I’m positively stunned at the blowback from business regulars about that chap giving his music away for free. Oldsters can’t understand the economics!
I’ll clue you in, THERE ARE NONE!
This is your worst nightmare. People who can follow their dream on sweat equity. Who with their computer and the money from their day job or mommy and daddy can compete with you. It’s like the North Vietnamese, all our military might couldn’t defeat individuals who would fight to the death. Same deal in Iraq.
It’s an eye-opener. That your model is IRRELEVANT!
YOU need to pay the mortgage. YOU need to go on vacation to the Caribbean. But the new musicians? They’re willing to sleep on the floor and eat ramen. Hell, they’re in their twenties, they’re not on the corporate track, they’ve got different ambitions!
This flummoxes the old wave. Especially after the eighties and nineties. You’re supposed to go through the usual filters. Get a lawyer and a manager and then shop your demo to labels, who get to not only decide whether to sign you, but what your music should sound like. But the music coming from said majors…it makes the new music-makers puke. So they’re doing it their own way. They care as much about the old system as snowboarders care about skiers. In other words, NOT AT ALL! They believe they’ve got a better system.
Popular music wasn’t always such big business. Go back to the press of the British Invasion acts. They were doing it on a lark, they didn’t expect it to be a lifelong career. And they got ripped off and underpaid until they survived long enough to work on THEIR terms.
Don’t forget, the Beatles played multiple sets a night in Hamburg before they had any recorded music success. They did it to get off the docks, to have some fun, to get high, to get laid. But they were so good, that they broke through.
How many of the major label acts have paid those kinds of dues? And are so good that people are clamoring for them? The majors are looking for putty that they can mold and sell to the usual suspects, lame terrestrial radio and TV. Whereas the new musician wants no part of that crap. It used to be the only way to get any exposure, any traction, but no longer.
Yes, as the majors are trying to sustain a business selling discs, new musicians don’t give a shit about discs. They’ve got an enterprise. Based on their DEDICATION! They’re doing it THEIR way, and if they never break through… Well, they’re not willing to compromise, sell out to the man just to make it.
Come to think of it, that’s why the old music was so successful. It was uncompromised. It came directly from the heart of the makers.
You say kids can’t make it giving their music away for free because YOU can’t make it. But they can outlast you, starve for years all in pursuit of their art. They don’t want an expensive video, never mind a stylist. They don’t want to play the game. And, if you don’t play the game, I hate to tell you, it just doesn’t cost that much.
To believe that the majors will be the logical filters in the future is to be completely ignorant. They’re only necessary if you want to reach the masses INSTANTLY! Is that a good thing? Furthermore, as every day goes by, it’s easier and easier to reach more people for almost free. Hell, you post your stuff on MySpace, and if you’re any good, your friends will tell EVERYBODY! You might not sell "Thriller" numbers, but "Thriller" was twenty five years ago, when we were all beholden to the box, to MTV. Today everybody’s scattered in a million different directions. The mainstream is the Top Forty joke of the seventies. It’s a dying vine. Hell, just look at SoundScan. The "hit" albums sell ever fewer. And the problem isn’t piracy, but the fact that so much of the theoretical potential audience has tuned out, isn’t paying attention. Why listen to crap radio when you’ve got an iPod?
Why make an expensive disc and go on a tour-supported trek that has no traction when you can do it YOUR way, making all of your OWN decisions, and have a chance of making it.
You just can’t beat these kids. Your only hope is to help them, not decry them or try to reeducate them. Somebody’s gonna figure this out. And it won’t be an old fart part of the decrepit system. Sure, bands need managers, and agents, even labels. But only if they’re honest, only if they can be trusted to help. If you’re signed to a major label and you trust it, you’re an idiot.