Whether or not we would like to accept it, the music industry is in a downward spiral. Most generations other than the above 30 crowd simply don’t believe in purchasing music anymore. Whether we can attribute this entirely to peer-to-peer file sharing services or place some of the blame on how the idea of “ownership”, as it relates to music, has changed over the years. Regardless of who we say is the culprit, the issue remains that most generations today have been taught that the only way to get music is to download it illegally. Parents don’t want to “waste” money buying their children music that they could just as easily get for free, so what do they tell their kids to do, “just go download it off the internet, johnny,” mom says. The saddest part for me, being a musician myself and a possible law school candidate, is that I have seen that situation firsthand. I have literally witnessed the process of instructing younger generations in the fine art of online music piracy. What does this mean for the many hopeful musicians out there? Well, the simple fact is I have absolutely no clue, and I don’t think anyone else does either. We are all living through a defining moment in history for music as we know it. I don’t want to sound cynical here, but unless something changes… no, unless we change, there is a great possibility that music will no longer be sustainable as a career. And if music is no longer sustainable as a career, who will make the music we all listen to and enjoy. So please, heed my words. Before you go and download anything, be it music, movies, or tv shows, take a second and consider what you’re doing.
Typically a mid-level artist will make 15% to 17% on record royalties following of course, their recoupment of all funds owed to the record company, which rarely occurs after the first album. Let’s say this artist somehow managed to make $100,000, a large feat. 15% of $100,000 is $15,000. Think long and hard about what you can get with $15,000. Can you buy a house with $15,000? You could buy a car, but it certainly wouldn’t be a great one. The most unfortunate part about this entire process is that the prospects of any artist making $100,000 in record royalties is slim at best. A new artist many times will be so eager to get a “recording contract” that they will sign away all ownership and settle for a less than desirable deal. This lie that we have all been fed about record royalties making musicians able to live it up is complete bullshit. By not purchasing your music and downloading it illegally the only people you are hurting are the people making the music, not the Record labels, they could give a fuck whether or not they get any money from you. They don’t need it.
So this is it, the end of my rant. We all face a potentially disastrous situation here. Depending on our actions, we could see the end of music as we know it or we could fix the music business for the better. We can stop musicians like Frank Sinatra and Charlie Parker from dying penniless. Unfortunately, if we continue to download our music illegally, we could easily face possibility of a future without music.