THE DIRECTOR'S PAGE

From time to time, this page will feature an article from Jimi on various topics, usually about the Network, but sometimes we may just let him ramble a bit! Take the time to read this, enjoy, comment, etc. - Thomas, webmaster

The Future of Music (IMHO)

I was having a brief discussion with another well-known  & respected friend in the community over dinner the other night, & the topic of free downloads & artists getting ripped off came up.visibly hitting a nerve in my friend.

It's a sad but true fact that all things change. Even those old standbys of death & taxes can be manipulated by DNA cloning, 401K's & deferments these days.

The music industry has gone from a person beating a drum in a cave to a virtual cyberworldly free-for all (literally) that is practically out of control.

Every indie musician knows how difficult it is to lineup PAID gigs. Selling CDs isn't that easy either. & unless you have the resources of a major label (& are making millions of dollars for 'em) you can forget about your ASCAP & BMI checks.

So how does an artist survive?

The traditional ways still work to some extent, but it's important to understand music itself I becoming less of a product & more what's known as CONTENT.

If you surf wikipedia.org, you'll find the descriptors: OPEN content, & WEB content & the dreaded FREE content.

Consider how often you've looked at a borrowed magazine or newspaper for information, heck, even as you read this article, about the only thing you're paying for is wear & tear on your computer, your internet access fees or the cuppa joe @ Starbucks. Even though I'm providing the information for you here, I will not directly see ANY income from you, the reader who is benefiting from this knowledge.

Now, if I were to spend ALL my time giving away knowledge, it would be an honorable & altruistic thing.

But I would die starving & homeless.

If you're anywhere near a major city & get radio reception, you've probably heard about FREE seminars about how to get rich in real estate. Yup, they're giving away valuable information, FREE.

Why?

If you've been to one, you know.

Sure you get the "free" information & some of it is even helpful. You'll get some decent munchies & a rousing peptalk/inspirational rags-to-riches speech & "this could be you!".

BUT, the REAL secrets are revealed in the special seminar next week & it's only an "investment" of FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. Can't afford that? Buy the book for twelve, or get the DVD for twenty.

Do you see Robert Kiyosaki or Donald Trump whining about having to give stuff away?

They understand that it's part of the cost of doing business.

Sadly, the musician's traditional revenue stream hasn't changed much since the beginning of time: put out the hat & play. Even back then (& today in places where you pay for a permit to play in a public place)

people walk by, enjoy your music & walk away without dropping a dime in the hat/guitar case.

Giving away your music is nothing new. Smart musicians have always understood this & figured out ways to use the music to get people hooked, then created income buy selling something else. Partnering with a local bar or restaurant for example.

The problem occurred when the musicians started to believe they were entitled to get something for the aural experience. Hey, a preacher gets a piece of the collection plate? An actor gets part of the door? Why should the entertaining musician who's music heals & comforts like a reverend be any different?

Hey! I'M the ROCK STAR here! I'm IMPORTANT! IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!

Nope. For the preacher, it's all about God.

For the actor, "The play's the thing".

Ouch. I'm already feeling the venom of a thousand musicians that disagree with me here.

Okay, we're not all ego-driven prima-donna narcissistic rock stars. Some of us are NOT business minded & really do need to somehow make our music work for us somehow because it's all we know how to do.

That's like saying "I can't make a living 'cuz all I know how to do is walk". Yeah right. You can follow a lawnmower. You can deliver the mail. You can be a courier. You can even be a beta tester for NIKE.

It's all about understanding that whoever you are, whatever you do, there are ways of generating income.

And, here's the harsh part, if you're unwilling to educate yourself or put in the time to make it happen, then you probably apply the same ethics to your music & it ain't going anywhere either.

I get dozens of CDs a year where ALL the songs sound the same and/or have the same lyrical concepts. Some are actually the second or THIRD CD from these artists, & the songs between the discs are interchangeable.

Now, if you were looking on investing time to really help someone on a long term investment, what do you see? A one-trick pony that keeps doing the same thing over & over hoping for a different result? If you were a listener, why would you buy a second CD that sounds exactly the same as the first? Or why would you go to a second performance if it sounds the same as the last one?

The reason you do is because you found something really amazing that spoke to you directly. It's why oldies stations are still a viable radio format

But if that's not there, there is no reason. And if that one trick gets old, you're either a has-been or one-hit wonder.

As a songwriter, sometimes you need someone else to make the magic happen. Like, you can paint a masterpiece, but until it's presented in a proper gallery with good lighting nobody will pay attention.

Sometimes that magic only works for a few people. That's okay too. If the RIGHT person buys into it, you're golden. Or if a few good people support it, it's also viable.

Sure, your work has value.

You can't judge a book by it's cover, but hey, the cover is often the reason it sells, and the printed, physical book is what gets paid for, not the ideas & stories inside.

The same will soon be true for music IMHO.

Currently people pay for downloads, but really many are free because the purchaser burns a cd or mp3 & shares it with friends, who share with friends who.Fortunately, there will be people down the line who will want the whole story. They'll want something to hold in their hands, a spiritual tchoke burned with the music that means something to them. Sometimes it's NOT about the music, but perhaps the experience of crossing paths with the artist, feeling a vibe, maybe karma, that they want to hold onto to keep that moment tangible.

Music is as important as conversation. It's a communication tool that transcends the art involved with it's own creation.

There's a reason why it's called "the ART of negotiation". The words may not be musical, but if used properly, words can change the world.

People buy copies of the Gettysburg address when they visit the Lincoln Memorial, even though they can hear it & read it free just about anywhere. The words, like music, are powerful, but they are free.

Once we as artists get around the idea that we are NOT entitled to get paid for having thoughts & ideas, & we are NOT entitled to get paid anytime our work is heard outside the context of commerce (yes, we SHOULD get paid if we are providing a SERVICE with our art), THEN we can understand that a new paradigm is required for ALL artists to make a living doing what they are destined to do.

That's my opinion.

I'd love to hear yours.

- Jimi