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Nobody Will Save The Music Industry Because It’s Dead

February 20, 2018

The last couple of days, I have been watching countless of hours of TEDx Talks on YouTube about the Music Industry.

The first ones date from 2011 and we are already talking about saving the Music Industry. How we can change the game, what will be its future and how we can overcome it.

The truth is that none of the speakers had an actual solution. They had answers, mainly by pushing how “amazing” their business is but at the end of the day, that was a very short term proposition that would never bring anything new to the table.

The speakers were all professionals in the Music Business, they all had nice backgrounds, worked with a lot of nice people, labels and majors… All having different ways of speaking, some were really confident, others were pretty awkward to watch and hear (the microphone always transcribing perfectly the sounds of mouth and saliva). That was a whole panel of very interesting people with nothing to say.

At some point, somebody even had Time Travel as a solution to the question “How to save the Music Industry?”.

Just to tell you how desperate the ecosystem seems to be about the situation.

Granted, the “Time Travel” choice of words was mainly some clickbait because the purpose was a 360 degrees camera that you could use in festivals like Woodstock so you can watch everything with a VR headset, but is that the solution? No.

I have been working with Universal, Bad Boy Records and Sony BMG on the artist side as a performer and later on as Advisor and Social Media Marketing Strategist. I have seen it all, the nice and the (very) ugly.

The Industry is dead.

It’s dead but there’s hope.

Why is it dead?

The Music Industry has fallen because we are not selling Music anymore. Music has never been sold by musicians, Music has always been sold by businessmen.

In fact, people don’t realize that it is because someone decided to sell vinyls that musicians comprehended they could put their music on it and then make money.

People don’t realize that it is because at some point, we had a radio manufacturer who wanted to sell his invention that musicians decided to air on it.

People still don’t realize that it is because someone wanted to make money with an app that musicians rushed to put their art on Spotify.

The problem here is that we sold vinyls, we sold tapes, we sold radios, we sold walkmans, we sold CDs, we sold mp3 players…

But now, we are not even selling a CD player built in your laptop. Radios and music players in cars have been replaced by tablets and mini computers for you to log in with your Sirius Xm account.

Therefore, if music is not selling, the Music Industry is dead.

What’s the future, then?

Everybody wants to save the Music Industry because they are not seeing the long term game. They are not seeing the fact that you will not save the Music Industry, you will save the Businessmen of the Music Industry.

You will save the majors that sign an artist by owning 89% of their revenues.

You will save the guy that decided to inject millions of dollars in an app that will make you consume music a certain way.

Musicians can’t save the Music Industry.

But they can save themselves.

A solution?

Absolutely. If Artists, Singers, Musicians, Producers and Beat Makers decided to accept that it is dead and that they will not make money out of their music, then they will crush it and earn 100 times more than what they were expecting.

Self branding, my friends. That’s the way.

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Raj Savi
    April 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    You are pretty much spot on but the issue is that so much of us dream about the complete package which can only be given to us by the big label machine. Everybody wants that fame, they want to be on TV or be as big as Metallica or Adele or other big selling acts with a lot of exposure. With self branding, you may or may not get the fame portion of being a musician. My theory is that people just don’t care about music that much anymore because back int he day in the 80s and 90s, music was your identity and people spent a whole lot of time worshiping rock stars and music because you only had movies and music for entertainment for the most part. Today technology is the new rock star. The buzz surrounding the new release of an Iphone is bigger than any music release. 20-30 years ago music received that type of buzz and excitement. So I think the excitement and anticipation for new music is gone among younger people. The typical rocker today is over 40 (the youngest being the 90s kids). Even if kids today feel some excitement, it is gone 5 minutes or a few days later because technology keeps supplying them with new stimulus in a pleasure-reward instant gratification system. So essentially I think music is dying because there is less demand for new music. Today instead of worshiping rock stars like people like 20-30 years ago, everybody is worried about how to become famous themselves. People today can be their own rock star with an entourage on social media. If anything the new rock stars are technology and also the entrepreneur. I would almost say the entrepreneur is the new rock star. That’s who people worship today.

    • Reply
      tonyvitti
      April 10, 2018 at 5:11 pm

      Good point, Raj! Thank you for commenting, I really appreciate you taking the time to develop your comment as well!
      Tony

  • Reply
    Baz
    August 29, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks Tony for your clear points and thanks Raj for your wise view too.
    I agree that the main problem is that music is somehow dead itself as you said, and we could say the same about photography for example. The core value of a music track, an album or an musician have dramatically decreased.
    Musicians have still value though as they’re bankable with derivative products or brands partnerships but it’s also a very difficult task, because you’re basically turning artists into products. There music was, but brand partnerships turn them as persons into products. And the small artists want big brands, the small brands want big artists. At some point big brands can deal with big artists and it happens, but it is somehow reserved for the big cats. I mean it doesn’t work on the whole business scale, as a small artist partnering with a small brand doesn’t really have sens for both of them.

    I agree with the self branding solution, and that’s the motto in many creative fieldfs today, but for me there is still a “scale” problem. Self Brand yourself, okay, but internet has become so huge and now chaotically behavioured by social networks that how can you emerge in that, even if you are a great artist ? Brandable and bankable value is now mesured in likes and audience that sorts of defeats the purpose of the art itself. That’s why if you start a youtube channel now, you’ll probably get more view (and thus more ad money or possible money deals) by making music/tech tutorials, or entertaining and funny covers than actually showcasing your art, the greater can it be. Well genius and chance happens, but you see what I mean.
    What was the real purpose of major labels by the time they were strong ? Having great creative directors ? great studio and engineers ? Sure, but they mostly had power. Power to launch an album in many different countries at the same time, supported by radio airing and advertising, and they cannot take risks anymore due to the poor return on investment as the industry is dying.
    So, self branding is surely a way, you can make it and survive, and if you’re lucky, emerge and possibly get deals with brands the rare labels that still will put some power on you. But I think it’s no more a scalable and viable path in the sense that you can’t follow this route by going from small to big, at some point it will involve luck, audience baiting or well placed connections.
    To put it in other words, self branding is an answer but I’m asking myself where’s the force, the fuel in it, the route that if you relentlessly take will make you grow and lead to success ? Not to be cynical but at some point I feel that it’s unfortunately not the harder you work that will make you go the further in this ecosystem.

    I’ve asked myself many time where is still some business value in music itself, and I think that today, live shows can be an answer too. Concerts are doing well, there have never been such an amount of great music festivals around, and as nobody wants to pay for music anymore, people are eager to spend from 50 to a hundred bucks or more to spend a few hours listening to their favorite artists !
    I think it’s probably where the value is right now, better than any physical, dematerialised branded product, but I’m not a business expert enough in this sector to know about it’s in and outs.

  • Reply
    JGrant
    October 30, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    I agree…this entire blog is accurate. I’ve lost touch with my music and am not seeing any money from it nor do i have much interest in the industry any longer. And now that I’ve very little interest in pursuing it still, it seems everyone else is trying to push me towards it still although the excitement has “left the building” . Even though i make beats still…i was doing it way before this whole “fame to fortune” thing got really popular. Its disappointing as well as stressful and draining. I wish things didnt become so tainted and corrupt in the sense where there isn’t much individuality in the art anymore.

  • Reply
    Jacob Teasley
    November 4, 2018 at 6:15 am

    I just want more music that is original. I hate how the big record labels only play similar chord progressions and patterns. It makes me want to vomit every time I turn on the radio. Music, in my opinion, is dead because the record companies no longer allow for genuine expression. We need to remember why music is so great… it is because it is something (or should be something) that comes from the heart. When we hear this, we can understand that we too have something similar in our own hearts and can share that experience. Music is an art, not a formula.

  • Reply
    Jacob
    November 4, 2018 at 6:16 am

    I just want more music that is original. I hate how the big record labels only play similar chord progressions and patterns. It makes me want to vomit every time I turn on the radio. Music, in my opinion, is dead because the record companies no longer allow for genuine expression. We need to remember why music is so great… it is because it is something (or should be something) that comes from the heart. When we hear this, we can understand that we too have something similar in our own hearts and can share that experience. Music is an art, not a formula.

  • Reply
    Oracle
    November 22, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Mmmmm… turn the water off to everyone’s house and watch what happens…. turn the electricity off……. unplug Spotify and believe me the junkies (all hearing primates) will completely loose their shit. Music is not dead. Musicians are basically slaves, (….pussy’s……) they are weak and so are the major labels. End of story. Music… the most powerful art period. It’s aural heroin and people will steal, rob and get their CD players back out if we unplug the stream. Unplug the stream… keep the CD burners out of computers…..William Wallace the next Napster creator and be done with it. Bitches.

    • Reply
      tonyvitti
      November 22, 2018 at 9:44 am

      Hello! Thanks for stopping by! Your comment made me chuckle, it was cool! However, little note: I never said Music was dead! I said the Music INDUSTRY (manufacturing of physical releases) was dead.
      See you soon!

      • Reply
        Oracle
        November 22, 2018 at 4:43 pm

        mmmmmmm.. People are consuming music on a higher level than ever before…. the dealers are just idiots for giving them free pharmaceuticals with no real plan. And maybe there is a plan… I mean The conditions are all there to make people squirm to Music rehab. Jay Z once said something about 2-Tech’s but couldn’t sew up the entire block because again…. musicians are weak… Kanye folded and released on iTunes instead of saying get your music from us… it’s fire and annihilating the other dealers … aka Apple. People drive back home to get their cell phone they forgot for crying out loud … people are addicted to the stream of media, music and porn. All right in their pocket. Wanna see nude magazine sales increase? Turn off the stream. It will take a giant middle finger and some grass root rebellions from an entire musical genre to force the primates to pay for their hourly dose. Until musicians team up in genre gangs and sew up their particular product we will continue down this path for a few more years until their is no more brilliant musicians willing to take the leap. The picture I’m painting is very gangster…. because that’s what it’s going to take. If I could, I’d lead an army of crybaby’s and burn down Spotify myself….. oh wait::: you mean we just have to take the music down from the site and it’s left with nothing but Led Zep and Pink Floyd? The only things really making money in the first place? Except they already made millions from Vinyl, 8track, Tape and CD… those assholes! You mean the big labels are using the indie bands combined with Spotify and ancient releases to give the world Napster knowing that Adele will steal money from those that have nothing ….

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