Can music ever be financially rewarding again?

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
We have had a few debates about what's wrong with the music industry but I'll try to rehash them to help the discussion. We observe that paying gigs are drying up. Today's commercial music is so different to real live music that the general public don't connect with live bands. Night clubs favour dj's or prerecorded RnB/dance music. Recording studios thrive on pipe dreamers and talented writers/artists give their music away (free album downloads). File sharing killed the cd industry. Well known bands are no longer driving ferrari's - some are lucky to be covering their rent. And people in general are now conditioned to expect music to sound like pop that radio stations are ramming down their throats, repeatedly.

I wonder if you think people could band together to change things and what they could do to make the music industry one that pays. What could govt do? Or do you think it's hopeless? Do you think things are fine?

My suggestions:
Things might improve if radio, mtv etc played only "real" music and had more diversity.
And if piracy became much harder or somehow impossible, musicians coul earn more.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
The old model of success in the music industry is dead or gasping its final breath. What my bands are doing in the meantime is not playing concerts, but "hosting events." You've got to get creative with it...offer the audience something new and unique above and beyond the typical bill of bands. Portland is a great place for this type of thing, but I don't know how it would work besides here and the places we visit on tour.

It's still feasible for the little guy to eek out a living doing music, it's just not as formulaic...
 

Zero Mercury Drummer

Senior Member
I actually don't think it's more difficult now than it ever was. In fact social media and free global distribution have given musicians HUGE advantages over the old days for exposure.

It's not like 99.9999% of us would have gotten rich off the old system anyhow. How many of us would have gotten the big record deal?

When I started playing drums in the 80s there was lots of doomsday talks. People said acoustic drums would be gone entirely!
Technology today is amazing. My band can live broadcast our shows over the Internet and by the time I get home they are archived! That's a long way from the days of passing around a cassette tape (or even CD) and saying "check out my band."
 

CreeplyTuna

Silver Member
Dre, I share your malaise. I think one of the biggest problems is that the general public believes musicians are all crazy rich and popular, because they know about a tiny minority of super stars who somehow clicked with audiences. There is a lack of awareness (or knowledge?) of the other 99% of bands/artists that are working their butts off to play for us. People need to start to see music as a persons means of living.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I actually don't think it's more difficult now than it ever was. In fact social media and free global distribution have given musicians HUGE advantages over the old days for exposure.
Very true! Indie bands/artists/musicians can reach out to their potential audience and promote themselves in ways that weren't even possible just a dozen years ago. Obviously there's a glut of such artists trying to get noticed, but the cream of the crop gets noticed, and that can translate into bigger things.

However, those bigger things may not include 'record' sales. For many artists that might have formerly done very well with album sales, live performance and selling merch has become their primary income. Where tours often helped sell records in the past, records today are essentially given away, and (hopefully) help propel tours.

YouTube, Vevo and Vimeo have really leveled the playing field between what indie and major label artists can accomplish, as they all promote via one or more of those channels, essentially for free! Granted, the labels have bigger budgets fior video production, but that gap is almost closed in terms of what a creative person can do on their laptop at home, and homespun videos aren't the detriment to professionalism that they might have been perceived in the past.

Now, rewards for bands playing on the local level is another thing altogether, and has been discussed online ad naseum. Very few can actually make a living doing that, and it usually involves cover/tribute bands or specialty acts, and a consistent booking schedule in venues/events that pay a decent rate, such as casinos, weddings, corporate events, etc.

Bermuda
 
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WhoIsTony?

Member
This is one guys take, which I found interesting

http://www.postmodernjukebox.com/2013/11/12/how-crowdfunding-will-save-the-record-industry/

Not sure how applicable this would be to all bands though especially niche ones. And obvviously this is just a potential solution to one aspect of the industry
so funny to see that hear... those are my friends

Scott and the crew have found a unique niche ..... they have been out on the road for a few weeks now and are heading to Europe shortly.
every night playing to sold out theaters

their youtube videos get like a million hits in one day

great drummer in that band by the way.... Allan is a badass
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
YouTube, Vevo and Vimeo have really leveled the playing field between what indie and major label artists can accomplish, as they all promote via one or more of those channels, essentially for free! Granted, the labels have bigger budgets fior video production, but that gap is almost closed in terms of what a creative person can do on their laptop at home, and homespun videos aren't the detriment to professionalism that they might have been perceived in the past.

Bermuda
There are also some very talented people at the lower level making very servicable band videos on smaller budgets. One of my friends in particular stopped playing drums to focus on his video work and is knocking out some quality stuff for young bands

so funny to see that hear... those are my friends

Scott and the crew have found a unique niche ..... they have been out on the road for a few weeks now and are heading to Europe shortly.
every night playing to sold out theaters

their youtube videos get like a million hits in one day

great drummer in that band by the way.... Allan is a badass
Definately an example of if your material is strong it will travel. Great concept and actually almost exactly what I wanted my wedding band to be. Shame they are based in the US!

They are definately uniquely placed to do things the way that article describes and I don't think it would work for everbody, but the patreon thing especially is an interesting angle. Not far of something we discussed a few months ago!

http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=113921
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I think its pretty much as hard as it ever was. Gigs were always hard to find and paying gigs even harder. The suits that run the recording industry have always ripped bands off.

Trying to make a living at it must be a nightmare, but for the rest of us I think its better than it was a few years ago. Pubs and clubs will put live music on, they might not pay but the gig is still there. As has been said before in this thread, If you can build up a following, or just be good and entertaining, it is possible to promote gigs and make a bit.

I have just joined a band who are sick of playing with backing tracks and want a real rhythm section, first rehersal tonight, wish me luck.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
It would be nice, I think about it, but I'm not sure if that would kill the enjoyment factor.

I used to teach children music lessons (as opposed to musical instrument lessons) and the frustration factor kicks in when you realize that as a music instructor you are competing with all the distractions children have in their lives in todays "modern and complex society" in many instances you're just "sitting" someone else's child.

It is amazing how many children lack concentration and the low percentages of "students" do not possess even an inkling of focus. But, when you finally get one... with focus and drive it is such a joy to be able to pass along the knowledge.
 
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vxla

Silver Member
If you get into music thinking it will be financially rewarding, it's your own fault for being disappointed. The writing has been on the wall for decades; do it because you love it, and make money along the way.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
If you get into music thinking it will be financially rewarding, it's your own fault for being disappointed. The writing has been on the wall for decades; do it because you love it, and make money along the way.
I agree with your sentiment but I urge caution.

This is the perspective any potential contractor wants the contracted to have...Gotta be careful...do not undersell yourself...remember...the business is about the money...not the music.

If that deflates you, take a better paying job elsewhere and play music on your own without $ considerations.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Depends upon your mindset. There will always, always be a need for live performers. Those who know how to book a gig, will.

It's all in your mindset and what the product that you're selling consists of. If you are a $300/night band then chances are that's going to be your modus operandi. If you're a $300/minimum per gig musician then that you shall be as well.

I'm currently going through that "raise your rates" thing myself. :D Elevate thine mindset.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
depends on how you define "rewarding"

if you want Ferraris and Yachts then you have as much of a chance getting rewarded enough for those luxuries at a casino ... but hey go for it .... there are people making that money in the music business every day ... so if you are a gambling man ...

if rewarding means making a good living, supporting a family and not struggling ... then yes... I am a walking example
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Depends upon your mindset. There will always, always be a need for live performers. Those who know how to book a gig, will.
It's all in your mindset and what the product that you're selling consists of.
This brings up a good point.
There is a drummer, well known among my bandmates and my friends that charges $100 a night to play. He plays a little better than I do, but I know the general audience would not notice the difference.
My bandmates and my friends know that I will play for free. They refer to him as a "Professional Drummer". They refer to me as a "Jam Drummer".

.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
This brings up a good point.
There is a drummer, well known among my bandmates and my friends that charges $100 a night to play. He plays a little better than I do, but I know the general audience would not notice the difference.
My bandmates and my friends know that I will play for free. They refer to him as a "Professional Drummer". They refer to me as a "Jam Drummer".

.
if the outfit is being payed for their services there is no reason why you should not charge for yours

between loading and unloading twice as much gear as anyone else, gas, tolls, your time and effort..... I'll fight to the day I die saying that is worth a piece of pie

stop playing for free
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
if the outfit is being payed for their services there is no reason why you should not charge for yours
Thanks Tony.
I get $40 for playing in the house band (the first 45 minutes) for a jam night.

But any other time, I'll play for free. Because I love playing. I have been back in the saddle for only one year and I am being asked to play more and more.
I am re-thinking this playing for free stuff.

.
 

moxman

Silver Member
The music industry has gone through a revolution of sorts over the past 40 years or so.. first it was Disco that knocked live music off it's feet and closed a lot of union gigs and venues to the lowest bidder. Then when file 'sharing' (= THEFT) came on strong we lost any chance of making cash from record deals (unless you are in the 1% that get picked up). Also most bars ban smoking which killed off some patrons.. literally!

So now we have people making their own music using cheap digital technology and selling it out of their basements. The result - really crappy music played on really crappy audio devices - so at least 'consumers' are getting what they pay for!

Neil Young has a great idea of bringing back audio quality with his hi-def audio product. I hope it or something like it succeeds.. like the sound of analog vinyl records in the 70's coupled with awesome stereo systems. So.. unless you are an established 'star', we are left with live gigs and merch as the last avenues left to make money.. and if you want to be successful at that you need to have something unique that people will pay to see .. whether its a stage show or exploding penguins, it's all about entertainment.

..after all that I don't know what the future holds.. music has always been a real tough market to succeed in financially.. but there are many that have figured out how to do it. So I guess it's up to us..
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
The old model of success in the music industry is dead or gasping its final breath. What my bands are doing in the meantime is not playing concerts, but "hosting events." You've got to get creative with it...offer the audience something new and unique above and beyond the typical bill of bands. Portland is a great place for this type of thing, but I don't know how it would work besides here and the places we visit on tour.

It's still feasible for the little guy to eek out a living doing music, it's just not as formulaic...
Hey, this is interesting. So what do you mean by "hosting events"?
What do the events look like?
 
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