You are here

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

Advice on everything from getting your music heard to setting up a label and royalties.

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

Postby merlyn » Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:14 pm

blinddrew wrote:On your last point; absolutely. There's a reason that they teach politics and economics together. ;)

The politician's degree has traditionally been Politics, Philosophy and Economics or PPE. It looks like a lack of PPE led to a lack of PPE. Having philosophy in there would hopefully mean that politicians' rhetoric was free from logical fallacies and that they could think their way out of a paper bag. Sadly there's not a lot of evidence for that.

blinddrew wrote: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.

Your argument suggests the law of supply and demand is alive and well, applicable everywhere at all times but has been broken by agency fees and imported labour. The market can take care of everything, and if it doesn't it's because of regulations and immigrants. If agency fees break the law of supply and demand it's not much of a law.

A simpler explanation is that those who hold the purse strings don't want to pay nurses much. Although economists tell us the law of supply and demand is universal, like gravity, it only applies in a limited set of circumstances -- if the crops fail the price of wheat goes up. Even that isn't simple in the system we currently have involving futures markets.


blinddrew wrote: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.

History tells us that revolutions can throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are more options than going on the way we are giving validity to the nonsense economists spout or throwing everything out. It took one hundred years to get the system the way it is. It could take one hundred years to undo it.

So how do we create a healthier financial ecosystem for musicians? Even if we did it would be a bubble of health floating in the sea of disease that is the rest of the financial ecosystem. I propose that the whole system needs changed, even though rent-a-gob economists on the telly tell us otherwise.
merlyn
Regular
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:15 am

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

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:42 pm

merlyn wrote:
blinddrew wrote: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.

Your argument suggests the law of supply and demand is alive and well, applicable everywhere at all times but has been broken by agency fees and imported labour. The market can take care of everything, and if it doesn't it's because of regulations and immigrants. If agency fees break the law of supply and demand it's not much of a law.

A simpler explanation is that those who hold the purse strings don't want to pay nurses much. Although economists tell us the law of supply and demand is universal, like gravity, it only applies in a limited set of circumstances -- if the crops fail the price of wheat goes up. Even that isn't simple in the system we currently have involving futures markets.
Well, what I was really trying to say is that it's complicated in itself, and further complicated by both artificial market constructs and the effects of different ratios of supply and demand in different countries.
But fundamentally our measures are broken. We use the stock market as a proxy for economic health but it really isn't. Over 90% of stock market trades involve no actual movement of goods - the market exists for the market's sake. But we keep pretending it's some kind of valid metric. Take the last few months, the FTSE, it lost 2500 points between the end of Feb and the middle of March, but then recovered 1000 by the middle of April - during which time nothing had fundamentally changed.
We need a better, more representative, set of measures that also looks at how the bottom of society is functioning.

merlyn wrote:
blinddrew wrote: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.

History tells us that revolutions can throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are more options than going on the way we are giving validity to the nonsense economists spout or throwing everything out. It took one hundred years to get the system the way it is. It could take one hundred years to undo it.

So how do we create a healthier financial ecosystem for musicians? Even if we did it would be a bubble of health floating in the sea of disease that is the rest of the financial ecosystem. I propose that the whole system needs changed, even though rent-a-gob economists on the telly tell us otherwise.
I completely the agree the whole financial system needs reform, but it's integrated into every aspect of our lives: politics, transport, environment, employment, health, welfare. Sadly I suspect a fairer musical ecosystem is fairly far down the list.
And much as we could agitate for such a thing, and even if we could create that healthy bubble, how long would it take before it was infected by the surrounding environment?

There's a venn diagram that does the rounds occasionally that has one circle labelled "Things that might actually work" and another labelled "Things that are politically acceptable". They don't overlap.

In short I agree there must be a better way, but I don't see any realistic way of getting there. :(
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11569
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

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

Postby DC-Choppah » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:19 pm

"Music is an activity, not an object to be bought and sold" (paraphrase from Ian Brennan's book): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BF ... bl_vppi_i0

I resonate with Mr Brennan.

An activity can't be bought and sold. It's value is infinite, just like every moment of time is infinitely valuable.

The economics of music can be looked at as the finite and scarce availability of time, and scarcity of talented people being able to get together to make music with a common purpose. So much has to come together. It is a rare event indeed. Especially the voices of the usually unheard. Rare indeed.

The recorded media is a dead echo of that event. It can represent the song itself, but not the activity and the performance. Technology has reduced its value to 0 through instant massive duplication. The music business should never have allowed the internet to distribute music for free at a massive scale. Putting that Pandora back in its box is the only way to change the economics of recorded music. I would be in favor of that, not the begging and asking for handouts approach proposed in the survey.

Musicians reflect the joy in the value of the scarce moments we have, especially those where we can connect with each other magically through music. The rare events of magical musical moments are what we seek.

Many folks would like to share in the experience of making music. Musicians can help people in that endeavor through music lessons, teaching us how to record properly (thanks SOS), helping build instruments, writing and arranging songs, giving master classes, sitting in, collaborating, managing bands, promoting bands, producing musicians, and in general taking part in the human activity of music making.

There is a lot more to music than just the selling of recorded performances.

Music is a human activity, not an object to be bought and sold.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

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

Postby MOF » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:26 pm

"Music is an activity, not an object to be bought and sold" (paraphrase from Ian Brennan's book): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BF ... bl_vppi_i0

I resonate with Mr Brennan......The recorded media is a dead echo of that event. It can represent the song itself, but not the activity and the performance. Technology has reduced its value to 0 through instant massive duplication. The music business should never have allowed the internet to distribute music for free at a massive scale

It’s only thanks to recorded/broadcast performances that the whole population has been able to enjoy such a wide spectrum of music and for the writers and performers to enjoy some of the rewards.
No system is perfect but I would argue that now there are more ways of getting your tracks out to a paying audience, in more ways and genres than ever before in history, and that can be more under artists’ control than in the 1600-1800s when Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc had to have sponsors in order to make a living and pursue their art.
I personally thought that paid-for downloads and more aggressive action against file sharing sites such as Napster et al was the best way forward, but it looks like streaming is the way the industry is going. Unfortunately I don’t have an answer as to how to increase the share of revenues to the artists and composers.
George Martin said that he wanted to make records, not record a performance (paraphrased), so I don’t buy the ‘dead echo’ argument. I view the composing/recording process as art, adding and scraping away layers of paint until the vision is realised.
MOF
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1242
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: United Kingdom

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

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:34 pm

DC-Choppah wrote:An activity can't be bought and sold.
If it can't be bought and sold then don't expect any money from it.
But I challenge you assumption. I (used) to pay £5 a session to play football and £5 a session for band practices. I'm buying the opportunity for that activity, which I reckon is close enough to the same thing - because if I don't have the opportunity (like being under lockdown) then I don't do the activity.

DC-Choppah wrote: It's value is infinite, just like every moment of time is infinitely valuable.
Value is assigned by the buyer not the seller. The seller cannot force a value proposition on the buyer (other than by marketing or artificially controlling a scarcity - but even then you can't force someone to buy).

DC-Choppah wrote:The economics of music can be looked at as the finite and scarce availability of time, and scarcity of talented people being able to get together to make music with a common purpose. So much has to come together. It is a rare event indeed. Especially the voices of the usually unheard. Rare indeed.
But again this comes down to how you value the talent and the output. Most people really aren't that bothered about music. It's largely background noise for other entertainment, it's something to get up and dance to, or it's a nice nostalgic throw-back.
Sure, the fans and musos appreciate the creative genius and value those special moments (hence the ticket price of gigs), but actually most people aren't really bothered. You could replace every track in the top 40 with the next 40 down and most audiences wouldn't notice or care. I reckon... ;)

DC-Choppah wrote:The recorded media is a dead echo of that event.
I'm not sure how that reflects the music of those people who create on their own and never perform live, instead only releasing recorded music. But cracking on...

DC-Choppah wrote: It can represent the song itself, but not the activity and the performance. Technology has reduced its value to 0 through instant massive duplication. The music business should never have allowed the internet to distribute music for free at a massive scale.
I really don't think the music business had a choice - other than adapt or die.
But also the music business doesn't represent all musicians, or even most of them. This opening up that you criticise is the only way that I, and many other musicians, have ever been able to share and sell our music.

DC-Choppah wrote:Putting that Pandora back in its box is the only way to change the economics of recorded music. I would be in favor of that, not the begging and asking for handouts approach proposed in the survey.
How could that possibly happen? And how does that treat those creators who have managed to adapt and make a living?

DC-Choppah wrote:Musicians reflect the joy in the value of the scarce moments we have, especially those where we can connect with each other magically through music. The rare events of magical musical moments are what we seek.
Absolutely! We agree! :)

DC-Choppah wrote:Many folks would like to share in the experience of making music. Musicians can help people in that endeavor through music lessons, teaching us how to record properly (thanks SOS), helping build instruments, writing and arranging songs, giving master classes, sitting in, collaborating, managing bands, promoting bands, producing musicians, and in general taking part in the human activity of music making.
All of these are scarcities that can be monetised. These are all potential income streams for musicians to exploit.

DC-Choppah wrote:There is a lot more to music than just the selling of recorded performances.
Again we agree.

DC-Choppah wrote:Music is a human activity, not an object to be bought and sold.
And we go back to the opening point. But more fundamentally, who is to decide what can or should be bought and sold?
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11569
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

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

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Jul 16, 2020 5:19 am

blinddrew wrote:
DC-Choppah wrote: It can represent the song itself, but not the activity and the performance. Technology has reduced its value to 0 through instant massive duplication. The music business should never have allowed the internet to distribute music for free at a massive scale.
I really don't think the music business had a choice - other than adapt or die.
But also the music business doesn't represent all musicians, or even most of them. This opening up that you criticise is the only way that I, and many other musicians, have ever been able to share and sell our music.

DC-Choppah wrote:Putting that Pandora back in its box is the only way to change the economics of recorded music. I would be in favor of that, not the begging and asking for handouts approach proposed in the survey.
How could that possibly happen? And how does that treat those creators who have managed to adapt and make a living?

Good points.

Since this thread is about the proposal to change the music business ecosystem, I want to point out how the digital media interests were able to manipulate the copyright laws as a business plan by saying that they are not a distributor. The manipulation of the regulatory environment is far more important than the technology. If in fact they had NOT done that, and the copyright laws were enforced, and the record companies did NOT cave, then things would have unfolded very differently. There would have been a massive lawsuit against the illegal distribution of stolen material and the business model would not have evolved to what it is now. The laws favor the digital media giants over the record companies not by accident but because the digital media giants and internet distribution business model depends on it.

Businesses operate within a set of laws. If those laws are changed for the political and economic benefit of one group over another you can't blame the victim for not adapting.

If you have a produce stand and sell melons for the market price, and your melons are really good, and people love them and you make good money, life is good. A few get stolen, but the thieves get caught. The local laws protect your business. People get melons. Some people want to give their melons away for free. Nobody stops them. Free melons! But your melons are yummy and people will gladly pay the market price for them.

But then some folks roll into town. They have a plan. Get some locals to steal all your melons. Get them for free. They open up a stand and give away your melons for free. But to get access to the free melon stand, customers have to pay an entry fee. Customers have to pay to get access to the melon pile. Once customers are all going there to collect the free melons these new business folks can charge people to advertise while claiming that since the melons are so cheap and yummy, everyone will come. Advertise with us. This is where the people and the eyes are. Next thing you know advertising revenues are big. So go after the lemons, the peaches. Meanwhile when you say that the melons are stolen they claim no, we didn't steal them someone else did. We just distributed them. But we are not a 'distributor' so we don't have to pay for the right to mechanically distribute the melons. We just facilitate the transfer of goods.

You report the theft to the police. Sorry you will just have to adapt. The new laws say that stealing fruit in this particular way is legal. That law has been changed.

You will just have to adapt or die. Really? The manipulation of the regulatory environment is a much bigger part of the business plan than the technology is.

Meanwhile there are still some folks who give their melons away for free. This dispute never involved them anyway.

So it is not just supply and demand in a free market. The regulatory environment also determines the value. And this can be changed and was deliberately changed.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

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

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:51 am

DC-Choppah wrote:Good points.

Since this thread is about the proposal to change the music business ecosystem, I want to point out how the digital media interests were able to manipulate the copyright laws as a business plan by saying that they are not a distributor. The manipulation of the regulatory environment is far more important than the technology. If in fact they had NOT done that, and the copyright laws were enforced, and the record companies did NOT cave, then things would have unfolded very differently. There would have been a massive lawsuit against the illegal distribution of stolen material and the business model would not have evolved to what it is now. The laws favor the digital media giants over the record companies not by accident but because the digital media giants and internet distribution business model depends on it.
That is, I think, a very selective reading of recent history. And I'd be curious about exactly what laws you think were changed?

DC-Choppah wrote:Businesses operate within a set of laws. If those laws are changed for the political and economic benefit of one group over another you can't blame the victim for not adapting.
The music and movie industry have been consistently getting the law changed in their favour since not long after the statute of Anne was passed in the first place. So to then whinge that someone else has out lobbied them just shows that they can't even handle competition in the field they've been focusing most of their attention.

Any metaphor that tries to talk about digital disruption but focuses on analogue products is fundamentally flawed and just distracts from the situaion. It's 2020, we all understand the digital paradigm, we need to talk about the actual issue not a metaphor.

And the issue is, fundamentally, that the unit cost for recorded music is effectively zero. Everyone knows this. The question is how, therefore, to persuade people that they should pay way more than that.

And actually there are already loads of models out there working successfully - including, let's not forget, those led by the major record labels.
But there are also loads more.
And they generally revolve around that equation I posted up thread about making a connection with your fans and providing a reason to buy.
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11569
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

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

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:40 am

"Businesses operate-economic benefit-the music and movie industry-competition in the field-products-the digital paradigm-the unit cost-models working-that equation-a reason to buy"

Uh Oh!.......... :D
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5308
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

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

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:54 am

Arpangel wrote:"Businesses operate-economic benefit-the music and movie industry-competition in the field-products-the digital paradigm-the unit cost-models working-that equation-a reason to buy"

Uh Oh!.......... :D
I assume from this that you see no factual errors in my statements?
;)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11569
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

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

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:08 am

blinddrew wrote:
Arpangel wrote:"Businesses operate-economic benefit-the music and movie industry-competition in the field-products-the digital paradigm-the unit cost-models working-that equation-a reason to buy"

Uh Oh!.......... :D
I assume from this that you see no factual errors in my statements?
;)

It was an interesting selection of words, that seemed to obliquely/abstractly? put into context what we don’t need to deal with as musicians, most of the time, actually, all of the time.

:think:
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5308
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

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

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:16 am

I would argue that unless you are going to pay someone else to deal with it, then you absolutely need to deal with it.
If you're not bothered about selling or even sharing your music, then fine, ignore this stuff.
But one thing that i'm sure even DC Chopper and I would agree on is that burying ones head in the sand is rarely a sound business strategy. :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11569
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

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

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:21 am

blinddrew wrote:I would argue that unless you are going to pay someone else to deal with it, then you absolutely need to deal with it.
If you're not bothered about selling or even sharing your music, then fine, ignore this stuff.
But one thing that i'm sure even DC Chopper and I would agree on is that burying ones head in the sand is rarely a sound business strategy. :)

I do share, and sell my music, but not to any great degree, as it’s not my career.
If I were younger and wanted to start a career I may be thinking differently.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5308
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

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

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:29 am

So humour me Tony, how do you sell and share your music at the moment?
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11569
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

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

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:54 am

blinddrew wrote:So humour me Tony, how do you sell and share your music at the moment?

On a very small scale, Bandcamp, and a friends website.
Things like that slot we had on BBC R3 are a big deal for us, it rarely happens, I’ve sold a handful of CD's in the last year, before I moved to Kent I had a band in London, we used to gig regularly, and organise clubs and one-off events.
So that’s how I share my/our music, it’s a very small market, in fact, I wouldn’t call it a market at all, it’s more like a bunch of like minded individuals that listen to and share our own music, free-improv and abstract electronica aren’t going to make anyone rich, we do it because it gives us a kick.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5308
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

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

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:42 am

So you've made a decision on your distribution platforms. You've established that your primary connection with your fans will be via your live performances, you've even established the vibe and culture you want to create at those events. (Do you charge entry for gigs?)
So that's the connection with fans bit sorted (at the scale at which you wish to operate), so what's the reason someone would want to buy something? One of the advantages of being a tiny player (I'm the same by the way) is that none of the music is likely to be available on pirate sites! :) So if someone wants a recording they have to go to a legitimate site (again I use bandcamp but have experimented with streaming sites as well). So we have a scarcity! Excellent.

The point being, you're doing all this thinking already, just maybe not actively.
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11569
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

PreviousNext