Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Music Industry Sucks - A Different View

There has been a lot of bashing of the music industry by me and my buddies on this blog, in the comments posts and offline.

The general consensus is that the industry is going toes-up into the bottom of a shit hole it slowly dug for itself over the last two or three decades via general greed and cluelessness.

I still stand by that opinion and until the RIAA stops wrongly suing citizens for 'stealing music' I won't change my mind.

There are other views, however.

I usually discount anything KISS' Gene Simmons says as something crafted to sell more KISS merch or put Gene one step closer to ubiquitousness (KISStianity he calls it). But in this case, I actually stopped and thought about what he said, and it actually made some sense:

"Yeah, but whoever invented the idea that a record company should support a band? What lunatic ever expects that? Imagine being in a business where you have to pay money, an advance, cash, to a band. Record companies were the best friend you and I ever had. They give you a big advance, you never have to pay the money back. If it loses and it bombs, you never pay the money back. They'll earn back their money, then they continue to pay you royalties. That's the best friend you ever had. Then they have to go manufacture it, promote it, advertise it, PLUS they want to get you out on tour and they'll pay you to go out on tour. They don't participate in your licensing, your merchandising or your live ticket sales."

I've heard Gene say the same thing, but better. The point is, the music industry does put its balls out there and generally loses money, so when it finds a cash cow, it milks it for all its worth. It's understandable - it's the music BUSINESS after all.

I guess that's the problem. It's not a supportive environment for the artist, despite what Gene said. It is a money making venture. If you are an immediate hit, great. If not, you are done.

Thankfully, the Internet has opened up new avenues for bands to make themselves heard. But now the problem is, it's so crowded out there it's hard to hone in on what's good. To get in front of enough people to move the needle, you need to be on the Web for hours a day, promoting yourself and posting links to your music, Web site, etc. Who's got the time for that? Not me!

Gene's comments are from an interview he did with Dave Navarro, some of which is posted here.


Ned said...

That particular quote is a gross oversimplification and somewhat misleading. He does go on to say that the industry is dead - so I agree with him there. Sure, big labels are a "business"...ENRON was a business too.

Ehren Ebbage said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say that there is something inherently wrong with the major label industry as an idea. It has been a good thing in many ways; the boundaries of the art form have been pushed by artists who have had the luxury of major label budgets while making their records, and many of these records have inspired us all.

I do think, however, that if a label is taking the vast majority of the dough from sales it should provide support to artists in the development stage. It would be crippling for a band to foot the enormous cost of recording, touring, living, etc., while getting its business off the ground.

The problem today is that the monetary value of music is almost zero in the minds of most consumers and the labels haven't adjusted their business plans to suit the new market. The execs aren't exactly taking pay cuts.

Gene Simmons is right to encourage bands to be more proactive. He's wrong about a few things, though; labels today are offering tiny advances, and sometimes none at all. Recording budgets are shrinking. Tour support is scant for the bands that actually need it. Labels are now taking cuts of ticket sales and merchandise revenue. They're taking more money and offering less support.

Also, you don't have to look far to find examples of investors buying into an idea in the hopes that it pays off, and assuming all of the risk if it doesn't. How 'bout the stock market?

Isorski said...

Good points, gents. Good points. Thanks for posting.

Ned said...

Plus..in many cases they own your master recordings regardless if they end up releasing your album or not.

I think there have been instances when labels and artists were equitable partners like the Jerry Wexler / John Hammond era perhaps. Current examples might be ATO records or Nonesuch - but these are examples of musicians or music enthusiasts running labels as opposed to corporate suits just looking for the bottom line (AKA how can I make money off the current trend).

Guitarman5150 said...

Ok I'm a big Kiss fan have been for years. BUT if he wants to talk trash. How 'bout sucking it up and giving some of the cash back for some of the albums that Kiss made ZERO on. Shall I name a few:










These are just to name the ones off the top of my head I can think of right now.

To me these all have great music on them, but they were not great sellers and the tours bombed and did not draw the money that was expected. The Revenge Tour had to stop midway through because the tickets were not selling. Read the book Black Diamond you will find out all I am saying is true.

So Gene has a lot of room to talk here. Yes, he has a great mind for business but he is not always right, even though he thinks he is. Ha Ha.