The State of The Music Industry and the Delegitimization of Artists: Pt. 6 – The Hills are Alive…

– a Six Part Series

by Jeff Price

Part VI: The Hills are Alive…

Read Past Chapters
Part I: Music Purchases and Net Revenue For Artists Are Up, Gross Revenue for Labels is Down
Part II: The Impact of DMCA Streams and Why They Should Be Considered
Part III: How a Skewed Perspective Delegitimizes Artists
Part IV: The Growth Phase is Over? Improved Label Margins
Part V: When Good Laws Turn Bad

Now for the glass half full perspective. Music is special.  It speaks to us all.  We all want to hear a great song and share the ones we love with others.  We are fans of music and we value it.  We spend money and/or time hunting for and listening to music that moves us.

Despite all the challenges, mischaracterizations and confusion, the music industry is finally beginning to reach its full potential.

More people in the world are choosing to hear and engage with more music and more artists then ever before.  More music is being used in the ever-expanding video outlets of TV, Webisodes, Films, YouTube, Video Games and other User Generated Content websites.

The industry has been democratized and technology has allowed all to be welcome. Editorial gatekeepers no longer solely control what music the world gets exposed to, we can choose to make that decision for ourselves.  If we like something we have the ability to share it with millions at the click of a button.

There is no cost to manufacture inventory, it simply replicates on demand and is never out of stock.  You no longer need to buy yourself onto shelf space, all are welcome. The cost to record has lowered and barriers to entry for distribution have been removed.

More artists are making money, getting known, monetizing their fame through opportunities that just five years ago were unthinkable.

Try as they might, the flood of creativity and the shift cannot be stopped.  Due to technology and new business models, control of the music industry is moving from record labels, MTV, commercial radio and brick and mortar retail stores to artists, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Pandora, ISP providers and all of us.  The consolidation of the music industry and the editorial control over what artists are allowed in and what we get to hear is gone. We can make our own decisions now.  We have new choices to pursue our dreams of being an artist or discover and share music in ways never thought possible.

Campaigns should be embarked on educating artists about their rights.  Laws should be changed to allow easier collection of royalties and the ability to be included in even more opportunities.  There should be government grants in the U.S supporting the arts – just like every other first world nation around the world.

This is the story the media should talk about.  This is what the music industry should embrace. The world of artists has finally expanded to us all.

Read the entire series

Part I: Music Purchases and Net Revenue For Artists Are Up, Gross Revenue for Labels is Down

Part II: The Impact of DMCA Streams and why they should be considered

Part III: How a skewed perspective delegitimizes artists

Part IV: The Growth Phase is Over? Improved Label Margins

Part V: When Good Laws Turn Bad

Part VI: The Hills are alive…..

  • These words of optimism are nice to hear, yet it’s still the US government as well as immigration that is putting the music industry in harms way. Yes technology has given us more freedom, but with more freedome comes a flood of mediocrity that is tough to avoid. Our government in our lifetime will never support the arts in such a way. We can’t even get proper education and healthcare support let alone build on the foundation of music. Foreign immigration are denying entry clearance to artists big and small. Since the whole concept of free downloading came along, now everyone expects it and the only way to get around it is to be very creative with merchandising, which can get expensive. I’ve been surviving this business for close to 20 yrs. and if I didn’t love what I do so much, I would truly be done with it already.
    I’m having a dose of reality moment…

    • I enter every day to read them. Keep going your work

    • I will tell my friends about this. I just bookmarked this
      site for future reference.

  • Mediocrity is a matter of opinion. Music is Art, and Art is all about personal preference.
    If you really think the music industry is not better off with the Internet, then it’s because you aren’t utilizing it properly.
    I am grateful that MTV is dead and Youtube, Google, Itunes and Amazon are the new outlets … along with new gateways springing up left and right. From a local music blog to
    Artists just need to realize that they need to build their team. Their team should include:
    1. producer
    2. masterer
    3. designer
    4. web developer
    5. online marketer (publicist)
    With these 5 people on your team, you have enough power as a major record label, and you don’t have to “wait” for them to do anything.
    The power is finally in the artist’s hands.
    Get 5,000 fans and make them one song a month – sell it to them for $1.
    All of a sudden you have a sustainable career in a music that you can build upon.

  • Kenny Rose

    Digital download has ruined the industry. We are hearing much more music, but it’s poorly produced due to no money to properly record it, and the good stuff is hard to find. Like it or not, and I am not naive enough to think some great music was squeezed out by the labels, but the fact remains they were the first filtering system. They assured us we wouldn’t have to listen to 500 incredibly bad bands to find one good one. With the profits left in the industry now, it is no wonder the best today’s music scene can give us is people taking 2 old classic rock songs, squishing them together and regurgitating it. Every now and then there is a diamond in the rough. A jack Johnson, Five for Fighting or Sister Hazel comes along to give you hope, but trying to find them in the plethora of music that is out there now is almost impossible. If 30 years from now people are still listening to the Kid Crock screw up Sweet Home Alabama, I’ll be proven wrong. But my bet is today’s music won’t be found on 4 radio stations in one market 30 years from now like classic rock is today. Sorry.

  • Sister Hazel? Good god, what a maroon.

  • David

    Kellee, while I generally agree with your assertion that the Internet is a good thing for musicians, I don’t think you can deny that widespread theft of music (I’m not going to be coy about what filesharing really is: filestealing) has harmed indie artists significantly. In my case, I’ve certainly found it difficult to replace the revenue lost…and by myself I encompass three of the five team members you list (producer, web designer, and pretty high-end search marketer…and our singer is a pro-level graphic designer). How could a band whose members don’t happen to possess those skills assemble such a team and actually PAY them? I’m not dissing your suggestions (they’re excellent), but it’s not a simple, “hey presto, we’re ready to go” sort of thing.
    Overall, filestealing has made it that much more difficult for musicians to take the leap, quit their day job, and try to do music professionally. It’s still possible, and you definitely have it easier if you take an effective, up-to-date DIY approach to marketing and merchandising. But it’s harder when the majority of listeners don’t actually purchase your main product.

  • Ray X

    Free and unregulated access has devalued all music. It’s techie Myth and Tragedy, not fulfillment of an authors dreams. Give me back my constitutional guarantee of copyRIGHT.

  • David: If your biz model is based entirely on selling items that are so easily copied by others, then you’re using the wrong biz model.
    How do you expect anyone to hear your music if you’re so concerned with preventing the people who like it the most from sharing it with their friends? Do you think you can corral everyone into only listening through “authorized channels?” Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way anymore. People are going to share music they like, and fighting that is like spitting into the wind.
    You’ve got something else to sell to people aside from your recordings. Once you figure out what that is, you can start moving your career forward. Pay-what-you-like models haven’t exactly been proven to be failures in the marketplace, either. Ponder those things for a few.

  • I agree that although more accessible and readily available than ever before, music has taken a giant turn down from the prestige it was formerly at. Major labels need to wake up and jump on the bandwagon with the digital distribution world, but they were definitely the first real filter. Now, artists don’t even have to be artists, just a person with enough money to buy some recording equipment, mimic artists from previous, and release sub-par recordings online. Although I appreciate the freedom in the music world (especially in promotion and marketing), I do miss when I had trouble purchasing music because there were so many amazing options out there. I think we’re in a slump sales wise, but we will come back to a place of prominence again. We’ll just have to let the parody acts and popularity contesters weed themselves out.

  • Theft will be soon history, Lime Wire is shut down AND A COURT ORDER APPEARS ON THEIR SCREEN. . Major labels are to blame, that songs ends up in piracy. Thanks to what we do now, we act as our own indie label, major labels are loosing power, thus loosing sales too. No more soliciting needed, by these poor giant empires. We unknown and unsigned artists are signing themselves to their own indie label instead. 100% control and instant recognition. No in between parties, pretending to know, what is good for you. Instead, the public downloading your songs tells in all honesty, if you are good. Bottom line, I also am having a multi-dose of reality moments to cherish…(Party Time!) Away from the Big Monsters, so called giant labels…. I have no radio play, no band, no touring, no record contract, no management, nor agents… Yet, I am selling the crap out of my songs all over the world, how is that possible? 10 years ago was unthinkable of such a rush we have now to go on. (Yep, no billboard needed either, no in between jokers, we earn 100% from our sales, thanks to Tunecore).
    Result? My is adding 30 to 200 friends per day to my already large amount of friends…. I turned a major label down in Nashville, in return I request them a distribution deal for Europe to physical sell CD’s on the market, cause I said, I am already an indie record label. Of course, no more answer…and I care less….

  • Its the ‘flood of mediocrity’ issue that concerns me and the easy access the user has to ‘accomplished’ music, in whatever genre.
    What defines accomplished?
    Well we have panels on the Mercury Prize committee, countless panels of music journos working on broadsheet papers and respected magazines.
    Could these people be contracted to iTunes etc and their choices of music displayed more prominently. Who would decided, if not the record companies, what they would go for?
    Does this strike you as vaguely Communist in approach?!
    Is that really any worse than my experience yesterday when looking at new releases on Itunes?
    Top billing and top 12 listings were all soulless individual karaoke renditions of Elton John songs from The X Factor.
    Now thats the state we’ve got to.
    Isn’t it time that Itunes and their ilk realise that by their choices and priority billings, they are the true gatekeepers to the new music industry?

  • Just want to point out that if someone records a song it usually sits on a hard drive.
    What difference does it make to music discovery or music sales for another song if it sits on their own hard drive or Apple’s hard drive.
    A song sitting on a hard drive is not impeding the ability for another song to sell. Sitting on the Apple hard drive allows it to be discovered if searched for. it also allows it to go into a custom made iMix or get shared with someone else.
    Jeff Price

  • Unauthorized uploading and downloading of copywritten material is illegal.Now considering that if you like an individual track or so by a group you dig you can get it for one dollar,you don’t have to buy the whole album,it is your choice.Making it a consumer market where you do not have to pay 20 bucks for an album with one hit and ten tracks of filler.I am surprised that some developer has not come up with software that we can tag our mp3’s with so if it is being illegally downloaded or fileshared,recorded from an external device it dumps the memory of the involved machines flashing only “this machine has performed an illegal operation,begin physical memory dump.”Their whole hard drive wiped out.

  • Going just a bit further,if someone has made a purchase they like they can perhaps share it with ten of their friends,but the friends shared with cannot share it without buying it.Surely something along this line will one day become a reality.

  • Here’s an idea! Why not spend all of your time making music. Forget about marketing, youtube, twitter, facebook. Just focus on the music. You will make more better music. You are a MUSICIAN. Music is all you have. Make it BETTER. You will only make money after you have created the most, best quality work possible. Then find a label, get a deal that makes old school deals look like a joke, and then keep making MORE MUSIC!!!
    I just signed a 50/50 deal with a European label. They actually listen to music that isn’t rock/pop/rap/r&b/country over there. When I started in music, you had to physically go to your market. If all goes well, I will have to go play/produce overseas, but it’s nice to be able to collaborate internationally to initiate the process.

  • Why isn’t the relationship between music fans and the musicians they love as simple as rewarding your favorites with twenty bucks from Paypal or some other means? If a band makes wonderful music and stays together long enough could they reach a million people who would fork over a 20? I think the biggest problem is all these middle men taking their shares and further complicating the relationship between band and audience.

  • john

    I read a lot of wishful fantasy garbage, specially on the comments!
    Fantasy dreaming rubbish!
    Without the major labels money spent on promotion and advertising You will go nowhere!
    Itunes will not last because more and more people stream music for free legally from ex spotify and sights like that.
    The money will only exist in performing and when getting aired!
    For getting aired you’ll need a lot of money to bribe the Dj’s also you’ll need the majors help.
    For touring you’ll need money for touring such as trip, hotel, equipment etc.. also you must have a known name to get booked for shows!
    You naive people understand now?
    Enough with this wishful bull “You don’t need anybody to make it”

  • Jim Knear

    The more things change , the more they stay the same. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. One important element is missing in the new order of internet superiority. Commercial radio is crucial to getting heard and selling music. Commercial radio needs to be free to everyone based on sales and what the public wants to hear. Radio today has been consolidated and is controled by a few Honchos who use it like their own piggy bank. That’s who makes the decision about what people want to hear.

  • I completely agree, its like the new slaves of the 21st century are the artists that are not known because of previous family fame/marketing knowledge or lack of money. The government of Canada supports Artists with Grants from the Government maybe I should move there. Everything is pointed towards Canada to be honest. And if we want the U.S. Government to do something about funding we need to speak to our representatives about the unnoticed / unmarketable indie artists alive today.

  • Exactly 🙂

  • Japreme Eloheem

    Peace Jeff Price!

  • Maria Elisabeth Mussenden

    We are all afraid of having a song “stolen/pirated”, etc. This is an utmost discouraging experience. But think about it, a stolen song is a stolen song. Not a stolen brain. Our brain remains with us, to continue to do music, and to do it even better. Even though it is terrifying to have a song stolen, I think more tragic would be for us to die, and have our songs die/ go to the grave with us, without ever having had the chance of being born, without ever having been listened to and enjoyed by anyone, because we are afraid of it being stolen. We can never let fear stifle our creativity! Maria

  • Kleo

    Jim Knear is right. I’ve been in this business over 30 years and though the media has changed, people have not changed. I can’t get a song played at a club without dishing over $500 to the DJs. One radio DJ told me that he and his girlfriend wanted to go to Europe in exchange to play my song in his weekend mixes. A club told us we had to sell 100 tickets to get a venue and if we didn’t sell them, we were responsible for the balance of $5000 A car stereo place was selling stereos and had a special that if you bought the most expensive one, they would throw in 10,000 mp3s to enjoy your new stereo. I could go on, but in the end the artist and his/her team better be ready to dish our some Cash/Grass or Ass. Face it, artist are at the bottom of the payment distribution and our work is at the top of the benefits for others to make money from us. Tune should set an example: I think even Tunecore with the $19 a year storage is one of these bend-over moves. They should make a rule, if you sell less than $19 per year, they waive the fee. If not, I have my own server if you allow me to store it remotely and waive my fees. I don’t think so……I’m an artist and no one is going to pay it for us. For all artist everywhere, all companies, radio, promoters, music sites, tv shows, etc…It’s like when they execute a person and make them buy the gravesite before they are killed. My advise is if you sell less than $20 of music per year, just give it away. Holding on to a track in a store with hopes that someone will buy it is wasting your money. At least the alternative is people get to enjoy your music and hopefully make some fans that will eventually buy some T-shirts/Merchandise, because selling mp3 as a source of income is a bad idea for the tiny guy.

  • toatlly aggree. It´s almost as if the fear of having your music stolen could be compared to the threat of war. lose your home, lose your family, lose your life… lose what you hold dear and treasure the most… your creativity and heart which are found in subconscious beats on paper and out-of-this-world, mind-debuted melodies. fortunately that´s not the end. a bank robbery never breaks a bank. they always figure out how to make money out of thin air and even increase it by ten times its amount – to say the least. our creativity cannot be taken away from us and much less should we be afraid of losing a song or two. besides, if the song turnsd out to be a hit – wether you enjoy its rewards or not – it just shows you the quality and hit-ability you posses. Just don´t do to others what you would not want done to you.

  • Amanda Star

    Please watch this video of me singing —–> my vioce is somehow a little high in this video but in reasl life its not. I written about 7 really great songs and I think you will really like them. my email is I live in ontario canada in Brampton. Please email me back. Thank you

  • Hephaestus

    “”this machine has performed an illegal operation,begin physical memory dump.”Their whole hard drive wiped out.”
    LOL … U so Silly … First off from the way you worded that you really don’t know much about computers. Second lets have some fun with this.
    Because you just p!ssed me off I am going to e-mail you a britney spears mp3 (shiver). The email will tell you “this is a promotional mp3 fell free to distribute it if you like it”. You open it and you see the message …
    “this machine has performed an illegal operation,begin physical memory dump.”
    sucks to be you
    Third this violate all sorts of US and international laws.

  • This is an utmost discouraging experience. But think about it, a stolen song is a stolen song. Not a stolen brain. Our brain remains with us, to continue to do music, and to do it even better. Even though it is terrifying to have a song stolen, I think more tragic would be for us to die, and have our songs die/ go to the grave with us, without ever having had the chance of being born, without ever having been listened to and enjoyed by anyone, because we are afraid of it being stolen.