WOULD YOU BE A NEW ARTIST NOW OR IN 1996? FULL ANSWERS

 

 

Would you prefer to be a new artist now or 20 years ago in 1996 before the internet?

 

CAM NACSON 

LEAD SINGER of MOZA, SONGWRITER

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I feel like this is an interesting question with an equally complex answer.
For me it’s simple, I personally would rather be starting my career NOW.
That’s because of the person I am.
I’ve over the years built a decent understanding of all things “modern industry”,
from social media, to marketing, to recording and production & probably most importantly,
exploiting many income streams and career opportunities the modern industry has to offer.

I’m all about working hard and sharing the load between my bandmates and I, keeping us as independent as possible.
That’s something that was next to impossible back in 1995 with a lack of DIY avenues.

The argument for 1996 is that there was less of a “flooded market” so to say, artists had to work just as hard, but in different ways.
Arguably too, the end game of such hard work was to get noticed and picked up by a major label from where it was pretty much out of the artists hands.

I get that today every kid with a MacBook can be a musician on iTunes and thus it’s hard to stick out in the crowd.
But the best of the best will eventually shine through. The key to which is just not giving up.
Not having any interest with any labels? Who is to say you can’t do most of what they can do anyway?
You need to back yourself with a great producer, musicians (if a solo artist), Marketing team, tour manager, booking agent and possibly a publisher who offers “single” or “Album” deals.

So whats stopping you? The bank.
But there are ways around that too.

In 2013 I wanted to head over to New York and shoot a music video.
Being a bartender and musician at the time I didn’t have the money for it.
So I crowd funded the clip and ended up getting $3K towards the trip.

In no way am I saying that crowd funding is going to support a budding music career, I’m lucky to have a great and dedicated supporter base.
But it’s definitely a modern tool to keep artists who want to stay independent kicking along once they’ve put in a bit of their own leg work.

Finally, digital downloads, streaming and of course piracy.

There have been a few articles going around lately about various artists & bands being ripped off by streaming services like Spotify.
These artists claim they’ve only been receiving paychecks in the thousands of dollars, when they’ve been streamed millions of times.
Let me put this to rest… want all your money? Stay independent.
The highest profile artist making this complaint is Taylor Swift, who is signed to a major label and no doubt countless other contracts.
All these people take their cut, as per their contracts.

For myself, on average my music gets streamed about 100K times a month.
For that I get paid between $750-$1000 and because I’m independent and I release my music through TuneCore who only take a small $30-$70 annual fee per release, I get 100% of that money.

So plain and simply, if you want the advantages a major label offers, don’t complain when they take most of your money, you signed the contract.

In the end, I believe if you can educate yourself and stay vigilant, know when to sign and when not to, make the most of social media and put in the hard yards, then today’s industry is a better place to be.

 

 

CARMEN SMITH

SINGER/SONGWRITER, VOCALIST (Guy Sebastian, Jess Mauboy)

carmen

 

I’m in two minds. As an independent artist, the Internet has given me endless opportunities to get my music out there without a record company dictating what I can release. I did however start my career just before the boom of Internet music purchasing/YouTube etc and it was a good time for songwriters and live music. The web has opened us up to the world but personally I think the fact that everything is at your fingertips, breeds a very fickle audience who move on very quickly so it is much harder to have long lasting fans. The up keep on social media etc is a daily job and u have to constantly think of new ways to keep ppl interested, where as when I loved an artist I would wait with baited breath to buy the album in the hope I could know more about them. I’m not a fan of because it’s “trending” I should jump on it.

 

 

CIARAN GRIBBIN

SONGWRITER : Madonna, deadmau5, Paul Oakenfield, LEAD SINGER : INXS

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I have the experience of releasing music prior to the internet and i am still releasing music up to this day with the help of the internet.
Before the internet, Recording studios,record companies record stores cd manufacturing and sales of music was big business, but that didn’t mean that the musician and artist were making lots of money, sadly this model wasn’t set up to benefit the musician or artist… however a lot of record industry people seemed to do OK out of this model. It simply was a model that took decades to build up and regulate and when the internet came along everything changed… it hasn’t been an easy change but i have a feeling that it can still be really good for the artist… it will just take time and a lot more DIY attitude from the artist.
Here is an example. A young artist starting out today does not need anyone to be a success.

He/she can buy a decent recording system for a fraction of what it used to cost, and write and produce release quality music from their bedroom/garage.
He/she can shoot their own videos with quality gear at a fraction of what it used to cost, and upload them on social media for promotion.
He/she can have there own video blog… I have a musician friend in Ireland called Bri Bry who has 450000 followers on youtube and he does all the video promo himself or help form friends… he now can seek out venues where ever he plays in the world and he gets no Press or radio… people come to his sold out gigs on the strength of the social media campaign … which is all done by Bri Bry.
He/she can release their music on i tunes through many companies like AWAL for little cost… Please note all of the money from sales goes to the artist.. not a record company
He/she can contact venues and book their own tour.

Im not saying all of the above work is easy or free… but i know plenty of bands and artists including myself that signed deals with labels in the old model and basically all that happened was the artist went into debt to the label and spent the future trying to pay back the debt… most acts i know made now money and gave up trying to pay back the debt.

To finish, i think now is a great time to be a young artist and using the internet to build and control their own career. They just need to learn that their future is controlled by themselves and they need to learn to DIY. Don’t wait for someone to come along like a label or manager… those days are gone and will NEVER come back.. you need to build it yourself and make something that is sustainable … and when you have done that all the money goes into your pocket not a labels, and when this happens i can guarantee that the industry will come knocking and want a piece of it.. but hopefully at this stage he/she won’t need the industry.

 

 

CORRENE WILKIE

MANAGER : The Cat Empire, Harry James Angus

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There are pros and cons to both no doubt. I guess I am happy to have been lucky enough to have a foot in both camps in the time I have been in the music industry (almost 15 years) – meaning that my career and that of the artists I manage benefited from the predominantly pre-internet world, and have subsequently had the opportunity of using the internet to further expand on that.

There are innumerable benefits to building a music career with the internet available. Some of the big ones that jump out to me are: The internet has made it possible to have an international career with far greater ease than 20 years ago. Borders and boundaries are invisible in the virtual world, and it is as easy for your music to be discovered by someone in Russia as it is for someone in your home town. That’s the beauty of the online world. This means that artists/bands can crowd build, relationship build, create links, and know exactly where and who their global (and local) audience is before ever investing in an airline ticket. In the early days of THE CAT EMPIRE, we had to spend thousands of dollars on going to new markets, and just blindly hope people would come out to see the band. Bands don’t have to do that anymore. This kind of ‘outreach’, measurable response and audience data didn’t exist before the internet was there to track it.

The internet has also made being an independent band more possible and more lucrative than ever before, because no “middle man” is required to sell your track to someone on the other side of the world. Having a radio “hit” is no longer critical to having a big and successful career. Artists can become overnight sensations just for doing something creative online that gathers attention and momentum. Having a network of colleagues internationally is now immediately available, and Australia is no longer considered a music industry backwater because it doesn’t matter that it takes 24 hours to get here anymore! And of course, communication has been revolutionised by the internet. I can not even fathom how entire tours were advanced by fax!

The downside to all of this is that your “friends” may not be close friends! Where 20 years ago people bought albums and became fans of bands and albums, the music consumption methods these days see people listening to individual songs, and not necessarily associating them with albums or indeed the bands/artists who created them. Fans don’t identify themselves with bands with the same fervour they once did. They tend to “follow” and “like” whats trending, and then move on…This makes it much harder to build a loyal and large fan base. It makes it harder to hold a listeners attention.

I think the best outcomes come about when the internet is used to create genuine links, not to play a numbers game of building “friends” that are not actually connected to what you are doing. The internet serves as a massive distraction if you get caught up trying to drive stats and get people re-tweeting you (!) instead of creating great music.

At the end of the day, at least from where I sit, it’s actually still all about the music. Great music does always find it’s audience, and the internet makes it even easier for that to happen, globally.

One major reversal that has occurred in my time in the industry is that we don’t sell tickets to shows to promote albums anymore, we use songs and albums to sell tickets to shows. That means the artists I work with still have to be able to really deliver live. And that’s what they love to do, so it’s a winning formula.

 

PRODUCER/MIXER (Bjork, Gwen Stefani, P-Diddy, Muse)
 eden-martin
In terms of being a creative artist, I think now is an incredibly exciting and much better time than 20 years ago. The tools that are available for you to create your art are numerous, easily available and relatively easy to master the technology that enables you to record and mix your material.
The internet provides a wealth of information for you on how to improve your skills in both songwriting, and the more technical side of things with sites like Groove 3 providing very detailed tutorials on how to use the software of your choice, not to mention the vast amount of online lessons available to you to master your instrument of choice.
However, In terms of making money from your art, I feel the odds can be even more stacked against you than 20 years ago. Sure, you are able to put your music online very easily to reach people on a global level that you would have needed a major distribution company/label behind you to achieve in the past, and some new independent artists are reporting that they are getting paid fairly and regularly from streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music etc, but you don’t have to search very hard to find stories about major artists pulling their catalogs from these platforms over unfair royalty distribution.
The jury still seems to be out on who is responsible for the why this is happening –  Daft Punk’s Get Lucky surpassed 100m Spotify Listens and generated them $9000.00 only, and Spotify claim they pay a fair (but undisclosed) rate to the record companies who then distribute a fair (but again, undisclosed) share to their artists, resulting in artists pulling their catalogues from streaming services.
So in conclusion, 2016 is, my opinion, a much better time to be a creative independent artist, but if your end goal is to sign to a major label and attampt make a living that way, my advice would be that you’re better off becoming a porn star – at least that way you’ll get paid to be fucked!

L-FRESH THE LION

HIPHOP ARTIST

fresh

 

“I would prefer now. The Internet is such a powerful tool. To know that I can put out music, and it reach audiences locally and globally is powerful. Who would have thought that an aspiring artist from South West Sydney would have people all the way in the UK listening to his music? And not just listening, really connecting with the music. Beyond that, the Internet has brought fans and artists closer together. I know a lot of my fans quite well. They’re amazing people. And we’ve developed great connections with each other because of conversations had over social media platforms. Not only that, I’ve connected with like minded artists across the world from all artistic fields. We build together and plan projects that’ll have us traveling to each other’s countries and sharing audiences. It’s amazing.

At the end of the day, an artists’ number one focus should be to make great music. That’s the foundation right there. The Internet is then a powerful tool to utilize to help shape an artists’ career. The Internet means that an artist can do that on their own. They can begin to shape their own careers on their own.”

 

 

LUKE ESCOMBE

COMEDIAN, SINGER/SONGWRITER, CREATOR of The Vegetable Plot

luke-escombe_smorgasbordello-1

 

It’s easy to feel like the internet changed everything, but ultimately the essence of being an artist remains the same as it has always been.

You take your passion and experience, your fears and desires, your love and inspiration and all your expertise and pour it diligently into a piece of work, then you present that work to other human beings in whatever way you can, with courage, heart, humility and reverence. The tools may change, and the means by which you reach your audience may change, but the internal process of an artist like Kendrick Lamar is probably not so different to that of William Shakespeare. Picture them at work in a split screen image for a second. You’ll see two guys in deep concentration, staring at a page and writing rhymes. That’s the essence. The rest is aesthetic.

I feel like there’s a lot of emphasis on the way the internet has either saved or ruined music. It certainly changed the playing field, and I think the quality of music suffered for a while – I don’t think people will eulogise the music of the noughties in the same way they do the music of the late 20th century – but those shocks have now subsided, and a whole new generation of artists for whom the internet has ALWAYS existed are back to making music that is exciting, challenging and vital. Music is alive and well in 2016, and for those who have tuned out, I encourage you to tune back in.

Any time is a good time to be a new artist. New is a state of mind, you can be new whenever you want, just throw out your old ideas and start fresh. The world is constantly moving. Wake with the sunrise and get to work.

 

 

MARK GABLE

SONGWRITER and LEAD SINGER of The Choirboys

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It makes no difference I feel. There are still some main components required. Absolute persistence with the belief that one is meant to be doing this and nothing else. A great understanding of lunacy or at least be a part or complete psychopath (I am not kidding with this, it is and will always be the key ingredient of greatness). The last and unfortunately the least important is talent. I know more talented people, who have greater talent than those who make the big time. They will never see the light of day because they will not put themselves in the line of fire. So, then or now? No difference, if they are prepared to suffer in any environment they will sooner or later shine.

 

 

TOMMY FLEMING

Multi-platinum selling Irish singer

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The music industry was a very different scene twenty years ago, consumers relied very heavily on the physical product i.e CD’s , Vinyl, Casettes and radio play. It was a time when mix tapes were rife and you brought your own CD’s to a party.

Advancements in technology meant that hard copies of music were no longer a necessity-the introduction of the digital mp3 pushed out the requirement to own CD’s .similar to mix tapes, listeners as apposed to consumers borrowed their Friends CD’s copied them to their computer and have an electronic copy of the CD.

The internet shook things up further,as connection speeds increased, file sharing became more common. Consumers illegally used programmes like Napster and Limewire to pirate music,waiting for many hours to down load a single track. Pirated music became a widespread problem for record labels as there was no way to police the music duplication.

The advent of social networking also brought a whole new element to the music industry,initally with MySpace and now with Facebook and Twitter providing a platform for users to follow artists like myself, musicians, and discover new bands. YouTube has meant that consumers no longer have to rely on MTV or purchase a band’s video or DVD to watch their music videos. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora give listeners access to any music from anywhere with an internet connection.

So technology and the internet have changed the way we source and listen to music but it has also changed the way music is produced. Where twenty years ago, aspiring artists would rely on corporate bigwigs to listen to their demo disc, the internet has put some power back in their artist’s hands.

Thanks to the internet, musicians and singers now have more control over their own fates. They are able to produce their own track, upload it to the internet and promote it accordingly. This not only helps listeners discover them but also producers, helping them to get signed and make it big time.

Viral videos and social media also have a huge influence on the music industry, with the song behind Psy’s Gangnam Style topping charts in many countries, where in the past music charts solely depended on the song not the video.

Producing music has also become more accessible and more affordable with some artists recording work in their home, or hiring out a recording studio for a day my Friend and producer Mike Moran who has worked with artists like Queen, Freddie Mercury,Elaine Paige and myself, recognises that compared with twenty years ago, it is much easier for artists to kick start their career. As soon as a track is uploaded to the internet it can be accessed by people across the world if they know where to look.

With internet connectivity continuing to improve and the penetration of smartphones only set to increase, technology and the internet are predicted to maintain a firm hold on how music is consumed, shared and produced. These advancements are welcomed by most as it gives the both the listener and artist both more choice and power.

In conclusion I find myself in an ever evolving and changing world in the music industry, I honestly believe that it takes a lot more hard work to maintain and advance my career and in the immortal words of Mark Twain : 

“Twenty Years From Now You Will Be More Disappointed By The Things You Didn’t Do Than By The Things you Did Do”

 

 

WILLIAM BOWDEN

Grammy Award winning mastering engineer (Gotye, The Living End)

 

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I’m tempted to begin my reply with a glib bit of humour from Woody Allen: “My one regret in life is that I wasn’t somebody else”. I began my career at least a decade before 1995, in fact I had my first 4 track recorder when I was still at school back in 1980. I recorded friend’s bands and also ‘experimental’ music that my brother and I were convinced would change the world, ahh those hundreds of tape loops we had…

Since then I’ve spent my whole ‘professional’ life working with independent artists, and now work as an independent mastering engineer, that is, I sit and listen to music all day which comes to me in the form of ‘finished mixes’. I then apply a sonic patina if you like, to help give the songs their best aspect for release. I have often described myself as a ‘musical french-polisher’. However it’s not all shiny-ness, it might be a rough finish, a dark tone, an air of mystery that best helps the song. Suffice it to say I’ve heard a lot of locally produced ‘independent’ music in my time. I run my own studio, and I do very little work for record companies these days – deliberately as it turns out.

What I would say though is that in whatever decade you are born into, there is no substitute for hard work. Many young people I’ve met are secretly hoping for a magic bullet as they say, and in many ways today’s internet can fulfil your wildest dreams. If you have a crazy idea for a clip or a song, you might end up with millions of views and your own monetized Youtube channel. You might however, be a one hit wonder – a mere flash in the pan – who failed to back it up with any more goodies.

What’s the difference I hear you ask?

Overridingly I would say success; and let’s not even get into a precise definition of what THAT is, is enjoyed by talented people who work like dogs. They try a lot of things before anything that the public sees. They have many many failures and as a result they learn something more deeply.

I have even met some people who don’t have much of a gift, but are still successful in one area only: they convince other people that they are worthwhile. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, or the fake-it-till-you-make-it-syndrome. It works to some extent, the jury is a bit out on the longevity of this approach…

Generally though, as the old saying goes: talent will out. If you’re good at something, chances are the other apes around you will eventually notice.

Look at Gotye. Wally DeBacker worked for years and years and years before his international hit. It was off his third album too – not the case of someone ‘coming out of nowhere’ as my dear old parents and most of the world thought.

It’s fair to say, that Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know broke many ‘industry’ preconceptions too. It didn’t have a huge record company behind it, it didn’t have a promotional budget, it showed for once what the people really wanted – a good song and a good video.   

Simple!

Apart from a work ethic though, as an artist you need to be patient.

Everything takes ten times longer than you imagine it would…

How do you get good at something though?

Well, a certain amount of innate ability is a prerequisite, but from there it’s up to you. It certainly helps to have an obsessive aspect to your personality. If, for example, you are down in your parents cellar making tape loops, or up all night on the computer making music while your peers party and talk about beards and clothes – you may have a shot in what is rather loosely termed “the industry”. If you’re playing gigs for next to nothing, and slowly getting better at your craft (or if you are interested in the skills of others and try to understand their techniques by listening) you might have a shot.

On the other hand, you may be the kind of naturally gregarious person who inspires others – this is a great gift and in fact that leads me on to what is an important point:

It’s actually quite likely that you have really no idea what your particular ability truly is.

It may be no help to find out either. Actors who take too many yoga classes for example become unable to perform – due to a sudden lack of neuroses.

Life does have a tendency to guide you, but ultimately you make your own luck. If you see an opportunity, take it. If you think you might have a new idea, do something about it. As the lead singer of a little known band Bebop Deluxe sang in 1977 “People who do things are people who get things done, look at your watch, it’s time to quit dreaming and get on the beam.”

There are thousands of people who work in offices – do you want to be one?

As I begin to face the prospect of going into my 4th decade in the music industry, I am as busy as I ever was in work. So it seems hard to imagine starting from scratch. Yet every day I hear new albums from new musicians and am always surprised (well mostly) by what people come up with.

Has the internet or twenty years later affected these musicians?

From my perspective; not really. Some will be successful, some are successful, some just make beautiful music and are wonderful human beings. Most are ignored by the population, most have a day job, most will not change the world. The internet hasn’t really changed anything much…

Perhaps these days the stakes are higher?

Well I would say having a platinum selling album in the 90’s would have bought you more houses and sportscars than today. However back then the record company would have taken the lion’s share of whatever the artist earned. Today people want content for nothing, or others complain Spotify doesn’t pay enough. Unsurprisingly, some folks are doing quite nicely, and if you play your cards right, with a bit of luck, so will you.

Another bit of advice I can give is to try to surround yourself with good people. You can learn a lot from others, but ultimately going inside yourself is the one true resource you have – in any decade or time. If you want to succeed you can’t be a chicken. People seem to be afraid of things these days and the media tends to play on this. It’s not the fault of the decade you’re born in – it’s up to you.

STOP reading the internet (like this rubbish for example) and try and come up with something original – I dare you, go on, stop being a spoon-fed baby and go and do something. Pretty soon you’ll find out for yourself whether you’re going to make it or not!

So, do I think music itself was better 20 years ago in terms of quality, content, and sound then?

Not necessarily. I suppose like everything in life (except religion perhaps), you can’t look at things in absolute terms or binary. There isn’t a simplistic bifurcation of yes and no or ‘good and evil’ here. Having said that there are some things I think may have relevance, more observations and opinion perhaps.

When I started out in the music industry, finding out information about what people were doing overseas was rather difficult. There were occasional magazine articles with pictures, or you heard stories about what it was like when people went overseas to have something recorded or mixed, mastered by a famous american…

Some had good experiences, many got right royally ripped off. For example Mushroom paid something like $750,000 to have James Freud’s album produced by Bernard Edwards and Niles Rogers from Chic (remember Le Freak?) – and this was years after disco had had its day too…

In my own world I was always experimenting, trying out new signal chains and approaches to see if I could get things to sound a certain way, whether it be like the loud famous artist’s album the client had brought in as a reference, or whether to try and make their music stand out in its own way (a much better approach if you ask me).

This lack of information forced you to really use your ears and be creative, you were trying things to get noticed, to be interesting, to stand out.

I remember when I did the first number one I mastered: the Living End’s “Prisoner of Society”. An engineer called David Price had lent me a pair Urei 1176 compressors. They had a bright, mid-forward kind of sound, but depending on how you drove them could be not quite as over the top as their reputation might suggest. Needless to say I used them – and I think it was a big part of the sound of that particular EP.

Would people ‘recommend’ or even endorse that sort of behaviour in these days of the internet? The likely answer is NO! – the Urei 1176 is for tracking, not mastering – it’s far too coloured. Everyone knows that.

That’s what they say on all the forums – so it must be right!

Yeah, right.

Ok so I’ve touched on the internet forums. It’s because there are so many opinions out there and people tend to flock to, and endorse the prevailing wind as they see it.

Good old group behaviour…

I don’t necessarily think that is a good thing for an artist. I think some glorious isolation, and focussing on what either inspires or tortures (or both) is a good thing creatively. Someone recently said that no great novel had been written by anyone with a good internet connection.

I understand this – especially after relocating to Tasmania.

I do think you have to keep yourself to yourself (a lot) to produce your best work. In my field there are thousands of wannabe guys asking questions like ‘what is the best compressor’. The answer is; the one you’re using now – if you use it properly, or interestingly, or wildly etc.

The bad thing about the internet, and connectivity in general, is that you’re constantly able to see what the other kids are up to – all the time, and then you’re kinda forced by default to measure your progress (or lack thereof) against them.

Now this isn’t a new thing.

If you went to art college 20-30 years back, especially in Australia, you would be encouraged to study the entire history of art, learn about all the incredibly ‘talented’ people that had gone before you – and then after you’d swallowed that rather humbling pill – be expected to somehow produce some new groundbreaking work that bore no resemblance to anything ever done previously.

At least that’s what your teachers wanted (so they could say they’ve discovered you (which sounds like you already had talent if you were simply ‘found’)), and you were supposed to assume they knew what was best.

Those who can do etc…

Needless to say, when you look at the derivative re-works of Warhol, Picasso, etc that adorn many galleries you can see it becomes a case of who is the better social networker than original artist.

But who is to say being a social networker is any less valid?

In any generation there are usually only very few truly original thinkers, thousands of ‘artists’ and millions of workers (social or otherwise).

Being an artist in any time doesn’t mean the world owes you a living…

I think in any decade you get amazing people coming out despite the nonsense that they’re fed in school, or Uni, or life. Some people are just really talented at what they do, and they don’t behave like others…

But getting back to the question, I also think on the plus side there are great things about being creative these days. Note that I don’t use the term ‘independent artist’ here – cause that implies surviving and money and all that tricky stuff doesn’t it?

If you’re just somebody who wants to create product, and even distribute it – then this is a truly golden age in terms of cheap technology and worldwide distribution. 2o years back home studio technology was around but was limited. Even the sound quality was poor in comparison with current analogue to digital conversion for example. These days an average computer running Logic or Tools is like a million dollar facility in the 80’s. Back then recording was hard, mixing expensive, and record companies were still the keepers of the gates.

But 20 years back is the end of the nineties. All the big money from the 80’s had evaporated and record companies were beginning to fall – it was the end of an era, and as these dinosaurs looked around at a sky full of ‘virtual’ meteors they could barely comprehend what was happening to them.

Not that they helped a lot; as they were generally conservative and afraid in this country by then – or they became more and more so as American culture began to overwhelm the world and Australia.

The thinking became: ‘it is cheaper and less risky to import American culture (which has already been road-tested overseas) than take a risk on our own’ – no doubt exactly the line used by the American salesmen themselves – to such devastating effect on the local industry and people.

Guess it made a few guys rich…

It was the same with TV of course, and even the Australian accent became modulated by Gen-Y’s sporting newly-minted hybrid tones – the first soft-vowel sounds ever heard in public since, well, forever.

When you put culture, or new ideas, or even research on a budgetary footing – it generally doesn’t work out too well in the long run…

But, like I said, at the end of the day, it’s all down to ideas isn’t it? If you have a viral hit today, then you are effectively reaching a worldwide audience.

Despite Gotye, generally it’s a bit naive to think that this happens by chance as a rule. Already sprung up in the place of ‘record companies’ is another giant network full of gatekeepers and trolls – that you have to bribe to ’take it to the next level’ or ‘gain traction’.

Businessmen – Dante even reserved a special level of hell for these parasites. Man has been plagued by their kind since he lucklessly invented money.

And little has changed.

Artists remain at the bottom of the food chain in this realm, unless they really crack it and thus can re-write their own terms.

Great music these days competes against a giant cacophony of marketing, mediocrity, novelty, and short(ening) attention spans. I think a lot of great music in any era is lost, because of bad luck, lack of planning, lack of knowledge, or even a lead singer on the verge of a nervous breakdown at any given moment – so many many reasons.

Anyway as I sit here and ramble a voice inside asks me what I guess is an obvious question:

Did my clients find it easier to survive as musicians in the nineties or now?

That’s difficult to answer. On the one hand they got paid much better for gigs back then, and there were more of them. People were into live music in those days too – another ‘cultural’ shift (or is that shaft) perhaps.

Poker machines were on the horizon even then, but places like Melbourne were thriving. Way before the real estate fiasco. Simply having a roof over your head did not equate to a lifetime of slavery…

Back then though, most musicians did need to have a part time job.

To survive.

And despite collecting royalties from airplay and live venues etc, one of APRA’s greatest contributions, is to employ musicians to this day, to give them time off to tour when needed – to help the local industry when it needs it most.

So I guess to sum up, I think it’s possible to produce amazing work now, more easily and more accessibly than it was in the nineties – when even so called independent artists were usually signed to some small label in order to ‘release’ stuff. Then there were the obligatory pub gigs, and the hope that Rage might play your clip if you could afford to do one. Not to mention hope that JJJ would pick up the single.

These days it’s a different story, you have so many more options where to place your music. Band camp, Youtube, Facebook, Spotify – the list is long.

Who needs JJJ really these days or even Rage?

You may still have difficulty turning that into an income though – but that’s nothing new.

It’s hard to survive as an artist.

So I think one balance it may be a better time if you ignore money – because these days you can work with anyone anywhere in the world, you can potentially reach anyone in the world, and you have far more tools with which to create whatever it is you want to create.

Whether you’re any good though, well that’s another story!

 

[Read the blog here]

 

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