Tag: history

Changes in the Business Side of Music

Music was a revenue source of mine for many years, but then chasing semiconductor process issues took more and more time, and something had to give… and the days of being a hired gun were it. During the time I was out of the music scene, many things changed. The whole pay to play thing of today would have freaked folks out in the 70’s and 80’s. Same with the low pay scales, and massively shrunk margins of today…. It is a different world out there for sure.

As a result, I’m trying to catch up on the changes, and from what I’ve been able to gather so far, the changes are happening ever faster with each passing moment. Sure, many of the basics remain the same, but the implementation of such is a different matter entirely. I came across this way cool article, via a tweet from Lunajade which was written  by @kevinkclee, entitled The Music Industry: 7 Dying Sectors & 8 Growth Sectors. Its fascinating for sure. Here are some bullet points.

He presents the following issues…

  1. Digital Music is here to stay
  2. Free and Instantaneous music is here to stay
  3. Due to 1 & 2, the costs of owning, storing, listening is heading towards $0.00
  4. Prior revenue models are heading towards $0.00 becuase of #3
  5. Music may hyper-fragment, mainstream is may shrink
  6. Due to #5, album art, big labels, superstar producers, big budget music videos, ultra-wealthy artists, and recording studios are likely to shrink. In addition, such will likely also cause a major change in the business models of  performances rights organization business models, ie ASCAP, BMI, SESAC.

He suggests the following as oppurtunities.

  1. Tour Coordinators, Mangers
  2. Media consultants
  3. Music discovery
  4. Individual artist management
  5. Sponsorships/Endorsements
  6. Recording/Editing Equipment / Services
  7. Open source producers/artist collaboration
  8. Exposure Tours/Festivals

These are interesting things to consider. I’m not 100% on board with the entire set, but there seems significant logic to back them up. By the same token… this is almost like history repeating itself.  In my younger days, I met a ton of old school musicians. I remember a guy talking about touring with Tommy Dorsey, and the economic disaster they run into after WWII. Another guy at Ampex remembered Bing Crosby’s involvment, and how things went crazy growth wise for them for a number of years. Change has always been with us.

In some ways, memories of years past seem like glory days… things didnt change quite so fast, and one could put a game plan together and roll with it pretty much. Today, thats not an option. Yet, in light of the old school fellows, there really wasn’t that much glory for most. Folks still about starved on tour, equipment failed, promoters ripped folks off, and record deals were never the deal they seemed to be. We tend to only look at the big successes… and forget there were tens of thousands of musicians who never achieved fame, but yet still earned a modest living doing something they loved. And of course, the untold numbers of folks who crashed and burned so badly they left the business entirely.

One encouraging thing that seems pretty consistant with the changes of today, is the small underfunded outfit has a much better chance than ever before. By the same token… unless that small underfunded outfit has their ducks in a row, the probability of crashing and burning is incredibly high, likely more so than ever before. The margins are just not there to withstand major failures.

Over the next few posts, I intend to take a look at these different avenues individually, and see what shakes out. It should be interesting.