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Down On The Corner
One of my daily stops on ye olde Internets is the 502Scene board, where the metalheads post news, requests for help and, mostly, engage in obscene rants aimed at anybody who doesn't agree with them. (Sort of sounds like most political blogs, yeah?) One thread that recently was hot had to do with the question of the legal battles surrounding peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing as it affects musicians not signed to a label, i. e., 'music theft.' It fairly quickly devolved into the question of how a musician might make a living, if any, and whether that should include pursuing the dream of a record deal. I finally had to post a response (against my better judgment), since this is something that I think about a lot. Here is that post, cleaned up a bit:
Having watched the Louisville music scene - in it's many, many genres - for over thirty-five years, it's very clear that the current situation vis-a-vis live performances is totally a buyer's market, meaning that there are far more live performances available to any given audience member than ever before. This results in the usual complaints from musicians that the scene 'sucks' as far as audiences are concerned. Combine the collapse of the national record business with the collapse of the economy and you get lots more performers on the road, trying to earn some money than ever before. (Business item - every month, I add between twenty and forty or more NEW acts - bands, solo performers - to my database - acts that have not appeared here before. Some are local, most are from out-of-town). Even the old and new major acts are on the road; hence, we have the Eagles, retired for years, in the new arena, Megadeth, et al at Freedom Hall, and so on, touring, touring, touring. Their record royalties have gone away. This is basic economics.
Making and selling your own record is a reasonable business practice for now, if you are willing to get out and play to sell them, be they CDs or the download cards, but only if you do it yourself. If you think that you will get a 'record deal' from some record company and make money at it, you're living in la-la land. That includes small labels as well as large. None of them have a workable business model, at least as far as the musicians are concerned. Record companies have been ruthlessly exploiting musicians over since they began and the current situation points to nothing else from here on out. Here in town, we have at least one label with some significant money backing it and I know from a close friend of the label owner than he has no business model that is any different from the old ones and yet he has signed a number of up-and-coming bands, who consider themselves lucky.
So follow the advice given about about being a pro, tending to your business, playing a lot (preferably out of town) and looking for new ways to market your music that do not require someone else to do it for you while you just 'play your music.' Fail to follow that advice and you'll be posting whiny complaints about lousy audiences when you get too old to hear any more.
• The date for the 2010 edition of MERF's Viva La Diva! show has been set – November 21 at Jim Porter's. Last year's show was a smashing success, per the MERF crew and expectations are high for the next one. Lineup TBA.
Dennis, Joseph "Joey", died on September 1, 2010. He was a musician and vocalist for many bands, including R&R, Express, Titan, Starr69 and One More Tyme.
Owen, Florence Elizabeth "Libby," 78, died in Virginia on September 12,2010. She was the wife of Mel Owen and was retired from Mel Owen Music, which she and her husband established and ran for many years.
Webb, Harold Emory, 91, died in Louisville on August 31, 2010. He was a musician and violin maker, who played with the Holy Name band. He was also involved with the Louisville Youth Orchestra.