The Economist Is The Latest To Recognize The Music Industry Is Thriving

from the nice-to-see dept

We've been making this point for years now, but as more and more evidence comes from the recording industry itself, it's nice to see mainstream publications like The Economist finally willing to admit that the music industry is actually thriving, contrary to the stories you keep hearing in the press. It covers many of the same data points and stories we've seen before, but highlights a few others -- including a rapper who set up a clothing line before he even made his first video, but is making more money selling clothes (which he wears in his videos) than selling music. As the article says: "Scorcher is not so much selling music as using music to sell. 'If you buy into me musically, you will also buy into the clothing and the lifestyle.'"

The other thing that the article highlights is the absolutely thriving B2B side of music, where companies will sponsor musical acts, either for tours or other efforts. The companies get their brands associated with cool acts, while the artists get a nice chunk of cash. This is an area of the business that keeps on growing.

Unfortunately, despite all this evidence of a very strong music business, the article does revert to an odd interpretation later, complaining that the market is "greying," because only old people buy music any more. But, they point this out after they spend many paragraphs showing all of the other business models that artists can embrace to make money -- so I'm not sure why it matters that only older people now buy music any more. Selling music isn't the music business model any more, and it's time for everyone to recognize that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    TPBer, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    What's going to happen...

    when they realize this, what are you going to poke fun at Mike, this industry has been great for showing you what not to do for that last 10 years.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Music industry is thriving; yet you site an article how an artist is selling CLOTHES. If you aren't selling music, it's not the music business. You are using music as a novelty to sell other junk. The music industry has been dying for a long time. Or rather it's no longer a career, just a hobby because there is so little money in it. The artists who do make any money, spend 90% of their time doing non-music things (marketing, internet, etc), so are they really artists anymore? This is not a healthy music industry.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    foobar, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:22pm

    Re: What's going to happen...

    I suppose he'll just have to adapt his business model. ;)

     

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  4.  
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    Modplan (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:25pm

    Re:

    Funny how regularly I've seen artists who sell music on every other TV show plugging their album. Is that actually part of the creative process?

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:25pm

    Re:

    ???!

    I think you missed the point. The biggest names of music right now ARE making money. They're making money through touring and charging more for concerts, leaving the labels behind as they fight on about piracy.

    You also seem to forget the diversity in the music industry. Livestream, Myspace, Facebook, the list can go on for days or weeks if need be. Regardless, people are finding music, downloading artists songs, and supporting them through other means.

    I'll just advise you to go and look at the CwF+RtB link at the top of this page. Perhaps, the industry needs to come to terms with the fact that promoting the artists is more important than promoting a song.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Simon, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    Re:

    Selling clothes is worse than selling shiny plastic discs?

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:43pm

    Re:

    Music industry is thriving; yet you site an article how an artist is selling CLOTHES. If you aren't selling music, it's not the music business.

    And selling plastic discs is the music business? Point is they've always been selling something else...

    The artists who do make any money, spend 90% of their time doing non-music things (marketing, internet, etc), so are they really artists anymore? This is not a healthy music industry.

    [citation needed] Seriously, this has been debunked so many times it's not even funny. Were the musicians in the past spending too much of their time selling plastic discs rather than making money? No, of course not. They have other people selling the plastic discs.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:48pm

    kinda sad

    Agree with the points in your article but still kinda sad that some artists are reduced to pimping for corporations and putting clothing lines before their art. I should probably put quotes around "art" in the scenarios described.

    "Scorcher is not so much selling music as using music to sell. 'If you buy into me musically, you will also buy into the clothing and the lifestyle.'"

    that quote assumes im a wannabee and a moron

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Re: kinda sad

    "that quote assumes im a wannabee and a moron"

    Have you not met "The Consumer" before?

     

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  10.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 5:58pm

    Re: kinda sad

    Agree with the points in your article but still kinda sad that some artists are reduced to pimping for corporations and putting clothing lines before their art.

    Wait, how is that any different than it's always been? If you want to sell plastic discs, you were still pimping for corporations, no?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 8:21pm

    and how does the clothing industry do for copyright

    they dont use it thus they thrive

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 8:29pm

    Re:

    Tell that to the top hundred that make a billion dollars a year combined.

    Besides musicians are in the "entertainment" business, furthermore music as a profession is not dying is being transformed as much as I would like to see Bono in a soup cue somewhere it ain't happening not only because he already have a lot of money but because he still are able to make a lot even if there were no laws to "protect" his ridiculous imaginary goods.

    Take the "aparelhagens" in Brazil they sell entertainment, they don't sell music, they give that away to street vendors so they profit from it, they don't see a penny from that and they even have to pay for the discs themselves and still those aparelhagens make enough money to buy big trucks and houses, if you are not making money maybe is because you are not good enough, don't know how to do business or a lot of other things. The problem is not the market is the ability to some to recognize the opportunities.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 9:07pm

    Beethoven and Mozart had to prostrate themselves before patrons in order to get any "prestige".

    Shakespeare wrote "pop theatre" that appealed to he masses.

    Only a delusional dreamer believes any artist making a living could ever be "about the art".

     

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  14.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 11:35pm

    Re:

    "spend 90% of their time doing non-music things (marketing, internet, etc), so are they really artists anymore"

    If they object so much to doing that, there's nothing to stop them hiring a manager to do it for them.

    "This is not a healthy music industry."

    Yeah, the homogenised crap and karaoke contests that get passed off as real music nowadays is awful, and it will be nice when the major labels die and real creativity is allowed a real commercial chance again. Artists will become artists again and not mouthpieces of corporations who control every mainstream outlet. Thankfully, that's in our near future.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Yogi, Oct 14th, 2010 @ 2:29am

    Re:

    Well said. If you want to be an artist and remain completely true to yourself - make a living from something else and be an artist with no strings attached - in fact, I believe Dark Helmet is doing just that. Otherwise, if you want to make a living from your artistic talent, you must comply with the rules of the market - just like the rest of us mere mortals.

     

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  16.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 14th, 2010 @ 6:52am

    "Unfortunately, despite all this evidence of a very strong music business, the article does revert to an odd interpretation later, complaining that the market is "greying," because only old people buy music any more."

    Old people are actually buying less and less music as family and friends show them how to get music via alternate routes. Its a trend that is moving up the age groups at 2.5 years (+- a little) every year. At this rate in 10 years the music sales market (disk and digital) will have shrunk down to 10%-15% of what it is now, maybe less.

    Sucks to be them ...

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2010 @ 6:58am

    Anybody watch late night TV. Music companies are on a signing binge. All kinds of weird bands are getting signed and making a cd. Not just rap either. In fact I haven't seen any new rap on late night TV. iTunes must be great for the business because I live in a college town and we only have 1 record store left and it's nowhere near the college.

     

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  18.  
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    Thomboykt (profile), Oct 14th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Laughable

    Define THRIVE! Define Musician!

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 14th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re: Laughable

    Define THRIVE! Define Musician!


    Thrive? The industry as a whole has continued to make more money each year. More people in the industry are making money. More people are creating content. More content is being created. All of which are true.

    Musician? Someone who makes music.

    Now, if you could define "laughable." Thanks.

    Also, if you could present actual data to contradict the findings noted in the article. Thanks.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Patrik, Oct 14th, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    I Don't Know (or Care) About the Industry...

    ... but I did OK last year. I've been going over the numbers for this year, and since November 2009 my musical endeavors earned me $11,553.88 which, while not super impressive is *much* more than any of my other musician friends made in revenue. I haven't compared everything against the costs, so I imagine the amount of profit will be substantially lower. But, I don't go into debt to record or anything, so I don't really treat things as costs and recoup, etc. I kiss the money I put into it goodbye, so everything afterwards seems like profit. (I know, this is no way to run a business)

    For some perspective:

    Out of 11 grand, $40 (yes, forty) was earned from digital distribution. Still in Paypal acct, not sure what to do with it... part of me thinks I should re-invest in some Kickstarter project I find interesting.

    I didn't make or sell one piece of merchandise (except for physical CDs) to earn the money, so it's encouraging to know that you don't *have* to sell t-shirts to make a livin...er...to make some money, I should say.

    Most of that money came from doing musical things that didn't center around my particular band or art (which is more than fine with me). A lot of it was from scoring and live performance for theater-type things. A good bit from licensing for, I don't know what to call it, industry videos? (You know when there's music in the background of a "sexual harassment in the workplace" video seminar? Someone has to make it) And doing all kinds of "studio" work for bands. Mostly recording or mixing demos. Junk like that.

    Interesting money came from weird places. In particular, I was paid $400 a day to sit in a home and play classical guitar while realtors held an open house. That was excellent and fun.

    The most significant chunk came from my DJ gigs. I had a couple of excellent opportunities that paid *very* well on that front.

    Live shows for my band didn't really make money. That's one myth I would like to dispel: except for very large bands, there really is *not* much money in live performance. Up and comers: DO NOT believe that you will be able to support yourself from live revenue. In fact, just trying to get a venue to pay you at all generally takes an act of god. If you don't have a manager... well, I don't and I can tell you that it's the WORST. You think teenage pirates piss you off? Just wait until you're almost coming to blows with a promoter who won't pay you because they saw everybody putting money in your tip jar and think you're earning enough as it is.

    Also note: I work tirelessly at my music. I'm an accomplished classical guitarist, an active turntablist and by extension a DJ, and I've spent the last 15 years teaching myself the basics of recording. I try to spend at least 4 hours a day focused solely on music; practicing, writing, recording, etc. And all that comes AFTER I spend 9 hours at a day job. Glamorous it is not. It's very, very hard work.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    PubWorksTV, Oct 24th, 2010 @ 6:17am

    Doing something does something- looking for entrapreneurs

    Got an idea and I am looking for regional promoters to spread my idea and video and make money galore - for all involved ...Galore might be an exaggeration, in buckets is a better way to put it. I am "learning the art" of live sound and video recording and using the concert video created in Lake Tahoe to promote the touring Bands as well as the Tahoe Sierras as a tourism site. Lots of room for people to join me. My first promotion channel is here - Got some great Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band - they are keeping the Fire Alive - PLUS emerging talent. http://www.youtube.com/cjmccoy11 "Emerging" original talent that's the target but learning with Melvin Seals and Zepparella and Del Castillo has been fun. I plan to launch a private channel using Sorensen 360 as the streaming backbone. I want to aggregate video from producers all around the Tahoe Sierras. Then show it to the world! For questions and to sign up for my newsletter - contact pubworkstv@gmial.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Pubworks, Oct 24th, 2010 @ 8:07am

    Re: Doing something does something- looking for entrapreneurs

    That Pubworks email is wrong Little letter flippin here's the right one Pubworkstv@gmail.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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