sell as well as ever.

When I looked at the music industry of the 20th century as some kind of virtual bubble, then one must notice the not-so-rock&roll branches I mentioned above went on feeding musicians without a whole lot of change.
What went up dramaticly were the record sales once records became available, and with the rise of the digital age that dramatic rise tuns around to become a dramatic fall, which may end at some sort of realistic level of professional musicianship.
I can look at the whole bubble going up and busting in the end as something truly positive, since we got to hear and embrace some really phantastic music that had a chance to get heard on the way up. At the end of the process, we have a huge variety of music available at a few clicks or swipes, which is creating the equity and open access (if only to music) that many of the 60s and 70s musicians were dreaming about.
"The revolution is killing its own kids" some wise dude once said, maybe that is what happened to rock music.
If records would have had some kind of self-destruction mechanism to them, the product might have sold better, too, and seriously, if I can get a "any music out there" flatrate at 10$ a month, then I'm not surprised the share going to living musicians can't be that huge...
I'm affraid there is very little hope things will change back to times where many can make a living out of playing electric guitars.
And if you read some 20th century musicians biographies or just consider the amount of drug abuse and misery that seemed to be a part of the whole professional picture, then once again you may wonder if these people were really what you would like to become one day...

Now, since many of you ended your posts with reflecting on how wikiloops fits into your picture of the situation, let me add one more thought:
What I feel is a notable evolution is the increase of services around the aspiring pop-star. Looks to me as if a lot of people noticed the way the whole bubble was going, but also noticed there still is a lot of good money to be made by leading people to believe they would become successfull 20th century popstars, if only they took part in this-or-that payed programme, bought this-and-that gear or whatever else. Obviously, there is a lot of financial potential in selling expectations on success, and there is a quite fat belt of businesses catering that field - including some non-commercial institutions like universities who keep teaching jazz even tho there is little to no demand for jazz standard players.
If there is one thing about wikiloops which I am really happy about, then that I've been able to operate the project staying away from making any un-keepable promises about fame and fortune.
It's been a hard pill to swallow for many (I've seen enough musicians who felt uploading music to wikiloops for free was ridiculous, and being asked to support the project? No way!), but since we around people who accepted this general situation, we have no need to focus on anything "20th century marketing potential" in our music.
Maybe that's why some of the stuff on here sounds so real, and I'm happy to see you guys feel as fortunate as I do that this place exists and is frequented by folks like you.
have a nice weekend :)
posted on #15
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When I think of people in the industry making money now that are not commercially backed I think if touring. Musicians today need a following, and then they need to tour tour tour. It actually sounds like a very rough life. Days of money from cd sales are done.

Lots of other good work options mentioned here as well. Adam Neely has good videos on YouTube on the subject. He is a working musician.
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posted on #16
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Music industry is so poor...
posted on #17
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Had a problem with my last post.
So here is my musician and singer again . The music industry is so poor...
posted on #18
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I know a guy in Wales, he has his own recording studio, he does a lot of jingles for adverts...and does a lot of audio for radio etc. He also sells 'recording studio experiences' to make ends meet.
Even he hasn't had his 'big break' and he's a professional.
Maybe it's best to think of music as a hobby.
posted on #19
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Talking about industry.
Now it's your time to have luck: You get the job of the CEO.
What will you find?
Let's say, a small industry company with only 1000 employees.
You will see:
100 people earn 80% of the profit. They have ideas, they inspire, they invent.
800 people are needed to support these first 100. They do their job and they are worth their money. No losses, no gains.
The last 100 people do harm the company. Better get rid of them! They steal money and time, they battle with the best.
You are they CEO. What is your problem?
The last 100 are your network, the needed base for your power.
You fire and hire in the middle segment, it does not matter, profits will not change.
That's industry. Simplified, of course.
Edited by Neronick on Ottobre 04 2017 15:26
posted on #20
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Neronick wrote:
The last 100 people do harm the company. Better get rid of them! They steel money and time, they battle with the best.
You are they CEO. What is your problem?
The last 100 are your network, the needed base for your power.
You fire and hire in the middle segment, it does not matter, profits will not change.
That's industry. Simplified, of course.

Its actually much worse than this. The last 10% consume about 25% of the companies salaries and make 85% of the decisions despite lacking the competence. And very often the CEO is part of this group
That's industry!
Pure fingerstyle
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