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Music artists fight back

By cafeman in News
Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:08:40 AM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)

I think we're all getting tired of ranting against the RIAA. Most of us have probably already read Courtney Love's opinions on how the record companies screw artists. But, at long last, it looks like the ball is starting to roll. Artists like the Dixie Chicks, No Doubt, Offspring, Weezer, Beck, The Eagles, Sheryl Crow, and Billy Joel have given a concert outside the Grammies to protest the unfair practices of the major record companies

An article on Fox News provides more details. While I'm personally getting RIAA burnout, the facts he presents are highly interesting. Did you know that out of 9,000 audits of record company financial records, 8,999 of them underpaid the artist? And guess who topped the billboard charts in February, 2002. Britney? N'Sync? Nope - Alan Jackson and Barry Mannilow. Did you know that people over 35 buy a third of all pop records? And that sales to the younger generation are dropping?

In the light of Jackie V.'s comments about the movie industry (2 successful movies out of 10, hence the need to wring as much money as possible out of consumers), it's interesting to see the music industry also start to implode under the weight of poor products. Regardless of how much legislation is passed, the industry will eventually be transformed. Forced copy protection will only delay this. Short of passing a law forcing you to buy CDs under penalty of death, there doesn't seem to be anything that will stop this trend. The only question is, how long before the industry dies and is reborn?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


How long has the industry got?
o One year 3%
o Five years 35%
o Ten years 11%
o Twenty years 3%
o Legislation will prop it up forever 46%

Votes: 94
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Courtney Love's
o Fox News
o Also by cafeman

Display: Sort:
Music artists fight back | 38 comments (37 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
How long? (3.90 / 10) (#1)
by Clanwolfer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:51:44 PM EST

How long until the industry is reborn?

Simple. Until they cut out the ridiculous pricing model. Compact discs are the only technology that I've ever seen that has actually gotten more expensive as it's gotten more common. When CDs were first released, I could get a full-length Mozart disc for fifteen bucks, and that was when there were two factories cranking out discs. Now, you're lucky if you can find 45 minutes of good music at less than seventeen dollars.

Fortunately, there are steps being taken out there. A talented musician friend of mine is teaming up with a talented ISP owner I know. They're trying to sign independant artists to sell albums online at a reasonable price, with a reasonable amount of the profit going to the actual artist. It's the small but legitimate fly-by-night companies like this that could eventually turn music into a good business model again, especially if some of the more popular artists named above would advocate this kind of thing.

The RIAA can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's the oncoming train.
--"I'm simply not going to take it any more."

Inflation (3.66 / 6) (#4)
by wiml on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:25:50 PM EST

All that really means is that CDs have been getting cheaper but not as fast as money has been getting cheaper. $1 when CDs were first released in 1981 has about the same buying power as $2 now (according to the bureau of labor statistics, at least).

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that CDs are probably the cheapest physical medium for music distribution (maybe a dollar to fabricate a disc, including the case, packaging, insert, etc.) but are still relatively expensive to buy.

[ Parent ]

I've got cheaper CDs for you ... (2.20 / 5) (#10)
by Kalani on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:52:15 AM EST

My friend, today I have for you a once-in-a-lifetime sales opportunity. For the price of $1.25, that's just 25 cents above production costs, I will sell to you my box of CDs. They're all blank of course, but the only thing that matters is the price of the physical object being sold!

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Bah (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by Legion303 on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:13:42 PM EST

See where he used the word "relatively"?

The fact remains that CDs are cheaper to manufacture than cassettes are, yet they're priced much higher. (Or were...does anyone still sell cassette tapes?)


[ Parent ]

Yes I saw the word (none / 0) (#33)
by Kalani on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:18:09 PM EST

And he used it to compare materials costs to retail costs. That's exactly the comparison that I was addressing.

The issue of cassette costs compared to CD costs is completely separate, but it's essentially an issue of demand. Check out this page for an example of that. CD > cassette > LP.

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Fly by night? (3.50 / 4) (#6)
by krogoth on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:50:48 PM EST

That generally indicates a scam...
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
[ Parent ]
Wrong idiom... (3.33 / 3) (#7)
by Clanwolfer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:10:55 AM EST

Sorry 'bout that. Got a little carried away in rhetoric. Insert your favorite metaphor for 'very small company' there instead.

Next week... K5 Ad Libz! Write your own mis-matched comment!
--"I'm simply not going to take it any more."
[ Parent ]

cd prices (4.16 / 6) (#16)
by Curby on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:43:55 AM EST

My problem with cd pricing is not that it's creeping up over time, but rather that it's so high at all.

When CDs were introduced years back, consumer advocacy organization Consumers Union reported that CDs take less than $1 to press and package; in other words, they cost the labels around as much as an audio cassette. However, they sold for around $12, whereas tapes were around $8. Seems strange and wrong.

I'm guessing that there have been advances made in CD production to make it even less expensive to produce CDs, and the prices have not gone down. Seems strange and wrong.

That's quite a profit margin, though it is probably shared between many parties. However, it appears that very little of that profit goes to those who make the music, and that seems strange and wrong.

I know that ultimately the consumers determine the price point, and that CDs are priced as they are because enough people will pay that price. Still, it seems strange and wrong.

[ Parent ]
A UK perspective (4.75 / 4) (#17)
by jonathan_ingram on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:48:17 AM EST

When CDs were introduced years back, consumer advocacy organization Consumers Union reported that CDs take less than $1 to press and package; in other words, they cost the labels around as much as an audio cassette. However, they sold for around $12, whereas tapes were around $8. Seems strange and wrong.

A few years back, people noticed this price discrepancy in the UK as well - CDs were selling for a lot more than tapes, despite tapes being more expensive to manufacture. The government started looking into this, and as a consequence the price of tapes rose, while CD prices remained the same :)
-- Jon
[ Parent ]

Back of the envelope... (5.00 / 3) (#24)
by msphil on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:02:16 PM EST

CDs in small runs (1000 or so) cost around $.50. Digital press on a folded-over CD insert, full-color, full-bleed, is around $.75. Call it another $.40 for the rest of the jewel-case packaging (the insert behind the CD), and maybe as much as $.20 for the jewel case in bulk.

$1.85 for a very expensive route to produce the CD plus packaging. (This is about what it would probably cost an independant artist, e.g. at a local bar, to produce the physical package. This does not include studio recording fees, etc.)

All of those prices drop dramatically in greater runs -- traditional four-color press on a high-volume run would be pennies per package, the jewel case price is probably closer to $.10, and the CDs at a run of 100,000 is probably closer to $.05 or so. If the packaging plus CD costs more than $0.50 in the quantities produced for mass-market CDs, I would be very surprised.

(My numbers are based on research done to produce software CDs sold in DVD-style packaging.)

[ Parent ]

9 out of 10 people don't give a shit (4.38 / 13) (#2)
by demi on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:08:41 PM EST

about the RIAA or the MPAA, they just want to hear Britney and watch Ron Howard movies. Most of them will never pirate a CD, and virtually none of them will ever rip a DVD. So the PR battle against the trade groups only matters to the artists, their agents, and the people that want to illegally download or trade digital entertainment. Personally, it would suck if I could never download another mp3 or DivX, but every time I try to explain how it all works to say, my parents, I'm met with a blank stare and very little sympathy.

There may indeed be a sea change in the way artists are compensated for entertainment royalties, some day, but don't count on the price of a CD or movie ticket ever declining. Whether it's 98% of the profits for the studio and 2% for the artist, or vice versa, outlets will always charge what the market will bear, which is obviously around $18 for a CD and $8 for a movie ticket. Even if the entire protected market system collapses for content distribution, I doubt that consumers will ever notice a substantial difference.

Vote With Your Dollars (4.61 / 13) (#3)
by theElectron on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:17:14 PM EST

The only question is, how long before the industry dies and is reborn?

You'll notice a lot of people whining about issues like this, but few actually propose workable plans (outside of pie-in-the-sky Internet distributions and government bureaucracy). When people talk about getting screwed-over by major corporate entities, they often forget that "corporate power" can ultimately only come from two sources: 1) the consumer, and 2) the government. Now, I would say that the government isn't actively doing anything to bolster or directly support the RIAA, etc.--these entities are so powerful because of the consumers who continue to funnel money into them despite their continued hostility toward these very same consumers. What this situation calls for isn't more government intervention (that only changes the way these entities are funded); what the situation needs is a smarter consumer with the backbone to actually do what needs to be done. You see, the most powerful tool in the capitalist's arsenal is embodied in this one very simple axiom: "vote with your dollars." Your dollars may not be much compared to the RIAA's bank account, but don't forget there are many millions of music buyers, only one RIAA.

Many people will claim that since the RIAA is the only game in town, there's only one place to cast your dollar votes--but hold on, this is only music, not something life-sustaining! Suck it up, spread the word, and go for a few years without Britney and the Backstreet Boys. At that point what we'll have is a demonstrably sizeable market ripe for the competition whose only opportunity to gain your dollar votes will be to go right where the likes of the RIAA went wrong.

And never forget that the worst thing you can do in this kind of situation is to take the law into your own hands (i.e. piracy). That only undermines your cause and gives the RIAA the ammunition it needs to get the government on its side.

As for the artist's themselves, I couldn't care less about them. They're mostly a bunch of petulant whiners who sit and complain about their multi-million dollar record deals while the consumer is being quite savagely tooled. If voting with my dollars means a few of those bums actually have to go find real work before the competition arrives, well--all's well that ends well, right?

Join the NRA!

Give credit to musicians (4.00 / 5) (#8)
by elzubeir on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:46:14 AM EST

I have been nodding my head in agreement here up until the last paragraph. Bums? Those bums you talk of are what brings joy and sadness to your life, they are the essential voice in your head that gives you something to hum while doing something you would rather not be doing. This lack of appreciation of artists is indeed sad.

You may be referring to a certain class of artists, and yes, some of them are not worth wasting the equipment to manufacture CD's for.. but there are ones who very well deserve it.

Give your artists a bit of creit and appreciation. Musicians (and other artists) define a civilization.. those bums, they are the definition of your civilization. Think about it.

[ Parent ]
Bums? (3.33 / 6) (#9)
by delmoi on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:58:41 AM EST

As for the artist's themselves, I couldn't care less about them. They're mostly a bunch of petulant whiners who sit and complain about their multi-million dollar record deals while the consumer is being quite savagely tooled.

If you don't care about music, why are you even posting to this thread?
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
You mean (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by epepke on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:05:22 PM EST

The great joy and sadness brought to my life by such world-class brain trusts as Metallica and Brittney Spears?

Hey, I'll listen to old Frank Zappa, but he fought the record companies and won. He also fought Senator Hollings and didn't win.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Corporate power comes directly from government (3.60 / 5) (#12)
by iwnbap on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:17:11 AM EST

Corporate power comes directly from government; since government defines what "property" is. Whilst "property" in terms of sacks of whaet and widgets is pretty clear consider:

- Land, where government defines the appropriate use, zoning requirements, etc.
- Copyright (which is what the RIAA is trying to re-define in their favor)
- Radio Frequency Spectrum

The latter is an interesting one; given the well known USian penchant for "freedom of the press", defining restricted property rights (i.e. granting monopoly) over chunks of RF spectrum seems very problematic. Imagine if each printing press operator needed a licence and was subject to ongoing survellance by a government body - imagine the outcry! Why is this artifically constructed corporate power (constructed by the limited issue of licences) tolerated here?

[ Parent ]
Limited resource (4.25 / 4) (#18)
by dmcnaught on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:37:12 AM EST

Because RF spectrum is a very limited resource, and the best solution we've found to allocate it is to have it doled out by a (somewhat) impartial government agency.

A free-for-all in the RF spectrum would just mean that no one could use it for anything.

[ Parent ]

Voting With Our Dollars Actually Screws Us (4.57 / 7) (#19)
by maxpower on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:44:18 AM EST

I started voting with my dollars over a year ago. Apparently, so did a lot of other people because record sales dropped. What does this get us? Higher prices and more laws.

The recording industry will never admit or even understand (or care) that we quit buying cd's because we are tired of the same pap they keep feeding us at inflated prices. When they see sales figures falling they race to Washington for the legislative help their money bought. If I quit buying music they don't think I am dissatisfied, they think I am pirating. When we quit buying music we are just blindly handing them more ammo. This is one case where voting with our dollars actually screws us and takes away our power as consumers.

I doubt Senator Hollings spends much time on K5 or Slashdot. He doesn't know I quit buying music because there is nothing out there worth the price. He does however have a lobbyist for the industry sitting in his office telling him I quit buying because I am pirating.

We need to quit crying to each other and instead try reaching those who are making these decisions. I'll admit I don't know how, but there are a lot of people here much brighter than I. I think I will start right now by finding an email address for Hollings and telling him why I didn't buy the latest 'NSync (is that how you spell that?) album but decided to listen to my old Stevie Ray cd instead. While I am at I will explain to him that my burner is used to back up my work data daily and I don't appreciate paying extortion to the recording industry every time I make a backup.

[ Parent ]

I'm voting with my dollar(s), here's how (4.50 / 4) (#26)
by Ricdude on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:24:59 PM EST

1) I will not purchase a new major record label release for the year of 2002. If there's something I absolutely *need* to have, I'll buy it at the local used CD store, or ebay for the really hard to find stuff.

2) I have subscribed to a website which, for a flat monthly fee, will let me download as much music (mp3 format) as I'd like off of their servers. Their profits are shared with the labels and artists who make their recordings available. They don't have everything I listen too, but they have enough to keep me busy for quite some time. I have a hard time convincing some people that this is 100% legal, licensed, encumbrance-free music (thanks, napster), but there's nothing illegal about it. http://www.emusic.com, for the curious.

3) Once a month, minimum, I will buy a CD from an unsigned artist. There are plenty on mp3.com, audiogalaxy.com, etc. and honestly, they sound as good (or better) as any of the mass produced crap I hear on the airwaves of my local mega-media-conglomerate owned radio stations. Sometimes their music isn't quite up to professional levels of music production, but I can suffer with a minor loss of audio quality if their soul is in the right place. http://www.headboard.com - cheesy, but fun. http://www.lynnemusic.com - spacey, keyboardy stuff. There's more out there, but you have to look. That's half the fun.

4) Schedule permitting, I will see artists live in my local bar/pub, and buy a CD directly from them on the spot. What better way to support a starving artist?

The only thing you miss out on compared to a 100% RIAA approved musical diet is the ability to go anywhere in the country and share your musical tastes with random people wearing the same t-shirts as you.

[ Parent ]
Remember live music? (4.76 / 17) (#5)
by varelse on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:32:26 PM EST

I'm not talking about N'Sync concerts at $75 a head. Go down to your local pub and listen to the guy or gal playing there. They are usually excellent musicians with something interesting to say musically and you can buy the CD that they produced themselves for $10. IMHO that is the way to support music, expand your ear and give the RIAA the proverbial bird.
I was the kid next doors imaginary friend.
Actually I don't (3.25 / 4) (#13)
by EvilTri on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:50:48 AM EST

Live music in pubs where I live has been replaced by pokies (poker machines for your non-aussies), that give pubs a lot more money, than having a musician ever will...

[ Parent ]
Really? (3.60 / 5) (#15)
by enterfornone on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:45:13 AM EST

Not sure where you live, but here in Sydney there are still shitloads of pubs playing live music. Even the Sando in Newtown (subject of The Whitlams "Blow up the Pokies") has supposedly bought the bands back.

I really don't see how pokie only places can make money, since you can always find more pokies and cheaper drinks at the RSL. Live bands help pubs differenciate themselves from the competition.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Amen and Thank You (4.80 / 5) (#21)
by lb008d on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:10:52 PM EST

I'm a profesional musician who plays in the Spokane, WA USA Symphony Orchestra. Your message is what I've been trying to beat into people's heads for years.

Live music is where the innovation is. Live music is where the passion and human element lies. Live music supports your fellow worker in **your** community.

[ Parent ]
I hear ya (3.75 / 4) (#22)
by Trollificus on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:21:28 PM EST

I met a local blues musician who was passing his disks out for free before one of his shows. I picked one up, and still listen to it from time to time.
The disk was just a standard CD-R with a sticker label he had recorded on his own computer. I talked with the guy in a local bar before one of his shows. We chatted about music theory and blues scales. He was really down to earth.

"The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
--Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL
[ Parent ]

Re: Remember live music? (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by FattMattP on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:41:47 PM EST

No thanks. Not all of us like breathing second-hand smoke, getting burned by a cigarette-laden hand waving around carelessly, and have our clothes stink when we get home, just to hear some tunes. Maybe musicians should find a better place to be heard.

[ Parent ]
other places (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by needless on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:52:52 PM EST

You could always don your beret and a pretentious smile, and frequent a coffehouse or two? Often have live music, and some are even non-smoking (from someone who sees coffee and smoke going hand in hand, this seems blasphemous, but oh well).

[ Parent ]

Paterno's attack on p2p music swapping (4.55 / 9) (#14)
by Secret Coward on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:03:58 AM EST

Twice in the past week, Paterno has lashed out at those who exchange music on the Internet. To Paterno, we are all "Little Johnny," and Little Johnny must be stomped:

"If I was running a record company, as opposed to the wimps that are running one, I'd say, 'You know what, I have no interest in compromising, and I'm going to go sue Little Johnny who's downloading this stuff.'"

And, in a Monday article:

"If I were in charge, I would put viruses everywhere on these services," he said. "That would stop Little Johnny from stealing this stuff."

If Mr. Paterno wanted to sue Little Johnny, he could go ahead and do so on behalf of his clients, Metallica and Dr. Dre. He doesn't because he knows he will lose.

If Mr. Paterno wanted to put viruses on p2p services, he could go ahead and do so himself, but then he would be committing a felony. Frankly, I encourage him to do so ;)

If I were making a film or album today... (4.57 / 7) (#20)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:36:08 PM EST

I'd master/edit it on my $4,000 Mac G4 tower. I'd have it duped to DVD/CD and distribute it myself, through a simple commerce website. I'd contract with a fulfillment vendor to handle packing/shipping/returns. Sure, it would cost me a few thousand bucks to get this ball rolling, but guess what...if the music/film was good and had some buzz, I'd make a killing and Jack Valenti/RIAA could take a giant freaking leap into the Pacific Ocean.

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.

Read Before You Reply (1.77 / 9) (#23)
by DarkZero on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:30:11 PM EST

This article makes a very solid case for the idea that file-sharing has spread from college dorms into the average household, and that that is being made very visible by the Top 40 charts and last year's CD sales. But what do I see in the comments about this article after reading Fox News' very well researched and well referenced article on the decline of the record industry? THE SAME DAMN ARGUEMENT WE'VE BEEN HEARING FOR YEARS. "Oh, this is only in college dorms", "9 out of 10 people don't care and just keep buying CDs", "What about live concerts?"... how about reading the fucking article before you spread your asinine "wisdom" to the rest of the people here? 90% of these comments have either already been refuted or already covered by the Fox News article, yet I keep seeing people bringing up the same crap every time this topic comes up.

How about actually listening to others instead of just running off at the mouth like an ignorant fool?

You would make a good argument, IF... (none / 0) (#31)
by aleavitt on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:49:20 PM EST

Your point would be well-taken if there were an actual point. Instead you've decided to flame the author of this thread with a poorly written reply that doesn't seem to make sense. What are the same arguments? What point are you trying to make? Are you for the RIAA or against it?
-+- WHY CAN'T ANYBODY HEAR ME? - Orbital -+-
[ Parent ]
0_0 (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by DarkZero on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 12:29:06 AM EST

Did you even read what I wrote, or did you just skim over it? I made it very clear that I was talking about the comments, not the Fox News article or the K5 article, and I even listed the "same arguements" that keep popping up.

There was a point. I think it just went over your head, like many of the other details of the post.

[ Parent ]
The record industry will collapse. (3.85 / 7) (#27)
by dbc001 on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:31:23 PM EST

Excellent Article. I just want to say that I definitely agree that the record industry will collapse.

So how does a musician make a living in the New Era?
They don't. Very good musicians are very rare. They can do live shows and sell T-shirts, but this requires a fanbase, which means the music has to be available. All the mediocre musicians and one-hit-wonders will have to get real jobs. Speaking of getting real jobs, I once made the comment that at some point musicians will have to get jobs and actually contribute to society. Someone responded about how they thought music and art were great contributions. I agree that art and music are both great, but they are not productive. There is no real benefit to society, at least no benefit that couldn't be gotten from previous art and certainly no benefit that couldn't be gained from free art instead of having to pay for it.

This reminds of some thoughts I had once about Martin Luther King, Jr.. I saw on the news that his heirs wanted to copyright his "I have a Dream" speech so that they could get royalties and/or control access. Aside from how horrendous that is in this particular instance, there is a fundamental problem with the idea of owning a speech. In English, we say that a person "gives" a speech. That means that it's not yours anymore. If we prevail against the lawyers who are hanging on to the 18th century, maybe there will come a time when all intellectual property is "given" when it is presented, and everyone can prosper intellectually with access to that information.

I suggest that if you haven't been doing it already, go out and pirate some music. Also, try the library for CDs - my city's libraries are all online and I usually get 3 new CDs a week! Return them a day or two late if you need an excuse to donate a few dollars. Then go see a concert. Buy a T-shirt. Make some music. Then give it away for free.

Where do I begin? (4.75 / 4) (#32)
by lb008d on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:50:08 PM EST

Very good musicians are very rare.

You can go to any professional "art" music (read: symphony, chamber music, contemporary) performance and hear some "very good musicians". Most of these people won't be making a ton of money (if that's your metric of talent), but they're still great performers. I should know, I play in an orchestra full of these people.

[Musicians] are not productive

Since your definitions seem to be oriented financially, let me explain how musicians can be productive. Every time my orchestra performs a concert, we have to have our concert hall prepared by someone, giving them something "productive" to do. Before the concert and during intermission, a large number of people are required to handle tickets, refreshments (which have to be manufactured somewhere), programs (which have to be created and printed somewhere) - all of which are "productive" activities. When people come to the concert, they drive, consuming gasoline in their automobiles, and a majority go out to dinner, contributing monetarily in some way to the local economy prior to arriving to the concert hall (this was confirmed in a survey given to audience members last season). These all have a financial impact on my community. Not to mention the fact that the musicians have an income that will impact the economy as well.

Now, remind me again how we're not productive?

Also, fully 80% of the members of our orchestra teach lessons privately or are teachers at an educational institution. Learning to play an instrument requires that the student develop mental and physical skills that no other activity can provide, as well as learn how to improve themselves through practice and dedication. Do you honestly think that music students aren't more productive adults because of their experience as a dedicated student? Does this not help in the overall productivity in society?

I haven't even delved into the "human" side of what we do since you have no interest in it, which is your perogative. However, from interacting with my audiences over the years I've found that people need art, especially great art, in their lives.

So before going out there and stating that musicians are of "no real benefit to society", I'd think again. I'd bet that the professional musicians who make a living performing and teaching (not just from recording) contribute more to society than any recorded artist ever could.

[ Parent ]

Skilled musicians and productivity (none / 0) (#37)
by dbc001 on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 12:09:27 PM EST

Very good musicians are very rare. You can go to any professional "art" music...
Lets pick 10 random people. How many of those people are very good musicians? How about we try 100 random people? I would say that in a random sample of 100 people you are unlikely to get more than 10 musicians that are both technicially skilled and have comptence that extends beyond playing someone else's work, whether that be improvisation or songwriting or whatever. Out of those 10, some will probably have other talents that they devote their life to, and therefore are not able to fulfill their potential as a very good musician.

Now, remind me again how we're not productive?
The record industry employs hordes of people - from A&R jerkoffs to caterers - who could all be providing valuable, needed services and filling the holes in society. This is what being productive is. Does an A&R guy provide a valuable service to a community, or fulfill any of the community's needs? No. Does a fry cook at McDonalds? Yes, he helps provide food to people who want to eat. I was suggesting that mediocre pop artists should get jobs, maybe they would do well as fry cooks. Your orchestra example doesnt work here because it fits into society well - orchestra musicians commit their lives to their art because they love it, not for money. They are not overcompensated, and they provide their services because communities have a genuine desire for those services. There is no marketing machine for orchestral performances. N*Sync would never have made it out of High School pep rallies had it not been for the enormous marketing machine that creates artifical desire for a product that is neither necessary nor initially desired.
Summary of previous paragraph: The money that goes into entertainment is wasted. (Those caterers could be feeding the poor with the money that the execs lined their pockets with!)

I write music in my spare time. I do it for fun. I've sold a few CDs. I dont remove skilled people from the labor pool to promote my music (remember, those A&R guys and other record label peons could be waiters, scientists, journalists - maybe even doctors!). My music sells because there are a few people out there (about 25!) who really want to hear it.


[ Parent ]
Let's not group all musicians together (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by lb008d on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 12:43:00 PM EST

I would say that in a random sample of 100 people

And there's where you didn't understand what I was saying. In a random sampling of society, you won't get many people who understand music at all, much less who are amateur musicians. What I said was that if you wanted to find good musicians, all you need to do is go to the appropriate venue, and you'll find them. You'll even be supporting them and their productive work.

because it [the orchestra] fits into society well

One could easily say that the Recording Industry fits into society well. Without qualifying what it means to "fit into society well" (other than your vague, subjective notion of what is "productive") your statement is meaningless. You seem to think that if someone is "overcompensated" that they must not be doing something productive. At the risk of moving too far off topic, who really is to blame for the music industry's situation? Ignorant consumers and a lack of a decent music education, if you ask me.

The record industry employs hordes of people - from A&R jerkoffs to caterers - who could all be providing valuable, needed services and filling the holes in society.

You seem to be all too willing to use your personal notion of productivity to label some people as "valuable to society" and others not. That's a slippery slope to head down, and one that I will not take, even if I'm not fond of the record industry. If those A&R guys and other record label peons could be waiters, scientists, journalists then why aren't they? Are you suggesting that they be forced to change their professions?

I'm sure many people could choose other, more "productive" fields but they don't. I'm a professional musician at night and a professional software engineer by day. Personally I wouldn't consider my day job to be "productive", either, but it pays the mortgage and I certainly wouldn't want someone telling me I should be doing something else. Why do you feel you have the right to do so yourself?

[ Parent ]

Musicians and a living... (5.00 / 3) (#35)
by mikelist on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 06:12:44 AM EST

I guess it goes back to the ideal you were given in junior high or middle school, find something you love and work toward making that your career. I'm a welder/fabricator at a precast facility. Definitely a socially productive job, but my pay is merely reasonable. I'm also a singer/guitarist/dobroist, and at the level which I perform, I make much better money than my day job on a per hour basis. Perhaps too many musicians are overly anxious to reach the next level, ie a recording contract("At least we have a contract"). Remember, a contract, by definition places restrictions on your behavior. I have reached the point in my life where a national recording career is unlikely, but there is a reasonably lucrative market for live performance at bars and restaurants, and I am going to make it the focus of my love of, and talent with music. Music isn't an oil well, it is a unique ability and perspective that can be parlayed into employment with reasonable compensation.

well said (none / 0) (#36)
by speek on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 11:37:52 AM EST

We need more people who aspire to make a living, and fewer that aspire to get rich. And, by "make a living", I mean everything involved with living the life you wanted to live, not just monetary compensation, though that is a necessary part.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Music artists fight back | 38 comments (37 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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