Warming Up

Warming Up

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Random Thoughts On Selling (Giving Away) Music

Ever made your own CD and then sold it online?  How much money did you make?  Enough to pay for the recording, design, and manufacturing?  Did you make enough selling your CD to pay your bills? Here’s an interesting graphic that I first saw a while back while reading the blog of the very talented Bay-area trumpeter Ian Carey.  If the graphic is hard to read, click on this link http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/how-much-do-music-artists-earn-online/  If you are so inclined, see below for my take on this.

I’m not really sure how to feel about this graphic and what it tells us, but I can’t help but feel that it isn’t too encouraging.  Who is making all the money here?  It doesn’t appear to be the musicians.  How are musicians supposed to afford to document their music if they are not going to make enough money to even pay for the recording, let alone attempt to support themselves (most musicians aren’t earning enough income from performances alone to survive)?  And then why should anyone even try?  

I keep sensing a trend lately: more and more, people don’t want to pay for music; they think it should be free.  And honestly, if you really want an album and don’t want to pay for it, you will, with a fairly painless Google search, be able to find that album somewhere and download it for free.  It’s happening everywhere, all the time.  I’ve read some “industry” press recently that is telling me that I should strongly consider just giving away my music because that’s the direction the business is moving in anyway.  They tell me that it’s better to just get your music and your name out there.  But if I can’t count on making any money back on a self-produced album (no ECM or Blue Note contract in my near future) how can I afford to fund this album?  But without that CD how can I get bookings for my group(s), or press?  It’s a tricky situation.  And I don’t know what the solution is. 

Seems like the only solution is to save my money, rehearse an ensemble, pay for the recording and mixing and mastering, pay the musicians, pay for a designer, pay for the manufacturing….and then give it away for free.  Because at least then people will hear it. Hmmm.  That seems kinda shitty.  Oh well.  Guess I better start saving a percentage of my gig money.  And when I do make another album, maybe I’ll do the Radiohead thing and just ask people to pay me (directly – learning my lesson from the above graphic) what they want for it.  Can’t hurt, I guess.  Not trying to be a downer here, but this is something I’ve been thinking about lately.  I’ll have a cheerier, more upbeat post tomorrow!

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