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How the record industry got it so wrong.

"a tremendous resource for any indie musician who wants to take their career to the next phase,
namely making money from their craft

- Tommy Byrnes, Sovereignty Music Services

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as a download here or hard copy here.
Thank you for your interest.

Intro: How did we get here?

The problem of recorded music.

At the end of the 20th century, recorded music sales were booming. In 1999, driven by massive global smash hits like the Backstreet Boys' Millennium and Ricky Martin, total sales volumes of music recordings in the USA peaked at 1160.6... More
Posted by DrHuge at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

Part 1: The Trouble with Music

Pulling the wool over the sheep's eyes

The quick and easy metaphor that tells this story is to say that the record industry thought they were selling sheep but have been forced to realise that they were really only selling wool on four legs. The sellers of... More
Posted by DrHuge at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Ancients, Aborigines and Africans

In ancient and primitive societies music is a kind of cultural glue that fires up gatherings and rituals and embellishes the characters of myth and legend. It makes people throw their arms around each other and share the lurve -... More
Posted by DrHuge at 10:32 AM | Comments (1)

Let's come together and sing His praises

The Christian Church was the first to combine music with a specific message to attract converts and keep the faithful devoted. This has gone on to become a massive music market. Gregorian chants (named after Pope Gregory I 590-604 AD)... More
Posted by DrHuge at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

It's not about you, it's about me ...

During the Renaissance the influence of the Church declined and the feudal system saw secular power concentrated into the hands of a few noblemen. These nobles offered the people protection from ambitious neighbours, famine, and pestilence in exchange for their... More
Posted by DrHuge at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

Thanks for nothing, Anne!

Mechanical reproduction of printed matter enabled mass publishing from about 1440. By the Renaissance, a single printing press could churn out 3600 pages a day. Standardised music notation towards the end of the Renaissance meant that sheets of music could... More
Posted by DrHuge at 3:05 PM | Comments (0)

Edison and Tom Anderson were blind and dumb

The combination of two technologies: music published in a standardised notation and the development of the piano during the middle of the 19th century drove the growth of New York's Tin Pan Alley. Suddenly, a market had developed for selling... More
Posted by DrHuge at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

The audience is listening (and buying)

The widespread adoption of radio saw the beginning of broadcast propaganda, in which messages that blatantly took one side of the World War II conflict were broadcast in the direction of the other side. These messages were intended to demoralise... More
Posted by DrHuge at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

The technological Gypsy Tap

Just as recordings sales were peaking in the late 1990s, production and distribution technologies were becoming accessible to the general public. Compact ADCs, MIDI devices, sample libraries, CD burners in the home and in cheaper manufacturing plants, the hypertext transfer... More
Posted by DrHuge at 3:24 PM | Comments (0)

Part 1 Summary

The record industry is suffering because they assumed they were selling music when they were actually selling technology that was associated with music. They were not interested in developing the technology and now they can't control it. Music has always... More
Posted by DrHuge at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

Part 2: Music, huh? What is it good for?

So what IS music?

A digital music file is a series of encoded 1s and 0s that can be combined into an electric wave signal that can be sent to a device that pushes air around. On a physical level, music is waves of... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:51 PM | Comments (2)

The irrational consumer

If music is the same as bread or bacon, why do some versions of a song sell better than others? Why do pieces of plastic with U2's songs sell better than pieces of plastic imprinted with the same songs played... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)

There's more to life than money

Human beings do things for three reasons: to acquire power, property or prestige. That is, to have more control over their lives, to have more stuff, or to have more people think they're cool. Any of these things can be... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)

Play it again, Sam ...

Esteem is granted to particular songs for many different reasons: a poignant lyric, a catchy melody, a unique arrangement, an incredible performance, or simply because of the listener's experience at the time of hearing it. Some songs are highly esteemed... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:53 PM | Comments (0)

Come on and love me!

Esteem can attach to an act because of their reputation for a great live show; the unique qualities of their sound; their image, their multi-media output, their novelty, or their catalogue of great songs. Long careers are built on a... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:54 PM | Comments (0)

Cause it feels so empty without me

Regardless of their act, esteem may attach to an artist because of their overall contribution to the culture: for example, their vocal quality, songwriting legacy, or political stance. This kind of esteem allows them increased influence through the media and... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:55 PM | Comments (0)

The musician's third leg

If you want to walk the walk in this industry, it's not enough to stand on your own two feet - you need a third leg. Although a musician's esteem begins with their songs and performances, the highest level of... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:55 PM | Comments (0)

It's all for you!

The most obvious and fundamental source of esteem is a musician's fans. Fans may bestow esteem on a lyric, a melody, a groove, an act's attitude, a songwriter's social commentary, sense of humour or myriad other elements. Fans' esteem is... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:56 PM | Comments (0)

The boys are back in town

The esteem of peers has always been highly prized by musicians. Musicians will often support each other in ways that may not directly produce income but which provide access to a broader fanbase and influential industry colleagues (see next page).... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:57 PM | Comments (0)

Let's all pull together

Esteem for music and musicians must also come from industry workers who are not necessarily musicians. Many of these people have played music earlier in their lives and know what it takes. An increasing number of them still perform on... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:59 PM | Comments (0)

The ghost in the machine

For most of the 20th century the only ways for musicians to appeal to fans were at live shows or though the media, which had limited space and were tightly controlled. New communication technologies have changed all that, allowing musicians... More
Posted by DrHuge at 5:00 PM | Comments (0)

Part 2 Summary

Music is a non-verbal code for sharing experiences, thoughts and feelings. The music industry exists to convert the value of shared musical experience into a commercial proposition. Traditional economics cannot explain the inconsistencies of the commercial value of music. When... More
Posted by DrHuge at 5:01 PM | Comments (2)

Part 3: Your glorious musical future

These things will change, can you feel it now?

In the 1996 Australian Census, 4910 Australians listed "instrumental musician" or "singer" as the main job they were doing in the week before census night and 217 nominated "composer". By 2006 these figures were reduced to 29 musicians and 11... More
Posted by DrHuge at 9:49 AM | Comments (0)

It's still a long way to the top

A 2003 Australian study called Don't give up your day job found that musicians did better from their art than any other type of artist. But on average their incomes were "little different from those of all occupational groups, including... More
Posted by DrHuge at 7:02 PM | Comments (0)

It's cheap but it's not that easy

Starting with recordings in the early 1850s, music technologies worked to concentrate industrial power into the hands of ever-larger businesses, who had the financial resources to mass-market music-related product. But since MIDI the 1970s, music production technologies have worked to... More
Posted by DrHuge at 7:14 PM | Comments (0)

How-to is the new What

The traditional view of a musician's work is that they write and/or perform a song and then try to sell the song and/or recording to other performers or to fans. However, Part 1 of this book is dedicated to demonstrating... More
Posted by DrHuge at 4:18 PM | Comments (0)

The power lies in the network

Great art is never created in isolation. It requires interaction for inspiration and cultural context. It requires materials and tools from other sources. It requires development and refinement - and a third party to answer the eternal question: "Does this... More
Posted by DrHuge at 7:20 PM | Comments (0)

5 principles for the digital future

There is no sure-fire digital-media recipe for making a living as an Independent musician but these 5 principles underpin the strategy that musicians with long-term sustainable careers take: 1) Esteem. Part 2 discusses this in detail. Anyone who wants a... More
Posted by DrHuge at 8:03 PM | Comments (0)

Third legs, tentacles and trust

Having designed your music business with these 5 principles in mind, you should operate the business based on three pillars: third legs, tentacles and trust. These are the things that will help you rise above the crowd, grow your music... More
Posted by DrHuge at 8:11 PM | Comments (0)

To thine own self be true

Being tall doesn't make you a good basketballer. Being fast doesn't make you a good footballer. Being smart doesn't make you a good doctor. Those things help, and it's more difficult to succeed without them, but they're not enough on... More
Posted by DrHuge at 8:22 PM | Comments (0)

Music like exercise

For the parts of the music industry that based their business model on recording music this change has been devastating but for the parts concerned with making music it has been a bonus. More music is being written and performed... More
Posted by DrHuge at 8:30 PM | Comments (0)

Conclusion: 10 Steps to your Glorious Musical Future


Appendix 1: The Step-by-Step Music Career workshop handout

Appendix 2: The Band Lifecycle

Appendix 3: Resources

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