We had a long discussion today with our lecturer Andy Edwards regarding a little bit everything inside the music industry, but the main points that were focused on today were:
- How computers and the internet have completely changed the way that the music industry is run
- How to react when somebody asks for your fee
- Having an E-mailing list and Band Camp
Let’s start off with the first pointer. Around five years ago to six years ago, it wasn’t the biggest thing for musicians to be on Facebook, they were still wondering whether it was a good thing to join or not. Now, if you don’t have a Facebook account, it seems you’ll either be looked at in a weird manner and be called “strange” or you may be respected. The way that most music companies work and hire their musicians now is by looking on their Facebook and Twitter accounts to see how many “Likes” or “Followers” that you have. So this immediately changes the way that labels worked from 20 years ago. You’d used to have go out into the world and give out your business cards to as many people possible and do most of your advertisement manually, now you can do it by a push of a few buttons. “Likes” on Facebook can now be seen as a “currency” towards the record labels and do not necessarily mean that the person that hits the like button actually likes your band or music. In a way, this has made it much harder for musicians to be able to get signed as there are so many musicians out there creating new Facebook pages everyday.
On the other hand, with the revolution of technology and the rapid change that the internet is constantly going through, it does allow artists such as myself to be able to advertise and get our music viewed and seen by the world at a much cheaper cost. Back in the old days, you’d have to go into a recording studio for a couple of days, recording your music, paying for technicians and sound engineers (which isn’t cheap), whereas now you can buy some recording equipment at a reasonable price and do it all from the comfort of your own home. Then all it takes for the artist is to upload it to Soundcloud, Reverbnation, any sort of music site which will promote an artists sound. The big one that we are talking about at the moment is BandCamp, which is an up and coming site which allows musicians to upload their music for free and it allows the customer to either purchase or download the track for free. The artist can set a minimum fee or they can have it set for the customer to purchase it for as cheap as one pence. Obviously, this has been the major down fall for Record Labels, forcing them out of business due to the ease of sales via the internet and home recording. For an artist, your main priority is to get a website sorted out, somewhere you can post all of your news, tour dates and information about yourself. It’d be an idea to Google your own name, see what information comes up and if information does come up, then make sure it’s the important parts, not just Facebook rubbish.
So the evolution of technology and the internet have had major effects on the way that music is released, produced, and approached. Let’s move onto how to react when you’re asked how much you charge for a session. You need to make sure that you are confident, especially if you are asked over the phone. This is where the negations start between you and the person asking you to session for them. If they call you up asking for your fee, you need to make sure you know exactly how much you charge. Be strong with them, this way they will hear the professionalism in your voice. If you answer with a mumbled voice stuttering your words, they will own you, taking advantage of everything that they can. Have a fixed fee. Of course there is always going to be emotions with certain gigs. You may altar your fee due to certain situations or opportunities the gig may lead to. If you are going to play a big festival gig, your emotions and “pure want” to do the gig will change most probably change your fee, as you’ll want to have the best chance on getting the gig, but do not lower the fee too much, as there is still a certain level of professionalism to keep.
Andy, who has drummed for Robert Plant, I.Q, Frost* and has played on many other projects, as you can well imagine has played many gigs, worked out a rough estimate of what a single musician that gigs has to earn to cover their costs (without making much of a profit) and it was around 138 pounds (and this is assuming the gig is within a 50 mile radius from your origin). If you are gigging and are earning less than this amount to play, than according to Andy, you’re just doing it as a hobby and putting more into it than what you are getting out of it (money wise). I agree with him to certain extent, but if you love doing it and don’t mind losing out on the money, then why not do it?
So are we paying to be musicians? I have mixed feelings with this question, as I have spent out a great deal on equipment and travel to be able to do the things I’ve done. I have played many gigs up till now and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I love it, it’s what I do best. So if I lose out in money from doing this, at least I’ll lose out by doing something I love, not sitting in an office talking junk to people down the telephone. So in a way, Yes you are paying to be a musician, but to me, not at all.
Thanks for reading guys! Let me know how you feel on that last bit!