My next two books are planned, and research has begun. I’ll be following up my first book, and reflecting on the musical legacy my father passed on to me. But a third book lingers, and it really intrigues me from time to time.
The book is about the business of music, specifically from the artist’s point of view. Things have changed a great deal since I bough my first LP in 1978, and I’d like to add to the discussion. I’m calling the book The Note’s True Value.
The idea of a man with a moderate math phobia writing a book on the economics of the music industry is quite ironic. That being said, this is something I want to study in depth, because, from where I sit, the modern day artist is being screwed.
But before I delve into the research material, the interviews, and everything that comes with this subject, I find myself asking one question:
Will anybody even care?
I broached this topic several months ago with a friend, who is a relatively well-known local musician. I explained my potential book’s approach, and he offered a kind smile. “It’s a fascinating topic,” he said. “You’d make friends of just about every musician out there. But here’s the problem: nobody else will give a damn.”
The modern music industry as we knew it has pretty much eaten itself. Musicians could once avail themselves to any number of major record labels. Now only a couple remain. Gone are the days of the legendary “record deal,” which allowed artists to develop over three or four albums without worrying too much about sales. Needless to say, few — if any — artists are enjoying advances toward future sales.
There was a time when a musician could make a living at his craft without worrying about needing a day job. I’m not talking about superstars traveling by private plane and staying in the best hotels while on the road. I’m talking about making a living: having a home, paying the bills, feeding the family, and saving a little. In other words, music as an occupation. These days, that’s nearly impossible to do.
It’s easy to point a finger at the Record Industry and blame them for musician’s woes. But truthfully, there’s plenty of blame to go around. The Bad Record Deal is one of the oldest stories in music, and musicians should not desperately sign their livelihoods away. Technology has evolved in such a way it makes copying music illegally much easier. Streaming services pay little to nothing to artists while distributing their music worldwide. Modern day music consumers think little of paying nothing for the songs they enjoy. There is a great deal of point/counterpoint behind each of these topics, and then some. My book would examine the problems from multiple angles. To be certain, there will be more than a couple of opinions. I’ve found myself in the middle of more than a couple of spirited debates on the subject.
The music industry has changed. Artists provide entertainment for millions, and yet seem to be reaping less and less for their efforts. I’d love to see this change. I think a book on the subject could help get the ball rolling. The least I can do is try.
I want to write this book.
Do you want to read it?