Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Discover who is keeping the Music Industry Afloat

I recently uncovered a very little known fact. I know who is keeping the music industry afloat. Me. I am financing it on my Visa credit card. This began when my 13 year old daughter received an i-Phone for Xmas (I’m not sure how I lost that battle). She had previously been aware of the world of i-Tunes but for some reason, it was not attractive to her. She was content to own conventional CD’s and listen to the strange amalgam of hiphop, bad rock and country that makes up Top 40. However, once she had the i-Phone, she decided she had to own the songs. Delighted by her new interest in music, we encouraged friends and relatives to send her i-Tunes gift cards for holidays, etc. When my daughter told me that Apple required a credit card to open an i-Tunes account, I naively obliged. Everything went fine while she tore through her gift cards, downloading everything from Ke$ha (hey, they went to the same school) to Lady Gaga. What I didn’t realize (and in fairness, I don’t think she realized either) was that once the gift cards ran out, she just kept going, savoring the cornucopia that is i-Tunes. I did not see the damage until I received my credit card bill a month later.

I am trying to imagine the damage I could have done if my mother had let me loose in a record store with $170 at age 13. The interesting point here is that this is a true demonstration of the fact that the singles mentality is now fully entrenched. While my daughter is passionate about the songs she wants to have on her i-Phone, she could care less about owning the entire album (except in the case of Taylor Swift), or even owning the physical product. Similarly, when the news of Alex Chilton’s death broke (R.I.P. Alex), several people told me they went to i-Tunes to download his music. I am seeing first hand the major sea change people in the industry have been talking about. The nerdy record collector in me hates it, but it certainly seems to show that the industry still has some signs of life.

1 comment:

Dwayne said...

Very interesting. I had always understood that the music industry had some pretty one sided deals in reference to how artist get paid. It really pays to understand how the animal works. What does this mean for the artist? How can they better navigate the business side. I believe many would be willing to do more if necessary. Mr Minter explains that they already have to do quite alot after a deal has been made. Its too bad the artist doesn't have some sort of hourly contract limit or increase in profit sharing. It sounds like the industry generally gets the artist to do unlimited hours of work for contract price with no overtime paid. How they get away with that?

This is a general industry theme, artist will screw other artist. I performed in a band called Blue October in 2002 - 2003, recorded and toured with them. They were a Universal Music Group signed artist. Then after less than a year they decided we weren't working out. So one of the managers gets his girlfriend to play in place of me. OK fine I wouldn't want to force them to use me but here is the problem. I was getting paid as a band member for at 5 or 6 months of our engagement. Band members got paid a stipend of like $1000 a month. I was out on the road working just like every other member getting paid the same. The music was on a major movie soundtrack - American Pie, American Wedding . They sold some album for History For Sale. Where was my cut? I worked as a band member, was paid as a band member. The music industry seems to get away with more than the should be able to.

So in essence the music industry ,Universal Music Group and the band can make mistakes. Most businesses are held to the fire by some state entity. If they perform bad business practices such as this they can be punished or made to pay by the state. Is this the case for the Music Industry?