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Hypebot Readers Say % of Bands Making a Living May Be Small, But It's Always Been That Way!

image from www.serviceevaluations.com Last week, John McCrea, the lead singer of Cake, insinuated that music will be a hobby for most people in five or ten years.

All around him, McCrea, age 46, saw his friends and peers studying how to do other jobs. The Hypebot community had many insightful things to say about his "hobbyist" remark.

See their thoughts below:

Rob Michael said…

The intrinsic value of music is unchanged and things have never looked better for musicians, both professional and hobbyists alike.

Idlewoodband said...

The big, bad wolf or the music "industry" makes it seem like if they are not able to afford their limos and big houses anymore, somehow that means the musicians they have made money off are now hobbyists. I think that is not only rude, but a crock of BS.

Chancius said...

We used to live in a world where there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that if you struggled as an artist there was a chance it would pay off, but now it seems like there will only ever be a struggle and that's just unrealistic to survive by now.

Suzanne Lainson said...

The percentage of musicians in Colorado making it full-time on music is pretty small. A few have done it. I've worked with some of them. I know their numbers, and I know it is possible. But it often involves gigging about 200 times a year, playing shows with guarantees, and actually selling music rather than just giving it away. But even among the buzz bands getting lots of attention in Colorado, most have day jobs and will always have day jobs. And most of those day jobs aren't music-related day jobs. They are bartenders, or graphic designers, or nannies, or something else that actually pays money.

The fact that people aren't buying CDs as much as they used to has hurt musicians that I know. One, for example, routinely sold at least 3000 CDs per year at shows, and also did a good business through CD Baby. I don't think digital sales have made up for what she has likely lost through physical sales. People who don't have the past to compare to may think they are doing great with sales these days or those who used to be on a label and are now selling direct-to-fans may be happy because they are keeping a higher percentage of the sale. But I'll bet that those who have been selling CDs and before then, tapes, directly to fans have seen their music sales incomes go down over the last 10-15 years.

Catherine Hol said...

I think everything will boil down to whether the public decides to carry on buying digital downloads off independent artists directly. We're repeatedly told that no one wants to pay for music anymore, or just to stream it (hence no longer needing to buy). However, I keep hearing people say they do want to buy music directly if the artist is truly independent. If increasing numbers of people agree, then there's a very good chance of the musicians whose music is reasonably popular making a reasonable living.

wallow-T said...

Summarizing this another way: an era where musicians could say, "I want to make MY art MY way, and I deserve an audience" is winding down. Before the rock boom, most musicians had to tailor their work to what was currently in demand -- this applied to the great classical musicians (Haydn was a servant in a royal house), the Tin Pan Alley era, and the jazzers. If you were going to break the mold, you'd better be an instant hit (Louis Armstrong) or you're going to end up living in boxcars (Harry Partch).

Jason Parker said...

As for the percentage of bands making a living being small, it's always been that way! I'm not sure when this golden age of every musician making a comfortable living that people talk about happened...it's always been a struggle and it will always be a struggle for 99% of working artists. Those of us who roll with the changes and are proactive in finding what works for US are the ones making a living, as it's always been.

Rob said...

Let's not forget Cake sold 44,000 albums in a week. If you can't live on that level of support, you need either to make more albums or get your lawyer to renegotiate your contract. I know the record industry got used to multi-platinum but that was never about feeding the artists on their roster.

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