Thursday, November 29, 2007

What Can/Should Be Done To Fix The Broken Music Industry?

What Can/Should Be Done To Fix The Broken Music Industry?

First and foremost the industry should STOP trying to force the market to buy pre packaged music and artists it doesn't WANT. Forget the 'image' forget the set standard for sexy looks and NO music.......start looking for the MUSIC again! It is out there and thriving (and damn good). I am loving my ASCAP checks......who needs a label!

Laurie Williams

Williams & Williams

"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." — Japanese proverb

Hi Kenny,

Thanks for reaching out. I enjoy your newsletters. They are always a good read but I felt compelled to sound off, now that I've been invited.

Of course, as a person who has been in the industry for over 25 years, I have seen alot of trends, both up and down. There is really no difference between the downward spiral of the music business now and what has occurred in the past.

All of these downturns and consequent upturns were based on a changing format of how people get their music- from LP to cassette to cd and now, to digital. But, make no mistake, people are still getting their music; it's just that we are in transition once again.

The record labels have no concrete reason to complain except that their ongoing attempt to sell full albums to people who just want the single have been somewhat foiled. They are used to making alot of money this way and can longer sustain (although you don't hear them complain about not having to manufacture cds, create artwork, print and physically distribute which saves them millions.

A digital copy can be sold over and over again at virtually no cost at all.) Couple that with the fact that they continue to sign Hollywood actors to their labels, have the real songwriters pen their hits and then attempt to create media stars out them so that they can not only sell music but also tour, sell merch and star in the latest upcoming blockbuster, all at inflated prices.

Gone are the days when artists were signed based on their SONGS alone. This is one of the biggest problems facing the industry today and this needs to change immediately or all of us really will have something to complain about.

In addition to this, it's time that the world wide web starts to live up to its name. I think that the federal government should provide more grants to filmmakers, writers and musicians so that we can create more pop culture on the web that will attract a more mainstream audience.

Just think: if we could create the next Saturday Night Live, Ed Sullivan Show, Soul Train or Blockbuster Movie exclusively for the web - with a real weekly audience watching- the opportunities may be endless for musicians to get exposure through performing on the web shows or placing their music in the shows and/or advertising. This kind of movement has begun but in no way are we as far along as we should be. I predict that it will though.

Further, we should be working together, more as team players. Remember that three quarters of this industry, in terms of pure people, are independent. That means we outnumber the corporate types 3 to 1.
There's power in numbers. We need a real convention or conference that brings these entities together. I'm not talking about SXSW or Musexpo. That stuff is bullshit. I'm talking about a real INDIE convention where there can be roundtable discussions, ideas flying, teams created, co-songwriting, new companies born.

Finally, I'm tired of hearing from every band that calls my office that they can't get a gig. Get a grip. Trying to get a gig at the House of Blues and then being turned down for it puts all the power in their hands, not yours. It's all about DIY. There's a movement called House Concerts. You host one, you will immediately be part of the circuit. Just do it.

I don't believe the industry needs to be fixed. The old model is irreparable. I believe its about recreating it by and for ourselves.

Thanks Kenny.

Karen Lee
Evolution Promotion

Hello Kenny Love the newsletter!

After viewing an interview with Gene Simmons yesterday
I almost agree with him that for the most part the
music business is dead.

Sure we can all eek out a living busting our asses
touring in a van and staying in motel 6's eating 99
cent burgers and trying to afford and keep up with
every technology advance for music in the hopes that
it is the magic bullet.

But I think the real solution has been passes by. The
record companies let the fox in the hen house and now
all musicians and labels are suffering.

First for any real hope I think much like Prince is
doing the labels and bands have to venomously go after
protecting their name , music and likeness. Oh the
fans will be pissed....because when their free supply
slows they will lash out ...much like any teenager who
gets a privilege or right in their eyes taken away.

I think that there should be a cost associated with
downloading data that is paid back to the artists,
even from a file sharing standpoint. Labels should
bone up on lawyers and venomously go after illegal
sites holding all related parties accountable for

As far as bands they need to be the ones determining
what content is given away or not, as usually if it
is free most people will treat it as such..sub par
product..that is why even a few short years back bands
like AC/DC,The Black Crows, Metallica & The Stones
were always keeping their CD list priced at $16.99 it
is perception by the populace.

I think that fan club type situations where fans pay
an annual membership to get the albums worth of music,
a t-shirt, exclusive on-line interaction and content
of the band and first shot at concert tickets is a
good step in the right direction....because lets face
it 20,000 fans at $30 each would make for a good

Bands also need to learn to harness their brand value.
They need to monetize digital downloads, video clips (
the company that I am currently working with pays you
for people to view your YouTube clips...what a
concept)music endorsements and gig and instructional
appearances. Then there is the money from tabliture
and sheet music, you need to get paid for
then there is movie, commercial and TV music
placement, cable television and on and on.

The other thing is metataging. This will be the way in
the future anyone even hears of you. Much like Amazon
if you like this you may like this...with suck a
barrage of music out there and no quality control and
the advent of the CD Babies of the world anyone with a
mic and recorder can make a CD and put it up for
sale...metataging will be the filter of the future
where either by paid submission or social networks the
music will be funneled and refined to meet tastes
along known band commodities.

Tour and merch are the backbone now, but the record
companies and promoters are sticking it to bands there
now along with the ticket masters and Live Nations who
are buying up all the bigger venues and controlling
ticket distribution and price point.(But as we have
heard that people who like the free or stolen
downloaded albums will buy a ticket to a show or a
tshirt...well the numbers just do not jive).

Lets face it the days of the Princes, Metallicas, Led
Zepplin's and Kiss's are over.....even though the
bands got screwed by the labels back then there were
plenty of millionaires and people that just did music
for a living...with this new free society that is not
the case even the names we think are bigger have side
jobs flipping burgers when they are home.

The new musician will need a manager to handle the day
to day much like the Nettwerk & Firm Management
companies are doing, while still trying to stay up on
technology, book tours, handle merch, shipping,
websites, digital placement, physical placement( as
that is still a large chunk of the pie), ring-tones,
ring-backs, book television and radio appearances and
on and on....hell you really as a musician don't have
much time to really do music anymore because one again
the BUSINESS is bigger than the music.

It still amazes me that no teenager, colege student or
other person has a problem with say a sports figure
like Michael Jordan or Colby Bryant making millions of
dollars playing sports, selling shoes, clothes,
hamburgers and colon ( no that's not a sellout) and
getting paid to give autographs attened training camps
or appear on TV or talk shows or magazines, but when a
musician does it it is selling out and the fans turn
against you.

This double standard has to stop.

Musicians and artists deserve every bit as much as a
sports star or business person to get paid and live a
good life if they are supplying services that
entertain or bring enjoyment to others.

This is just my two cents for whatever that is worth
these days.

Mark Gast
Letter To Musicians/Recording Artists Products/Services


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