Opinion: 12%…An Awfully Small Seat at the Table

A recent study found from Citigroup suggests that artists in the music industry only receive about 12% of the $43 billion revenue generated by the music industry last year. Surprisingly, this is still an increase from the 7% that artists received in the year 2000. Still, both these percentages are only a small fraction of the overall revenues seen in this sector of entertainment. The increase of the percentage is attributed to the increase of touring and live performances of professional musicians. Overall, the market of streaming music damaged the traditional business plan that existed only a decade ago. The days of digital downloading of music have faded, as consumers can easily pay $11.99 a month for unlimited streaming access. Apple launched Apple Music and discussed phasing out digital downloading on iTunes in the near future.

The change in the consumption of music has left record labels scrambling to adapt. The term “360 record deal” has become an industry norm. Essentially, labels stake a claim in every aspect of their artists’ revenues. For example, ticket sales, merchandise sales, paid song features, and so on… This has allowed record labels to remain profitable in an industry that is constantly changing. Unfortunately, the artists are the ones that lose out in these deals. Artists are seeing administrative costs cutting into their touring revenues, which are usually the primary source of income for musicians. Artists are having their hard earned money from endless touring come under attack from the music business. With so many administrative costs in play from working with a label and distribution firm, “Why don’t more artists go independent?”

Perhaps the story of Chance the Rapper would seemingly be enough to convince rising artists that the “music establishment” should become a thing of the past. The independent rapper from Chicago came up from nothing and became a Grammy award winning artist primarily through his musical releases on the streaming app SoundCloud. To this day, Chance the Rapper is still an independent artist, he is considered the “prize racehorse” that no record label could tame in the music industry. Personally, I feel that the story of Chance is a catalyst of what the future holds for the industry, especially in the United States. Things are changing that I believe will bring a swift diversity of the resources currently held in the industry from the major labels, to many artists and songwriters. The Introduction of The Music Modernization Act is the start of bringing some of these resources back to songwriters. The distribution services that are growing and marketed towards independent artists allow access that musicians only dreamed of a decade ago. As more musicians continue to take control of their careers, I expect the economic equality of the industry to continue to grow.

Opinion: Are Music Festivals Coachellizing?

This past weekend I had the amazing experience of attending Governor’s Ball in NYC. The festival was amazing and I am ecstatic when I had the chance to meet The Struts in person. I got to talk to lead singer Luke Spiller for awhile about touring in the United States and the band’s new album planned for the fall. Sunday night, I was able to hang around and see the closer for the weekend…Eminem.

Eminem’s performance was dope, but seeing him up on stage reminded me that I had seen his name a lot recently…on the lineups for so many other festivals. Eminem is headlining at Firefly, Bonnaroo, and already played at Gov Ball and Coachella this year. How often have festivals repeated a same headliner in the same year? Last year was the only year that I really paid attention to who was playing where before now…Last year I noticed that Chance the Rapper headlined both Gov Ball and Firefly. As more festivals pop up through the summer season, are existing ones giving up their niche to stay relevant?

Many skeptics point at Bonnaroo as the prime example of a festival that lost it’s identity. Bonnaroo was known only a few years ago to be the experimental rock and indie modern “Woodstock” festival. The festival had attributes of liberally timed sets and    Now, Bonnaroo barely schedules any indie rock artists to fill the day-time sets like previous years. Additionally, the headliner “rock” bands are The Killers and Muse. The Killers are playing at Firefly two weeks later. Once again another headliner repeat seen in the same year.

Both MGMT and Odesza performed at Coachella this year, and they are both on the lineup for Firefly this month. Sylvan Esso just performed at Gov Ball this past weekend, and is one of the top names on Bonnaroo’s lineup for this weekend. The repetition of these names through the major festivals assures the similar experience to be had attending each. I guess this part is up to debate regarding whether seeing Sylvan Esso at Bonnaroo and Gov Ball will provide the exact same experience. Both have different crowds, Gov Ball certainly a much younger one than Bonnaroo. Still, I am coining this repetitive lineup term of  “Coachellizing festivals”. I would not say it is a bad thing…although there are obvious drawbacks to it. The other question is whether the drive for this repetition is from the festivals begging the artists, or the Big Three telling the festivals how it’s gonna be. Either way, it will be interesting to see if the Coachelizing continues and every major festival eventually turns into “Coachella Tour”…RIP Warped Tour.