Nowadays almost anybody can make music


#1

Seems like nowadays with the internet we have easy access to all the knowledge we need to make music…with almost anybody being able to make music and as a result it decentralizes everything…and what used to be viable media outlets have also almost been rendered obsolete…so I ask does that make things better or worse for music…

Me personally I just do it for fun…but for those on here who actually are successful in their side hustle, or main hustle what are your thoughts


#2

I personally feel that the accessibility to music that we have is certainly better. For example, As it were in the days of old your options were extremely limited and truly relied on location as to the accessibility one would have to discover some new/interesting act from those very obscure genre’s (experimental,IDM,grindcore). Additionally, If you weren’t on board with a major label there was no hope of exposure to a broad audience, With the exception of most college towns and their radio broadcasts. I’ve come to understand that with a signed contract to a label, “executive producer” was a package included in the deal. Now that in its self is sincerely a stifle on the creative process because they ultimately had the final say so on the release and could make changes as seen fit.

It is very overwhelming and understandably so in the sheer volume of music being released literally everyday, But I don’t see this as a bad thing. However, If I were younger I can see how it would be rather daunting to find something impressionable and inspiring right off the top of ol Google. As an artist, I think its very important to see the oceans of new music being made for exactly what it is, A challenging opportunity to make something fucking rad that stands apart from everything else by thinking outside the box. The way I see it, This makes grabbing the attentions of unsuspecting listeners by the balls as competitive in the 21st century as it were grabbing the attentions of a label in the 20th.

Relic put it quite simply; “Anyone who thinks that there is no great music being made anymore has not even took the time to listen to any music at all.”


#3

It’s the same with other arts too, photography, digital art and video games.
Anybody can do it, but I think what makes the difference is how driven you are and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into it.
If in the last 20+ years I had put in music the same effort I put in learning Unity in the last year, I would surely be a much better musician than I am today. Why didn’t I? Different goals and priorities I guess.
Didn’t mean to sound too negative though, the kid with a cracked FL Studio today might bring the next step in music tomorrow same as the guy with a free version of Game Maker Studio might be creating my next gaming obsession.


#4

Isn’t this just a rehashed version of “everyone can play guitar”? We’re just all hooked on screens now so it has gotten a lot cooler, and quality has gone sky high for even us amateurs.

Once upon a time, everybody played guitar and sang in the shower anyway I’m pretty sure. And dubbed shitty demos for people - not much has really changed except for how easy it is to share now.

And TBH, most of us still listen to shit that sounds way better than our own productions. Bands still matter, etc


#5

and they don’t
I think everybody should make music


#6

this. there are hundreds of thousands of, lackluster games on the play store that we will never find, because it is buried underneath the games that took an effort to make and market.

this pushed indies to be creative, because you can’t compete with AAAs in the same genre/league/type of game. not sure about music


#7

Ahem…Yes many people have the ability to create noise that is considered music.
The same can be said of art,its subjective.personally i tire of lackluster films boring games photoshop bs.
some people are truly gifted.some people are not.i don’t make the most likes music or artwork.
to me its therapeutic.sometimes its really well done.sometimes it’s not.my point is i do it cause i love to.
i do have talents,always have.it comes naturally.i have been doing it since before computers.
yes anyone can make music.but can you make music that can evoke an emotion,feeling ,even a memory.
most popular musicians are but a flash in the pan.i have fun.do you?


#8

Todays music is better than ever.

Music is an art, artists are driven by their art, those who are in it for money I question. You see those type everyday in magazines and YouTube music production videos all they talk about is speed and workflow how quick they can churn stuff out, I don’t see them as artists just opitunists, I just don’t see art as something that belongs on a production line, it takes time sprinkled with love.


#9

Agreed, dedication, effort and shit ton of gear.


#10

No you cant . unless you know one man who will tell you how things done.


#11

I know my outlet wouldn’t exist without the availability of all the information on the internet, including this forum. Plus, my computer turning into a music box means I can do it more easily.

This is something that was less accessible 10 or 15 years ago.

And back to the internet knowledge, how many of us actually had friends or mentors, in person, that were willing or able to share their world with us? I never really picked anything up seriously(keyboard) until I wanted to make music in my bedroom. That in itself is a win. I’ll just jam on my workstation some days.

I did have to learn tons on my own. But with this community and the internet I feel like I actually had people there, helping me along the way, even if indirectly.

Not that anyone outwardly looks for my tunes, but I do it for fun, just like you @bfk.


#12

No.

You can hear a bird singing - and then decide to try and imitate it with your voice.

That’s it.

Music.

No one needs to tell you how to do it.

Having money and access to good teachers can give you an advantage, of course, - but “one man” giving you bad advice can be worse than not having a teacher at all.


#13

Knowing that there is more accessibility to be a producer gives me a great sense of anxiety, since I want to produce as a profession. And knowing that this little genre of ours is turning into a meritocracy (for the most part) forces me to be on my toes.

It’s because of this increasing accessibility, that I am now at my internship reviewing in my head how a compressor affects a sound, how I can copy the compression of a synth on a specific song and blah blah blah.

Tl dr: more poeple, make me want to work harder to be the cream of the crop.


#14

Outside of perhaps the 90’s, the music business has never made that much money off of album sales.
Albums were the way to keep the buzz going and get some extra cash on the top with re-releases, but it was never the main point of revenue for the lion’s share of the industry’s history.

Touring and merchandising were the revenue points worth money to anyone, and musicians, historically speaking and by volume, usually didn’t fare well.
The top tier did, but don’t for a minute think that was because they just signed a contract, made a big hit and collected tons of money. Most had to fight for every nickel in the business.
Many musicians aren’t aware that folks like Tom Petty had to slug out huge legal battles to win their control and get their authority to earn money on their music. That was one of the reasons that independent studios started popping up in the late 80’s and early 90’s - because of, in part, Tom Petty’s battle and everyone taking note and deciding that they didn’t want to be screwed like that either - which they all were being screwed like that.

For most of music history, the musicians have been performing monkey’s. If you’re not out there performing, then you don’t get money.
If you refused to tour, then you likely made next to nothing.
Harry Nilsson is a famous tragic case of a reclusive musician who really only made money due to writing songs for other people and getting in with the industry social circle and being known in that community as a great song writer. Even still, through the rough and tumble world of the industry, by the time he died his estate had to file bankruptcy. This in spite of multiple top hit songs pressed and sold.

The thing is, contracts - even today - usually state things about compensation, or shared burden.
So the musician gets paid a bunch of money up front for signing, and everyone goes nuts buying things.
And then they hit the road on tour, get back and find out they’re nearly broke because their contract stipulates that they share a portion of the touring costs.
Which, if they spent a bunch of their money means they’re likely immediately in debt, or if they didn’t spend any, far less wealthy or nearly out of money by the end of everything.

Then the studio offers them another contract, which they really don’t have a choice but to take because they’re out of money, and rinse/repeat.

Jared Leto actually made an entire documentary ranting about this vicious cycle and his personal experience with it through 30 Seconds to Mars.
In the end, he didn’t win. He just renegotiated his contract to slightly better terms that absolved his debt to the studio to some extent and kept on going.

CDs were the period of time where things changed a bit and album sales became a staple of monetary gain.
You still had to rely on touring for money but for very different reasons…tours became marketing, and CD’s became huge, making up somewhere around 95% of the industry’s revenue.

It was a bubble. Bubbles pop.
It wasn’t a real or solid revenue stream; it was temporal and based on a unique set of situations and technological conditions of a specific time. It was also incredibly fragile.

As soon as there was any other option, that model began to crumble.

Now we’re back to pre-CD models of touring like a vicious fiend (especially DJ’s!) to generate a revenue stream, while copies of music are back to being promotional material, or additional income rather than the main source of income. It’s approximately around 80/20 with touring being that 80, typically.
And that’s for huge international musicians. Anyone below that, pfff. You’re not banking anything. You’re making it, or scraping by and probably doing a lot of additional musical jobs on the side to fill in the gaps.

Below that layer, you’re basically guaranteed to nearly be in debt every tour even if you self-manage and operate - just by expenses alone.

There’s no musician being hurt by the egalitarian access to distribution of music.
The studios are being hurt, but it’s more like being reset back to the 60’s when you had a bit of physical copies to rely on, which no one cares about, and streaming (radio) play to generate a buzz and attention that coupled with a market campaign, and you used to that to fuel the return on investment of tours which generated a big batch of money, but through all of this, the ultimate bread winner has always been and will always be merchandise.

Michael Jackson’s huge pocket of money didn’t come from everyone buying albums, or even from him touring everywhere. Hell, he didn’t even tour that much after a while.
It came from his massive collection of smart investment strategies like buying the Beatles license.
He then took that and rolled that into a deal with Sony by allowing them half shares in joining up to make a new company (Sony/ATV), which then turned around and started gobbling up absolutely every possible asset they could get their hands on and skyrockets in the millions these days of songs they own the licencing and royalties on.

How big is it? Its appraised net value in trade is north of 1 billion dollars as an asset.

Michael Jackson was crazy, but monetarily he was pretty damn smart.

Instead of trying to make money off of his music, he looked at the idea of making money off of cultural staples in general and the marketing of merchandise around those assets for revenue.

He also rolled his money in real estate. Buying things like that ridiculous ranch weren’t just a pop psycho going all Mozart eccentric (let’s be clear…he definitely was doing that as well)…it was also a huge monetary investment which reaped him millions in net worth (keep that credit value climbing!).

Even with his insane spending habits, he still was a half a billionaire by his death (granted, he could have been a multi-billionaire without his insane spending).

Compare that against just being in the music industry as a professional musician and relying on just your music for making money.
Yeah, you’ll be broke.

Unless you hustle songwriting, and do that really fast (I’m looking at you Prince) so that you seed the industry’s artists with as much of your songwriting royalties and licensees as possible, you’re just not likely to get much money. Just playing music.

You have to pitch and pimp out your brand (looking at you Metallica - mother of all whores of Babylon…also known as doing business right).

Which means you have to make a HUGE buzz and get tons of attention.
So…basically, become a youtuber.

  • In everyone’s face as often as possible.
  • Constantly talking about yourself and what you’re doing.
  • Constantly selling your branded merchandise, while simultaneously thanking everyone for their “support” and giving the virtual shoulder grab hand-shake assuring everyone they’re valuable and special to you.
  • And staying relevant by pushing more “fake” product (e.g. your music) out the door which everyone thinks they’re there to “buy” even though almost none of them will actually buy your music.

So, no…I don’t think it’s a problem.
The only “problem” is for the listener. It can be a challenge to find things and it requires more effort on your part than it did when you could surf an entire genre of music through a few milk crates. Darn.

If anything, I think it makes it easier for musicians, actually.
If you want to make a couple of bucks off of your hobby on the side, sheesh. It’s never been easier to do that.
You used to have next to zero chance of making money off of your own music if you hadn’t made it.
Now you can monetize it right out yourself through any given digital distributor of your choosing, and not only that, you can also self license out your music for stock use (a horribly overlooked market by the way). Good luck doing THAT in the 90’s!

My 2 ¥.

Cheers,
Jayson


#15

What a great write-up!

Many of my own, personal reasons for giving up a career as a “business musician” are listed here. I’ll just add a few lines about crime as well.

We went down the “performing monkeys” route for a number of years. We had some great times, but also met some of the absolutely worst people I’ve met anywhere. Many venues in Europe basically serve as front ends for organized crime syndicates, who use them for money laundering. More than once I’ve been in situations where I’ve witnessed stuff I definitely shouldn’t have. Bribes, large amounts of drugs, illegal firearms, literal sacks of money etc.

Snitches get stitches and all that, so I’m not going to name names (I’m anonymous on here for a reason), but being involved in stuff like that, even just passively as “the performing monkey”, did not appeal to me at all.

Some people seem to be able to just shrug it off, or even think it’s exotic or interesting, but it always stressed me the fuck out.

I’m possibly just soft and a worrywart, - but in my opinion it’s an illusion to believe that it’s possible to work in that kind of environment and not end up getting involved yourself. In a legal sense, just by keeping quiet about it, you technically become complicit in the crimes you witness. And I don’t recommend it.

Thanks.


#16

Yeah, I didn’t have any level of sketchy issues like that to deal with, but I was quickly turned off from a career in the arts through my experience in trying to get going in the comic industry when I was a wet boy of 18. The net result was that I lost my rights to my own comic because I was naive and ignorant at the time, and found that “creative control” meant very little when you didn’t hold the copyright and you and the publisher disagreed.

The lesson that I learned, though, wasn’t that the business of art is a lying, stealing, hot knife slicing heads off of artists like they were fish come to market (which it is), but that I just didn’t have it in me to due business with art.
And that’s what it takes to make a living at it.

You have to be willing to have highs and lows, no predictability, like a day trader on Wall Street only with much worse returns and security, and you have to be willing to effectively do two jobs at once constantly. One job as the artist, and one job as the businessman on the defensive while aggressively gunning for any slight leverage anywhere possible.

I forget who I was watching interviewed who said it, but the best summary of the art businesses I’ve ever heard was that the only people who should do art as a job are the people who can’t possibly do anything else - that if you steal all of their money, kick them in the face, rub them in the dirt, they still get back up and run right back to it because they’re just horribly incapable of not doing it. Basically, obsessively broken people.
Everyone else should stay out of it because the professional art businesses will murder you.

Even if you’re in a union. I once spoke at length to a camera operator who had been doing it for a number of decades. They were on vacation, but they were shooting everything everywhere they went.
They worked on major motion pictures, yet they had to basically never stop shooting something just to try to sell their footage as stock footage or B reel material at every opportunity because the money from the films hardly broke them even with their union dues and medical costs, and their body was a right mess - bad legs, knees, spine, shoulders, hands, fingers would lock up, pain every single day constantly, and every day lugging the camera everywhere they went - like a ball and chain.
No thanks.

Doing that with comics ruined the art of drawing as a feeling for me. I don’t enjoy it anymore. It’s now a sensation of a chore, so I don’t do it. That’s when I decided I couldn’t do art as a job; not the normal way at any rate.

When it came to music, I made damn sure I preserved it so that I could still feel a breath of fresh air and relief when I sat down to work on it. It’s my peace zone. I don’t need it soul-fucked and traumatized; my enthusiasm sucked out of it like the Dark Crystal.

So it became my hobby where I can do it however I want, whenever I want, and if I make a few bucks off of it - well that’s just dandy because I’m doing it for kicks so any amount of money is just a happy accident.

Cheers,
Jayson


#17

That is what separates the hobbyist, from a professional.

I’ve been studying Economics for the last few years, and I’ve noticed a lot of artist don’t have a cent of financial literacy. You can honestly do any job you want in the world, if you know how to properly manage your money correctly.

The Music industry has been seeing an increase in growth for the last few years. The industry has made about $9.8 Billion following a growth pattern of about 10% (similar to the stock market oddly enough), with projection in the next decade showing that music will bring in $40 Billion in revenue. The independent artist is now thriving without any middlemen, and even though touring can be expensive, Djs who only need a usb and CDJ are reaping the benefits of low production cost.

I don’t see being an artist, and a business man as two separate jobs. Managing the brand is literally an art, your image guides you towards how your music is made and vice versa. It’s honestly a lifestyle, that is for the type of people who adore making people reach XTCY through their music. While it may seem fake and just being business to thank fans, I feel as if it’s gratitude for the people that support an artist living his dream.


#18

So what that everyone can make music

These guys will come to the studio and record their hit but this action will not go further than their yard. :smiley:


#19

That’s great!
That means it should be much easier for you to go about things. That is a less than common position though.

For the overwhelming majority of artists, or “creatives” (whatever label folks prefer), handling finances is not remotely close to being in their wheelhouse as a skill, nor is it something they want to do, which makes that skill capability that much worse, and even if they are skilled at balancing the books, they are rarely good at the marketing of business, and even worse at the politics of business…especially since they have an emotional investment in their art and most can’t often haggle over it like any old business asset.

Cheers,
Jayson


#20

I did a bit of professional musicianship early in my 20s. Long nights, days in vans, hauling too-heavy equipment up and down narrow stairs and then bleeding your heart out for four people and $10 quickly became less attractive than…well, just about anything. The problem was that it mostly wasn’t fun after awhile, and the whole reason I got into it was because I enjoyed it.

I’ve never stopped enjoying production and I’ve engineered several things for other people, but the gigging and marketing and tremendous amount of work involved in being a self-sustaining musician who may or may not make rent seemed Sysiphian unless you end up being the right person at the right place at the right time, which I rarely am. Couple that with an ever increasing fascination with less and less accessible sounds means the chances of pulling a penny out of what I make isn’t worth the effort.

Having a career that affords me enough money to buy the gear I want and the time to make the art I want ends up being a lot more satisfying for me than chasing a career in music where I have to compromise what I create. I understand the allure, but In the end it just wasn’t for me. No regrets.