And beyond that horizon? LP:
It's an exciting time for me. After almost three decades in NYC, I am considering a move to Catalonia, Spain, sometime toward the end of 2019 or in early 2020. There is something truly magical about that part of the world, and I miss the Mediterranean flavor in my life.
Of course, since my life is characterized by an improvisational, nomadic spirit, something else could happen and wind up carrying me elsewhere. But I'm really feeling the impetus to pick up and move. My time living here in New York is drawing to a close, I believe. But due to my dynamic lifestyle, I will be often back in the Big Apple or in Indonesia, where I am developing a new business with a few international partners. Of course, as in all improvisations, something unpredictable can happen and lead me somewhere else.
To that end, it seems inevitable that I will have to sort of "downsize" MoonJune Records, and reduce the number of releases. It's not easy to be a one-man army booking dozens of artists around the world while running an indie record label in today's hostile music business environment. Other, real
labels have three, four, five, or six people (or more) working for them. I have no such luxuries. I have no one but myself.
Currently, I am not in a position to take on any new artists on the label. I hope to dedicate more time, as much is humanly possible, to help wonderful musicians and good friends such as Dwiki Dharmawan
, Mark Wingfield
, Dusan Jevtovic
, Dewa Budjana
, Vasil Hadzimanov
, Boris Savoldelli
, Asaf Sirkis
, Markus Reuter
, Yaron Stavi
and a few others. AAJ:
Your comments on Cuneiform Records' recent announcement to take a sabbatical in 2018 to reconsider its business model? LP:
Steve Feigenbaum has been a very good friend for more than a decade. He is a remarkably passionate and brutally honest straightforward person, and a legendary figure. His label Cuneiform is truly one of the world's greatest. Steve's situation is very different. He's a real labelwhich is not to say that I'm an "unreal label"but Cuneiform is employing people and embracing overhead and operational costs exponentially larger than mine. I cannot afford even the expense to pay myself!
Unfortunately, I believe that several other iconic labels will follow Steve's lead. I've heard that once Manfred Eicher decides to finally retire, ECM will stop releasing records as well. The end of an era? The world has changed and I am still trying to figure it all out. AAJ:
What are some of the reasons why records are not selling anymore? LP:
I don't think that streaming and Spotify is the only reason. I am not here to whine or tell stories about the unscrupulous business conduct of Spotify. Big business has always taken advantage of artists for their own gain. Nothing new. It's a business, we live in capitalism, and it's not gonna change. Many claim that Spotify and other streaming companies are not paying a fair share to artists and indie labels; so then I ask myself, what is "fair share"? To receive $169.10 instead of $16.91 for 16,000 streams of a song?
I have only one issue with Spotify. Consumers should listen the music only once for free. Their second time, they should be given the option to purchase a digital or physical copy of the album, or just a digital download of an individual tune. Streaming IS one of the reasons, but it's not the main reason. Consumers can find more music, support more bands, and create more diversity in music. I think the reason that music doesn't sell much anymore is because we live in a different kind of society today. There is oversaturation of the market. There are too many products available for the decreasing amount of consumers. One reason that I don't sell so many records is because I'm competing with thousands and thousands of other albums that are being released at the same time, and the average consumer has only so much money to buy albums. You cannot buy everything that comes out. Apparently, there are hundreds and hundreds of record labels just in the US now, releasing an immense quantity of albums every year, plus numerous artists are "self-releasing" albums on their own. The market is overrun, demand sinks lower and lower, with more and more new albums still being released.
We live in a big world, more than seven billion people. If you are an American jazz lover, for example, you might also be interested in jazz or progressive artists not only from major jazz countries such as UK, France, Germany, Brazil or Italy, but also from Indonesia, Serbia, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Egypt, Finland, Mongolia, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Turkey, Camerun, Bangladesh, and other countries. Then you can oversaturate yourself acquiring more music from different parts of the world, adding to the music you are already consuming. Besides new releases, there are old releases, re-issues, used CDs, used vinyl, even used cassettes and eight-track tapes!
Let's not overlook the "Steven Wilson
phenomenon": Remasters of the remastered remasters to be remastered and over-remastered; then even more remastered versions with so many bonus tracks, bonus discs, bonus whatever; then box sets, special editions, special packages, ultra-limited editions... People are buying for the eleventh or twenty-fourth or thirty-seventh time albums they've already heard so many times in so many different formats.
Then you have traditional old school fans who are still stuck with their 60's and 70's nostalgia, and who categorically believe, and wrongly, that there is no great music today, which is absolutely untrue. There is much more amazing music today than ever in the history of human kind, but no one knows it existsindependent masses confined to the extreme niche of obscurity!
How much money and how much time does a consumer actually need to buy even one album, let alone listen to everything available? How do consumers discover new artists? I know a music fan, a gentleman in his early sixties, who has collected music for almost five decades. His collection is gigantic, and he appreciates my label but has maybe only a few MoonJune albums. He said to me that he has reached a saturation point with "new music," and that he will not live long enough to catch up with everything that's aroundhe simply has no time. He has the desire but no time. He doesn't consume new music, or very very rarely. He enjoys living in the past and there is nothing wrong with that. But he is not into new music at all.