The Internet Has Solved The Problem With Music, Part II

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Glyph

Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    That is the most exuberant picture I have ever seen of someone playing the accordian.

    They could have come out in the Black if they took a lower income from the tour. The article does not tell us whether they set this up as a corporation to handle tax issues and where they could take the income and still write off the loss.

    Not sure whether I like that there is a place in Los Angeles called Avenue of the Stars.Report

  2. Avatar Roger says:

    It is important to understand our baseline. In prior market conditions and technology artists on average made X. In the new market with new technology and media they now make Y.

    There was never anything special about X. When conditions change, so may earnings.

    IMO the reason artists make less off music sales is consumers now get better access to wider ranges of music which they prefer. Never has it been better to be a consumer.
    Why would I listen to some B track by some dumb kid when I can play the greatest music ever recorded by Beethoven, Miles, Coltrane, Pink Floyd, nat King Cole, Sinatra, the Stones, and so forth for less than ten dollars a month?

    To get my money all they have to do is record better music than the greatest musicians and composers of history…. So yeah, their contributions are not worth shit to me until they raise their game.

    In other words, we are telling them (those that are not extraordinarily talented or popular) to look elsewhere for their contributions to society.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Roger says:

      @roger : It is important to understand our baseline. In prior market conditions and technology artists on average made X. In the new market with new technology and media they now make Y.

      There was never anything special about X. When conditions change, so may earnings.

      Agreed… sort of. I believe you can identify three distinct eras in the music market. Music market 1.0 was everything prior to the invention of sound recording and mass distribution technology in the early twentieth century. Musicians made money by performing. MM 2.0 was the era of mass-distributed recorded music. Musicians made a lot of money from album sales. MM 3.0 is the current era. Music publishers have much weaker control over the distribution of their products due to technological advances in digital duplication and transmission. They basically have thrown up their hands and have been forced to drastically reduce their prices in order to keep a reasonable lid on piracy. Musicians simply can’t expect to make nearly as much money selling copies of recordings anymore.

      IMO the reason artists make less off music sales is consumers now get better access to wider ranges of music which they prefer. Never has it been better to be a consumer.
      Why would I listen to some B track by some dumb kid when I can play the greatest music ever recorded by Beethoven, Miles, Coltrane, Pink Floyd, nat King Cole, Sinatra, the Stones, and so forth for less than ten dollars a month?

      Except that’s been true for most of the twentieth century, through all of music market 2.0. You’ve always walked into the record store and had the choice of Established Artist X vs New Struggling Artist Y. What’s really changed is that in mm 2.0 artists primarily made their money on album sales and concert tours were seen as a kind of advertising to stimulate and support those sales. Some bands toured very little. Pink Floyd only toured briefly following each album release with maybe a half dozen or so dates in the U.S. I was never privileged to catch one and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan. That paradigm is completely reversed in mm 3.0. Bands now can’t really expect to make much bank from music sales. The iTunes model pays pennies and a much larger percentage of that is singles as opposed to albums. So the music sales primarily serve as loss-leader advertising for the concerts and mm 3.0 ends up looking a lot like 1.0 for the artists.Report

      • Avatar Freeman in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Exactly. MM2 was the anomoly, especially when the CD was invented and the record companies colluded to jack up prices while music fans were coughing up twice as much dough to replace our old scratchy record collections. For a brief time, established artists (and especially the record companies) could sit back and collect fat royalties on their back catalog without producing any new work. Nice gig if you can get it, but don’t expect it to last.

        The same sort of digital technology that gave the record industry unprecedented fat profits turned out to be it’s undoing with the advent of the internet. That, and of course, greed. After paying way too much for way too long for recorded music in a market distorted by collusion instead of naturally balanced by competition, what should we expect the consumer to do when new technology enables an easy and cheap way to obtain recorded music by sharing with each other?

        I’m have a hard time feeling sorry for the recording industry. They got theirs, with both hands.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Agreed entirely with one caveat: in MM 2.0 a small number of musicians who made it past the gatekeepers made massive buckets of money (and paid a significant fraction of those buckets to said gatekeepers). The rest of the musicions who didn’t make it past the gatekeepers got bupkiss.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Road Scholar says:

        The rest of the musicions who didn’t make it past the gatekeepers got bupkiss.

        With one further caveat – harking back to the Albini pieces, some musicians simply built their own ‘gates’ – Superchunk with Merge, Minor Threat/Fugazi with Dischord; SST, Sub Pop, Touch & Go, Homestead, Siltbreeze, Matador, etc., etc.

        Which is why Albini is so positive on the current environment – it’s become much easier for anyone to do essentially what the ’80’s/90’s indies had to bust their asses to do.Report

      • Except that’s been true for most of the twentieth century, through all of music market 2.0. You’ve always walked into the record store and had the choice of Established Artist X vs New Struggling Artist Y.

        I had a different take-away from the quote, though. Back in the day $10/month was my music budget, and got me two albums if I was careful. Today, $10/month (representing a much smaller chunk of my disposable income) buys me on-demand access to pretty much every song established artist X has ever done. And everything that pretty much every new struggling artist has put up. What I could afford during music market 2.0 was a trickle of the available material. Music market 3.0 gives me a fire hose for a lower price.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Road Scholar says:

        @road-scholar @freeman
        Just to clarify…

        The issue is no longer piracy. Streaming is so cheap and the selection is so wide that it is no longer efficient to pirate. Streaming is sufficient to kill the old model and it is the consumer who benefits and like never before.

        In MM2.0 I could take my ten dollars and buy one Album. Thus I spent about one dollar per song. Excluding reel to reel and cassettes, I probably own 500 records and 700 or so CDs. Of these, nine out of ten were not very good. I rarely play them. This was extremely inefficient.

        In MM3.0 I spend ten dollars a month and have an unlimited supply of basically every single piece of music ever recorded. It isn’t a matter of taking a risk on Beethoven’s Eighth, I can actually pull them all up, sort by my favorite conductor or symphony and sample some or all. I then play one. I now have all music and only play the best of the best of the best (as defined by me the consumer).

        The winner here is the consumer. I no longer have to pay a buck for testing songs I don’t like. I can either select ones I do like and discover great music at zero marginal cost, or I can be lazy and fine tune a radio station to feed it to me.

        What has been eliminated is waste and inefficiency and cartels in the delivery of music.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Michael said it better than me while I was slowly typing my response (with Phil Kaeggy’s solo guitar in the background).Report

  3. Avatar Roger says:

    Just to add on, since I joined MOG/Beats (recently switching to Deezer for full CD quality) at the start of the year I have been adding albums to my queue at the rate of two to three per day. I sample substantially more. It no longer even makes sense to look for my physical media, it is simpler to just search on line. I do occasionally pull out my vinyl for quality reasons.

    I probably listen to five or six hours of music per day. About a fourth of the time it is dedicated listening, the rest is background music while I read or write.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Roger says:

      I use the free version of Spotify (occasional ads, reduced bitrate/sound quality) but I am continually surprised at the available selection. I often go to check out something semi-obscure, thinking there’s no way they will have it on there; but they do.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

        @glyph
        This is my reaction also. On the occasions that it is not on Spotify, a quick check of Youtube invariably finds it. Then again, I could give a rats about Taylor Swift and the like. By that I mean, if she can pull off full sales good for her. Those that can’t should use the system to get out of it what they can (exposure, concert sales, merch etc.) For years we all bitched about the cost of CD’s never dropping, or radios not playing what we wanted to hear and bands not coming to our towns. Now we can make our own radio stations, listen to whomever whenever, and the bands can actually look at what markets are worth going to. Win win.Report