Reality of the Music Industry

There’s a interview in Digital Audio Insider about the challenges faced even by what we’d called ‘established musicians’. Admittedly I hadn’t heard of Camper Van Beethoven, but I had probably heard their music when I watched “Bowling for Combine”, as one of their songs was licensed in the Michael More doco.
Jonathan Segel of the band was interviewed via email and he had a lot of interesting things to say, but unfortunately it’s not the optimistic message predicting the emerging ‘middle class’ of artists and musicians who can finally make a living as the barriers of entry are lowered and distribution made easier.
Quote: …the legacy of the digital revolution will prove to be economically the same as the legacy of the last 30 years’ Republican administrations: a very small percentage of people with a lot of money, and a very large amount of people with very little money: there will be little or no artistic middle class.
But I really appreciated this interview, because it gets down to the truth of it, which is not what you’ll find in the majority of books sold in the market convincing you that with just a bit of hardwork, luck and a fanbase you can make a living in music. But I guess that’s why they sell like hot cakes…

I also appreciated the detailed breakdown of the economics faced as a band reminding people of the costs involved in making good music (skilled producers, engineers and their equipment) and then the marketing and promotion necessary to sell the music.
To break in the reality: of the twenty five years he’s been making music (whether his main band or side projects) only 3 and a half of those were spent making money as a musicain, the rest he’s needed other jobs to keep the music going.
And that led to another very important point he drove home: in the whole operation of writing music, making an album, producing and promoting it, you as the artist, will be the last to get paid, meaning for the most part everyone is paid first before you’ll see any income (such as studio, engineers, promotions and marketing team etc… or if it’s funded by the label, they recoup first from your royalties)

In a sense I suppose this is fair -if you’re the artist then the album is “your baby”, for everyone else working on the album it’s a job (albeit a satisfying one for many) or it’s a financial investment.


The Problem With Music by Steve Albini


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