Monday, August 31, 2020

Why music lost value.

 It seems like we need to know what value things have. Salt had huge value in the middle ages. Today you can buy salt pretty cheap. Things that used to have value might lose it. That is how to look at recordings. Just thirty years ago recording was expensive. You needed quite much financial backup to do a record of a lot of money involved. And then you also thought twice what to record.

Today I could just go down to the local electronic store buy a kind of cheap microphone (or just take the microphone that is built in a laptop) and just record a song. And then just put it on any social media channel in seconds, and even get it out on Spotify in 24 hours.

The problem here is that many think that the value of that recording is the same as the recordings of The Beatles on Abby Road. It’s not. Technology has given us to have better equipment to record then The Beatles had just dreamt about when they recorded on Abby Road. With that came though the price that everyone thinks they can write a song like “Yesterday”.

Since the price is so low to produce things then the value of the product also sinks. But there is a problem with music. The recording is just part of the product. There is a difference in skills to write songs. Skills of writing lyrics. To be honest “Yesterday” is still a great song even if I would mistreat it in a recording with a mic on my laptop. Also, I believe that the Beatles would record the song great through the mic of my laptop.

My recording though doesn’t have much value, only as proof of that, I should not be recording Beatles songs. But the recording of “Yesterday” original is worth millions.

Just because you have created something it’s not worth the money you think it’s worth. The value is decided on how many people that is prepared to pay for it. Today also the time, money, and effort that is put in behind a song are many times a lot less then it was 25 years ago. The whole process has made that music has lost value.

No, it won’t be better if people started to put time and effort into the songs. Today’s climate demand that we should give out music at a fast speed. The artist that tries to do real songs is in jeopardy that they are forgotten between the releases.

Are they? I’m not sure I think it’s time to stop listening to social media. It’s time to invest in songs and taking back the old saying “writing is rewriting”

With good technology, we can do cheaper recordings, but we still have to do the handicraft of a good song. A good song holds off on a bad recording a good song is not holding up on a super good recording. If music wants to get back it’s the value we need to create things that have value.

Monday, August 17, 2020

The production capitalism is destroying the artist!

 We all know that we are consuming too much for the planet we have. A third of all food we produce is thrown away as waste. That is 50 000kg or 110231lb a second thrown away as waste in the world and as Greta Thunberg has pointed out it’s not sustainable.

In an interview not long ago Marcus Ek from Spotify told that artists need to release more content when he the question that Spotify paid out to low to artists.

I just feel that we are doing the same stupid mistake in the music business as we do in the food consumption. The new streaming economy is just one click and then forget. Same as the food we produce a mountain of apples so you can have one. The same here we produce a mountain of songs for you to listen to one. Of course, this will affect the quality. To be able to produce a mountain you start to give fertilizer to the project, and you need everything to grow faster. Yes, you will get a decent product but it is not that perfect product that you had before.

During the pandemic now people suddenly got more time to grow their own things. Even I bought a greenhouse and now the harvest comes. Yes, my slow grown tomatoes, cucumber, and chilies taste much more and better than the ones I buy in the supermarket. Probably also that I put in quite much love into growing these vegetables. I have been out there every day watering and cutting off bad leaves and stuff. The end result is better then if just had grown a thing in less nutrient soil and just gone for fertilizer to grow it fast to just consume it.

It feels as the new space for creating music are more and more going this way. But why is that necessary? Easy the music that you create and produce is driving the systems. You are not an art creator you are a content creator. We if we stopped feeding posts on Facebook and Instagram. Stopped put up videos on Youtube and TikTok and music and pods on Spotify. They won’t exist. They need all people to give them free content.

Also, they are feeding on you in a very strange way. If you have a fan base on these sites. They only let around 10% of these fans see that you have released a new song in the mountain of songs the expect you to produce. If you should reach more you need to pay. Funny thing it’s like the apple producer to grow the apples then after that when they sold 10 apples has to pay extra fees to sell more apples. At the end that just leaves you to produce with less quality or just leave the whole thing since you won’t be proud of what you produce.

Question, do you really need these sites? In a way yes streaming music is around 25% of the economy of the music industry. The live side though has been 50%. We don’t know what happens after the pandemic. But I can easily say that music won’t die and the live scene won’t be replaced by streaming content. We have a great opportunity to build up the new live industry, so it benefits the artist that just release every third year. The ones that want slow quality music should have a chance here to perform quality art. the ones that want to leave the hamster wheel of social media.

We know for sure that even if you have millions of Spotify streams don’t mean that you will draw thousands of people to the concert. Almost the opposite around. We can easily see that the mass consumption of music in just the form of a post on social media is just fun for the audience in a couple of seconds. A concert is something that contains fun for hours. You might meet up with good friends before.  You go out and eat and then go and listen to quality music. That might be a whole evening to sustain your mind. Not just ten seconds click.

I have a good hunch that the stress and mental illness around the music community have two things. One is that we start talking about it. Witch is really great. The other is that stress of making content for a non-stoppable social media. I start though to see artists that more or less leave the race. And I think they are right. I don’t need a post from my favorite artist every day. But I need a function so when you release a song, I would be certain to see that post. Yes, that could be done by social media sites. Or I would love to get the knowledge that you play live close where I am so I can see your performance. We need that kind of system too.

I guess this will never happen. We just have to look at how we restart the live industry and start to build it so the artists can have a chance to write and record quality music and have time to rehearse a great live show. My mind needs more of that quality, the same with this planet. We need more sustainable plans.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Future

 It’s a very uncertain world we live in right now. On one hand, the music industry feels so far away right now. It’s summer and no shows and more or less no releases. At the same time, the whole machinery is going on under the surface. Negotiations with new clubs, festivals, and other outlets. The difference is that you might now if it will happen the dates you are talking about. It will happen, just witch time?

I guess it is all one's death other one's bread. I just got several jobs during this crisis. Probably because people that didn’t make it want over to another business. I guess this is the time where we see who has to be on the stage as a living and who are just there because they think it’s a fun hobby that they just keep up.

The changes will be quite severe. And in many cases in unfavoured for an established big artist that is not in the top 50. Many that are semi-famous or live out of an old career will find themselves in a totally new world. A world that changes in a much more rapid way then we are used to.

Just a simple thing like the American election can change quite much. If Donald Trump gets re-elected. My guess the country will go deeper in the rabbit hole it’s already in. More debts and now with the crises in full swing and china that are in a position to market shares. What would that have for the music industry? Quite an easy choice USA would be the last market to enter. The restrictions would hold on longer and the crisis will prevail and be quite uninteresting to invest money in a career there. Instead, we would go for more secure territories to start invest in.

But USA has the infrastructure you say? Not even developing areas are more interesting since the whole infrastructure is crashed we all have to start all over again.

What happens if Joe Biden becomes president? Then you have a guy that is forced to clean up the mess the former president made. At the same time probably release quite many rescue packages which will tear on the economy. The result is almost the same. It will be kind of hard to invest in USA on a new artist career.

In Sweden we have a saying that however, you turn you always have your ass in the back. Already now I’m looking at witch new territories that are waking up first and also give the money in a smart way to build up a new infrastructure for the live industry. There is where the money will be. That music dies is not even an option. It just will develop but not in the areas we might be used to. 

Don’t even get me started with UK that just left EU and now has to handle the crisis as just one country.

The only good thing about this is that these changes will open up so many new opportunities. The question are you connected enough to grab these opportunities?

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Social media might not be the way for an artist.

I have seen some really smart new things that bigger artists are doing. They just quit the social media frenzy that is going on. I can really see this breaking through in the lifestyle after the pandemic.

As it has been for the past ten years record labels and managers and others have told artists that they should own their fans and a lot of the success has been how many followers you have on different social media accounts. Right now it seems like all the bigger labels have a race to pick up things form TikTok. It has been this way in all parts of the music industry except the live scene.

Why not the live scene. It is here the falseness of social media is shining through. Take an easy example. In the takeout of the Eurovision song contest in Sweden, they started to invite influencers that had music into their social media channels. They hoped that the influencers with their massive accounts could get more viewers to the TV show. Since Eurovision in Sweden has the votes from the audience many artists became nervous to get up against these massive social media account since these people could just send a message and get a lot of people to vote for their song. Over a period of three years, they tried to get these influencers in. None of them even went to the final. Usually beaten by a new artist with no social media followers at all when they entered the stage.

Another thing is also that stars that have a big following also are beaten by a smaller artist with fewer followers. You can fast conclude that the following on social media doesn’t really matter in these cases. It’s still about the performance and the song. People in social media really don't care to vote or do things for artists. They just follow for the posts not for the art they are making.

Same phenomena when a friend of mine signed the third biggest Youtuber in Sweden to his company and started to release music. Yes, the first single became a media frenzy that this Youtube would release music. So many went in and took a listen to it and today it has a bit over five million streams on Spotify. The second single, then people knew that he was releasing music. But with over a million viewers on his channel each mouth my friend calculated that people would still listen. Today that has two million streams. The third single has today just 20 000 streams. My friend, later on, singed more Youtubers but came to the conclusion that the first is always going well, the next will have fifty percent then the first one, then the third will have half of the half. In the end, if they release things they more or less go backward then a normal artist that gains fans on each release.

This was influencers though that did something else and then was given songs. We see the same though on artists that are artists in their channels on the live side. Artists with millions of followers that are praised for their music won’t sell any live tickets. Many of the booking agency went into that trap in the beginning. Now it’s almost like a bad word telling people that they have a good social media account. The only thing the booker looks at is the ticket sales from the last concert in that area. same here people liked the songs in the posts but wouldn't see them live. It's two different media situations.

I get the feeling that influencers are more or fewer artists in their own field. A bit like in the 80:s when either artist would do an acting career that never went off, or the opposite when actors should do an artist career. They were good at their field, stick to it. Same here stick on to what you good at.

Of course you need to use your social media. When you release something it’s a good way to spread the word. The problem is when you start to use the account like the influencers. Suddenly you are more busy making updates then doing music. Your fans will read more about your cat and what you ate for breakfast then what they really came to know about you. My feeling is that also all this posting makes the stress level on the artist really high. In the long run, it prevents the artist's top focus to write a really good song. In the middle of your inspiration ( what happen to me right now) is that your phone makes a beep and you pick it up to see the latest message or point these systems give out. And gone is the inspiration!

My guess right now is that a real artist must make a choice. Are you communicating with music and songs, then social media should not be acted out as a big influencer account! If you are communicating through an account and people like it that way, well you are then an influencer, not an artist. And not just that you find a good producer and songwriter to co-lab with makes you an artist. Don Johnson is still just and acter though he wanted to be a rock star.

The problem in the industry has been that the live side hasn’t had a major changeover in the past 50 years. Now we see the big leap and in that leap, my guess is that your live performance will be more crucial than ever. You will not have time to make corrected posts. Instead, you need to be great at writing songs and perform them in an amazing way for a real live audience. The changes in the live industry will be with new venues, new networks and that will be a career of its own, With or without social media number.