Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Average Album

In the post The Façade we looked at how in order to compete with major and indie labels and their artists, I set out to make my, artist owned, label look as professional as possible. This had some unintended consequences. People really thought that my label was a big deal and, along with that, I must be super rich.

The idea that musicians are all rich and famous has been around for decades. It’s part of the dream that the music industry pushes every year in their giant commercial, The Grammys.

Each spring the music industry puts on a star-studded spectacular award show featuring that year's most popular artists. The top acts in the world of Pop, Rock, R&B and County perform their hits and take home their awards, all in an effort to generate more interest and sales in their albums and songs. The Grammys want you to live vicariously through the lives of these stars, and give the impression that everything about music is glamorous, exciting and super-rich. (We also see this slight-of-hand at the Oscars. Glitz, glamor, fame and money.) They are selling the dream.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Digital Domain: 1's and 0's or just zeros?

In the last several posts we've looked at how many recordings an Indie musician would have to sell to make a couple of economic target goals: the U.S. minimum wage, and rent, specifically mine, which is a little more than $1,300. Up till now we've only looked at physical product, CD's, comparing sales on an artist's website, at a gig, and through retail stores. We have seen that the farther away the artist got from the customer the more units they have to sell to make our target goals. For example, if an artist sold a CD at a gig for $15 they would be able to apply more of the income from that sale to their rent than if their recording was sold through a retail store via a distributor, both of whom would take their cut.

Below is what this looks like on a graph.

The Musical Disconnect: CD Sales
Click image to enlarge

Now we're going to enter the mysterious world of digital downloads. I use the word "mysterious" because some of the of the definitions of that word, such as "difficult or impossible to understand", "having an atmosphere of strangeness or secrecy" and "deliberately enigmatic" are perfectly suited to the digital download world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Tale of Retail

In the last post we saw how a recording artist needed to sell 85 CDs each month to make U.S. minimum wage, $1,160. Not every Indie musician can do that. We are competing for sales with a lot of very heavy hitters, the two biggest being iTunes and Amazon. And to make things worse, hopefully they are selling our stuff too, which means our own websites and performances are competing with two of the largest marketplaces in the world.

One of the ways that an Indie artist used to be able to do to get their music out in stores was get their recordings carried by independent distributors. This was especially true for New Age artists, or its off shoot genres, Celtic, Native, Flamenco, Chill... At one time there were a lot of little stores out there that mostly sold books, crystals, incense, wind chimes, and music. They had recordings that the big box music stores did not.