Jump to content

Your Ad Could Be Here

The Crisis in Music - by Ted Gioia

Recommended Posts

I came across a 2-part talk by Ted Gioia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NT-fbu4b40&t=235s .  This was from 2015 but all remains relevant.  Ted Gioia has been mentioned a previous Forum posts .

I found this talk provided new perspectives.  I particularly liked his assessment of music as 'content' and 'art vs. entertainment'.
If interested, I've transcribed it to text (see below) via an online service.  Some minor edits were made to make sense of mumbled or repeated words and strange AI punctuations.  I've only reviewed it once, so apologies if it doesn't read smoothly.







Good morning.


I'd like to talk about the state of the music world, to look at what's happening now in music and try to anticipate what might happen over the next 5 – 10 – 15 years, and focus on the challenges and obstacles and what we might do to overcome them.


I believe that the music world is in something of a state of crisis. And we're facing challenges fundamentally different than we have in the past.  My views are controversial … at least in the eyes of  some people affiliated with music as an economic enterprise.   Some of these global entertainment companies, a lot of them, are unhappy with what I have to say.  NPR Station devoted a whole show to my views on music, but they did not invite me to the debate.


I'm talking about music in very general terms.  It's not like I'm attacking Justin Bieber or One Direction. If I did that, I would expect the angry mobs to be pounding on my door.  I write and use very general terms from first principles and drawing on empirical evidence.


And what do I see? Even the people who disagree can see there's a Crisis in music. Even people that are involved in these big entertainment corporations.  Of course they. Measured in terms of dollars and cents, they can see that sales have been declining.  For 5, 10, 15 years album sales and music sales have been declining. And if this trend continues. They will be in bad shape. The music moguls will have to redo the corporate jet, to stop having lavish parties in Las Vegas and Hollywood, which would be a great tragedy. But even more acutely, the musicians feel this crisis. The musicians for this crisis most of all, especially musicians who are trying to start out their career.


Opportunities that previously existed for them have disappeared, and it's harder than ever before to make a living as a musician. How to measure this decline? Go back to the 1930s in the United States when there were 10’s of thousands of places every night where you could go to hear live music. Ballrooms for dancing.  Nightclubs. For listening. And most of those have disappeared.


In the old days these ballrooms would employ large bands. 10-15 musicians would be working. In my estimate, the number of musicians performing live in front of an audience each evening has declined about 90% since the 1930s. And that's extraordinary, because the US economy has grown enormously since then. Spending on entertainment has grown, the population has grown, yet the opportunities for musicians have declined. And we've seen an acceleration of this in the last few years. And probably the best way of measuring this is just listening to how people talk.  


Listen to how musicians talk these days. When people get together, it's human nature, we want to brag about our successes, our achievements.  But when you listen to musicians now, they tend to brag about their YouTube views. “I got 5,000 YouTube views”, and the friend will say, “wow, that's nothing I got 10,000”.


But how sad is that? Because YouTube viewers by definition are the people that refuse to pay for your music. If someone was buying your music they wouldn't go to YouTube to hear it.


Would businesses like 7/11 be  bragging about shoplifting?  Would they say no one is buying our product, but look at them stealing it. We definitely gotta be doing something right, our shopping numbers are up this year.


This is the current state of music where the musicians are in a race to see who can give away the most free stuff the fastest.   And we're told that the winner is the person that gives away everything.


And so this is the economic crisis in music. But there's another group of people who view it differently. They see the crisis in technological terms. They say that the crisis is fundamentally one created by these technologies like file sharing. And downloading and streaming.  And tolerance of piracy.  And they will tell you that everything would be great, we could solve it, if the Internet would just go away. Without the Internet, life would be great again. No one will be stealing music. We wouldn't have these lousy streaming sites that are paying us nothing.


But this solution could never happen. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, factories were seen to be taking jobs away. The Luddites decided they would destroy the factories, like the first hackers. The Luddites failed because you can't turn back the clock. Once the new technology has come you can't get rid of it. And so the people out there, they say it's a technological crisis, but they're really struggling. What's the solution?


Now there's a third group of people and they believe the crisis in music is actually an artistic crisis. An aesthetic crisis as part of a larger cultural crisis. And they say you cannot look at what's happening in music in isolation. You need to see what's happening in our whole culture.


I have a lot of people in my family involved in the arts. I have an older brother who's a poet. My wife is a dancer and a modern dance choreographer. These folks have it a lot worse than musicians, a lot worse. And if you don't believe me, here's an experiment. At random and ask people this question. Tell me the name of a single living poet? Name of a single modern dance choreographer, an orchestra  conductor, a building architect. People don't know any of these things. And you can't blame them.  We live in a media culture where these whole sectors of our culture our marginalized. Foundational parts of our culture, architecture, poetry, dance. They're marginalised and have disappeared from view.  People can tell you the names of Beyoncé or Kanye West, but can’t name a single living jazz saxophonist, or  living classical composer. So there are huge areas in our culture that have disappeared in this massive dumbing down, and there are folks would believe that the crisis in music is really just one symptom of this broader cultural crisis.


OK, so we have 3 diagnoses about the music crisis: economic, technological, and artistic/cultural.


Now what I'd like to do is to look at each of these individually.  I believe there's a mismatch between what people say, and what's really happening. If music was a patient going to the doctor, it could complain about being misdiagnosed.


So let's start with the economic challenge. What is the economic challenge facing music? And I think in its simplest form you can say it's as follows … it is small.  People won't pay for music anymore. In fact, some people refuse on principle to pay for music.  I was talking to some high school students recently and I asked them if they ever think about buying music or subscribing to a streaming site?  Heaven forbid buying a physical album!  And they say “Why would I buy a record when every song I want is on YouTube”.


PS. Any of you know what percent of the content on YouTube is up there illegally?  YouTube doesn't want you to know,  but the answer is … half. People have studied this. Half the material up there on YouTube is up illegally.  So there's a whole moral and ethical issue. But there's this issue of people not wanting to pay for music.


Can I hear people say this following statement all the time … “Content wants to be free”.  “In the Internet age, Content wants to be free.”


And so let's look at this question … does content ant to be free?   First of all, I find this word “content” a little bit of an irritant. I don't know what you think, but I wen I hear this word content, I just don't like it. Two years ago. I took my family on vacation to Rome and got a personal tour of the Sistine Chapel. Did the tour guide say “Look at the content”? And there’s more content over there Michelangelo.   It would be ridiculous because these are great towering works of human achievement. Referring to them as content is insulting, it implies they are generic, more or less interchangeable, you could take something else and put it on. You can put cartoons. They will be the same thing. That's not true, we know. That's not true.


So whenever you hear anyone refer to music or any artistic creation as content you should be suspicious. These are people from Silicon Valley, NOT people who are involved in creating. But let's look at the rest of that statement. The statement is content wants to be free. Well, if you look at the music industry, you might think so. People are giving it away. People are told by their record label “you gotta give it away for the exposure”. But as soon as you look at the world on a broader framework, you see that content does NOT want to be free.


You’ve got to pay to get content on HBO. And it's got millions and millions of people paying every month and the number goes up every year.  I pay for content every month on Netflix. A lot of people do. Netflix is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. Does the NFL give content away for free? You try buying a ticket.  I subscribe to the NBA League Pass that gives me access to all I can watch … 12 different NBA games every night. That every year the Bills comes and I look at them. Outrageous, but I pay. Because it is  good content.


Are video games free? You know how big the video game business is now? It's $80 billion. The largest music company in the world, Universal Music, is $6 billion.  So these video game companies are not giving it away for free.  


So we've got to look into this. Some content is free. Other content people pay for. So what are people willing to pay for? Let's look at HBO. HBO is a great example because if.  HBO operates in the TV industry where everybody else is giving it away for free. TV came out in the 1950s.  You bought the TV, the content was free.  HBO charges top dollar and everybody wanted to pay.  What is HBO doing but the music industry isn't? Let's look at three things HBO does. We should learn from first of all, HBO is committed to talent and they will pay top dollar for the best talent in the world. HBO wanted to get Martin Scorsese. To do a TV show. Martin Scorsese doesn't do TV shows. He may be the best movie director in the world. He's got Academy Awards. Best Picture, Best Director. He's a legend. HBO said we will commit $18 million Dollars just to do the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire if you will come on board. He agreed they got Martin Scorsese. When they did True Detective, they hired Matthew McConaughey who had just won the Best Actor Oscar.   For the writers they will hire Pulitzer Prize winning novelists to write TV treatments e.g. Jonathan Franzen, Michael Shaman. HBO believes fundamentally they will pay whatever it takes to get the very best talent.


What is network TV doing? They're doing the exact opposite.  Reality TV.  And the premise of reality TV is you don't even need an actor. You can just tape off the street.   I can grab you. Would you like to be on TV?   And so you couldn't have a sharper contrast. You have HBO who will pay whatever it takes to get the best talent. And you've got the network saying anybody could be a star.  Now I ask you: “which model is the music industry following”?  … the entertainment corporations.


Here's a test. What's the best music school in the world?  It's probably Juilliard.  Go to Juilliard and ask the people running up which music companies came to recruit talent this year. Did Universal?  Did Warner Music?  Of course not.  For people running these label, nothing would be more ridiculous in their mind than to try to find the best musicians in the world.  


The most successful musician in America in 1937 was Benny Goodman.  In his spare time he played Mozart clarinet concertos.  in an orchestra.  He hired Aaron Copland to write a piece for him. He hired Bela Bartok to write a piece for him.   So there was a day that, even in commercial popular music, people with extraordinary talents rose to the top.   Unfortunately, though, we've got to a position now where the music industry is more in this ‘reality TV’ mode.


What else does HBO do? The next thing you notice about HBO is they target grown-ups, not youngsters. TV historically has targeted 14-year olds. If you sit in the meeting room at NBC and they're planning a new show they ask whether a 14 year old would ike this show? HBOl doesn't want 14 year olds. In fact, they've got adult content warnings on half their shows. They target everything at grownups. But this sort of makes sense. The adult has the money. If you're running an entertainment business, how much money does a 14-year olds have?   So HBO believes going after adults.   


Is the music industry targeting grownups or 14 year olds?  It is in ‘reality TV mode.  The first thing HBO does, and this is important to know, HBO believes in complexity. Their shows are complex. Much more so than the network shows, I don't know.  Malcolm Gladwell recently said something about TV …


in the old days, I'd be watching a TV show, some detective/medical shows.  I would go out and make a sandwich, get something to drink, I'd make a phone call.   I'd come back 20 minutes later.  I still understood everything in the show. Because these shows are so formulaic that they're so predictable. Even though I had missed 20 minutes. I understood everything.


That's not true anymore. I watch these shows on HBO. I'm watching True Detective. I missed five minutes and I don't know what's going on. I gotta find someone to tell me what I missed. It's unbelievable how complex TV has gotten nowadays.


And HBO has pushed that.   Yet that violates everything you are told in the entertainment industry.  You're told you gotta make it Dumber. HBO says we're gonna do the exact opposite we're going to make it very complex. HBO content doesn't want to be free.  Stupid dumbed-down content targeted at 14 year olds HAS to be free. But if you give somebody something made by the very best talent, that's sophisticated, the highest quality, we pay top dollar.  It is amazing that radio promoted One Direction but never called them great musicians.


So we’ve unlocked the truth.  We’re told that content wants to be free. But content does not want to be free. Good content will thrive.


Let's look at the next thing, the Technological crisis. People saying it’s just technology killing the music business.  If it wasn't for the web, everything would be great. But you know the music industry has always hated technology. They hated records when records were invented, there's. A famous instance in 1915. Freddie Kepler could have made the first Jazz record. He turned it down because he said I'm not dumb enough to make a record.  People would steal my stuff if I made a record. They wouldn't come and hear me play. So the musicians hated records.  They hated Radio when it came out. Songwriters like Irving Berlin and George Gershwin hated to hear their songs on the radio. They wanted people to pay for their songs, or maybe it.   Musicians hated cassettes when it came out.


The music industry really hated the Internet, but they did nothing.  They just let it take off on its own. With the end result that they handed all the distribution power to the tech companies.


In the old days everybody involved in selling music had a vested interest in the success of music. From the musician to the label, the record distributor, even the record retailer like Tower Records.  And they lived or died by whether people wanted to buy music. Nowadays you know the biggest music company in the world is Apple, and Apple doesn't need to make money music. Apple wants to sell devices. They would give away their music for free If they could.  The music industry is controlled by Amazon, Google, Apple, Spotify.  These are all technology companies. There's been a huge power shift from Hollywood to Silicon Valley. The music industry no longer controls their own fate and so you have people controlling the technology who don't give a hoot about music. They don't understand music so.  A record could be called great contemporary works for clarinet and I go to Spotify which won’t tell me the name of a single composer.  


So once again. You gotta cut through the noise. People say tech has destroyed music. No, it's not tech. It's the kind of technology and it's the dumbing down technologies, the descaling technologies like auto tune.  Some technologies empowered people. The piano was a new expressive tool. That could do things never done before. Other skills are discovered by technology. For example in foods when they invented frozen foods, when they invented canned foods. When they invented microwave meals, it was a de-skilling breakthrough, and the food didn't taste as good.  But anybody could do it.


This is what's happening with music technology now.  Like auto tune. The most emblematic technology music today is Guitar Hero which allows you to pretend you're playing the guitar even if you don't know how.  So it's not that technology has killed music. It's the kind of technologies.


Let me go on to the third area, the most important of all. The people who see the crisis and music primarily as artistic, as aesthetic, as cultural.  Not long ago. I wrote an article called “The State Of Jazz Singing Today”.  I spent three months on this article and I listened to every recording of a jazz singer I could find.  I've listened to the major stars. I've listened to the new stars. I listened to self-produced stuff by people that produce their own records. I listened to music by people that didn't even have a recording contract.  I learned many interesting things, but the most interesting I'm going to share with you.  I learned how you can get a recording contract as a jazz singer with a major Label in the year 2015. This is useful information.


You've got to be drop dead gorgeous. You've got to look like you just came off the cover of Vogue magazine, or GQ , and walked into the studio. Do you need to know how to sing?  It would sort of help. But I I found all these amazing singers who don't get the time of day in the music industry.  But if they look like a fashion model, different rules applied. Now, how sad is that? No Aretha Franklin wouldn't get a record contract nowadays. Janis Joplin wouldn't get a record contract nowadays. Ella Fitzgerald wouldn't. Marilyn Monroe would be a jazz singer. There's something fundamentally wrong with that, and I think it gets to the heart of the issue.


The heart of the issue is, for many of the people in the music industry, they really wish they were in a different business.  They wish they were really in the fashion industry.  Or they wish they were in the advertising industry, these people on ‘Mad Men’ boozing it up and smoking cigarettes.  Or they wish that they were in the movie industry.


If you look at these entertainment companies, they’re all spending money on movies now.  In their heart of hearts, they do not believe anymore in the redemptive power of music. They don't believe in the enchantment of music. They remind me of the priests in Ancient Rome your ancient Rome who had their Gods, Jupiter, Juno, etc.. And eventually people stop believing in the gods. And that's when Christianity came in. Because people didn't believe in the old gods anymore. And there were these priests who would do the rituals and sacrifices but,  in their hearts, they did not believe. They did not believe and I feel there are too many people in the Entertainment industry now who do not believe in the redemptive power of music.  And so they're looking for fashion models. Or they're looking for movies. 


Not everybody.  Look at the ECM label. It's run solely on musical standards and sells a lot of records. Look at the Nonesuch label. It's run solely on musical standards and is very successful. There's about 10 or 15 Labels now that understand how important music is, but it's not the major corporations. They’re selling this frozen food.  


There's going to be change.  Just like people wanting real food.   It's not going to be the major labels, because they don't understand this change. This change is going to come from smaller labels because people still need music. People hunger for music.


Now, I want to talk about one thing that people push back on me. They say, Ted, you talk about Art and you talk about Entertainment, but aren't they really the same thing? I mean, one person likes Justin Bieber, someone else likes Mozart.  Who are you to say that one is better.  That one is art and the other is entertainment.


So let's ask ourselves this question. This is a very important question. Is there really no difference between art and entertainment?   Are they really pretty much the same thing?  I don't think so.


Let me just me start by looking at “what is entertainment?”.  The job of the entertainer is to find out what the audience wants. And give them exactly that.


For example, the biggest thing in movies next year is going to be the new Star Wars movie. What is the value proposition? What's the selling pitch? You remember those six other Star Wars films you saw? We're going to give you another. One that's exactly like it.  Same characters, the same actors. They're a little older. We're going to give you the same thing again. You know all those Spiderman movies you saw. The next one is going to be exactly like that. This is what entertainment is, is it not? You find out what the audience wants and you give it to them over and over again.


But Art doesn't work like that. When you deal with a work of art, YOU must adjust TO the work of art. Try reading Herman Melville's Moby Dick.  He's not going to give you exactly what you want. You must adapt to what he's giving you. You want to wrestle with those Michelangelo paintings in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve got to broaden your mind. Michelangelo is not going to give you what you're expecting. That's the nature of art. Art challenges you. Art forces you to go where it is. Art forces you out of your comfort zone. Art forces you to mature as a person and to consider things you haven't considered before. Isn't that true? Anyone who tried to read James Joyce's Ulysses. Anyone ever read a really difficult book, and afterwards you said, boy, I had to wrestle with that, but I'm more of a person now because I did that.  


So there couldn't be anything more different than entertainment or art.  Of those experiences, which is more valuable.  I'm going to give you exactly what you saw/heard before … again? Or I'm going to challenge you. I'm going to broaden you. I'm going to get you to think of things you've never thought of before. You know the answer. To that, the. Artistic experience is much more important than the entertainment experience.  And the people who have that artistic experience are intensely loyal to it. Because you can go back to a great work of art again and again.


And that's why the entertainment industry now complains that there's some musical acts whose first album sells, but the second one doesn't.  And they said we don't have any staying power with these bands.  But if you look at the really artistic artists, like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Bach or whatever, the really sophisticated artistic experience maintains loyalty over a period of decades.


Let me sum up and say what you find is when you look at the other crises it always comes back to the artistic one.  When going to economics, we found that HBO could make money by making it sophisticated with artistic talent. When we looked at technology, we found that not that technology is bad, but these dumbing down technologies are bad.  So you can't escape the fundamental crisis in music is an aesthetic and cultural one and it is in our power to change that.  We can change that.  Stand up for art.  We live in a world dominated by entertainment companies and they have lots of money. And the media wants entertainment, and there's not much space for art anymore. But each of us needs to nurture that. We need to be advocates for it. We need to stand up for it and if that means being controversial … we should all be a little controversial.


There is a crisis of music, but it is solvable.  There are people out there that have already solved it, ensured that content does not want to be free. That people will pay for the right kind of artistic experience.  So I embrace this aesthetic view of our destiny and I urge you to do so too.  


I urge you be outrageous, be controversial yourselves, and be artistic.


Thank you.





  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've dealt with many of his points over and over in my time but here we go again.


He begins by alluding to the "angry mob" being Justin Bieber/One Direction fans, though most of the angry mobs in music I've come across seem to be rock fans, who've forgotten what they liked about music before they became a little too precious about it and think Bieber/One Direction fans should really listen to something more substantial, more worthy, more like what the mob approve of.


"YouTube viewers by definition are the people that refuse to pay for your music."


No, they're not. They're already prepared to watch an ad for a video they don't even know if they like yet. I would remind him that people who listen to the radio could be said to be people who just don't want to pay for music and expect to get it for free, starving those poor musicians who went to all the trouble of living in a miserable bedsit to create it, digging deep into their troubled souls to etract every little nugget of truth to pour onto a page, or into a DAW.


When Napster first appeared, many in the biz saw the end of music and musicians. But research found that the people who downloaded most also spent the most on official merchandise, just as the most dedicated Led Zeppelin fans back in the pre-digital era would scour the music paper small ads to find rare bootlegs. Sort of like radio: you bought what you liked and the rest was just stuff you downloaded to check out but didn't keep. How dare you, you thieving toerag. Turn your radio off and pop down Amazon to buy something.


"Are video games free?"


Yes, some are. Actually, like YouTube, watching ads is a form of payment. Play a level, get an ad. Some free games are better than the console games made by creators who really wish they were making movies in Hollywood and spend so much time on animated cut scenes rather than remembering the golden rule: gameplay is king.


"Is the music industry targeting grownups or 14 year olds?"


Ah yes, music isn't for kids, it's a serious business. I daresay he's had this attitude since he went through puberty and wanted to be like the big kids at school, who were all listening to serious rock music and not that stupid pop music for the little kids. Which we've all done, right? I did. But then I started trying to write songs and I realised that the hardest thing to do in music is not to play a 20-minute guitar solo but to write a good hook. If it was easy there'd be more popstars and fewer lawyers. People forget why they liked music just for its own sake, and when they do they call it a "guilty pleasure." Like you have to feel guilty for enjoying a good pop song, when you should be listening to the Velvet Underground's first album, or something.


"The most emblematic technology music today is Guitar Hero which allows you to pretend you're playing the guitar even if you don't know how"


OMG, don't play air guitar, you pleb, spend a few years learning to play a proper guitar properly. And you better learn the right stuff, not some stupid frivolous rubbish music. I won't go into his mention of autotune, which I've dealt with elsewhere but the main difference I see between autotune and double tracking or comping is autotune is quicker at fixing errors. George Orwell once said there are two places the public should never see: the kitchen of a good restaurant and the laundry of a hospital. I'd add the recording studios of their fave bands to that, because they were all cheating and fixing up errors every day of the week. But whatever, it's another axe to smash over the heads of kids who like pop music, I guess, because of course it's only talentless pop that uses autotune. They can't really sing, not like that bloke out of Deep Purple.


There is no greater cover for a lack of talent than distortion on an electric guitar. Plugging a Les Paul into a Marshall amp is like selecting A1 on an expensive synth: you're already halfway there and will sound more talented than that kid with the cheap guitar and amp from Cash Generator.


How to get a deal in 2015? "You've got to be drop dead gorgeous. You've got to look like you just came off the cover of Vogue magazine, or GQ , and walked into the studio. Do you need to know how to sing?  It would sort of help. But I I found all these amazing singers who don't get the time of day in the music industry.  But if they look like a fashion model, different rules applied. Now, how sad is that?"


Sad is the wrong question. How typical is that? Very. Frank Sinatra was accused of being just a pretty face n his early days. The Tin Pan Alley music from that golden era of songwriting was once disparagingly called shmaltz and its lyrics dismissed as "moon June spoon" triteness. If Bonehead and Dave Rowntree had been the singers in Oasis and Blur, Britpop would never have happened. Ditto Ringo in The Beatles. I bet Dave Gilmour got more pussy than Roger Waters. There has always been a "what is pretty is good" phenomenon in humanity, not just music. That's not the fault of the pretty. Deal with your own issues.


What would be sad is if all those ugly singers he's found got deals but flopped anyway and found themselves back on the dole, despite Ted's assurances that their talent was all they needed.


I wouldn't say Lewis Capaldi is what would generally be referred to as "drop dead gorgeous." Debuted in 2019, best-selling album, awards, etc etc. Labels: EMI, Vertigo, Universal, Capitol. But obviously that's not freeloaders who saw him on YouTube for free, or heard him on the radio for free buying all those albums.


The MP3 has not killed music. I'd suggest it has killed off the concept of filler, those songs big rockstars spent little time recording and mixing, then shoved onto an album with some loose kind of concept, packaged with an airbrushed photo and a painting on the cover, because have you seen those old jazz albums they sold in plain manila covers? (Not that you were marketed at and bought into an image. Only pop music and perfume does that.) Even the most classic albums still have one or two songs you never listen to, yet you were still charged for them pre-MP3. And the music business was not happy about having this charlatanism exposed. Write a symphony? Why bother when you can knock out three verses and a chorus over three chords and be glorified as an "artist"?


Poor musicians? Have you heard of the impressionists? That was real poverty, you snivelling little middle class whiners. 


Courtney Love once wrote a Salon article to show what's in one of those million dollar recording contracts. Let me summarise it for you to save you the time, because you might not like Courtney Love but you're curious.


Band has a bidding war, so the company's keen and offering more than the usual fare - 20% royalties and a million dollar advance. No band ever got 20% but let's give the benefit of the doubt to the company. Where does the $1m advance (remember it's a loan, not a gift) go?


Half is spent on recording an album. $100,000 to their manager for his commission. $25,000 each to a lawyer and business manager. After $170,000 taxes, the four-member band are left with $45,000 each to live on until the royalties start pouring in. ( I knew a guy who also ended up having to pay his manager's VAT bill before the label dropped him.)


They release two singles, with two videos, which cost $1m. 50% of the costs are recouped from the band's royalties. Remember also that distribution costs for the label have been cut by the MP3, because you only need to upload it to Amazon once.


$200,000 is spent on tour support, all of it recoupable from the band's royalties.


$300,000 is spent on promotion, all of it recoupable from the band's royalties.


As the original advance is also recoupable, the band owes the label $2m.


Being kind again, assume they sell a million albums at a full price of $20. Their 20% royalty turns out to be $2m. They've made nothing from a best-selling album.


Meanwhile, the label grossed $11m. Their costs were $4.4m. That's $6.6m profit.


So now the band needs to renegotiate their contract to keep going, which means the label can make it even more in their favour.


It's not YouTube viewers who are ripping off musicians, it's the same people it's always been.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/30/2022 at 3:51 AM, Glammerocity said:

I've dealt with many of his points over and over in my time but here we go again


No-one has all the data. No-one has all the answers. I just like debates where the speakers put their views on the line, clearly and calmly, for others to consider and, as you have, argue against.

The topic itself has no direct relevance for me. I don't perform in public. I don't sell songs. I have no urge to make money from my songs/recordings.  But I have been interested in Ted Gioia's views as they are a niche reflection on how technology is fundamentally changing culture and social values ... usually because a) no one can foresee the impact of these new 'services', and b) the uptake cycle is so rapid.


Greg :) 


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for sharing this @GregB! Wow, There's a lot unpack, and there are so many points I don't agree with 😅 Though since I don't have all day, I only intend to tackle one particular bit which is just straight up ridicules.


"Are video games free? You know how big the video game business is now? It's $80 billion. The largest music company in the world, Universal Music, is $6 billion. So these video game companies are not giving it away for free"


"Best Free PC Games In 2022: 20 Great Free-To-Play Games". (From "Gamespot")


Microtransactions are a 'thing'. You're welcome, Ted 👍

Edited by VoiceEx
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, VoiceEx said:

Microtransactions are a 'thing'. You're welcome, Ted 👍

Touché! 😄

... though game-play microtransactions are probably worth more than $0.001 per music stream?


Yes. I could punch holes in some of his arguments, and he is a professional doom-sayer about music, but I still found the overall thesis to be interesting/enlightening.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, GregB said:

Touché! 😄

... though game-play microtransactions are probably worth more than $0.001 per music stream?


Yes. I could punch holes in some of his arguments, and he is a professional doom-sayer about music, but I still found the overall thesis to be interesting/enlightening.




You're absolutely right. Some of the highest grossing titles in the gaming industry are completely free to play. Had he based his argument around predatory monetary practices, and demonstrated distinct parallels between both industries, focusing on the psychological methodology which said practices revolve around, than that would make for a much more compelling presentation. There's no shortage of publicly available data and science to drive those points home.


I mean, as far as doom-saying goes, might as well back it up by using some real horrors, no? 😅 Though to be fair, I too have felt like it was a very interesting thesis. Its worth watching and I'm glad you shared it! In fact, if you like these sorts of things, than feel free to check this out. Its a bit long and darker, but right up the ally of doom-saying 🧐

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

Your Ad Could Be Here

  • Current Donation Goals

    • Raised $1,040
  • Create New...

Important Information

By continuing to use our site you indicate acceptance of our Terms Of Service: Terms of Use, our Privacy Policy: Privacy Policy, our Community Guidelines: Guidelines and our use of Cookies We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.