My heart is divided when I see the challenges the next generation are faced with trying to make a career in the music industry. On one hand it’s harder than ever in the current climate to make a decent living in this saturated market, then on the other hand many only have themselves to blame failing due to not researching what they are getting themselves into.
Most of the world perceive the music industry like an igloo, they only see the small percentage of successful people at the top earning a massive amount of money but don’t see the main majority that are fighting under the water to survive.
There’s currently a worldwide phenomenon of music collages and online courses popping up, even schools are teaching kids how to DJ and make music. Governments and councils are also investing money into this, but at some point while sitting around the table, did someone not ask the question how many DJ jobs are out there? In fact most councils are closing clubs down, counterproductive?
The aspiring DJ/producer market is already completely saturated, though it’s wonderful to see these new music education avenues, I feel this generation are getting grossly let down due to lack of business education resulting in many failing once entering the big world of the music industry. I’ll always say we lose the best producers and DJs on this planet, not due to lack of talent but to lack of business knowledge.
This failed education process also extends to people that aspire to be musicians along side their regular full time jobs/careers. Many are professional business people and fully understand the mechanics of their day jobs; marketing, management, contracts, distribution, sales, investment etc, yet all this professional knowledge falls to the wayside once entering the music industry as they focus on the top part of that cash rich igloo, instead of researching the real world income and mechanics of the music business. First rule before getting any job, look at real world income to ensure you can pay your monthly rent and bills, yet in the music industry common sense prevails being replaced with presumption then anger, then depression.
We’re fighting a microwave generation, they want their worldwide career to happen instantly after releasing a couple of tracks, when this doesn’t happen it’s not them I feel sorry for but the record labels because that’s where they aim their finger of blame as a record label is often their first and only point of contact in the music industry. If they took time to research the mechanics of the music business, they’d soon understand a label only releases music. They’re not a booking agent, so won’t get you gigs, they’re not your manager, marketing company or press representative etc. All these jobs are undertaken by completely different companies, databases, skills and contacts. I feel extreme pain for all the record labels out there, in this current climate most will be making a loss or just about keeping afloat. I respect them because they are doing this for pure love and passion and don’t deserve the hard time they get from the uneducated generation.
While they moan at their first statement not understanding why they can’t make a full time living from this measly income, they head back to their studios full of cracked software, torrented sample packs and stolen Mp3’s for their DJ set. Still the penny hasn’t dropped? From the outside world, people presume most releases sell thousands of downloads and bring in a tidy income for the labels and artists, but in the real world a decent release will only sell 100-500 downloads (due to torrent sites/streaming). There’s also no guarantee any track will sell at all, that choice falls into the hands of the consumers if they like the finished product.
I’ve lived through three major changes in the music industry, in my career all have caused seismic dents to artists income. Vinyl once bought in a handsome income for artists selling average 40,000 + units per release, then the transition went temporarily to CD’s moving on to digital downloads. It doesn’t take much to work out that a single release that once sold for £15 on vinyl now sold digitally for £1 is going to bring in a lot less revenue for everyone involved. The finger pointers demand more cut of the revenue, but where does that leave the label, they need an income to survive and as history shows record labels and the people behind them play a very important role in the genetics of the dance music eco system, we desperately need them.
We’re currently going through the biggest shift I’ve seen in my career that reminds me of the huge income dip we saw with the loss of vinyl. The world is heading away from Digital downloads sales to Streaming. The artist now gets average £0.004 per play, meaning even less income in the short term because as things stand, those clicks are very low. Once again the smart experienced people of the music business are tightening their belts, knuckling down and holding tight for a bumpy ride over the next few years. Soon Digital download stores will be like those back street vinyl stores for the hardcore wax geeks. Give another 5-10 years growth I believe artists will once again start to make a decent income from music, but until then don’t give labels a hard time, work together with them.
We currently have a broken system that’s under pressure, my heart goes out to the next generation. In the great times of vinyl and CD income, managers organically headed the artists way as they could make a living from them in return giving them the professional guidance that they needed, unfortunately that’s not the case today as it’s economically impossible. This process only happens when the success has already happened, and we’re left with today’s system with people heading into this game blind.
You have a plethora of free information and data if you look hard enough in specialist music forums, research the amount of income others get from their releases. Research what you should be asking for before you sign the recording contract. How to get gigs? It’s all there for you to discover, the more research you do, the more successful you will be. Importantly remember record labels are your friends.