I hear gloom and doom all the time. I live in Nashville and wherever there is a gaggle of musicians, probably in a coffee shop, you will hear talk that the music business is going to hell in a hand basket.
They are wrong...kinda.
Here is where they are right. Their personal paychecks, if you are a side musician, or exclusively a songwriter, or somebody that works at a label has went down. The town is changing from 20 years ago, where a fiddler could come to Nashville and bust down $1500-$2000 a show for a big artist, every day, all day. Labels had 50 person marketing teams, and writers were getting big bonuses and big checks to write songs all day.
This hurts. The average side-musician income not only hasn't seen a raise in years, it has seen quite the decline. Musicians are a dime a dozen, and competition breeds lower prices.
Let's face it...musicianship isn't valued as high as it once was.
But here is where the ney sayers are getting it mixed up. As most people are very focused on their personal income, that forces us to see things on a micro level. Overall, the music industry, after years on the decline, is seeing growth!
2015 and 2016 have been positive up trends and the global music income is expected to grow 10% by 2020. Streaming is growing the revenue for the music industry and live music is bigger than ever. And it will continue to grow for years, until the next thing disrupts the industry again.
This is the way the world works.
If you try to re-open the coal mine, you will most likely fail.
There has been a shift in power, just like in every industry. Farmers first had slaves (horrible!), then share croppers, then paid farmers to gather all the crops during harvest season. Now tractors do all that, on auto pilot.
You had a whole mom and pop industry of video stores that went out of business when Red Box and Netflix and other video streaming services made the world better.
And now big recording studios are going under all over town because recording technology has become better and cheaper and everybody can make radio quality records from their bedroom with a laptop.
But here is what I'm seeing.
The people that work on building something different and sustainable are growing and seeing remarkable results.
-I know a studio drummer that over time built a social media following, then launched a drum samples website that has blown up.
-I know a producer that got tired of begging for artists to record. Instead, he launched a website that attracted indie artists from all over the world.
-I know a guitarist that has built a huge guitar lesson empire online, all while gigging and doing sessions.
-And I know a couple of producers (hint hint) disenfranchised with the way the music licensing industry worked from barely making ends meat, and sought to make a change in the antiquated industry, creating the Netflix of stock music.
The music industry is WIDE OPEN people. There are a ton of possibilities in almost every category, only if you are willing to accept the realities of the new world, and dream to create something new and unique with your talents!