I don’t have a musical bone in my body, but I do appreciate it a lot… I’ve had a lot of ideas and questions floating around my brain lately regarding music. No surprise I’m a huge fan of independents, more specifically ‘podsafe‘ artists. I do still listen to mainstream music – I have a 6 year old, I have no choice but to tune into Radio Disney and the High School Musical soundtrack. Most of the mainstream I listen to is older, as I have not bought a new artists in 3 years (since I first heard of podsafe artists) at least. The exception to this, of course, is Rick Springfield. I did dig up some stats for him, on my favorite album he’s ever put out…
- (2004) The single “Beautiful You” from the album “Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance” reached #28 on US Adult Contemporary Chart
- (2004) The album “Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance” reached #8 Billboard Top Independent Albums
Didn’t see the breakdown on how many CD’s vs. digital downloads this divides up to. Now, Rick tours almost constantly, and although the venues are much smaller than Madison Square Garden, they are almost always sold out. So touring and merch I am assuming makes up a chunk of revenue as well. I can’t find the stat, but I remember seeing that commercially signed artists make more from the sale of a physical CD over a digital iTunes download. If you can find me links for info like this, please post it in the comments!! Independents that produce their own CDs (like on CDBaby for example) have GOT to make more cash than ones produced, marketed, and distributed by Universal Music. Googling around I did find one artist’s breakdown on how much he makes on his music, and from where, but that’s about it!
The big question I have is, regardless of HOW MUCH the artist makes off a song/album, how many are they actually selling? The only stat I could find for Rick Springfield was on his website, and it states that he’s sold over 18 million records worldwide. Now, that’s from the beginning of his published musical career to present day. I can’t figure out where to find a particular album’s sales (“Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance” for example), and how it compares to some high-profile, popular podsafe artists. They don’t publish their numbers from what I can tell. Now, I’m not suggesting they SHOULD publish their stats, but I often wonder if – knowing that 99.44% of them still need ‘day jobs’ to pay the bills – if they are selling 10’s, 100’s, or 1000’s of albums? Does all the hard work and inherent marketing that letting podcasters play their songs royalty-free work?
Especially after all the hub-bub over the Second Life Community Convention’s music scene, I’ve been thinking about this even more than usual. I love attending live music events in Second Life, partly because I’m 30 weeks pregnant and could never get out that much in real life, and partly because it’s global artists I’d never get to see/hear otherwise. Now, the total LACK of traditional/new media coverage of the musicians at SLCC broke my heart. After all that jazz about contract signing and (some) artists wanting their way paid by a non-profit entity, from what I can tell the turnout for their shows at SLCC was horrific.
I honestly believe that the traditional model of music creation, marketing, and distribution is long over. I did work at a huge record company for awhile, and saw stuff from the inside. Oh, the party is over, and that was back in 2000. But podcasting has been around for 3+ years, along with the concept of the podsafe music artist. Is it working?
PS – Rick just turned 58 and is still hot as hell. Shit, that’s older than my mom.
[tags]Rick Springfield, podsafe, independent musicians, Second Life[/tags]
Initially, I think the premise of free promotion on podcasts worked well. There was a limited number of great musicians, and people were eager to purchase the music. The scope is much larger now, and I feel people are less into purchasing the music to support the artists and more into simply using podcasts as their primary source for music. No, I’m not talking about them ripping the music for later use… but rather “why purchase music when I get great stuff delivered every day?” Most podsafe musicians are NOT doing well with sales. Watch Kevin Reeves talk about his sales from one of Matthew Ebel’s video archives from Block Island. Very sad stats.
So is that because people are less willing to listen to the same music over and over again? Has our culture become so geared to the “next new thing” that repetition is undesirable? Maybe.
Here is another article from a bad that got screwed by a label. http://www.arancidamoeba.com/mrr/problemwithmusic.html
To Ed’s point about free music through podcasts – I have to disagree – because I don’t think most people see the benefit of podsafe music at all. In fact, they probably don’t even use it.
I think what has happened with Podsafe music is that musicians are seeing that to have large scale success, you still need large scale promotion – aka radio.
Repetition and familiarity are what creates hits. While our definition of a hit song may slowly be changing – we have a long way to go.
The problem with music podcasting is that there is very rarely repetition of music. If you think about how you become familiar with music – it is mostly through repetition. The majority of people still do it through old school means – radio. Most people are not adventurous enough to download a music podcast, and those that do for the first time might hear nothing they are familiar with, and so they never come back. Why is Coverville one of the most popular music podcasts? Familiarity. Even if you don’t know the artists – you know the songs.
Whats between the records on music podcasts counts too. If you’re not a super interesting personality – and you ramble – the average joe who listens to your podcast for the first time might get bored and ditch it. A review of CC Chapman’s Accident Hash on iTunes says something about him talking way too much, and how the listener just FFWDs to the songs. Well at least that guys is listening to the music! I have to wonder how many people ditch a music podcast never to come back to podcasting period because it sounded too amateur. Are we making podcasts solely for other podcasters, or are we finding an audience outside of that?
For stats – the only stuff that is freely available on the web is when records are certified gold or platinum (from the RIAA). To get full stats on sales you have to subscribe to Nielsen Soundscan which tracks music sales and becomes the Billboard charts. Nielsen’s BDS system tracks airplay (and webplay) and contributes to the charts as well.