The Good News and The Bad News
By Paula Carpenter - 05/28/2003 - 09:19 AM EDT
The GOOD NEWS is: songwriting as a challenge to artfully and genuinely express yourself, while creating a song that is universally appealing, will always be a worthy goal, and will always bring satisfaction, and hopefully some monetary reward. The BAD NEWS, and it's very bad, with the digital downloading, known as PIRACY in the industry, that occurs now, people are not paying for music. They are not buying the CD's from the record labels in the same quantities as before the internet, (henceforth referred to as BTI... : ) and therefore the record labels aren't paying the publishers for the use of the songwriter's songs...and guess what? That means that you, the songwriter, get hit hard. It's little consolation that along with YOU being hit hard, so are the 'big guys'...because, girls and boys, the way it's always been BTI, the 'big guys' -- the labels that sign the artists that have the A & R reps that hear the publishers songs that hopefully are written by you the songwriter---those guys have been necessary, in order for songwriters to make money. Now, those guys are in major crisis. Layoffs are happening like wildfire. CD's aren't selling. For example, Sony Music is slashing personnel, amidst other moves, to try to address this problem that has been caused by basically, digital downloading creating a way for music lovers to have their music without paying for it. No not Napster...there's more ...(VERY interesting article about this at this URL: )
I think what all songwriters, aspiring or established, have to realize, is that the ground rules for making money in the industry have changed. They have changed so quickly and so immensely, that the Sony's of this world, along with every other label, are most likely finding their heads spinning (no pun intended, nor any disrespect to those whose heads have recently rolled) at the velocity of this change, and the speed at which they have to sprint to try to deal with it. BUT...the ground rules for how to write great songs have not changed, since a song does not depend on it's sale in order to exist...if it is created, it exists. If it is created artfully and well (thus the term great song), it exists and has a chance to become known. In the music world BTI, becoming known meant getting published and getting a song cut. In today's internet-dependent world, becoming known has taken on a whole new meaning, doncha know.
Now, along those lines, here is some more good news: If you are able to re-define your goals, and adjust to this 'brave new world' in which we in the music industry now live, you can take advantage of the internet to further your goals along. That almost calls for a big 'Duh'. I mean, who doesn't know that? That websites offer exposure, that you can post music on the web, and so on? Well, I simply think that knowing it and doing something about it are two different things. The whole technological revolution has occured (in the public, that is) basically in the last five or six years, and I don't think we have had, or taken, the time to sit down and really digest what this means, or how it alters, or should alter, our goals. I think it's high time we all did that. Realizing the amazing, revolutionary, mind-boggling power of this tool that brings me to you, wherever you live...is a process that takes a bit of time. For me, it is sinking in over time, how I myself need to change the way I do things, change my goals, change my focuses. Because I am not sure that we ever can make the music downloading/aka piracy (stealing something from others, which ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what it is -- you download for free, songwriters don't get paid) go away. I am not sure it's possible to stem this tide.
So....let's learn to deal with it. Hmmm...you want millions of people to hear your songs. BTI, you had to be 'published' for that to happen. Guess what? When you post an MP3 file on the internet, you are instantly 'published'. Granted, the problem is, 'and how do I get PAID for that'? I think it's a matter of layers, a matter of doing things in order. First, use the internet to make people know who you are...THEN (assuming you are writing amazing, moving, poignant songs OR funny, smart, logical songs, depending on the genre you're writing in) use the internet to market your songs.
I guess maybe I'm rambling a bit, but it seems to boil down to this: Everything's changed. Roll with the punches. Take the lemons and make lemonade. Take the good with the bad, and run with it. Re-evaluate how you want to approach an industry that is, truthfully, in crisis. (Again, read this:
Also at the bottom of that page, click where it says MORE LIKE THIS...and read other related articles ...veerrrrry interesting!)
Know what you are facing as you enter this music world. Learn as much as you can about the tools the internet offers, and how you can make them work for you. And always ask yourself, when it comes to achieving success in WHATEVER NEW FORM THAT MAY TAKE ON.... Why Not Me?
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