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How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:26 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:To answer the original question -

- make it illegal for any music to be free
- make it illegal for anybody except the original creator to own their music and all rights thereof
- ensure the streaming services pay the same rates as broadcasters to performing rights organizations.
- put a mechanism in place to monitor streaming and number of plays accurately for all streamed formats that have music in them
But what if I want to give away my music for free? Or if I want to share ownership with my music for a service rendered in its creation even if it wasn't the actual writing?
I suspect your third point would just bring down the rates paid by broadcasters.
But there's no reason why the fourth couldn't be done! :)
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby awjoe » Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:02 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I'm not convinced there will be a vaccination. There isn't for SARS.

I think we will simply have to rely on the infection rate dropping out to zero, and the authorities jumping on any localised outbreaks. But that will take something like another 6-12 months to achieve.... By which time a lot of existing venues will have gone bust.

I don't know what's going on your side of the A.O. but over here this week I heard, for the first time, a medical professional on the national broadcaster opine that maybe covid isn't going away. In other words, how do we live with this? The panic reaction of shut it all down obviously isn't going to work long-term. Okay, I'm happy to wear a mask if I can go to live concerts and bump elbows with my fellow afficionados. How about you? In the meantime, I've bought a Zoom Q2n 4K to go online with. Next best thing to live? Well, maybe, but *so* second best.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby awjoe » Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:07 am

blinddrew wrote:None of which addresses the largest problem in my experience, which is getting access to a large enough pool of listeners for the tiny percentage of people interested in your music to be a large enough number to make it remotely profitable.

You have to be able to generate interest. Whether you do that via your talent, the size of your equipment or the psychological projections of your audience doesn't matter.

See, all along I thought the package was: write, perform, record, mix, distribute. Take care of quality in each of those areas, and the rest is up to God. But nowadays, I'd add one more element to the list: generate interest.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby merlyn » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:31 pm

CS70 wrote:Talent - whatever that means - is a dime a dozen (at least art-related talent. It's not with more difficult stuff) It's so common that its economic value is zero. .

I'm kind of stunned that you would say that. Is this not the attitude that leads to musicians getting $0.001 per stream? "It's worth nothing, so pay them nothing."

Is this not the attitude that means when musicians approach venues looking for a gig the response is "come in and do a gig for free, then if we like you we''ll give you a gig" to which the correct response is "tell you what, give me a pint of beer for free and if I like it I might buy another one."

Are you basing this statement that "anyone can do art related activities" on data, or is this your impression? It isn't mine.

What are the activities that you do consider difficult and therefore suitable to make money out of?
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:02 pm

It's supply and demand. For most people music is a commodity, and a background one at that. The cost of entry is tiny, and there are bucket loads of talented people producing it. With digital distribution the unit cost is effectively zero.
It's not about attitude, it's about abundance vs scarcity.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby merlyn » Wed Jul 08, 2020 5:33 pm

blinddrew wrote:It's supply and demand.

There's a shortage of nurses and nurses' wages don't track the gap between supply and demand. I haven't heard about a shortage of stockbrokers but their wages are high, even when they drop the ball.

I've looked into economics and it's not a science. I'm not sure it's even a subject -- it's political.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby MOF » Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:27 pm

I'd add one more element to the list: generate interest.
Yes that’s where the PR/Marketing comes into play, then once a big enough fan base is created the value of that artist/group rises.

CS70 wrote:
Talent - whatever that means - is a dime a dozen (at least art-related talent. It's not with more difficult stuff) It's so common that its economic value is zero. .

I'm kind of stunned that you would say that. Is this not the attitude that leads to musicians getting $0.001 per stream? "It's worth nothing, so pay them nothing."

Not true CS70, once popularity is established (read ‘talent’, even if you disagree with that term for artists you don’t like) different deals are done. I don’t think for a minute that The Beatles get the same streaming rate on Apple Music etc as Joe Soap who’s just starting out, and in the Live music scene payment is proportional to the artist’s ability to sell all the tickets the moment they go on sale.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:12 pm

merlyn wrote: There's a shortage of nurses and nurses' wages don't track the gap between supply and demand. I haven't heard about a shortage of stockbrokers but their wages are high, even when they drop the ball.

I've looked into economics and it's not a science. I'm not sure it's even a subject -- it's political.
On your last point; absolutely. There's a reason that they teach politics and economics together. ;)
But let's look at the nurses case. Nursing is, predominantly, a calling. People get into it, and stay in it, because they care about people. No-one becomes a nurse for the money. It's long hours, it's difficult and frequently unpleasant work, and it can carry a huge physical and emotional toll.
So why doesn't it command a higher wage? Well, aside from the fact that the people who want to do it will continue to do despite several years of pay freezes, there are also a bunch of hidden costs in play. Agency fees is a big one, staffing shortages are frequently covered by agencies, these cost waaay more than regular staffing but only pay a little (if anything) more than regular wages. The cost is there, it's just not showing up in salaries. Or at least, not in the nurses' salaries. Another signifcant player is the use of imported labour. This obviously hugely skews the demand/salary equation because it's generally coming from countries with much lower pay rates. It's much harder to truly quantify this cost obviously, not least because trying to evaluate the secondary costs of depriving these countries of skilled labour is not a quick thing to calculate.
Stock-broking is actually a pretty crummy job, one of my team at work is an ex-stockbroker who quit because of the effects on her health. Again, long hours, high stress, toxic culture all contributes to an environment that demands a higher than average level of compensation. The difference between this and nursing (or teaching for example) is that there's no calling involved. No-one (ok, very few people) grow up actually wanting to be stock-brokers.
But we're also getting into the field of crony-capitalism here, the City (and most big business actually) is pretty full of this on various levels. The most obvious for this conversation being that everyone sits on everyone else's remuneration committees. They might not be directly voting for their own payrises, but they sure as hell are indirectly.

But let's get back to music.
An unfortunate side effect of a system that values everything in cash means that vocations can be exploited. Everybody I know who lives off their music makes less money than I do, works longer hours, and generally makes society a better place than I do. But if they stopped doing it, there's a whole queue of people ready to step in and replace them. Some of them might not be quite as talented, but some of them will be, some of them even more so, but the average punter isn't going to notice. We are all interchangeable and instantly replaceable.

So unless we're going to completely rip up the capitalist system, then whenever you have a situation with people doing something for love, then you will end up with prices trending to zero. Especially when there's an additional aspirational drive of a constant promise of a luxurious nirvana, which is really only available to a tiny percentage of people.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:12 pm

merlyn wrote:
CS70 wrote:Talent - whatever that means - is a dime a dozen (at least art-related talent. It's not with more difficult stuff) It's so common that its economic value is zero. .

I'm kind of stunned that you would say that. Is this not the attitude that leads to musicians getting $0.001 per stream? "It's worth nothing, so pay them nothing."

Is this not the attitude that means when musicians approach venues looking for a gig the response is "come in and do a gig for free, then if we like you we''ll give you a gig" to which the correct response is "tell you what, give me a pint of beer for free and if I like it I might buy another one."


Not at all. But we are in the "music business" forum and not in the "pander to your illusions" forum.

To recognize that there's abundance of talent does not mean it's not important or even critical - only that its economic value is so low that it's basically zero. Think of it like air: it is very important, even absolutely critical, but you can hardly sell it. Or water: good old H2O is the same everywhere, and yet you pay $.0001 for your tap water, and $10 for a bottle of Voss water (I've been in Voss, it's not far and I guarantee you: it's plain old water).

What is worth something is scarcity.

Scarcity can be real - there's not enough of something to go around - or artificial - like in Voss' water case... water is not scarce, but water coming from Voss is (to a degree) and the marketers have managed to create enough buzz about it to ensure people want that, and not other, to the degree that many are willing to pay 10.000 times more for it.
Because scarcity, of course, depends on demand.

As a musician, you are paid 0.0001 not because your music is bad or not important, but because you haven't yet made it scarce.

Are you basing this statement that "anyone can do art related activities" on data, or is this your impression? It isn't mine.

Data. Talent accrues. 40K sumbissions on Spotify weekly (or monthly, don't remember and doesnt matter). Spotify alone contains now around 35 million tracks. Apple Music, 45 million. If you listened to 10 Spotify tracks a day every day, you would need to live around ten thousand years to go thru the catalogue once.

Musical talent is like air, or water. Important, perhaps even critical, but not economically valuable per se.

And yeah, anyone can do art related activities, btw. There is no licensing.

When there is (for example to become employed in a classical symphonic orchestra of some reputation) you do need qualifications.. but even then the qualified people vastly outstrip the available positions, so it's middle-paid job.

As the saying goes, there's plenty of quantum physicists that can play piano, but there's very few pianists that can do quantum physics.

What are the activities that you do consider difficult and therefore suitable to make money out of?

It's not about difficult. It's about scarce.

Bar artificial regulations, any activity for which there is real scarcity, or artificial scarcity will allow you to make money. In other words, anything where the ratio between supply and demand is small.

As a musician, should you want to build a business out of your talent (which you certainly have, as a shitload of other people), you need to focus on creating scarcity: which is done by branding and marketing specifically your name, since people singing and playing exceedingly well, there's a dime a dozen (especially nowadays with YouTube). You need to become (and stay) the Voss water of music, or as near as you can get.

That is, of course, difficult - but because it requires financial muscle, good management of it and a degree of luck.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:11 pm

MOF wrote:
CS70 wrote:
Talent - whatever that means - is a dime a dozen (at least art-related talent. It's not with more difficult stuff) It's so common that its economic value is zero. .

I'm kind of stunned that you would say that. Is this not the attitude that leads to musicians getting $0.001 per stream? "It's worth nothing, so pay them nothing."

Not true CS70

Not sure what you are replying to. The first sentence is mine, the second isn't.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Watchmaker » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:59 am

Scarcity. hmm.

If there are one million Elton John's, it would explain why Bernie Taupin is so poor. But neither of those postulates is true. There is one Elton John and both he and Bernie did well. But is it really the scarcity of Elton John that drives up the demand curve for his product such that he enjoys premium pricing?

Scarcity alone doesn't really articulate a plausible mechanism for the value exchange in the music market to my mind. Sure, it's helpful in explaining the value of commodities, but assuming an artistic brand is monolithic, there is no meaningful scarcity less than one, and all artists, with a few notable exceptions, are a product of one and as scarce as every other.

Perhaps exclusivity is closer to the mark?

Perhaps, especially for the younger markets where most of the spend on music comes from, there's an element of self identification happening with the buyer that simple isn't there for commodity trades.

So what is it in music sales that creates brand appeal such that demand goes high enough to drive price increases? Zeitgeist? Luck? Rich Parents? A spin of the wheel?

Personally, I think it's unhealthy to insist that every artist is a sparkle unicorn pony and deserves hot chocolate at bedtime. Yay, you're an artist! No, that doesn't automatically mean you're more special. No, it does not entitle you to any reward no matter how hard you try. Yes, you should be paid for your work, if that work is valued in the market. No one's making good money walking dogs either, no matter how much you wuv them. Why? because there are plenty of yoga instructors looking to make a buck on the side. Select your career to collect the value you choose. Do not choose a market valueless career and then complain the market owes you.

One thing for sure, Mr. Market doesn't care.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby MOF » Thu Jul 09, 2020 1:04 am

Not sure what you are replying to. The first sentence is mine, the second isn't.
I was replying to you CS70, for some reason the next line I copied didn’t show that it was Merlyn’s reply.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby ronmac » Thu Jul 09, 2020 2:40 am

THE only way to make money in the music industry is to make money for other people in the music industry.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 11:59 am

Watchmaker wrote:Scarcity. hmm.

If there are one million Elton John's, it would explain why Bernie Taupin is so poor. But neither of those postulates is true. There is one Elton John and both he and Bernie did well. But is it really the scarcity of Elton John that drives up the demand curve for his product such that he enjoys premium pricing?

Scarcity is the ratio of supply and demand. There's lots of demand for Elton John (no idea why :D) and there's only one. The most common way to create artificial scarcity among stuff that is good and even necessary but common, is branding.

Fashion does that all the time.

The other guy, Bernie, there must be less demand because I never heard of him. Since the supply is identical, he's probably less scarce than Elton.. but enough to make a living, and maybe even a good one.

Scarcity alone doesn't really articulate a plausible mechanism for the value exchange in the music market to my mind. Sure, it's helpful in explaining the value of commodities, but assuming an artistic brand is monolithic, there is no meaningful scarcity less than one, and all artists, with a few notable exceptions, are a product of one and as scarce as every other.

All artists are, by definition, more or less unique. Heck, each individual. But that does not make them scarce. If zero people want to something, one item is too much.

We are talking about business dynamics - economic value - not artistic or creative value or anything.

Perhaps exclusivity is closer to the mark?

Perhaps, especially for the younger markets where most of the spend on music comes from, there's an element of self identification happening with the buyer that simple isn't there for commodity trades.

So what is it in music sales that creates brand appeal such that demand goes high enough to drive price increases? Zeitgeist? Luck? Rich Parents? A spin of the wheel?

This is a different issue, namely how to create scarcity (or appeal, that leads to it). It's the million dollar question: how do I create demand, so that the ration between supply and demand becomes in my favor?

The traditional record label strategy was (and still is) to throw money (a _lot_ of money) into a baby band or a new artist to market it in large, different set of channels, hope that someone latches on and creates a domino effect - partly thru the mechanism of identification that you mention (and many others). Since whether that happens or not depends a lot on circumstances that the label cannot control, it's a gamble - it's always been. But in probability - given enough money to support the attempt - record labels knew (and still know) that works well enough.

Obviously anything that can be done (or is perceived) to increase the probability and reduce these out-of-control factor, will be done. Hence copycats, genres, fashions.
On occasion, these out of control factors can go in favor of the label (and sometimes down the line, the artist).

Small independent artists have to deal with the exact same situation - they need to create artificial scarcity (exactly because there's no "real" scarcity as such in making-music talent) but have far less means to burn, and they cannot hedge the bets by spreading over a rooster of different gambles.

That is why they are usually paid $0.0001 per stream.

There are ways to work the difference - but indies will suffer from exactly the same issue as any major - the circumstances that cannot be controlled and are massively important for the result.

Personally, I think it's unhealthy to insist that every artist is a sparkle unicorn pony and deserves hot chocolate at bedtime. Yay, you're an artist! No, that doesn't automatically mean you're more special. No, it does not entitle you to any reward no matter how hard you try. Yes, you should be paid for your work, if that work is valued in the market. No one's making good money walking dogs either, no matter how much you wuv them. Why? because there are plenty of yoga instructors looking to make a buck on the side. Select your career to collect the value you choose. Do not choose a market valueless career and then complain the market owes you.

One thing for sure, Mr. Market doesn't care.

That was exactly my point. Anybody can be an artist - and many try to - but being an artist _for a living_ entails dealing with the reality of economic value.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:08 pm

MOF wrote:
I'd add one more element to the list: generate interest.
Yes that’s where the PR/Marketing comes into play, then once a big enough fan base is created the value of that artist/group rises.

CS70 wrote:
Talent - whatever that means - is a dime a dozen (at least art-related talent. It's not with more difficult stuff) It's so common that its economic value is zero. .

Not true CS70, once popularity is established (read ‘talent’, even if you disagree with that term for artists you don’t like) different deals are done.

Completely agree on the "once..", it's exactly what I am saying: water is not scarce, but water from Voss (with the specific bottle) is.. a lot of work and a little luck has gone in creating a situation where there's more demand than supply for Voss water.

On "talent"... it has a very different meaning to "popularity" in my dictionary (and the Webster) so I don't get what you're trying to say.
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