Sell a million albums, lose $500k

Published: July 11, 2011

Regular readers (assuming there are any of you left by this point, HAR HAR HAR) will be aware that I’m pretty cynical about the recording industry, and regularly suggest that chasing after “getting signed” is the most stupid thing any band could ever do, especially nowadays. But don’t take it from me; here’s a video by music industry lawyerMartin Frascogna with the self-explanatory title “How To Sell 1 Million Albums And Still Owe $500,000″. [Found via TechDirt, which is a great source if you're at all interested in IP law, copyright, filesharing and new business models for artists in the networked era.]

Interestingly enough, this is pretty much a modernisation of the deservedly notorious Steve Albini essay, “The Problem With Music”, which is close to two decades old by this point, but contains pretty much the same set of warnings. Perhaps if the internet had been as ubiquitous then as it is now, it might have been more widely read and acted upon… but then again, the human mind’s capacity for refusing to believe anything that might shatter an aspirational dream never ceases to amaze me. I think the days of record labels wearing the trousers in the music business are pretty much over, but I’ll not be surprised to see a new strata of businesses based on the exploitation of muso naivete.

It’s a fine thing to be a dreamer, folks – hell, that’s pretty much a condition of entry to musicianhood. But just remember that anyone who says they can sell you your dreams is to be treated with extreme caution.

Snakes have their uses, but they have to be held at arm’s length.

Indie / Progressive / Jazz
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