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Re: [ARSCLIST] Musican's compensation, wa CD versus Download was "All hail the analogue revolution..."
----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Miller" <lyaa071@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
A few random comments...
> Consider all of those young rock and roll musicians
> who put their recordings up on the web and allow free downloads, just to
> let people hear their music...and so they might be able to develop a
> following and get gigs. Does the lack of payment for those free downloads
> discourage them from playing and making those recordings available?
In many cases, they went into the music business more for recognition
than anything else! Anybody playing in ANY "pop" genre, and starting out,
gets quickly disillusioned about "fortune" (it's easy to do when one may
be paying for the privilege of playing in public!) and decides to hope
strictly for "fame" (which usually isn't obtained either) or just for
more chances with the sex of their preference (which CAN happen, but
usually doesn't!). However, in the "digital age," all one needs to
have a CD available is a fairly decent recording, even live...and a
CD(-R) "burner." Burnt CD's look, and play, just like "real" CD's do.
In fact, I've been selling (very occasionally) "burnt" copies of my
two "magnum opi" for a few years now!
> As a music teacher in higher education I
> always told my students that if they thought they could expect a fair
> monetary return for the investment they devoted to their music education
> they would be in for a rude awakening. Those words of warning never
> deterred those who were dedicated to their art. It never stopped me. From
> my experience, it is almost you don't choose the arts, it chooses you.
And it helps to have a "day gig" lined up...
> I have a long list of musicians who would like to record for my label.
> They don't expect any payment other than 50-100 promo copies of their
> disc. No doubt you are probably aware that several labels, not what I
> would call vanity labels, ask the musicians for as much as $6,000 in
> addition to supplying their recording to get it released. Plus they
> have to pay for their "promo" copies.
Most recording contracts that I have known anything about literally
took more than they gave...at least in terms of money! Every expense...
actual or dreamed up by some wizard in the accounting dep't...is
deductible before the musicians receive "dime one"...and that is if
the record sells (certainly not a given!)
> The recording is not the revenue source for them, it is
> the publicity and professional recognition that matters. These musicians
> aren't hacks either, some of them are superb players who could easily,
> with the right management and promotion, become far better known.
And it is essentially impossible to obtain much, if any, publicity or
public interest without a recording!
> I am reminded of the history of recording. In the very old days a company
> would have a tune it wanted recorded and then hire someone to
> perform/record that tune. Eventually, in popular music in particular,
> musicians chose their own material.
Basically, from the advent of sound recording (c.1890) to well into
the "swing era" (c.1937-38) record companies ALL tried to have recordings
of the popular tunes available. The typical record buyer almost always
wanted a record of a particular song (either vocal, dance band or
some other format) as opposed to a specific version of that song.
Thus, a major "hit tune" can exist on up to 20 or 25 labels...in
many cases, the same recording under a different name!
The "swing era" brought a new (and younger) type of buyer...a fan who
wanted to hear a specific favourite band playing their latest "hit."
Although record companies continued to record their own versions of
hit tunes, the non-hit versions lingered on the shelves...and they
learned there was no point in cutting them. The practice of having
anonymous artists cut "cover versions" for cheaper, often multi-track,
labels continued almost as long as 78's did...but that practice also
became unrewarding as rock'n'roll took over! That also started the
practice of the artists choosing their recorded repertoire (often
because they only knew a handful of tunes!). By the mid-sixties,
artists were expected to not only perform, but also compose their tunes!
> Yes, I agree that musicians deserve to be paid for the talents and
> preparation they bring to their work, but I also believe that teachers
> should be similarly compensated...and for their contribution to
> society...yet they are not. Does that deter great minds from becoming
> teachers...maybe...but I wonder if it deters great teachers from becoming
In our present-day society, as it functions, what we see is a relative
handful of people, usually in an entertainment-related profession,
being much BETTER than "well paid"...because they can make that much
money and more for whomever is in charge of their performances!
Slightly below that, there exist major executives who to a certain
extent set their own pay (or at least set one another's!). Again,
we are speaking of amounts of money that are incomprehensible to
Then come professionals with strong professional associations
(Doctors, Lawyers, usw.)...who are not only vital to society
(well, maybe not the lawyers...?!) but have been able to convince
society of that fact.
Below that are the "degreed classes"...not yet in actual executive
positions, but educated in skills that bring in money for their
employers, so they can justify fairly high salaries. Alongside
them, we have the fortunate few who are still unionized (like
much of Oshawa, with its GM facilities). The former have both
money and status...the latter mostly only money! This also
applies to "skilled labour" (which is becoming scarce!).
Then, we have "the bottom"...the effective peasantry, who earn
minimum wage for serving your fast food and all those other tasks
that need to be performed by humans, not machines...
And, way down below that, you've got ME (and others in my position)...
trying to survive and eat at least occasionally on the pittance the
taxpayers grudgingly provide...
So, since about 99% of musicians need "day gigs" to survive, you'll
find increasing numbers as you move down each level...!
Steven C. Barr
(who broken into music receiving 10% of the bar receipts split evenly
among five of us, plus three beer tickets per musician...)