The cold and snow have jarred my brain somehow. Normally I spend my Sundays working on this blogpost. Yeah – no. Not this week. Somehow I got stuck.
The music and radio news seems flooded this past couple of months with articles and opinions about streaming vs downloading vs cd vs vinyl sales. It is a very dense and complicated story, but basically it goes like this: at a high level, cd sales and album sales are still declining globally, and in the US. Vinyl sales continue to increase, although it is still a niche market. Download sales are also decreasing in the face of accelerating use of streaming, as smartphones become more fully integrated into everyday activities.
According to a Monday morning post at Digital Music News entitled The End Of An Era: Starbucks Will Soon Stop Selling CDs, “Last year, Americans bought 257 million albums – an 11% drop from 2013. Of those, 140.8 million were CDs (a 15% drop from 2013)… However, 9.2 million vinyl records were sold – a 51.8% increase from 2013. And now vinyl accounts for 6% of ALL album sales.” The author goes on to say that, “In 2014 there were 476 million “albums sold” – according to Billboard’s new system of 1,500 streams = one album sale.”
Here’s the real takeaway. Local bands still sell cds. Local bands still sell downloads. Local bands, promoters, and venues still charge an entrance fee. Music is not free. It is not free to make, it is not free to produce, it is not free to present. It is not someone else’s responsibility to pay for it.
For all the years I’ve done radio we’ve always gotten the music for free – because advertisers were willing to pay for us to broadcast it. But only the publishers/songwriters have ever gotten paid in this deal.
Musicians per se do not and have not ever made a dime from radio. Nor do local bands earn income level revenue from streaming; certainly not enough to afford a cheap dinner at a local diner. Locals make money off of door charges, tickets, and HARD merchandise and PAID downloads – particularly from sites such as BandCamp (the reason I utilize that service for new music shares).
BOTTOM LINE: If WE don’t support it, who will? Some who make music do it as a hobby. Most do if you study the numbers. But even hobbies cost money, and being a hobbyist doesn’t mean doing it for free or that you’re not any good at what you’re doing. Making a full time living at music has NEVER been easy, in fact it’s always been damned near impossible. That’s been true for all time. It doesn’t mean we should ever take it for granted, or expect to receive it for free.
BUY LOCAL. BUY DIRECT. BUY LIVE. Most local shows charge $5-$10 to get in. Figure 100 people = $500-$1000 at the door. It’s been my experience that MOST local bands don’t get 100 paid through the door. But, for the sake of argument let’s take a band that can earn $1000 per appearance (there are a few). The band would have to play 200 shows to gross $200,000.00 (two hundred thousand). Divide that by however many people there are to pay in that “small business.”
For the record, MOST local bands don’t get close to smelling $200,000 a year.
Now add the cost of producing a recording.
It’s pretty common to see $800-$1200 cost per song finished and packaged… but not effectively promoted. 15 songs = $12,000 – $18,000. Average price sold per song = <$1.00. Average price earned per unit of listen via streaming = <$.01 USD.
BUY DIRECT when you’re able. BUY LIVE – see a show. BUY LOCAL always.
A friend, Trinity Demask, sent out a reminder about her new upcoming album and attached was a link to the “Standing O Project.” From the website:
The Standing “O” Project is a network of music and delight that generates financial support for musicians.
In return for a small monthly contribution, fans get a ton of exclusive music, rare interviews, unusual content, and the opportunity to get to know artists on a personal level.
Every month, 50% of the membership revenue goes directly back to the musicians. The rest supports this site and the public radio program that spawned it.
This project was built by touring musicians who understand the challenges of living from gig to gig.
The site is populated by several BIG names among the 300+ singer songwriters, including from Colorado, Lisa Bell, Philip Bailey, Megan Burtt, and Katey Laurel to name a few.
VIDEO PICK of the WEEK
Keep your eyes open to local media for shows from rising blues/rhythm & blues/rock guitarist/vocalist Taylor Scott – who is touring with Otis Taylor, as well as his own band that at least according to this video includes Jon Wirtz on keyboards and Chris Harris on bass (I don’t know the drummer). RIYL Derek Trucks etc … Can’t wait to see Taylor at a festival event this summer.
PLAYLIST S9|EP8 FEB 2015
(D) = debut of lp, ep, or single
(N) = new cut from previously debuted lp or ep
The Apples in Stereo “Signal In the Sky (Let’s Go)” from Let’s Go (2001)
Sherri Jackson “Liberation” from Moments in Denial (1996)
(D) Dearling “Do You Love Me” from Do You Love Me (2015)
Arthur Lee Land “Cracked Open” from Cracked Open (2013)
(D) AMZY “5 To Midnight” from We Don’t Walk We Dance (2015) Jeff Austin “Fiddling Around” from The Simple Truth (2015)
Mosey West “Gone” from Merica (2012)
Equally Challenged “Like It Was” from EQC2 (2015)
Esme Patterson “Valentine” from Woman To Woman (2014)
(N) Land Lines “Help” from Natural World (2015)Eldren “We Just Want the World” from SpokesBUZZ Vol V: Band Together (2015)
Claymore Disco “Light Ahead of Me” from Light Ahead of Me (2014)
Tia Fuller “Descend to Barbados” from Angelic Warrior (2012)
The Moonrakers “Love Train” from Together With Him (1968)
The Astronauts “Crawfish Song” from Rockin With The Astronauts (1964)
Reed Foehl “Rodeo Clown” from Lost in the West (2014)
Brothers Keeper “Why Do You Fall” from Todd Meadows (2014)
Alan & Martin “Missin’ Kissin’ You” from Only Boys Back Then (2012)
(N) Selasee and the Fafa Family “Yes I Know” from Time for Peace (2015)
Wendy Woo “Hold On” from Live (2013)
(D) Michal Menert “Your Ghost” from Elements (2013)(D) Pan Astral “You Need” from Color Field (2015)Ben Markley ~ Clint Ashlock Quintet “The Return” from The Return (2014)
Please visit my friends’ sites. They keep this thing going.
Colorado Case Company a Fort Collins based, Colorado family owned business specializing in insulated soft cases, gig bags, case covers and rigid cases for most instruments, including hard to fit instruments.
SpokesBUZZ, a Colorado non-profit with a mission to develop the professionalism of artists, promote and connect progressive cultural destinations, amplify music scenes, and grow local economies. See event calendar for Spokesbuzz band shows.
The historic Mishawaka Amphitheatre, Northern Colorado’s Musical Playground, and seriously one of the most badass music venues in the state.