Hard News by Russell Brown

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

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  • Russell Brown,

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    I popped in today to K Road’s newest record shop, Rebel Soul Records in Samoa House arcade. It’s a sweet little spot and Tito, the proprietor, has really put some effort into it. Good prices, interesting range of new and pre-loved vinyl, and he’ll be trading and buying as cashflow allows. With Flying Out around the corner and The Hemp Store opening soon nearby, K Road’s culture seems in decent shape.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

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    After K Road I rode down to Silo Park for the birthday thing there, where Anthonie Tonnon was playing. The hands-in-the-air thing is a confidence-building exercise in which he led the crowd – we were all invited to believe we had just popped over from the vast superyacht nearby.

    Oh, and in keeping with the theme of the discussion, I bought a vinyl copy of Anthonie's album from him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

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    Inspired by a box of goodness at a certain Pt Chev hacienda recently (photo 1), I’ve been hunting 7” singles at Real Groovy over last couple of weekends.

    First scores were as seen in photo two. The Johhnys cover of Anything Could Happen is something to behold.

    Today I grabbed The Goon Squad Eight Arms, T Rex Telegram Sam, Go Betweens Cattle & Cane, and a few others to be shared at the next 45rpm party.

    And then you stumble on ‘that’ sleeve, and after a sharp intake of breath, realise the record is of course missing, and someone has cut a hole in the middle of it. This is the $5 bins after all. :-/

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

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    of all the vinyl joints in all the world …
    If you are ever in Florence (or Firenza as the locals have it) check out this cavern of delights Contempo Records (or maybe it is Data Records 93), in Via Dei Neri.
    Crammed full of vinyl wonder, it wends it way further than seems plausible under venerable buildings – who knew The Fugs put out so many records or that so many of them would end up in Florence (a selection above)
    When asked if they had any flying Nun, their trusty database turned up a couple – bugger me days if the cover picture of one of them wasn’t taken in my own back yard in Armagh Street in Chchch (Tall Dwarfs Weeville ) late last century – spooky, how we laughed…
    Steeped in history is Florence …

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Steeped in history is Florence …

    Far out.

    BTW that Fugs album at the right hand front has a nice Matthew Arnold track.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to JacksonP,

    ha Jackson, I saw the pic and thought, "cor, looks just like mine.''

    and well done that man. that'll be my lunchtimes this week too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    we need to think of ourselves not just as consumers, but as patrons

    True that. Not spending. Dollar voting.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    BTW that Fugs album at the right hand front has a nice Matthew Arnold track.

    That is some serious hippy shit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    ha Jackson, I saw the pic and thought, “cor, looks just like mine.’’

    I recognised it immediately!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    BTW that Fugs album at the right hand front has a nice Matthew Arnold track.

    That is some serious hippy shit.

    The Fugs were very heavy on the English Lit references. These days, that kind of thing is probably higher on the endangered list than hippies.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    looking at you right now, advertising creatives

    Er, that would be me. It's actually one of the pleasures of the job believe it or not. Time was no respectable musician would have been seen dead associating with advertising but it's a different world now.

    It's about more than just licensing of existing material though. I don't know why it doesn't occur to more creatives to commission the bands they love to write for the occasion. Artists like it because they get to do their actual thing for proper money without shopping their personal stuff. They also get a pleasing kind of anonymity that allows them to drop their guard musically.

    I've worked with Sean, Barry Saunders, Rhian Sheehan, Don McGlashan, Phoenix Foundation and heaps of others and never had a moment's attitude or a bad tune from any of them. The only thing you have to remember is that you're not hiring some "versatile" professional. You're tapping into someone's sensibility and you have to want what it is they do. You're effectively casting them like an actor.

    By the way, there's a lot of ire directed at streaming but I think two things should be remembered. 1) It works for listeners. 2) If we're pointing the finger about lack of income, don't assume it's Spotify. The record companies are right in there with their snouts in the trough and they're not revealing anything about their agreements or payment structures. David Byrne is onto this and I hope he gets some results.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    You want an artist to get money? Hand them cash, walk away happy.

    Content in general is no longer valuable. Weird, huh, but there it is. Wikipedia has shown that people will produce better content for free than anyone can figure out how to sell, other than on one or two big locked hardware platforms (Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Nintendo). Interestingly, people really want to pay you, it's just not normally feasible to connect that with the content any more.

    So either you licence your music for the things where money still buys content, like a Playstation game or a Hollywood movie, or you sell yourself and use the music as an advertisement for you.

    Merch is ... limited. There's only so much room in people's houses, big fans might easily buy everything and run out of ways to give you money. Years ago the webcomic industry discovered giving it all away sold more books. Then they discovered that letting people pay to have the books made in the first place sold even more books. Now they've discovered you can just ask people to pay you to make the free comics you were going to make anyway, and that makes even more money than all the rest of it put together, and also helps you sell more books.

    Obviously music is produced in longer format than webcomics, but there's folk posting pretty crap vlogs on youtube backed by Patreon to the tune of thousands of dollars per week and there's musicians putting live stuff on youtube too. I'm sure that could work for musicians.

    The usual add goes: I only put up one of these a month (week, whatever), because money. Pay me more to put each one up, I can do it more often. Do that with live stuff, random jams, get a fricken unique domain up and advertise your existence, tour dates, places to buy, email lists to alert people that you're doing things they can pay your for like they want to.

    Post free shit, get a following, and ask the people who like you for more money so you can post more free shit. Sell autographed CDs, sell personalised one-off jams, sell the shirt your wore at that concert. People want a bit of that magic awesome in their lives, so it'll rub off on them.

    Not through a fucking service that people call generous at 15%! Stop giving away 85% of your revenue, you fucking idiots. Kickstarter takes 5% and hosts all your adds and deals with all the money for you, with no up front costs and you set a minimum for following up on it at all, Patreon takes 5% for people paying you to do what you were doing anyway. You know who takes 85%? Fucking crooks.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ken Double,

    Er, that would be me. It’s actually one of the pleasures of the job believe it or not.

    I can believe it. Back in the Media7 days, we actually had budget for theme music – and I swiftly and firmly assured everyone else that I’d be handling that. We were able to pay Sean for the original and Disasteradio for a rework of that. The big thrill was commissioning Lawrence Arabia to write and perform us a song for an end-of-season show.

    Time was no respectable musician would have been seen dead associating with advertising but it’s a different world now.

    It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s not like even their peers or fans look sideways either.

    They also get a pleasing kind of anonymity that allows them to drop their guard musically.

    Nicely put.

    By the way, there’s a lot of ire directed at streaming but I think two things should be remembered. 1) It works for listeners. 2) If we’re pointing the finger about lack of income, don’t assume it’s Spotify. The record companies are right in there with their snouts in the trough and they’re not revealing anything about their agreements or payment structures. David Byrne is onto this and I hope he gets some results.

    Yes, the smartest thing Spotify did was cutting the major labels in on the action.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    Man, this part from Byrne's NYT essay:

    It gets worse. One industry source told me that the major labels assigned the income they got from streaming services on a seemingly arbitrary basis to the artists in their catalog. Here’s a hypothetical example: Let’s say in January Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” accounted for 5 percent of the total revenue that Spotify paid to Universal Music for its catalog. Universal is not obligated to take the gross revenue it received and assign that same 5 percent to Sam Smith’s account. They might give him 3 percent — or 10 percent. What’s to stop them?

    The labels also get money from three other sources, all of which are hidden from artists: They get advances from the streaming services, catalog service payments for old songs and equity in the streaming services themselves.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Seems an appropriate time to re-visit The Clash’s take on music labels :

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Here’s a hypothetical example: Let’s say in January Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” accounted for 5 percent of the total revenue that Spotify paid to Universal Music for its catalog. Universal is not obligated to take the gross revenue it received and assign that same 5 percent to Sam Smith’s account. They might give him 3 percent — or 10 percent. What’s to stop them?

    Not sure that is quite true - Spotify provide very detailed breakdowns of plays to the copyright owners, both the master holder and the publisher. Both are independent of each other and able to sit next to each other for comparison.

    It's as transparent as any copyright accounting and fully auditable.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I think the main opacity is in the majors' deals with Spotify regarding other income - like ownership dividends and advertising revenue splits and any up front payments that were made to bring in catalogues which perhaps should have made its way to artists. Those haven't been disclosed - except in the case of the Sony email leaks.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Thank you very much...

    ...fully auditable

    Hmmm...
    funny how that it is 'audible'
    with a big 'ta' in the middle...

    ;- )

    and
    \https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hy5gZlYZHw

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Martin Brown,

    Those haven’t been disclosed – except in the case of the Sony email leaks

    True, but neither are rental returns on buildings these companies own - or shareholding dividends in any other entities owned by these corporations.

    Unless the artist contract specifies that profit sharing on corporate investments is included in remuneration to the artist, the big labels are under no obligation to split this or disclose. The only exception is when a payment is made as an advance on returns to the artist.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    Coincidently I wrote a post about this last Sunday and I had not seen this discussion at all. My post was triggered by the same news item about 'She's So Rad" .

    I choose Bandcamp whenever possible because I know that is a better deal for most of the musicians I know.

    The Future of the Music Industry – A personal approach

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jason Kemp,

    Great post, Jason. I'll link to this on Friday.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

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