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

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

Postby greymatterfm » Wed Jul 01, 2020 5:08 pm

Hey all!

We’re a team of musicians, DJs, writers, and independent music marketers building a community platform called Grey Matter. It’s a music community platform for human-to-human music discovery + meaningful engagement between listeners and artists.

We’re having conversations on how to better support artists and create a healthier music ecosystem. Musicians, curators, listeners, fans: would love to get your thoughts in our Music Costs/Revenue survey. The median artist is only earning $100/yr from streaming -- let’s help our artists get paid more. Let us know what you think!

Music Costs/Revenue Survey down here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd9DY456jaNmgGFe1R1zy1h1LF-AjRpPMrVKQdgSFNB5DJ50w/viewform

Love,
Grey Matter
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:58 pm

Hi greymatterfm, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

I've just repaired your link so it works properly ;)


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

Postby The Red Bladder » Sat Jul 04, 2020 1:10 pm

Now that's what I call a very poorly constructed survey.

The questions were leading and it makes all kinds of assumptions that do not apply in the real world. Nobody conquered the world from their bedroom.

1. Musicians earn their money from gigging and not from Spotify or the Apple Store.

2. Recorded music DOES pay and it pays well - for TV and film.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Jul 04, 2020 1:36 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Now that's what I call a very poorly constructed survey.

The questions were leading and it makes all kinds of assumptions that do not apply in the real world. Nobody conquered the world from their bedroom.

1. Musicians earn their money from gigging and not from Spotify or the Apple Store.

2. Recorded music DOES pay and it pays well - for TV and film.

Unfortunately, the man sitting behind the corporate desk smoking the big cigar is still needed, as he will have a big roll of cash in his pocket, a PR department, a studio, and all sorts of marketing people to get back what he thinks is a good investment "YOU"
Your job is to go away like a good boy/girl and come back with lots of music for him to make money out of, plus, you get some too, not as much as he gets, but it’s more than enough to buy you a nice house, a decent car and loads of women, oh yes, and drugs.
That’s how it used to work, and it did "work" for most people, but, you had to have something that Mr Cigar thought he could make money out of, that was normally called "talent"
These days we’ve got IT experts, sites on Band Camp, and you have to be your own promoter, shlepping around doing all,sorts of stuff musicians don’t do because if they did they’d have no time to actually make music. That’s why the old system worked so well, they did all the boring stuff, and you did what you’re supposed to do, be a musician.
Not a lot of people made it it was tough, only the best musicians tended to get to the top, but those top 2% I can bet you had absolutely no interest in IT or PR, but they were good at making music, and that’s all they did, apart from throwing things out of hotel room windows and dumping cars in swimming pools.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby The Red Bladder » Sat Jul 04, 2020 2:35 pm

Cue Mary Hopkin "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end . . ."

Until we get a pukka all-singing, all-dancing vaccination for C19, live music is pretty much dead. Film making is dead, proper TV programmes are dead, recording music properly all together in a studio - it's all dead. The only people doing anything are in New Zealand.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 04, 2020 3:28 pm

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.

Hopefully someone will buy them at rock bottom prices and relaunch them later, but it is looking like a very different world post-covid!
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Amusikaido » Sat Jul 04, 2020 4:09 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Now that's what I call a very poorly constructed survey.

The questions were leading and it makes all kinds of assumptions that do not apply in the real world. Nobody conquered the world from their bedroom.

I agree. Looking at the survey questions it seems to mainly be an attempt to justify some kind of business model which asks fans to pitch in to music production costs for their favourite artists. They can already do that through merch.

I don't care what the average American artist earns, partly because I'm not an American and partly because the average includes all artists including the mainstream ones, which skews the figure so much as to be meaningless.

As a fan I don't care what the music production costs are either, any more than I care how much the tools my plumber uses cost him. Looking at YouTube and reading these forums it's obvious that the main requirement for good music is talent rather than production hardware anyway.

It is true that music has become a commodity but in some ways it always has been. The low cost of gear has brought the means to do productions to the masses but the average talent is probably about the same as it ever was and the ugly truth is that there is a lot more competition now, especially as there seems to be a market for mediocre, cliched music.

I gave up 3/4 of the way through the questions, sorry.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Sat Jul 04, 2020 6:44 pm

Amusikaido wrote:It is true that music has become a commodity but in some ways it always has been. The low cost of gear has brought the means to do productions to the masses but the average talent is probably about the same as it ever was and the ugly truth is that there is a lot more competition now, especially as there seems to be a market for mediocre, cliched music.

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. If you are in a building city, you can open the window, look down and you will see several dozens talented people walking in front of you.

Economic value is about scarcity. And in our sheltered society, most often about its cousin - the perception of scarcity. The music business is not about music - it's about artificially creating scarcity.

So financial empowerment for musicians (like anyone else) is about them creating sufficient perception of scarcity, in whatever way possible. If that's mediocre, cliched music (to you) it will work just the same.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jul 04, 2020 10:29 pm

Economics 101: no-one cares about your sunk costs.

But on the more positive side, Techdirt have been suggesting an equation for quite a while that seems to have a reasonable set of legs:
CwF + RtB = $
Connection with Fans (which seems to be the bit the OP is focusing on) + Reason to Buy (CS70's scarcity comment is generally key here) = a bit of cash to the creator.

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.

[EDIT] Oh yes, and unless you're young and good looking you're going to be starting with a considerable disadvantage.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jul 04, 2020 10:48 pm

blinddrew wrote: Oh yes, and unless you're young and good looking you're going to be starting with a considerable disadvantage.

One out of two helps, nearly all of those old, successful, musos/bands* started climbing the ladder of success when they were young music/bands.

* I can only think of Seasick Steve, and I have heard it suggested that he is the made up persona of an experienced studio musician....
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Watchmaker » Sat Jul 04, 2020 11:29 pm

Rather a discouraging lot of feedback, though I feel spared from the survey. Worse than phone calls usually.

Music, art in general really, isn't about money anyway. The creative process and the marketable outputs of that process require the skills of many people, many of whom never meet. I got an accounting degree, own a studio and more gear than I can use at one time, none of which is worth a farthing because I have zero interest in forcing uninterested masses of people to listen to what interests me. I do it because I like it with no hope or expectation of reward.

If only we could define the ineffable, then we could bottle it and make a million. I'd rather ponder a mystery and have a laugh over a botched chord with my friends.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby Arpangel » Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:36 am

CS70 wrote:
Amusikaido wrote:It is true that music has become a commodity but in some ways it always has been. The low cost of gear has brought the means to do productions to the masses but the average talent is probably about the same as it ever was and the ugly truth is that there is a lot more competition now, especially as there seems to be a market for mediocre, cliched music.

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. If you are in a building city, you can open the window, look down and you will see several dozens talented people walking in front of you.

Economic value is about scarcity. And in our sheltered society, most often about its cousin - the perception of scarcity. The music business is not about music - it's about artificially creating scarcity.

So financial empowerment for musicians (like anyone else) is about them creating sufficient perception of scarcity, in whatever way possible. If that's mediocre, cliched music (to you) it will work just the same.

There are a lot of what I would call "capable" or average artists out there, but real talent? I'm not sure about that.
This whole thing is very difficult to define, and I don’t like using words like genius, or talented, but sometimes there isn’t anything else left to describe some people.
John Ogden, Vladimir Ashkenazi, Glenn Gould, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, Joe Zawinul, Lightning Hopkins, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, how many of those types are walking by your window? Forget personal likes and dislikes, I’m talking about real universally acknowledged no bullshit full on talent, it’s very very scarce.
Average people are all over the place, you meet them all the time, I say "yes, very good, interesting" and immediately forget them. That’s not to devalue what they do (I do?) but it’s not what I would call geniusville.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Sun Jul 05, 2020 3:43 pm

Arpangel wrote:There are a lot of what I would call "capable" or average artists out there, but real talent? I'm not sure about that.
This whole thing is very difficult to define

That's exactly what should give you pause.

"Talent" is taken to be either the facility with which you master a certain thing, or the degree to which you master it already.

For the former - everybody masters far harder things than say singing or playing an instrument (yeah, even at Glenn Gould's level).. that is to say walking, talking and generally coordinate in real time thousands of individual inputs without breaking a sweat. We all start practicing daily right after birth and never stop. So it's like air, or water to fishes, nobody thinks about it but it requires enormous virtuosity. There's a little range in which people fall, and yeah some may get it a little earlier than others but with enough practice (which we all continuously do) there's a hell of a lot of people who can do these things very, very well.

Singing, dancing, playing - they're all similar (and easier) to these, and all about the time and effort you're willing to put into practice. If you do, you will fall into your point of ability... and there will be lots of people who can potentially do it very, very well. The people who can't are actually in the minority.

Stuff like singing is actually favored by the fact that we practice control of our vocal cords daily.

About the second meaning of "talent" - the shown ability to actually do something... due to the first, it's only about how much you practice.

John Ogden, Vladimir Ashkenazi, Glenn Gould, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, Joe Zawinul, Lightning Hopkins, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, how many of those types are walking by your window?

A lot have the potential. Being one of these is about realizing that potential (and in commercial, notoriety sense) which is a different ball game - and "talent" in any sense has a fairly small part in it. It's a given.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:24 pm

Watchmaker wrote:Rather a discouraging lot of feedback, though I feel spared from the survey. Worse than phone calls usually.

Music, art in general really, isn't about money anyway. The creative process and the marketable outputs of that process require the skills of many people, many of whom never meet. I got an accounting degree, own a studio and more gear than I can use at one time, none of which is worth a farthing because I have zero interest in forcing uninterested masses of people to listen to what interests me. I do it because I like it with no hope or expectation of reward.

If only we could define the ineffable, then we could bottle it and make a million. I'd rather ponder a mystery and have a laugh over a botched chord with my friends.

Well as I wrote music business is not necessarily about music, most of it anyways. There's nothing depressive in that - music (as a business) is a trigger to create a commercial venture to reap profits, or at least a living.

As an art, money is of course never involved.

Still (and I do not speak of you specifically), I think very few artists are totally uninterested in their work been seen/heard (if not appreciated). Imho it's often posturing - even unconscious one. Nobody's listening, so I convince myself that I don't care about anybody listening.

Because as social animals, it's always a bit disappointing to put your heart into something and get no social feedback at all. So it's better to remove the (little) pain altogether.

Of course there is the pleasure of creating - not a small thing by itself - but the social aspect tends to be important, and that implies people. Doesn't need to be big numbers, doesn't need to make a lot of money, but for me - as much as I love just making the stuff - when someone comes up and says "hey, I've heard your song, I loved it" it does feel dangerously good.

Only my $.10 of course, I may be wrong.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby ManFromGlass » Sun Jul 05, 2020 7:01 pm

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
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