Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Music's emerging digital market

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  • Samuel Scott,

    ...I wonder why most artists bother

    Well, you bother because;

    a) you have to get your music out there or you brain will explode

    and

    b) if a record company screws you sideways money wise (which I do not believe to be the case these days) they are still promoting your band/brand. You then make much more money out of APRA, film & TV synch deals and live revenue.

    Then I guess you have to look at booking agent fees, the cost of touring, what sort of publishing deal (if any) you have.

    You just have to be very shrewd about what sort of deals you sign. And these days most artists are much more aware of they're getting themselves into, and seek advice accordingly.

    ...well i hope they do!

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You just have to be very shrewd about what sort of deals you sign. And these days most artists are much more aware of they're getting themselves into, and seek advice accordingly.

    Yeah, that's a big change from the, er, old days. There was near-total absence of knowledge about publishing in the 1980s. It helps that people like Simon have long since made their mistakes and are now available to write good contracts for people who want to be smarter about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18509 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Well, you bother because;

    a) you have to get your music out there or you brain will explode

    Best line ever on a PAS music thread. Sums it all up. Little else anyone can add.



    But I will:

    b) if a record company screws you sideways money wise (which I do not believe to be the case these days) they are still promoting your band/brand.

    True, but why any act would sign a 360 deal with a major is beyond me

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3200 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I wonder why most artists bother

    I suppose because in the old days, even though the game was rigged, it was the only game in town.

    Also, I should think most bands get into the game aiming for the stars (if they're thinking that far ahead at all), rather than sitting down to figure out how to maximise their revenue stream to make a reasonable income from moderate sales....

    The deal is with the devil, but it may not turn out to be what you thought it would be.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2326 posts Report Reply

  • Kim Sokolich,

    I have not been into a Red Shed to buy anything since JB Hifi opened.

    Yes there is a whole lotta "Digital eating physical" cannibalisation going on, but on a street level JB are eating the Warehouse's (and any other remaining high street mass retailers ) lunch for them.

    I agree. They contributed to almost wiping Real Groovy out and as they spread around the country people who buy their music at The Warehouse will realise it's just as cheap at JB Hifi but is actually filed and displayed logically not just tossed randomly onto a table.

    I take Samuel's point about the difference in service at a Slowboat type store to a JB, although I do know quite a few cynical types working at JB too and quite a few of them know their music/movies.

    Since Oct 2008 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    I do know quite a few cynical types working at JB too and quite a few of them know their music/movies.

    I think Brent who used to run Smoke CDs and Capital Recordings is a buyer at JB...and to be honest, the vinyl range in Wellington was small but incredibly well picked. Things like the new Wilco alongside Cold Fact by Rodriguez.

    I can totally see the appeal in a JB-Hifi style store, the Warehouse not so much. But as long as they exist I will always stay loyal to the locally owned ma & pa store. Its so much better for your local economy.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I like JB for their pricing (although suppliers get screwed down hard -- and sometimes done over with their "promotional" pricing strategies) but I don't linger there.

    My favourite record store is the internet. It's a shame that eMusic hasn't localised here (or most countries), because that's a nice way for me to find music at a reasonable price -- but no one new can sign up from NZ now, and much of the best of the catalogue is unavailable to NZ customers.

    Conch in Ponsonby is a great shop, but most of what it sells in physical format, I can get from eMusic sooner, cheaper. Perhaps when I restart my languishing DJ career ...

    I gather Simon has had problems with downloads in Thailand, but I do like Bandcamp as a place to buy music. I feel like they've thought of me, and that the artist is getting most of what I spend.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18509 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    @Samuel Scott
    "a)you have to get your music our there or you(r) brain will explode..."

    Yep. Applies to most works of art - which is why any kind of artist can be held over a barrel.

    But - if, after trying for quite a long time & as best you know how- there is no adequate recompense for all your time & energy & expenditure except for occaisional feedback (not money or other physically substantial/life-sustaining things) from your audience(realtime or blog-based or whatever), your efforts die away. An artist dies-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    JB has had some vinyl re-releases, that maybe you could find elsewhere, but when you browse through and find NO Brotherhood, titles by Bauhaus, DCD and other 4AD staples in 180gsm, and have to put back 6 Radiohead 12" singles because really you didn't need them, then I do find myself getting a little excited.

    I buy half my music online, and still want the physical item for a good portion of it. It is probably nostalgia, but when some bands go to all the trouble of making a work of art that slides out of it's cover, and has a booklet, and loads of information and photos, then it feels right to get the whole package. Maybe that's just my tactile nature.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I gather Simon has had problems with downloads in Thailand, but I do like Bandcamp as a place to buy music.

    Just that one album actually, Buffalo. The rest of the time I have had no issues. Took a day to get it down the pipe.

    eMusic cut me off when I needed to change credit cards, just got a message telling me to get stuffed from now on. Sadly they have large amounts of stuff that I can't find elsewhere online and my attitude is I will buy it if I can find it legitimately, but if I'm blocked because of late 20th century territorial imitations I will take it, which brings me back to Martin Mills and his statement about making it easy to buy and more convenient than stealing. I wonder what percentage of the sales of something like the Savage single were ringtones or direct to phone. I bet they were a massive, likely overwhelming, percentage, and it's nuts that buying full tracks from the likes of iTunes isn't as easy. Its hard to whine about piracy if it ain't.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3200 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    @Samuel Scott
    "a)you have to get your music our there or you(r) brain will explode..."

    Yep. Applies to most works of art - which is why any kind of artist can be held over a barrel.

    I work in the visual arts, and I can so identify with both these points. It's such a pity so many people who are brilliant in their own creative field are so poorly or patchily remunerated. A lot of us will do it for love, up to a point, but we need to eat and pay the rent just like anyone else.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    A lot of us will do it for love, up to a point, but we need to eat and pay the rent just like anyone else.

    The positive side is that the restructuring of the business side of the audio arts in recent years has made it a lot easier for artists to get paid. Performance income (not live performance but performance royalties via APRA / Amcos and the global network they are part of) to writers and performers are hugely up over the past decade, plus the democratising of the means of distribution with the rise of the net has simply changed the music industry beyond recognition. Much more than piracy.

    Look at someone like The Phoenix Foundation: they own, control and benefit from everything, as do Fat Freddies Drop and many more, and not only that, but they now benefit globally from that, as the net removes the regional barriers.

    Unless you are relying on eMusic of course.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3200 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I have been urging the Scandanavian model (guarenteed minimum wage for artists after you've established a corpus (not just writers) with 'an opportunity' to pay greater tax if you hit the big times (I'd certainly go along with that) or the Irish model - your income/royalties are tax-free (up to -I think- senior academic level income - it's been a while since I was conversant with these matters, like the early 1990s)
    for* all *ANZ artists.

    I know there have been different results in each domain (I dont think Stieg Larsson was ever thinking of himself as more than a totally-committed left-wing working journalist - but I wonder about his partner? I do know, from meeting quite a few Irish writers, especially poets, that their country's stance has been very helpful.)

    I dont think this kind of state support leads to bludging: what it does do (in the 3 instances I have experienced - all over 20 years ago-) is give a kind of sigh of relief from financial repression for the immediate term - and a wonderful kick-in of creative energy-

    be it so for all artists-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I dont think this kind of state support leads to bludging: what it does do (in the 3 instances I have experienced - all over 20 years ago-) is give a kind of sigh of relief from financial repression for the immediate term - and a wonderful kick-in of creative energy

    Auckland City was very proactive this way in the early-mid 1980s employing a bunch of very talented musicians to make music on lowish salaries. It gave a huge leg-up to several musicians who went on to do some fairly special things (the likes of Ivan Zagni, John Quigley, Peter Scholes, Margaret Urlich, Tom Ludvigson, and I think Wayne Laird).

    They even ran their own label for a while and it was a thoroughly worthwhile exercise in many ways.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3200 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    The positive side is that the restructuring of the business side of the audio arts in recent years has made it a lot easier for artists to get paid.

    Hallelujah for that! I'm pleased to hear it.

    I have been urging the Scandanavian model (guarenteed minimum wage for artists after you've established a corpus (not just writers) with 'an opportunity' to pay greater tax if you hit the big times (I'd certainly go along with that) or the Irish model - your income/royalties are tax-free (up to -I think- senior academic level income - it's been a while since I was conversant with these matters, like the early 1990s) for* all *ANZ artists.

    Sounds like a great scheme. Might even raise NZ's productivity!! Certainly more than mining National Parks :-)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Yes indeedy Grace - and guess what? Not A Single One Of All Our Political Parties has ever replied - not a squitch. Not diddly-squat.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    They contributed to almost wiping Real Groovy out and as they spread around the country people who buy their music at The Warehouse will realise it's just as cheap at JB Hifi but is actually filed and displayed logically not just tossed randomly onto a table.

    That's one of the things I really like about JB - the people who work there actually seem knowledgeable about music/films/whatever their specialty is.

    Actually, there's a thought - why is it that we mythologise record shops but not DVD retailers?

    I guess it's because we didn't grow up buying DVDs (or even video tapes, really). The romance is in seeing movies, but there's a slight romance with video rental joints.

    No one worries about independent DVD shops being edged out by the big retailers like they worry about record shops.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1842 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    I wonder how much impact stuff like the huge increase to Australian gyms for the use of music in workout sessions will have on this figure next year.

    With a stronger musicians' union they could all be forced to have live musicians instead...
    somewhere for the next gymee hendrix to cut his/her chops - help get pianists out of the pits...

    In my day we bought tapes or records. What happens today?

    I guess there's no 8-track cassette action anymore...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    On a related subject, BBC Radio 2 recently played a two-part documentary by Pete Waterman called "Last Orders at the Spinning Disc: What's Happened to Record Shops?"

    In part one he looks at how record shops used to be, recalling how vastly social they were in the 1960s, the hippy hangouts of the 1970s, and the birth of the mega store in the '80s.

    Then in part two, he looks at what's happened to record shops - why it's not just the independent stores closing down, but the mega stores too. And why supermarkets are now the leading retailer of music in the UK.

    Part 2 is available on the BBC iPlayer (which seems to play OK in New Zealand), but I'm sure that those of us who have friends in England won't have any trouble finding part one too.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1842 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    why it's not just the independent stores closing down, but the mega stores too.

    For the most part, it's the mega stores that have done worse. Well actually I can't back up that claim, but when Tower Records shut down in the states Amoeba seemed to be doing quite well.

    I don't mean to go on about them but Slow Boat have weathered the CD meltdown by focussing on specialist purchases, vinyl (LOTS of vinyl) and actually avoiding the t-shirts and bongs mentality that lessens the value of a quality music retailer.

    And its the sort of shop that is still a social gathering spot, wether they like that or not!

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Fergus Barrowman,

    What Sam says. And it's the same in books. The future is rosy for independent retailers who are closely linked in with their communities, and for publishers who can work across the different channels (ha ha, did I make that sound easy?).

    The present is incredibly rosy for the Wellington music consumer, with Slow Boat, Parsons, JB, Real Groovy and the internet (especially if you've managed to hang onto your grandfathered emusic account).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    But - if, after trying for quite a long time & as best you know how- there is no adequate recompense for all your time & energy & expenditure except for occaisional feedback (not money or other physically substantial/life-sustaining things) from your audience(realtime or blog-based or whatever), your efforts die away. An artist dies-

    If you're in it for fame or fortune. If not, it's antibusiness as usual.
    Long live Banksy.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Banksy is privately supported.

    And WTF - "if you're in it for fame or fortune. If not, *it's anti-business as usual.*"

    Chris, are you drinking something that has erm, effects?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Chris, are you drinking something that has erm, effects?

    no. I simply don't feel your statement stands up to scrutiny. There are countless artists, some anonymous, some imprisoned, who's motivation is anything but fortune and feedback.

    And outside the renegade sphere I've met quite a few artists in their 60s and 70s doing it for nothing more than their own pleasure.

    Having followed the capitalist business model may be why you overlook them, but I'm sure you must know a few.

    The assumption that Banksy would have just given up at a certain age if he'd not received the gratification you aspire to is in my opinion highly debatable.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Of course there are! Have been, are & will be (been there, done that, continue to work for nothing if I believe in a matter.)
    It was the -if not "it's anti-business as usual" -that I think is a stupid comment. An unfounded comment. A comment that doesnt actually link to what I posted.
    Nighty ra-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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