Let There be Peace on Earth.
Sunday night at Coachella Festival Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre brought Tupac Shakur back from the dead to perform live with them onstage as a hologram. Holy Smokes. He appears on stage and greats the audience with “Yeah, you know what the fuck this is … What up Dre? … What up Snoop? … What the fuck is up Coachella.” The Tupac illusion aka “Holopac” was brought to life by James Cameron’s visual production house Digital Domain, and two hologram-imaging companies, AV Concepts and the U.K.-based Musion Systems at a price estimated at more than $200,000.
The holographic performance is spectacular and very eerie, and there are more shows planned. This is not the first time that holograms have been used in concerts, and these effects are in a way, natural extensions of the laser displays and light shows that have been part of live shows for decades. Madonna, the Black Eyed Peas and (notably) Gorillaz have all been projected as holograms on stage during the show. There is a laser light touring show of Pink Floyd featuring “none” of the band members. If this can be done with Tupac, it brings up very interesting questions about the future of live shows and exactly who or what we will be seeing.
Can you imaging the Rolling Stones 2050 “Skeletons in the Closet” Tour? The Beatles finally play Shea Stadium in high fidelity? “Elvis Comes Alive”? Will nothing be sacred?
I am not sure if this is science fiction or our worst nightmare, or both. Will live performers really even be needed in the future? If the wizards at visual production companies can create virtual artists in 3D that can strut on stage, engage the audience, and belt out their latest hits – who exactly will be entertaining us? If the music industry can strip out the artists and replace them with computer generated formulaic constructs that are programmed to entertain and mesmerize, what will live music become? Its already happend with the “Chipmunks” and “Gorillaz” and “Hatsume Miku” and “Dethklok”. “This is just the beginning,” Ed Ulbrich, chief creative officer at Digital Domain told the LA Times, “Dr. Dre has a massive vision for this.” Virtual artists are becoming a thing of the present.
Think about it. Is this really the Future of Music?
This came in my bi-annual Sony Music statement last week. It said “You may be Eligible for Increased iTunes Payments (or other permanent Digital Download or Ringtone royalties) as part of the Settlements of Class Action Lawsuits. Please see the enclosed notice for details.”
Congratulations to “Shropshire” and the “Youngbloods” (great band) in their pursuit of more fair treatment on how royalties are calculated for digital transactions. Even though this is a small settlement, it represents a step in the right direction of ending years of unfair accounting and payment practices.
Sources in the know infer that progress was indeed made but - still it ain’t anywhere near fair. David did not slay Goliath thus far, nor did David get completely slain. There is more to come.
I’ve written about this before as have many others. Lots of musicians are suing the labels over the claim of unfair payments on digital transactions. Here is the latest article about all of this from Variety.
And many, many more to come.
We have to be patient, and change will happen. Lots of people are jumping on this train.
The good news is that the powers that be seem willing, at last, to try new things and to negotiate. As my friend and co-author Gerd Leonhard has said, “when the pain gets great enough, they will compromise and negotiate.” We must be getting close.
From Billboard.biz yesterday, an agreement was reached between the music industry trade associations for record labels, music publishers and digital music providers. The Copyright Royalty Board, will create new rates and terms for five new digital music service categories.
It also creates new rate formulas for five new digital business models:
- For the paid locker services like the one iTunes offers consumers, music publishers will get a mechanical rate of 12% of revenue or 20.65% of total content cost or 17 cents per subscriber, which ever is greater.
- For digital lockers that provide free cloud storage with a download purchase, music publishers will get 12% of revenue or 22% of the total cost of content, which ever is greater.
- For the third category, called a mixed bundle such as when your cell phone services subscription rate comes with a music service, music publishers get 11.35% of revenue or 21% of total content cost, whichever is greater.
- The fourth new category, called limited interactive service such as when a subscription service can offer limited amounts of music to, say, one genre or playlists that the user can access at a lower price, music publishers will get 10.5% of revenue or 21% of total cost or 18 cents per subscriber, whichever is greater.
- Finally, for the fifth category, called a music bundles such as when a CD album comes with a download, music publishers will get 11.35% of revenue or 21% of total content cost.
We waited for a half-hour for him to come on. Not bad for the Boss. In nearly an hour-long rant from the stage of the Austin Convention Center at SXSW, Bruce Springsteen spoke about his life as a musician and the artists who influenced his career.
As Ann Powers wrote, “Springsteen identified himself as a Motown-loving, Sex Pistols-fearing fan of country’s Silver Fox — Charlie Rich. He vehemently argues for the belief in popular music as dynamic and flexible, kept alive through constant redefinition by new players and fans.”
Last month I had the pleasure of traveling to Austin, TX and working with the fine folks there – brainstorming on the future of music and in particular, the future of the live music business. Here is an updated version of my Global Music Business presentation that I gave at their incredible new City Hall.
“Live Music” is what Austin is all about. Austin actually has an official Division of the City of Austin dedicated to developing the music industry in town, effectively led by “music officers” Don Pitts and David Murry. They are devoting significant resources to seeing that the city’s future along with the future of all the musicians who live and work there are aligned with successful practices in the overall music business.
Here is my picture of their official music office “squad car”. All they need now is a flashing light like Steve McGarrett. I’m gonna bring them one the next time I visit. “Pull over Ma’am, is that Emo we hear…?”
How cool is that? Does your city have an official Music Division?
My friends at the Future of Music Coalition are conducting an online survey from Sept 6 – Oct 28th to determine the variety, depth and complexity of the ways that musicians are making money these days. Not theoretically, but actually. We are looking for performers, songwriters, composers, band members, session players, producers, MCs and anyone else making music to join in and take the survey.
A while ago, I posted this from my friend and Berkleemusic student David Sherbow showing a pretty comprehensive list of the different ways that musicians can make money. This might give you food for thought on taking the survey and planning your career…
The artist music business model has been in flux for years. The record deal dream that most artists sought is no longer the viable alternative that it once was. The leveling of the music distribution playing field by the Internet is virtually complete. Terrestrial radio is on a path towards destruction that even the major labels can’t compete with. People now access and download music from multiple sources, usually for free. D.I. Y solutions are everywhere, but for many artists hard to integrate into their daily lives.
Where does this leave the average independent artist? At the beginning. Every artist wants to know how they can make music, make money and survive to write and play another day. Here, in no particular order, is a list of possible income streams.
• Mechanical royalties
• Performance Royalties from ASCAP and BMI
• Digital Performance Royalties from Sound Exchange
• Synch rights TV, Commercials, Movies, Video Games
• Digital sales – Individual or by combination
• Music (studio & live) Album – Physical & Digital, Single – Digital, • Ringtone, Ringback, Podcasts
• Instant Post Gig Live Recording via download, mobile streaming or flash drives
• Video – Live, concept, personal, – Physical & Digital
• Video and Internet Games featuring or about the artist
• Graphics and art work, screen savers, wall paper
• Sheet music
• Merchandise – Clothes, USB packs, Posters, other things
• Live Performances
• Live Show – Gig
• Live Show – After Party
• Meet and Greet
• Personal Appearance
• Studio Session Work
• Sponsorships, and endorsements
• Artist newsletter emails
• Artist marketing and promotion materials
• Music Player
• Fan Clubs
• YouTube Subscription channel for more popular artists
• Artist programmed internet radio station or specialty playlist.
• Financial Contributions of Support – Tip Jar or direct donations, Sellaband or Kickstarter
• Patronage Model – Artist Fan Exclusives – e.g. paying to sing on a song in studio or have artist write a song for you
• Mobile Apps
• Artist Specific Revenue Stream - unique streams customized to the specific artist, e.g Amanda Palmer
• Music Teaching – Lessons and Workshops
• Music Employment – orchestras, etc, choir directors, ministers of music, etc.
• Music Production – Studio and Live
• Any job available to survive and keep making music
• Getting Help From Other Artists and Helping Them - Whatever goes around come around. – e.g. gig swapping, songwriting, marketing and promotion
Noy much to do about music, but oh-so-interesting visualization of the past year. I love when you can see it in pictures.
The Long Tail theory is being challenged by a pair of researchers from the UK. A new study by Will Page and Andrew Bud, of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, the not-for-profit royalty collection society, suggests that the niche market is not an untapped goldmine and that online sales success still relies on big hits.
“I think people believed in a fat, fertile long tail because they wanted it to be true,” said Mr Bud. “The statistical theories used to justify that theory were intelligent and plausible. But they turned out to be wrong. The data tells a quite different story. For the first time, we know what the true demand for digital music looks like.”
They found that, for the online singles market, 80 per cent of all revenue came from around 52,000 tracks. For albums, the figures were even more stark. Of the 1.23 million available, only 173,000 were ever bought, meaning 85 per cent did not sell a single copy all year.