10 artists on the changes and current times in the industry
We are celebrating our first birthday here at Musicians’ Corner. This site, where musicians talk and write about music, opened at the turn of the month October-November last year. At that point the site was empty. But now…
So many things have been said about music, as an art form, a soundtrack to our lives, a profession and career, as a reflection of us as people and a reflection of the times, and as an industry and a business, over this period of time. Many of our contributors have also addressed the same things, the changes in the business being one of the topics that many have spoken of, for example.
Today we recap some of what has been said about the current times in music from an infrastructural point of view. Music has gone through so many changes lately in that regard.
KENT BEATTY: -It's a great time to be a musician. Some might disagree with that, in this age of TV Voice/Idol contests and live bands being replaced by machines all the time. Sure, record deals aren't being served up on the hood of a Ferrari often these days. But now there is so much that artists can do independently, if they are willing to put some work into it. Technology is a double-edged sword. More things to keep up with and manage, but most of the time, it is a musician's best friend. Imagine a tour without GPS. YouTube (and many others) allows anyone's music to be heard across the world, for free. And social media is far more effective than posting fliers around town. We take these useful tools for granted, some of which didn't even exist 10 years ago.
BRYAN BELLER: -Being totally open for communication 24/7/365 in this social media day and age has its pluses and minuses. I personally think it's a net positive to be able to have direct access to fans and vice versa - it can strengthen the bond between you and those who follow you, and it enables an artist to be much clearer about who they really are in "public". I've been online and available for public e-mail since 1995, and for many years I made a point to respond to *every* *single* *communication* that came my way. Nowadays that's just not possible anymore, because of the sheer volume of responses from Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail, for which I'm grateful - but I still try. That said, it can be a hindrance to the essential practice of isolation required for creativity. It's pretty hard to grow as a composer and a player when you're just writing e-mails all the time. So I think I'm finding a balance, and everyone needs to find their own.
SADIQ BEY: -Today the industry of music is in total disarray. And working musicians are professionals, so it’s a job.
There is something I call truth to ownership, against truth to power. Everybody is owned in music, in sports, in Hollywood. They make magic wands out of holly wood, ya know? And it’s about bucking and bowing to get jobs. If you don’t make your own label you’re screwed.
JEAN-PAUL BOURELLY: -The music business crashed with 9/11. We have been building it back up, to keep the creative minded audience in tune with us and music has still evolved.
LIGE CURRY: -I want to say to young musicians that they need to educate themselves. These days you can google any question. This is no joke. Some business deals are good, some business deals are bad. When you don’t update yourself you will find yourself in hot water. But try to keep a positive attitude. A lot of people can’t handle it. You have to treat the business side in a way so that it doesn’t take you out.
JAN KINCAID: -The business has changed so much over the years. The people who have survived are the people who have changed with it.
We have to look at new ways of doing our work. You are in charge of your own destiny much more now than you were before. It also means that you have to be careful where you spend your money.
We came up in the traditional way, through the live-scene and through people who wanted to invest in us. Now acts are molded to suit a certain age group. But then records cost less to make. For the people who grow up with this, for the 19-year olds now, the new way is what’s natural. We have been young enough to go with the changes. If we were ten years older I think that we would have been struggling.
OZ NOY: - The music business crashed, and the same thing happened in New York too. It hit the city hard. New York is still the jazz center of the world, but the scene has changed. A lot of clubs have closed. And now it’s a pretty set reality. There is still good music, but a lot less of it in a lot less places. The only thing that got bigger is the Broadway shows. That’s great for Broadway but it’s not great for real music in my opinion cause Broadway is not music , its theater.
ANDREW STEEN: - The benefit of the major label-system was purely financial. They had time and effort to put into albums because there was money. The people contributing to a Pledge campaign want a return on their investment even if it's small. The majors wanted things to sell. People didn't represent themselves very well in that. You can release your home made music now and be judged on your own merit.
TM STEVENS: -Everything is machines, and it has really hurt the business, and hurt artists who play and have studied, and that’s what I have done all my entire career. But the answer to this is you don’t follow that and give up. Never give up. This is for the young people. Listen to me. Do not give up. Whatever it is that you believe in, whatever it is that you feel, follow your dreams and your dreams will follow you. – And I particularly believe that we will get our business back.
NIKO STOESSL: -I think that everything’s getting better though and that the music business will restructure itself again eventually, creating new sources of income for musicians who are willing to move forward.
Kent Beatty, Bryan Beller, Sadiq Bey, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Lige Curry, Jan Kincaid, Oz Noy, Andrew Steen, TM Stevens, Niko Stoessl
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