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The music industry is dead: Here's how musicians survive today (basement hobbies)

C C Offline
RELATED (scivillage): The real reason pop music 'sucks' today, which no one tells you
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The music industry is dead: Here's how musicians survive today

VIDEO EXCERPTS: Little did I know that myself, and millions of others, downloading some terrible quality, limp biscuit MP3s would lead to the collapse of this monolithic beast known as the music business. The music industry as we once knew it is dead. And ultimately that's a good thing.

[...] I can record a complete song in my basement here, and have it out tomorrow. But that change certainly had an impact. Look no further than the fact that we no longer needed to hire anyone else to complete and record a song, and that also completely upended the music industry.

There was so much money in the system, and the record companies were spending the money, that they were earning from their huge artists and putting it back into all these other artists. The last form of music that you actually had to pay for was the CD. Which quickly became either free or almost free.

If we're talking about things that changed drastically, the end of people buying music took all the jobs away, basically.

[...] You can see that for the longest time, people were buying vinyl records, cassettes, CDs, and even digital downloads. However, in 2005 the first streaming service comes about. And then by 2023, the vast majority of music is consumed through streaming.

As a guy whose income is deeply tied into a streaming service, I can tell you that trying to pay your bills purely through the revenue that streaming provides is nearly impossible. However, there is a creativity that's born out of necessity and with that comes new things.

[...] A tale as old as time itself -- artist get screwed by record company. And the advice you'll get so often now is don't sign that record deal. Because you're just handing over a piece of the pie, and getting nothing back that you couldn't do on your own today. In this modern era, the power of technology has freed the artists from needing a record label to create their art. You've got to chalk that one up as a massive win.

However, when you used to have this big machine, it did create a lot of work for a certain type of musician in the past. Every day of work led to a bigger career. Like if you played on a Michael Jackson song, which I did, you mentioned it to a couple of people, and it starts to spread out. So you end up with credits that people are talking about, that get you more work.

Today, what's great is that there's so many systems in place where you can do it on your own. The control that you can have -- I call it permission -- nobody gives me permission to earn money or to make my art. In the past you had to get permission, because a studio was too expensive. Somebody had to fund that you. You had to get permission, or somebody had to call you, and invite you in, and pay you to do the work.

What else is I think pretty cool about today is the fact that if you just do something that's really good, there's a way to find your audience. In the album era everybody had a boss. They had to run things through before they put their thing into the world. The artist you're working for, the producer, the record label, the executive somewhere along the line... You had somebody that you were answering to.

Whereas now there exists the opportunity to have complete control of your ship. Which can be scary, but it can also be pretty great. In the old days, if you had a record deal, and you sold 100,000 copies, you might actually get dropped. But in this day, if you have 100,000 people who buy your art or your product -- you're doing exceptionally well. Because you don't have the overhead, you don't have the system that you have to feed.

There's this book it's called 1,000 True Fans, and it's about a relatively new concept. If you can build an audience of a thousand people who are willing to spend $100 on what you do yearly, then you can build a pretty decent living for yourself.

When I started on this whole YouTube path, that was my business plan. And having reached that goal, I'll tell you that it's hard to do it, but it's attainable. You no longer need to do huge numbers, and earn massive amounts of money, because there aren't a ton of hands reaching into the pot of gold...

The music industry is dead: Here's how musicians survive today

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