Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

There’s a long, hard road ahead for musicians

Any musicians reading The Ticket today will not need us to tell them that it’s tough out there. Between falls in revenue from recorded music, the collapse of the traditional record label model and the recession’s negative effect on live …

Fri, Oct 14, 2011, 09:53

   

Any musicians reading The Ticket today will not need us to tell them that it’s tough out there.

Between falls in revenue from recorded music, the collapse of the traditional record label model and the recession’s negative effect on live music attendances, acts are finding it increasingly difficult to making a living from music.

It was a topic which came up again and again at the Hard Working Class Heroes convention in Dublin last weekend (DOI: I chaired the panel discussions), but there were no easy answers.

For instance, everyone knows the money artists get from streaming is peanuts compared to downloads and physical sales (Fast Company estimates that you get between $0.001 and $0.004 per play from Pandora, Sirius XM Radio and Spotify).

Acts know too that they will be several years into their career before they will be earning decent money for their live shows. So what to do (aside from writing better tunes)?

The problem is that there is not an one-size-fits-all solution. At HWCH, panelists discussed areas like the niche economy and diversification as possible ways forward. There was also mention of the recent pieces in The Quietus by Joe Cardamone from the Icarus Line about his band’s experience in this brave new world.

In truth, though, it’s down to the act themselves to realise what they’re getting into. Leaving aside the hobbyists (who don’t really intend to make a living from music) and the established acts (who have a different set of concerns), it’s the bands who are caught in the middle without the safety net of a fanbase who face the biggest hurdles.

Acts need to recognise that there’s no such thing as instant good times and that they face many years of unpaid development before things might – might – change for them. It’s a long, hard road for sure.

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