Grizzly Bear

Nobody in music is making much money these days. We know that. Everybody knows that. Nobody buys music, and the very idea that we shouldn’t download the stuff for free is sort of a generational non-starter. But you’d think that Grizzly Bear, one of the biggest bands in indie-dom, would be doing fine for themselves. Their music shows up in commercials, they reliably sell in the hundreds of thousands, they play big venues like Radio City. But as it turns out, that may not be the case.

In a fully absorbing new story in New York magazine, Nitsuh Abebe, a great writer and a friend of mine, follows the Grizz during their pre-release rounds, taping a music video in upstate New York and playing at Radio City. And though there’s plenty of stuff about the band’s history, its internal dynamics, and the new album Shields, the real takeaway is that even a big indie band like Grizzly Bear can’t count on steady paychecks, and they don’t sound too happy about it.

Here’s Ed Droste: “People probably have an inflated idea of what we make,” says Droste. “Bands appear so much bigger than they really are now, because no one’s buying records. But they’ll go to giant shows… Obviously we’re surviving. Some of us have health insurance, some of us don’t, we basically all live in the same places, no one’s renting private jets. Come to your own conclusions.”

And here’s Chris Bear: “There’s people that know they make X dollars a year, and that’s not going to change. Or if anything, they’ll get a raise. That seems like a pretty reasonable setup, compared to maybe having one really good year, and then who knows what the future is.”

Members of the band also point out that, even though they make their money touring, various different expenses take big chunks out of that, and that ad licensing doesn’t pay as much as you might expect. The most poignant part might come when Droste talks about how people won’t drop $9 on a digital copy of an album, even though that amount is just “a fucking appetizer, a large popcorn at the movie theater, and you’ll have it forever, and they took two years to make it.”

Droste again: “I’d like to someday own a house, and be able to have children, and be able to put them through school, in an urban environment that one enjoys living in. A lot of people do it. And doing it through music is harder than doing it as a lawyer.”

Abebe goes in deep on indie rock economics in the piece, also talking to people like Travis Morrison, Frankie Rose, and Franz Nicolay. And though your reaction to the band’s money comments may vary, the whole piece is certainly worth a read; it’s here.

Comments (181)
  1. #pay4grizzlybear

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    • “Edward is a second cousin on his father’s side to Ed Droste”

      It is totally unreasonable to assume that he receives financial support from extended family, let alone want to be dependent on them.

      Quit being a jerk.

    • If your baseless claim was true, and he had the ability to do that, don’t you think he’d do that? You are so off point. Go read the article. Great article Nitsuh by the way. Definitely makes me rethink my spotify account.

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        • Sure seems like fun especially if he has to deal with people like you. ps. since when is answering questions honestly complaining?

        • also, maybe people don’t want to rely on their families and be independent.

        • You don’t seem to have much of a clue, or are just being purposely stubborn. As many people have pointed out, there’s no guarantee that he even knows a family member that far out on the tree. Certainly no reason to assume they’re close. Regardless, look up gift taxes and trust fund taxes and educate yourself as to why the rich keep their money (even from their own children!). Lastly, the black sheep musician in the family is rarely the one that everybody is supporting. That bonus goes to the “good kids” who stay deep within the “family business” where they can be grossly overpaid under the benefit of big business tax shelters.

        • so when did Edward dump you butt?

          Stereogum, sounds like this person has a vendetta…do you think this is fair? If everyone I ever rubbed the wrong way could comment on me publicly in order to humiliate me and do my professional life harm I would be as unemployed as these lawyers people keep on talking about (and worse). Calling Randy Cohen, this sounds like a case for the Ethicist.

      • You don’t have to rethink your Spotify account – You’ll find the albums you really love there and then you buy them later to support your artist! That’s why Foxygen will get some money later on

    • so he should shut up because he has family that has a decent amount of money? and not try to earn his own way doing what he is good at? youre an idiot. It’s extremely admirable that he makes his own money. and you’d prefer him to function more like that asshat in LMFAO whos uncle is the founder of Motown Records. That’s ridiculous.

    • this is a disgusting comment, an unnecessary personal attack that completely misses the point — clearly you are too busy being a petty enraged asshole to actually read the article and consider its meaning.

    • Hidden due to low content validity. Click here to shut up, dude.

    • yeah, but…

  3. Getting into the debate on whether art should be for sale at all is a whole different subject, but it’s a shame a quality band like Grizzly Bear barely get by, but lesser quality acts make millions. The music business is changing, I think it’s coming to a point where it would get silly to charge for a digital or hard copy album, the only legitimate business would still be in a live performance.

    • As you stated, touring seems to be the best way for any musician or group that is not in the main spotlight (One Direction, Beiber, etc). Sure, selling your music to commercials does help significantly, but obviously not enough to make you wealthy.

      Rolling Stone had an amazing interview with the members of The Black Keys regarding this issue and they brought up a great point: When they were struggling to make ends meet, they had no issues selling their songs to commercials, and even television shows. However as they began to gain more recognition, they spent their time concentrating on touring more, putting out records more frequently (“Riding the 15 minutes”), and started refusing spots on commercials.

      With all of that in mind, I have to wonder if time between records and amount of touring does have a strong effect on their current situation. Don’t get me wrong, great art takes a long time, and I have been pleased with everything they have made since Yellow House, however that album came out 6 years ago, and they only have 2 other albums in between. Sure, The Black Keys have only released 4 albums during that time, but they began releasing more albums, and touring more frequently as they started gaining more mainstream recognition. If Grizzly Bear were to release more albums and start touring more, I believe it would help their financial difficulties tremendously. Understandably that is a lot to ask, but it is sadly part of the game now.

      • Justin Bieber has made MILLIONS of dollars off of the work he does that has nothing to do with his music. The way artists make money now has changed across the board. It doesn’t matter what size artist you are.

      • but do you really want people to force out music based on a schedule? I know it may seem lucrative a la ‘black keys” but remember they are on a major label and basically write the same song over and over again. I wouldn’t want albums every year if they were retreads or forced. I know it may be ‘financially more feasible’ but it kinda sucks for the listener to have shit on schedule

      • And let’s face it, it’s not like Grizzly Bear are touring monsters. I live in a US city with a million-plus population, and GB have played here one time in the Yellow House/Vecketimest/Shields cycle. I understand the problem and sympathize with the musicians, but they’re not doing themselves any favors when I see those 12 stop tour itineraries.

        • Are you serious? Check your facts man. Grizzly Bear toured Shields for pretty much a year and a half globally, including 9 dates in the UK (they played flipping Coventry man), Oz and Nz, Tai-fucking-wan, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, and a bunch of dates around Europe.

          If they didn’t play your shitty little town it’s because your town is probably shit and little.

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    • Well, if they’re unemployed, then they’re not lawyers… so they’re not “doing it as a lawyer.” I think he’s saying that earning a living as a working musician is harder than earning a living as a working lawyer. Which is true.

    • I see zero complaints in the article and nobody seems to be casting judgement on your unemployed lawyer friends (best of luck to them)—The economy is hard, this is taking a look at one artistic field, using a band as an example. Interviewing them and you interpret the facts as ‘complaining’

    • Then they’re not working as lawyers; they’re unemployed.

      • No, they’re unemployed lawyers. You become a lawyer when you pass the bar. Just like a dr becomes a dr when he/she passes their boards. Just like when a CPA passes the CPA exam. You have the title irrespective of your employment status.

        • They’re not “working as” lawyers. You can be qualified in any profession and be unemployed, but that has no baring on the fact working lawyers earn more than the vast majority of artists.

          • i don’t think you’re following me. it is just as hard for an unemployed lawyer to make it in New York (assuming that the “urban environment” Droste is talking about is NYC) as it is for an artist (whatever that means). controlling for only successful attorneys in NYC and saying that it is easier for successful member of that profession to make it in NYC isn’t a very useful statement. it’s the same as an unemployed attorney looking at all the members of the Dakota Co-op (who’ve traditionally been artists) and saying “it’s a lot harder to make it in this city as an attorney than it is as an artist.” when the real issue is that it is hard in general to make a comfortable living in NYC for a member of any profession.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this Tom. It’s fascinating and a little worrisome. While we all would like to think these musicians who make music that touches our lives all do so 100% for love for the art, I fear that we’re nearing a critical breaking point where the inability to make a living is going to seriously deter a lot of great talent from pursuing their dreams.

    I think anyone whose goal in life is to become an artist sort of accepts the social contract that says “I will be pretty damn poor until I make it.” But shit, what if even when you “make it” you are unable to obtain the same quality of living as your buddy from undergrad who teaches English at a local high school (for starters, ALL teachers have HEALTH CARE). Chris Bear isn’t lamenting that fact he doesn’t make as much as bankers from Goldman Sachs, he’s talking about members of a band who have a song in a goddamn VW commerical and sold out Radio City not having health insurance. And once you throw children and a spouse into the mix, that becomes even MORE problematic (it’s one thing to eat Raman Noodles yourself, it’s another when you have to feed them to your son).

    Perhaps some of this is hyperbole and sensationalism. Nevertheless, I worry. Despite the stereotypes, creative musicians tend to be very bright people, and if they can’t even make a solid living when they are objectively successful, at some point in the future, there will be a significant talent drain.

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  8. Spare me entitled comments from people with no skin in the game.

  9. Stop stealing music, people.

    • Stealing is part of it, but to be honest, even if you triple Grizzly Bear’s sale of Veckamist (33k albums sold in the 1st week) it is still only 1/6 of Mumford and Son’s newest album’s first week sale (600k). Before I get massively down voted, I am not saying this has anything to do with quality of music, but rather how well known these bands truly are. You have to remember, bands like Arcade Fire, who sell out arenas, still confused many when they won a Grammy.

      Sure Veckamist leaked, (and that is why I tripled their first week sales), but even then there are limitations on how well a band can do without any radio play, televisions spots, and not playing any big festivals. I think it is tragic that a band a great as Grizzly Bear cannot get more recognition on their skills alone, however I think album sales are only one small part of being financially successful as a musician.

  10. Boght the CD and vinyl of shields, not to mention cd copies of their past releases. I’m doing my part, dammit.

  11. This article and the one in New York magazine chose to cover this. You guys can’t really get mad at Grizzly Bear for answering questions. What answer would have appeased you? “Gee willickers, we don’t make much, Mr. Journalist, but we’re trying our darndest! Shout out to all the beautiful people who are stealing our music! You are the best!”

  12. Clearly people are falling right into exactly the quote Franz Nicolay said in the article (which I’m wagering most of you skimmed or didn’t even fully read)—-Discussion of state of music industry, candor and quite honestly a humble and flattering piece, deemed as “whining” and met with ‘Oh boo hoo” to directly quote Nicolay.

    “Part of why the indie-rock world bristles at calculation is that calculating your music’s effect can seem suspiciously like pandering your way toward success. And, perhaps, money. And in these parts (read: indie rock fans/stereogum readers), at least, audiences can react badly to musicians who acknowledge a relationship with money—whether wanting more of it, complaining about not having enough of it, or really doing anything other than being immensely grateful that people appreciate the work.” (from the article)

    Here are people bristling at the hard facts, knee-jerk reactions. This is more a piece about what most bands you love that Stereogum writes about are facing than them. Nobody in the article is complaining. It seems the article wanted to take an in depth look into the financials of it and used this band as an example.

  13. Little bummed but not surprised with Stereogum for pulling out the quotes and presenting them in such a way that makes them sound like they are complaining more than they really are.

    • In Mr. Breihan’s defense, that doesn’t seem to be his intention. He’s defending Grizzly Bear and talking up the original article. I do see what you’re saying though.

  14. No offense to Stereogum, but I think you did a poor job extracting from Nitsuh Abebe’s article. Grizzly Bear is one of my favourite bands, possibly my favourite band, and to get the impression that they aren’t appreciative or grateful for the success they’ve achieved was pretty disappointing to read. However, I didn’t get that impression at all when I actually read the original article. Nitsuh asked the band about their financial situation, and they were honest. They also made comments acknowledging that making music is not a dependable way to make a living, but they love making music and they love the music they make.

    To all the grizz h8rz, just read the article first, please.

  15. People should be required to read the article in full before commenting on here.

  16. This is what I’ve been saying.

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    • what’s your passionless career?

    • That is a big load of bullshit. What about classical musicians who spend years getting an advanced degree in the instrument of their choice? What about painters and sculptors who do the same? What about actors? These people are in it because they love it to be sure, but the entire point is to make a career doing something you’re passionate about.

      You’re part of the problem.

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  19. Y’all coulda focused on the fact that they’re making a video for “A Simple Answer” instead. It’s been a real joy reading everyone’s dissection of the band’s personal lives.

  20. I’ll stay out of the obnoxious discussions and just say thanks for the good read, even if it was on another site. ;)

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  23. maybe Ed’s family cut him off of their money supply. well, you can guess why. you know….because he’s a musician.

  24. I think the main focus here that Stereogum is addressing in the title of the post is that Grizzly Bear *should* be rich. They are a great band who make great music and put on amazing, flawless live shows. So many artists make a ton of money and have no problem flaunting it, so why criticize GB for simply stating some facts about their financial situation? At the end of the day, I’d rather they be rewarded for being a great band than the hundred mediocre bands who are millionaires.

  25. I graduated law school in May of 2010 and passed the bar that fall. I am currently broke, owe $180k, live in my mom’s basement, and just found out I’m being laid off from an internship.

    As a lawyer, I would give both my left and right nuts to be a “not rich” musician.

  26. But I did buy their album why are they getting mad at me

  27. I’d like to contradict the hyperlink to this page: “…grizzly-bear-are-not-rich/news/” Sadly, it’s not news; many of the best groups don’t get a large enough percentage of the money that their music makes.

  28. I can’t even afford fucking appetizers and movie popcorn :(

    (Love you Grizz! Bought all your albums)

    • I’ll start a kickstarter to get raptor jesus some appetizers and movie popcorn. Maybe even some dessert. You’ve earned it, unlike those entitled douches in Grizzly Bear who expect us to pay for their tremendously beautiful music.

      • Biggest donor gets Raptor Jesus’s interpretation of Tim Heidecker trying to play back Deakin’s unreleased Kickstarter compositions, which he thinks he heard once as a child…

        …In sheet music form!

        • I love Tim Heidecker & Deakin!! I can do this!

          Other skills I can perform:

          Single Person Performance Pieces Including:

          –The scene where The Mayor meets Michael Ian Black in Tom Goes To The Mayor “Vehicular Manslaughter”

          –The “24 Is The Highest Number” Mr. Show sketch in its entirety.

          I can also recite lyrics, a capella, to:

          “Int’l Player’s Anthem” — UGK (whole song)
          “Get Em High” — Kanye West (mainly Ye’s verse, most of Talib’s and half of Common’s)

          That’s all I got so far. I have to smuggle Twizzlers into movie theatres because I AM A MONSTER.

        • …and what the hell, i present to you a Deakin Haiku:

          Mirando remix
          Deakin was the remixer
          Go listen to it

          • Oh man, already gettin pumped for this release! Could you do me a favor and change Common’s line in “Get Em High” where he goes:

            “Real rappers is hard to find, like a remote…
            [unnecessarily long pause]
            …. control rappers outta?”

            I’ve always been annoyed at the corniness of that line.

          • Checked out the Mirando remix and thought I’d return your haiku with a quatrain:

            That was pretty cool,
            certainly caused no fuss
            AC always rule
            and this reminds me of when from you i found out about Do You Like Night Bus

          • <3 u both. let's all be poor together

          • let’s all poop together

          • <3 <3 <3 LWD & D-titties <3 <3 <3

            Oh lawd, anytime I see the words "Do You Like Night Bus" I get shivers down my prehistoric spine. Pray with me that we get Night Bus III this year!

            Also, yes, Common's line is corny. Part of the reason I don't have it memorized is because half of his verse I'm just like, "What?" and the rest is just mehhhh. I usually just drink my beer during that part(y trick obvs).

            Well… the "Video hard to watch like Medusa" is pretty memorable.

            That UGK song is my specialty though!

            And I think I memorized EARL last year…. remember most of it.

          • Love all around.

            RJ, about the Medusa line, it’s definitely memorable but that one’s always bothered me too. Because the whole thing is Medusa is extremely hard not to look at, so I’ve always felt he got it backwards haha.

            Either way, doesn’t get much more epic than when the beat drops on Int Player’s Anthem and UGK get’s all “Never fuck without a rubber.”

            I used to have Gimme Some More’s 1st verse pretty good. Now all I really have is Waka’s verse on Twerk.

  29. I don’t see how difficult it is to listen to new music on Spotify or any other music streaming service, see if you like said music, and then actually purchase said music. If you don’t like it, move on to something more deserving of your money.

  30. something something Amanda Palmer

  31. If I’m Grizzly Bear, I’m selling my music to whatever company wants it for a commercial, whatever studio wants it for a film, or anyone else who wants it to help peddle a product. Their job titles are musicians and performers, and they should be getting paid for being both of those things, not just one. If people don’t want to pay for music, a band shouldn’t feel guilty about exploring other avenues of income for said music. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a difference between being compensated for something you created, and selling out. They made Shields exactly the way they wanted to without compromise, therefore, the integrity of the music is intact, and the complainers on the internet can go to hell.

  32. Think of how many bitches you could pull if you were in a band that gets BNMs from Pitchfork. I’d take that over cash any day.

  33. “Droste doesn’t expect a middle-class living, but he wouldn’t mind one. “I’d like to someday own a house, and be able to have children, and be able to put them through school, in an urban environment that one enjoys living in,” says Droste. “A lot of people do it. And doing it through music is harder than doing it as a lawyer.” I ask him if Grizzly Bear, with all its success, offers the beginnings of that. “No,” he says, very quickly. “I’d have to keep doing this forever. But the biggest thing you can’t do is focus on money.” I ask how he’d feel if it turned out that pursuing music had prevented him from accomplishing any of that other stuff—would that be worth it? “Totally,” he says, also very quickly. Even the way I’ve phrased it, as a sort of gamble, doesn’t sit well with him. “It’s not a gamble. You’re doing it because you love it. I’m not placing bets on it, like, ‘I hope this works, because otherwise my unborn child …’ I’m doing it because I really enjoy it.”

    For all those not reading the article it clearly states, they are doing it b/c they love it and don’t focus on the money. Proof is in the pudding. People can speculate about extended families wealth all they want but it’s ultimately irrelevant. The attitude and sentiment expressed here is exactly what I’d want from an artist whose work I admire

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  35. They’re rich where it counts.

  36. As a guy who plays in a band that sold approximately 45,000 copies of their last record – compared to the over 200,000 sold by Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest – and plays in venues less than 1/4 the size Grizzly Bear plays, I can say that Grizzly Bear most definitely ARE rich.

    By rich, I mean to say that they easily make over $100,000 per year. If you don’t think that is rich, especially for playing some rock and roll, you have got your priorities screwed up. My band makes way less money and all of us are full-time touring musicians living in Brooklyn. I think Grizzly Bear needs to rethink their overhead and standard of living.

    • Confusing logic…

      Every band has a different deal with their respective labels and a different overhead. Your personal experience is interesting and could have been included in the article but it doesn’t allow you to assume what another band makes.

    • see, and this is where all our opinions are moot. who knows how much grizzly bear makes? not me!

      however, i do know that as a newly practicing doctor, i have over 350K of student loan debt that grows exponentially during my residency training for the next 3 years. until we can deal with hard numbers that we can compare, debating these issues just causes a lot of pointless animosity.

      • Why is everyone so insistent on believing they don’t make money?? They most definitely ARE. If not, they have a terrible accountant. Or live way beyond their means. Seriously, Davidyu’s points are all spot on. Wilkerton, different labels have different contracts- but I guarantee you theirs is decent. Even if they made only 30% of the sales revenue, they’d still be making so much from touring. Whereswalden, we don’t need to see their balance sheets to know. They’re whining cuz they’re not living in mansions- and to that i say shut up or GTFO.

    • Thanks for clarifying that. I was gonna say, I hope they don’t mean RICH rich. Because you can definitely raise a family off $100K, and I would consider that rich regardless.

      The thing where they have a point, though, is how to turn maybe a decade’s worth of $100K salaries into something to live off of. I’ve thought about this with professional skateboarding too. It seems like the most ideal occupations are among the hardest to make a stable living from.

      • That being said, they are also among the easiest to stage dive and ass knife from.

      • To that I would say, “Why do they have to earn a living off of a decade’s worth of salary?” As a performer, even on the meager level my band has achieved, we are constantly being gifted free items at all the festivals we play and get to travel the world playing rock and roll. I can only image the perks that come with being in a band as popular as Grizzly Bear.

        Bands need to start realizing that it is a privilege to tour and not some pass to fortune. When you join a band you know that you are taking a risk and not following a “traditional” career path. Why can’t one be a performer, but also spend time learning new trades, reading, etc. and keeping an eye to the fact that they will need to earn an income after music.

        Seriously, how many jobs allow you to party while at “work”, see the world, have people fawn over you ever night…etc etc. Being in a band is not torture. If you are so concerned with steady income, get a salaried job.

        • not everyone is making music to ‘party’

          • I agree. I didn’t. In fact I took it upon myself to act as my band’s tour manager which kept me busy most days, but it also kept us from having to hire a tour manager. I felt connected with my business and didn’t have to pay someone 10% to babysit me. Also, we have never used a tour bus because it is incredibly wasteful and unnecessary. Those things run 24/7 so the artists can have their cool fridges and air conditioning.

            All I’m saying is I know for a fact Grizzly Bear are making really good money and I just don’t see how they work any harder than any other person who puts in an honest day of work. I don’t understand why writing some good songs entitles you to lots of money. I love Grizzly Bear, I really do, but there are things they could do differently if they are truly concerned with how they are being compensated.

          • daveyu I think you are missing the point. I don’t think anyone said that writing some good songs entitles anyone to buckets of money. It’s certainly not in the article. I don’t think they think they work harder than anyone. Nor do I think there is any elitism or anger—this is a piece about the economics of the music industry, particularly indie related, with a band used as an example. You can speculate how much they may or may not make but it doesn’t really matter because it’s the greater issue at hand here that is more important that I think midway through the comment section Bobby Bartlett highlighted well. You also DON’T know for a fact what kind of money ANYONE is making other than you unless they tell you themselves. Agree to disagree? As for busses, they allow people to sleep while traveling long distances. Maybe they do need to realign their expenses, but honestly and you should know this, there are tons of people getting a cut from EVERYTHING…..countless. So these numbers you mention are diluted greatly. They aren’t paltry and we don’t know them as fact since you are just guessing, but I don’t think given your experience you necessarily have carte blanche here. Best of luck with your band. Care to share the name of it?

          • Daveydu, I was just throwing the “Living off a decade’s worth of salary” out there in terms of worst-possible-scenarios. I kind of assumed that most successful creatives don’t have the desire to pursue fields other than their art and would just plan on living off previous money from art if they ever were forced to stop. Like JD Samson for Le Tigre who went into the politics of trying to survive as an artist awhile back, who was maligned here for her outrageous sense of entitlement.

            Not trying to compare Grizzly Bear to her – for one they’re not really complaining – but clearly her attitude is not indicative of all top echelon artists. Griz members turned their passion into a career by working up to it and complementing it with day jobs, while you talk about learning new trades on the road. That’s right, I’m assuming you’re top echelon, homie.

            Your comment was the first to really put this in perspective because I really have no frame of reference for how much musicians make. I don’t know people in actual successful bands and have never worked freelance/in short bursts in a creative field. Like “whereswalden” points out, the debate is pretty much moot if we don’t have a number, but if you’re to be believed (and how could I not trust a person with the handle “daveydu”), then damn! Grizzly Bear are rich!

            I know absolutely no one under 30 making six figures. Or maybe I do but they’re looking out for my feelings and not telling me. But I’m drawing a line in the sand (from the Knife video) at 6 figures and saying if they’ve made more than that on average per year for the last 5 years then they were kinda complaining and being annoying during this interview. If they weren’t then they are Martyrs of the demise of the record industry. That’s the genius of this post, it really inspires one of those two extreme reactions. All these reactions are based on assumptions (I even made additional assumptions during this post) but dd I thought your assumptions were based actually based in experience.

            Bottom line, Griz deserve to be rich since they’re really adroit music-smiths, you deserve to be rich for your hard work and economical approach to touring, and I deserve to be rich for my integrity. Screw it, we should all just get rich (I also loved spintriae’s comment).

            But seriously it’s ironic and admirable that someone who has created these indie masterpieces is contemplating joining the business side of the puzzle just to make sense of it. Ed seems to be taking the madness of it all more in stride than anything else.

            And as someone who’s pretty much a horrible, lost cause with music consumption – vast majority is free/downloaded/stolen/whateveryouwannacallit – I am for the first time in a long while considering buying a new CD.

        • Valid points, but I’m afraid you’re responding to another discussion and missing the point of the article.

          • Trinity Firearms, you’re right, I have not seen Grizzly Bear’s balance sheet, but I have toured many of the exact same venues and roads that they did in their past and I have a lot of knowledge regarding how much money they are/should be making. Want to know how much a band gets paid for selling out Webster Hall, 9:30 Club, The Metro, etc. etc…I can tell you. Venues have a guarantee and a baseline that the band must reach. Once the band reaches the agreed upon amount they get a percentage of the overages, say 85%. If you sell out a room with roughly 1,000 seats your band will walk away with at least $8,000 – 10,000. I know because I’ve signed the contracts. So, if Grizzly Bear is playing to 6,000 people in NYC I think it is safe to say they made a nice chunk of change. They are a good enough band to keep people’s attention with the great music they write. Why do they need to hire lighting and sound technicians? Every single venue that is the size they play already employs in-house people to take care of those duties. Again, I haven’t signed their contract, but I know what I’ve been paid, and what my friend’s bands are paid, and I would be absolutely shocked if Grizzly Bear didn’t get at least $30,000 every time they performed at a festival. I’m guessing that I’m DRASTICALLY understating how much they make, but that is a modest estimate.

            Also, I call bs on the not having to pay rent for a month or two claim when discussing licensing. I had a song sold to a TV show and they paid $20,000 to use a 45 second clip. Half of that went to the record company and the other $10,000 came to our band. Figuring Grizzly Bear plays five festivals making $30,000 per appearance and licenses 5 songs for $20,000 a piece, we’re already talking about $250,000 for roughly 5 evenings of work. I just don’t buy that Ed Droste can’t live a middle-class life.

            All that I’m saying is people DON’T need to be getting a cut of everything. You can make a decision to work a little harder and keep the money for yourself. My band doesn’t travel in a van, tour manage ourselves, and sell our own merch because it is the easiest thing to do. We do it because it affords us the ability to not have to work other jobs when not on tour and we believe in hard work.

          • Daveydu, you can break down as many numbers as you want but it doesn’t change the fact that it still sounds like you haven’t actually read the NY Magazine article. The band comes across as a group of good intentioned, humble people who’ve worked hard for what they do. At this point, it sounds more like you are complaining and they were just answering questions asked by a journalist.

            Also, care to go on record as to what your band is called? Would love to see you have the same courage Droste had to discuss things rather than taking this anonymous holier than thou road.

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Easily more than that. I am suspicious of these claims. I think a lot of the context of the comments was lost, though. There are some things in the article that I found way more fascinating, like Ed Droste not knowing why a band gains traction in indie markets anymore than he knows how a band gets on radio, but wanting to be on radio. There were a number of similar sorts snippets of conversation. These are the sorts of things musicians talk about all the time. I’m pretty sure many of these “we’re not rich” comments came up in that context. The writer was somewhat interested in that aspect of the discussion, secondary or blogger press less so, and the public not at all (of course, why would they be?). Then, some of it was clearly whining.

  37. I stream my music (legally, of course) through services like spotify and Zune, but when I really want to financially support an artist, because I need them in my life, I’ll sure as hell buy their CD. That’s why I own a copy of both Veckamist and Shields.

  38. I can hardly afford lunch on most days, and I initially downloaded (Shields) off the internet which makes me a scumbag [i know], but after reading this article: i’ll find it in myself to purchase the album.

  39. Spotify was heaven sent for ultra-broke people like myself.

  40. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  41. Who’s bought Veckatimest twice because of the 2CD deluxe edition? Perhaps people might be waiting on Shields deluxe edition?

  42. “Mumford & Sons are in the clear—who cares what their reviews are? If you’re already selling a shit ton of records, selling out giant venues, it doesn’t matter.” Doesn’t Radio City count as pretty big? “Maybe I’m paranoid. I feel like people are so fickle, everyone can just turn on you so quickly.”

    I like how aware Droste is that his fanbase is easily herded, and it’s a shame. That’s definitely a problem with today’s music blog junkies.

  43. god DAMMIT i want some levis…

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  45. It’s worth noting that NY mag and Stereogum have taken the opportunity to get a lil sensationalized while the article portrays the band as very level headed, nice guys.

    Even writer of the article admits it on his twitter: “The band ( esp. @edwarddroste ) were terrifically patient and helpful and I hope the mag’s provocative cover didn’t give them heart attacks”

  46. One thing every one needs to be clear – the music GB makes is still, above all, considered a “niche” market.

    In other words, unless they start to go all out like what Black Keys are doing now ( more acceptable sound to the herd), their level of of payoff vs efforts will remain pretty much the same or even worse.

  47. And to think, everyone was protesting outside of the big buildings on Wall Street when they could’ve been standing outside of Grizzly Bear’s rented tour bus…

    • I said “rented” tour bus, as in they’re actually broke when the perception is that they have a lot of money. And the Wall Street comment was meant as sarcasm. Just thought I’d clear that up for some of the less capable stereogum readers.

  48. Another article everyone should read is the interview with Aimee Mann on her new record. A different perspective there.

    Its here on the gum somewhere.

  49. I download music but only to make sure that I don’t waste my money, any record that I like I purchase.

  50. I will never understand people trying to defend todays download culture. People get greedy, the talented ones feel the blowback. Its the same in any medium.

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