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Mike's Rants

Free is Killing Music!


I don't mean the band "Free" (btw - a great group with Paul Rodgers before "Bad Company" (All Right Now,etc). I am just mentioning that music, especially live music, has become so de-valued that it is having an impact on venues and musicians. I am reminded of seeing Jerry Garcia in the film "Festival Express" being confronted by people protesting that concert ticket prices were $5 or some small amount. He was like "hey man we need to buy some gas and food", etc.

 So many people are now used to getting music free on the internet, illicit copies or at so called free public concerts. Musicians typically rely on CD sales to promote and augment their scant income stream but even that is going away. New cars and rentals don't even have CD players now. Companies like CD Baby that promote and support musical acts have not been selling much and are shrinking in size and influence. Musicians are still able to sell a few cds at shows as folks still seem to like having a souvenir, but with virtually no online sales it's hard to  make even enough money to produce any type of recordings. Yes, there  is music streaming now but unless you are a superstar the amount of money received is minute. The Thugz are streamed a fair amount but each time only receive about $.002 for each play. We have yet to even reach $20 in sales.

 Another challenge has been the proliferation of "free concerts" in parks, town squares, on the green, etc that nearly every community now has. Sure, it's nice to go locally for some music that is free but it has put a damper on local venues who need to charge at the door or raise food and drink prices in order to afford live music. Many venues have gone out of business in part because of this. The free "town square" type shows aren't really free. They are paid for by local business, community and commerce groups. Many times these are fairly "square" groups that want to provide family entertainment. That's fine but it usually ends up being bland, generic, tribute type musicians with little or no creative spirit. Whenever a local group gets hired by one of these series it's usually  just a token after thought with  hardly any pay left over after the cheese bands have been hired.

 This impacts local music venues and musicians alike. What would a restaurant think if the local chamber of commerce decided to have a free public dinner outside next to their business? Local music venues often now don't have music on nights of a local free show. New music and high quality repertory groups, especially at the local level,  have even less of a chance to be heard.  The decline in live music venues has now caused many regional touring acts to go after these community shows allowing for even fewer local spots to be available.

 Things always change but the danger of harming music and all of the arts right now has become serious. I know of many bands and musicians that have just given up.

 If you are reading this you are probably a music lover. We do thank you for your support. This rambling, stream of consciousness  rant I put out merely as food for thought. Hopefully we can find ways for music to still thrive in these confusing and turbulent times. Please continue to support local music venues and the performers you enjoy. So much of what goes into having a band or show is hidden from the public eye. A typical bar band gig requires rehearsal, organization, instruments & sound gear, loading up, traveling,making a hanging posters,  sound checking, loading out, etc. A 3 hour show often need up to 10 hours to actually do.  Without audience support it is hard even to produce a lousy show, let alone a creative and artistic concert.

 That's it for now . I know i will always do some kind of music activities but what form they will take down the line I can't really say.

Comments Section

Hveolhaonn hrhae hwia iekil'eirh ahht honour.
I read in the SF Chron. this Sunday that some folks blame the early days of the Internet where everything was touted as being free. This problem is what happened as things snowballed.

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