30,000 Musical Acts Are Making A Living... But Is That Good Or Bad?

from the sounds-pretty-good dept

We've pointed out in the past that one of the big "myths" that supporters of old industry (i.e., gatekeeper) business models like to express is that since not everyone is a success with new business models, it's proof that those business models don't work. Except, no one has ever claimed that embracing new models means you're guaranteed to be a success. All we've said is that if you embrace the models properly you can be better off than you would be otherwise. That doesn't mean you'll make a living. It just means that it enables you to make more than you would have otherwise.

Yet, for some reason, the strawman claim lives on. Witness, for example, the glee some industry supporters are expressing at the "news" relayed by Ian Rogers of Topspin (based on data from Ian Hogarth at Songkick) that "only" between 25,000 and 30,000 musical acts are making a "living," these days. This leads to the claim that these numbers are "depressingly slim." I'm not sure I believe that. First of all, that report (by Paul Resnikoff) misstates what was said in Rogers' actual talk: that 25,000 to 30,000 acts were making a living. Resnikoff changes that to 25,000 to 30,000 "artists." Since many bands include a lot more than one artist, the actual number of artists making a living is much higher. Second, no one seems to be stating how many acts were "making a living" before. Is it more or less? On top of that, this only counts "touring bands." There are plenty of people who make their living in music outside of touring -- and this count ignores all of them.
Frankly, the 25,000 to 30,000 touring acts making a living sounds about right to me. But it's also worth noting that many of the new models are just starting to be understood, and just starting to be embraced in any serious manner (and, as such, some are making mistakes with them).

I'm reminded of the reports in the early 90s, as personal computers were becoming popular in companies, of studies that showed giving employees computers did not help company productivity. Of course, that was because many companies and employees didn't really know how to use them yet. Within a few years, no one was questioning the productivity gains allowed by computers. Watch the new business models more carefully, and watch as more people understand and adopt them, and then we'll see the old industry apologists start to run out of things to say.


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  1.  
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    RD, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:00pm

    Wha?

    Just how many NEED to be making a living? 30K ACTS is a LOT of people making music being successful. That is not a trivial number. Really, is more even NEEDED? Or to put it another way, how is 30K a FAILURE of some kind? So, what, is "piracy" now going to be blamed for, what, limiting success to ONLY 30 THOUSAND MUSICAL ACTS OR GROUPS? Really? This is some kind of huge terror bugaboo problem?

     

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    Rob (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:13pm

    The biggest flaw here is the idea that you SHOULD be able to make a living as a musician. There's simply no such thing. If the market has changed, the market has changed, and you don't "deserve" anything more than that. I don't know of any other industry (except movies) where "this should be making money" is used as a justification to prop up old business models. No one buys typewriters because they feel bad that someone "should" be making money off of typewriters. It might seem a bit harsh, but the market has changed, and the new reality might just be that it's now much, much harder to make a living as a musician. Ask painters or other artists how easy it's been for them all this time. It hasn't. But they kept doing it because they love it, they found ways to support themselves, and some of them became very successful. That 30,000 people are making a living as musicians is actually quite remarkable, all things considered.

    Technology is changing every creative industry right now. Ask photographers how well they're faring in the age of digital cameras. The people who will truly fail are the ones who put all their effort into trying to protect the way things "should" be (ie the way they used to be), rather than looking realistically at the changes in the market and adapting to them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    And there are only a few thousand professional athletes making a living world wide...Professional Sports are dying!!!

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    I'm pretty sure there's a guy, (just one, I think) who's making a living off of typewriters. Thought I think he's more in the 'repairing old' than 'producing new' field of work.

     

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  5.  
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    Michael Kohne, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Given the old way of doing things

    I rather suspect that 25-30K acts making a living is probably an improvement. From my outsider's perspective, it seems like under the old model you only got to make a living if you made it 'big'. Everyone else got to go do something else to put food on the table.

    I REALLY want to know how many acts (of the same classification) were making a living back in say, 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000. That, I think, would be VERY interesting.

     

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  6.  
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    The Invisible Hand (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

    Statistical warfare

    Numbers are fun. We can mess around with them until they tell us whatever we want. And it works both ways. Fun:

    The population of the US is around 300e6 (according to wikipedia).

    So, 30000/300e6 = 1e-4 = 0,001 % of the population of the US. Looks like a dismal failure huh?

    But what about if I tweaked the numbers and told you that 1 in each 1000 US citizens is making a living through art? Sounds a lot nicer.

    All these numbers are good for is for manipulating public opinion. The big recording industries DO NOT want to be seen as the loser on this war that they cannot win, even though it is obvious, even to the casual observer, that they are just delaying their inevitable death.

     

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  7.  
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    The Invisible Hand (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Statistical warfare

    As part of the my evil statistical manipulation plot, I seem to have misplaced a 0:

    "30000/300e6 = 1e-4 = 0,001 %"

    should be

    "30000/300e6 = 1e-4 = 0,01 %"

    and

    "1 in each 1000 US citizens"

    should be

    "1 in each 10000 US citizens"

     

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    Greevar (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Statistical warfare

    Furthermore, these are groups of people, not individuals. 30K groups of people are making a living. Given the typical band is about 4-5 musicians, you can estimate that roughly 150K people are making a living. Don't forget all of the non-artistic people those acts employ as well.

     

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    qyiet (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Given the old way of doing things

    I asked wolfram alpha (the source of all maths) and it didn't know that far back. However if the 30,000 acts is correct, and the average size of an act is more than one (probable :) ), then more musicians are employed than were in the low point at 2006. I suspect the average size of an act is more like 2.5 so that would make more musicians employed than the 2001 in peak of the stats wolfram alpha knows of.

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=musicians+1990&asynchronous=false&equal=Submit

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 1:59pm

    There are still people making a living producing buggy whips (and buggies) but not as many as a hundred years ago.

    All the recording industry really cares about is how many middle men it can keep employed by leeching off the artists. Artists will figure out how to make money if that's their goal, one way or the other.

     

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    Jason, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re:

    Nah, he just does that in his time off. Makes his real money in print media.

     

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    Jason, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    Isn't that far more limited by...

     

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    Blatant Coward (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Statistical warfare

    Math is delicious!

     

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    Jason, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Isn't that far more limited by...

    * Oversized corporations, empowered by copyright, channeling a disproportionate amount of funds into marketing a smaller pool of glamified triple platinum pop artists who drown out the rest of the market?
    * Consolidation of traditional media channels homogenizing the market even further?
    * The sad fact of so many would be true artists trying to emulate the cookie cutter products of the system outlined above rather than producing distinct art rooted in personal experience?

     

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    Debunked, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    Misquote

    Mike quote:
    "First of all, that report (by Paul Resnikoff) misstates what was said in Rogers' actual talk: that 25,000 to 30,000 acts were making a living. Resnikoff changes that to 25,000 to 30,000 "artists." "

    It is OK to call out Resnikoff misstatement but then you go and misquote Rogers. Rogers I believe said verbally (my ears are shot from being a musician) "25 to 35K bands" and also the slide on screen also says "25 to 30K bands "earning a living"".

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    Well, you've got a nice context-less number.

    Now tell me how many of those are using your new model, or you're doing exactly as you say "some industry supporters" are, simply taking a number and saying it supports your views.

     

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  17.  
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    Freak, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Well, you've got a nice context-less number.

    Their argument is that the industry is dying. (Cue stronger copyright laws)

    Mike's is that it isn't or doesn't have to be. (cue new business model)

    If qyiet's and mike's sources numbers are to be trusted & comparable & taken in the right context, then we're seeing a huge increase in people making a living from music anywhere from 2-5x the amount we saw in 2006, (Depending on the average # of artists per act). The stats wolfram alpha provides go back to 1990, and peak around 50k people in the music industry at the 1990 data point.

    What do you think that suggests?


    Now, if you wanted to question Mike's reporting . . .
    My question is whether the number of acts making a living are largely dominated by single artists; it's much easier for one person to make a living from something than 5 people, right? So the average size of a band and the average size of a band making a living could be vastly different.

     

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    Memyself, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:06pm

    "Making a living" is not necessarily that great of an accomplishment. How many of these people make a living but lack health care? Or make a living by living in poor conditions. Making a living is a term that needs to be defined before it can be discussed.

     

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  19.  
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    Memyself, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:08pm

    Re:

    "don't know of any other industry (except movies) where "this should be making money" is used as a justification to prop up old business models."

    Oil.

     

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  20.  
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    Freak, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:10pm

    Re:

    If you read the source & comments, you'll note that it's defined as "A healthy middle class lifestyle".
    In particular, if the bands "consistently played 1000 capacity venues", which also means that it isn't people teaching violin to neighbourhood kids; It's all performers in that 30k.

    That's part of what leads me to believe that the 30k number is largely single acts. I'm still digging.

     

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  21.  
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    Memyself, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re:

    I read through the comics and saw some speculation, but I did not see any definitive answer.

    Assuming though that the number you quote is correct, I wonder if that amount is before or after operating costs. I'm probably going to make about 30 grand off my art this year, but the cost of doing business takes a huge chunk off of that.

     

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    Freak, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You misread.

    the 30k I quote is the 30k acts.

    The more meaningful number is the "consistent 1000 capacity venue", which is still very annoyingly vague.

     

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    Memyself, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:41pm

    No I understood that bit, though looking back I see that I wrote my response in as unclear a fashion as possible. The 30 grand I cite is just a coincidence. I'm using my own economic example to question whether or not the amount calculated to determine a "living" is before or after operating costs. I make a decent living before operating costs, after operating costs, I make a significantly lower income.

     

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    Memyself, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No I understood that bit, though looking back I see that I wrote my response in as unclear a fashion as possible. The 30 grand I cite is just a coincidence. I'm using my own economic example to question whether or not the amount calculated to determine a "living" is before or after operating costs. I make a decent living before operating costs, after operating costs, I make a significantly lower income.

     

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    JEDIDIAH, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    Simple Stats.

    I recall a description of the lifestyle of Red Hot Chilli Peppers before they became a commercial success. It seemed pretty grim but they kept on plugging away at it. Apparently that's what they wanted to do. The fact that they were touring constantly for less than what a backhoe operator can make apparently didn't bother them too much.

     

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  26.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The more meaningful number is the "consistent 1000 capacity venue", which is still very annoyingly vague.

    That's the part I am curious about. Although I haven't sat down to make a list, I don't think all of Colorado has more than about 20 acts that consistently play 1000 capacity venues. And if you are looking at how many acts that come through Colorado that play 1000 capacity venues, I'm guessing that it wouldn't be more than 1000-2000 per year (I don't know the exact number of 1000+ venues, but lets say there are about 10-20 in the state and each of them averages two shows a week -- some have more and many have fewer) you end up with 1000 - 2000 headlining acts playing the state per year.

    Now Colorado has fewer bands and fewer venues than a place like California, but you can see that it is hard to come up with 30,000 bands that consistently play 1000+ venues. Colorado tends to get quite a few bands on tour, so I think if they exist, they do play here. But many of them play venues that hold between 100 and 600 people. The bands headlining venues that can hold 1000 or more tend to be pretty well-known, either because they have been popular for a long time or because they are the big thing of the moment.

    I suppose it might be possible to come up with that number throughout the world, but it still seems high if 1000+ venues is the criterion. And maybe we are talking about bands that tour every few years and make enough money to then not tour every year. So perhaps those 30,000 bands aren't all touring in any given year.

    At any rate, I know that very few Colorado bands consistently play 1000+ venues, and among those who do, most are signed to a major label, are signed to a big indie label, or have in the past been signed to a major label (e.g, The Fray, One Republic, Big Head Todd, Yonder Mountain, Devotchka).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 5:38pm

    It's the old typical throw figures out and make them sound outrageous. Of course you know the entrenched establishment is raking in all the dough, not the group on the stage.

    Was at one time, the labels groomed groups for long term appeal as that was where the money came from. In interest of the short term gain that was dropped along with future income that would have coming from the long term earnings.

    Most of the mom and pop record stores closed because they could not compete with the big box chains that sold music as a loss leader. This eliminated from the public marketplace those stores with large inventories.

    The reduction in total available product and sales dropped like a stone. (of course it's all the pirates fault was the drumbeat on that one and still is)

    The point of all this, is that when the labels took the big hit, they then turned to getting some of the touring bands concert profits. So unless those bands are doing really well, then they don't survive to do many concerts.

    Given the above, 30,000 sounds like another round of inflated data, massaged this way and that in another attempt to influence lawmakers and justify another gouge out of the til.

    No sympathy here. The only ones raising a fuss are those artists held at blackmail by the label to do their bidding or the industry itself trying once again to get their hands on more money.

    Not the words but the actions of those labels speak for just where the real interest is...taking from everyone that deals with the music industry one way or another. Call it a vampire business relationship.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    It would be interesting to know how many are making a living from record label income vs how many are making a living from other music related income.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    Re:

    It would be interesting to know how many are making a living from record label income vs how many are making a living from other music related income.

    Very few have ever made money directly from a label, but whatever marketing and promotion the label has provided may directly impact how much the band can make via touring, merchandise, sponsorships, etc. And pretty much everyone says that the real way to make money from a label is songwriting. If your song is on a mega hit and gets radio play, that's where you get paid. So if you are the songwriter, you make more money if the album sells millions than if the album just sells a few copies.

     

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    Ryan Diederich, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 7:33pm

    Some Thoughtful Insight...

    So, there are 25,000 people making a living off of their music. Do they say "act" instead of "people" on purpose, because it could be 3 or 4 times that many people.

    Anyways, they are saying that piracy is the cause? If there are that many making a living, then they are the popular ones. The popular ones would be the most pirated, and therefore would fail.

    If piracy were a real problem, the world of music would cycle indefinitely in this fashion. But it doesnt, so it isnt.

     

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    Freak, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 7:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Let me expand on the questions:

    What about weddings? What about grouping together a few nights at a few bars as being a single 1000 capacity?

    What is 'consistently'?

    Is this 30k worldwide? US only? North America?

    What is a 'middle class salary'? Is that before or after operating costs?

    I don't like these numbers at all, and the further I dig, the worse it gets.

     

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    Cain, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 8:02pm

    LOL

    Of course you eat that number up with a spoon without questioning it.

    How many 1000 seat venues are there in the US?

    That number is ridiculously high and not even remotely connected with reality. Unless there are a lot of 1000 person weddings going on...

    Anyway, now back to the usual "entertain me for free" entitlement bullshit this site is so well known for...

     

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  33.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Misquote

    It is OK to call out Resnikoff misstatement but then you go and misquote Rogers. Rogers I believe said verbally (my ears are shot from being a musician) "25 to 35K bands" and also the slide on screen also says "25 to 30K bands "earning a living"".

    Acts & bands are synonymous for the most part.

    Acts & artists are not.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Well, you've got a nice context-less number.

    Now tell me how many of those are using your new model, or you're doing exactly as you say "some industry supporters" are, simply taking a number and saying it supports your views.

    I didn't say the number supported anyone's view one way or the other. I was just trying to understand what the number meant.

     

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  35.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 11:32pm

    Re:

    Of course you eat that number up with a spoon without questioning it.

    Er... the point of the post was to question it.

    Anyway, now back to the usual "entertain me for free" entitlement bullshit this site is so well known for...

    Never ever suggested that. Perhaps you are confusing us with another site?

     

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  36.  
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    Karl (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 11:32pm

    Professional musicians, legacy players, and "piracy"

    In absolute numbers, the amount of people who earn their living as musicians has definitely gone down. For example, examine the data from WolframAlpha:
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=musicians

    (Thanks to "qyiet" for turning me on to this site.)

    But, this doesn't tell the whole story. Most musicians who earn a living doing music, are not the musicians most people think they are. They are most likely not in bands, recording, and touring. They are "work for hire" musicians: studio players, backup singers, members of orchestras, etc.

    In other words, they are employees of the recording industry. Since that industry is tanking, it's only natural that less musicians have jobs in that industry.

    But that seems mysterious when you consider that more money is being spent on music by consumers. Where is that money going? It's being spent not on professional musicians, but on musicians who have day jobs. In other words, it's evidence that the playing field is being leveled.

    Of course, the RIAA has trotted this out as justification for their war on file sharing. For an example, read "Illegal Downloading = Fewer Musicians" from their Music Notes blog. But that assumes that "illegal downloading" is the only reason that the recording industry is failing.

    Obviously, that's not true. As an example: In my former day job, I was a print operator. My job was to make paper copies of architectural plans for subcontractors and architectural firms. But the advent of digital technology decimated that industry. Why pay for a paper copy of a set of plans, when you could just email a PDF to whoever wants it? And the print idustry became obsolete without any "piracy" occuring whatsoever.

    Are the two industries comparable? Well, look at the "printer" data from WolframAlpha, compare it to the "musicians" data above, and see for yourself:
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=printers

    The graphs show a decline that's roughly equivalent. The reason print shops are going under is the same reason CD sales are declining: digital technology has bypassed the need for physical copies. "Piracy" has nothing to do with it.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Given the old way of doing things

    I suspect that the data for the old models would be much more obscure. For example, a band could be said to be "making a living" from their $250,000 advance when they signed their contract. But, the reality would be that 10 years and 5 albums later, the advance has not yet been recouped and the band actually made negative income according to their label's creative accounting.

     

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  38.  
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    BS, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:11am

    Re: Professional musicians, legacy players, and "piracy"

    "when you consider that more money is being spent on music by consumers"

    I love it when people just make up stuff, pull it out of their ass, and post it on the internet expecting everyone will believe it.

    Music workers, those that create or assist creators, have been destroyed in the past 10 years. Half as much money is being spent on music now as opposed to 10 years ago.

    Piracy is responsible for that.

    Now, any other lies you want to get called out on?

     

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    Karl (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 3:27am

    Re: Re: Professional musicians, legacy players, and "piracy"

    I love it when people just make up stuff, pull it out of their ass, and post it on the internet expecting everyone will believe it.

    People like the LA Times? Or PRS? Or eMarketer? Or Chris Anderson at Long Tail?

    Now, money from recorded music sales is going down, but that's because more people are buying digital tracks (which are cheaper). But the difference is more than made up by consumer spending on other music-related purchases, e.g. live concerts.

    And that doesn't consider spending in related markets, such as music equipment - which grew 5.72% in the past ten years, according to NAMM.

    Piracy is responsible for that.

    Really? It's not the fact that consumers are spending more on video games and DVD's? It's not the fact that the CD is an outdated medium, like cassettes or vinyl? It's not that labels threw record stores to the wolves, instead cutting deals with Wal-Mart and Best Buy? It's not the fact that the recording industry attacked digital distribution, rather than embraced it, despite the fact that it's what consumers want?

    Uh huh. The biggest losses due to "piracy" are because of all the bad will generated when the RIAA and their clients started suing the fans.

     

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    Justin, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 4:55am

    Re:

    Good comment, bang on.

     

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    jsf (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:20am

    Small Subset

    If they are only counting those acts that play 1K+ venues they are leaving out A LOT of acts. I know a bunch of musicians in the Chicago area that make a reasonable living from playing venues half that size or less. Most of them don't really tour however because they have weekly or even nightly gigs at the same place or two.

    Now they don't make a huge amount of money, but they do ok. Yes, plenty of them supplement their income with other jobs, but they could get by no problem with just the music job. Besides I know a bunch of people making $40K, $60K, even $100K that have second part time job.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:32am

    Re: Wha?

    "Just how many NEED to be making a living?"

    Wrong Question ...

    The question you need to ask is how many professional "whatevers" can make a living in a given market.

    There are "ONLY" x professional

    Actors
    Newspaper Reporters
    Atheletes
    Jugglers
    Clowns
    Town Idiots
    Record Label Executives (I just noticed I ranked them lower than town idiots)

    I can't make a living. Woe is me, Woe is me. Get over it! Markets become saturated, profits are distributed across the the entirety of the market, redundancies and inefficiencies are removed, and some make more than others. The pond is alot bigger now and the record money is being distributed across more people.

    2 fuking B@d ... get a day job

     

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    Punmaster (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Professional musicians, legacy players, and "piracy"

    You said:
    "Music workers, those that create or assist creators, have been destroyed in the past 10 years. Half as much money is being spent on music now as opposed to 10 years ago.

    Piracy is responsible for that."

    You don't think that the advances in technology, like home studios removing some of the need for professional studios, digital distribution of music removing the need for CD Pressing, or even Myspace and Facebook reducing the need for professional marketing for small, startup bands has had any effect on the need for those folks that "assist creators"?

     

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  44.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Statistical warfare

    "Math is delicious!"

    So is electro stimulation ... it make math easier ;)

     

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  45.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Professional musicians, legacy players, and "piracy"

    Now, money from recorded music sales is going down, but that's because more people are buying digital tracks (which are cheaper). But the difference is more than made up by consumer spending on other music-related purchases, e.g. live concerts.

    And that doesn't consider spending in related markets, such as music equipment - which grew 5.72% in the past ten years, according to NAMM.


    If we are playing with numbers, I think they aren't going to look as good for 2010. NAMM reported significant declines last year. The US Labor Bureau reported that average household spending on entertainment went down comparing 2009 to 2008. And Live Nation has reported declines for its concerts this year. We won't know for sure how the overall music market is doing (and will probably never know since some of it isn't reported), but based on the trends I've been seeing, I don't think we'll see increases for 2010. I think the recession has taken its toll and I'm wondering if there will be a permanent shift in spending priorities. This is what has happened in Japan:

    Japan Goes From Dynamic to Disheartened - NYTimes.com: "Hisakazu Matsuda, president of Japan Consumer Marketing Research Institute, who has written several books on Japanese consumers, has a different name for Japanese in their 20s; he calls them the consumption-haters. He estimates that by the time this generation hits their 60s, their habits of frugality will have cost the Japanese economy $420 billion in lost consumption.

    “There is no other generation like this in the world,” Mr. Matsuda said. “These guys think it’s stupid to spend.”"

     

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  46.  
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    Jason, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    "Making a living is a term that needs to be defined before it can be discussed."

    So then you agree with Mike that the statistic as given is meaningless.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Epic, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 10:07am

    It's a myth that there is some kind of flood of music being released that was done at home. It still takes someone with talent and skill to produce a good sounding recording. It's the carpenter, not the tools.

    And cheap recording equipment has been around for decades now.

     

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  48.  
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    Jason, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    Apparently, so has time travel.

    "Hello, computer?"
    "I think you're supposed to use this" (hands him a computer mouse)
    "Thank you.(smiling, holds mouse like a microphone) Hello, computer?"

    You do know what a computer is, right?

     

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  49.  
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    Memyself, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm saying the statistic is 100% meaningless and that nothing positive or negative can be gleaned from it. Mike is implying that even though the statistic is meaningless, it "sounds" like the reality is "good".

    How exactly can good or bad be judged if the statistic is meaningless? Answer: It can't. We can assign no value judgment to this, and any effort to do so is a form of spin.

     

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  50.  
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    Jason, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm gonna go out on a limb, (and MIKE MASNICK, PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG), and say that a straight read of the post seems to suggest that Mike is saying that the statistic is meaningless and nothing positive or negative can really be [asserted] from it, but his initial impression is that it "sounds-pretty-good."

    But you're right, sharing an impression is a viscious, evil, and horrendous form of mind twisting political propaganda wizardry, and you and I both should also be tortured along with Mike for the rest of our natural lives. It would be worth the pain to serve justice in this way.

     

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  51.  
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    Karl (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Professional musicians, legacy players, and "piracy"

    If we are playing with numbers, I think they aren't going to look as good for 2010.

    Yes. But if you're looking for someone to blame for this, it's not file sharing "pirates," it's Wall Street bankers.

    Will spending on music improve when the economy gets better? Probably, but in order for it to improve dramatically, the music industry will need to sell things that consumers want. They don't want CD's anymore.

     

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  52.  
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    Karl (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    It's a myth that there is some kind of flood of music being released that was done at home.

    It's certainly not a myth that skilled musicians now have the ability to own their own recording gear. Nor is it a myth that distribution channels aren't as necessary as they once were.

    I know tons of musicians, most small, a couple big. All of them know that the actual costs of production are orders of magnitude cheaper than they were even a decade ago. It's not musical talent that is being replaced; it's the need for "gatekeepers" - pro recording studios, labels, commercial radio.

    Metaphorically speaking, we've gone from a hammer that costs $100 to one that costs $1. That benefits everyone, carpenters included.

     

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  53.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Professional musicians, legacy players, and "piracy"

    Yes. But if you're looking for someone to blame for this, it's not file sharing "pirates," it's Wall Street bankers.

    I guess I joined in on a thread about piracy, but I wasn't trying to make a case for or against that. My thoughts were just on how the economy is impacting music.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Memyself, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure how you can read "sounds pretty good" as neutral. Please explain.

    Your attempt at hyperbole is pointless. Either these numbers have value or they do not. I'm not seeing any reason to have any faith in these numbers, and subsequently they have zero value. Applying any weight to them (positive or negative) is a meaningless endeavor.

    You asked if I agree with Mike that the statistic as given is meaningless. It is. But Mike doesn't seem to be treating as such. In short, you asked, I clarified. What's with your hyperbolic attitude?

     

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  55.  
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    Jon, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Re:

    uh, what?

     

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  56.  
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    Jon, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:56pm

    Re: Re:

    It's been cheap to record since the 4 track cassette multitrack was introduced in the early 80s. And then ADAT and DAWs in the early 90s.

    There are still almost no well known records done at home.

    You can't buy talent in a store or get it free from the internet.

     

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  57.  
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    Karl (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's been cheap to record since the 4 track cassette multitrack was introduced in the early 80s.

    The difference between an 80's 4-track and an 80's recording studio was immense. (I've worked with both.) That discrepancy is becoming more narrow all the time.

    There are still almost no well known records done at home.

    There are still almost no well-known records that aren't released by a major label, and major labels generally won't let you record at home. That's changing, and changing rapidly.

    Also, I guess you've never heard of Sebadoh?

    You can't buy talent in a store or get it free from the internet.

    You also can't get it from a $500/hour recording studio with a Neve, a phalanx of Telefunkens, and a rack of LA-2A's.

    Obviously cheap gear won't make everyone equally talented. But for those who do have talent, it's cheaper than ever to record a pro-sounding album. Because of the internet, and places like CDBaby, it's cheaper than ever to release that album. These things help the talentless and the talented alike.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Jon, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Let me know when someone that self records and self releases on CD Baby hits it big.

    I won't hold my breath.

     

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  59.  
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    Karl (profile), Nov 11th, 2010 @ 2:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Let me know when someone that self records and self releases on CD Baby hits it big.

    Way to move the goalposts.

    The comment I was replying to, was:

    It's a myth that there is some kind of flood of music being released that was done at home.

    I point out it's not a myth, and now you seem to imply that unless CDBaby produces the next Taylor Swift, it doesn't matter.

    Of course CDBaby won't produce the next Madonna, at least not for a decade or so. But why does "success" have to be measured in terms of mega-stardom?

    The plain fact is that for your average musician - i.e. one that isn't an industry insider - it's vastly easier now to make money. Not Paul McCartney money, probably not even a living wage. But these same musicians would never have made any money ten years ago. That's what's changing.

    Why do you think this is a bad thing? What's your agenda here? Are you really that willing to sell grassroots musical culture down the river, just so you can believe the pie-in-the-sky myth that the record industry promised?

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Jon, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 3:18am

    I'm saying that the whole idea that what is now happening will result in better art is a myth.

    It just lets people that would normally have been ignored pretend they have some shot at success.

    The cream always rises to the top. And that's why most of what you describe is nothing but one giant ego trip.

     

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  61.  
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    Karl (profile), Nov 11th, 2010 @ 7:16pm

    Re:

    I'm saying that the whole idea that what is now happening will result in better art is a myth.

    It will, without any doubt, result in more art that is much better. It will also result in much more art that is much worse. That's what happens when the playing field is leveled. I don't think anyone here pretended otherwise.

    Will that hurt the music scene? Only if you believe a slew of bad bands will "devalue" the good ones. I don't believe that. I think bad bands only make the good ones more desirable.

    It just lets people that would normally have been ignored pretend they have some shot at success.

    Techdirt has a number of articles about people who normally would have been ignored, who are now making a living doing their art. Here's a summary that includes a small number of them.

    But you seem to think that Techdirt is saying, "follow our business model, and success is guaranteed." Nobody here is saying that (unlike the major labels). There are no guarantees, especially not with music. That doesn't mean that opportunities aren't increasing, especially for the once-ostracized.

    The cream always rises to the top.

    If your ideal music is limited to the Top 40, then that's absolutely true. But if it's not, then a more appropriate saying would be "shit floats."

    Meritocracy is only an option if there aren't any artifical barriers to success. It's the same with society: meritocracy isn't compatible with monarchy, or when people are excluded from participation (e.g. institutional racism or sexism).

    The current (dying) recording industry is just such a barrier. There were tons of bands who were kept out of it, not because they weren't talented, but because they didn't match the sound that the industry thought would shift units. They didn't fit the suit.

    Routing around those gatekeepers levels the playing field, and helps remove those barriers. It allows the cream to float and the shit to sink. It is far more of a meritocracy that what we have now. That's part of the reason I'm all for it.

     

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  62.  
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    Karl (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re:

    By the way. Just in case anyone is still reading this thread, I found a great essay by Jeff Price at Tunecore, that pretty much demolishes what the nay-sayers are claiming:
    http://blog.tunecore.com/2010/10/music-purchases-and-net-revenue-for-artists-are-up-gross -revenue-for-labels-is-down.html

     

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  63.  
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    The Mad Hatter (profile), Nov 22nd, 2010 @ 5:57am

    Mike, I took a good look at the numbers, and did some research. While what they reported is probably accurate based on the numbers they have, those numbers aren't complete.

    I checked their database against some artists, and the database is missing a lot of information. A couple of the artists weren't big (which is why I picked them), so the database doesn't include smaller acts - and the acts that I picked are ones that are working music full time.

    This got me wondering. It appeared that the database was biased towards Rock and Roll, so I checked their listing for Stompin' Tom Conners, and it claimed that he hadn't performed a concert since 2004, though his website claims he was busy nearly every weekend this summer.

    You can read my conclusions in True Or False? The Latest Stat: Less Than 30,000 Artists Are Actually Earning a Living.

     

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  64.  
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    The Mad Hatter (profile), Dec 16th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Mike,

    I did some research on their article, and wrote True Or False? The Latest Stat: Less Than 30,000 Artists Are Actually Earning a Living, which digs into their numbers, and also into their database, which it turns out is woefully incomplete.

    Regards

    Wayne

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    brian, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 3:40am

    Let X= the 30K successful acts.
    Let Y = the unsuccessful acts.

    The true picture is X(X+Y)

    Not everybody wants to be a musician!

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    brian, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 3:42am

    mmmm should be X divided by X+Y times 100

     

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


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