2012 In Review: Opening The Books On Spotify, Grizzly Bear, And The Economic Plight Of The Working Musician

To a cynic, 2012 might have looked a lot like the Year Of The Bellyache. With musicians from Jana Hunter to John Mellencamp candidly addressing their personal economic realities in blog posts and articles, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Billy Joel rallying to contest Pandora’s attempt to lower their artist royalty rate, and record stores, print magazines, and indie labels closing their doors in record numbers, the music business seemed to have everything on its mind in 2012 except music. As Michael noted in our list of 2012′s Biggest Band Beefs, the music biz’s three most heated feuds this year “centered not on petty personal melodramas, but industry-based outrage. These were vocal and heated disagreements whose roots lay in a fundamental philosophical divide over new technology … What are the responsibilities of the artist, the industry, the audience?” Regardless of where you stand on the many divisive issues currently facing the industry, chances are you stand someplace, marking 2012 as the dawn of a most significant epoch — the end of oblivion.

It all seemed to begin in March, when Emily White, a 20-year old NPR intern and General Manager of American University’s student-run radio station WVAU, wrote a controversial piece titled “I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With.” In the piece, White described how she’d purchased only 15 CDs in her lifetime but owned a digital music library of over 11,000 songs, many acquired illegally. David Lowery, best known for founding indie-rock pioneers Camper Van Beethoven and alternative rockers Cracker, also a lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Terry College Of Business, offered a well-reasoned rebuke, sparking hundreds of response articles.

From Nitsuh Abebe’s popular New York cover story on Grizzly Bear in which the band lamented not having health insurance, to Cat Power’s Chan Marshall announcing that she was filing for bankruptcy, to indie vet Damon Krukowski’s use of some highly dubious math to vilify Pandora and Spotify, the once-private plights of artists’ economic woes were suddenly thrust into full public view. Even I got in on the act, engaging in a polite and lively debate with Pyrrhon’s Doug Moore on this very forum.

The Lowery-White debate and its fallout unquestionably provided Ground Zero for what would become the hot button issue of 2012, but why now? Musicians have been exploited since the first white man stepped onto the Stovall plantation with a recording device, and downloading –- illegal and otherwise –- is certainly no recent phenomenon. What caused the dam to finally burst?

We might blame the increasingly viral nature of the web, in which one well-timed tweet by a celebrity does more for an artist than any public relations firm ever could. It is telling that many of the debates chronicled above began as mere tweet-baiting and comment section jabs run amok. With the rise of interactive social media, all spectators have become participants.

2012 was also the Year Of Spotify. Since its American debut in mid 2011, the music streaming service has become central to any conversation about the industry’s paradigm shift. The company, whose estimated worth is somewhere in the ballpark of $3 billion, recently partnered with Facebook and Coca-Cola, and, as of last month, boasted no fewer than 5 million paid subscribers worldwide.

Meanwhile, independent artists such as Hunter and Krukowski opted this year to ’open the books,’ so to speak, presumably to set the records straight. Ludicrous as it may seem, many music fans who’ve never had brushes with actual working musicians seem to labor under the delusion that all full-time artists are wealthy. I recall the reactions of two aghast British Wooden Wand fans when I told them I supplemented my touring income by painting houses and hanging drywall. 2012 was the year that many artists decided to disabuse speculating outsiders of the notion that anyone who’s ever released a single on a hip label is enjoying a life of spoiled opulence.

When Lars Ulrich challenged Napster in 2000, he was widely lampooned as a greedy rock star hopelessly out of touch with his fans, a changing industry, and the future. In 2012, it’s safe to say that the trickle-down effect of internet piracy has forced many of us to eat our barbs and jeers.

I’ll confess something: There was a time when even I identified as ’pro-piracy.’ I may have even claimed as much in some ancient Wooden Wand interviews. I was among those that guffawed at Ulrich’s ivory tower antiquity. Looking back, his protestations suddenly seem more prescient than ridiculous.

I am not alone in changing my tune. In a 2009 Magnet piece, David Lowery insisted that illegal downloading was no threat to the industry, proffering the touring life as a viable way for indie artists to stay afloat. Like me, I’d wager Lowery believed that internet piracy as we knew it in 2009 would only ever affect those at the very top, if it really even affected them at all, and the number of people stealing independently released albums was insignificant enough as to be negligible. It was an honest mistake. Many bands would soon find themselves playing increasingly bigger rooms to increasingly bigger crowds while concurrently selling fewer records and witnessing royalty checks shrink. Full-time artists who’d formerly eked out modest livings suddenly found they were no longer able to sustain themselves on their music alone, despite increased popularity.

The most notable tipping point, however, is not philosophical, aesthetic, or even economical, but something far more mundane: a generation gap. The maturation of a youth culture that came of age never having paid for a single record, tape, or CD was reflected in the market. A teenager who has only ever experienced music as a series of ones and zeros will not suddenly start buying physical product, no matter how persuasive the arguments or stringent the laws. For Generation X, the query “What was your first CD?” has taken on the same conversation-kindling ubiquity as its Boomer equivalent, “What’s your sign?” In 2012, we witnessed a generation enter the market who will have no answer to this question.

2013 will look a lot like 2012 –- lines will be drawn, sides will be taken, gaps will widen and feelings will be hurt. Artists will continue to lose out unless new revenue streams are discovered and utilized. Like it or not, the future looks a lot like Emily White.

Comments (38)
  1. “In 2012, we witnessed a generation enter the market who will have no answer to this question.”

    And then I wept.

  2. I’m 23 and I feel compelled to defend my peers against the, “What’s your first CD?” argument. Granted, I wasn’t technologically savvy, and perhaps might have illegally downloaded albums if I knew how, but I bought so many albums in high school. It was routine. Which isn’t to say I bought them full price. Every Friday, while working in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I’d leave work and reward myself by going to a used book store nearby, buying a few CDs, take those CDs and listen to them while I ate McChicken sandwiches from McDonalds. That was the highlight of my week. But I’d go to Circuit City after school to find new releases or others I couldn’t find. One of the things I’d do with my friends was scour bargain sections at Virgin. I remember buying Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie….for 20 bucks at Best Buy because I heard 1979 for the first time and loved it. I discovered I hated the album and I still consider it a waste, consider used copies on Amazon are 99 cents. And I think I stopped buying as many when they became a hassle to carry around between semesters, artists stopped putting the lyrics inside the sleeves, and Spotify had everything I wanted anyway. But I loved finding a friend’s CD binder and flipping through and seeing what they had. And wanted one equally as impressive. My experience probably isn’t a mainstream one. But it probably isn’t rare.

    I’d like to add one more thing to your list of “generational, philosophical, economical” reasons sales are going down. I’d argue it’s really a cultural one, somewhat exclusive to indie musicians. Chief Keef sold 50K copies of his new release. That’s a solid number. But he has the rap community and black community behind him, which are two groups that regularly expect to support “their own”. With so many indie bands operating without clear objectives, a socially conscious message or identifying principles from which others can share and celebrate, they’re not groups people can feel personally connected with. People that’ll stream music on Spotify or argue why piracy isn’t really that bad will send Occupy Wall Street a check, because at least OWS represents something they’ll want to get behind. Honestly, I don’t feel any moral or noble motivation to buy music. Instead, I enjoy feeling slightly connected to a band’s success. Everyone needs to pull out their End-of-the-Year list and ask themselves how they returned the favor. The Emily Whites of America want to brag about the size of their hard drives. That’s silly. Emily White needs to start finding artists who represent something she believes in and find ways to get involved, the easiest way being to just buy a CD.

    • Good points, Robert, and I’m glad you mention the cultural divide. Similarly, country music fans will be buying Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert CDs until the day labels stop manufacturing them. Metal dudes are likewise inclined to pay for ‘diehard’ editions and colored vinyl. Not sure why this is, but I find your classification of indie musicians lacking what you call ‘clear objectives’ and ‘identifying principles’ provocative and insightful. May this be indicative of a 2013 comment section trend!

      For what it’s worth, I purchased 90% of the releases on my best of 2012 list, and the other 10% were given to me as gifts. But then, I am a hopeless relic who still relishes breaking up weed on my gatefold sleeves. :)

      • There’s something resembling logic here, but don’t mistake it for fact: compared to metal bands, “struggling” indie bands are living like Aerosmith in the ’80s. No metal band you actually listen to makes a living making music. Not even close.

      • Metal bans already had their own infrastructure with labels, magazines and PR-companies that came out of a DIY-ethic when filesharing came around. Labels like Relapse and Southern Lord were never seen as the enemy, but as enablers of bands. So this whole crap about “killing greedy labels” got a lot less traction.

        And of course metal originated as a counter movement to hippie utopianism. Maybe that made metalheads weary when hippie utopianism resurfaced as techno utopianism.

  3. I know my attitude is wrong, but I was among the millions scammed with Columbia house and over a decade of extremely highly priced cds sold in commercial outlets like HMV, AnB Sound, Virigin, Etc. As music was the fabric of my life, nearly all my money went buying cds. Naive to the industry, I didn’t realize that all the money was being absorbed by RIAA fat cats, rather than the bands I assumed I was supporting. It wasn’t uncommon for a new CD in western Canada to $32. Like I said, I know my attitude is wrong, but I don’t give a shit about downloading cds. I support bands that I like by buying merch, but mostly by going to their shows whenever they come around.

    In an age where the most of the best artists are on smaller labels that respect the artist and pay them properly, the issue now obviously isnt in the logistics of business, but that the recording industry alienated generations of customers by abusing them with ungodly cds prices. You couple that with the rise of file sharing its no wonder that nobody buys cds anymore. Musicians, like everyone else in the world, should be open to alternative sources of income. Our world today, compared to the 90s, is much different.

    • What alternative sources of income?

      • I don’t know, Beck is making sheet music. My suggestion obviously needs help, but they days of being a traditional rock n roll start appear to be numbered.

    • Your final point is excellent. The discussion needs to take into account the larger economic picture, in which all sorts of industries are getting turned inside out. Lawyers are being outsourced, for Christ’s sake. Something bigger than music is going on and nobody knows where it’s going to end up.

  4. ” A teenager who has only ever experienced music as a series of ones and zeros will not suddenly start buying physical product, no matter how persuasive the arguments or stringent the laws.”

    Perhaps I’m missing something here, but why does the debate have to be about physical vs digital?
    I happily buy my music from iTunes and, as far as I am aware, the artist ends up getting a similar royalty to that of a cd sale.

    Why can’t this be framed as “How do we monetize downloads”? Because that certainly seems to be something that could be done. It’ll require a shift in thinking from consumers, but it’s do-able.
    Downloading illegally needs to made culturally unpalatable, similar to the way drink driving or smoking was.

    • The problem is, most of young people in the world have acknowledge that they are not obliged to pay for music. Sure, for a music fan like you, there’s reasons to download legally: bitrate quality, artwork, Bonus tracks … But the simple teenager just doesn’t care. I was just talking to someone from my faculty yesterday, she’s 21, she told me she would never think about buying any music today, even though she listens to some beach house, kendrick lamar, and others on her Iphone. She told me “I don’t like albums, just some tracks. Also, I don’t buy cds because I prefer spending on things I can’t have without paying for it, like clothes, cinema tickets, goin out … ”

      That’s why thinking about a new way to sell mp3s or whatever digital format is not gonna get kids to buy music because they just don’t care about getting better quality if it means paying for it. I think one way to make people get back to cds and vinyls is to mix things (like vinyl + cd, vinyl + mp3 download etc …), and also get them something to read and to watch when they listen to an album.

      I mean, those “digipacks” we have in europe (maybe in USA) with just a cardboard thing, no booklet, and it’s thin as hell. It’s like buying a promo cd. That’s crap and I don’t understand how some bands can let their record label sell this. Artists and Bands need to make people excited about buying their cd with every tool they can (coz people can listen to it without buying …).

      I really don’t believe in digital music sellings being the future of music industry, you realize this when you go out of your “music geeks” zone.

      • I think it’s nostalgic fantasy to believe that people will ever buy CDs again. Vinyl, for sure, because it offers a different sound/experience to a digital format; but CDs? No.

        Buying a CD only adds layers of complextiy to the listening process: Go to the store, buy the CD, rip off that annoying plastic, burn the cd to iTunes, plug in your iPod, upload the songs.
        This, in contrast to the digital process: Tap on iTunes Store, Search, Download straight to your player.

        I don’t buy from iTunes for artwork or higher bitrate; I do it because it’s easier than pirating, and you are funding the musicians and labels responsible for the music.

        The solution must be two fold:
        - Make pirating socially unacceptable, by creating a real emotional connection for consumers between the monetary transaction and the artist.
        - Make buying music easier than pirating.

        The latter is already becoming a reality. The former requires a real campaign, but it’s do-able.

  5. My hope is that 2013 sees this conversation move past the ethics of music piracy and the demise of a certain type of economic model that sustains the life of a musician towards a discussion of what the new economic model will look like. That discussion already exists obviously, it’s just always prefaced by finger-pointing about cd / digital music sales. And that guy from Cracker taking a huge shit on an underpaid intern.

    • THANK YOU. Every damn year it comes down to finger pointing at music “piracy” as the downfall of the music industry, when it’s just a changing market that needs to be worked with and evolved with. Print media adapted to it quite well (i.e. tablet subscriptions, special paid online content and features, etc.). The music industry has been the absolute slowest in adapting to technology the past two decades because they’re so intent on criminalizing and fining their actual CUSTOMERS. So many studies are coming out showing that people who download movies and music illegally are also the same people who A) Spread the word about the films/albums/artists to more people (of which many may be more “paying” customers), and B) Tend to actually pay for a vinyl or album or concert ticket to see the artists they truly love or the ticket to go see the movie they have to see on the big screen. Instead of working WITH that customer base, the music industry has continually worked against them since the early 90s.

      I mean–really–who would have thought that people who illegally download entertainment are also the ones loyal enough to front the money where it really matters!

  6. Great article, James, but I’ve got a problem with this sentence: “A teenager who has only ever experienced music as a series of ones and zeros will not suddenly start buying physical product, no matter how persuasive the arguments or stringent the laws.” This exactly contradicts my own experience, in that I did just this two years ago. At the time, I was just starting to get seriously into music. I would read Pitchfork’s The Out Door and be frustrated that some exciting-sounding releases were vinyl-exclusive and therefore beyond me. I was also discovering fidelity, pirating FLAC versions of albums and being stunned by the difference. Finally, I was purchasing MP3 versions albums I already had as FLACs because I wanted to reward the artists whose music I was enjoying–the ethical stuff had weight for me. The result of all these impulses was that one day I wandered into a thrift store and bought a fifty-dollar turntable. So, I wouldn’t be so comfortable dismissing the possibility of we children of the digital age changing our ways. We’re not beyond discussion.

    • I’ve had a very similar experience. I’m 20 years old and I started collecting records about a year in a half ago. Before then I never had a CD collect larger than maybe 30 CDs, and I played music almost exclusively off of my iPod.

      • Duly noted, and I certainly didn’t mean to casually vilify every person born during the Clinton Administration – at least not for this – ha ha ha. But I’m afraid you guys are very much the exception, not the rule. Unfortunately, you’re not indicative of a turning tide so much as you’re a couple of guys with an increasingly weird hobby.

        That said, I will concede that sentence may have been an unfair generalization, and I do applaud and appreciate your devotion to your weird hobby. :)

  7. I’m a father of two who grew up in the cassette mix-tape era and hardcord/punk 7 inches. After many years of illegal downloading and thousands of great album discoveries, I’ve evolved to Spotify premium. It’s not necessarily about giving back to the musician, or the labels. Selfishly, it’s always been about convenience in getting my hands on amazing albums. Whenever.

    Spotify makes it easier. Devices make it easier. If there are digital means to get something faster, someone needs to make a business around it. Spotify has done that, but even they’re struggling because of the over-bearing monstrous and bloated record labels. No one can deny the distribution and marketing reach big labels have, but until they evolve, or bands find better organized and innovative DIY methods and partnerships of distribution and make money while doing it…I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing. Give me more faster.

    • Seems strange to me that a hc/punk fan would be so short-sighted as to advocate what is more or less cultural surface mining. You realize that the convenience you so cherish and the resulting glut will soon make it almost impossible for underground bands to exist at all, right?

      “Thousands of great album discoveries?” I spend every spare dollar I have on music, work (for now) in the music business, and, like many Stereogum readers, generally obsess over music to an unhealthy degree, and even I probably haven’t heard ‘thousands’ of albums since Spotify was invented. Maybe you’re listening wrong?

      • Your missing the point, James. Though, “thousands” is generally a figure of speech, I’d argue I’ve listened to and discovered thousands of songs and artists since I started getting music online—illegally. Not just via Spotify If you re-read what I wrote, that’s what I was referring to. In terms of listening wrong, I doubt it. My “gluttony” as you described it is no different than your unhealthy obsession over music. I’m not sure how we differ here.

        Convenience is how I like to access my music because I’m an active listener and reader and want to get my hands on stuff as soon as it’s released, written about, or leaked. I’m not one to camp out in front of a Tower Records (don’t R.I.P.) for the midnight $18.99 sale of a new release. The last time I did that was when “Vs.” (or, at that time “5 against 1″) was released. And, how silly and unmemorable was that album? Why put in the effort?

        I’m sure we have similar musical ethics, however my point is that I want more music faster. What’s wrong with that? I’m paying for Spotify premium, and go to shows and buy concert tees and LPs, so I can sleep soundly—assuming my two baby daughters don’t wake me.

  8. Do you realize some people don’t even know what vinyl means? I think artists are stepping up, most newer vinyls are sold with a code to get the digital version free! All art should be respected, music is suffering now books are next. People are lazy and want everything for free, and that’s the bottom line. Free, easy, fast sounds like a date with stds.

  9. I think Spotify is a great tool for checking out new releases or new bands (even if they’re old bands and I’m just playing catch up). I used to scour google and blogs and torrents (or even youtube sometimes) for a copy of an album that I was interested in hearing but unsure of whether it was worth a purchase. Bands got nothing for that (maybe, in the last couple years, something for the youtube stream), but at least now through Spotify my few initial album listens count for something (it’s small, but it’s something). If I like the album, I can buy it, preferably from a bandcamp or a label/band site (and preferably a physical copy). If I don’t like it, well, at least there are tiny royalties going to the band from the Spotify listens.

    Now, in my opinion, those tiny royalties are where the real battle will and should be fought over the next few years. The reports vary (as has been discussed) but the amount of money artists get from streaming services is pretty ridiculous(ly small). The money made may increase over the next few years as more people adopt streaming services (I wonder if anyone has run these theoretical numbers?), but I still cringe at the thought of a major label or a streaming service or itunes or whatever, or any person who is not the artist, really, making most of the money off any purchase, be it a direct purchase or a stream. The issue is frustratingly complicated, as are my feelings on all of it. The industry at large just needs to get its shit together and embrace the changing scene. Royalties need to be rethought. Streaming fees need to be rethought. Radio vs. internet radio needs to be rethought. We’re playing a 21st century game on a 20th century court; is it any wonder that everyone is frustrated?

  10. I’ve decided to only buy vinyl from now on. Some labels, like SubPop, will put download cards with all of the albums. I feel like with the price you pay for music now, you might as well get something that’s a lot cooler than just a cd. I don’t know about you, but when I listen to a vinyl compared to a CD, it’s just more of a listening experience. CDs are honestly just kind of boring.

  11. I don’t want to sound really old or anything, but all the fretting over progress (and piracy) is a bit tired. I’m old enough to have vinyl, 8-tracks, cassettes, CD’s, downloads, etc. in my home. I have bought or “inherited” all of them, but not because of my age group. Many of my friends stole hundreds of CD’s (and tapes), and who among us wasn’t sneaking into shows at the age of 15?

    We are grappling with a stark dichotomy, which is music as art v. music as product. There is really a problem separate from whether Grizzly Bear (or some fucking metal band) is getting paid. Many of us put on our big boy pants daily and saunter off to “work” in exchange for some level of compensation. In a similar way, artists have to meet the demands of their own craft (in other words, you get paid in any way that you can in order to keep doing something that moves you). How many shows a year is Grizzly Bear doing? Now go and check how many shows a year (or a day) the Beatles were doing before they “made it”. Music as an artform is very different from music as an industry. The industry side of music is bemoaning the behavior of our youth because corporations have targeted that demographic. Kids are fickle as shit, and I have very little sympathy for record companies et al who have decided to sacrifice the artform (what happened to jazz?) in favor of a more broad, palatable product. They are receiving the natural consequences of their actions (as an industry).

    People have always lamented the behavior of youth, but the fact is that our society has grown ever more economical in it’s consumerism. Art is an opiate for the society of its inception, and the way that we are choosing to ingest our medicine has changed. With the exception of some incredibly niche vendors, physical musical artifacts are without much monetary value. Good luck trying to get any cash for those old Marty Robbins records (even from old guys who like Marty Robbins). People just tend to “use” music differently as our timeline progresses. We are now actually able to soundtrack our own lives whether at home, school, work, commute, stores. In some ways an aging guy like me sees this as a violation of the social contract. It is disappointing to believe that something so important (artful music) is threatened by our consumption of it. But, unlike the actual physical space we inhabit, a few dying species of music will not diminish the overall tendency for humans to produce music. Treating music as what it actually is (art) is far superior to allowing an oligarchic bureaucracy to define the ethics of its consumption.

    There is clearly a domino effect that means Macy’s might stop paying Stereogum for advertising, which might mean that I will actually have to talk to a physical entity about music being played in a live setting we are both sharing. In essence, the problem of “stealing” music will take care of itself at the extreme margins, at which point we’ll all be reduced to memories of sneaking into a bar to see Pavement because a) we weren’t 21; b) we didn’t have $11.

    • Well put, especially about how many shows the Beatles did vs how many Grizzly Bear do. In the old days showpeople, indeed workers of all kinds, worked like hell to a degree almost unimaginable to many comfortable modern Western youngsters.

      • I agree 100%. Unfortunately, its sort of apples and oranges because of DJ nights and TV. People just don’t go out as much as they used to. Its very different from when people used to go out to a bar to see the attraction of the house band vs. going out specifically to pay ten bucks to see some local band you don’t know anything about.

  12. Kudos to the writer and commenters here. Opinions aside, the first step toward progress is awareness. The more we talk about the issues at hand and share our personal experiences, the better we begin to understand what is wrong, where we stand, and how it can be addressed.

    Personally, I grew up buying tapes, then CDs, then illegally downloading a handful of tracks (we had a dialup connection) while continuing to buy CDs, to illegally downloading albums (buying the ones I liked), to a mix of illegal and legal downloading and now I buy vinyl and download.

    I’m still nostalgic for the physical product and accompanying artwork and lyrics, have an appreciation for higher fidelity, and want to support artists as best I can. Regrettably, I have a bigger appetite for music than what I can afford, but I try to purchase vinyl, concert tickets and merch as often as I am able.

  13. The current climate of digital music has basically created an honor system where people who truly respect the artists fork over the cash and others do not. It’s a lot like those newspaper vending machines that make it possible to steal a whole stack of newspapers instead of taking just one. At this point, it’s a moral dilemma (for some people) and nothing more.

    Having been raised in a world where people pay for physical copies of music, I still have a hard time justifying paying for digital-anything, so I tend to forgo that option altogether and buy the record.

  14. Idea: What if there was a “support” section in facebook profiles. If I payed, say, 5 to 15 dollars directly to deerhoof, they would show up in my “I support” section. The section could also include charities, other artists, or what have you.

    Is this not ingenious?

    • *? -

      You could also support individual albums. Or films. You get the picture. And if someone buys a physical copy, there would be a code somewhere on the inside of the case that one could enter in to achieve the same effect.

    • Concepts like this exist (you see paypal donation links on some band/film/art sites, for example), but integrating it with Facebook would be the next logical (and lucrative) step. I’m not really sure what the hurdles would be in getting it set up, or if it has already been tried with Facebook.

  15. I purchased Shields on CD :)

  16. I am inclined to add my two cents to this conversation that are very similar to yours.

    I completely agree that their needs to be less of this Emily White in music fans. Although I do agree that music is incredibly easy to come by, it does not mean we should refrain from any sort of support for them. In high school I spent a bunch of money on Cd’s. Not because of the sound quality or wanting to support the artist, it was mainly because I didn’t have an Ipod. But now that I have an Ipod, my library has increased tenfold and I don’t really buy Cd’s like I used to.

    “Emily White needs to start finding artists who represent something she believes in and find ways to get involved, the easiest way being to just buy a CD”

    I am also guilty of downloading illegally, but I do contribute financially what I can to the artists that I truly feel should never stop making great music. And usually when I do, I go out of my way to buy their ‘deluxe’ box set/vinyl/whatever because I want more than just a digital download.

    Lastly, you mention that the indie scene lacks core principles and this is why the bands cannot make that much financially. You make an interesting point but I am inclined to disagree. A good example of a scene that carries ‘core principles’ but yet fails to have good sales is the hardcore scene. Bands like Touche Amore, Birds In Row, Title Fight, etc. are really not making the billboard charts. Yet they are part of a
    scene that is very communal and carries a support “their own” mentality. If you go to a hardcore show (or have been) you probably how many people wear band t shirts from the same scene. This community aspect of supporting “their own” is missing in the indie scene. Of course I am generalizing but on the
    surface this is the way it looks to me.

  17. Watching the documentary Indie Game it struck me how dire the situation is for the music industry. Video games are an area also plagued by piracy, and yet there are still enough people willing to purchase a game like Super Meat Boy that it can bring the creators an appropriate amount of success. Not obscene wealth, but enough to continue making video games that people(and me!) clearly enjoy.

    The problem is this attitude of people not willing to pay anything for new music/cds. Really scary…

    • i mean. say digital downloads and bandcamp is the new normal. make LPs 3 bucks and EPs 1 dollar. That should work out like how lots of Ebooks are usually a dollar. They tend to sell orders of magnitude more, and there is no cost of distribution… unfortunately nobody wants to pay even a dollar…

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