5 Reasons the Music Business Is in the Toilet

Interesting but not really "good news" article about the music business for those of you who can get past the picture of Miley Cyrus:

5 Reasons the Music Business Is in the Toilet

And no, the business problems are not Miley's fault. She does have to take some responsibility for the musical problems though.
I was just thinking about how much things have changed over the last 40 years or so in the music biz. Back in the day, you cut a record and hopefully it would get played by the radio dj's or you wouldn't even stand a chance at stardom. Now there are so many ways for someone to get recognized that you certainly don't have to rely on a radio station to become popular. I don't find it surprising at all that the BIG recording industry is having trouble against the current onslaught of do it your self recording artists and performers. What this means for US as a consumer? We get to wade through the all this music ourselves now, to find the things we like to listen to instead of the DJ spinning it for us. O boy.
Thanks for the link. Not a lot of news there, tho:

People are willing to pay less for recorded music today than they've been historically willing to pay. OTOH, they're willing to pay more for live music ( I'm not sure what the split between top 100 earners and non top 100 has to do with anything.). Eighty percent of the article simply belabors those points, which are pretty old news by this point.

Beyond that, the author only points out that what little money people are willing to pay for streams is divided up kind of strangely among the artists and that labels taking the lion's share. Even that is described kind of obtusely. Had the methodology behind the splits (instead of only examples of odd results) actually been described, it would ha been more informative.

In any case, I want to say thank you once again for the link because this is always a subject of interest, but the best part was IMO Miley's tiny little frosting-covered boobies, which were previously unfamiliar to me.
Well, I can share one that targets the pop rock culture.

Simply, the level of excellence both in performer and producer (mostly performer) has been lowered to a lower level never before.
As to Broadway? Well the "big" shows on the "great white way" are all Rock concert's and without the original stars!

No one is writing like Rogers & Hammerstein and greats of 30-and longer, years ago.

Just my thoughts!
5 reasons
1. Kanye West
2. Justin Bieber
3. Nicki Minaj
4. Katey Perry
5. Miley Cyrus
Martykl, There is a link at the end of the story to a website named Redef that has an article that goes into the music business situation in greater detail, if you're interested.
RWD "no one is writing songs like Rogers and Hammerstein and greats of 30 + years ago" once upon a time I was of the same opinion.Then I heard a girl play a song she had written "The First Sign Of Spring".The Writer/Singer Jolie Holland on the "Wine Dark Sea" LP.This song is to me reminescent of Billy Strayhorn,That a person under 40 could have written it is eye opening if not mind boggling.So there is hope,just keep listening.
This is a subject that greatly concerns me. The article mentioned was very brief, but hit many of the high points. The overall greed of the recording industry is what has castrated their album sales, not electronic media, or many of the other excuses. Those who care about music are willing to spend the price for quality recordings, but the problem is that most "Pop", music is so lame that it's followers could care less about sound quality, as long as the bass is artificially boomy. I see on YouTube all manner of young talent that staggers the imagination! Why are they not being pushed by the powers that be? Instead, they create a persona around a talentless hack, and pump it on the radio until the kids buy into it. And once they reach the age of 21, they are thrown to the side, and they realize they never had any talent to begin with. And resort to the shenanigans like Ms Cyrus has to remain in the spotlight. It seems that recording companies don't want to deal with those who have real talent, that gives them a bargaining chip! But if they make stars out of the talentless, then they do as told because they have nothing to deal with. The great bands of the late 70's started writing their own contracts! Demanding larger cuts of the profit! And artistic control! And they got it, because they held the cards. And used their profits to start their own recording companies and cut the greedy recording companies slam out of the picture! (Swan Song and the like) so even though the recording companies made record profits in those times, they didn't like not having total control, and have created this talentless wave of Pop music and wonder why their profits are down. So which iis more important? Mega profits or total control? Apparently they are making money, or they would change their ways.

I think they underestimate the public's ability to appreciate good music, when Rush was asked to dumb it down a bit, they did the opposite and released 2112, one of the best selling albums of all time, proving that the public does like good talented musicians. Just one example. So many young people these days, including my 28 year old daughter, who are discovering the music of my youth, and forsaking the music of their own time. And paying top price for vinyl records! Not stealing downloads from YouTube, which sounds like crap if you've noticed. I don't know if things could ever be like they once were, if we will have another great music revolution? But I think it could happen, if only one large company would embrace real talent and start the ball rolling, the rest would follow the money.
I'm sure there are many viewpoints on this subject, and it is more complicated than I make it sound I guess, but I do feel that I'm not far from the mark on this.
Casey, I'll check it out. Thank you!
......Andrew9405 dead on and Alpha gt well put ......I am writing this as the Allman Brothers Fillmore Box Set from 1971 is playing in the back ground. A time when music mattered...a time when there were true musician's.....I get criticized for being stuck in that era or for only listening to the ''old '' Chicago and Delta blues guys. But it made sense to ME....the music mattered First and Foremost. Of course this is only my opinion ....but Kayne West....what a useless POS .....and acted like a total and complete A%$Hole to Taylor Swift who actually has talent ! ......that man is a joke and I think the public is starting to see just that. But no before the man has made millions on selling his meaningless music to the public. There are actually some great new jazz musicians but as was noted - the record companies do not promote that music as they should ......the only stuff that sells is that urban crap. Tell me or prove me otherwise ......as I will be gone ...but do you think that in 20-30 years... do you actually think that people will be still be listening to Kayne West and Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus ????......put on the music that I / we have mentioned here ...and guess what it is till good ...why ......because the music mattered first and not the money
Alpha_gt, I agree with your assertion that the record companies do not like to deal with real artists, they can be a real pain in the a**.

There is still plenty of good music being released, there always is. My save for later list at Amazon just keeps growing.

I think that a streaming service that concentrates on quality music is needed to isolate the good music from all the crap. Pandora does this pretty well with its customizeable "stations" and like/dislike feature. Maybe they will set up a lossless streaming or download feature at some point.

I'd like to see some of the wealthy great artists from the good old days get together and give something back to the music industry that did so much for them.
As all things in economic life, the top ten take 90% of the money, leaving the rest to all others, which basically leaves them with crumbs unless they can tour, which is where artist make their money, including Swift.
The reason the music business is in the "toilet" has everything to do with how people--especially the artists--get paid. Same thing with book publishing (and I have a lot more experience with the latter.) Austin, TX used to have about 5 really good record stores within walking distance of each other on the Drag, the main street running through the UT Campus, including Tower Records and lots of independents. Radio stations played records, artists performed locally or in touring shows, and record stores sold records. Now you download or stream or, worse, steal music. What are the economics of that? And forget the fact that "back in the day, music was better!" Bullshit. Every generation makes their own music, from swing to rock to new wave to punk to grunge to whatever. And young people are who support the music industry sales. Yes, I know we have some folks here who will dispute that because they own five different versions of Dark Side of the Moon, but really? Finally, there are a ton of great acts that I've discovered in the last few years even though I'm actually in my 50s. The Wood Brothers, The Civil Wars, The Avett Brothers, Sarah Jarosz, Brian Bromberg, Kacey Musgraves, Courtney Barnett, the list goes on and all you have to do is go out and listen. So I guess I'm disagreeing with your premise.
To a certain degree I agree with Austinbob. As the aging process continues it seems we become more comfortable listening to our existing library and lessen the search for new artists/music.
At least that's my personal experience and opinion.
Amen AustinBob!!!!!! There a ton of fantastic music coming out every year!!
Two words - music glut

This article is VERY in depth, well worth a read. Mapman is correct, the decades of artificial scarcity in the supply of recorded music is over. HIrschhorn breaks down all the numbers.
I always marvelled at how many great, unknown bands there are in every major city you travel to. Now those bands are accessible via the internet and I personally couldn't be happier.
It's in the toilet because there'so much decent stuff available for free now. I'm willing to pay for certain things but there are others I'll just sample online, especially on youtube, for free. And, there's a lot of copying going on--I'd say much more than in the days of cassettes.
One problem I've noticed is a lack of "free samples" from new artists. AGon members are always alerting each other about great works from new artists. I constantly go to Amazon for a taste of their work (I will not purchase without hearing) but can't get a 30 second sample.
Anyway, I bought my favorite music on CD (since 1984 @ average $18/pop) so I'm well stocked (but poor).
YouTube is the best place to get a free sample of most any music.

It's a music smorgasbord out there these days. Both free and pay. If you don't see that then one may need to work on getting with the times.

Of course if vinyl or analog is your only source of music pleasure then your options are more limited.

Gotta be a tough and most competitive business these days. The technology to produce and market recordings is a commodity item these days and within the reach of anyone who cares enough.
It's a great time to be a consumer of music if not a producer. The most choices available and the highest quality overall as well. I've got enough music choices on my music server record collection and other sources available that not enough time to listen to it all in a lifetime.
Today's music is crap
I agree with Austinbob...When you listen to the same music over and over, your dead musically. Its really nice when my daughter plays something for me that she thinks I will like. Not all younger people listen to or are brainwashed by todays mega pop music machine. Music is a common ground, right? There is a lot of great NEW music out there. And this brings me back to my point.....Its up to us to get out there and wade through the crap to find the good stuff!
You are right about YouTube. But unless someone has made the effort to create an "entire album" post (not likely with new music), then one can't hear samples of the whole work. Going to Amazon leads you to the album-in-question but more-and-more there are no samples.
Here I thought the #1 reason would be: MTV.
Video killed the radio star.
Agree with Mapman and the other. Tons of great music out there but most of us are too lazy or too set in our ways to go out and experience it. Many are happy to sit and listen to the same 50 tracks over and over again and then complain and tell stories about the good old days while probably the greatest era in music slides happily by. I personally think we are in another golden age with paradigm shifts taking place in music production and consumption reminiscent of the 50's and 60's.
A garden is only as good as the health of the gardener.

If you don't really give a S@#t about music or musicians/artists, and only about money, how can you be successful? We went from speculatively funding many, many musician/songwriters to looking for the next single multi-platinum.

I was once in the industry when money literally, grew on trees, then the CD arrived, than Napster... and it has never been the same since. Trying to stop the free trade of music (digitally) only shot the industry in its own foot...

The broadcast radio stations and Mtv in their hayday were a great source of free advertising for the industry, then came consolidation and generic corporate play lists and reality(?) TV...

We now live in a virtual reality of media over saturation that leaves music listening for many, as primitive as reading a book, tending a garden, or hand crafting anything, don't we?... Look up for a precious moment from your texting and facebook, you may miss something, like life.

I still listen, like a Zen meditation
There is plenty of, fill in the blank, (music, wine, food, literature, etc.) if you're willing to work at it.
It's not looking for you.
Agree with MAP and Hew.
I work in the Music industry and can tell everyone there is GREAT pop, rock, soul and R&B being produced today. Lots of great indy stuff out there as well. But you must go out and find it and buy it. I love my classical and jazz and older rock and pop, but I get truly excited when I hear new stuff. Folks need to buy music. When they realize how hard it is to create music and sell it and make any money, consumers would hopefully BUY music. And buy new music being produced today.
It all depends on what one thinks the purpose of music is.
J.S. Bach, the greatest artist who ever lived , told us what that is long ago .
"It all depends on what one thinks the purpose of music is"

Good Point. My purpose of music now is to search new music around the world with the sound I like and save them on favorite with Tidal streaming.

It's fun and exciting to discover new music endlessly to enjoy going forward.
Good luck Beewax , you certainly have the right to disagree with Bach .
Bach is dead. The world is for the living and those yet to be born.
Thanks for the positive responses to my post-wasn't sure how it would be taken! Austin, TX bills itself as the "Live Music Capital of the World." Texans are so shy, you know. We do have a ton of live music and venues but even that's at risk--real estate ain't free. But there is great local music to be found but musicians aren't getting rich playing. I don't have the answer, but you can't turn back the clock and the good news for the consumer is great audio equipment for great money (really, could you have imagined how good a budget system could sound back in the day of Pioneer receivers?). And again, get out and find music you like--it's out there! I was listening to Harry Manx the other day--remarkable! Want some rock and roll? Try Houndmouth. Jazz? Alan Broadbent. Country? Eilen Jewell or Sturgill Simpson. Guitar? Trace Bundy. Americana? Dave Alvin. It's out there guys!
Harry Manx is terrific. His first release was 14 years ago.
My favorite is "Jubliee" with Kevin Breit.
I don't think our opinions are at odds, Austin bob, in fact your post and mine have a lot in common. I'm not saying there isn't any good music these days, I'm just saying that the powers that be are not pushing the good stuff. All that new good stuff you mentioned, I've never heard their names before. Why? If they are so great why are the Jonus Bro's getting shoved down our collective throats if all those other artists you mention are relatively unknown? (I realize the reference is dated) Sure there is still tons of great music, and great musicians! But they are not the ones who are appreciating the mega advertising budgets from the major players in the industry. I have pondered the thought that if I had one hour of prime time TV to fill, I would take these unknown artists and have a new Ed Sulivan show, and it would be the biggest show on TV in two weeks! But, I fear that those powers that be would not allow it to happen, they've got too much invested in controlling all the media to promote their agenda. If all things were equal then these better artists with better music would be on top! But they aren't. And it's easy for a man who lives in Austin TX to say, "go out and see some great local artists!", but what if you live near Petersburg VA? No need to wonder, your selection of local talent is there! But no need to send a talent scout. Anyone that good is trying to get away from here. But I still enjoy live music, and quite often.

I may be stuck in the 70's, but there is still tons of new music that was recorded back then that I have not discovered yet! And do quite often. But I can still enjoy an old classic that I've heard a few thousand times, good music, regardless of when it was made, is timeless.
" The world is for the living and those yet to be born." Better toss the Picassos, Michelangelos and Van Goghs. No more Shakespeare plays. No more listening to Kurt Cobain or the Beatles.
Can I still listen to Dionne Warwick sing Burt Bacharach? They're still alive, but Hal David is dead. This could get tricky...
Well, one reason the music is in the toilet is that not only are almost all of the reissues of the classic rock and pop overly compressed by the audio engineers but even the new stuff like the last several albums from Dylan, the Stones and Zeppelin are overly compressed as well. I'm not talking one or two dB, I'm talking 3 to 6 dB of compression. Hel-looo! If you don't believe me just go take a look at the data over on the Official Dynamic Range Data Base.
No need or reason to toss anything, but you do need to recognize an important fact. The dead are dead and all they ever accomplished is done. Their limits have been reached. Whereas for the living and their progeny the potential is unlimited. Few minds have ever gone as far as Isaac Newton, but Albert Einstein went beyond Newton and there is the potential that someday, someone will go beyond Einstein. It's called progress and we just don't know what will happen next.

BTW, I was listening to Dionne Warwick (Live And Otherwise) yesterday. Her singing was tricky as were the arrangements, but the listening was easy.
There is an Offical Dynamic Range Database? Wonders never cease!
Throw the whole shebang in the toilet; Marconi and Tesla are dead
Flush now!!
There are great bands playing every day. Some of my new finds include Erin Smith (big voice recorded in same studio as Arcade Fire in Canada), Vice Versa (Santana meets Ramones), Colin Lake (smoking lap steel) and Dirty Water (vintage Sub Pop). Stay out in the clubs and you will be rewarded.
Bongofury, I agree with you: "There are great bands playing every day." To find them ... step away from the hi-fi! Get out of the house! Seek out the familiar and unfamiliar. There is a lot of great music out there.
Video killed the radio star. It's been dumbed down ever since. Formula driven crap. No innovation. All show, no go. Myopic, profit driven a**holes in charge with the taste of the Philistines.
Great points everyone.

All the best,
Personally, I have a hard time believing that the reason that the business of selling recorded music is in the toilet (and it is for sure) has anything to do with the quality of the music, itself. The newspaper business is in the toilet, too (for similar reasons, IMO). I doubt that it has much to do with the quality of news. The photo-finishing business barely exists anymore and one of America's greatest brands (Kodak) was wiped out along with it. I doubt it has much to do with the quality of today's photographs.

Technology (digital data distribution) has just made it much tougher to squeeze margins out of delivering CDs or physical newspapers or physical photographs. In all cases, once the content was made available on-line, it was effectively impossible to charge people profit generating prices. The legacy fixed costs of the infrastructure in those industries (printing presses, stamping plants, photo labs, etc) was a boat anchor for those companies that suddenly found themselves primarily in the business of selling data files.

For newspapers, ad revenue was always critical so an on-line ad revenue driven model was a natural migration. And the industry still got killed when they made the move. When recorded music - with its history of physical product distribution at high prices and no supporting ad revenue - made the same transition the results were even more devastating. When photo-finishers tried it, they disappeared.

In the music business, the money is now in live performance. If an artist can draw enough people, they'll make money. If not, most are SOL.

In my view, the good news is that we can all enjoy recorded music, the news, or photo images at much lower prices than before. I'll be the first to admit that it's tough for guys in the business tho.
I think the record industry people just don't want to do their job for $40,000/year like the common man. Unless there is money to burn, no one is interested.
The fact that the article depends on the views of a 'venture capitalist' tells you much.
The people that drove the industry were music people (or if you prefer, "record men"). Think about those who helped define the beginning of modern pop away from the pablum to the more interesting stuff- people like Chris Blackwell, who signed interesting artists (from Stevie Winwood in Spencer Davis, to Crimson, to Bob Marley, Free, Nick Drake, etc); the folks at Warner Bros in the late '60s-through the '70s. If you go back earlier, somebody like Leonard Chess or Sam Philips.
The industry got corporatized. Between rotation cycles on commercial radio and MTV, more exposure for fewer artists.
Bean counting ruled- easier to shove big money at a legacy act than to go sign new talent (and how many bean counters and corporate masters would know, or even care, if something new or interesting bit them in the ass?)
Part of this was simply reducing risk and increasing profit.
Then, all hell broke loose when the combination of MPEG compression and the Web enabled 'free sharing' of single tracks.
There are still people that are committed to music in the industry- but the days of the mega-advance and big number sales (10X platinum) are gone, at least for now. So, the cycle starts again, from the ground up, with newer generations of artists, producers and business models and delivery platforms.
WHo cares? There is more music to listen to than ever. Good and bad. Who's making the money does not really matter to a consumer. A producer, yes. Its definitely spread around more these days which is not a bad thing, until the big fish finally gobble up the smaller ones again and the result is more homogenized product. Hopefully for every fish gobbled up, 10 more new ones will come on the scene.
Look at what the entertainment establishment did to Elvis with all those bad but money making movies.

Best advice I can say is stay away from fast food and the musical equivalents. They may both be bad for your health.
The figures relating to the income performers receive assumes they actually receive it, which is rarely the case. When the Dixie Chicks had the number one album in the world, they received ZERO dollars in royalties from Sony until they sued Sony. Record companies do not pay performers unless and until they are forced to do so.

Do you have any idea how little professional musician's make? They live a life of poverty, believe me. In the early 70's, Paul McCartney's drummer was making $150 a week. I knew the guys in Dwight Twilley's late 70's band when they were living in L.A., and they were on retainer to Dwight's label, again at $150 a week. That magic $150 amount is what lots of rock clubs in L.A. pay the entire band for a night's work, to be split 3/4/5 ways. Could you live on that?

It used to be that touring ended up costing a band money, the cost to tour being greater than the money it generated. It was put in the "promotion" column by the accounting department of the record company, the touring money put up by the record company against any future royalties due the band. That's right, the advertising/promotional costs of a record is paid for by the band. It doesn't really matter, because they are never going to see a royalty check anyway, even if the record is a hit.

I did some recording at Emitt Rhode's studio in Hawthorne, and heard his tale of woes. His first album was a Top 30 record (it garnered better reviews than McCartney's first, and is a great album), and his music has been used occasionally in movies. He had never received a royalty check---not one---until a fan of his who happens to be a lawyer sued on his behalf after his song "Lullaby" was used in the movie The Royal Tebenbaums. As that was being done, Emitt had moved into his studio, needing to rent his house to be able to keep it and his studio out back. I have known lots of talented songwriters, singers, and musicians who never turned pro because they didn't want to live in severe poverty. It's a heartbreaking choice/decision to have to make, turning down a tour because it doesn't pay enough to even cover your rent while you're on the road.