Sunday, 8 August 2010

Are you better than Jedward?

You may not have heard of Jedward and if you haven't just watch the video. There are other videos of them live, playing the 02 which I think is the biggest arenas in the UK.
I'll leave you with that bit of information for now and move on to my main point.

Yes, it's that hoary old subject of getting paid and people paying for music, my music, our music, music that I and you, perhaps produce.

I know I covered this in my last post but I've had more time to get this right in my head and it's quite astounding. I'm not saying that I've come up with a brand new idea or that I've found a new way of marketing my music. Perhaps I should just give you, dear reader, a little info about me.
I am a singer songwriter, I've been playing guitar since I was about six, I've been writing, performing and recording these songs for the past 13 years or so. I also produce a weekly podcast full of unsigned music that other artists from all over the world send me. Just so you know where I'm coming from.

Most of the gigs I have played have paid me nothing, yup not even a drink. Most of the songs I have recorded, produced and promoted have been downloaded for nothing. The weekly podcast I compile, produce and promote I do for nothing.

Some might say that these activities are my hobby. Some have and that hurts, yes actually hurts my feelings! Crazy eh? I put a great deal of time and effort into what I do, I'm very passionate about it all and yet I just give it away.

I would love to get paid for it, I do actually value what I do BUT I also want people to hear it, that's the whole point isn't it?

There are many "bedroom players" who are content to play in their bedrooms and never let anyone hear what they do and that is fine, nothing wrong with that at all, my wife plays the piano for fun and has no desire to perform.

But I digress.

I'll let you in to a secret, a personal private secret. I think I'm really very good at playing guitar, writing songs and singing. Crazy eh? I pretty much have to think that otherwise I wouldn't do some of the things I do like play at an open mic night, play gigs miles away in front of people I don't know. I also would love to do it for a living. Just recording and playing music. Yet I still do it now for nothing. WHY? 

My podcast takes about an hour to ninety minutes to actually produce. There is a lot of admin type stuff that goes with it. Emails, databases and blogs are written and added to pretty much every day. I get a real kick out of making it as I have a real passion for unsigned music. i do think it sounds better, has more soul, feeling and passion than the signed stuff. I feel a glow of pride when other podcasters ask me for a track that I have played or if I see a review of one of the tunes that I featured, knowing that the reviewer first heard the tune on my podcast. I would love to spend more time on it, develop some of the ideas I have for it, do more interviews and write more about the artists but I just don't have the time. 

In an ideal world I would be able to earn money from selling my songs online and get some cash for making the podcast. Is that too much to ask? 

NO it bloody isn't!

Over the last month or so I have had a bit of a revelation, a change of heart. Some of it has to do with people like Jedward (remember them?). Lovely lads I'm sure but singers they 'aint. They played the 02 and they're getting paid for doing what I want to do and I know that I do it better than them. I may feel all self righteous about it as I go and play my open mic for fuck all but I have to go to work on Tuesday!!


"Give away and then they will pay" is the mantra isn't it. I did cover this in my previous post
but just a thought. When we give stuff away on Bandcamp we DO get peoples email addresses. Yes, yes we do. When we sell things on Bandcamp we also get peoples email addresses. Now I would prefer to have a mailing list that contains email addresses of  people that have paid money for my tracks rather than a list of email addresses of a group of people that just took the tracks for nothing, didn't even pay a pound for a whole album of my songs.

To be taken seriously for what I do, I /we have to charge for what I/we do. This elevates us above the people that DO just do it for a hobby or are, and I'm sorry to say this, just aren't very good. They are out there. I get sent plenty of tracks by people that just aren't very good or SHIT. They also give their tracks away and people download it.

There are also many podcasts out there, bloody thousands. Some are great and some are rubbish. They are pretty much all free. If you had to pay for a podcast you would expect it to be good eh? Of course you would. So lets charge for podcasts, micropayments say £2 a month like The Vobes Show does. That way people, the public, would know that they are getting a quality product
We can all "get our music heard" even on iTunes people can listen for free, on bandcamp and myspace people can hear for free. You van give your tracks to Amazing Radio and they will play it for free, grated they won't introduce it so that people know who you are but hey will still "get it out there".

So, in closing, if you want to posses any of my songs, the songs that I have crafted and recorded and uploaded you will have to pay because Jedward get paid and



Toby Duckett said...

Great blog. I think it's easy for people to fall into the humble 'I'm not good enough' mindset, believing it's an elite of people that can do it, (an all too common myth), when in fact we need to tell ourselves 'I am good at this'. We certainly also need to charge for our work, just because music is fun, evocative & essential, doesn't mean it's easy to make. Blood sweat and tears are applied to our music, we probably work harder on music than we do our day jobs, as it's more important. I also think if people are giving away all of their work, then they are not valuing it correctly, and probably falling into that humble mindset again. As you say not everyone does it well, but kudos for trying, and until they get good people won't take too much notice. For those who are taking it more seriously i.e. understand where there are with their music, and who have people who want their music, it is only right they pay for it, a lack of label does not mean a lack of quality.

Tom Slatter said...

You're right Nick, you are better than Jedward. I also think it's not unreasonable for artists like ourselves to want to earn a living through our art.

However, I also think we have to accept that people expect to hear music free. It makes sense to have your music available so that people can hear it and decide whether they like it.

They'll only pay if they love it.

I also think people have never paid for music exactly. Instead, I think people pay for things that symbolize their relationship with the artist. So it used to be CDs and gig tickets, now it might be downloads, gig tickets, special limited-edition LPs, one of a kind zebra-skin lyric books etc.

So providing you have that relationship with the fans your stuff will sell.

That anyway is how it works with the artists I love - I will download their stuff as soon as it's available, but I also buy every CD and (especially for me) concert DVD cos I'm a big fan.

Nick Tann said...

Thanks for your comments guys. I appreciate your input.
Yes Tom I do accept that people will want to listen to music for free, they can but to posses it, to own it, to put it on their ipod they should pay yes?

Rainer Straschill said...

Wondering whether you, Nick Tann, are better than Jedward makes as much sense as wondering whether you (or Jedward) are better than the BMW engineers in the Mini project or than designer/actress Alisha Klass. Why?

Because one makes fancy small cars, one makes porno flics, one is a pair of twins who look like (enter your favourite three-letter f-word here), and one is a singer songwriter.

It certainly does not make sense to ask why some people spend tens of thousands of dough on a car why they fail to pay for a singer-songwriter album, so what you need to do (if anything in that realm at all): compare yourself to those who do roughly the same AND make money doing so.

So, I ask you, Nick, are you really better than Phil Keaggy? Than Joni Mitchell? Than Kaki King, Egberto Gismonti or even our friend Matt Stevens?

If you can answer all of these questions with a "yes", then perhaps it's time to phrase your demands towards your customers as strongly as you do.

Matt Stevens said...

Interesting - I'm with Rainer on this one - you can't really compare. Jedwood are really good at being jedwood for that audience - they don't even register in my world. They are not aimed at me but the seem to make people happy.

For me Pay What You Want works better than paywalls and sharing has been good for me.

I think what I do has a very specialized and esoteric audience. They are very loyal and supportive. Its a small audience but I'm happy. I've kind of realized that especially considering the events in my life in the last few weeks that's a wonderful thing. Also my audience seem like bloody nice people.

The way to look at is of all the other opportunities which my online following have opened in terms of critical acclaim from bloggers and mags which have lead to licensing opportunities(which are payed).

None of this would have happened without "free" music.

Hopefully in a few years we will be able to see how this will work in the long term. At the moment its tough to see the move from one business model to another. At least with the new model artists have a chance of getting payed/heard.

The last few blogs from Steve Lawson are interesting reads on all this:

Makes you wonder what will be happening in 5 years time? :)

Tom Slatter said...

Another article on 'Free' that I found interesting:

I wouldn't stop people downloading my music for free - I think it's more useful having your music on someone's ipod than not. It makes sense to have a range of options ala Nine Inch Nails recent releases - some free, some not.

Rainer has a point about who the competition are. But also peoples entertainment spend is now split between DVDs and video games and all sorts of things that weren't as important a decade ago. The market has changed.

Matt Stevens said...

TO be honest I'm not sure how much choice you have about free - my music is heavily torrented(which I am pleased about) and if you have any degree of success this will happen anyway. Better to give it away your self and engage with people surely?

Nick Tann said...

If you love your job and make music for a hobby then give it away.

I don't and I want to make a living out of music and podcasting. To do that I need to charge for it.

If I could make money from producing my podcasts I could spend more time and effort making them. It's as simple as that

The fact that someone has my track on their ipod is nice. The fact that they like it so much they actually paid for it is nicer.

Rainer Straschill said...

Although only superficially addressing the question under discussion here at first sight, I'd like to mention this priceless text by Danny Barnes, just rt'd by @solobasssteve

Nick Tann said...

I have read that article before Rainer.

Did you notice that his album costs $10...

Nick Tann said...

I'd also extend the idea of getting paid to playing live.
As you can se here