How the music "biz" works..

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How the music "biz" works..

Postby MetroSonus » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:46 am

Just to stimulate some discussion.. Scott from crystal method was on facebook live last night answering questions. They started out on a no name label in England i guess and then went straight to Universal in the US. His patter sounds pretty familiar... "we had a synthesizer, put it through some pedals". Everyone loves to have that "two kids trying to make it in a garage" kind of angle..

Member Ken, moves out to LA to work with a producer and Scott soon follows. Is that the rub? Like always, you've got to know someone? Vegas isn't a sophomore release. There's vocal cuts that were recorded for them, it was mastered etc.

It's not like say, many of the alternative, new wave bands whose demos / earlier sound sounded like utter shite. Even NIN said the same thing, cleaning in a studio to having seminal album over night. It doesn't work that way..

Not that I'm going that way or that I even care.. but is all that separates us from them, simply knowing someone? Seems to me to be the case. I mean, I'm quite sure most "bands" on majors are simply composites of producers, marketing and "faces".
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby selfinflikted » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:56 am

It definitely helps to know someone on the inside. It's very hard to have your music heard (or cared about) by anyone that matters in the biz.

Story Tiem:

The last band I was in nearly got lucky. I dunno if you guys know who 3 Doors Down is or not, but just to refresh: they were (are?) a pretty popular alt rock band back in the early 2000s from southern Mississippi. Anyway, my band ("Mars Hill" by the way) used to play a lot over in Biloxi, MS and we once played a show for a benefit put on by 3DD at one of the venues they used to frequently play before they made it big. Turns out, 3DD's manager and two of the guys from the band were at said benefit (I played bass in this band and the 3DD bassist was there - told me I rocked it out and signed my setlist :) ) and their manager told our manager he wanted us in his studio ASAP. This was a tumultuous time for my band, as we were in the middle of firing our drummer - the benefit was, in fact, the last show he played with us. Aside from that, me and the lead singer had just graduated college and were just dipping our toes into the adult world of DAY JOBs. The offer was there, we just didn't take it because life had gotten in the way.

As an aside, we really shouldn't have fired our drummer, looking back. We auditioned SEVERAL other guys to take his spot, but we could never find another drummer that fit in with us that was as good as Aaron (said fired drummer). This was a big mistake because soon after, the band just fizzled out.

That was around 2002, I think, and was the last on-stage band I ever played in. We had a really nice run while we were active, and "toured" (term used loosely) all over the southeast. We were good. Like, really good. And, we even once got noticed for it. It was good enough for me to know we at least had had a slight chance to "make it."

Box ticked on bucket list.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby soundwave106 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:28 pm

MetroSonus wrote:Is that the rub? Like always, you've got to know someone?


I think "connections" matter in all aspects of life, to be honest. :tounge:

However from what I see, "the biz" is pretty multi-faceted. It's not like there is a Golden Ticket where if you Know The Right Person, you make it then and there.

The main thing is, there has to be some sort of scene... or *something*... going on musically. I don't know of many artists that come out completely in a vacuum. Thus that's a key to some of it, to move somewhere to where something is going on.

So, one way to make it is to have a Scene and go to all the shows and network and whatnot. Or relentlessly tour if the scene is more fragmented. The only decently known pure electronic dance act I know to come from Tampa for instance (Rabbit in the Moon) came about when Florida actually did have a small dance music scene ("Florida breaks"). From what I recall, a couple of the folks in that band were active in other things before that went nowhere (like a goth/industrialish band and a hair metal band or something along those lines). But "the scene" meant a little something extra.

That being said, it certainly helps to be involved in other professional studio work and whatnot. To me it's a "less tiring" route to that Golden Ticket than the tour and pray route. If only because you might learn what works and what doesn't easier. Knowing who to talk to I'm sure doesn't hurt, either.

There was a rave scene in LA, sure. They were probably involved in some fashion. But from what I can tell, for instance, Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method actually was also involved with pro studio work beforehand. He was an assistant engineer for two Michael Penn records in 1989 and 1992. An engineer for Edie Brickell in 1990. An engineer for Aimee Mann in 1993. An engineer for Smooth in 1995. In other words, an employee for Zeitgeist Studios in L.A. (with this guy -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Berg -- as the producer).

How those two hooked up has never come up in interviews, of course. But, you know, that explains some things. Set up a garage studio, put a synthesizer through some pedals? Sure. But, I'm sure that when one half of the duo is already working at *that* level, your "debut album" isn't going to sound as shitty as others. And that will help your album stand out.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby MetroSonus » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:27 pm

How those two hooked up has never come up in interviews, of course. But, you know, that explains some things. Set up a garage studio, put a synthesizer through some pedals? Sure. But, I'm sure that when one half of the duo is already working at *that* level, your "debut album" isn't going to sound as shitty as others. And that will help your album stand out.


It's just interesting to me how nobody ever says " I knew him from way back and he worked at a studio and said he could hook me up". I think it's part PR schitck.. selling the pipe dream without the work. Or it's an extremely simplified version of things.

I do think in part, it comes down to talent. You can't have someone else do the work for you or get lucky on one song and expect a career out of it. You have to have at least some idea of where your headed.. however, you may also be in a genre that's more fashion dictated than music anyway and once you've got a name, it doesn't matter after that either.

That is a cool story SI! I have nothing close :cry: :lol:

Thousands maybe millions have heard my works but they'd never know! Literally, a ghost writer! I've had tons of my stuff played at hallow scream, halloween horror nights, 6 flags and tons of other haunted houses. It's a bucket list for me too :lol: but nobody knew it was me
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby gregwar » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:58 pm

i think the combo of talent and doing what's fashionable has been eroded by constant social media presence and tons of music videos (i mainly listen to rap)

are there still bands? the whole "rock" genre seems to have died off after all the limp dick indy hipster shit and good riddance.

neckbeard producer: "like run the whole mix through a giant slap echo into a plate and sing like u don't give a fuck"

i still love metal and punk rawk and there are still tons of local bands "doing it" here obvs with day jobs

for electronic music i would just try to land dj gigs in bars/clubs to offset the cost of the gear. from there you need a "following" so when u do a gig u can bring 100+ people with you, usually through social media.

some of the more successful djs here have opened their own bars but that's a whole ' other fuck show.

if you get really popular as a dj i guess you can get a manager to contact promoters, book gigs in other cities and hopefully not lose tons of cash touring around
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby soundwave106 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:39 pm

MetroSonus wrote:It's just interesting to me how nobody ever says " I knew him from way back and he worked at a studio and said he could hook me up". I think it's part PR schitck.. selling the pipe dream without the work. Or it's an extremely simplified version of things.


Both, I'm sure. Details are kind of boring to most people, and people like to dream or something. :lol:

I'm going to guess Ken Jordan got the LA producer gig assistant engineering gig by some combination of UNLV's production classes and his college radio work, and it went from there. My impression is "college" (the right ones, not the scam ones) is actually a more reliable route to the "pop star" connections and/or knowledge than many give credit for. (To give but one example: Charlie Puth *and* one of the Imagine Dragon guys are Berklee alumni, and Meghan Trainor did a summer workshop there. This route really doesn't apply to "street" genres of course, but for the bubblegum pop market it seems like a legitimate path now.)

Yeah, you need talent and work too. No question there.

From the SI story angle, I don't have anything *that* cool. Being mostly in a punk band on the original side, I only have "our band opened for this national touring punk band you probably have never heard of". The one band we opened for that people might generally recognize is The Misfits (eg: you may recognize their logo from back when Hot Topic sold mall goth stuff). Certainly nothing as known as Three Doors Down, for sure. With 9-5 DAY JOB though it's really hard to do anything other than small local things IMHO, and I've never been in a band *not* in a 9-5 day job.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby soundwave106 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:52 pm

gregwar wrote:are there still bands? the whole "rock" genre seems to have died off after all the limp dick indy hipster shit and good riddance.


A quick glance at the Billboard Hot 100 singles suggests that the number of bands on that chart is: 2. Imagine Dragons and Lady Antebellum.

Bands fair a little better in the album chart... but not by much.

Yep, practically speaking, bands are dead in the "mainstream".

Obviously plenty of bands lurking below the surface, though. But there's more money in teen pop or EDM world wide. To some extent, mainstream hip hop as well. In America you can do well with the Nashville market, but most of that is "singer or duo singer with backing band".
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby MetroSonus » Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:07 pm

The guys from crux shadows seemed really interested in me at a VNV show at the ritz once.. granted I was probably one of the older people there and I was talking to a few people in the booth, cause I knew most of the crew there. They probably thought I was famous ha ha
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby Purity_Control » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:35 pm

The band that my ex the escaping transvestite played in has had some success in the goth scene here, I lost touch a long tie ago and am glad of that, their main thing seemed to be throwing money at the project.

I still roflmfao sometimes thinking about the time they bought a Triton when it was the hot new thing, then recorded using a free softsynth because none of them knew how to progam it. :facepalm:
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby gregwar » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:21 am

@soundwar in kill your friends (music biz movie) they talk a lot about how bands are undesirable just cause they're so much more work to babysit, etc


this just dropped:
https://ask.audio/articles/landr-launch ... stribution

it's like $1 a month, 100% of the money goes to artists and they get your shit on itunes, spotify, et al

(full disclosure: one of my friends works at LANDR, still seems way better than tune core, cd baby, band camp, etc)
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby christianrock » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:45 pm

Music business?

Pretty much gone. The entertainment business is still there, but anyone doing music is scrapping for change and doing it out of love and not money, and working day jobs.

Everyone's pretty much become content provider for Apple, Amazon and of course Google. They are the ones making the money. The musicians just provide them with almost-free content in exchange for having their egoes stroked and their faces and names put out there.

There's probably a better future for a classical musician making a living in an orchestra, than for any musician - unless you happen to be an entertainer first, and a musician second. There's still plenty of money for that in the touring business, but you gotta be over the top and try to outdo everyone else, and of course play the politically correct game.

Do I sound bitter? :lol:

I have a friend who I used to play with in the 90s in Tampa, and he used to work in the landscaping business and wasn't rich by any means, but did alright and had a few guitars and amps and a house and a bunch of pets. Then in the 2000s he went on to play in a band for a somewhat famous artist, toured the world several times, played on Saturday Night Live and within a few years of doing that... was bankrupt, lost his house and even had to sell the gear he was given by his endorsers, just to put food on the table. And this guy never did drugs or anything other than drink beer here and there, so that wasn't the problem at all. There's just no money in it for a studio or touring musician in the rock scene. You basically get your tickets and a per diem that you end up mostly spending on food. And you keep dreaming that it will become more than that, because your name is out there and you're in ads for music manufacturers (basically in exchange for free gear). But then it doesn't... my friend's now got a regular job again, plays on a cover band on weekends for fun and is always home for his family and is pretty happy with that. Of course, there's also the fact that he tried to buy a house to renovate and sell for a profit and that didn't work out, so what savings he had he burned on that. And that was like the year before the market crashed in 2008...

I've had like 3 almost-success stories that I probably shared here already so I won't bore everyone again.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby gregwar » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:15 pm

^ i think the music business is alive and well just not for music businesses or musicians

its kind of like journalism, authors, app makers, etc where a few tech companies reap billions (“operate” out of tax havens) and employ 1% of the workforce a traditional company would employ.

people buy their (expensive) devices and get access to free/cheap apps, (fake) news, and generally bland music because none of the creators are getting paid. a “high wage” in canada at least for a rapper is self-reported $5,000.00/per year lol

the efficiencies gained are good it’s just that it has resulted in far fewer jobs in creative fields. in tech companies doing “everything” it’s difficult for entrepreneurs to do anything consumer facing.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby gregwar » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:21 pm

anyways, i was going to post about splice.com

they are pioneering a “rent to own” plug-in market place where izotope (neuron 2, etc) are offered for $10/month until it is paid in full. then the license is transferred to you.

i wonder if this model might have worked for an mp3 store at some point prior to the ubiquity of streaming services. the selection of rent to own plug-ins is limited right now but it’s an exciting (and legal) way to check out stuff and if u like it you can buy it/continue to rent it.

i think splice did a collaboration platform as well i’m just not as familiar with that aspect of their platform/services
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby christianrock » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:42 pm

Yup, it's the revenge of the nerds/geeks... they own everything and make billions, while the music stars work for them for peanuts. I hope that TV and movie stars are next in line, now that everyone can make a movie or a series on youtube.

But I like to look at it from the bright side of life...

[optimism]
The time to make art for others, based on what others want, is gone. Now the artist has no excuse to not make art for themselves, or for whoever they want to make it. It's a time for freedom in art, no longer bound by monetary motivations.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby soundwave106 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:27 pm

christianrock wrote:[optimism]
The time to make art for others, based on what others want, is gone. Now the artist has no excuse to not make art for themselves, or for whoever they want to make it. It's a time for freedom in art, no longer bound by monetary motivations.


That indeed is the case -- the nice thing about that is an often parasitic industry has been destroyed. :cool:

Gone are the days outlined in Steve Albini's Problem With Music, where if you didn't know what you are doing (eg, you had stars in your eyes and weren't aware that the music industry doesn't exactly have the most stellar reputation in the world), artists could get held hostage in a meager-paying contract, while major labels reap the rewards. Also gone are artists being booted off the label for: A) not updating your style to whatever trendy thing is being pushed around at the time, B) not selling "enough" records, even if there was a decent core audience in some cases.

If it was Major Label days still, a band like Nada Surf would probably be known for only a Gen X angsty minor hit called "Popular", which fit in with all of those other Gen-X-style one hit alternative wonders played a bit during that time (your Harvey Danger "Flagpole Sitta" and Superdrag "Sucked Out"). As they were dropped from their label a couple years after that hit, when Gen-X alternative angst no longer was "in fashion". Instead, they've made a name for themselves on the indie scene, still releasing albums as of 2016. The song with the most views on Youtube is not "Popular", but a 2005 number called "Always Love".

Steve Albini thinks the Internet solved the problem with music incidentally. Well, we haven't solved the problem of getting paid for this, but hey. I kind of solved that problem personally by never getting into the music industry and instead "coding" for the "evil tech industry" instead. :lol:
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby gregwar » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:24 pm

i think there are two possible answers for the future of contributors

1) we gain significant efficiencies to the point “jobs” are basically not required. then the elite like 5-10 guys, who control over 2/3 of all global wealth, can institute a universal living wage

2) the elite will just keep 2/3 of the wealth and 7 billion people will fight over 1/3 of the wealth trying to posture and gain 10-20% more than the other serfs

i do think option 2 will result in a drop in average wealth so drastic it will exacerbate the whole nao-nazi revival going on.

i would really like to see option 1 or some other form of profit sharing mechanism in society because the culture will continue to decline. we are not that far off from idiocracy :facepalm:
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby christianrock » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:17 pm

Ahh I would much prefer a society where anyone with a good idea and hard work can become successful, and wealth rises and falls - old money giving room to newer hungrier entrepreneurs. As it is now, but with more freedom and access to education (the internet is hugely helping with this, anyone with an idea can research it ad nauseum). There is no excuse for idiocracy nowadays - but people will continue playing games and watching reality shows and daytime TV instead of accumulating knowledge and/or working with a purpose - but that is ok too because their idiocy and lack is their own choice and not someone else's. Of course I'm not talking about a safety net, that is obviously necessary. I'm talking about (supposedly) able bodies and brains.

Anyway - the idea of 5-10 people controlling world wealth and making everyone else eat from the crumbs that fall off their table, so to say, is one of the scariest scenarios I can think of.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby Purity_Control » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:18 pm

All of the professional musicians I've known in real life have gone into teaching, it's about the only living to be made from it.

Some did the odd gig in covers bands for weddings and shit like that for a bit extra money.

In London there are the West End theatres, if you don't mind doing 6 months on Les Miserables in rotation with 6 months on Evita... or similar. :freak:

That's just the ones that have been playing since age 5 and had music degrees.

Never met a rock musician who did well enough to quit the day job... some old friends have had a bit of success with their band, also threw a lot of money at it, no idea if they ever even turned a profit.
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby MetroSonus » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:27 pm

I wish they would publish musician salaries online.. lol

I was talking to someone though, I think it was my boss before he retired and they do so many conventions down here, it's insane. So many guests too.. I sit there and think, like really, you have to fly out between shooting days to sit for 6 hours and sign autographs for people who want to corner you and grab your boobs or point out plot holes and continuity errors :lol: as part of your income! I've been watching some HD content on my nice TV and you can really see how worn out and tired these people are and how much they try to cover it with makeup and so on. Is it even worth it?

You have those guys who go around and around on the vans warped tour and people like front 242 and Sisters of Mercy that do festival circuits over and over. What kind of money do make doing that, so that you're doing it so much? What kind of life can you have?

Just me I guess, but I'm kinda glad those dreams of mine didn't go anywhere :freak:
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Re: How the music "biz" works..

Postby soundwave106 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:09 pm

MetroSonus wrote:You have those guys who go around and around on the vans warped tour and people like front 242 and Sisters of Mercy that do festival circuits over and over. What kind of money do make doing that, so that you're doing it so much? What kind of life can you have?


If you really want to live the pop star life, by all indications from what I can tell, the best thing is to have a second career that is seasonal or offers some sort of flexibility. By all indications, "the band life" doesn't consistently pay much even if you are a nationally recognized (but still cult) type of act these days. Some people I find out are fisherman (as I found out one of the guys of a nationally known but very cult punk rock band was), some a part time web developer (which apparently one of the members of Sleater-Kinney is), whatever works. Then you can tour and have "semi-paid vacations".

If you can parlay your skills into more consulting or industry type stuff (eg use your band resume to get a foot into the door into, say, video game composing), or you can do well at the licensing game, or in the rare case you can use your name as a brand to license... those certainly seem to work out better than the constantly touring deal. Unless you are like the top .01% of artists.

US folk have an additional bit of nastiness in that our health care system kind of screws independent contractor type work at the moment.
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