Monday, December 15, 2008

"A suggestion for Music Commerce" via Rockrap, I think it makes some sense, although there are artists who make great music that have no plans to tour or play anywhere. We need to factor them into the equation. Discuss...



My name is Jack Ely and I'm the one whose voice is heard daily on The Kingsmen's 1963 recording of Louie Louie, (may it rest in peace) so you know I have some music business experience.

First I'd like to express an opinion that probably will not be very popular but which oozes with truth. In the early '60's when I was recording, records were thought of as a tool to help promote live performances. The live performances were the main revenue stream and the records were just promotional tools to get people to come see the shows. Somewhere this mode of thinking got turned upside down. Consequently in years hence, record companies, producers, et. all, have made recordings, hoping to profit from the sale of those recordings alone, regardless of whether or not the artist could ever pull it off live. This did some things to the music business that weren't very healthy. First it made available to the general public, music of artists who may or may not be good live performers; almost anyone can make a good recording with enough cut-ins and loops. And... it made music by groups of players who never ever intended to perform that music live, and who may or may not have ever been able to get along with each other long enough to really sustain any kind of a road show.

Music is meant to be played for the enjoyment of the audiences. For instance, if I go into the studio with an acoustic guitar and simultaneously play and sing on a recording, people would come to see me perform in that same mode; I.e. playing guitar and singing as a solo act. I don't think they would come to see me expecting a full band. Conversely, if I advertised a 'Night with Louie Louie" people would come expecting to see a rock band that they could dance to, and would be quite disappointed if I showed up with just my acoustic guitar.

The suggestions that recordings are produced today just to sell recorded music is all backwards and the sooner the record companies and producers and artists figure this out the sooner they will all quit sniveling over the fact that the entire world is freely sharing their music digitally and isn't willing to stop; and in fact will do anything to circumvent their efforts to get paid for the recordings alone.

The days of producers and musicians putting bands together just to get a recording deal so they can get paid by the record company for a product that usually never even gets released; those days are over. It's time record companies went back to their roots and became what they started out to be; entities who record working acts in order to 1) capture the performance for posterity, and 2) make a promotional tool to get audiences to the next show.

The solution is to give the world all the free music it wants, but to give the recording entity, whether it be a record company or a producer, or whomever, a cut of every live performance. That will do at least two things and maybe more that I haven't even thought about yet. First it will give everyone involved in the recordings a source of revenue (pay day) for all their hard work of producing and promoting the recordings. Second, it will weed out all the so-called "recording artists" who couldn't, in a live venue, perform their way out of a paper bag. In a down economy the public craves live entertainment, so what better time to get back to basics. The timing couldn't be better for a profitable turn around. So now is the time to get it going.

I send you these thoughts in hopes that just maybe a new/old perspective on the subject of recorded music can be presented to the entire recording world and they can all start making a real profit.


Jack Ely


murray said...

heres something mike watt talks about every now and then -

WATT: Well, me and D. Boone awhile ago came up with the idea that maybe there's just two categories to the whole world if you're in a band: there's gigs, and there's fliers.

- which makes sense to me. It doesnt really matter that a record is around 'forever' and a gig is for the moment, when you're doing a recording its just for the moment anyway, as soon as you're finished mixing it, its out of your hands.

I think its insane to think that you could ever expect a band to give a producer a cut of their live take ?. These days bands can record stuff themselves for free on the pc. If they are bigger than that then they can record in a cheap studio really cheaply compared to even 10 years ago. If they are big enough to sell a lot of records and are willing to pay a producer for his 'production' skills (rather than someone who's just going to get your ideas/sounds down) then thats when they can pay big money, but whether their future popularity is because of the producer is too much of a grey area for any sensible band to agree to pay a producer future live revenue

"there are artists who make great music that have no plans to tour or play anywhere." Thats true, I think sometimes artists need their rich benefactor, whether thats selling your songs to the movies or adverts, or selling yourself on the net better "buy my new album in advance so I can afford to make it" or some other idea, I dont know. People still want something for their money more 3d than an mp3. And how many of these artists did the 'music business' ever help anyway ?

for those that dont tour I guess each recording has to be a flier for the next one ? if someone downloads a free mp3 and likes it they are more open to paying for the next one ?

Lindsay Hutton said...

I think that some people was a tactile release for sure but there's a vast number out there, relatively untapped, that doesn't care. Not just kids but older folks that are discovering music for whatever reason. It's complex alright but the education factor of having people pay something via subscription would still be the answer. How that could come about without EVERYTHING being available is the big one but it would be cool for instance that there was a mechanism for you, as Shock and awe" to get a couple of pence per download like a prs payment.

Murray said...

we'd have literally pennies in our acount !

I have paid for a handful of downloads in the past from folk that I thought it was worth paying for - which is fine for an established artist, but a new artist I hadnt seen live would have a bigger struggle to convince me. To me mp3's are like the radio, something to listen to on the move or when you're doing something else, I dont want to pay for them because I cant physically touch them and 'the kids' never have or will. Maybe it should just be part of the broadband fees somehow ? I cant see it being paid for by advertising in the current economic climate but maybe ?

meanwhile in the spirit of christmas theres some free Shock And Awe stuff up on in their latest christmas compilation

they must be desperate because theres two mixes of our song up - go for the Filthy Spector mix, its got real drums and sax, whereas the first mix just has the drum machine and a weird guitar solo thing