Is it an issue of format, or of content, or of issues outside of music such as economics? LP:
People have gotten used to spending less and less for music. Those who do spend are clearly a minority, and they cannot buy everything and they don't have time to listen to everything. The reality is that the music industry today simply doesn't exist as it existed before. There are no clear-cut tools to promote the music: no magazines, no radio, no way to tell the world that you and your product exist outside of social media and the internet. Magazines and radio, both, are experiencing the same industry contractions that are decimating the recorded music industry.
The ramifications of this are that an overwhelming majority of musicians just cannot live anymore strictly from music; they have to do other things. Musicians from other genres may gravitate toward more commercially popular forms of music, hoping for some measure of success, but this would more than likely only happen for a few lucky souls.
Touring is also increasingly in "slow-down" mode; expenses are more costly than ever, while venues and promoters offer smaller guarantees and lower payouts. But who can blame them? In most cases, they also have to scrape to carve out a living, pay their rent and bills, try to survive. Throw in the "streaming fandango" and here we are. A rather bleak view of both the present and the future.
Maybe music should be free? Maybe musicians and independent labels are not supposed to make any money. Maybe that's the solution: Free music for everyone! Actually, I would like to release an album and offer it for free, just to see what happens. What else I can do when I'm selling a few hundred copies of an unknown artist from Bandung, Indonesia? AAJ:
Spotify and similar streaming services are not the prime suspects? LP:
I am not a huge opponent of Spotify and other digital streaming services, but I know that many people are. I actually like the idea. In the wake of the "digital revolution," I think it's one of the greatest innovations to emerge. Maybe the way it is done does not properly distribute income to artists, but in theory that is a very difficult thing to implement, honestly. It's a tough question, and a difficult dilemma to decipher, but I don't believe that streaming services are necessarily the only ones to blame for our present crisis. You have to hear music somehow, and let me ask you one thing: Where can you hear new music, if not online? In the extinct record shops? In the supermarkets or shopping malls? On TV or radio? What's radio today? Even truck drivers don't listen radio anymore. They play music from their iPods and phones. People listen to talk shows on radio, religious and political demagogues, but radio is not for listening to music anymore. In much the same way that Rolling Stone
really isn't about music, anymore.
Things are changing. I just see it as a change in history. We live in a different era. Who's to say that music has to be the most important thing in your life? Who says that? For our generation, music was important; for me, most certainly. But maybe music is not supposed to be the most important thing; perhaps that mentality was from a golden generation, between the '60's and '70's, and it just continued over for a few decades. Maybe, in its present form, the music industry has somehow passed its "expiration date."
Today, music just doesn't matter to so many people. Its messages and its impacts just are not what they used to be. Life continues to change, and at a faster pace than ever before. A little over one hundred years ago, people used to ride horses or walk from one place to another. Now, everyone drives motorized vehicles and travels great distances in short time spans via airplanes.
When I was a teenager or in my early twenties, I used to watch every episode of shows that I enjoyed. I listened to radio. I bought thousands of albums. But as you hit your forties or fifties or sixties, you steadily buy less albums and you go to see less shows. The audience for this particular type of music is aging. There are very few young people to support the industry; most young people are into something else.
We are aging, and the habits of consumers are changing. There are many elements involved in why things are not well anymore. It's very difficult to blame any one thing. Of course, I am the first victim of such things. But should I be blaming Spotify or streaming services? No. That is simply how it is, for me. My music is for a very limited set of people, an aging generation, and young people are into something else. My son is nineteen years old. He's not into what I am doing. He has other interests. I cannot blame him. I grew up with my maternal grandparents, and my grandfather thought that The Beatles
and Rolling Stones
were negative elements in society. We live in a new world order. We might complain and suffer but new generations are into something else. Are they wrong? I do not know.