I previously wrote a post concerning music, but in that post I gave you my top 5/10 favorite artists of different genres. Today, I will talk about music, but the way I feel the industry was 20 years ago and how I feel it is today. I would also like you to keep this in mind as you prepare yourself to read today’s post, this is MY opinion. I feel the need to stress that, because a lot of readers take what they see or read in a Blog literally. It’s not that way, this MY opinion and MY opinion ALONE.
Today’s music industry compared to 20 years ago is on two different spectrums. In 1993, I know for some of you that’s old, but this is how I feel the music industry worked. You start local, get a buzz going for yourself. You enter some talents shows to display your skills whether it be rapping or singing. Your buzz gets a little bigger. Now that you have a following and people know who you are, you start to perform for clubs and what not. Now that you are performing for 20-50 people, your following is getting bigger. Now you have people talking about you, of course when you start to create a buzz, you are going to have those that think you are stealing a style from a certain rapper/singer, whatever the case may be. You finally have enough money to pay for some studio time so you can prepare a demo. You start passing your demo around so that you have a chance to see what type of reaction you get on a locally.
By this point, more that likely you have yourself a DJ. Now that you have a DJ, you now have the chance to get some radio play. Depending on where you live and if that market is saturated with whatever you’re putting out is going to depend on how many spins you get. Your DJ passes your music around through their network of DJ’s to get you more listeners. Now let’s say you are lucky enough to catch the ear of an A&R. An A&R is Artists and repertoire (A&R) and it is the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and/or songwriters. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label or publishing company; every activity involving artists to the point of album release is generally considered under the preview of, and responsibility of the A&R.
Now that you have the attention of a record label, you hire yourself a manager. Depending on how you feel you need to get your career started in the music industry, hiring a manager could be done before the A&R process or after. Your manager and you A&R set up a meeting for you to showcase your talent to a “big wig” of a record label. This is a crucial point, because this will make you are break you. If one record label isn’t looking for what you are providing, you don’t give up. Your manager and the A&R can then introduce or pass you/your demo to other record labels. Whatever your talent is whether it be rapping or singing you continue to look for a record label that is looking for what you are providing.
Your manager, A&R and the record label sit down and negotiate a contract. Once all parties including you, agree to the terms in the contract, you are signed. Now that you are signed, that means that the record label has faith that you do well and sell some units bringing profit and more exposure to that record labael. After preparing a single that you and the record label are comfortable with it gets sent out to a bigger market, popular DJ’s, radio stations, etc. After this is done the record label is going to see the response you get from DJ’s and radio play. If your single is getting a lot of spins now the record company is going to push for an album, which is in your contract. Keep in mind, also in that contract is should also state how many albums you owe to the record label. The album is done. You and the record label are pleased with the content and the songs chosen for your first album. The record label then gets the album mass produced and sent out to major chains, such as Wal-Mart, Target, local music shops and so on. Album sales are through the roof. The record label is making money and you are making a percentage of every album that is sold, but that percentage all depends on the terms of the contract. If you have a good manager, you will be taken care of.
Before we go any further, I want you to keep in mind, that this is how I felt that the industry worked 20 years ago. I know that I missed the part of breaking an artist, when I say breaking an artist, I mean heavy promotion. I also missed touring, but you get the picture.
Now let’s fast forward 20 years. I feel that in today’s music industry, it is all single based and it’s all about how the beat sounds, then the consumer will listen to the lyrical content. Consumers today aren’t looking for an album with lyrical content anymore. As for me, I like to listen to the lyrics of an artist. If the artist has no lyrical content, then why spend my money to buy the album? It’s not worth it. I may go to iTunes and buy a couple of songs from the album because of a catchy hook or nice beat. With the invention of the internet, you can by pass all the steps that you had to go through 20 years ago. You can do everything to create a song in the comfort of your own home. You can also negotiate your own terms of the contract. I feel that it is rare nowadays for an A&R to go out and look for talent. The reason I say that is all they have to do is go on the internet and see the following of any up and coming artist or a lot of artists are bombarding them with music. The A&R doesn’t even have to leave his/her desk.
Its crazy how the music industry has changed, but how I feel right now is the same way someone else felt 20 years ago. Of course the industry will change as technology gets better as it should. I’m just giving you a REGULAR’S point of view. Everybody doesn’t feel that same way about music, which is good, because if they did then we would all still be listening to the music of 20 years ago.