"Remember, there aren't a whole lot of small bands out there that are any good. I'm not saying that most small bands aren't good, just that if they are, they usually sell out to a record company, and then they become 'big bands'."
You are obviously still clinging to the old model, no small band that is good would want to get involved with a label these days. They risk going down with the old system.
We think your model will work for both big and small bands. The only thing we see as a slight flaw in it - is that the small bands have to get to a certain level before CwF + RtB becomes a viable model for them. That's why we dismissed the big bands, it will OBVIOUSLY work for them as you explained very convincingly re: NIN.
If you can explain to us how small bands can achieve that level without selling their soul to an "old model" label - or giving away the rights to their "scarce goods" to a "new model" manager or label. We will then be certain that we "FULLY" understand this as well as you do.
More guff about huge bands, who spent / are spending time on major labels. Completely irrelevent to the plight of smaller independent acts trying to push forward with the "new model". Can we have less of this and more about how small bands - without rich patrons - can secure finance without selling their souls?
First of all and by way of explanation to prevent any eye rolling and tut-tutting of the "they just don't
get it do they" variety. We very much do get it.
We are glad to see the demise of the old industry, it was a lottery and was based squarely on ripping
off both artists and fans.
We don't believe in the copyright laws, and we don't believe in criminalising fans or anyone else
We don't believe that any artist can sit back and wait for others to get the ball rolling for them, they
can no longer just "focus on my music man" - those days are gone.
We are in favour of CwF + RtB and indeed have begun to use the theory. However we had to get to
a certain position in order to make it workable. You have to CwF first obviously and how that is achieved
is different for every artist and genre in question - and necessitiates a wide variety of approaches and funding.
We did it by financing ourselves for a considerable period, playing live, often promoting our own shows
and releasing our own recordings. So we don't just deal in theory, we deal in practicalities.
We could afford to do this because for years we have run our own business in London (not a place known for cheap
rents and rampant communism) so we are quite aware of basic economics. We are also free to operate without
the need to worry about a boss sacking us if we take too much time off. We have now secured several 5th
Beatles to help us in different areas with our future endeavours. We are also remaining independent.
We are a duo but the third member of our band is an artist - who thanks to the internet isn't even based in
the same country as we are. We therefore have never had to pay for any artworks. However this person was
a friend first - and was willing to work for free.
Any 5th Beatle worth their salt is going to have to be paid. Sure you can get people to help with the hard
graft of online and other promotion for free - and some of our fans will do this. But the one thing you need in
this business is contacts. No one will willingly share their hard won experience and contacts with a project
that hasn't already proven its worth in some way. In much the same way that any start up business needs
finance - and even things like "Kickstarter" still seem to be best suited to artists who are some kind of "going
This entire debate needs to move on and focus on something far more important than labels and what they
DEMAND from artists.
On the subject of scarce goods you recently replied:
"Huh? Who said they need to design, produce and sell those goods? That's the role of a label/manger/etc.
if the artist doesn't want to do it."
So are you saying that the artist who can't (not won't we have already said that is a non-starter) take on
the role of the 5th Beatle themselves, perhaps due to lack of time and money - is now going to be forced
to undertake a new kind of "Devil's Agreement". This time not with their musical works but with their "scarce
goods" as the ransom? Isn't this precisely what the labels are doing with their odious 360 deals? Perhaps
you think that is inevitable and not a problem. We don't share that view.
And this brings us to our central question to you Mike.
Will artists who are poor, now have to either accept that they will never sit at the big table, and will have to remain
amateurs, will their circumstances now dictate the level to which they can aspire. Or will they now have to "meet
the new boss, same as the old boss"? Just what they hand over to a label/manager has changed? Are they in
fact excluded from trying out your theory for themselves by their circumstances, because they can't not won't DIY
for long enough to make it work as independents?
Yes your formula can supply artists with a new way forward, and if they are prepared to work hard and to find all
the pieces of the jigsaw themselves it will work. But it pre-supposes that they have the means to connect with their
fans - and by that we mean the famous "True Fans" - the ones who will gladly buy "scarce goods" the same fans
who will also invest their time and money in helping their favourite artists create more art.
When this is applied to "bands" and those who wish to play live - where the "connection" with fans can often be
at its strongest - the need for finance is even greater than those who record at home and use the internet as their
primary source of promotion. They are blessed, technology is cheap and the only drawback for them is that the
internet is overcrowded with people with the same goal.
So has anything really changed for the artist without finance?
Well we are self-employed so the job issue is easier, no boss to appease. We know one Canadian band whose original singer quit touring to have a baby and her sister took over the role of lead singer, a pretty novel approach to that problem, mind you they are on EMI so perhaps a little more financially secure.
"And the Kickstarter blog has said that the projects which seem to do best are those where the artists already have a network of friends and fans to tap into."
Doesn't suprise me one little bit. I feel sure the message for the future is that home based artists who don't do it live will have a slight advantage over the bands who go out and perform.
Times are going to get harder for live bands but we are still positive and to quote a fellow Londoner.
"You gotta be able to go out there and do it for yourself. No one's gonna give it to you" - Joe Strummer
"Also the production of content is cheap compared to the cost of performance."
Yeah by that we meant that many, not all, who prefer the non-live route, also utilise home recording. We don't record at home and we agree with you - 'cos we use a good/expensive studio partly for the gear partly for the "ears" and experience of the guy who runs it.
"What does a small group need for a concert?"
A small band (we're a duo) still has to pay crew/driver and hire vans, petrol, food, hotels, pay up-front merch costs etc etc. Also we 'sometimes' have to pay upfront air travel costs if the promoter won't stump it up.
Glad you agree about "live" being important - there is too much theory on here based around doing it as if Rock 'n'Roll bands were bloggers - and not enough talk on the realities of touring with no financial support from anyone .
It was kind of a hypothetical question, 'cos we have in fact already taken that 'ever expanding circles' route in the UK and we have also toured out in Germany, Poland, Slovakia, France, Holland etc etc. We have achieved enough CwF to already have folks sponsor us. But we had to do it oursleves and we just wonder how many others can or will do that. And does this show a slight flaw in the whole CwF + RtB theory as it pertains to emerging or new artists that are primarily "live" acts rather than studio based?
So you are "luckier" than musicians, you have something to sell other than yourself, as a commenter above remarked.
Surely all a musician has to sell is themself? Whilst the content they produce might be freely available - once they have established a connection with their fans/supporters those very people will aid them in the production of more content.
The person in the original article seems to be quite insulting to our own "fans" who are quite happy to view meeting us and communicating with us as a "scarce value"and have indeed helped us upgrade our equipment and often take us for meals etc and not at Muckdonalds!
Totally agree with Kyle, particularly:
"But I'm not entitled to their money. I have to work for it. I have to create something that they feel is worth buying."
Perhaps if Kyle was a "performance artist" it would be more applicable to musicians - particularly those who use performing live as their initial way of CwF? Also the production of content is cheap compared to the cost of performance - and it is the funding of that particular way of CwF that needs to be looked at more closely, not these dead arguments about "oh my god everything is free what am I gonna do".
"While I have no advice to offer about live gigs, I would like to voice disagreement with the whole notion that live gigs are the way to go for everyone. It may not work or appeal to everyone but depending on your audience you may find that there is more money to be made by concentrating on producing new music rather than performing live"
Whilst we totally agree with you it isn't the way to go for everyone in every genre, we are trying to put our own experience of CwF RtB from the perspective of a fully functioning "live" Rock 'n' Roll band - having done over 300 shows and four independently released albums.
There are indeed millions of words being produced by pundits on hundreds of forums and sites about playing live, but very few or none deal with the specific question we are seeking to get an answer to.
When any band reaches a certain level they have to face the choice of either remaining independent or selling their arses to a label, and getting ripped off in the process.
Also if they DON'T believe that filesharing is wrong, and they DO believe that people should not be criminalised and that draconian measures to "police" the internet are stupid and wrong. Well pretty much kiss goodbye to any label wanting anything to do with you.
So taking aside your very valid point about producing more content - which is nowadays fairly cheap as is the means of promoting it online - a "live" act has far larger overheads than a "home based" artist.
How do you finance the upfront costs of touring before you reach the level at which you are viewed as a "going concern" by potential sponsors/patrons?. We have in fact already done this - by or own efforts - but what about those who can't/won't do that? If part of the appeal of an act is in their "live" performance AND we have found "live" is the best way to truly CwF in a lasting and sustainable way - is the future going to be bleak for bands who can't/won't finance their own art to the point at which they reach critical mass?
Is this a slight flaw in the CwF RtB formula as it applies to "live" acts who have spent no time on a label and benefitted from their marketing budgets?
"More discussions on producing more, please!"
We do think all artists will have to produce more content than ever before, and you are right - product has to be more varied and broken up in a wider variety of choices for the fans. Just doing a CD with 12 tracks every few years is as dead as a dodo. However some need to guard against too much disposabillity in what they create or they might fall foul of the "create buzz - new mp3 - buzz dies - mp3 is deleted" syndrome. That is not lasting or sustainable for everyone or every genre.
Cheers Suzanne, that was interesting. We think the smoking ban started the decline at smaller venues, the bigger acts mopped up a lot of the gravy (maybe because they are touring more) - and the recession really did finish a lot of places off. Also, it has to be said, a lot of small venues in the UK are pretty grotty!
Yeah lets go and get that Brummie bat eating OZZY, we'll show him that CwF + RtB really means Connect with Fist = Reason to Bleed... hell I don't even have a kitchen, I don't even have a house - and if I wasn't vegetarian I'd steal his steak.
"Admittedly, there are some facts that could potentially temper the results: including claims of the rather uneven distribution of live revenue (big acts get a lot, others perhaps not as much) and worries that without enough support for smaller acts they won't ever be able to get big enough to make that kind of revenue. So, the fear is that it's all just "legacy acts" that are touring and making money, rather than new acts being encouraged the to get big. This is a charge some others have raised in the past, and it certainly bears watching, though I believe, pretty strongly, that it's an issue that works itself out as various additional business models get developed"
We would really appreciate some more on:
"as various additional business models get developed"
Specifically in relation to smaller independent artists who wish to reamin so. And no we don't swallow the thing about rungs disappearing etc...