Part of the Music Industry will Die and that’s OK

Part of the music industry is going to die…and I’m okay with that.


Before you grab your pitchforks, hear me out..


There is nothing I love more than working with bands and putting together events for fans. For as long as I can remember, there have been people taking advantage of young, independent artists to make a quick buck. A part of the industry seems to have forgotten that we exist to create and innovate for the true fans of music.


I am ready for the people who don’t care, to fail, and for those that do, to succeed.


With that said..


I’m ready for pay to play promoters/venues to go out of business.


I’m ready for bands with no accountability to stop touring. (aka Trapt)


I’m ready for racist/transphobic/misogynist people to stop getting hired. (aka Lee Runestad)


I’m ready for Ticketmaster to go out of business.
(And all the other businesses who charge exponentially more with little innovation)


I’m ready for StubHub to go out of business.
(basically Ticketmaster with a different hat on)


I’m ready for Standby Records to go out of business. And all the other awful labels. I’ve seen these deals – they aren’t good for anyone.


I’m ready for all these “managers”, “consultants” and washed up A&R types who charge $1000+/month to give musicians basic advice to go out of business. If they “A&R’d a deal with so and so in 2001, you have to wonder why they haven’t done anything in the last 19 years. Youtube is free! Podcasts are free! Please utilize these tools before dishing out money.


I’m ready for awful venues to go out of business. I’m talking about the venues where the fans are uncomfortable attending and bands are uncomfortable playing. The ones where the staff doesn’t care, the owners don’t fix things, and the bands don’t want to come back. I realize this is harsh – but your music scene will be better off without them.


Some of the types I’ve mentioned, will return to business as usual. Just remember, the bands & the fans have the power. You can choose who you work with and how much you’re willing to pay. We can tell the sub-par operators in our scene that we’ve had enough.


We can grow from this very difficult time, and we can be better.


Music Community: It Starts With “We”

When you think about yourself as an artist, start replacing the word “I” with the word “we”. 

I will write songs, I will play a show and I will have a crowd come to see me.”

We will write songs, we will play a show and we will have a crowd to come to see us.”

This way of thinking changes everything.

It keeps you mindful of the musicians in your band, but also the other musicians around you. You have all worked hard to be where you are at. Learn from each other and respect each other. Collective thinking is not a new idea, it is just a forgotten one. In tough times, people begin to watch out for themselves. It’s human nature; human nature of simpler times.

Society began to advance when groups of people started trading and sharing resources. The transfer of information brought a number of societies great wealth because they could be more efficient. Now, think of your band as a society.  Bring your band into the modern times, begin to share resources and develop information together.

We have a lot to offer each other because we do not all have the same talent or skill. One band may be really great at writing music and the other, great at marketing that music. Help each other grow.

3 Ways Collective Thinking Benefits You

  1. The best for you, is the best for your music scene. If you have a small, or struggling music scene, I hope you are going out to shows and supporting other bands. Your mentality and behavior effects those around you. Surely everyone would love to have a thriving music scene.
  2. You strengthen relationships and develop trust. You may not know the bands playing with you, or you may not know them well. Time to change that. You can learn from each other and build a friendship that leads you to play 10 more shows together. Ask them who their musical influences are. My favorite question to ask is, “How did you get involved in music?”.
  3. Community brings people together. If the bands and the fans feel like they are in a welcoming and friendly place, shows are BIGGER and BETTER. Don’t focus on the numbers, the numbers will come. When fans experience a show that makes them feel great, they will tell their friends. When bands play a show that makes them feel great, they will tell their friends. Get excited and remember exactly why you do what you do. Fall in love with the music community you are a part of. If it’s already great, go out and make it even better.


CHALLENGE: Think of your plans for the next six months as an artist, replace the word “I” with the word “we” and think of how you can involve other musicians or bands in your plans. (Ex. Writing new music? Ask another musician for feedback. Planning a show? Ask new bands to play that show with you and get to know them better.)



Music Streaming: The Pain of Change

Music streaming, like many new industries, has faced many challenges.

Let us not forget, the American public had doubts about switching from radio to television. According to a history of television written by The Guardian, “The images were extremely poor quality, the equipment was dauntingly expensive and reception vanishingly limited. In short, it didn’t look like the future.”  

As the revenue of digital downloads continues to decrease, the number of users continues to increase for streaming services like Spotify (a clear front runner in streaming services). At 75 million active users, with only 20 million paid, people are still clearly adopting the new technology.

spotify user graph

Graphic from:

Another positive trend we are seeing, is the amount of royalty payouts increase for Spotify. Some would say, “not fast enough”. The glass-half-full approach might be “it’s a good start”.


Graphic from:

Spotify claims to pay out about 70% of revenue to rights holders. This is a similar model to iTunes (ex. $0.99 song, artist gets $0.70). Though the numbers seem similar, we’re talking about two different business models. There needs to be a discussion about how different these industries are, and how “fair payment” should be defined.

It is evident that the music streaming industry is experiencing growing pains.

Apple Music has fallen short out of the gate, and we can only hope they redo their user interface and open up potential for on demand-streaming without access to Wifi.

Meanwhile, Pandora continues taking metaphorical punches for attempting to reduce their financial burden. Surely Pharrell wasn’t singing when he saw his check for less than $3,000 for over 43 million plays on Pandora.  If paying artists royalties becomes a burden for a company running itself as a radio station, they may need to re-evaluate their business model.

In 2013,  wrote on Pandora’s blog, “Each spin on Pandora reaches a single person, compared to a “play” on FM radio that reaches potentially millions of people. In other words, a million spins on Pandora might be equivalent to a single play on a large FM station.”

Perhaps this offers some insight into the source of the growing pains of the industry. Technology changes how we live, but also how we define things. Without going into details about “per play” payouts, mechanical royalties, and performance royalties, the bottom line is this:

The industry needs to communicate and work together to seek innovation alongside this new technology because streaming has potential.

A positive focus for now. Increased music streaming has led to lower piracy, can contribute to higher ticket sales for touring artists, and has helped artists to build an audience. Artists who embrace music streaming will be the first to thrive using it.

By David Kleinebreil

Featured photo by Antonis Spiridakis

“There’s No Money In Music”

The world’s biggest lie. 

If you have decided to pursue being a professional musician, or work in the industry at all, you have likely heard this more times than you can count.

According to Live Nation Entertainment’s income statement, their revenue in 2014 was over $6.8 billion. More recently, Forbes reports that One Direction made $130 million in 2015. Sure the label and management take a cut, but that is proof of cold hard cash.

What about recording revenue declining every year?  

The money hasn’t disappeared; it is finding itself in a different place. For example, vinyl is on its way toward being a billion dollar industry. Touring seems to be another place where the money has moved. Live entertainment will never cease to exist, and fortunately for us, it will never cease to bring in money.

What about the bands claiming to lose money on tour?  

If you have read this article, you see that a band made $135,983, only to spend $147,802 and result in a net loss of $11,819.

The key here is that they generated $135k doing something your parents told you wasn’t possible. For every budget there need to be constraints, and if you can’t afford to lose money, don’t spend it. The glam of rock and roll and spending $50,000 on a music video is a thing of the past.

A good example of a more reigned in budget was the response to the previously mentioned article, where each band member could take home about $5,000 after a month long tour. [click here to see if I’m lying]

The purpose of this article is not to denounce your every doubt, but if you are still not convinced, go to Google and type in “music industry revenue” or something of a similar fashion. Numbers don’t lie. The trick to making money in this business is getting creative.

Explore multiple revenue streams, keep your budget efficient and effective, treat your band like a business and never forget those people who told you “there’s no money in music”. Don’t wave the first dollar you make in their face, it’s much more entertaining for them to just see you on TV one day.


Live Nation Income Statement:
Forbes – One Direction earnings –
Photo by Desi Mendoza