If you are a friend of mine or have read my BLOG over the past few months, you’ll know that I’ve been working with the band Lucas McCain for the past three years. In January we released our first CD called New Horizon.
Publishing this CD under an independent label has been a great learning experience. We’ve been playing the clubs and pushing our CD as hard as we can. But honestly, I’m a little disappointed so far in the sales results. Now there are two reasons that this could be happening. Either our music isn’t good or people where we play are not interested in buying music.
Now, everyone that hears our music says they love it. But many of those that say they love it don’t purchase the CD. You be the judge, go to this CD Baby link and listen to the first two minutes of each song. I think you’ll agree that the music is worth $ 10.95.
But thinking further about our particular situation I realize that there is a core problem with the music consumer today. Every since Napster came along a few years ago many consumers just want their music free. Sure, since the first cassette recorders came on the market, fans have been copying music. But the quality of copied music didn’t really get good until consumer grade CD duplicators came on the market several years ago. In years past to duplicate CDs a person had to have a pretty decent degree of skills. But with the Napster model, you didn’t have to know diddly squat.
Copying music became as easy as 1-2-3. This changed the whole dynamics of music distribution over night. Now fans can easily copy the entire contents of a CD in mere minutes and share those music files with the entire world. Unfortunately, the music business is just now getting their hands around this brave new world.
So, what does this mean for artist and the music business?
First, it really impacts the bottom line. Instead of buying CDs, many fans will simply find a copy on the Internet. I submit for your consideration that most fans don’t care about having a physical product because fifty years from now they will not care 2 cents about Brittney Spears or the music she made this past year. And if they do care to keep the music they will archive it electronically to play back on modern equipment such as the PC, iPOD or other modern playback devices that make listening to digital music easier for the masses. Sure, collectors are different. Sure, music “fans” have their favorites that they will collect and save forever, but for the majority of the music offered up for sale, the shelf life is less than three or four years.
So, the bottom line questions I have are “What is the value of music?” and “How much does it cost?”
From my own experience with the band I can tell you that our music cost more than I really know. The physical costs aren’t that bad. But when you start factoring how much time we put into actually writing, then recording and then mixing the music between the six of us we have literally several hundred hours tied up in the process.
The real cost is the past twenty years each of us has working on our musical skills. The cost of that is truly unknown.
Here’s the bottom line. The value of music is only what people will pay for it. If more and more fans continue to trade music and don’t pay the artists, eventually all you will have is shit music on the radio and in the record store.
Quality artisans will not work for years for no pay off on their investment of blood, sweat, tears and time. Sure, they start out creating music for the love of doing it, but eventually like everyone who develops a skill set, they want to be paid fairly for their product. So I guess it goes back to an economic principle: You’ll get what you pay for.
My suggestion is that when you hear a good song, go out and support the artist by purchasing their work. Else you might see them at the Waffle House trying to make ends meet and they will not have time to create more great music!