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by Amanda F'in Palmer http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/200582690/why-i-am-not-afraid-to-take-your-money-by-amanda
some really interesting points.
it's as direct as it gets isn't it? The thing people keep repeating ad nauseum is that niche audiences are the way to go. You see Tori Amos hasn't had a successful record for years but she keeps a percentage of the millions that heard her in the early nineties through hard work, good contact and inspiring their devotion. Tori Amos fans are terrifying I will admit though. Same with, ahem, Steve Brookstein who went from X Factor to supposedly nowhere within months, he's actually making a living from a healthy proportion of fans that stuck with him after the press died down.
Righty, what Amanda Palmer does miss out is that the ability to build that niche is ridiculously difficult, she was lucky/net savvy enough to build up the dresden dolls and her career when she did but the <ahem> "brand loyalty" her fans display is more an exception to the rule these days. I thought the silversun pickups were doing things the right way (ceaseless touring in deliberately small venues so they win over hearts and minds almost one by one) but then they end up supporting f***ing placebo!?! shows it's not working that great, in europe anyway.
Does Seymour still post here? I wondered how him giving away his Ten City Nation albums was working out in terms of getting people to shows etc.
I'm sure there are some really interesting points (how much did you make off the webcast again? Could you put the number in a bigger font and make it sparkle?). Just a pity I wasn't able to get at them since the article was formatted like the editor had Downs, and apparently written by the biggest jackass this side of George Galloway.
some salient points, but she doesn't half come across as a twunt.
part of the problem has to be the massive proliferation of artists/bands nowadays, would she have been one of the lucky ones to have been signed/popular enough to earn a living in the past or is she someone who could only have made it in the internet age, its impossible to say
what I meant is when artist talk about earning a living there is an assumption that they would have been able to in predownloading times, but the amount of money music fans have isnt infinite, if we were to somehow eliminate downloading there wouldn't be enough to go around to support all the bands that have become popular in the internet age, the ones good enough to live off sales would be able to the others would fall away, there are winners and losers, artists seem to assume they would have been one of the winners when they may not have been.
If'd be interested in seeing what percentage of take-home income spent on music related items has varied over the years. Mine has certainly gone up dramatically, but it's moved pretty much exclusively from CD purchases to fewer CD purchases, iTunes and 7 digital purchases, gig tickets (maybe 50 a year) and I always try to buy some merch at a gig when I like the band. So in 2000, I was maybe spending £360, whereas last year, I suspect it's more like £1,500 all in. So although the labels and a few big acts are worse off, the industry as a whole is much better off, and I'm hoping that more of the money goes direct to the acts I really appreciate.
That there is a massive proliferation of artists/bands can only be good news. If some of them can make a decent living, then great (and I'd rather have 1,000,000 artists making a decent living, than 2,000 being ridiculously overpaid, and the rest without any remuneration at all). If some of them have to have day jobs as well, then, well, that's life and reality.
The ones that gripe about downloading are either (1) patsies of the music industry; or (2) wilfully deluding themselves that if only downloading had stopped they would have done the musical equivalent of winning the lottery: i.e. becoming one of the mere hundreds of mega-acts who in years gone by would have become the overpaid megastars. The trouble is that the competition to join the hundreds is pretty intense - the chances of succeeding are probably in the order of magnitude of 1:100,000. And the delusion is magnified by the fact that many of these acts are much more well known and popular than they would have been in pre-sharing days, precisely *because* sharing and social networking allows them to develop a modest fan base.
To put it another way, if 20 years ago, they failed to get any chance of a record deal, but were told "there's a way we can get you a fan base of 15,000, but you won't be able to make money through record sales, only through gigging", how many of them would fail to jump at the chance? There never was a golden age. Anyone imagining him or herself in Edwardian England, always casts themselves as a moneyed lady or gentleman of leisure, never a scullerymaid. It's all delusion.
I know bugger all about football, but it seems to me that what is happening to the premiership (i.e. only a few clubs can afford the star players, which creates a self-perpetuating boring and crap elite). The music industry was like that not so many years ago. Thank god it no longer is.
I lie - there is a golden age for music, and I'm pretty sure we're living in it.
This week, I'm going to 3 gigs in Oxford, and there are another 2 I want to go to. I'll be spending about £120 this week, going to the "industry" (including drinks I'll buy at the venue, and merch, as well as the tickets, but excluding incidentals like transport and a kebab on the way home). And I know I'm not the only one.
Downloading is here to stay and, whether people like it or not, they do need to adapt. And, as you say, the music industry always could support x number of bands and so loads of bands would be not making money anyway, and at least they can reach far wider audiences nowadays through the internet.
A couple of things I'd dispute/correct though.
First off I'd point out that the impression I get from my own experiences and from promoters/musicians far more successful than I is that live music isn't the cashcow people think it is. This idea that bands are making up for lost record sales through gigging money isn't really true, so far as I can tell. I mean if you're in a moderately successful 6-piece indie band you're gonna be getting perhaps £300 £600 per gig, and probably quite a bit less. That something like £50 - 100 per person but once travel expsenses, equipment and practice costs of being a musician and so forth are factored in there's a fair chance you're gonna barely be in the black afterwards. That's not to say there aren't other ways for artists to make money but gigging alone isn't likely to recoup the money lost from CD sales in itself - certainly I've never seen any evidence to support the theory that musicians have been making more from live gigs in relative terms in recent years than musicians of a comparative size were in the past (except maybe at the very top end where they're charging £50 to £100 for a ticket)
Secondly I actually think the football analogy works in a different way then you think. In actual fact what I pereive is happening is that there's a smaller and more elite band of musicians getting wealthy, and everyone else is breaking even, making small amounts. Actually you could argue in your metaphor that the rest of the Premier League has dropped away leaving only the big 4 and loads of League two and semi-professional footballers playing the game and less middle ground in between.
None of this actually changes you're basic point that a lot more bands can reach wide audiences than a few years ago and a lot more people can be respected small-niche musicians but I'd say the split between the elite and everyone else is far, far greater than before.
I'm in the lucky position of being a reasonably solvent 40-something, so I can afford to buy the merch, which is what I see as my donation the band. If I buy a tee for a tenner, then I'd like to think that half of that is profit for the band. If 200 people do that, then they get an extra grand for a night's work, which is a long way from being a fortune, but is not insulting either. I'm totally with you that on the miserly share they get from ticket sales, they are lucky to break even.
And as for the football analogy, I defer to your superior knowledge, although it's fair to say that everyone has superior knowledge to me on that subject, including some dead people.
As Cory Doctorow is fond of saying, what most artists fear much more than poverty is obscurity.
I think it is easier than ever for bands to achieve a moderate level of success (in terms of listeners if not income) than it has ever been. In the past there was a relatively few winners take all situation (and maybe it wasnt even so great for them, the major labels that bang on about downloading never mention how few signed acts earnt enough to pay back advances in their bloated and unfair industry back in the day).
If I were an 'artist' i'd much prefer a situation where it is easier to get known and play some shows etc, than a situation where it was alot harder but the financial rewards were higher for those who succeeded. I don't really see a problem with 'hobby' bands with day jobs, could be reinvigorating for local scenes, the best will always rise above and achieve wider success, there will always be some demand for physical releases as our society is based on buying objects.
Also in the other thread someone said its bad for creativity with out the financial incentives, I really disagree and think most good music is made for its own sake, the cost of recording music has dropped drastically (a digital multitrack costs less than a guitar, or free software) i also think that it would be wrong to divide the artists and downloaders, surely many artist from this generation are bound to be prolific downloaders themselves and this exchange of musical ideas benefits creativity. ive probably slipped back into 'wtf'
Or to put it another way: which would you rather listen to: an artist who made music because he/she felt a burning desire to do so, or one who only made music because they were trying to get a paycheque out of it?
Having said that, I don't *want* artists to be poor. It's a difficult one. People still bought CDs when they were £12 because there was no real alternative way of getting access to the music. However, the price of gigs is much more variable: I've paid everything from £2.00 to £180 (and you can guess which one was far, far superior). I don't really think about the price if it's, say, under £15, so if you're selling me a gig ticket for £6 you're losing at least £9, but as I say, I doubt other people are in the fortunate position I now am.I do wonder whether it would make a big difference to attendance if the £6 tickets were increased to £9 - but I suspect the answer is "yes". I think we've got our priorities out of whack if we're prepared to pay more for two pints at a venue than the ticket to get in cost.
if they arent earning much from it they should demand more, as I'd have thought gig tickets were quite elastic in price, high demand gigs ticket touts exploit this, I doubt an extra couple of £s on a ticket probably wouldnt dent demand that much but multiplied by the all the gig goers would add up to alot, multiplied by the whole tour even more, if bands are only breaking even they are probably not the ones that would have sold enough to earn a living under the old system