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An Artist's View of the Modern Music Biz

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the viral-no-more dept.

Businesses 210

An anonymous reader writes "A member of the band OK Go wrote an interesting open letter giving an artist's perspective on the current state of the music business and how labels finance producing, distributing, and marketing music and music videos. A very insightful perspective of 'both sides': the argument that music and music videos are meant to be heard and, in the case of the latter, seen by a wide audience; and the argument that the money needs to come from somewhere. Unfortunately, the letter doesn't address the perspective outsiders have of outlandish salaries in the music labels, but it is interesting nonetheless." Their new video is not bad either.

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R.I.P. Obamacare, you won't be missed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830842)

Let's see those lefties cry

Re:R.I.P. Obamacare, you won't be missed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830890)

Fuck you Republican ! You don't see what a world where anybody can be healed is ...

Re:R.I.P. Obamacare, you won't be missed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831338)

Yeah, that's what I like to see. Cry harder, you lazy faggots.

COMMUNISM IS THE FUTURE! (1, Insightful)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830876)

Capitalism sucks! COMMUNISM! COMMUNISM! COMMUNISM! For a Soviet America!

Re:COMMUNISM IS THE FUTURE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831360)

Sorry, Obongo supporters aren't allowed here.

A non-story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830884)

About Youtube videos not being embedable. Corporate fatcats strong arm Youtube and the band and internet at large suffers. Well, not me, that's for certain.

Re:A non-story. (5, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831708)

You're somewhat right - but I thought since all kinds of people are putting in their two cents, I may as well. A bit of context - my father is a professional musician, and I spend a lot of other professionals - from moderately recognizable artists on big labels to the 20 year olds working their ass off gigging in crappy bars with crappy patrons trying to do better.

There are two sides to the music business, and surprisingly most people know which direction the business is going. I've had extended conversations with managers that got this amazingly well. Oddly enough, this article doesn't get it.

The music industry is reverting to a performance-based system. You won't make money on CDs. You won't make money on music videos. The only people that don't want to admit this is the higher-ups in the labels, because that is the ONLY place where the labels make money. Artist make their money off of performance. Labels CAN still exist - in fact, they should. But they're an advertising and marketing company - and they should work for you like one. Why the hell does an advertising company want to STOP its content from being seen?

Once you admit that, then everything starts to get easier. Labels, CDs and videos exist only to promote performances - and the performances get easier. Better venues, higher cover charges, people actually there for your music instead of the beer.

Oh. And the article seems to make out that the labels are hurting. They're not, amazingly. Trying to solicit sympathy for the poor corporations that exist to exploit your creative works ... why are you doing this? In other words, my comment to OK Go, tell your label that their restrictions on embedding are costing you performance revenue. And stop defending a multi-billion dollar industry that cannot seem to adapt to change.

Re:A non-story. (1)

epiphani (254981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831730)

Make that "spend time with a lot of other professionals". durr..

My shits are meant to be smelled! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830898)

Hi, I'm Jeffery. I aspire to become a professional shitter. You see, shitting is more than just a hobby to me. It is a calling; a way of life!

I take a lot of care in eating foods that will enhance the smell and nosefeel of my defecations. Trust me, it isn't an easy task crafting the perfect turd. But I do it day in and day out, because I want to offer the world my best shits possible. In return for my hard work, all I ask is that you give me some money when you smell one of my delicious poops.

Now, I've been hearing that some people are smelling the shits of other people, and not paying for it. Some people even smell their own cacas! Did you know that fecal piracy is wrong? It deprives artists like myself the funds we need to live.

Please, think of artists like myself the next time you smell shit that you didn't pay for. If you don't repay me for the glorious turds I leave for you, then I'll have to get a real job like everyone else, and that would be a terrible thing. My stools are a gift to the world, and should be shared with all.

Re:My shits are meant to be smelled! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831452)

obviously, you're not a golfer!

Re:My shits are meant to be smelled! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831636)

The mods missed a gem here. This is totally on-topic. It's the exact same argument that musicians and the recording industry use, but replaces "music" with "shit". It really puts their argument into perspective.

Re:My shits are meant to be smelled! (1)

lord_rob the only on (859100) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832102)

I totally agree with parent AC, GP is *NOT* offtopic, insightful even if funny, it's called a cartoon. I'll surely be modded down for this but it had to be said.

Re:My shits are meant to be smelled! (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832310)

No, it is making the same arguments that people CLAIM the musicians and recording industry use. Where did any musician or recording industry exec claim that merely listening to music is a copyright violation? Where did they claim that creating your own original work is a copyright violation?

Should Have Grown Organically (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830922)

So what’s there to do? On the macro level, well, who the hell knows? There are a lot of interesting ideas out there, but this is not the place to get into them.

So where is the place to get into that sort of brainstorming?

... the smug assholes who ran labels, who’d want a system where a handful of corporate overlords shove crap down our throats?

Ah, that's where it will be decided. I have low expectations for what comes out of that.

I also don't understand why he thinks that artists 'need' record labels. What they 'need' is to grow organically to the point of extreme popularity and along the way you are the one deciding the terms of contracts and you are 'the boss' whose accountant and manager work for you and pay everyone up the chain. If you need an advance, you go to a real bank and get an advancement. I personally think that Ok Go are talented enough to sit down in a barn somewhere with basic recording equipment and I'd buy it. Their music video with them on treadmills fly them to success, not EMI. The obvious answer is that's a harder route for the big acts. It takes more work, like you actually have a job forty hours a week. And the attitude toward that option is:

We're a rock band, and it’s a great gig. Not just because we get to snort drugs off the Queen of England (we do), but because the only thing we are expected to do is make cool stuff.

But in the end we all suffer from bands 'selling out' to labels. I personally think no one suffers more than the bands. Some fans can comply with the ridiculous terms but you lose a lot. I would point to this small milestone in Ok Go's career as something of note to new musicians. If you believe in yourself, don't rely on a label to grow. If it doesn't work at least you weren't artificially installed singing someone else's music putting together an executive's vision.

If only Ok Go could decide that their new video is embeddable, most would have watched it on Slashdot right now instead of the 1/2 of us that clicked on the link. Unfortunately they already sold their soul to the devil so it doesn't matter what they think is good for them now. The funny thing about this is that I'm vacationing in Grand Cayman right now and while I own every single album and EP and even vinyl records from Ok Go, I can't see this video on account of what they wrote in their post:

This video contains content from EMI. It is no longer available in your country.

Good luck guys. I think you traded early growth that would have came naturally for some control over what you love. It's sad but it's the way it is now.

Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830968)

What they 'need' is to grow organically to the point of extreme popularity

And it's Just. That. Simple!!

Re:Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831088)

And to think I could have been a rock star making millions with hot chicks ripping their clothes for me - all by growing organically!

I didn't realize becoming a rock star was so easy! WTF did I spend do much time in school? I could have grown organically during that time, getting high and laid in the process, and become rich! I feel so stupid!

Re:Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (3, Informative)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831382)

What can labels & conglomerates provide that can't be provided by other already-existing companies or persons?

Studio time isn't necessarily done by the labels; there's tons of independent and in-home studios out there. Ditto on mixing.

Marketing? There's tons of marketing agencies.

Advertising? See above.

Pressing CDs? Although the technology will likely be obsolete in the next 20 years, all the labels do is make the order and pay for it. I don't doubt an artist with sufficient money could make the order themselves.

Music videos? Look at the work, say, Monty Oum does by himself on his free time. Imagine what a single man employed in that field (or a small company) could do.

In short, there's nothing labels do that artist couldn't contract out themselves. Labels will collapse under their own weight soon enough, I'm sure.

Re:Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831512)

I think what you left out is exposure on radio (whether it be classic FM style radio or internet radio such as Pandora, etc.). I think the labels pretty much control what music can be played on mainstream stations don't they? I agree that stations managed by a high school or college can play independent stuff - but they generally have low power and fewer listeners.

The other thing you cover - but sort of miss on - is the money. Marketing? Yes - tons of agencies. Just give them a check that won't bounce. CD's - sure, again that check that won't bounce. These things would be very expensive for me to attempt. I don't know about others. I guess you can incorporate and take out a small business loan? Maybe? Anyway, if you just want to be a band that has day jobs and puts some free stuff on the internet - sure - cheap. No problem. But "it takes money to make money" and the labels give them a way to do that (hate them or not, that's what they do).

Re:Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (4, Informative)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831538)

Labels write checks. That's what no one else does. They are very much like loan sharks, the interest rate on the checks they write are terrifying, but if you are a small band, or a young band, many times you can afford tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to do all those things you mentioned above.

As someone mentioned above, the alternative is to "grow organically" which really means grow very very slowly. In many cases, these bands have grown slowly. They have had regular jobs to pay for their equipment. They play tiny gigs at small bars in their home town, and they've probably worked really hard doing, essentially, two jobs, for a long time to get to the point of being recognized by a label. They have barely enough money to buy guitars and a car to get to the next gig, much less move their recording and promotion to the level that a label can offer.

EDIT: Re:Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831560)

CAN'T afford tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars...

Re:Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (2, Insightful)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831496)

In a way it is.

If people have X disposable income that they're willing to spend on music then you'll likely not see much of a decrease in terms of the industry as a whole. But that money will be far more spread around, and more of it will be going directly to the artists.

The problem with his thinking is that the money doesn't "come from" anywhere. It's a person's, potentially a fan's, money, and as long as you don't try to sell them more music than they can reasonably listen to they will pay for it.

It wouldn't be this way in the beginning, however. Because fans are so used to inflated prices there'd probably be an orgy of grab everything you can because you're getting something for nothing mentality. Eventually, though, people will realize that they can and should support the artists of the music they're listening to, especially when it's easier to give the money directly to the artist.

Re:Wow, Why Didn't I Think of That?!? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831798)

That's the great thing about free market capitalism: if the better way is really just that simple, then someone will do it.

Of course, the contrapositive of this statement is that if someone hasn't done it already, then it's really not just that simple (but some people find this view a little challenging).

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (2, Interesting)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830980)

One of the replies to the article sounds like a record company person, and i think part of it sums it up quit succinctly;
"Need" is obviously contingent on your band wanting to achieve certain things, none of which are *necessary*. To achieve those things, you needed some money you didn't have, and decided to sacrifice some freedom with your music, in exchange for the advance money.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (5, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831004)

Ironically, as a musician or band, you won't get a major label offer until you are successful enough to attract the attention of a label. That means you're making enough money that they could make money off of you. So at that point, why sign? If you're not that successful yet, no one will offer you a deal anyhow, so it's not even a problem for you.
Your choices in summary:
1. sign and get slightly better promotion for a huge reduction in your personal profit
2. don't sign, get the promotion your music warrants on its own and keep all your own profits

If you're all that good, you're gonna make way more money at #2. If you're terrible and somehow you get a big advance because of #1, believe me, the label will find a way to claw that money back from you.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (2, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831146)

When my beloved Decemberists moved from Kill Rock Stars to Capitol Records, I wondered what the reason was.

Whatever their reasons, the result was hugely more ambitious records - in terms of production values and sheer number of instruments - and more ambitious live shows. I suspect that with all the extra gear, these were expensive shows to put on. Kill Rock Stars probably couldn't have handled that much cashflow.

But, they left it late. Colin Meloy of the band said:

We felt that in some ways, if we continued putting out records on [Kill Rock Stars], we'd totally be fine. But we also felt like we needed to kind of up the ante a little bit. One should only move to a major label when one can pretty much call the shots.

It seems as if being handled by a major before you've hit success, is bad news all round.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831210)

Ironically, as a musician or band, you won't get a major label offer until you are successful enough to attract the attention of a label. That means you're making enough money that they could make money off of you. So at that point, why sign?

Well, now there is no reason any more. The reason used to be that labels owned the distribution channels, so you couldn't sound on radio or TV without them, even if you were a huge gig. Without them, you would not sound on TV or radio.

Now things are different, but labels still pretend to own the media and some bands fall for it, like OK go did.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831350)

1. sign and get slightly better promotion for a huge reduction in your personal profit

More importantly, personal CONTROL. Reel Big Fish made some kick-ass CDs before they signed. The one with the clown on the cover sucked. It was their first major lable CD. An artist who has someone telling him how to make his art is like a scientist with a guy with an MBA telling him how to do science. The good, effective ones aren't led by the nose by someone whose only goal is to make money.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (4, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832032)

I highly recommend the movie Anvil before you make these kind of ridiculous claims again. The problem with these claims is they assume that bands have the time and skills to be marketeers, travel and booking agents, and accountants. Oddly enough it's possible the musicians might NOT be good at one or more of these thing.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (2, Insightful)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832520)

When the music pays for 100% of your time to work on the music... what are you signing up with a label for?

I know at least one band who does everything on their own. They're happy doing what they're doing, and as long as they're happy together, make enough money to pay for their touring, their rent and their groceries, they consider themselves to have "made it".

If the "product" doesn't have that kind of demand, the only thing a record label could do would be to change your image, change your sound and change your gigs. What if you *like* visiting Bob and Julie up in that little town every year? What if you enjoy hanging out with the musicians in that little town in Ireland? Are you a musician or a business person? Is it about music or profit?

If you need an accountant or sound person, you can always hire one. Ditto for studio time, vocal coaches etc. It's just part of being a "pro" musician.

"manufactured" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30832124)

Ironically, as a musician or band, you won't get a major label offer until you are successful enough to attract the attention of a label. That means you're making enough money that they could make money off of you. So at that point, why sign? If you're not that successful yet, no one will offer you a deal anyhow, so it's not even a problem for you.

There are plenty of groups and people out there that are "manufactured" and are successful because of a record label's marketing. A middle-of-the-road sound that appeals to many people, but doesn't say much and isn't very risque.

On one hand you have Britney Spears who's basically all manufactured, on the other you have someone like Coeur de Pirate [google.com] (aka Béatrice Martin) who is doing things from the ground up without almost no marketing money.

Now some people like the generic sound of Spears, and if they enjoy it, good for them. Other people may like Martin or another individual who has a more unique sound, but since the latter's music doesn't get studied by focus groups, they may have more of niche audience.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831060)

I also don't understand why he thinks that artists 'need' record labels. What they 'need' is to grow organically to the point of extreme popularity and along the way you are the one deciding the terms of contracts and you are 'the boss' whose accountant and manager work for you and pay everyone up the chain. If you need an advance, you go to a real bank and get an advancement.

Meanwhile, the band across the road gets a record deal, grows faster than organically, and is playing stadiums while you're still growing a fanbase into your 30s.

The difference between a bank loan and a record company advance is that the record label is taking some of the risk. They can do it because they aggregate it across many acts, most of whom will fail, a few of whom will succeed well enough to fund the rest. Unfortunately we see that bands typically build up a debt to their record company, and that's a shame.

I personally think that Ok Go are talented enough to sit down in a barn somewhere with basic recording equipment and I'd buy it. Their music video with them on treadmills fly them to success, not EMI.

But without EMI, would you even have been exposed to that video? There's hundreds of thousands of bands out there that are good enough for you buy their output. It's record companies' promotional efforts that typically make some of them more commercially successful than others.

I guess there are some organic successes out there (Jonathan Coulter?) - but they'll remain the exception rather than the rule.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831322)

Meanwhile, the band across the road gets a record deal, grows faster than organically, and is playing stadiums while you're still growing a fanbase into your 30s.

If the label is keeping most of the money to themselves via Hollywood accounting or what not then what's the benefit again? That more people will buy albums and merch that goes in to the label's coffers that you still won't get a decent piece of?

All of your 'point' seems to come down to "the label will make you a hit faster so you can retire early without needing a standard 30-40 year career like everyone else".

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831460)

If the label is keeping most of the money to themselves via Hollywood accounting or what not then what's the benefit again? That more people will buy albums and merch that goes in to the label's coffers that you still won't get a decent piece of?

All of your 'point' seems to come down to "the label will make you a hit faster so you can retire early without needing a standard 30-40 year career like everyone else".

To an extent that's right. As much as super-rich bands like U2 etc. are the exception when it comes to major label acts, I can't think of a single indie act that's raked in megabucks.

Becoming a hit faster sounds like a facile aim - but pop music is an ephemeral thing. A certain kind of act - and acts I personally value - are all about the performers' youth and vigour. If you give them 5 years to build up a grassroots fanbase, they'll have faded out before anyone's heard of them.

Classy of you do demean my 'point' by putting quotes around it.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831942)

But without EMI, would you even have been exposed to that video?

Yes... I've only every seen this video on YouTube and not because of any advertzing from EMI.

The label fronts the money for us to make recordings... The recordings and the videos we make are owned by a record label

So... why all the whining? The band is under contract, it's paid for what it produces and it receives compensation during the creative process. After which it also receives additional compensation as a percentage of sales (out of which the label craftily recoups it's expenses, from the net procedes I'll wager).

Anni DeFranco found a different method that allowed her to succeed without the onerous contracts under which bands like Ok Go operate. So there are other means, they're just not as easy. And people who grow their own businesses probably don't have time to write open letters whining about the way the Internutz work because they actually spend that time getting dirty and figuring it out.

EMI, as far as I know is one of the more progessive labels, especially in its flexibility regarding use of the Internutz. I can see 2 sides of the embedding question, but since IAMAL the other 4 sides are opaque to me. Damian's comment that it's harder to share links to online videos is appeasement for the blogosphere only. Lack of embedding obviously doesn't stop fans from sharing URL's of copies.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832300)

But without EMI, would you even have been exposed to that video?

Yes... I've only every seen this video on YouTube and not because of any advertzing from EMI.

How did you find it on YouTube? Follow the chain of cause and effect, and I bet you find real marketing effort from EMI's promotion people is at base of it.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831962)

>Meanwhile, the band across the road gets a record deal, grows faster than organically, and is playing stadiums while >you're still growing a fanbase into your 30s.

Right except for the fact that there are thousands of bands out there who play music for a living and a handful of acts that play stadiums and that its more of a lottery than anything else.
Growing your own fan base takes more time but your success will be more due to your talent and effort than whether some suit thinks they can 'sell you'.

Bands like Phish, Widespread panic, String Cheese and others of that genre have succeeded thanks to the slow but steady method of growing a community of fans rather than relying on labels.
Heck, these bands do something that irks labels to no end: they give their live music for free. Tape it, trade it just dont sell it and they dont care (its like open source). And this does affect cd sales since those same people that will listen to some average audience recording will buy official releases as well.

There are an amazing amount of bands of all genres that never get airplay and yet that travel the world playing their music.

I should know, our band has played over 800 shows this decade including 200 in europe. The situation is similar in every country (and europe is falling in the hands of the vultures of Clearchannel). Big labels represent only a small fraction of working bands out there and while that model is well known, it is not the one which benefits bands more, only a small select few.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831178)

if it's that easy why haven't banks pushed into lending to musicians before and instead poured money into RE? reason is that most music acts lose money and banks like stability with a lower interest rate than lending to 10 acts and losing money on 9 of them. banks also want something called collateral in a lot of cases. a lot of rich people like Annie Lebowitz who borrowed a lot of live in luxury put up a lot of their works and property as collateral. same with Michael Jackson. He signed over a lot of property to hedge funds and now everyone is monetizing his name to pay off his debts

this is where record companies come in who act like venture capitalists.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831276)

I personally think that Ok Go are talented enough to sit down in a barn somewhere with basic recording equipment and I'd buy it.

You say that, but you probably would never have heard of them if it weren't for marketing from a record label.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (2, Interesting)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831388)

I also don't understand why he thinks that artists 'need' record labels. What they 'need' is to grow organically to the point of extreme popularity and along the way you are the one deciding the terms of contracts and you are 'the boss' whose accountant and manager work for you and pay everyone up the chain.

There's an assumption implicit here that is all too common: That music needs to be a business, or even that record sales, radio play, the stuff record companies are seen to be good for, are a viable source of income for a large portion of musicians these days. Most of the bands and projects I listen to are far too obscure to make any significant cash on sales of recordings. They don't get any radio play worth mentioning. They know selling music is not, and never will be, something they can rely on as a significant source of income. Still, they continue to make great music, maybe making some cash off gigs, probably making most of their money from something quite separate from their band work.

So the people treating music as a business - feel free to do so, but if you fail to attain the level of profitability you deem necessary, I'm not inclined to jump through hoops to make the world more suitable for your needs. Anyone complaining that music is becoming too difficult to draw a profit from, and that artists will suffer from that is forgetting that the majority of artists already don't, and never will, make enough money to live off. The group of artists that sells enough records and gets enough radio play to get significant income from it is very small and I'm quite prepared to live without them.

Things you might need a label for (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831702)

I also don't understand why he thinks that artists 'need' record labels.

You need a label to get phonorecords* of your work into stores because the labels have relationships with the stores' buyers, especially if your genre is more popular among people with no PC, people with a PC and no Internet, or people with PC and dial-up. (Country music and pop standards come to mind.) You need a label because the recognized experts in record marketing work for labels. In certain genres, you need a label to help clear the samples you may have used. You may even need a label to help make sure that you didn't make the same mistake George Harrison and Michael Bolton made of unintentionally making their own songs sound too much like a song that was on the radio a decade ago.

* Legalese for copies of a sound recording.

Get out of the damned studios (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831838)

I have never understood why bands spend months recording 30 minutes of music when they perform the same music live ALL THE FREAKING TIME. I myself would rather hear live music than stale perfection. How many takes do you have to splice to make one single recording -- how can you even call it your music any more when it is the recording editor who does all the hard work of listening for pointless variations in takes to make a recording which is going to be heard thru earbuds anyway?

I know why. It's because labels are parasites and have to make money off musicians somehow, and the easy days of controlling airplay and distribution are gone. It's got to come from somewhere, so they put it in the contract that you have to spend x hours in the studio to produce an album.

I don't expect bands to produce an album in one day, but months? Sorry, you are letting them rip you off. I would rather listen to a good band produce their own stuff in their garage or even rent a studio themselves for just a few days, and use a Mac to edit it themselves. Wake up! This is an age where YOU can control your own destiny. Stop signing slave contracts with labels and then making up excuses for their abominable behavior.

I have no respect for bands who sell their souls in exchange for the very remote possibility of being the next megahit. Just do what you do, be good, have fun, make a good enough living, and if you become superstars, great, but don't sell your souls to let the parasites make that decision based merely on how much of a toady you can be. If you want the parasites to decide your life for you, you are no longer artists.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831874)

You don't understand why he thinks artists need record labels.

Because you're in the business? Have been for years? You fully understand how everything in the entertainment business works? From the creative process all the way down.

Nope. Because you have an idea in your head that you will defend even in the face of the evidence.

Welcome to the world of Intelligent Design.

Re:Should Have Grown Organically (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832246)

I also don't understand why he thinks that artists 'need' record labels. What they 'need' is to grow organically...

Well I'm sure that at least part of the problem is that you "need" the labels because the labels exist. Ok, that's a weird way of putting it, but here's the thing: to some extent, industries also need to grow organically. They need to develop business models and trade organizations and conventional ways of doing things and bla bla bla. Right now, record labels are filling that void, and we won't develop real alternatives until there's nothing filling that void.

Imagine your a musician. You're not a businessman. You don't want to be a businessman. You don't want to have to figure out international distribution deals, which deal with different laws across hundreds of countries. You don't want to have to figure out how to get yourself on the radio and on MTV (oh, wait... MTV doesn't have music anymore... well, whatever the modern equivalent is of MTV). You just want to play your music and let someone else figure that stuff out. Maybe you have a manager, but that's still a lot of work for one person. You don't have the money to hire a team of people, or at least you don't yet. Who figures out your pathways into those things?

Sure, you have the option of simply living without that stuff, but if you want that stuff, the labels still hold the keys to the kingdom. Sometime in the future, if running a record label ceases to be profitable and they all go out of business, some other businesses or organizations will step up to the plate.

Other artist's insight (4, Informative)

sean_nestor (781844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830928)

David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) did a fantastic article for Wired [wired.com] a few years ago about this. He discusses (with details!) how the music industry works, some of the "models" of releasing music, and the economics/incentives to each one. Great read.

On a semi-related note, it's also worth looking at Steve Albini's now classic essay "The Problem With Music [mercenary.com] ", which showcases how horrible the modern music industry is to musicians. It was written before the whole "digital revolution", but it helps remind me why I don't feel sympathy for suits in the music business.

And Another From 2000 (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830966)

There's another old article going as far back as 2000 from Courtney Love [salon.com] . Although I find her and her music distasteful she sure does open up a lot of numbers that -- although larger -- probably work the same way today. If that isn't condemnation of the music executives milking artists like animals and then dumping them, I don't know what is.

Re:And Another From 2000 (1)

koogydelbbog (451219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831170)

Steve Albini wrote that first 8)

http://www.negativland.com/albini.html [negativland.com]

Re:And Another From 2000 (1)

koogydelbbog (451219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831200)

as the grandparent mentioned. d'oh.

Re:And Another From 2000 (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831384)

if Courtney Love doesn't like it she can record in her garage like David Grohl and just release to iTunes with no promotion and hope someone finds her music. then she can save up to pay the upfront costs of the tour and risk her own money and property.

cry babies have people giving them millions of dollars up front with a lot of risk of the loss of investment and they think they deserve more but they don't want to risk their own money for their ventures.

Re:And Another From 2000 (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831736)

if Courtney Love doesn't like it she can record in her garage like David Grohl and just release to iTunes with no promotion and hope someone finds her music.

Unless that "someone" happens to be an incumbent music publisher, accusing you of copying a tune written by one of the songwriters managed by the publisher.

Re:And Another From 2000 (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831850)

so then hire a lawyer and fight it out in court or don't make music that sounds too much like someone else's music.

How do I make sure I haven't plagiarized? (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831996)

so then hire a lawyer and fight it out in court

How can someone growing organically afford what a lawyer charges?

or don't make music that sounds too much like someone else's music.

If I've written and recorded a song, how do I check my song against the millions of songs controlled by the major performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) before I publish my recording?

Re:Other artist's insight (2, Interesting)

rschwa (89030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831354)

I found this [toomuchjoy.com] an interesting look at how labels treat their bands, and it kind of straddles the 'digital revolution'. It's a blog entry about an unrecouped band trying to get digital sales credited on their statement, to hilarious effect.

Microsoft got it right with Zune (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830940)

never had a Zune, but liked the Zune Pass idea. too much music out there to buy all the CD's i'd want to listen to. at some point it's wasted money having hundreds of CD's sitting around being listened to once a year or less often. I'd rather just pay $15 a month to rent the music. I wouldn't trust Real with it. Zune was just a crappy device compared to the iphone/touch. too much wasted potential of it being just a music player. Apple I would trust to pay for this service. Google is spyware.

Re:Microsoft got it right with Zune (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831522)

Apple I would trust to pay for this service. Google is spyware.

What? Seriously?

Re:Microsoft got it right with Zune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30832152)

If google is spyware, then apple is a rootkit

Re:Microsoft got it right with Zune (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831548)

I get all the free music I need from the radio. Now excuse me while I go buy some bottled water...

Promotion (2, Interesting)

whencanistop (1224156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830954)

It sounds to me a bit like the music video was always meant to be a product that Musicians could use as a method of promoting themselves so they could make money on the things that actually made money.

This used to be selling CDs. Seeing as nobody buys CDs any more, this should be music downloads or live tours/merchandise. (I'm sure someone with a bit more time on their hands can dig out a link to that graph showing which people are making money out of music now).

If your record label is spending a fortune on making your video and then not allowing certain countries to see it, then you're not going to be making money from those countries (or not as much as you could). It's not like there is an incremental cost involved in allowing it to go on other blogs/other country's youtube. It's just that the record label is being greedy because they think they can get some money out of them, at the cost of the band's image.

Re:Promotion (0, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831242)

Yes, but, we actually do want to kill the music industry for its many crimes against musicians ,music and listeners.
An open business model is a much more profitable scenario for musicians operating on a level playing field, i.e. no industry spotlighting owned talent obscuring independent acts which may be actually better listens.
            Quit thinking about how to help the cancer and start thinking about how to remove the cancer.

Re:Promotion (1)

whencanistop (1224156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831664)

I know you jest slightly, but I'm presuming the music company take an artist/band they think will make money and attempt to make them even more money whilst making themselves a bit on top. If you could do it all independentally then the bands would. Think of the equivalent of you filling in your tax return/paying an acccountant to do it for you.

However it has never been easier for musicians to go independent. It's cheaper than ever to get good recording technology. It's easier to distribute to masses through the internet. You can get your song on itunes. You can promote yourself in pubs/clubs. There have got to be far more people doing it now than there ever were, thus eroding some of what record label do.

However if you do go for the record label route, where you take half the hard work that you have to put in out of it (making the videos, setting up the recording studios, promoting the songs, albums, videos, tours, etc) then you can't complain when the record label tell you what they are going to do with them and tells you that you aren't going to make as much money as you would have before.

Plus you could probably replace the words 'musician' and 'record label' with the word 'journalist' and 'newspaper' in the paragraphs above then it wouldn't be any less true.

A Better Perspective from a Real Pro (2, Informative)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831040)

This article barely tells anything. You want a real close up perspective? read this : http://www.negativland.com/albini.html [negativland.com]
It's a tell all by Steve Albini, producer of Nirvanas last album and member of Big Black and Rapeman .
When you read this , you will see why I hate the industry soooooo much and am dedicated to its death.
So read this and get out your p2p and help kill the industry to make the world safe for music and musicians.

"the money needs to come from somwhere" (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831056)

The notion that if you give data away you can't make money on it is a fallacy that has been disproven time and again. Libraries have been around for centuries; you can walk in, check out an armful of books for free, and read them, and go back for more. Even a small city's library has more books than one could read, and they're constantly updated with more.

The music industry was sure that radio would kill record sales. Instead, it sold more records. The movie industry was sure that TV would kill the movie industry, but instead it got more people interested in movies. They thought tthe VCR would kill the industry, look what happened. The music industry thought cassettes would kill it, but like the VCR and movies it sold more product.

The established industry is going about digital data backwards. They should use MP3s like thay use radio -- a free lure to get people to shell out cash for physical items.

If giving it away meant that you couldn't sell it, Cory Doctorow would not have been on the New York Times best seller list. Besides libraries, you can get digital copies of his books for free on his website. The forward to Little Brother explains this far better than this slashdot comment; I urge everyone to read that book, or at least the forward.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (2, Informative)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831100)

just a minor point: public libraries aren't free. they're a shared cost institution, getting their funding from numerous taxpayer sources.

http://nces.ed.gov/FastFacts/display.asp?id=42 [ed.gov]

Question:
From what sources are state libraries funded?

Response:

Revenue

Sources of state library agency revenue are the federal government, state governments, and other sources, such as local, regional, or multi-jurisdictional sources. State library agencies may also receive income from private sources, such as foundations, corporations, friends of libraries groups, and individuals. State library agencies may also generate revenue through fees for service or fines. Revenue may be designated for aid to libraries, for the current and recurrent costs necessary for the provision of services by the state library agencies, or other purposes.

        * State library agencies reported a total revenue of $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2005. The states provided state library agencies with $895 million in revenue, $158 million came from federal sources, and $30 million came from other sources.1

        * Of the financial assistance to libraries provided by state library agencies in fiscal year 2005, some 56 percent ($409 million) was targeted to individual public libraries.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832298)

just a minor point: public libraries aren't free. they're a shared cost institution, getting their funding from numerous taxpayer sources.

True, but beside the point. You're paying taxes whether or not you use the library, and checking out a book costs you nothing.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831298)

The music industry was sure that radio would kill record sales. Instead, it sold more records. The movie industry was sure that TV would kill the movie industry, but instead it got more people interested in movies. They thought tthe VCR would kill the industry, look what happened. The music industry thought cassettes would kill it, but like the VCR and movies it sold more product.

The buggy whip industry was sure that the internal combustion engine would kill sales. Instead... erm... it did?

Come on, this is Slashdot, get with the car analogies people.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (3, Insightful)

acoustix (123925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831302)

I don't think you understand how a library operates. The books don't just appear out of thin air and Librarians don't volunteer their time. It all costs money. In this case, taxpayer money.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831366)

The established industry is going about digital data backwards. They should use MP3s like thay use radio -- a free lure to get people to shell out cash for physical items.

In an increasingly virtual world, what physical items are you going to be selling? Food and shelter?

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831734)

In an increasingly virtual world, what physical items are you going to be selling?

You could check books out from the library, why would anybody buy a copy? Because people like to OWN things. I hold no value in my digital music collection, which is far larger than my CD, record, and tape collection, but I value the physical copies. They're MINE. My digital collection is not.

Having only digital copies does make sense if you live in a dorm. Otherwise, the valuable ones are the physical. Non-physicality is worthless.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831830)

Because people like to OWN things.

Yeah, people like to own things. Like a house, or a computer.

Having only digital copies does make sense if you live in a dorm. Otherwise, the valuable ones are the physical. Non-physicality is worthless.

Why? The song sounds the same whether it is being played from a physical CD or a rip stored on your hard drive. Nobody really cares that you own the CD case with its cheap artwork.

Your money would be much better put toward things that people actually care about.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

16384 (21672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832136)

Nobody really cares that you own the CD case with its cheap artwork.

Why don't they sell CDs with proper artwork, booklets, etc. then?

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832226)

Why don't they sell CDs with proper artwork, booklets, etc. then?

Why would they? Nobody wants it.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831790)

I wouldn't call it a "physical product", but I think MP3s are a free lure to get people to shell out cash for live performances. People will pay several times the cost of a CD to watch a live show.

Almost everyone has to do live performances to earn a paycheck. Musicians are now coming into that fold.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (0, Troll)

iB1 (837987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831872)

Concert tickets and T-Shirts

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (2, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831410)

The notion that if you give data away you can't make money on it is a fallacy that has been disproven time and again. Libraries have been around for centuries; you can walk in, check out an armful of books for free, and read them, and go back for more. Even a small city's library has more books than one could read, and they're constantly updated with more.

The music industry was sure that radio would kill record sales. Instead, it sold more records. The movie industry was sure that TV would kill the movie industry, but instead it got more people interested in movies. They thought tthe VCR would kill the industry, look what happened. The music industry thought cassettes would kill it, but like the VCR and movies it sold more product.

The established industry is going about digital data backwards. They should use MP3s like thay use radio -- a free lure to get people to shell out cash for physical items.

If giving it away meant that you couldn't sell it, Cory Doctorow would not have been on the New York Times best seller list. Besides libraries, you can get digital copies of his books for free on his website. The forward to Little Brother explains this far better than this slashdot comment; I urge everyone to read that book, or at least the forward.

So, what you're saying is that you support DRM? Because that's what a library is. It's a place to temporarily get your hands on content, consume it, and then give it back. You have no rights to copy/distribute the work you BORROWED. That is what a DRM'ed DVD or MP3 is. You borrow that content. People really need to stop using libraries as some sort of "proof" that free access to content does not deprive money from the creator of the content.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832434)

That is what a DRM'ed DVD or MP3 is. You borrow that content.

I own the physical copy of the DVD. I can resell it, loan it out, set it on fire if I want. The idea of DRM is irrelevant to the subject. DRM or no, you don't own digital data.

Even if you buy a book, you don't own the novel, you own the book. The only restrictions borrowed books have over bought books is you have to give them back.

In the essay I pointed to, Doctorow mentions that nobody ever went broke from piracy, but many artists have gone hungry or found other work because of obscurity. Obscurity is the artists' true enemy.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831582)

in a library you have to wait for a new book or the one you want. i want to borrow some CD's but they are in a branch that's an hour away and i don't want to spend the time going there. all the kids want what they want NOW

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

Thoreauly Nuts (1701246) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832406)

in a library you have to wait for a new book or the one you want. i want to borrow some CD's but they are in a branch that's an hour away and i don't want to spend the time going there

I've always found it silly that the requirement to legally acquire works for free is to get in one's car and drive to a library.

If I simply pirate all the works to create my own library and then drive around the block in my car a few times before consuming them every now and then, I've essentially done the same thing.

Just to be clear, this was a mild attempt at humor...

tape trading helps bands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30832122)

You mention libraries but I think tape trading is an even better example.

Since themid 70s, the Grateful Dead had allowed live taping of their shows by fans and trading amongst the fans without allowing for the sale of these tapes.
Thousands of bands after that (jam bands are usually more prevalent because if every show sounds exactlly like the other, there is no difference between two shows) have allowed fans to tape and trade and given access to stadiums and often even sound board patches.
Some bands make it commercially like Dave Matthews bands but others like Phish dont cross over yet have huge followings and sell out stadiums in minutes.
All those bands credit taping as the reason they were able to get their music across. Especially in the pre-web days (and I remember those first efw years DLing whole shows in..... Real Audio format!!

Again, this works for a Medeski, Martin, Wood and Karl Denson, old timers like Allman Brothers and kids like Umphreys Mcgee because their musical interpretations of songs are different from show to show. This wont work for a Rolling Stone or lipsyncing pop bimbos whose goal is to make each song sound exactly like on the album.

But for 30 years, bands that allow taping (there is a site that tells you all the bands that allow it) have noticed that if you give people free music, you will make new fans and those people will buy official releases. Even official live releases by bands sell rather well even though you can easily find those shows for free from a trader or even online.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

Thoreauly Nuts (1701246) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832184)

The real purpose of libraries in America is an adjunct to public education; to make available and instill in individuals the knowledge to identify threats to liberty and prevent the rise of tyranny. It is meant to protect a "government by the people" from becoming one run by an elite ruling class. As such, the presence of "entertainment" in a library is secondary.

Sadly, and although it is anecdotal, over the last couple decades I have noticed in the communities I have lived in a shift away from libraries being repositories of knowledge and instead becoming little more than entertainment "rental" establishments.

The fiction sections keeping getting larger and larger and the inclusion of DVDs, CDs, and other media have all come at the expense of the non-fiction section. I would guess that at my current library, only about 20-25% of the selections are non-fiction.

Obviously, libraries are failing at their purpose to the same degree that the public education system is, with the former serving more to distract than teach, and the latter to train for wage slavery rather than to truly educate.

The American experiment was an interesting idea even if it is failing completely at this point.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832528)

America isn't the only country with libraries, you know. And the fact that most books (and DVDs and CDs you can check out from a library) aren't nonfiction reinforces my point rather than diminishing it.

Re:"the money needs to come from somwhere" (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832502)

The notion that if you give data away you can't make money on it is a fallacy that has been disproven time and again. Libraries have been around for centuries; you can walk in, check out an armful of books for free, and read them, and go back for more. Even a small city's library has more books than one could read, and they're constantly updated with more.

That is a bizarre example to give.
At least here in the UK, libraries are funded out of taxes, they don't make a profit; and yes, you have "free" access in the sense that you don't have to pay again to use something you've already paid for.
The book publishers are paid for their books, they're not giving them away for free.
But who's making money out of this "free" service?
I don't understand your point.

Sure, what the hell (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831128)

In the spirit of making it without a major label and needing a little exposure for my own work, here are four free tracks off the ambient album I'm working on: http://www.livingwithanerd.com/music [livingwithanerd.com] . These are 100% DRM and cost free. Enjoy!

Re:Sure, what the hell (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831690)

Awesome, good for you.

If you make similar posts on other websites, I offer the advice that you hyphenate your last sentence: "These are 100% DRM- and cost-free." Otherwise the sentence has nearly the opposite meaning.

Great luck!

Re:Sure, what the hell (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831778)

doy, lol.

Thanks for the advice and the good vibes:-)

without rtfa (0)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831150)

I can say I know where this is going, and I wonder, why do we care here on /. what metallica or pink or even backstreetboys think about the music industry, we are a computer industry, and technology, and science and math....come on people....really?
If i want music news I'll get from a better source then /.
If i want to know what happens when I download music, that's ok for /., as most geeks like to know what they can and can't do with TPB being their close friend.
Could we have better stories please, this is not what i signed on for when i joined /. community!

ps- to all the uber /. geeks out there, yes I know i can filter out certain stories, but this one slipped in, and i though, isn't /. about tech and science, when was it about music artists, unless of course talking about how pussycat dolls are babes.

Um, what was that argument again? (1, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831180)

After having watched the video linked to from OP, I have to ask: why did that video take a music label to finance it, film it, produce it, distribute it?

It was a frigging marching band, for Grid's sake! They could have gone to a sizable local high school, recruited the cooperation of the band director, and done this entirely by themselves -- including distributing it on YouTube -- for only a few bucks. And they wouldn't have to worry about distribution restrictions, because they wouldn't be owned by a label! And the band would be happy to cooperate if given credit, because they would be famous, if only for a little while.

The video is decent, but there is nothing there that requires any fancy label support or financing. I have seen more impressive shows by high school bands, and I mean that quite literally and sincerely.

Sorry, but the actual product does not back their arguments. I call bullshit.

Others are doing it successfully. If OK Go can't... well... I won't lose sleep over it.

Re:Um, what was that argument again? (3, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831526)

After having watched the video linked to from OP, I have to ask: why did that video take a music label to finance it, film it, produce it, distribute it?

It was a frigging marching band, for Grid's sake! They could have gone to a sizable local high school, recruited the cooperation of the band director, and done this entirely by themselves -- including distributing it on YouTube -- for only a few bucks. And they wouldn't have to worry about distribution restrictions, because they wouldn't be owned by a label! And the band would be happy to cooperate if given credit, because they would be famous, if only for a little while.

The video is decent, but there is nothing there that requires any fancy label support or financing. I have seen more impressive shows by high school bands, and I mean that quite literally and sincerely.

Sorry, but the actual product does not back their arguments. I call bullshit.

Others are doing it successfully. If OK Go can't... well... I won't lose sleep over it.

1) Cameras, 2) Camera crews, 3) studio engineers, 4) distribution of video, 5) promotion and marketing and licensing of the video (which involves slashdot's favorite group of people: lawyers), 6) production of the song, 6a) studio engineers, 6b) hired musicians to complement some tracks, 6c) cd/vinyl pressings, 6d) distribution of album.

Do you actually need a label to do all this? No, of course not. But you need money. You need capital to invest. Where will you get it? previous comments have pointed out that banks aren't going to loan musicians money to make an album, but labels will.

Re:Um, what was that argument again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30832448)

The difference is the bank will charge you standard interest rates for the money. The music industry uses near illegal accounting methods to ensure most bands pay 10x the "loan" amount, ensuring the costs absorb any income from the band's sales.

Music videos no longer need to be Hollywood epics, no one plays them any more and haven't done for a decade. Studio time can drastically be reduced by the bands being prepared with their material and using the professionals to polish it. Lounging around in the studio writing stuff is for the top bands only. Why? Because it costs so much and unless you're at the top of the pile, it's clear you cannot afford it.

Re:Um, what was that argument again? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831588)

Did you actually read the article? It was the six months producing the album that the track behind the video was taken from that cost all the money.

Re:Um, what was that argument again? (2, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832110)

It was the six months producing the album that the track behind the video was taken from that cost all the money.

Basically all that money went to the label and their minions, it just had to be loaned to the band first to leave them in debt to the label. Steve Albini explained this process much better than I ever could [negativland.com] .

You should read the article (1)

ctid (449118) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832228)

Especially if you are going to post critically about something, it will help you if you read the article first. It specifically mentions that they do their own videos so as to keep the costs down.

One post worth a million RIAA's (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831184)

If the music industry had people who could write like that speaking for them, they would be a lot better off. I mean, the whole thing with the music business isn't even the idea of copyrighted content. It's that, they are such jerks. How well you interact with the plug is indescribably valuable in an age where everyone can know how you really act. If they were making the soft sell, if they were leading out with "we gave Madonna millions of dollars and she's been a total bust since she got old", rather that suing college kids or octomoms, then, people would be more receptive to their arguments. I mean, Google's "Don't be evil", is nice and all, but for a lot of businesses, its really, "don't be such a dick".

FoxxxyPregnantMILFS.com (1, Offtopic)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831260)

Can't find server. wtf?

Music should be free (3, Interesting)

Rmorph (692035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831598)

Speaking as an amateur musician who hosts his own music for free on the internet.

If music is "good" (opinions will vary according to taste) people will listen to it repeatedly, word will spread, and people will become fans of the creators of that music - wanting to own something to demonstrate their fandom: A CD, an MP3, a t-shirt, a ticket to the next gig etc... This is what makes getting fans more important than "selling cds" to most artists. Fans are LOVE followed by INCOME (You're not going to stop a year old girl from buying the next Hanna Montana, for example).

Distributors (most labels), on the other hand, are only interested in those revenue streams they can tie up for shortterm income - which creates one-hit-wonders, mediocre boybands, and starves out 99% of musicians - as well as actually alienating real fans and bands - driving a wedge between them. (for example: many record companies hold the rights to most full times bands music - and can override a bands decision on how they want to get their material out to fans, as exemplified in the article above).

Now: If it's not "good" music to begin with -. people won't listen to it -despite whether it is freely available or not. People *might* check it out out of curiosity - but won't return, and certainly won't put money into it if the y have a choice. If they did already they will feel burned.

Professional distributors promote very much according to a "pay-to-try policy: they limit access to the extra songs on albums, demand roylaties from indy web radio stations..control the airwaves and promote airplay for only the (most commercial track) single across any medium (radio, itunes etc) that will take it. This is why so much "Bad music" gets aired - in case you wonder why the charts are filled with shite (But you already knew that cos its a conspiracy theory and this is Slashdot).

Anyway: The income generated from "good music" by fans is largely independent of this supersale effort by the labels.... so arguably the best model for these bands, as exemplified by bands like Radiohead and 9-inch... is to actually give the shit away for free: They can recoup the "first sale" profit by attracting more fans. Ironically most musicians have dreamed of "The record deal" since they were 5 years old... so usually they are actually the most reluctant to risk this sales model - preferring the safety of servitude to a label over the risk of pushing "valueless music" (if its free it aint worth much, right?).



Also: as this model starts to become more popular.. a lot of smaller bands will get lost in the noise. Maybe less millionaires will get made, but in the long run this is a much better world to play music in. I like it anyway.. but then I found a day job.

Shameless plug: My music (with money goes mouth) is available at Stabbing Pixies [stabbingpixies.com] / it will never hit the Billboards .. but I'm happy to make music I like - which you are free to listen to and not have to like or pay for.

Musicians need labels to become famous (3, Funny)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831624)

I completely agree that having a major record-label contract is the one and only way for a musician to achieve the highest levels of success. To that end, can anybody remind me of who the labels were for Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven? The thing is, those great musicians had it so much easier than musicians today. Back then it was just so much easier to get your music out to a wide audience. Today, that's nearly impossible.

I prefer non-embedded videos. (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831720)

In fact if I see an embedded video, I will frequently go through the gyrations to extract the link and watch it in a separate window in YouTube.

Why?

1. I get to see comments and related videos directly.
2. If I want to share the video, I have to extract the link anyway.

Don't do <embed>, do <a target=_blank ...>.

Can't watch it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831814)

I don't really care if the video is embedable or not but getting this message when I try to watch it makes me fracking mad:

This video contains content from EMI. It is no longer available in your country.

RIAA gradated response plan (2, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831986)

I concluded 7 years ago that there was really no hope for the current music industry, and that the only rational thing to do was to wait for it to crater. Nothing has changed, except the smell of desperation is ever more palpable. Yesterday, I heard Steve Marks of RIAA talked about their graduated response [arstechnica.com] plan. He denied it was a "3 strikes plan," which of course means that it is. It is no more likely to work than any of their previous plans.

Someone asked me afterwards why the industry continues to be so disastrously stupid. All I could come up with is that the people executing the stupidity are getting paid, and paid well, for continuing to hold out hope to the old men running the business that things can get put back the way that they were. As long as the people in charge have such delusions, and as long as they still have something to be in charge of, nothing will change,

Of course, bands like OK Go are basically serfs in this process. As they admit, they have no actual power whatsoever, and are just along for the ride.

He lost me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30832068)

He lost me at "the major labels are hurting." Cry me a river, those poor suits haven't missed a meal yet, though that MAFIAA-powered foot-shooting surely is painful.

In the words of the immortal Frank Zappa (1)

CodeHog (666724) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832282)

"We're only in it for the money."

Radiohead & Digital Distribution (1)

BigSes (1623417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30832290)

Radiohead made a effort to circumvent the industry, at least at first, with their release of In Rainbows. It was released via digital download, and only available for ten days. However, anyone who downloaded it could pay whatever they wanted, including nothing. After 1.2 million downloads, it was estimated that the average downloader paid approximately $6, earning the band somewhere in the neighborhood of $6+ million dollars. All of this with no astounding amount of expenditure for marketing, packaging, or distribution. I'm sure more solid figures are available all over the internet.

Ok Go would be in a different situation, not having the fan base and clout for those kind of numbers. However, this does leave something to be said for digital distribution as a means to avoid the record companies.

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