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The Collapse of the Music Business

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by audiokid, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Who's at risk?

    Do you remember the day it was no longer possible to support yourself as a musician?
    I like to believe I still might make it on my own but I definitely know I could not support my family at the rate its going anymore. Thank goodness I had a Trade to fall back on.
    What frightens me even more, my children are really talented with the same gift and burden I have. What do I tell them?

    Welcome to the trench.

    Unsound: extended trailer rough cut on Vimeo

    waveform and AndyB like this.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    and so we get this

    waveform likes this.
  3. Dr_Willie_OBGYN

    Dr_Willie_OBGYN Active Member

    When was it ever possible to reasonably expect to support a family let alone yourself by doing music???? Becoming a professional musician is a LONG-shot. Anyone who isn't independently wealthy should always have a trade to fall back on.

    If I had children I would be brutally honest with them. Tell them that it's brutally competitive and it's a long, long, long shot to "make it" in the music business. There's lots of very talented people out there who never make money doing music. Seems like you are more likely to become a YouTube star than a rockstar. This guy got creative and generated 3.8 million hits.

    While the music business has become fragmented, at the same time it has become soooo much cheaper and easier to record (computer technology) and so much easier to be heard (Internet). If you have a band in Podunk, Idaho you don't need to move to LA. Just stay where you're at and be heard on the Internet.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "When was it ever possible to reasonably expect to support a family let alone yourself by doing music???? Becoming a professional musician is a LONG-shot. Anyone who isn't independently wealthy should always have a trade to fall back on."

    There was a time, and for quite a few years, that I did indeed support myself and my wife by being a musician. From 1979 to 1994, I played 4-6 nights a week, I paid my mortgage, bought cars, bought enough gear to open my own commercial studio, put food on the table, and kept the lights on, all by being a working a musician.

    You don't have to make it big or be a rock star to make a living, you just have to keep working. It is still possible... working in theater, on cruise ships, hotel circuits, etc., can still make you enough money to survive.
    Cynthia Klenk and waveform like this.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    indeed, I'm with Donny. I actually did very well from 1978 to 1998. I never had a need for a home, lived in hotels and a bus all these years, it was one big party. :D
    Video and DJ's killed my spirit and took us out of business.

    Well, that is because I didn't want to sell my guitar and become a DJ. I believe there is always a place for people who see it coming. I saw it coming, I just don't want to be part of the club scene so I choose a different road in the music business now.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I still play here and there, some small taverns and such with my solo act, and some bigger venues, with another band I'm in that had a decent following in the OH, PA and NY areas around 1982 or so, and we still sell out enough small 1500 - 2500 seat venues - small theaters and concert clubs - that it's worth it... and it's fun to get up and play for people who actually want to be there, and who have bought tickets to see us, as opposed to playing some small tavern where I'm just a distraction from a Cavs or Indians game on the bigscreen. LOL I also do well in the summer at Country Clubs, and at Yacht Clubs up on the Lake (Erie), and those pay very well. I don't even mind being wallpaper. ;)

    But, these days my main gig is doing arrangement and production for solo artists - they come in with an idea on a scrap of paper and an acoustic guitar or piano, and they cut me loose on things like drums, guitars, bass, keys, backing vocals.
    I stopped doing bands some time ago, it's just too much of a hassle with most of them and they'll nickel and dime ya to death, and truthfully, I just didn't want to be constantly pummeled by metal and rap anymore - or have to deal with terrible musicians doing nasty old covers of classic rock songs and who can't tune their way out of a wet sack, so I limit whom I work with these days. It also gives me time to do what I didn't have time for between 1988 and 2002 when I had a commercial facility... and that is to work on my own stuff. ;)

    I ain't gettin' rich by a long shot, and I'm certainly not raking in the bucks like an OBGYN would - LOL - but, the mortgage and other necessities are paid.
    Cynthia Klenk likes this.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yeah but you guys are talking about making your livings as musicians. I only made my living as an audio engineer/broadcast engineer/maintenance engineer and sometimes DJ. If ya had a job over at one of those CBC stations, you'd be doing all right. They need people to paint the walls there also. With good productions. You're that caliber. So was your mom, Chris. No?

    So it's not about making a living as a musician... unless you're a musician. Then if you're not a musician? All ya have to worry about is twiddling knobs and dials. And boys have taught themselves how to do that at a very early age. That's what's natural about doing audio! Which makes making a living all the easier.

    I'm not kidding about the CBC. I loved the CBC. Here it was 1970. I met the CBC in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I'm looking at a Spectra-Sonics recording console and a Scully 16 track, in one of their TV control rooms. It paled in comparison to the WXYZ TV O & O, in Detroit at the time. It was better than United Sound Systems was, at the time. And that was 1970! Think what it must be like today? Can you say Duende or whatever that new SSL thingy is?

    I don't think you've been applying at enough broadcast houses? It was a lot easier getting employment in that field when we were younger LOL. Not anymore... unfortunately. Age discrimination is alive and well and living under your fingernails.

    I'll scratch their eyes out!
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    My Mom worked with CBC for years. We loved CBC here. Its some of the best radio on the planet. Do you listen to Q's Jian Ghomeshi
    Link removed

    Check out the episodes, hours of interesting listening pleasure.
    Donald Fagen, and he hates his voice lol.

    In Canada, I always find work. The 80's were amazing. I was booked 18 months in advance for over a decade. I have a very similar talent plate as Donny. We are both musicians and engineers who can do it all, producing music is easy. So, I may make 10 grand producing someone and then go out a play for a stretch. Then record someone simple or back to painting houses lol. Thank goodness I can paint.
    I'm all over the place. But, being versatile and open minded with the ability to "listen" to what my client needs ( doesn't matter what profession) has been a great asset.
    And, seeing trends coming has always kept me busy. That is the key in this business.

    Right now, analog is it.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The circuit in the U.S. and Canada during the 80's was fantastic, I used to tour all over Ontario.
    Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Ottawa, Toronto, St. Cats, Perry Sound, Owen Sound, Sudbury, Thunder Bay...
    We were turning work down because were so heavily booked.
    I made a lot of money in those days. ;)
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Yup, that was the best decade for us all.

    My 54 passenger bus sits at the lake. A huge Pine tree just landed on it the other day ( Damn pine beetles killing all the old growth here). My neighbor said to me, thats one tough bus, man.
    There would have been a day where I cried over that. Now its just another memory of my past smashed to $*^t hehe. I guess I'll be using it for the kids fort, pack rats and stories of Rock N Roll days. :whistle:
  11. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I have a number friends and ex-students who support themselves perfectly well by being a musician, and many of these work more than I do now I'm getting a bit old. Maybe it's different in the US, but even though many of the union stronghold venues are no more, good musicians seem to have no problems, and many obviously migrate to music management rather than performing, but it's actually quite tough to find musicians who are good all rounders. There are plenty of people who play music quite well, but can't read, or won't play certain styles, or only play X miles from home, who don't take cruise jobs, or work in holiday centres, or do pit work, or even teach - these people might find earning a crust tricky, but those who can do that list seem to do OK. In my own area there's always a core of musicians you can call on and they get decent money too! In my band, we can replace any of us apart from the drummer - because our drummer sings lead vocals in many songs and the songs are not common enough for people to wing it!
  12. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Well there are exceptions of course, but I think the point of the OP and the video is that the music business has drastically changed such that music has become devalued monetarily. The masses still enjoy it, still want it, they just don't think they need to pay for it.
    History teaches that when a product loses perceived value and people stop buying it, eventually it stops being produced. In some arenas, after a time, the obsolete product re-emerges as a nostalgic reminiscence of a cherished time. We're not there yet! But the coming years will see a continuation of the evolution of new models of production, distribution and, hopefully, monetization of this basic human expression.
    In the 12+ years I've had my current studio I can think of a total of maybe five musicians who have recorded here who actually earn their living entirely from playing music. The rest all have jobs by which they earn their living and pay for their music habit. Until a few years ago I myself supplemented my income by running a landscape business.
    I'll look forward to seeing that documentary. The trailer is compelling, and we are at a period in history where society is transitioning from the end of the industrial age to the early stage of the technology age. The music industry is but one aspect that is feeling the growing pains of this transition.
    Stay tuned!
    bigtree likes this.
  13. AJ Campbell

    AJ Campbell Active Member

    Great point, Jeff. I don't have near as much experience as the rest of the guys here, but it seems to me that the way people used to consume and pay for music was closely tied to a business model that is unfortunately unable to function in a post-industrial world. That's not to say there's no money to be made in music anymore, though. There's higher demand for music as an experience than ever before. There's just not an efficient model to monetize it yet. Record sales have become a commodity in the eyes of the general public. If records were the only way to monetize the experience, we'd all be SOL. Luckily, that's not the case, but the industry was so geared toward the record as the product that it's taking many years to shift gears. It's happening though.

    A fat chunk of the revenue in the music industry is now being made in live performances, and that trend will continue because the biggest industry players are motivated by their bottom line to double down on it year over year. Live performance is a product that's harder to commoditize. My hope is that this will eventually lead to a new heyday for musicians, where the coolest thing for everybody to do on a weekend night is go see a live show again. It feels like we've move about as far away from that as possible here in Los Angeles. Now it's time for the pendulum to swing back.
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    " Record sales have become a commodity in the eyes of the general public. "

    I respectfully disagree. Bacon is a commodity, as is orange juice and coffee. People expect to pay for these.

    Music has become an "entitlement". People expect it to be free, and because of these expectations, they've lowered their criteria in terms of quality and fidelity, which has created a vicious circle: people don't care about quality, so record companies don't care about providing it. ;)

    IMHO of course.
    Terry Leigh Britton likes this.
  15. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    its a problem of a disposable culture with a give it to me now mindset, all smothered nicely with selfish denial.
    these facets of humanity are why all good things will eventually be destroyed by the worst among us.
    Terry Leigh Britton likes this.
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You can't help but see it everywhere - faster computers, quicker communications, video streaming and downloads, drive thru fast food, microwaves, stove that can boil water in 30 seconds, DIY check-outs at supermarkets and department stores, all with self-swiping debit card terminals; online we have Netflix, Amazon, and all the other sites that allow you to order movies, music and games - within seconds. And for the most part, all of these things are of great convenience to us... or, is it that they are only convenient because they match our already very fast-paced lifestyles which seem to be getting even faster?

    Do families even sit down to eat dinner together anymore? Or is that pretty much a thing of the past? It seems that no one has the time.

    I'll tell ya one thing that I hate for sure about the instant, do-it-yourself world we live in... I hate pumping my own gas. I loathe it.

    There are those of us here old enough to remember "Trust Your Car To The Man Who Wears The Texaco Star". You'd pull into the local Texaco gas station, ( or any station, for that matter, Texaco certainly wasn't the only full service station, in those days they all were) and your tires would run over an air hose, which would trigger a bell inside the station, and a guy
    (in a uniform!)
    would come running out, put gas in your tank, check your oil, check the air pressure in your tires, (and add either of the former if you needed it), clean your windshield.... and you never even had to get out of your vehicle.

    Yeah, okay, so who's the smart one now? These days, I'm the one standing out there in the middle of February - Me, Senior Dumbass Monkey-Nuts, pumping my own gas in the middle of a sub-zero polar vortex with an 80 mph wind blasting up my a-s-s while the cashiers are inside the store - all nice and warm, and they wouldn't know how to check your oil if you paid them extra... oh, and air for your tires? If you can find a station with a pump, it now costs upwards of 75 cents for three minutes of AIR, which, of course....you have to do yourself.

    Sorry... I got a little carried away on this one. ;)
    Sean G likes this.
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    yeah, that's it ... it's all MacDonalds fault ...

    where i live it's against the law to pump your own gas. but still , they don't check oil or do tires and water ... that's still diy and you gotta pay for air. f 'em ... i went out and bought my own air pump.
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I know, I found that out a few years ago while visiting friends in Oregon. I went to take the nozzle off the gas pump and a guy came out of the station yelling at me LOL.

    Has it always been illegal, or is that relatively new?
  19. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    i make dinner every single weeknight at a minimum. now that my wife and i work at home i usually make a nice lunch too.

    "youre too busy" is a sales pitch (and a lame excuse to be a shitty parent) and im not buying any of it. no one is too busy.

    be the change you wish to see
    Terry Leigh Britton likes this.
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    it's been like that since at least the 70's .... they passed the law as a jobs creation thing.

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