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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 ManFromGlass » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:40 pm

CS70 wrote:That is why they are usually paid $0.0001 per stream.
A quick aside - My understanding is that streaming services have so far been able to circumvent performing rights rates, but that is changing.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 5:21 pm

No - Spotify (and similar stremers) do license music: they have made extensive agreements with majors and offer a flat rate to indies. That's why they are still not profitable (at least they weren't the last time I looked). It's web sites like YouTube (and Soundcloud, even if the percentage of copyrighted music there is lower) which don't.

As a deal, it's better than what most traditional record companies used to offer, or at least more transparent. Of course the value of a stream is quite different than the value of a sold single in old times - the current low value is due to the situation that arose in the early 2000s when suddenly the world discovered that music could be copied with no loss of quality at no cost and no consequences.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby MOF » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:10 pm

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.
Because in this context (popular music) the two words are interchangeable, the artists have the talent to enhance their popularity and the value of their output goes up.
Even in Classical music a soloist or conductor might be as good or even worse than their contemporaries but they engage with their audiences better and are more popular and command higher fees.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:29 pm

For me we're talking about two different things here. Talent is your ability to do the art, 'star quality', 'stage presence', 'showmanship' (call it what you will) is the ability to do the art in an engaging and entertaining way.
That's the scarcity. There was an interview with Guy Chambers a while back (might have been this one: https://www.soundonsound.com/people/guy ... hard-flack ) where he talked about people who have that ability to silence a room when they take the stage.
Combine that charisma, the talent, a bit of humour and self-awareness and you have something that transcends most of the 'talented' people out there.

The challenge remains though, of finding your audience.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:32 pm

MOF wrote:
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.
Because in this context (popular music) the two words are interchangeable, the artists have the talent to enhance their popularity and the value of their output goes up.
Even in Classical music a soloist or conductor might be as good or even worse than their contemporaries but they engage with their audiences better and are more popular and command higher fees.


Andre Rieu versus Vladimir Ashkenazi. The first one smiles a lot more, and has lots of big screens, pyrotechnics, and a massive sound system, and engages with his audience like no one else can, hence, he’s immensely popular and successful, and yes, I traveled to Holland to see him, my partner dragged me, but it was an education, and I had a really,really good time. Different from a King Crimson concert, but just as entertaining, and both would agree, that’s the end goal.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:15 pm

MOF wrote:
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.
Because in this context (popular music) the two words are interchangeable, the artists have the talent to enhance their popularity and the value of their output goes up.
Even in Classical music a soloist or conductor might be as good or even worse than their contemporaries but they engage with their audiences better and are more popular and command higher fees.

I cannot find a single sentence where when exchanging the two words you get the same meaning, even accounting for slang.

Regardless: the meaning of "talent" I referred to was what I describe (and which is in the Webster): the aptitude to do something (in our case, sing, play, have stage presence etc). Not popularity.

My statement that there's a lot of talent refers to that: there's gazillion people who, with a little prodding, can sing beautifully, make excellent songs or reach a good level on whatsoever instrument. People who create art, even beautiful art. A dime a dozen. Popularity, I said nothing about.

That more popular people - not more talented - command higher fees is the reality which I am describing. Talent is a possible (and relatively small) contributor to reaching popularity, but one among many.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby MOF » Fri Jul 10, 2020 12:13 am

I cannot find a single sentence where when exchanging the two words you get the same meaning, even accounting for slang.

Regardless: the meaning of "talent" I referred to was what I describe (and which is in the Webster): the aptitude to do something (in our case, sing, play, have stage presence etc). Not popularity

I’m not sure I agree with this definition in this context, talent means much more than aptitude.
I got an O Level in Mathematics but I wouldn’t describe myself as a talented mathematician, ‘talented’ in my Oxford Thesaurus largely dwells on superlatives i.e. the minority of people who excel at something.

People who create art, even beautiful art. A dime a dozen. Popularity, I said nothing about.

That more popular people - not more talented - command higher fees is the reality which I am describing. Talent is a possible (and relatively small) contributor to reaching popularity, but one among many.

I’m not so sure that talented people are a dime a dozen and even if they are most of them don’t have the staying power and determination to succeed, let alone put themselves out there in the first place to be critiqued.
When I used to watch X Factor etc, I was struck by the sheer number of people who thought they were talented, but I agreed with Simon Cowell, they were just OK, they didn’t have the X factor, and that included a lot of those who did get chosen to go through to the next rounds.
The more popular artists, certainly those with any longevity, have talent, and often a talented team of people around them plus a combination or all of: a unique voice, musical style, songwriting ability etc.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Amusikaido » Fri Jul 10, 2020 12:50 am

The word "talent" is quite ambiguous. It can be used to describe a performer (as in "the talent") but when I used it in my first post I meant it to mean somebody who was significantly better at something than the average person.

Years ago if you had an idea in your head then it would have cost a lot of money to get the equipment to record it in a proper way, but nowadays modern equipment is much cheaper and within reach of most people.

My earlier post was meant to say that although this availability has been a big change the number of people who are able to write really good stuff is probably about the same. It's just that more of them are now able to get their hands on the gear to do it.

The result of cheaper gear is that there is a lot more stuff out there and a lot of it is middling at best but there are still the talented people who can create better songs than many other people and although it is harder for them to be noticed I think it is better that there is a competitive market rather than having to go through the gatekeepers of record companies like it used to be.

On the other hand it seems that image has become as important as talent and there is a lot of music available that is "produced" rather than composed and which is very popular. The challenge for talented people is therefore to break through the barrier that is stuff that is popular, because it's difficult to be heard if you are shouting in a loud room even if you have something better to say or have a better way of saying it.

I'm not saying I am one of those people but a lot of them have broken through and are still not that well known because of the huge market for mediocre overproduced material backed by a good image.

I guess what I am saying is that being good isn't good enough any more if you want to make it and my objection to the questionnaire that started this thread was that they seemed to be trying to artificially sidetrack that in the naive and impractical way that is asking fans to donate directly to a musician because they like them.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Jul 10, 2020 1:02 am

Still not buying the scarcity gag. The dismal science remains closer to mysticism than qaballah.

No, for me, scarcity doesn't have any motive force as a mechanism to explain why some percentage of artists seem to resonate in the larger consciousness more than others. Some of the most amazing performers I have ever seen were in lost holes in dark places - and on Paul Simon's stage.

What explains this? Why is some music more valuable than other? Why does an individual's ability seem to eclipse that of their peers, yet the public ignores them while others seem to have barely enough talent for the village fete, yet are rich beyond the dreams of Peter pan?

Assuming that supply /demand curves are an even remotely useful model, what factor causes the shift in the demand curve? We agree that there is one source, does that mean if I print one record it'll be worth a fortune? Of course not. But if I had the only copy of Louis Armstrong's first record in mint condition, that might fetch a penny, but only for the collector class, and that market functions differently anyway.

What relationship does brand have to scarcity? For intrigue, read "brand" as "ineffable it" "wow factor" or whatever...

There must be another mechanism, just like epigenetics is necessary to gene expression, there must be a reason why the curve shifts, and scarcity doesn't do it for me because it implies quantity which isn't relevant here. I'll have to troll through some dull reading and see if I can find anything work thinking about.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:17 am

The other mechanism is marketing. That's how you get the great to stand out above the good.
I agree with Amusikaido that the barriers to entry have been lowered and therefore there is much more good content being created. I disagree with the suggestion that talent was ever enough though, the music business has always been as much about image.
The reason 'Rob from X-factor' gets a top 10 single when 'Bob from the open mic' never makes it out of Barnsley is exposure and having the budget to have a bunch of talented creatives developing that image. Brand and marketing.
An acquaintance of mine is a very talented guitarist (name of Jon Gomm), he spent years playing 200-odd gigs a year across Europe. After about a decade he'd managed to get his most popular videos to almost 1 million hits on youtube. No mean feat for someone with no label or industry backing.
One day Stephen Fry saw the video and retweeted it with "Wow!"
He went to 2m views almost overnight. That's what exposure buys you.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby MOF » Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:11 pm

Thankfully there’s also such a thing as changing fashions. The Beatles (Dick Rowe is quoted as having rejected them with the words: "Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein" and at that time it did appear that way), The Carpenters couldn’t get arrested, MOR was definitely not selling at a time of AOR and Pop etc.
Then of course as a new style breaks through all the A&R guys rush out to sign up their version. Dick Rowe got the Rolling Stones on that basis.
So it’s probably more down to ploughing your own furrow and waiting for your time in the sun.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Watchmaker » Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:08 pm

There are hundreds of thousands of well represented artists out there. Many using the same agents, lawyers, producers. They go to the same parties, work in similar genres, sometimes work together. I myself spent the better part of 35 years busting my ass to achieve some level of recognition. I've been on the same stage as some very very well known bands. Some say the bands I was in were amazing. I say we were "better" than some of the more famous ones.

But, we obviously lacked something.

Branding and marketing and exposure only create market awareness. It does not create market demand. Why ?
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:28 pm

I guess that's that magical x factor.
Which is, by extension, a scarcity.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:47 pm

Watchmaker wrote:Still not buying the scarcity gag. The dismal science remains closer to mysticism than qaballah.

No, for me, scarcity doesn't have any motive force as a mechanism to explain why some percentage of artists seem to resonate in the larger consciousness more than others. Some of the most amazing performers I have ever seen were in lost holes in dark places - and on Paul Simon's stage.

What explains this? Why is some music more valuable than other?

Tried to make a reasonable answer short, but it takes too much effort :D
In the end, the world is what it is and everybody can understand how they so wish.

(Economic) value is simply the amount people are willing to pay (exchange) for getting something. "scarce" is not intended as just "there's little of it", but as "there's more people wanting it than there is of it". People may want things for many reasons. In our world, "survival need" is a no longer a very common reason, while a successful branding campaign very often is, even if of course not always. Besides a small threshold of talent hard work, and massive investment, randomness is a very important factor of the "successful" bit, like it is in most aspects of our life (very often, without us being aware of it at all).

It's not really that hard, and it does indeed explain why some music (or some anything) is more valuable than some percentage of artists (or anything) will resonate more than other. It just doesn't tell you *which* ones.

The (very profitable) old record industry learned that a long time ago - which is why they continuously gambled on a number of artists in the perfect knowledge that, while all were "good enough", only a few would have resonated. For very much the same reason only one number wins a lottery.

Then who wants to understand, understands.. or not :) It's not really that important, and I have a glass of wine waiting, which is :D
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:55 pm

blinddrew wrote:I guess that's that magical x factor.

I may be wrong of course, but I honestly don't think so. Think of most critical events in your life: your place of birth, your partner, your children sex. They are all very specific but - slightly different conditions - and they could have been completely different.

Randomness is the quiet master of most our life, and music is no exception. If you want to come on top, you have to maximize the probabilities. Branding is one of the best way of doing that (but for the fact that its success has also a random, uncontrollable component) but it's expensive, so hard to access for individual artists with limited funding (or will to invest the large funding they may have).
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