This is a repost of a comment I made to a friends comment on the new models available to INDIE musicians. It is really a brainstorm/spitball type piece which I plan on expanding:
There are many models currently being attempted. One interesting one is pay what you want and everything is down loadable. Artist are doing this in exchange for contact info and offering other specialty items in limited ru…ns (vinyl, signed copies, etc.) The pace at which things are evolving so fast that this may become the way artist who cannot keep up will be filtered out of the game. Kind of like the old days when the record companies controlled all the access, or most all of it. It has kind of turned that model lose to the INDIES with them being sole arbiters of their own careers. If a new artist is not willing to grasp these concepts and the new ones coming at them they will be left twiddling their thumbs.
Now to the real meat of the matter. I randomly picked the title for this blog because another friend had posted the oft quoted section of Ecclesiastes from which the Byrds used as for their most notable hit “Turn Turn Turn” except I turned it on its head for our times. (a side note Ecclesiastes is my favorite book in the Bible.)
What spurned me to continue this thread of thought was the Byrds can be used as a perfect example of how things used to work and how they do in the light of today. There is definitely a season and a time for everything.
When the Byrds were an up and coming band in the drugged out 60’s the record industry was not yet the billion dollar monster it was to become, but it was growing from the “mom and pop” set up it had through the advent of early rock n roll. Record companies were being looked after by “the suits” at this point and the suits had an agenda. Where this benefited the Byrds, and any group fortunate enough to be signed to a major label in this era of growth was that they had a major wielder of opinion and power in their corner, the corporation. In this era things were locked up tight. In contrast to now, where everything is in total flux and the dust is only starting to drop and no one is sure that it will ever settle, the big time boys had the game sewn up. If you were talented, like the Byrds, had a good image on your own or one created for you, wore the right clothes and did what they told you, you were pretty much guaranteed the much sought out job title of Rock Star.
All the major outlets of media, radio, the press, and of course the BIG Daddy of them all, television, was easily controlled or influenced by bigger record labels. There was no internet, no file sharing, no mix tapes, etc. You heard a song you liked on the radio or read about some cool band in the press your only option, short of constantly waiting on the radio to play that song again at some point, was to go to your local record store, which was serviced by “you know who” and pick up a copy of their music at what was a very inflated price.
This model has died a long death but it is most assuredly in the ground and has grown cold. The worms are actually lining up as I type this.
When young artists still cling to the idea of “getting discovered” and having some magic “music biz mogul” type enter their lives, like an old movie, even if they are talented as hell, they are being fleeced by their own poor expectations. It is kind of like if Urban Legends were still able to keep teens, remember the one about the guy with the claw for a hand escaping the mental hospital, from parking in cars. It don’t work!
To everything Evolve, Evolve, Evolve.
The mediums have changed. It is fairly certain downloads are the status quo until some other means appears which I do not see happening in the near future. I just do not see how it can become anymore convenient for people to peer to peer share music. So the good news is, at least we can rely on that hanging around for a few years.
The CD is dead. Currently I am gearing up for a radio/publicity/promotional campaign and I am still having to get my discs pressed, discs I know I might sell at shows but most likely will never do anything but get mailed off to whoever is kind enough to play them or write about them. Hopefully the next album will be all digital with just a limited run which will be collectors discs that will be numbered and unique to that one release, never to be done again.
This is merely one example of the way things have changed, are changing, and will continue to change, or better yet Evolve.
Where this really becomes interesting is the one thing that you used to count on when you bought a collection of music, an album, in the old days is that album was going to be well produced and worth listening to and maybe even life altering.
This is so uncommon in this disposable age. Tonight I was scanning the F.M. stations and stuck on a classic rock station where the DJ was lamenting the “good ole days” when music was recorded analog and how great albums were done on 16 track machines, and blah, blah blah. He referenced Hendrix and Pink Floyd and basically inferred that this greatness was a thing of the past. Bullshit.
I do not doubt for one second that artistically there are not albums out there that could hold their own in respect to “the classics” this DJ was lamenting. He was just too short sighted and about as antiquated as his analog rant.
First question I catch myself asking is this “would the Beatles use Pro Tools today if they were given the option?” Easy answer: of course. They were all about state of the art recording so that question is really rhetorical in light of their use of state of the art equipment when they recorded with Sir George Martin in the 60’s at Abbey Road. I mean the technicians wore lab coats for Christmas Sake.
Second question: If Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon in 2011 would it have the kind of reverberation it had when it was released in the 1970’s? Of course not. The field is leveled or should I say it has been leveled until it is out of whack. Is Dark Side a great album? of course. And inversely are there other Dark Side’s out there going unheard? Absolutely. This is due to the uneven distribution of music where music lovers have to wade through thousands of broken or empty clam shells to find the pearls. This was not the case when Pink Floyd released their masterwork.
Now to really jumble things further.
As technology spreads and increases exponentially and as lovers of music’s expectations diversify and grow what happens to the playing field? Here is where I get hopeful.
I truly believe the musical world is going to be back in business but on less of a grander scale yet one that could prove sustainable, not for the greedy suits but for the artist willing to put the work in. Not to say they will not need help from studios, publicists, and promotional people but they will be able to afford to farm out these resources at a rate at which will be reasonable and this will allow these professions to stay afloat if not prosper right along with the artists. The beauty of this is that it places the power in the hands of the artist who have not only the skill to make great music, which by the way is the key to the kingdom, but also the drive and the perseverance to see things through and keep them through.
This is going to filter out the novice and I for one am happy. Nothing against those who love to make music. But there needs to be a test of mettle which separates the champs from the chimps and I truly believe things are evolving to the point that this is around the corner. Take heed because you can be the greatest musician, performer, vocalist, etc. in the future but if you are not willing to wave your own flag there will be no cease fire when the bullets begin to fly. I am sure Myspace will always be there for them.
Of course artist have been doing the kind of things I am hinting at since the advent of the internet but things are pacing to leave even the old model of internet self promotion in the dust. The artist of the future is going to have to first, know how to utilize all the tools, and second put them to use every single day, winning one fan at a time. Of course this has been and always will be how revolutions are fomented and won. And to all those who are unwilling to move forward and put their full efforts out there: I thank you for staying out of the way.
Guerilla warfare in the music world is always effective but you have to be a true believer and not a pansy.
and as always
GO PRACTICE YOUR GUITAR!