Someone posted THAT Albini essay again!
So I'm going to post THAT "Why you've got no chance of making a living out of music" essay again:
They are both getting on a bit - 'the essays', not the writers, but as relevant today as ever.
I was reading a Todd Rundgren interview from earlier in the year and the interviewer asked him what advice do you have for young aspiring artists Todd? And Todd replied:"Two words - You Tube". He honestly believed that bypassing the majors or in fact any label at all was possible by going 'viral'. Now Todd IS a genius. That there is no doubt about. An auto-didactic polymath of the highest order. From multi-instrumentalist to engineer to producer to song writer to video director to animator to computer programmer to mastering engineer. Oh and he is a thoroughly decent human being as well by the sounds of it too. But aside from the statistical nightmare that most aspiring artists would face - before the odds were like being a single guy in a pub trying to hit on a girl - you are outnumbered, but you may not be the pub bore, or you may have money, or a charming smile, terrible rumours spread about your over-sized appendage, etc. etc., so maybe statistically you stood a 'chance in hell'.
So nevermind that statistically now the battle is more akin to being a single sperm trying to fertilise an egg. The odds are rather more stacked against you. And let's not forget we live in the age of mediocrity. If I hear another c**t musician/songwriter sing that f****ing song - I will go apeshit. So let's forget about that...
No Todd really believed what he said - a man at the cutting edge of music for the last few decades in various fields, one of the few peers of those like Zappa etc... hasn't got a frigging clue what he is talking about anymore. You Tube is actively gamed against the little man and original aspiring artist in favour of selling and pushing the mainstream. Do a search on google and see for yourself the campaigns going on. They have actively and willfully chopped down to size any unknown that gets too big for it's boots. But Todd Rundgren is citing Rebecca Black as an example for sweet baby's sake! You Tube!
We are at a crossroads in the music industry. The majors still haven't got it. There is still no mechanism for artists to convert hits into bits of cash. i.e. Andy McKee the virtuoso guitarist - over a 100 Million hits on You Tube - has sold what, just over a hundred thousand records. I'm sure some boffin can work out what that percentage is, but I don't even want to try. He has a nice life, can eat, travel the world, doesn't get mobbed in the supermarket and can play to small crowds of hundreds of people who all want to meet him later and be his friend. I wish I had that level of success.
The problem lies as much with the consumer, they do not want to pay directly to the artists and cut out the middle man. So it's just a slow lingering death of a wounded animal. And the majors as I said still don't get it and won't or can't do the right thing...
I for one would welcome our new Major record company overlords, if they woke up and smelt the coffee, admitted defeat, showed some contrition by trying to do the right thing. It could work for them and for us. The infrastructure is there and there are still a lot of people that want physical cds to put on a bookshelf or a bit of plastic on the turntable. It is one holy clusterf**K of a situation. No wonder Trent went crying back to Mammy after sticking it to the man. I respect him. His decision. He knows what he is doing.
We do indeed live in interesting times. But it's a digital revolution. The cost of recording equipment and computers is at a level anyone dedicated enough can afford (except for those in the Democratic Republic of Congo - but that is another argument). People I knew used to brag: Oh we are going into a studio in the west end and it costs £200 an hour and we are booked in there for six weeks - two months to do our album. I think they were under the impression that the record company were paying for it, but no, it was them. They might not have even realised that the studio was actually owned by the record company as well, or had shares in it or whatever vested interests. Ok, studio equipment was expensive back then, but those studios at those prices payed for themselves many times over. But that shit doesn't work any more, that is why a lot of studios are closing down and it will just get worse, with the big record company studios staying open, herding all the sheep into the same field.
I was reading an article by P.I.L.'s guitarist yesterday and he was saying for the money they paid for the studio, it killed them because they could have each built a studio in their own house for what they paid in bills to make that particular record - but the record company insisted. Our way or the highway.
It is a shame really, because, I may be wrong, but I imagine and don't know what I am talking about here, but I would say that the studios that are going out of business today and will be going out of business tomorrow will be, not the small, specialist boutique studios, such as Steve Albini runs, or the big mixing Record Company behemoths in L.A, but the mid to high end studios that really do work for making great music. As any musician or producer will tell you, you get a spark recording somewhere where a famous artist has recorded. It's a great buzz that adds to that whole vibe for making great music. A lot of them closed down as far as I can tell......... but what do I know, that's just my impression. Please feel free to enlighten me, it won't be the first time I've been wrong about something...
TL;DR. I know ;-)