music and musicians
Music and musicians in 2023 – a topic that is often neglected. Even if we like to deny it, we have all arrived in the age of streaming and the clock cannot be turned back. This article is primarily aimed at my fellow musicians. (By the way, the cover photo comes from an interesting one Article from the magazine STEREO.DE)
I am writing this because the topic has been on my mind for a long time. A post on Facebook, initiated by Mark Storey and Brass Moonkey, gave me the impetus.
Everyone promises it - nobody does it
It's easy to complain about low financial returns as a musician in 2023. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the big streaming services, as it's a sign of our time not to pay too much attention to things. Why should anyone buy music when the same song or track is available for free on @Spotify and Co? Yes, of course, to support the artist in his work. Every listener is free to do so - and yet nobody does it. For the sake of completeness, here is a link to my profile on Spotify - so you could all support me if you wanted to 🙂
The novel 'The experiment'
Last year I started the following experiment: my new music should first appear on paid services such as Amazon Music, and only be freely available on the streaming platforms after 6 weeks. Simply to try out how far the good will of the listeners (and last but not least mine guitar student) suffices. Exactly one copy was sold, all other listeners waited until the title was available for free. So much for “supporting artists”.
The radio show
Every week I produce a radio show”Jørg's World“, in which I introduce listeners to the music that defines me as a musician and guitarist. In fact, I always buy music, albums or even individual titles so that I can legally use songs in the radio show. While I initially produced a 2-hour program with many independent, small artists, I have now switched to only broadcasting an hour-long program with just one independent artist at a time. The audience numbers in the five-digit range prove me right.
Publish for little money
In the meantime, every musician, artist or band can publish their music worldwide in 2023 for little money. I work with them as a label Horus Music ltd. in England, which are available to both labels and individual artists. That starts (at the moment, April 2023) from £20. This is a unique opportunity for anyone to self-release their music.
Some music is better left in the practice room
The problem is that those same artists often release music that doesn't conform to the international norm. In most cases, the technical requirements are not met (-2db peak level at -11LUFS), and I sometimes even find practice room recordings that would have stayed in the practice room with better quality. The possibility of acting cheaply and worldwide meant that quality is no longer taken seriously. The little artist is no longer dependent on a label whose area of responsibility includes quality control. So – pardon my expression – every piece of crap gets onto the market and repels listeners in droves. How is the listener supposed to distinguish the good from the bad bands? Well, then as a Spotify user you'd probably prefer to stick with the well-known bands or the suggested playlists. Understandable, right?
My music between expensive productions
Just recently I had a debate with a friend and label mate (mx-pro.net), who has been recording and producing music for himself and other bands in the studio for many years. He was quite upset because I repeatedly rejected his music for editing. After all, he's been working on individual songs and albums for many years, and at first I couldn't understand why I rejected his work for release on the label.
The plausible argument
The plausible argument then was this: the music we release appears in playlists these days (2023). That means the listener no longer has the CD with all the titles in his car, sondern places a song between Gary Moore and Joe Bonamassa. And that's why it's important to produce music to a certain standard. If your song seems too muffled and too quiet between two major label tracks (which admittedly cost thousands of dollars to produce), it will be removed from the playlist. It's as simple as that – career over.
supply and demand
Due to the possibility of publishing cheaply and worldwide, the channels are blocked. At the moment around 40.000 new songs appear on the platforms every day. While we have the ability to reach millions of people with every release, it takes more than just a cleanly produced song. Very few listeners are looking for exactly your music themselves, and it is not the low payouts from Spotify (€0,0047 per stream) or YouTube (€0,0001 per stream) that are the real problem. It is the listeners that we can only reach with considerable financial effort.
It's not the streaming services that cost us money, sondern the countless fake services with botplays, false promises of success or even nonsensical, high-priced label contracts cheat us. In fact, Spotify, for example, provides us with all the information in our “Spotify for Artists” account to find out exactly where our target audience is. And sure, of course I would like a revenue of 1 cent per stream. But as long as a few musicians sell millions of streams, that will probably not happen.
Everything was easier before
Well, I think I'm old enough to discuss that point. How many demo tapes did we send out to record labels in the XNUMX's hoping for a lucrative deal? And the chance of playing to a music scout was zero, at least for me here in Ingolstadt.
When smartphones became popular, we could easily invite our audience to concerts via email or SMS. Still, posters and leaflets had to be printed to reach people. No, it wasn't easier. Just different. And yes, admittedly, our local fans initially came to the concert because there was less competition. The young Internet also offered the possibility of illegally downloading music in large quantities. The entire music industry was badly damaged and the idea of “music and streaming for everyone” was born. To a certain extent as a delimitation of the damage.
Use and value of music in 2023
Honestly - my generation knew records, CDs, music cassettes. I spent many hours as a kid studying and reading the lyrics to the latest Iron Maiden record while it played on a loop all Saturday afternoon. Buying a record cost me pocket money, so it represented significant value to me.
In fact, the younger generation only knows music as an icon on their smartphone. Nothing remembers how many hours of practice room, music lessons, brainstorming and lifeblood went into the creative process. In fact, I want to say - they don't know any better. And so it hardly surprises me that after listening to the music for 3 seconds, it is wiped away until something exciting reaches the auditory canals. Or right from the start only as a playlist recommendation in the background while doing sports. Welcome to 2023!
Everyone likes them, the monumental live concerts of the big, famous artists. After all, the €150 concert ticket also offers something. Light, fire and sound in unprecedented dimensions flood the mind for one and a half hours. Yes, I understand very well. But how are small artists supposed to counter this? I think we depend on the goodwill of the listeners who need to step out of the wave of acceleration. At some point a level is reached that can no longer be topped. All of us as musicians in 2023 can only hope that this happens before we artists run out of breath and handmade music is just a nostalgic memory.
Thanks for reading patiently! – Jørg in April 2023