Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: Not just consumers, but patrons too

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  • Mike O'Connell,

    That’s a really interesting observation. It’s not just having a merch desk that’s important at gigs, it’s making the time to personally sell your stuff, before and after you play: to always be hustling.

    Absolutely. Maybe I'm old school in that regard, really can't embrace Spotify and streaming. The personal touch really counts. It's really cool to connect with the artist directly plus you help them out in sales in no small way. Delaney Davidson, Jol Mulholland, Ed Castelow all 'hustle well',... and Anthonie's such a charmer that my maiden aunt, had she been at the Wunderbar gig, would have bought a box load!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Well, shit, this is pretty amazing. A massive three-volume free compilation featuring everyone from The Bilders and the Axemen to Salad Boys and Las Tetas:

    You’re Not Invited: New Zealand’s Underground, 2010-2015 (In Three Volumes)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    So video killed the radio star and streaming killed the radio revenue model. I know I'm part of a rapidly shrinking demographic, but streaming and, indeed, digital downloads don't really do it for me. I like to own a thing once I've paid for it.

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 113 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    The key point is that streaming is killing retail music sales but coming nowhere near replacing the revenue from such sales.

    Disagree - digital ( legal and not) is what hurt retail... streaming came much much later and it is the present day saviour for a lot of pre-recorded music (flawed as it is), just not one that replaces the sorts of potential returns from the olden days and it probably never will, them days are gone for all but a very very few.

    I'd say that streaming is actually helping retail sales, for vinyl at least, cause many consumers want that tangible object they can connect with, few want a CD.

    In She's So Rad's case I have to ask - would they have done better if their CD was actually distributed to retail. Instead bandcamp, flying out and possibly groovy are I am guessing the only places you can get it.

    Saying that there is a huge problem for the majority of artists to secure revenue streams, this isn't new but it is getting harder as there are more active bands from everywhere all baying for our 30 second attention spans and over subscribed entertainment dollar.

    Its so much harder to get people to part with their hard-earned as life is a struggle for many.... subscriptions and streaming are one of the few things of late that actually attempts and to degrees can address this, lets not demonise streaming - but you're right if someones art moves you find a way to say so financially if you can and do so across all creative mediums cause its tough for all.

    We'll always have a musical culture, creativity isn't controlled by commerce - the question is how commercial will it be if no one can make a buck? Or is the solution patronage - I hope not

    Anyways... here is a lot of local goodness

    http://urbankill.tumblr.com/post/125341800988/youre-not-invited-new-zealands-underground

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown,

    It would be good to see a local patronage-style of crowd funding where people could elect to give an artist ongoing support at the micro-payment end of things - say a dollar or two a month - rather than backing a project.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Martin Brown,

    It would be good to see a local patronage-style of crowd funding where people could elect to give an artist ongoing support at the micro-payment end of things – say a dollar or two a month – rather than backing a project.

    Like people do for this website.

    Good news is, Givealittle has a product in the works that might fit the bill. Elsewhere, Patreon has quite a good model for creative works.

    Not all crowdfunding has to be project-based.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Goody,

    To make matters even more depressing, this recent Stereogum article shows, the vinyl boom is also on dangerous ground at the moment:

    http://www.stereogum.com/featured/have-we-reached-peak-vinyl/

    Go to gigs and buy from the merch tables. Best ways to help bands directly right now. Otherwise, it's a mug's game.

    Toronto • Since Mar 2015 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    streaming is actually helping retail sales, for vinyl at least, cause many consumers want that tangible object they can connect with, few want a CD

    It doesn't help that because vinyl records are now artefact rather than media, new vinyl records are sealed up and can't be listened to in-store, because they don't want them fingered, scratched and played on their $150 turntables.

    "Go and listen to it online and decide whether you want it?" - fine, but it's fairly likely that I'll go on to ordering it from Juno rather than going back to the store.

    My suggestion to fix this would be a QR code sticker on the record, so you can go to the listening station, scan it and hear the music without opening the sleeve.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The thing is, while streaming pays less than album sales, it pays a whole lot more than $0, which is what artists would get in the days of piracy. It's awkward and it feels like the music industry has been shaken up and is still settling.

    Maybe this is just how the music biz is now - musicians (even big popstars) will always need other sources of income because they can't do it on music sales alone.

    On the subject, I've just read How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt, the riveting story of how we got from buying music on CDs to downloading it for free. I highly recommend it. It even made me vaguely nostalgic for the download culture of the late '90s. The Guardian has an excerpt here.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    personally I've always found that listening to a record instore is the best way to miss everything that is great about that record and why you should buy it, crappy turntables, horrid headphones etc. ensure a rather bleak try before you buy experience - a QR code system would work though i'm not sure if the effort setting one up would pay off in increased sales (pay offs) given the finite supply

    While I am not the average consumer by any stretch... but I always know why I want a record and the music is these days the smallest part of that equation due to digital and its all the other things that make me want the record (which often goes unplayed, cause digital)

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Simon Grigg will talk publicly about his book How Bizarre: Pauly Fuemana and the song that stormed the world. My advance copy of the book arrived last Saturday and (even though I’d been cleaning up the debris of a very late, loud and fun birthday party) I literally could not go to bed until I’d finished it. It is one hell of a story, frankly told.

    BTW, this book sounds amazing! I like stories like this, but for it to be about a New Zealand artist is a million times more exciting. I cannot bloody wait for it!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • waihekeislander,

    I've been reading the coverage on She's So Rad, and while I agree there are some interesting and instructive elements to this, I also think that She's So Rad haven't necessarily done a great job around promoting physical sales.

    I'm a fan of the band. I bought the 1st album on vinyl as soon as it was possible. I also bought their Disco Version 12" on vinyl. From the outset the band have said Tango will be getting a vinyl release. Their website has a link saying "Buy Our Album On Vinyl" but links to the bandcamp page where you can only buy CD or download.

    There is no mention on the bandcamp page of an upcoming vinyl release, let alone a preorder. If there was I would preorder, they could have my money before the product was available. I've asked (as have others) through the bands facebook page, and their labels facebook page, when the vinyl release will be out and had no response.

    I realise vinyl is expensive to release and takes time, but they said they were going to. I won't buy a CD, or digital if a vinyl release is pending. And I would venture that with a band like She's So Rad they are more likely to sell vinyl than any other physical format.

    New Zealand • Since Feb 2015 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I always know why I want a record and the music is these days the smallest part of that equation due to digital and its all the other things that make me want the record (which often goes unplayed, cause digital)

    What on earth *do* you want them for? To put in a little rack in your record viewing room and occasionally visit to bask in the knowledge of your ownership? Do you also have a Linn Sondek in a sealed, temperature controlled and un-openable glass case?

    Each to their own, I guess.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown, in reply to Russell Brown,

    "Like people do for this website.

    Good news is, Givealittle has a product in the works that might fit the bill. Elsewhere, Patreon has quite a good model for creative works.

    Not all crowdfunding has to be project-based."

    Yes I looked at Patreon some time ago but it's still kind of goal-oriented - unless they've changed it recently. I was thinking then about how a pure patronage platform here might work but got busy on other things. Look forward to seeing what Givealittle does in that space.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I think what could work well - I'd be curious to know if such things exist elsewhere - is a kind of subscription model for live music.

    Part of what Spotify does so well is its guarantee of quality. You click, it delivers: music that you actually want to listen to. It isn't about free, or micro-payment, but about curation. For those who are immersed in music and know where to find information about who and what is actually good, this isn't so necessary. But for the ordinary person it's gold.

    Removing that uncertainty by lowering the decision cost is important. The first is obviously financial. The second is less obvious but actually harder - how do I know I'll actually like what I listen to and see?

    My suggestion is that a venue or group of venues could run a curated and marketed series of gigs, promoted collectively over time. For example; the person attending pays $70 and can see up to 6 gigs over the course of a year.

    Festivals are like this. You pay $150-300 for a ticket, and then you can sample and attend as much as you like. Don't like this band? There's another one on the other stage...

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I'm a collector, its what we do - some I want for when I want to use the turntables (not as often as I should)... some for if I ever get a DJ gig again (unlikely)... some for the artwork and sleeve notes, some purely to support the artist/label and many because they are records I've always wanted to own and fill gaps in my collection I want filled - its a sickness as my old gran would have said

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to George Darroch,

    I’d be curious to know if such things exist elsewhere – is a kind of subscription model for live music.

    while not for live music, I reckon Drip does a good job of subscription for pre-recorded music type deal with many flaws and limitations

    https://drip.com

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Apart from the noted changes in technology and retail formats, another factor is simple demographics. NZ just has a small population and an even smaller percentage of that population that spends money on the arts, let alone music specifically.

    As I've been saying for 25 years "If you're in the 100th-most-popular band in America or Britain, you'll probably be a millionaire - or certainly very wealthy. If you're in the 100th-most-popular band in NZ, you still need to have a day job".

    Another friend of mine had an art gallery in central Auckland for many years. He exhibited big names like Woolaston, McWhannel, etc, but was on the bones of his arse financially most of the time, except for when every now and again someone like Jenny Gibbs would spend $30,000 once in a blue moon, if he was lucky.

    We just don't have the numbers. Having said this, I wonder if musicians in Australia with it's considerably larger (in comparison) are also struggling ?

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And on a lighter note, something both brilliant and stupid:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Roach,

    The irony here is that in some ways things were better when I was 20

    , which reminds me of Lowery's post 'Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss?' http://thetrichordist.com/2012/04/15/meet-the-new-boss-worse-than-the-old-boss-full-post/.
    There's also some irony here that there are few options available to media when running stories re. streaming but to provide YouTube and Soundcloud links - two digi services which pay between bugger-all and zero royalties to rights owners.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    A question, when I left New Zealand in 2003 (before C4) there was New Zealand music on the telly, Every Friday night our flat would tune in to watch Space hosted by Jackie Brown and Dominic Bowden followed by Back of the Y. I also recall seeing NZ music videos randomly slotted between shows every now and then. Since I’ve returned I haven’t seen a single random music video, and I have no idea when the show is on to catch up with what’s going on. I’m sure there must be something going on because NZOA say:

    Our music mission is to get more New Zealand music played on the radio, on television and online.

    So I’m wondering if anyone can tell me when the music show is on, I’m sure there must be something as funding a bunch of music videos for air play without also funding a show to present them would just be ludicrous.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown,

    "As things stand, people who licence music – looking at you right now, advertising creatives – hold the ability to deliver artists chunks of income that are basically inconceivable from any other source. Sean James Donnelly probably made more from licensing two tunes from Songs from a Dictaphone to big advertising campaigns than he has from career sales and streaming put together."

    So true Russell. And it doesn't just have to be published, released tracks on big budget campaigns. Every time I have an opportunity to use local music in some way, I do. Sometimes it's a $20,000 payday for a songwriter, more often it's in the thousands, sometimes it's less than a grand for a little WIP musical noodle that ends up on an online video instead of some awful piece of foreign production music factory crap. This is becoming a hugely important revenue stream for local musos.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Martin Brown,

    Every time I have an opportunity to use local music in some way, I do.

    Good for you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    But I play a lot of live shows, and I sit on the merch desk every night because that’s the difference between selling two CDs and ten CDs for me.”

    A couple of years ago I went to Branson, Missouri (long story) and every music act there really worked the merch table hard. They signed anything, they posed for photos, they really talked to the people who came. And they pushed all the time for people to come to the table; "Don't forget, we're at the merch table after the show so came and say hi!" If they had a break in the show, they would be at the merch table.
    Yes, they are American and that sort of forwardness seems ingrained in their culture but it did teach me a lesson about how to try and make those sales work for you in a competitive marketplace

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r,

    Streaming is here to stay - to state the obvious. It's incredibly handy and mostly user friendly. Get a paid account with some provider - if you're working and use the free stream option, well that seems a little bleak. I understood pirating had decreased somewhat since the advent of spotify etc. Go to shows - happily pay the ticket price, hell buy the odd tee shirt. Shows are fantastic fun no matter how old you are.
    The argument over buying music in whatever format v streaming is over. Horse has bolted. Time to adapt folks.

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

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