For the last few days I’ve been going back and forth in the comments section of my favorite music industry blog, Hypebot with a gentleman by the name of Jason who owns the little known label called Viper Bite Records. The post we were so passionately discussing was primarily about metrics but also rasied the question of whether or not the full length album was still a relvant business model. The conversation struck a nerve among readers and became so intense that I’ve decided to expand on these topics in a post of my own. Here is an except from the original blog written by Alex Mann of Trendrr called, “With Mixtapes & Social Media, Is The Album So Far Gone?”.
“Drake has developed a budding musical career without the release of a full-length album and initially without the backing of a major label. He has already affiliated himself with hip-hop’s most popular stars and is making money from concerts and brand endorsements. This brings us to a final question worth considering: Can artists still afford to rely on the success of an album, or has Drake defined a unique marketing model for emerging musicians?”
Although Drake’s story may not be the barometer that every musicians should follow, it still offers a broader implication for today’s overall talent pool. Can a recording artist sustain themselves by selling full length albums alone? The answer in my opinion is a resounding no. Here’s why:
- Listeners attention span is shorter than ever. Most of us won’t even read this blog post all the way through let alone listen to a full length album by an unknown artist
- Musicians are not as good as they used to be. Technology has created a laptop version of our more talented predicesors which is evident in the quality of the music being released
- Physical albums have lost their value. CD’s are no longer worth the $14 piece of plastic that they are printed on (and are also not very environmentally friendly)
- Playlists and mixtapes have replaced the full length album. If you’ve ever borrowed an iPod worth of full length albums you know what I’m talking about. Even Genius isn’t smart enough to handle that boring task.
- Music sales in general are way down. See chart below:
In an attempt to curb some of these strikes against recording artists today, I suggest that we lower our overhead, adjust our expectations, accelerate our learning and diversify our product offering. All of which should be outlined in a good old fashion business plan. I speak more in depth about this in a recent post on Creative Deconstruction. Jason on the other hand feels that the love of the music is enough to sustain him.
Let’s see how long that lasts. Musicians by nature are emotionally attached to their artistry. Businesses on the other hand are devoid from emotion. In order to sustain yourself in the music business I argue that artists must find a happy medium. This of course is easier said then done…but that’s just the way it is.
(via @Bruce Hornsby) Read the original post here.
Kevin English is a product manager, business plan writer and consultant for various entertainment and technology companies. He blogs about the skills and strategies necessary to get the most of your musical career at http://eleetmusic.com or on Twitter @eleetmusic.