I was thinking about how Steve Jobs had such an influence over the touring industry in one of my recent posts, but I forgot one major player... iTunes!
iTunes help show the music industry that you can download song legally, and hard-working honest people would actually fork out hard-earned cash for a single song. The whole idea of buying music has been made easy, even easier than it has ever been ever before. From the comfort of my sofa, I can click a button and without even popping in those all important credit card numbers, I have my song downloading ready to play on a device eager to play it. People like things easy; the causeway of convenience; the path of preference; the aisle of assistance... There is now no longer any excuse for the ignorance of illegal downloads. Although iTunes showed us how well it can do, and has become the biggest retailer of music in the world, how well has it done at actually protecting the commercial viability of our industry?
We are so wrapped up in the old model of making albums and trying to sell enough singles to top the top ten of any given countries chart. But you now don't have to sell many singles to reach the number one spot, and according the wikipedia Gnarles Barkley's song 'Crazy' reached the top spot in the UK without actually have any physical singles sold, and, after a little bit of digging, I found an artiste who sold only 64 copies of a single which was the #16 position in the mid weeks, that week, click here for more details.
So, where is this all going? I think I can hear the gargantuan footsteps of corporate sponsorship heading our way... sorry my mistake... it's already here!! Carling/Virgin Festivals, Lilt Carnival (although the lilt bit didn't last very long), Vodafone VIP, O2 Academies... The list goes on. Is it such a bad thing? If the public get to enjoy music, and as long as the artistic integrity of the music isn't compromised. But this meddling in artistic integrity has been happening behind the record company walls for a long time. Yes of course part of the record companies job is to make sure the product will sell, but that doesn't mean everything has to sound the same. I think even the Tea Lady has probably put her creative stamp on some songs, no wonder music has been getting ever so more lost within itself. There's also so much of it! Every time you turn on the telly, the latest chat topping, radio friendly, unit shifting band/artiste is being played. There is so much music how do we know good from bad, it all just blends into one.
As an artist who has a record label, and all the costs involved with that, I'm not entirely sure that having the expense of creating a whole album is viable anymore. You spend however long writing and recording the first album, then spend the next two-year touring it, then you finish that campaign and straight back in the studio to write and record the follow-up before the trail goes cold. No wonder every artist that comes out of a major label leans frantically towards insanity as some form of escapism. The crazy schedules that go with a tiny proportion of success seem, at least from my point of view, to try to squeeze every little penny they can, in a last ditched attempted to save the burning, man overboard, sinking armada that is the major labels. What ever happened to building a career? Oh yeah, it's not your career, it's some poor defenceless, faceless, barely-old-enough-to-know-how-to-shit let alone understand the putrid nature of contracts and talent leeches, whose actual career it is.
Eating only apples might make you lose weight rapidly, but if you are doing that then maybe you should look at what the actual problem is rather than throwing everything out with the bath water.
But what about the all important live market, how is that doing? Is this the answer to all our prayers? If record companies pilfer loads of money from the live side to prop up the rancid sales of the music, will this have a positive effect on the touring industry, or are artistes better off trying to go it alone?
We'll have to find out another day...
Spot the Nirvana reference?