Music Biz Downturn Affects Everyone – Not Just Artists
This week I’m launching a sideblog here on the site. “Letters From Oz,” will be a space for me to think, offer insights, and hopefully suggestions about the chaotic, ever-changing music business.
We all know it; the old ways of doing the music business are no longer effective. We all worry; how does the artist… How do all of us working in the making of music the world enjoys, continue to make money? How can the music business economy continue when people download music for free, and talented people all over the business; A&R, A&R admin, business affairs, and senior level executives are being let go?
The problem of shrinking budgets and tighter purse strings has had an affect at my level – the manager wrangling the technical people who make hit songs; recording engineers, music producers, and songwriters. I work an extra 40% for the 70% of the revenues I generated a year ago. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve kept Milk Money lean and mean, which has enabled me to pivot when others have closed shop.
There are now more independents, people not affiliated with record labels, than ever before who have been able to take advantage of computers and software which have lowered the barriers to entry to an exclusive and very closed knit industry. And this has had an equalizing affect. The high-end producers and engineers can’t work for the big dollar projects exclusively anymore. If producers want to stay working, they have to be flexible enough to work for $10,000 to $15,000/song, rather than $50,000/song.
This is what I see. Business still has to function, and people have to be willing and able to take risks – that is the key to keeping our industry creative and alive. One of the ways I see artists being able to sell records is through co-branding; licensing a song with a particular product that gives a brand cache with its target demographic, while putting the work of artists in front of eagerly listening ears. This kind of ingenuity is the bedrock of innovation that will keep the business healthy.