Records were huge, but significant money was made on merch too. In some case, merch might even come with the record. Indie labels spring up everwhere, and they’d take chances that the large entities wouldnt. As the decade ended, technology changed, and the ability to get music for free, namely through electronic distribution, caused record sales to crash and burn. Sadly, along with the records, so went the merch bundles. Before too long, indie labels either went bankrupt, or merged with larger firms.

The year, 1930…

If one looks at wax cylinder records, and the transition to gramophone records, to radio, is it not that different than that from albums to CD’s to mp3′s on the internet?

Merch was different though, in fact sheet music and piano roll sales were for many years greater money makers than the actual record.

Years back, I used to take my horn to this really old sax guru. He had been with Tommy Dorsey back way back when… and the tour stories of that era make many of todays starving artists appear to live like kings. The economic factors of a big band made such a real feast or famine deal, and famine for the side men, even with a big name artist from time to time was a whole lot more common than one might expect.

There was a glory period for big name acts and record royalties back in the day, and of course more recently. Between such time slots, other revenue streams had to predominate.

Have things really changed all that much?

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