“10 grand from one sales platform at a time when ‘no-one pays for music anymore’…what does it mean?
I guess for some of you, your reaction is ‘only 10 grand?? I thought you were LOADED!’, in which case, you perhaps need to take with a pinch of salt the over-inflated claims of success of some other musicians pretending to be making millions. ‘Fake It To Make It’ has long been the received wisdom of music promo, but we’re kind of beyond that now. Apart from everything else, it makes it very difficult to build honest friendships with the people who dig your music if you’ve been lying to them for years about how massively successful you are.”
“So what does £10k mean?
Is it wages? If it is, it’s not much of a milestone. Should it be measured against what other artists are making? That seems a bit meaningless, given the role that marketing (and marketing budgets) play in headline figures. There are going to be a LOT of acts–signed as well as unsigned–who will see FAR less than we do go into their bank accounts from sales while still grossing WAY more than we do.
Because, making money from music costs money. And for MOST artists, it costs more than it makes. I could probably sell a lot more music if I assigned myself a sizable advertising and promo budget, if I was willing to do a buy-on tour opening for a bigger name act…but I just can’t afford to do that. That would cease to be sustainable. So I spend what I have–which is time–and use it to tell stories, to present the music in as many different contexts for as many different audiences as I can. For about 80% of my Bandcamp sales, I can tell you where the person heard about me, because I’ve been in touch with them already. It’s an extension of myriad friendships, not the effectiveness of an ad campaign that has bred whatever success we’re looking at here.”
“A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my first record-label meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my fans on this new site called Myspace. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans–not the other way around.”
“I predict some things will never change. There will always be an increasing fixation on the private lives of musicians, especially the younger ones. Artists who were at their commercial peak in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s tell me, “It was never this crazy for us back then!” And I suspect I’ll be saying that same thing to younger artists someday (God help them). There continues to be a bad girl vs. good girl/clean-cut vs. sexy debate, and for as long as those labels exist, I just hope there will be contenders on both sides. Everyone needs someone to relate to.”