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Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by jsaudio, Oct 14, 2017.
Yes it will. Have you heard the radio?
easy, just drop your standard of living into the absolute dirt and you will be able to make a living off music
Ah, but does radio play what people like?
The radio plays what they are paid to play, the masses are meant to "like" it.
Or you just may be at the wrong place at the wrong time, music is also something controlled by trends and luck is definitely a part of it, especially is you're from a smaller band.
Just to make an example here, The Beatles were lucky, I mean really lucky.
Them being lucky does not make them bad songwriters or anything, but it happened to be that they made something that was relevant for the time.
If they had never existed back then but instead now(everything else in music history happened normally) and started releasing those songs, they would probably get an audience but their timing would have been unlucky, their music would not have been relevant to the current generations, even though it's great songwriting.
Those same songs just wouldn't have been a sensation today.
I hope my example makes sense, and it may be a bit crude
And the masses fill the arenas where the radio artists play. So clearly something is working.
I think trends aren't random, they're a reaction to something that got old. The people who make the new trend are the people who got the most fed up with the old trend early enough to kickstart the new one. All the grunge bands HATED hair metal and everything it stood for. The early punk bands HATED progressive arena rock. There's always the same arc where something cool gets too copied over time by amateurs and lame fame-seekers until people are dying for the opposite to take its place, and if you're in sync with those cultural ebbs and flows (which the "mainstream" listener by definition is) then it's not so much about luck I think. Luck in being the first to hate something, maybe But I'm the kind of person that think if The Beatles, Freddie Mercury or Jimi Hendrix or whomever had arrived at any other time than they did, they would have made completely different music and get loved all the same. Innovation was in them, and they would've innovated whatever musical climate they were handed. Pure speculation of course. We'll never know for sure. I think if Kurt Cobain had been 20 years younger he'd be a huge artist today too.
(Btw, The Beatles spent 1960-1962 playing crazy 4-hour cover sets every day in small Hamburg clubs, honing their feel for what sort of music gets a crowd going with a level of dedication barely any band has had since. Their first release was only a minor success and not very highly regarded today at all, but they kept developing and trying new things, and even at the height of their popularity they kept going for weirder and weirder. Whatever luck they had they'd earned tenfold, if you ask me )
Do they, though? Only a tiny portion of artists on the radio fill arenas, most others barely stay on the radio for more than a week or two and then never return. Usually because it's entirely disposable, generic crap that no listener would add to their own playlist, pushed by clueless record labels, not public demand. If they don't have what Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran or Pharrell have then they won't stick around. So radio airtime doesn't automatically lead to anything. Meanwhile, the arena-level artists will be popular for a lot of reasons, not just radio play. There's also artists who are burning up on youtube, soundcloud, Dj sets all over the world etc. who'd never get played on radio because it's too edgy, too new and too untested. Hip hop and EDM especially. Doesn't hold them back in the least, because their target audience hasn't listened to a radio set for the last 5-10 years anyway. How many high school kids in 2017 own a radio? But how many have Shazam'd a song at a club so they can find it on youtube or add it to their Spotify playlist? These artists rake in hundreds of millions of streams, views and follows anyway. They might not get as famous, but they have no less actual fans.
I don't think so, since you reiterated the same implications.
Some of the most celebrated songwriters have also been unable to make a living off of their trade, because of meddling from the music industry (z.B. Jim Croce). Some of the most celebrated pop songs were written by people who barely made a penny off of them as they were handed off to other people to perform by the music industry.
The music industry decides what people should and should not like.
At this point in time, you have to participate in the music industry to make a living off of being a musician. I think that if you played in a successful cover band and lived alone, there might be one exception, but otherwise, you need to be rather well known in order to get to that point. And it's been exemplified right in this thread with bulb claiming that his Grammy-nominated internationally acclaimed top-40 selling band is not pulling in enough income to support a person. I mean, I've even had my own works appear on indie charts around the globe, featured on multiple radio stations, featured in independent films and even a syndicated radio advertisement, and the royalties and fees it's paid me over the past ten years would buy maybe two dinners. I am proud of those successes, but they do not come anywhere remotely near the point of financial self-sufficiency, and someone like me would never ever be able to reach that point without the music industry facilitating that. Is my point clear? Feel free to disagree; I would love to be convinced otherwise. I know personal experience =/= statistical data, but several examples and no counter examples does make a pretty convincing argument when there is a lack of available data, you know?
Chicken and egg problem. People can't like what they don't know about, and there are plenty of people who hate the music available on the radio. In the 1990's, people generally could find something on the radio that they liked, nowadays, not. Yes, the radio brought exposure to many loved musicians, but it also espoused acts that ended up being pretty embarrassing.
This is technically correct. Syndicated radio cannot just play whatever they want, not in the USA. They have to declare a "format," and then they are required to play only certain artists. Satellite radio is almost as bad. There are a few stations with a more open format, but most only play a couple dozen artists.
The way the industry works is what it is because the industry built itself up with selling records and taking over the radio a long time ago. But that's the reason why early MTv was so revolutionary, it played songs that were not necessarily sanctioned by the music industry, and then the music industry responded by assimilating the songs and, in 1985, by buying out MTv and then gradually killing off it's influence over the music industry by removing music-oriented programming and replacing it with vapid reality shows. That's also the reason why youtube was so influential, as it became the MTv of the late 2000's and early 2010's, and why that led to the same company that silenced MTv to sue youtube over its music content, and then, rather than going specifically after songs to which it owned rights, it demanded to see the source code and personal viewer data.. There's not even a thin veil over the intent there, it's not about advertising revenue lost, it's about loss of control over the industry. Where youtube allowed individual users to seek out whatever music they liked, and early MTv was a platform for widely popular independent artists, the big record companies who own the radio stations and now television function based off of telling people what is available for them to like. The more free information has become, the more it cuts into the profits of those corporations.
I'm sure it sounds like a lot of tinfoil hat nonsense, but these are all facts and clear conclusions drawn from those facts, which are all easily verified from public records.
Not true at all. Everybody and everybody's brothers all play in bands that do 4-hour sets. I've played in bands that have played 4 hour sets regularly. It's what you do in a band with multiple people who can sing lead. Every band ever has started with one thing and eventually tried at least one new thing. They may have earned success, but honestly, there are bands out there who worked harder, tried more things, both before and since the Beatles, who have never made it.
Here's a counter-example: Badfinger. Band very similar to the Beatles, who came along not much after. They had a string of huge hit songs. They worked their assess off, and were extremely popular with general audiences and fans alike, yet they went broke when the music industry fucked them over.
Hard work does not equate to financial success in music.
Those are implications that have to do with labels and the relationship between songwriters and performers though, which is sad but not really going against the point I made, is it? Regardless of who takes the majority cut of the revenue of a hit song, the hit song had to be a hit song to begin with. That is my point. You may get ripped off after writing it, but if you can't write music of that caliber to begin with then none of this matters, does it?
Meh. They try to As detailed quite well in your response to eightsixboy.
I think this is interesting because the music "industry" is a bit of a gaff-taped mess right now. Is Google the music industry? Is soundcloud the music industry? Is Pewdiepie the music industry? Just like you I've dipped my toes in all the classic stuff big artists do in terms of TV shows, radio shows, big magazines etc. and you're right, it's amounted to nothing, exposed me to the wrong audience and the "industry" had my back helping me all the way. Great people! I just haven't made "that" song yet, so they can't help me further until I do. Until people are more impressed with my songs than by me being on TV, that's not gonna change In the meantime though, 17-year olds making beats on iPhones are touring the world and making more money on adsense alone than I ever have, completely DIY. I'd say they are just as much "the industry" as an old record label exec or veteran radio host is. Maybe we disagree, I might just define "the industry" a bit more loosely than you. I think record labels and offline media does not an "industry" make, nor do they control all the revenue streams an artist can tap into.
Agreed 100%. Was even contemplating putting that exact analogy in my post.
- edit -
Sure, but by "dedication" I may have implied dedication towards the craft of songwriting moreso than dedication of playing 4-hour sets. Working hard and trying different things can be a reason for success, as in the case of the Beatles, but it's not the amount of work that does it but the thinking and lessons learned from it. Either way my point was not that The Beatles worked harder than anybody else, just saying they worked hard enough to be given credit for their success.
Otherwise I agree, getting fucked over by the music industry is precisely the reason I'm glad to see it developing the way it has the last few years.
I guess it all depends on your assessment of the quality of songs that get promoted.
Can you name something of a prime example of what a top-notch song would look like these days? I'm thinking it would not be "All About That Bass," nor "Royals." Maybe I'm just too crotchety to appreciate new music, but I don't consider the current Billboard #1 song to be representative of exceptionally good songwriting:
So true, it comes down to taste at the end of it. I compartmentalize personally, as I've gotten older I've began to appreciate artists who may only check one box in my list of preferences, they don't need to find a compromise of all of them like the artists I grew up listening to might have. So I'm not turned off by let's say a generic sound if the lyrics are something special, or turned off by bad playing if the melodies speak to me. I don't really step back and judge a song by the sum of its parts, I dive in there for something to love and totally forgive the parts I don't like. I find that most artists seeing success today have ONE strength that they run all the way with, rather than going for a happy medium of creative lyrics, catchy choruses, interesting harmony and good production all in one. The postmodernist in me is quite fine with that, but to each their own.
But why accept something with horrible lyrics and no melody (z.B. "My Humps") as good songwriting, just because it was shoved down our throats by mass media, when there are so many legitimately good unknown singer/songwriters out there writing good lyrics with distinctive style and a distinguishable melody?
Music appreciation is one of those things that people will argue is objective and subjective in the same argument. I think there is an objective way to reach a conclusion about a piece of music being "good" or "not good," whether you like it or not. There are tons of musical artists people respect as good, but don't personally like. Then there is "guilty pleasure" - music you recognize as "not good" but still like. Does it mean that there is something clever about the "guilty pleasure" song, something carefully engineered into it to get us to like it? I think not, but that's possibly just my opinion.
Why not, if it leads to you enjoying more music? Anyway, "My Humps" wouldn't have been a hit if BEP hadn't won the world over with "Where is the love?" just before it, arguably a much more likeable song from every aspect both then and now. A lot of things BEP did were very different from their peers. Surrounding "My Humps" was also a booming anti-culture of the sensitive songwriter á la John Mayer, Norah Jones and Dido, so I think they both helped the other gain popularity by co-existing. Trump vs. Bernie style Again it comes down to taste rather than objectively "good" song criteria. When it comes to guilty pleasures I can appreciate the sheer balls it would take to release certain songs In todays terms, an artist like xxxtentacion or Charli XCX is so shamelessly anti-good taste that I can appreciate it for THAT. I had a teacher who made the comparison of guilty pleasure music to sugary treats, and I think that's apt. You may not want to live off of Snickers, you may even be perfectly happy avoiding it altogether, but you can't deny the basic chemical reaction your body gets from processed sugar. Some people just have a higher tolerance/urge for it.
I think a fair amount of radio bands fill arenas, yes. Why wouldn't it - the people who decide what's on the radio also get money from those same artists playing the arenas. It's a win win for execs . That's why most radio stations mostly play the established hits and hitmakers and a handful of breakout artists (who are already making big waves).
One thing we haven't discussed regarding radio, spotify, soundcloud etc. is engagement.
Getting a lot of plays on spotify won't hurt an act, but there's no guarantee that even half those plays were for an attentive audience. If an act got 100k plays and decides to go out and play shows, expecting to play to say 100 people a night, and they draw 10... then their Spotify numbers don't really help them in the long run. That's one thing I think people forget - big numbers online doesn't necessarily translate to having actual fans whatsoever. If people aren't then buying the act's music and going out to the concerts... congrats, you're online famous I guess .
Oh for sure. But like you said, a lot of the breakout artists who are making big waves do so before the radio takes notice. And a lot of artists' genres simply don't fit the radio format, like a lot of EDM artists. I've for example never heard Armin van Buuren or deadmau5 on the radio, but they certainly headline some of the biggest festivals anyway. Not saying they've never been on the radio, just that you're obviously far more likely to hear Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran on there. 3 minute songs with minimal instrumental sections and no cussing, that's kind of a radio prerequisite so a LOT of today's breakout artists aren't eligible in the first place. And huge rappers like Kendrick and Tyler the Creator will get little to no radio play because of their language. Which is why a lot of music fans ignore the radio and find new music on beatport, soundcloud, reddit, youtube, well anywhere but the radio really. I'm definitely coming at this from a 2017 and onward perspective, btw. How it looked 2015 or 2011 or 2005 isn't really something I keep in mind.
TL;DR: Radio play is great if you get it, but lots of artists do just fine without it too.
Yah, 100k plays worldwide isn't much to make a living off It's definitely an interesting thing, I wonder if livestreaming music will take off. I know a lot of people do online busking for paypal tips, seems to pay quite well considering the attendance, but it's too niche still to be a real alternative to touring. It's pretty cool though, hooking up your rehearsal space or home studio to a webcam and playing for, theoretically, anyone on the planet at once.
I have a different view of 'success' than most, I guess. Financial success is an added benefit to a minority of artists I suppose. Most of us, though, will never make a dime. Especially when your chosen genre isn't remotely marketable like mine (ahem, black metal haha).
However, the process of pursuing my musical dreams has been immensely rewarding intrinsically. I am nearing the end of production of my first solo album and as an artist it has been an incredible, cathartic experience seeing my vision unfold exactly the way I planned it. When I "release" it, I have no illusions of it earning me anything. In fact, I doubt many people will like it, haha. But there may be a few and that's just icing on the cake. Either way, I'll continue to craft my music as I see fit whether anyone else digs it or not. That is what I consider being "an artist" and a successful one at that.
I think being talented at getting noticed is probably more important than being talented at a skill nowadays.
Also, most people don't like people who "fk around" too much. That is a pretty general statement, goes for guitarists as much as it does for politicians, footballers etc. To appreciate that someone is skilled is not the same as liking listening to them. That's why selling numbers and skill are pretty much not correlated at all. Nearly every band/artist that sells numbers keeps it simple or at least sound somewhat simple.
Next after being good at getting noticed and 'keeping it' simple, luck probably comes in third. connections/right place/right time/area/scene probably fourth. then maybe comes talent. And again, talented at what, -specifically-, is pretty important I think.
Regarding the original question - today the magic word seems to be social media (all of them) combined to touring until your head falls off. First I was going to write exposure, but that's actually been always the case - the media has just changed. Catchy songwriting? Sure, that will help after getting noticed. With this 365/24/7 information overload that ain't easy. I for sure as heck don't know where i would start, if I was actively searching some new metal bands.
Luckily it's all been done before and better, so I don't have to bother. Remember all those grumpy middle-aged dudes that were Rainbow/Led Zeppelin/Deep Purple fans and complained that thrash/death/any metal was just noise and faster played Blackmore riffs? I am them now, it's just that "faster" has become "more technical" and strats have changed to ERG's. Aging is amazing.
I was thinking about this last week at work, since that's where I hear radio all day (and I can't control it). There's a few singles that have made it high on the charts with F-bombs in the damn chorus, and yet I've been in bands turned away from a festival slot because of cursing. You can totally get away with swearing in your singles (especially now that there's less censorship on swearing today), you just have to have already had a hit single I guess
I fully agree with #1, but I disagree with #2. There are examples of bands who experiment with their songwriting styles, experiment with weird solos, experiment with odd instruments, etc., who make it way bigger than many bands who keep it simple, I think that "on average" most big bands don't mess around, because "on average" bands simply don't mess around. Most of the local bands I've seen don't really have that much making them stand out, and those sorts of bands pop up like weeds, and very very few of them every get anywhere with their careers.
Politicians in the USA who have experimented with "different" from status quo philosophy are the ones who keep seizing power.
A lot of musicians who get to the top of their craft are actually very skilled, but just keep things low profile unless they need to not.
So, once you get yourself noticed, either by having big boobs, shaking your body, wearing costumes, spraying your audiences with water, having two heads, or whatever, all you really have to do is keep getting noticed.
There is scant musical talent requirement in getting noticed in general. I think that western culture has sort of shifted away from music, generally speaking, anyway. Songs are getting more and more generic on the radio. Honestly, most of the time I'm travelling to a big city, and I get in a rental car and turn on the radio, it's tuned to a channel that happens to be playing a song that is a blatant ripoff of an 80's or 90's song. Every time I think, "Oh, I haven't heard 'Baby Got Back' in a while," it turns out to be someone else. I'm not talking Coldplay/Satriani level of ripoff, where it's the same melody and vaguely the same chords, I'm talking it's either sampled or they hired musicians in the studio to specifically reproduce an exact song to make it sound like it was sampled.