The current issue of Rolling Stone includes some interviews with artists on the future of music. Here are some excepts:
It’s a very greedy, artist-exploiting business, and I think it will fall hard so it can rebuild itself with a better business model that is slightly more fair to everybody involved. But, yes, I do think that right now the music business is crumbling. Artists are starting to take back control from the labels, which is great. We have record labels to thank for a lot, but we also have them to blame for a lot. The major labels are scrambling right now and trying reactionary measures. Like, if you sign a record deal now, they take a percentage of your touring revenue. Bands are getting grabbed by the balls before they even sign a record deal and the grip on their balls is even tighter than it used to be. I think it’s only a matter of time before everyone is on an indie label. Because music isn’t going anywhere and the business is being forced to take a look at itself. It needs to go through this phase: Eventually, the scale will calibrate and the business part will ultimately survive, but I think artists will end up in a better position than they’ve ever been.
I don’t really care that much about the overall business. What I care about is, “Am I creating something great for the fans, something that they want to pay for?” Fans might not buy as many albums as they used to, but as long as you make something special, they’re going to keep coming back to you. There are ways to succeed outside of just selling actual units. There’s touring and merchandise and corporate partnerships and all kinds of other ways to make money. I think I’ll be fine, as long as I’m making music people want to buy.
It seems like a really good time to get into music, as far as trying to get your music heard. You don’t really need to have the backing of a major label anymore, you can do it, get your music on the Internet, and that word of mouth thing can happen. That was a huge part for me before I even had a record out. People started trading our stuff online. Once we had a record, people would have me sign a burned copy and say, “Sorry it’s burned,” and I didn’t really care. If people were getting the music, I was cool. I thought technology was helping spread it around. I always hear people say the music industry is in trouble, and it probably is, but as far as getting your music heard, it seems easier nowadays.
I feel like we’re going into a very eclectic mode now, where the strong will survive. Kids can create beats now through their computer in two hours, so to last in the long form, you have to bring a musicianship to it. If you’re hearing the track I did on the CD with me and Serj from System of a Down, you hear how the movement is syncopated, then I stop the record at two minutes, screw it up, then I pick it back up with a classical part, go back into the groove. A kid goes, “Damn, how did he do that? I can’t really do that on my computer. On these Fruity Loops [software], I’ve got to keep it a certain way.” I think this will inspire kids to say, “Man, I’ve got to learn more music and put more arrangements in the music.” People are making music and they’re getting it out there, but we’re losing a sense of the live elements inside their music.