“We have to get over the notion of the old musical middle class, where you could put out an album every two years, do a bunch of tour dates, sell some t-shirts, and make $75k a year. The new reality looks like driving for Lyft when you’re home, maybe taking a few freelance composing gigs for an ad agency, releasing and touring around your own music, and bartending at your buddy’s place on weekends. Is this less fun, perhaps, or more stressful, than the old way? Absolutely. But it’s also the new normal.
When people talk about the gig economy as a new concept, it’s because it’s a new concept for a very select group of people. Women, immigrants, and people of color have always been part of the gig economy, not because it was cool and freeing and driving for Lyft is a super fun way to make money while finishing their novels–it was because they had no other options. Being able to ‘follow your passion’ and make art for a living is a very class-based concept–most people are just working to pay the bills, and the idea that you have a right to write and perform music and make a living doing so is a foreign concept.
I absolutely believe in paying people for their work, but figuring out what they should be paid (or have a right to be paid) is tricky. But opposing Spotify, in the absence of a realistic solution, is just silly and privileged. I’d love to be a (middle class, educated) boomer riding life out on a cushy retirement package…but that’s not an option anymore. Rather than bemoaning the lost past, we need to focus on making the gig economy more sustainable for everyone.”
“[T]his isn’t a sob story. We knew [the tour] would be an expensive endeavor, and we still chose to make the investment. We could have played a duo show instead of hiring six people to tour with us. That would have saved us over $50,000, but it was important at this stage in Pomplamoose’s career to put on a wild and crazy rock show. We wanted to be invited back to every venue, and we wanted our fans to bring their friends next time. The loss was an investment in future tours.
We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.
We are the mom and pop corner store version of ‘the dream.’ If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.
We have not ‘made it.’ We’re making it.”
“Consumers no longer need to buy full albums to get the songs they want. They are able to buy the songs they care about piecemeal. Is there an opportunity to save the album? When an artist creates an album, isn’t that the product? Not the individual songs, but the collection of songs into one product? How can the industry entice people to purchase full albums again? Maybe there is an opportunity to revolutionize what individuals actually get with an album purchase to be more in touch with new technology and mediums. An album has the ability to provide way more than just a collection of songs, possibly music videos, maybe some commentary, and an artistic album cover. It can be so much more interactive.”
“Delivering the fourth annual John Peel Lecture at the Radio Festival in Salford last night (October 13), Pop said, ‘The people who don’t want the free U2 download are trying to say, don’t try to force me. And they’ve got a point.’
‘Part of the process when you buy something from an artist, it’s kind of anointing, you are giving people love. It’s your choice to give or withhold. You are giving a lot of yourself, besides the money. But in this particular case, without the convention, maybe some people felt like they were robbed of that chance, and they have a point.’
During his half-hour address, the 67-year-old shared ancedotes and experiences from his own career, and at one point noted: ‘If I had to depend on what I actually get from sales I’d be tending bars between sets.’ Defending his Swiftcover commercial, he said: ‘If I wanna make money, well about about selling car insurance? At least I’m honest. It’s an ad and that’s all it is.'”
“‘In our eyes (and hearts), this demonstration of support underscores a dramatic, cultural revolution happening in arts communities around the globe,’ wrote Tyler Palmer, Patreon’s VP of Operations. “More creators are able to create freely and fully by connecting directly to the people with the power to support them. We’re honored to help make this happen, and inspired to do more.'”
“Listeners are well-served by streaming platforms, but for artists, they cast the question of compensation in a stark new light. While the value debates that dominated the mp3 moment pitted fans against artists, the emergent streaming era has so far seen the return of corporate exploitation, with a speculative twist: The rich or soon-to-be-rich build innovated products, convince an ailing recording industry to sign over their catalogs, acquiring the bricks-and-mortar of their operations–digitized recordings–for fractions of a penny on the dollar. These operations are mostly funded by venture capital, periodic rounds of investments, or as cogs in vast empires of information, and they can feel overwhelming for fans and artists alike.
As streaming takes center stage for music commerce, questions with long histories must be reframed. In what ways are the non-stop interactions between databases and algorithms shaping our musical tastes? Do streaming platform business models inherently exploit artists when listener choice scales to infinity? Should speculative capitalism be the driving force for large-scale innovations in music technology, and is there a feasible alternative? Are we living in a technological golden age of creative possibility, cross-cultural communication, and sheer abundance, or a surveillance state controlled by privately-held brands promising endless access at the expense of imperceptible control? Answers to these questions are piloting digital music deep into the 21st century, but critically evaluating current technological developments means keeping an eye on the lessons of the past.”
From Jari Mäenpää:
“This is the way a record deal works: The label gives an advance to make an album. This is a loan and they will recoup every penny back from the record sales. The reason why TIMEI&II has taken so long to make (and is still taking long to finish TIME II), is because I haven’t gotten enough advances (money) to make these complex albums. Not even close. So I’ve been struggling all these years and sacrificed everything to make these albums. I have never really made any money from Wintersun. All my money has gone into album production, but you can guess who have made tons of money from Wintersun. The point is that I need my own studio to make the future albums, but Nuclear Blast won’t be able to loan enough money to make that happen and then they won’t allow me to do a crowd funding campaign either that would make it happen.
This is all stressing me out very badly and it’s slowing my workflow. I’ve got enough technical problems to deal with making these albums. I just want the freedom to make music, but I guess it is what it is. Honestly, I feel like I’ve signed a deal with the devil and I’m just a slave in the system.”