Music Piracy = The Death Of The Recording Artist?

from the how-not-to-move-the-discussion-forward dept

Mike did a post at the end of 2010 talking about moving forward optimistically with our views and expectations of music, movies and media.  It's kind of interesting to see the difference in approach between those on either side of the same old debates being had about the subject and how that approach is reflected in people's thoughts and language.

Which brings me to a recent piece by Rick Carnes, President of the Songwriters Guild of America, for the Huffington Post.  He asks if music piracy has killed the recording artist.  Rick has been discussed at Techdirt in the past, such as when he made some seeminly misguided comments on maximizing per use revenue with regard to iTunes previews rather than what maximizes overall revenue, or that the internet is making it impossible to write music and has "destroyed the profession of songwriting".  These are pessimistic words and thoughts.  And in his latest article, there is more pessimism that really needs to be addressed.

Rick discusses his fondness for The Beatles and some of the amazing things they did for music and experimental recording techniques.  He then goes on to suggest that the reason The Beatles were able to do that type of thing was largely because they stopped touring and could focus their efforts in the studio instead.  For the younger crowd, it might surprise you, as it did me, to find out that The Beatles did so little actual touring that, on the whole, they would have to be considered a studio act, not a live act. Basically, they toured between 1962 and 1966, and that's about it. Guess what time period is labeled "Beatlemania".  Yup, during their touring years.  Why is that important?  Because of some of the things Rick says in his piece.

"Today there are few, if any, examples of true recording artists left...The big recording studios are quickly fading into the past and the studio musicians who were able to devote their lives to improving their sound and their technique are a dying breed, replaced by home recording studios and sample-looping software."

I don't see how this makes sense.  There are plenty of recording artists around today.  But besides that, there's a ton of recorded music being produced.  And the reason you're seeing smaller operations spring up to provide studio-style recordings isn't because listeners don't care about quality.  It's because the difference in quality has been rendered negligable by advances in technology.  This is a good thing for music lovers, because barriers are coming down.  I think that perhaps if Rick could see this from the perspective of the music fan, he'd see it that way as well.

 "Album sales are an after thought since music piracy has obliterated the ability to support an act through recorded music sales alone. Recorded music is given away as a promotional loss-leader, sold as an adjunct to a new tech device, or as an impulse buy at big discount stores."

To be fair, if we're only comparing The Beatles to everyone else today, Rick probably has a point.  But that's a silly comparison.  The Beatles are the best-selling musical act of all time, according to many sources.  But, even in its most profitable time, were album sales really supporting any significant percentage of the musical acts around?  Through the wonder of music label accounting, even in the 60's, music acts were rarely able to make it on record sales alone.  And I think if Rick can get away from The Beatles example for a moment, he already knows this to be true.  If it weren't, why would it be such an anomaly that most bands couldn't stop touring the way The Beatles did?  I'm just not sure things were ever the way Rick says they were.  And then there's this.

"In the 19th century, British, Scottish, and Irish music were not protected by US copyright law. This lead to US songwriters having to compete with a flood of free music coming in from overseas. Our native-born composers like Stephen Foster were reduced to writing the only type of music that the British weren't producing, i.e. minstrel songs. The traveling minstrel show was the only place that Foster could eke out a few dollars. The focus of the Minstrel shows was most definitely not the music but the comedy show instead, mostly racist in content. History shows that Foster did not enjoy writing this type of music and was capable, when given the opportunity, of writing much better work. But it wasn't until 1909 and the new US Copyright Act, that protected the work of foreign writers, that US songwriters no longer had to "compete with free."

Ugh.  If I'm reading his allusion correctly, I see two astounding claims here.  First, The Copyright Act of 1909 was responsible for the obliteration of a great deal of racist comedy in the United States.  Secondly, if piracy continues, that racist comedy is going to come back.  He can't really mean that, can he?

And I'm a little fuzzy on the logic here as well.  You had music lovers in the United States that were being "flooded" with music from overseas.  Ostensibly, this is music they wanted, because it was being consumed.  So, basically, Rick is saying that less copyright led to a flood of musical output.  Wouldn't that be a cultural benefit?  But then, in 1909 with the Copyright Act, that flood was stymied and United States musicians were better off...because foreign music was protected?  Doesn't that seem to suggest that copyright was used as some kind of import levy?

In any case, I don't think Rick should be as concerned as he is.  There are plenty of examples of musical acts that produce amazing studio music and do a ton of touring (The Rolling Stones, anyone?).  I recognize that some of this may be political posturing as Rick tries to appease his base constituents of songwriters, but perhaps with a little less rhetoric and a little more discussion, we'll all find ourselves in a better place at the end of 2011 compared to the beginning.



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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 1:40pm

    I always laugh when people brush off modern, independent recording as somehow inferior.

    I know quite a lot of people with home recording studios, and even the hobbyists take it very seriously and are constantly trying to improve their craft. They also are willing to spend a lot of money on it: there is lots of equipment out there that hasn't been entirely replaced by cheap alternatives (it's just been made less critical) and every home-recorder/producer I've ever met is constantly saving up for some sampler or synth or mixing board or what-have-you.

    Meanwhile they are uncovering amazing new tricks in seemingly simple software like Garage Band, and producing their own unique sounds that capitalize on the limitations and idiosyncrasies of cheap home recording equipment (just like the original hip-hop DJs learned to capitalize on the crackles and scratches of vinyl, and turn them into distinct elements of a new auditory gestalt)

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      "Meanwhile they are uncovering amazing new tricks in seemingly simple software like Garage Band, and producing their own unique sounds that capitalize on the limitations and idiosyncrasies of cheap home recording equipment"

      I hadn't considered that angle. Which is kind of funny, because Rick makes a big deal about the studio experimentation the Beatles did, but then decries the tools new experimenters are using to advance music further....

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      agreed! i get so annoyed at artists that say "we don't need to learn to make a website or master our album" since they are 'artists' or say they 'need big recording companies so they can afford to make an album'.

      you know what, step it up and stop being so damn lazy. you get to make music for a living, you better learn to do what goes into it or else your just a label produced one hit wonder.

      /rant

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:39pm

        Re: Re:

        Exactly. Or find someone else with the talents you lack who also wants to team up and make things happen - that's the best angle. If you are a great musician and songwriter and you really aren't that interested in learning about recording equipment, then it's time to find someone with a home studio and nothing to record. Which, really, is exactly how most bands form in the first place: people with different but complimentary talents finding each other (by chance or by design) and creating things together. That strategy can (and should) be employed beyond the musicians themselves.

         

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          Hephaestus (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Which, really, is exactly how most bands form in the first place: people with different but complimentary talents finding each other (by chance or by design) and creating things together. That strategy can (and should) be employed beyond the musicians themselves."

          Long day and ... Agreed.

          Every artist should heed Marcus's words, as should everyone trying to make it in any sort of business. The kids selling homemade yo-yos online, the house wife trying to make a couple bucks selling cookies, the random person trying to succeed in any sort of business, should realize you can not make it alone if you have no business experience. Dreams are a wonderful thing but without support, advice, and a budget you are doomed to fail. Most musicians wanting to make it big have this image in their heads of standing on stage in front of 20 thousand cheering fans. While it is a wonderful image the reality is it is just a dream without support. So find people that are strong where you are weak, accounting, web design, blogging, twitter, facebook, etc, and learn from them or hire them.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    I have a buddy that started a studio. He's really busy all the time, and there are a ton of artists using his studio to produce new albums.

    And no more recording artists? How about the entire Billboard Top 100?

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:32pm

      Re:

      "And no more recording artists? How about the entire Billboard Top 100?"

      Well, I suspect what Rick would say (speculation, but based on his article) is that those top selling artists on the Billboard 100 are actually entertainer acts, rather than what would be considered studio acts. His point seemed to be that the focus was on the live show rather than the studio production. The studio production was just an afterthought. Image/Brand are becoming more important than studio artistic music.

      But wasn't that also the case with the Beatles? They managed their brand quite well, including during their experimental years when their brand became more rebellious in nature (and you can probably thank Bob Dylan for that).

      Rick's piece was actually kind of a sweet nostalgic look at how he viewed the Beatles...until he started in with the racism stuff. That was just wierd....

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:45pm

        Re: Re:

        You've got me thinking...

        It would definitely be interesting to see an analysis of the Beatles as amazing artists versus the Beatles as a cultural phenomenon and a brand. There can be no doubt that they were both - perhaps the best example of seamlessly combining the two that music has ever seen - but one wonders how many of the 17-year-old girls screaming outside their hotels also appreciated the musical intricacies and revolutionary originality of an album like Sgt. Peppers.

        The Beatles are arguably the most talented and most popular band in history, but the more I think about it, I wonder if that correlation is a little more complex than a direct cause -- did their extreme talent simply create their massive success, or was there a more codependent relationship between the two?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:54pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Symbiosis! In a cultural ecosystem! Psshh-tah!

          The Beatles are famous because people couldn't illegally download their music.

           

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            Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            This comment gets a Funny vote, if only for the "Psshh-tah!"

             

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            Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            by the way, I sat for like five minutes seeking for a word that was playing hide-and-seek in my brain before finally settling for the imperfect alternative of "codependent"

            Symbiotic was that word. Thank you!

             

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    crade (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    In his example it seems like those without copyright were the ones prospering and it was neccessary to "protect" them from their prosperity so that local artists wouldn't have to compete with them.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

      Re:

      Right, like an import levy. Which most would see as a punishment/negative. That's why I was fuzzy on what he was saying.

      Did he just say that copyright was a negative?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

    Rolling Stones as studio musicians? Try to find an album post 1980 that is not a compilation , a double compilation or comprised of old remixes and 'never officially released' material.

    that reference may not hold up well with the under 30 crowd.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:39pm

      Re:

      Okay, but there was something like 15 years when they WERE producing great albums AND touring. That was the point. Not that they're doing it now, when Mick is roughly 3000 years old and Keith Richards is being puppeted a la Weekend At Bernies....

       

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        Richard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Mick is roughly 3000 years old and Keith Richards is being puppeted a la Weekend At Bernies...

        Cliff Richard has been keeping Keith Richards in his attic...

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I've always thought Keith Richards had a painting of himself as a young man in his attic, because he totally misunderstood Dorian Grey.

           

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            Karl (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I've always thought Keith Richards had a painting of himself as a young man in his attic, because he totally misunderstood Dorian Grey.

            Keith Richards is actually a portrait of Johnny Depp.

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:16pm

        Re: Re:

        Nah, the Stones are still writing songs. Specifically, they're still writing "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'." It's been going on and on for 40 years, and last I heard hadn't ever really ended.

         

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      Richard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:43pm

      Re:

      Have to agree on that one....

      But I think the reason is that the Rolling Stones have made so much money from their back catalogue that they have no motivation to create new stuff.

      In the days before royalty payments musicians carried on writing good stuff throughout their lives.

       

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    Rob, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Geeky addition to recording techniques

    Just to add to the songwriting technique changed by recording technologies... This was from the start a concern even during the wax cylinder days. Vibrato was an ill thought of technique until they realized that was the only way to sustain a note (particularly stringed instruments and voices), and then it became considered a "pop" type of sound. Anyone who poo-poos a record for sounding too "pro tooled" I try and remind them of this. A lousy song is a lousy song,... no level of recording technology can help. Just consider Kid Rock for a moment. Then forget he existed as you did prior to my mention of him.

     

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      Karl (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:50am

      Re: Geeky addition to recording techniques

      Just consider Kid Rock for a moment.

      Perhaps ironically, Kid Rock is pro-piracy. But he's also pro-theft:
      And I go: "Wait a second, youíve [Atlantic Records] been stealing from the artists for years. Now you want me to stand up for you?"... I was telling kids download it illegally, I donít care. I want you to hear my music so I can play live. I donít agree with it. I think we should level the playing field. I donít mind people stealing my music, thatís fine. But I think they should steal everything. You know how much money the oil companies have? If you need some gas, just go fill your tank off and drive off, theyíre not going to miss it. No, I donít steal things. Iím rich.

       

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    Richard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Same Beatles

    Would this be the same Beatles who are famously on record for saying " we didn't think music could be 'owned' we though it was just 'out there'".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:43pm

    All of this points to one thing in my mind. The fact that the customer has moved away from the original big media music formats. As long as big media had the sole distributorship, it had the lock and key on who made it, who didn't, what sold, and what didn't sell.

    No one today wants the album full of filler. This has to have been one of the main causes for the fall of prominence for big media. Big media got so big they figured they could ignore the demands and wants of the customer. Without the customers support you wind up with what you have today. No one wants to pay album prices for one or if lucky two songs. When you fail to meet the customers demands and leave them unsatisfied your customer will go look in other places to satisfy what they desire.

    All the foofawraw about piracy, is the escape goat for what no one in those industries wants to own up to. That they screwed up, took those that cared about music for music's sake (along with the culture aspect) out of the top leadership and replaced them with an army of lawyers.

    Now everyone hates big media and no one wants their products. It didn't help that big media made sweetheart deals with the box chains that meant that ma and pa record stores couldn't compete on a price level, which again shows what customers value. With the loss of ma and pa stores, the total amount of big media product across the nation dried up. This left less product available for sales.

    Call it what you will, that has nothing to do with piracy and everything to do with bad business decisions.

     

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      Nina Paley (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:11pm

      Re:

      "escape goat" is a very cute typo.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 3:50am

      Re:

      You missed something in your discussion. Ma and Pa stores were only part of the discussion, the other part was the small independent stores that use to stock a great variety of stuff that was generally not available locally, often imports, smaller labels, local artists, and touring artists who would restock stores as they visited each town with their self-produced, self-distributed albums. One great feature would often be the Japanese and German market imports, rarities for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing.

      They should have been able to compete regardless of price point, because they had fairly unique offering. You couldn't get copies of the Beatles singing in Japanese or German everywhere. They had a very unique product point, and it often supported a slightly higher price. It was a workable model. In my city, I could remember 4 or 5 of these places. You could spend a Saturday just going place to place, checking out their new stock, chatting with the extremely knowledgeable staff, and learning all sorts of things you didn't know.

      Without exception 100% of those stores are gone here. That era is over. They were not killed by record companies (who loved them for the most part), they were not killed by artists (who loved the exposure), they were killed by piracy.

      Basically, it became much easier not to pay for an import, rather just to download it. Since most mainstream sites aren't selling out of market material, the fastest route to the material is piracy. It is the route that most collectors take today. If they are buying, they are getting their internet friends in the marketplace to buy them a copy, and sending it to them (usually after the friend rips themselves a copy and seeds it, but that is a whole other discussion).

      The independent record stores were doing CwF+RtB perfectly, creating life long fans of their music collections - until it became free to get stuff online. Then all the CwF goes out the window, because there is no longer any RtB.

       

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        martyburns (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:03am

        Re: Re:

        Without exception 100% of those stores are gone here. That era is over. They were not killed by record companies (who loved them for the most part), they were not killed by artists (who loved the exposure), they were killed by piracy.

        ..or.. maybe it wasn't piracy but people buying direct over the internet from the people that supplied the indy stores?? Think about it, if indy stores were able to get it from somewhere, chances are that that somewhere now has a webpage.

         

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    Kaden (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    This man knows nothing of the current state of the recording arts. Anyone with a reasonably configured PC has access to more opportunity for experimental audio recording than George Martin could have imagined in his wildest dreams, with no generation loss, no rewind, and no splicing blocks.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:52pm

      Re:

      And now every Mac ships with multitrack recording software that gets closer and closer to professional stuff like Cubase with every new version (while said software is not even that expensive compared to, say, video or 3D software). It truly is the golden age of independent recording, and it's kind of sad that the President of the Songwriter's Guild doesn't see that.

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:00pm

        Re: Re:

        "And now every Mac ships with multitrack recording software that gets closer and closer to professional stuff"

        Personally I am not a Mac fanboi but in this case I do have to say, very cool. I do believe you will see alot more of this on alot more hardware audio, and video.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:54pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I wouldn't describe myself as a fanboi and I used PCs for most of my life, but when I became a graphic designer, school and work demanded I at least learn to use Macs - and once I did I have to admit they won me over very quickly.

          One of the biggest things that impressed me was the quality of the free software. While Windows ships with a hodgepodge of utilities, OSX ships with iLife, which is a really high-quality package of software. Garage Band (the multitrack studio) is perhaps the most impressive offering of the bunch.

           

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    MD2000, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:46pm

    Yes And No

    There are several spots I'm confused with:

    Re- pre-1900 artists/songwriters "competing with free". Basically then, the music was "free" if it came from outside the USA, and it made it almost impossible for songwriters to make a living. No surprise. Cost vs. free is a simple decision. IIRC from years ago, the rates charged for various plays and musicals had a strong effect on which ones got put on by the local high school or playhouse. It's ironic (but typical) that a local protectionist copyright policy had the direct effect of detroying the local industry instead.

    I don't see this as "racist entertainment will come back" so much as "to get the most money, we have to pander to the lowest common dnominator in taste". I suspect that means mostly we'd see country and western, and rap... oh wait, did I say racism would not come back?

    The Beatles mostly worked with 4-track and 8 track devices; yes, a lot of their tricks dealt with the crappy equipment at the time. I heard one discussion that the alarm clock in "A Day In The Life" was intended to signal the end of the instrumental beats - but they couldn't time it right to signal the miscians and yet cut it out of the track, so the decision was made to leaveit in. TOday, you could sync a bunch of laptops, get a projection TV showing a countdown, or otherwise signal a countdown to a roomful of people (cheaply).

    I suspect the anomaly of the Beatles and their studio work was simply because they WERE so wildly sucessful. They made enough money to last a lifetime, and had a steady income from radio play. Unless they were greedy or snort-happy, they could do what they wanted.

    The fact that famous 60's-70's artists were (still are) touring even in the 80's and 90's before MP3, suggests that poor money management, slippery RIAA-member accounting, and low record sales even before MP3 rather than piracy drove the need for concerts. Elton John shoulda-bin one of the better off musicians, but apparently a decade ago he was bankrupt due to poor management and a excessive nose-inhaling.

    OTOH I recall a discussion with the sogwriter for Edward Bear, who said that "You, Me and Mexico" and "Last Song" (pretty obscure) provided a decent income to him even 20 years later in the mid-90's from... solid gold 70's music radio station playlists, not record sales. Nobody's screaming about depressed radio royalties from MP3 piracy, are they?

    The problem with modern music is (a) it's all crap and (b) too many distractions from other stuff. ANyone alive in the 60s or 70s (or even the 80s) remembers that when a big name act was releasing a new album was a big event. TOday it's the new WoW or GTA release that makes the news.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 4:51am

      Re: Yes And No

      It is sort of hard to look at 60s and 70s artists and compare it to today's artists, because their fan base is different. My older siblings (some more than a decade older than me) are less computer literate and more inclined to go and buy a CD. Their children (2 decades younger than me) are more inclined to pirate what they want.

      I suspect the anomaly of the Beatles and their studio work was simply because they WERE so wildly sucessful. They made enough money to last a lifetime, and had a steady income from radio play. Unless they were greedy or snort-happy, they could do what they wanted.

      In the Beatles case, it was more a situation of being wildly popular, and turning that money into more experimental music that was actually perfectly in tune with the times. They were incredibly talented song writers, and George Martin an incredible producer who often pushed them to try new things and go past their limits. Also, unlike many of the current "artist" out there, they could actually play their instruments, were actual musicians, and could sing in key without needing autotune.

      The Beatles made their money because they combined all of the greatest things: Great musicianship, great technical knowledge and risk taking, great production, great song writing, and so on.

      While we are short a couple of them now (RIP guys), Paul McCartney still plays live, does a great job, and is very entertaining and talented even in his senior years. The quality of his musicianship and song writing talents, even diminished with age, are still superior to many.

      The real anomaly of the Beatles is that 5 extremely talented people came together, and managed to stay together long enough to create an incredible body of work. Even after the Beatles ceased, the various parts each went on to create memorable works (even Ringo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUiw1Lko_j8&feature=related ). Putting that much talent together in one place was an amazing deal, something that rarely happens anymore.

      Gerry Rafferty died last week as an insufferable drunk. His song Baker Street (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkS169P_Eeo) was still to this day making him about 80,000 pounds a year. Of course, this was made back in the time when actual skill was involved. Perhaps that is why it is still so valid 30 years later.

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:39am

      Re: Yes And No

      "I don't see this as "racist entertainment will come back" so much as "to get the most money, we have to pander to the lowest common dnominator in taste". I suspect that means mostly we'd see country and western, and rap... oh wait, did I say racism would not come back?"

      Firstly, why do you hate country and western and rap so much? I'm not a fan of rap music, but it's just a style of music and really has no negative or positive ties to taste. As for country and western, I happen to like Shania Twain, Jewel and K.D. Lang. Are you suggesting they are evidence of bad taste? I know the first two aren't particularly cool outside of popular music but I don't know a person who's heard of K.D. Lang and doesn't respect her music.

      Secondly, you're comparing normal supply and demand with the effect of a skewed market. If rap and country are popular then it isn't because of piracy. If piracy is an issue then it's just as much an issue to rap and country as it is to every other genre. All three of the artists I just named are on major labels and as such I avoid buying their music.

      "The problem with modern music is (a) it's all crap and (b) too many distractions from other stuff."

      I'm a young guy who listens to a lot of old music. If you think that current music is comparatively crap then I really have to wonder what you saw in the old music or how hard you're looking for new music. If all you're bothered about is what is on the news or in the charts then that would seem to be your problem, not the lack of decent new music.

       

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        Joe Pops, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:27am

        Re: Re: Yes And No

        I'm a young guy who listens to a lot of old music. If you think that current music is comparatively crap then I really have to wonder what you saw in the old music or how hard you're looking for new music. If all you're bothered about is what is on the news or in the charts then that would seem to be your problem, not the lack of decent new music.

        I remember watching a documentary on TV where a very smart A&R rep gave the perfect definition of Pop Music. (Paraphrased)

        "Music designed at the time to be disliked by older people".

        It's one of those things so obvious that you don't always notice it, but IMO, the above statement is dead-on.

         

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          vivaelamor (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:59am

          Re: Re: Re: Yes And No

          "I remember watching a documentary on TV where a very smart A&R rep gave the perfect definition of Pop Music. (Paraphrased)

          "Music designed at the time to be disliked by older people".

          It's one of those things so obvious that you don't always notice it, but IMO, the above statement is dead-on."


          Which goes to my point of how hard are they looking. I don't like most popular music these days but I find plenty of new music to listen to.

           

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            Joe Pops, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes And No

            It happens less now, but I do find new music that I do like, but a great deal of it sounds like absolute drek compared to ten years ago.

            Then again, gas still cost under 2 dollars where I lived, and I didn't seem to have a lawn where all these annoying kids are now hanging out!

             

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    Huph, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:03pm

    P4K Much?

    I think that Rick Carnes is simply disconnected. Has he not read P4K in the last ten years? I'd argue that Animal Collective is primarily a studio band, and I'd say the same for Radiohead. These guys do in fact tour, but they basically bring the studio with them.

    [By "studio musician" I presume we're talking about people who focus on pushing the recording envelope, NOT people who are hired to perform on a solo-artist's record]

    In fact, James Blake is currently the toast of the blogosphere, and I'd consider him a studio-focused musician. Same with Odd Future. Same with nearly every chillwave band. Hell, I'm in two bands that because of financial logistics we have to focus mainly on recording and inviting people to our "studio" to watch us perform (we make more money this way anyway).

    Sure, there may not be many bands in the future who *only* record and never tour. But I don't think touring as a band is going to last much longer either, except for the biggest acts. The economy is a bitch, and traveling the country by car/bus/truck/plane is a completely unsustainable model anyway. A much more logical plan would be to play enough in your area that your fans can come to you, which might require moving to a bigger city or hub. But most musicians have had to do that anyway for centuries.

    And The Beatles themselves said over and over that stopping the tour circuit was simply musical pragmatism. We've all seen the videos, they weren't lying when they said they couldn't hear themselves over the screaming girls. What's the point? They were musicians, they had their pride. They were also basically terrorized by mobs of teenagers every time they left the house. I'm sure that had something to do with their decision.

    Besides, touring is really, really hard work. It's nearly impossible to keep healthy, it's a strain on personal relationships back home, it's a strain on personal relationships between band members, and it's an enormous financial burden and stress even when you are able to bring some money home at the end of each tour. The Beatles literally *earned* the privilege to stop touring.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    What an elitist snob. That's all that really needs to be said.

     

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    JBeiber, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:11pm

    Doom and gloom... I certainly hope the profession of songwriting isn't destroyed and songwriters aren't going anywhere! What will the future recording artists sample from and how can they recycle old tunes if people stop writing original music?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 4:50am

      Re:

      Then you will see the resurgence of the musician that is songwriter, player and singer of his own work, just like it was in the beginning.

       

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    Richard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:40pm

    Rick Carnes
    "Our native-born composers like Stephen Foster were reduced to writing the only type of music that the British weren't producing, i.e. minstrel songs."

    From Wikipedia:
    "During the mid to late 19th century, a vigorous tradition of home-grown classical music developed, especially in New England. The composers of the Second New England School included such figures as George Whitefield Chadwick, Amy Beach, Edward MacDowell, and Horatio Parker, who was the teacher of Charles Ives. Many of these composers went to Europe ó especially Germany ó to study, but returned to the United States to compose, perform, and acquire students. Some of their stylistic descendants include 20th century composers such as Howard Hanson, Walter Piston, and Roger Sessions"

    Can anyone tell me how Mr Carnes statements are consistent with real history?

     

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    MrWilson, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:42pm

    "So, basically, Rick is saying that less copyright led to a flood of musical output. Wouldn't that be a cultural benefit?"

    There's the problem right there. For people who only speak the language of money, culture is not an end but a means. It's just a monetizable commodity to be packaged and sold for maximum profits. Any cultural construct that isn't (perceived as being) profitable is immediately scoffed at because to them it might as well not exist.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:56pm

    I remember the 80's, and one of those memories is the screaming crowds of people around music celebrities it was something, they could do nothing wrong, they did as many things wrong as they did right and people loved them, in those days they didn't call their fans thieves, they called the record company thieves, fast forward 30 years, maybe is just me but I don't see thousands of people around hotels, anymore, I don't see thousands of people going to concerts anymore, the greatest musicians touring today are almost all from the 80's still, why?

    I believe it is because back then those people connected with the public, we were all on the same side, today musicians bought that crap about "money" and are paying the price for it. Piracy is the least of their problems.

    I remember people working a whole year to buy a ticket to see a show in another state or country, those were the days that fans sacrificed a lot to go see their idols, does anybody do that today?

    Something died and it is starting to stink.

     

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      Darryl, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:26pm

      Re:

      I remember people working a whole year to buy a ticket to see a show in another state or country, those were the days that fans sacrificed a lot to go see their idols, does anybody do that today?


      Yes, they most certainly do that today, but we dont notice it as much, but that is simply because we are getting OLD !!! :)

      I young friend of mine, who is a major Justin Bieber fan (im not BTW), got a ticket for his Sydney concert, it cost here $290 for the ticket (christmas present), and if they want to get a hotel near the show in the night, it will cost $800, but they are all sold out.

      The concerts are all sold out, and to get a bus to the concert from newcastle, (175Kms away), that is an extra $60.

      And all the concerts are 100% sold out.

      It still happens,, just not to us anymore :)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 4:59am

        Re: Re:

        Funny you cite Bieber, you know he is a grown internet phenomenon among adolescents today?

        He was the product of internet promotion and was plucked out of it by the record labels.

        He owns his success to pirates that got his music for free and made him a success.

        Is that not irony?

         

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        vivaelamor (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:46am

        Re: Re:

        I'm clicking insightful just to encourage the coherent thought I see here.

         

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    ZLD, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:58pm

    Recording = Advertisement

    I think this perfectly illustrates exactly what a recording really is, an advertisement.

    Companies spend millions of dollars to make ads for television and radio so you will go and buy their product. Their product isn't the ad itself, its something else that you buy. A tide commercial for instance urges you to purchase their brand of detergent for doing your laundry.

    Comparatively, a recording of a song is not a product. It is an advertisement for you to go listen to them in concert. Without that advertising with the recording, no one knows what you product is or what value it should have. I like a lot of indie bands because they have some great recorded songs that have driven me to go purchase their product, a chance to see them performing.

    Artists that choose to stop recording because they think they are loosing to piracy are actually just damaging their advertising. Its akin to Tide being pissed that some people are 'illegally' downloading their commercials to watch later and so Tide chooses to stop making Tide commercials. As a result, people forget about Tide and start to buy something else that is advertising and seems better. Suggesting that people will or should stop recording simply because there is 'music piracy' is completely blind to reality. It is so unfortunate that few really seem to understand the music business.

     

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      Kerry, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 11:05am

      Re: Recording = Advertisement

      Yep, that's what I always dreamed of when I wanted to be in the music business. Everyone getting my music for free, so the only way I could earn a living is travelling hundreds (or thousands) of miles routinely, playing shows for a bunch of sweaty retards that throw things at the stage and shout out "Play some skinnard, man".

      F You.

      What if I don't want to play a gig for you and your stupid friends? What if I simply wanted to make some art (recording) and then sell copies of it (like lithographs of paintings) for people to enjoy whenever they want?

      Now every one gets my music, regardless if they want to pay for it or not, and I get the pleasure of working a f---ing day job because the music industry doesn't pay the bills anymore.

      Or I could play a gig and have to stare at your ugly face for an hour. Sounds like a heap of fun... NOT.

       

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    fogbugzd (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:08pm

    Why do industry hacks always portray one type of music as the only or best type?

    One formula for essays by industry advocates is to pick on type of music and explain how piracy is killing that type of music. But there are many different types of music, and there are a lot of different types of jobs in the music industry. At any given time certain types of music and certain jobs within the recording industry are going to be more profitable than others. Circumstances changes, and so do the types of jobs that you can make a living at.

    Perhaps Steven Foster didn't like writing music for minstrel shows. But, if he wanted to make money writing music during his time then he had to do it. Nothing said that he couldn't write the type of music he liked on the side, but the minstrel music put food on the table.

    During the golden era of the CD you could make money making big production studio pieces. It isn't reasonable to think that would last forever, any more than writing for minstrel shows should have remained a profitable profession forever.

    Times change. Tastes change. No style of music or music occupation is guaranteed to last forever.

     

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    mary cigarettes, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:20pm

    i would say this chap has some sort of *nostalgia disease*... he's very out of touch... i was signed to six major labels through my teens up to my late thirties...but this last ten years has been the best time..a real learning curve with the new technology...i don't need to be in a major record contract to record decent sounding music anymore...i've never been more free artistically because thanks to the internet, i'm not beholden to mainstream radio's prudish sensibilities..i can now write whatever i want..i can be lyrically as unhinged as i please ...all sorts of stuff....i know many people who had hits during the 80's..they were broke then and they're broke now...anyone who uses modern times as an excuse to not create,simply isn't creative. the paradigms of music will be changing forever..no point in moaning...just put the hours in...find a way and enjoy it... it will take a whole lot more than what he suggests to brings about the death of creativity.

     

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    Darryl, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:36pm

    Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

    Rick discusses his fondness for The Beatles and some of the amazing things they did for music and experimental recording techniques. He then goes on to suggest that the reason The Beatles were able to do that type of thing was largely because they stopped touring and could focus their efforts in the studio instead. For the younger crowd, it might surprise you, as it did me, to find out that The Beatles did so little actual touring that, on the whole, they would have to be considered a studio act, not a live act

    Rewriting history for you're own reason's again Mike !!

    The beatles, basically formed in 1960, and were basically finished in 1966, between 66 and 1970 they did create a couple of studio/live albums.

    But it's a lie to say there were basically a studio band, in the 6 years 'when they were really big' they toured MOST OF THE TIME.

    How can you say a band that goes to Americal and does 38 concerts in 19 days is mainly a studio band ?

    Would you like me to list the number of countries they toured during that 6 year period ?

    As for there not being many 'studio musisians, that is also not true..

    That is what the best muso's do when they are not touring, or working in a band, they are stuio muso's, they make their day to day living going to studio's and playing on other people's albums, or movie sound clips, or adds..

    They are professional muso's they make their living by going into a studio every day, and playing music for money..

    That also forms the talent pool that other artists and producers go too, to find musisican, and artists who can contribute to their project.

    Alice Cooper, was very big on that, he would for a band from the top studio muso's, and from other bands that were on a break, and build a top of the line, line up for himself, then he would tour them.

    The best muso's in the industry in the studio muso's who make a living from playing and performing every day.

    But you have to be very good to get to that level, not many get there, and even fewer make a living out of it, the very very best, get in big bands and make ALOT of money.

    Just like any other field, if you are good, you do well, if you are not good, you do poorly, if you are very very good, you do very very well.

    Mike seems to think, with music, even if you are very very good, you should not have the right to do very very well..

    And that only the people who are not that good, but better at something else should do will in the industry.
    That is why Mike, you system has failed, and will never get anywhere..

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:07pm

      Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

      CULTURE HARD!!!

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:48pm

      Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

      Rewriting history for you're own reason's again Mike !!

      Well, that was as far as I read into your comment.

      Geesh, if you can't even comprehend that this post wasn't even written by Mike, than I am not expecting you to comprehend much else.

       

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        Darryl, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:17pm

        Re: Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

        mike or mike's clones.. makes no difference..


        I comprehend just fine, How about you ??

         

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

      Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

      You are seriously starting to come apart at the seams, Darryl...

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:25pm

      Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

      "But it's a lie to say there were basically a studio band, in the 6 years 'when they were really big' they toured MOST OF THE TIME."

      Darryl, I could launch into a long winded takedown of your entire post, starting with the fact that I wrote the article not Mike and ending with your inability to write in basic English, but I'll just point towards this one dumb comment and then point to the Beatle's Timeline on wiki:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles_timeline

      For all practical purposes, they toured from 1960-63, so your six years is actually four. And let's take a look at some of what they released AFTER they quit touring:

      A Hard Days Night, 8 Days A Week, Ticket to Ride, Help!, Yesterday, Day Tripper, Paperback Writer, Yellow Submarine, Eleanor Rigby, Penny Lane, Sergeant Peppers, I am the Walrus, The Magical Mystery Tour, Hey Jude, Get Back, Abbey Road, Come Together, Let It Be, as well as another assload of albums and EPs through the 70's and 80's.

      You're wrong. They're a studio band. It's what they're known for....

       

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        VoxMysteron, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

        Not quite. The Beatles did 6 tours in 1964, starting with France in January, the famed USA visit, a brief run of UK theater dates in late April, a world tour in June, a month of dates in the UK and Sweden in July, the US in August and September, and another run of UK theater dates from October through November. In 1965, they did a European tour in June and early July, the US again in August and the UK in December. 1966 had the Germany, Japan and Philippines tour in late June and early July, and the US in August.

        Incidentally, consider that one of the reasons the Beatles abandoned touring was the state of sound systems at that point. For instance, the Portland, Oregon show on August 22, 1965 at the Memorial Coliseum used a PA that consisted of ten 80 watt Bogen PA amplifiers - or 800 watts in total. The Shea Stadium concert on August 15, 1965 used at most 2400 watts of PA power - versus about 75,000 watts that the Who used in the same venue in 1983. About the only time the Beatles were actually able to hear themselves and the sound was clear to the audience was at the Atlanta show on 8/17/65 - there's a partial bootleg of the show where both John and Paul remark into the mics about how clear and loud the sound is (and interestingly enough, the available research says that the PA for that evening was only about 800 watts as well).

         

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      techflaws.org (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 2:23am

      Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

      Well, the stupid f*** again doesn't realize who wrote the post. Dude, youre so embarrassing it's pitiful.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:57am

      Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

      Dark Helmet is now Mike?

      LoL

      Supreme fail!

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:53am

        Re: Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

        "Dark Helmet is now Mike?

        LoL

        Supreme fail!"

        Well, it's true that we're not the same person, I am his father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate. What does that make us?

        Absolutely nothing!

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:09am

          Re: Re: Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

          It makes you people.

          But that is not the fail part, the supreme failure of darryl is that in his heist to trash anything Mike says he doesn't even bother to check who is writing.

           

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

            I think perhaps you're missing the Spaceballs reference here....

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:18pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

              Sorry don't remember that cartoon, but strangely I do remember the older bugs bunny episodes.

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:29am

          Re: Re: Re: Beatles a studio band HAHAHA.. Would be nice of you said things based on fact !!!

          father's brother's nephew's cousin
          That can be shortened to: cousin. ;)

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:17pm

    He's being made redundant and doesn't like it

    Two points: The music industry, as opposed to musicians, is in trouble because their product -- the creation of physical media and the creation, maintenance and control of distribution channels -- has gone away. Their product was never music. The technology enabled them to do that because everything was locked in physical media that lent itself to control. The new technology opens up not only distribution (to copying), but creation and so on. Once all the new avenues are opened up the same way piracy has been, things will be different.

    I would think the vast majority of musicians can earn as much as before or more, because really, there weren't that many rock-star level bands compared to the number of people who just made or played music. The industry concentrated and controlled profits so it could skim off the cream. It was an artificial system that relied on technology and up-front money to work. Now that the technology has changed and up-front money can be replaced by other technologies (for creation or marketing), the need for the industry around the music will change, and the parasites will drop off.

    It is the end of an anomalous era. In the past rock-star level composers had patrons to keep them going. Musicians made what they made from the crowd they could get in front of.

     

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    Karl (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:14pm

    Beatles

    Here's something else to consider when you mention the Beatles.

    To this day, none of the members make anything from album sales. Due to a series of label mishaps and bad decisions, most of the Beatles catalog is owned by the estate of Michael Jackson.

    So they never did make money on record sales. As a matter of fact, in 2004 Paul McCartney made only 1.5% of his musical income from album sales (most of it was from touring and promotional deals).

    He's also been open to the Beatles catalog being released on the internet, but the label heads won't do it.

     

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      Anonymous, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 12:10am

      Re: Beatles

      Wrong. As usual.

      You don't know what you're talking about again. Go look up mechanical royalties. Go look up how music publishing works.

      McCartney toured in '04 but didn't release an album. Nonetheless, where's the cite for your stat?

      There is so much misinformation and bullshit on this site that it boggles the mind.

       

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        The eejit (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 2:02am

        Re: Re: Beatles

        Then stop flinging. Why can't you do your own research for once? Or are you simply a lazy hack?

        I used Wolfram Alpha for this, and it found that the abovew is, indeed correct.

         

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        Karl (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:19am

        Re: Re: Beatles

        Wrong. As usual.

        Overstated. I shouldn't have said they make "no" money. They make "very little" money (relatively speaking).

        From The Beatles: Every Little Thing by Maxwell MacKenzie:
        George Martin admitted he had nothing to lose by signing the Beatles. The received no advance, and only a penny royalty per singles sold for domestic sales, half a penny for foreign sales. An album of twelve songs would count as six singles, and royalties would only increase by one-fourth of a penny after one year and half a penny after two years. It was not until 1996 that the contract was renegotiated, and the Beatles emerged with an unprecedented ten percent on the wholesale price of their records, rising to fifteen percent after sales of one hundred thousand copies for singles and thirty thousand copies on albums.

        McCartney toured in '04 but didn't release an album. Nonetheless, where's the cite for your stat?

        File Sharing and Copyright by Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf (2009). Their source is Connolly and Krueger (2006). If you look at the PDF, it's in Table 6, on page 38.

        And you're right, I did mess up the figures. First of all, it was income for 2002, not 2004. And the number is actually closer to 6% (he made $72.1 million, of which $4.4 million was from mechanical and publishing royalties combined).

        That's pretty standard, in fact. The table lists the top 35 music earners (Sir Paul was #1). Only five made more money from royalties than from concerts - and those five are also producers, so they earn royalties for the records they produce as well. Even counting those five, on average those musicians made $17.4 million, of which $3 million (about 17%) was from combined royalties.

         

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    Idobek (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:24am

    But why did they stop touring?

    This "needs citation" but: the Beatles stopped touring because the experience for the fans was deteriorating. Beatlemania had become so great that the screaming at the gigs was so loud that nobody (not even the band) could hear the music being played. The number of injuries incurred by the crowd was increasing rapidly as those screaming fans fought to get to the front. Overall the crowd came away from a gig feeling cheated; you cannot expect a mob to understand that it was its own behaviour that ruined the experience. Therefore, the Beatles decided to stop touring, although I doubt they ever intended to never tour again

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:47pm

    I just wanted to add to the end of this discussion:

    Nothing happens in absolute terms. We will never end piracy. We will likely never see the riaa and such go away. You get the drift.

    Piracy isn't the death of the recording artist in any complete sense, rather, it has changed that market to the point where it really isn't very profitable for most anymore to do this alone.

    There is no certain death, just a slow, slow bleeding.

     

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    cram, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:00pm

    "Ugh. If I'm reading his allusion correctly, I see two astounding claims here. First, The Copyright Act of 1909 was responsible for the obliteration of a great deal of racist comedy in the United States. Secondly, if piracy continues, that racist comedy is going to come back. He can't really mean that, can he?"

    You aren't reading it correctly. That's not what he implied. It's more a defense of all the "good things" that became possible because of the Act, such as stemming the flow of free music from Europe, thereby helping people like Foster because they didn't have to write racist comedy.

    "Our native-born composers like Stephen Foster were reduced to writing the only type of music that the British weren't producing, i.e. minstrel songs"

    See. His claim is that Foster was forced into writing such songs, which were more racism than music, simply because he couldn't compete with the unfair advantage that European music enjoyed. That's what copyright and protection were all about: a level playing field.

     

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    iveseenitall, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 11:43pm

    Funny. That same industry is telling us that auto tuned 18 year olds are the song writers and recording artists.
    And who those shadowy figured musicians are playing behind them at all the award ceremonies nobody knows.
    Mr Carnes, this has happened on your watch. Please explain. Are the so called pirates really to blame for everything and everyones problems? Does the industry share any of the blame?

     

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    identicon
    Robert, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 2:53pm

    The problem...

    The death of the recording artist will never happen. The death of the recording label industry will happen, it's only a matter of time.

    And who can they thank? THE RIAA. The RIAA has alienated it's customer base. It's made people not want to buy music. Even though the labels don't treat artists well my issue is not with them however doing business with them puts money in the pockets of the RIAA and that's not going to happen.

    If the record labels want to do business with me leave the RIAA and cancel your association with them. Tell them we don't need them to count record sales either because anyone can do that. Tell them the need for the RIAA has come and gone because so long as they harass their clientele their clientele won't have a thing to do with them.

     

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    Dennis Teel, May 31st, 2011 @ 7:41am

    rolling stones

    sensible remarks about the stones are okay,but what's with age-ist crap being posted?

     

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    awebuser (profile), Nov 27th, 2011 @ 9:41pm

    Improving Technology

    Your point

    "It's because the difference in quality has been rendered negligable by advances in technology."

    is a very good one, now anyone with some talent and a PC can create great music and become 'famous' online. Which I quite agree makese it more interesting for music lovers who get to hear the talent rather than manufactured rubbish.

     

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    Rowena, Dec 18th, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Rick Carnes (breath)

    Rick, I like what you say, except for when you talk about your "baited" (sic) breath. It's supposed to be "bated" as in abated, held... not as in maggots on a hook.

     

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


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