Lyle Lovett: Albums Sold? 4.6 Million. Money Made From Album Sales? $0

from the business-models-in-action dept

Every time we talk about music industry business models, we get some folks who have to chime in with some claim about how musicians should be able to sell their music just like they have for years. Of course, the truth is that it's quite rare for any musician to make money from selling their albums, as has been pointed out for years. The latest to make that point is Lyle Lovett. Reader Rose M. Welch sends us this link to a story about Lyle Lovett, pointing out that in two decades of making music, selling 4.6 million albums, he's "never made a dime" from album sales, but has instead used those record sales to make money on tour:
"Records are very powerful promotional tools to go out and be able to play on the road..."
He does go on to say, however, that he thinks music sales should be self-sustaining. Of course, if he can make money from playing on the road, and giving away the music means it's an even more "powerful promotional tool," then why not focus on that? At least he seems open to new ideas:
"If a major label is interested in working with me after these next two records and is able to come up with a strategy that does engage some of the new technology in a way that can benefit everybody, I'd be very interested in that."
The problem, of course, is that most record labels aren't looking at using technology in a way that can benefit everyone. In the mind of your typical record exec, it's the recording industry against anyone else -- and if others are benefiting, that's a sign that the industry is losing. The idea that everyone can benefit doesn't even register.

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  1. identicon
    Brent, 14 Jul 2008 @ 12:02am

    Quite simple, really.

    Here's the problem:

    For all intents and purposes, The Music industry has lost it's corner on the market-- means of production and is trying to re-secure it by way of the legal system. However, by leveraging the legal system, it is entirely too expensive for a mass-produced $12.99 product such as CDs.

    What was once expensive to produce (Vinyl LPs) is now cheap an within reach for the masses (Digital Downloads).

    By continuing to believe the only way to legitimately own a sound recording is by producing a piece of plastic in a court of law is silly, but why not. If the goal is failure, it's certainly attainable.

    Keep it up. New businesses will be created out of RIAAs failure to adapt.

    May I suggest a great read of how Toyota became the nation's #1 producer of cars? Last I read, the GM building in New York was sold.

    It's not about price. Today's customers want more. More content, more musicnotes, more accessibility, more ways to play their music, more ways to interact. This is the harsh reality.

    I am sure the Capital Records Building, among others, would be a nice addition to an overseas asset portfolio.

    I for one, welcome and await my overseas overlord.
    I will serve them well.

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