Today’s guest blog comes from Chris Wochagg at Wildscreen.tv, an online video portal for artists and musicians.
I’m tired of hearing the suggestion that musicians just have to cross finance through merchandising, ringtones, more gigs and expensive VIP tickets to their gigs. This may work for some bands – call it the Arctic Monkeys Bands – but it ignores a great field of composers and musicians committed to the studio and artists who aren’t willing to perform a rock’n’roll show every night and sell t-shirts, because their “fans“ may have outgrown the age of wearing band t-shirts.
Not every artist is able to entertain crowds nor is sorely tempted to be the focus of a photographer‘s lightning storm, but – and that’s the point – can be an appreciated musician/artist. So there is an enormous number of musicians out there who do not benefit from a “share everything and get more concert visitors” precept. It makes me believe that the idea of making money with additional goods should still be a great possibility to have a greater income and promote the artist, but not the only chance to survive.
This doesn’t mean that we should support DRM, set restrictions on the consumer or try to save the CD as a medium and the exploiting businesses of the majors. The era of the digitalization won’t stop, we’ve already passed the point of no return. Do we have to believe that nobody is going to pay for music anymore? Don’t think so. What we would need is transparency.
According to a lot of blog comments I’ve read the last months and conversations I’ve had with ordinary music consumers, it turns out, that yes, a lot of people would purchase music. From my point of view the problem is still the non-transparency relationship between the artist and the listeners: Music lovers feel patronized, controlled and criminalized by the industry and take the chance to give it a wipe by downloading illegally via torrents and so on. People rightly complain about the less distribution of profits to the artists, and I often hear that they would like to give their money to the artist not to the unknown industry surrounding the artist. To argue that the only chance to rebel against the abuses of a big music industry and to save the artist’s future is to download music illegally, is not that sustainable, I think. By doing so, we are killing the indies before the majors are reached. Too many independent labels were killed off over the past years. By downloading from other non-label illegal networks, people get paid, who care even far less than the most evil music manager. We pay them with our attention by clicking their advertisements.
I’m still missing an appropriate platform or an initiative, where music consumer’s demands are met. If people would like to give money to the(ir) artist, they need a clear definition of what the artist gets by buying the song/album. Imagine the “fair-trade coffee” culture: consumers willingly spend more money for “fair-priced” coffee to help producers in developing countries and promoting sustainability because they can trust the certificate that guarantees the fair trade. Wouldn’t this concept be possible for music industry? A certificate for music sold online and the same for a physical medium (be it vinyl, a CD or whatever physical medium will be established in the next few years).
A) Combine the online platform with information buyers used to get when they bought a physical medium and much more: Who wrote the song? Who produced it? When was it recorded? In which band did the guitarist play before? Keep me updated when they are on tour, give me the sound tracks for remixing it, and show me rehearsals, etc.
B) The physical medium could be produced from eco-friendly materials to provide sustainability. I’m pretty sure people would start taking care and bring the discussion to a moral level if there is an explicit way to support what they cherish.
I am aware that this approach requires a great moral acting in an easy-to-steal world, but our make-it-sustainable generation gives me hope.