I’m in the Bel Age Hotel in Hollywood, 2006. Larry King is having a discussion with the CEO of Napster. Pretty big day for me.
Musexpo conference was my first big foray into the business side of music. Labels were changing, CDbaby was a new thing (Derek Sivers was there as well). I wanted to know what music would look like in 10 years.
Back then, streaming was feared, or so I thought. When the Napster CEO delivered his keynote address… saying the future of music was subscription and streaming based, the audience, full of music industry executives, applauded. I didn’t. I was pretty shocked. We had only recently entered the realm of artists self promoting direct to fanbases, and selling songs for 99c each on itunes, not a bad consolation from the $30 per cd at Virgin Megastore days, that were already dead by then.
Now the prophecy is fulfilled but the gatekeeper is not Napster, it’s Spotify. Many artists (major and independent) bemoan Spotify. “I get paid 0.0000007 cents per stream”. It’s actually much better than that but you hear it all the time. Regardless of how much or little it pays, subscription and streaming services shook up music first, now it’s shaken up film and TV too, so you can’t ignore the channel.
I’m a solo artist, and taking charge of my own career is edifying for me. Sure I need help, and I get help, but ultimately I don’t have to go via a record label to reach my fanbase. If I did have to, and I couldn’t, I would never be living out my destiny.
This brings me to money, and why I want to reach my fanbase anyway. Do I want to monetise them? Or do I want to connect them to songs? My mission is for the world to hear the music. My mission is not to be a wealthy person. Spotify helps me achieve my mission. I don’t charge a fan for my music. I’ll charge a record label, a publisher, a business person, but I won’t charge a fan that I am in direct contact with.
For me, the bigger challenge at this phase of my career is reaching you. Every time I have a new track or video or blog post… I need to get it to you somehow. If you like my music, but you don’t hit subscribe or follow then it makes it harder for me to reach you next time. Do it now. Please!
I don’t want to be the artist who stops making art because it stops making them money. I don’t want to be the artist who bemoans how difficult life is because I’m not making money. I want to write world changing songs and that requires a different mindset. I want to be the future. I want to shake up people’s ears like the CEO of Napster shook up mine, and the industry’s, all those years ago.
Music is still what it was in the past. It eventually gets to your ears through a set of speakers. How it gets there, I don’t care. I just want you to hear it.
I live in the first world. If you don’t pay me, I won’t starve. If you don’t hear it, I might.