There’s a joke that says musicians can make more money selling CDs out the back of their car than they can through the music industry.
Is that true? It could very well be. According to HYPERLINK “http://Mashable.com/”Mashable.com, artists make, on average, $1 for every retail album sold and only 9 cents with every iTunes song download. Divide that up between the members of the band, and the profits are looking slim indeed.
Radiohead famously released their album “In Rainbows” for free on their website asking their fans to pay as much or as little as they wanted. The experiment paid off and they made more money off that album than they would have going through the music industry. With such abysmal royalty numbers it’s no wonder how Radiohead made more money asking their fans for a dollar or two for an album. So if artists can cut out the middleman of the entertainment industry, why is it even needed?
Given the current state of how people feel about the entertainment industry, with the massive backlash against the SOPA and PIPA bills, which would make copyright enforcement on the Internet much easier, it seems the money-sucking giants aren’t needed or even liked.
There’s an issue at work here that makes the industry itself needed. Yeah, sure, Radiohead had success with their experiment, but not every band is Radiohead and, on top of that, Radiohead had a lot of publicity since what they were doing was a new thing. If your neighbor’s garage band released an album for free on the internet today, they’re going to have difficulty convincing people to download it, much less pay for it, regardless of the quality. Major labels promote bands to make them known.
Take, for instance, Justin Bieber. Hate him or love him, he’s the perfect example of the music industry at work. He started off making videos on YouTube that got, at most, ten thousand hits. And it would’ve stayed that way were it not for his current manager finding him and convincing him to make a record. He wouldn’t be a household name if not for the music machine. Radiohead itself wouldn’t even be in a position to release their album for free were it not for the industry getting them going.
Does it suck that artists get so little for their work? Sure it does, you’d be crazy to think it doesn’t. But without the industry they wouldn’t be getting anything for that work. On the contrary, they’d be getting nothing at all.