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The digital economy isn't working for artists

Discussion in 'music, bands, clubs & festies' started by Divisive Cotton, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. Divisive Cotton

    Divisive Cotton Now I just have my toy soldiers

    Right, serious hat on now

    There's a thought-provoking article here claiming that rather than being a boon to artists, the digital economy has enslaved them to even less attractive capitalists than the old record companies: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/...uld-we-put-our-faith-in-technology-companies/

    I was wondering what your thoughts on the contents of the article are and what websites / services do you think works best for the artist. I can't imagine anybody nominates a service like Spotify which only ends up paying a pittance in royalties.
     
  2. nefarious

    nefarious Putting the Fairy in Nefarious

    The problem is these days record companies want to see a fanbase before they will invest so bands have to do a lot of marketing themselves, fortunately the tools for this are now cheap and easy amnd in everyones bedroom. the records sell lees then they did so lables aer less enclined to invest as much. petrol prices are so high that unsined bands cant get out on the road, thats as big a problem as any. and no one makes any money from streeming, and yet its the future there is no going back.
     
  3. Wolveryeti

    Wolveryeti vole-primping badman

    I think just as plausible a reason for artists getting paid a pittance is the fact that cheap technology has created a situation in which there are just more of them. I think even without Spotify and the like this would be true.
     
  4. 8ball

    8ball We are ALL Silent Whisper

    I think both things are having an effect, though I'd file the latter under 'good things'.
     
  5. ska invita

    ska invita yes yes

    Its seems the article is highlighting a few digital shops ("smaller set of larger even more powerful tech conglomerates") as the new, stingy, paymasters. IT doesnt really go into details though, or have my bleary eyes missed it. Im guessing itunes and other digital shops, and then there are streaming services like Spotify which pay as good as nothing from what i can tell. Id like to see some numbers for that though.

    Got some more thoughts but too tired to express them properly ..........................
     
  6. pesh

    pesh Well-Known Member

  7. Mustardlid

    Mustardlid Stockpiling rice and ammunition since 1982

    Don't know about music... but the 'Stock Photography' sites rip off both the customer and the photographer quite magnificently whilst undermining the market for original work, the bastards.
     
  8. gosub

    gosub ~#

    My wife works in this field, and the problem isn't them. Legal downloads and streaming is a belated response to years of the vast amount of content being illegally available through pirates. Its that which is dictating pricing and therefore what can be passed on to artists. Talk to her work colleges down the pub and always end surprised at how small the take up is for paid for services and they are not a small player.
    Though also talk to musicians, who are quite happy about the increases in what they get paid for playing live, which is what a musician should be doing rather than sitting around waiting on royalties
     
  9. Crispy

    Crispy Fond of drink and industry

    While those streaming fees are indeed terrible, the amount you get from an itunes/amazon sale are excellent compared to a traditional recording contract. In fact, if you can release a new album of material each year and can build up a committed fanbase of less than ten thousand people worldwide, you can make a living out of recorded music. That's actually pretty good, isn't it?
     
  10. chazegee

    chazegee Number two.

    I think what's been gained in terms of ease of access, has been lost in terms of selling hard copy.
    So it's still a bitch.
     
  11. ska invita

    ska invita yes yes

    Genuine question: which musicians have you talked to who are happy about the increase?
    I think theres a fair amount of myth about this part of it. Musicians I've spoken to aren't all getting well paid for gigs, and that includes relatively big acts from what i understand - its the already very big acts who can charge £40+ for tickets that can make money off it (they always have), for everyone else its the same old shit of scrape by, break even or lose on tours. Especially so if you have a big band (less so if you wave your arms around with a mouse helmet on!)
     
  12. gosub

    gosub ~#

    small festi curcuit and pub performances mainly
     
  13. Crispy

    Crispy Fond of drink and industry

    tbf, the whole recorded music business only ever came into existence due to the restricted ownership of the means of production and distribution. Beforehand, pop music was entirely live, and the concept of a coherent band with all their own tunes was unheard of. If the technology (and its ownership) is changing so much, then maybe what we call pop music will change too - not backwards to the old "house band" playing the same numbers every night, but to something different and new.
     
  14. rutabowa

    rutabowa YUPPIES OUT

    i guess it would be good, but i'm almost certain you couldn't. for one there will be more than one person in the band to split it between. and if you are selling 10,000 copies of an album every year there will be other people taking bits of money too. then there are all the costs of equipment, rehearsals, recording etc etc etc. with an old recording contract people got given a big lump of money in advance, i think if anyone was offered something like that they shold probably snap it up straight away! who cares if they ended up never earning the money back, at least they got it in the first place.
     
  15. rutabowa

    rutabowa YUPPIES OUT

    i find it extremely difficult to believe that people putting on pub gigs and festivals are saying "poor musicians, you are not getting so much money from downloads are you? here, we'll increase the money we give you for live shows to make up for it."
     
    RubyToogood likes this.
  16. ska invita

    ska invita yes yes

    Yeah, if true that split looks better than I was expecting - 63p of £1 lets say - though i presume this is if you are utterly indie - if you are with a label they would be taking a sizeable cut.

    The figure for self pressed CD doesnt include the cost of production, which the artist would have to fork out for

    I really question the figure for a normal CD - seems hugely high to me. A £10 CD in a shop and the artist gets £7.50? I dont know what CD Baby is, maybe they have a special model, but a CD you buy in say HMV, that artist isnt getting £7.50 from it. First of all the shop is probably buying them for around £7 (even less if its a big chainstore). Then theres the distributor. Then with a label once all the different costs are taken out, from what I understand the artist makes less than a £1, often a lot less. It depends on the set up though. Anyone have more concrete knowledge on this?

    Also with all of the above there are costs for creating a record - in the past these could run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands (depending on the act). There is a market force here that is forcing people into home recording and out of pro-studios.
     
  17. ska invita

    ska invita yes yes

    Agreed. One show at a festie might be okay pay, but its not going to be that amazing. Pub gigs are still pub gigs. a £20 gig in a 1,500 theatre with a lets say 5 piece band is still not that profitable if at all. There';s the promoter, hotels, flights/travel, the venue, bands aren't making fortunes of these gigs. A £60 tickets stadium tour, yes.
     
  18. rutabowa

    rutabowa YUPPIES OUT

    standard for a medium sized independent label would be 50/50 between band and label after costs are covered; costs being everything from manufacturing costs and warehouse costs to recording costs to marketing and publicity to entertainment (buying the band a round of drinks etc). so it is a bit difficult to work out what that works out per cd. unless it sells well though it is about "zero" per cd.
     
    ska invita likes this.
  19. girasol

    girasol visual spaceship pilot

    This is covered in depth in You are not a gadget - Jaron Lanier

    He also argues that the internet age has not been kind to artists.

    e2a: Lowery in fact seems to have read Lanier's book, the arguments are very similar.
     
  20. Crispy

    Crispy Fond of drink and industry

    They do. They're really only a distributer, like iTunes. They manufacture on demand and also offer downloads.

    What these 60-80% rates illustrate is just how badly the record companies screw you if you're in a regular contract.

    As for home recording, it's come on a great deal these days. Now anybody with a half-decent computer and soundcard, a handful of mics and a pirate copy of pro tools can get high quality results if they know what they're doing. Why pay an extortionate hourly rate for studio time, when dave's mate alex has a spare room with egg crates on the wall and a two-mattress vocals booth that is good enough for anybody with a fidelity threshold below steely dan?
     
  21. ska invita

    ska invita yes yes

    Interesting...hadnt heard of CD Baby before.

    Agreed on the home studio thing, but you do have to know what you're doing, and to get really great results does take expert knowledge and top equipment. Getting okay results is less of a problem.
     
  22. rutabowa

    rutabowa YUPPIES OUT

    not that i particularly want to defend record companies, but they do a massive amount more than just press cds and put them up for sale. i think if anyone who wanted to make an actual living out of music turned down an offer from a record company, because they worked out they could make more money per cd doing it themselves, then they would be nuts. there might be many other reasons for turning down a record company, but that reason is crazy. noone is ever going to buy anything like 10000 cds from some random person who has self recorded and self published.
     
    chazegee likes this.
  23. ska invita

    ska invita yes yes

    Reposting this from Blood and Fire boards by dub/roots producer Russ Disciple:

    Re: cost of 7" singles getting silly?

    by russ d » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:52 am
    shops will usually double the wholesale price for retail... most legit shops will have many overheads, premises, staff, rates, taxes, so to double the wholesale is the only workable solution for them....

    distributors will typically add about 50p/75p onto thier buying in price, if your in the business you will know this.... hardly `jacking up` the price !

    producers/labels are typically asking £3.50 - £4.00 for 10"/12" these days, some ask more, if they go direct to a shop then those prices will be doubled, hence £7.00 - £8.00 retail... if the tunes are imported then you can easily add 50p to each copy, so a label asking £3.50, add 50p shipping, equals £4.00 by the time it hits uk, or vice versa if its going from uk/eu to usa... if thats to a distributor and they have to add thier 50p/75p, then its quite easy to see that some records will hit the higher retail prices....

    the asking price from producers/labels is high now, 5+ years back you`d typically ask around
    £2.25 - £2.50 for a 10"/12"... this based on all the years before, and was held in place by the main distributors and shops... but since the demise of most main distributors, and many shops, its gone into freefall... labels can more or less ask whatever price they want... the few distributors left have no power to hold things down... they tried some years back by not taking the product, but there was then demand from the public for the records, so inevitably distributors and shops had to give in and buy in at the price demanded, that price had to be pushed on to the public, who, in the end, did buy the tunes !.... it may seem from this that the producer/label is now being greedy, but at the same time records sales were reduced... if you sold 1000-1500 of a 10"/12" at £2.25 - £2.50 you could make an ok income off it, but sales were now reducing to half of that and at that rate it just is`nt commercially viable, so prices had to raise to a point that at sales of 500 copies then you could still see a relatively useful income...

    so, before putting a blame on the people within in the business you should actually understand how this business works...no one is making big money, i can tell you there`s some labels that are unlikely to break even on some of thier product due to overheads in production (musicians/engineer/studio/artist fee`s)... i will agree there are some new releases that seem to retail quite high, very few though, and the typical retail prices of £7.00/£8.00 for uk releases, and £9.00 for imports, is fairly much as the business can run.

    as for going to labels direct... this might be a way to go for some, but you`d end up paying more in p/p for individual items than going to a shop and buying a number in one go... from my own point of view, sorting out and recieving payments, parcelling up orders and running round to post office wastes too much of my day... the online stores that do this have thier setup, buy in proper mailers, may have accounts with post office for pick etc etc...leave it to them i say !
     
  24. rutabowa

    rutabowa YUPPIES OUT

    i do think you have this a bit mixed up. "pop" music" just didn't exist before recorded music/record companies, the whole concept is tied up with selling records. the business created the music! there weren't just loads of pop groups who played to 20 people every night because recording and disribution hadn't been invented yet.
     
  25. Crispy

    Crispy Fond of drink and industry

    "popular" music then. music for proles to dance to.
     
  26. DJWrongspeed

    DJWrongspeed radio eros

    It's important to remember that the music industry was really crap for alot of bands before the internet. Perhaps the internet allows alot of musicians to make a little money ?
     
    junglevip likes this.
  27. Yuwipi Woman

    Yuwipi Woman Whack-A-Mole Queen

    First of all, do all artists deserve to make a living at it? Given the amount of absolute crap out there, I'd say no.

    Secondly, we have to do away with the notion in society that "real" artists don't value money. I think that bias leads many artists to undervalue their work. That feeds the notion that artists don't value money, etc., in an vicious cycle. Solid artists have put a lot of time into building their talents and fully deserved compensation for it.

    The digital transition has great possibilities for direct marketing, but as in any business you need to develop a plan for how you expect it to pay and sell, sell, sell.
     
  28. ohmyliver

    ohmyliver poppin' like a cork


    like the whole mid 19th century music hall thing... with big name stars

    To quote wiki
    "By the mid-nineteenth century, the halls created a demand for new and catchy popular songs. As a result, professional songwriters were enlisted to provide the music for a plethora of star performers including, more notably Marie Lloyd, Dan Leno,Little Titch and George Leybourne."



    Sounds fairly 'pop' to me...
     
  29. junglevip

    junglevip Marijuana leads to heron

    Why not give it away free and ask for a donation; people will pay for quality. Look at the open source community, that's doing alright. Just imaging if all the wordpress sites and associated plugins had to be written from scratch each time. The thing to remember is 'never underestimate public taste' and you can sell mass produced shit to the masses.

    EDIT:

    Shameless plug
     
  30. elbows

    elbows WoeTimer

    The means of production & distribution have seen a huge shift, but the giant clunky promotion machine still has quite the edge, despite years of hype about internet sensations, viral explosions etc. The success stories turned out to be the exception rather than the rule, and some of them would have risen to the top even without the net anyway.

    Much was said during the second stage of the net about the long-tail and niche markets, and there is certainly something real that the internet offers, but the question of scale is still messy. Part of its down to expectations that got overinflated due to the giddy success a minority could enjoy under old systems, and its probably hard to find out how much money people actually make in the niches since people tend to be rather vague about their incomes unless its silly amounts to be bragged about or gushed over by industries.

    So yeah I agree with what others have said, and I've wondered for a while if many of the supposedly huge in future net economies are actually going to be so much smaller than that which they replace. Totals may be impressive, but each slid of the pie may be very small.

    The de-professionalisation of a range of things is interesting, especially as its gone well beyond music and is disrupting the news media, porn, and a range of other industries that relied in some way on more significant barriers to production & distribution. But like I said promotion remains an issue, likely this cannot be replicated in quite the dramatic manner the mass media made seem so easy for so long either, and it ends up quite a hard slog. I have to say one of the more depressing aspects of watching the web over the last decade has been seeing creative people tying to show off their wares on the net and not getting the volume of response they so desperately hoped for. We've good reasons to bitch about like buttons but actually theres not enough like to go around.

    I do like the folk-potential of the net, its given us back something that was lost to the print press, the radio etc. So far mashups and photoshopped pictures and memes have been more of a delight to me than unsigned music or video acts of the net, but hey its still relatively early days.
     

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