Becoming an artist has always been an difficult journey. Every week we must juggle creating music with social media and contract negotiations, while trying to make rent and put food on the table. All of these hard-fought accomplishments earn us less than $5,000 per million streams, not to mention the brand dilution resulting from increasingly playlist-centric consumer behaviors. What we used to call “music discovery” has betrayed us and become “music overload.”
These problems have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With small venues closing and people migrating away from cities, the $26 billion live music ecosystem that generations of musicians have grown from faces drastic erosion. Although the vaccine has saved many lives, it will not reverse these decade-long trends that have already been set in motion.
In the face of these immense challenges, it’s easy to feel discouraged or threatened. It’s tempting to want to throw up our hands and walk away from the mess that is our industry. We, as musicians ourselves, understand these urges but want to encourage you to take a step back and think about how the music industry works today. Then, let’s imagine together how it could be reinvented.
Are there hidden opportunities buried within our art that can be further explored and grown? Is it just us, or are there some quirks in the music industry that are worth taking another look at? Dozens of tracks are composed, arranged, and recorded in the process of turning a voice memo into a master recording, yet we obsess over the royalties earned by that “one final track to rule them all” without thinking about the value of all of that music we've created along the way. In a world where musicians need to build a small group of loyal fans, why does the industry continue to tell us that playlists and social media are the solution?
As music lovers, we see this time as an age of innovation. Over the last decade, technology has made music distribution frictionless, giving birth to the fastest growing generation of independent artists. The rise of the creator economy continues to drive an increasingly creator-centric mindset among consumers. We are excited to participate in this trend and help independent musicians discover their audience and live on their craft.
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading and hearing us out. In case you have thoughts you would like to share, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s have a discussion about music, our industry, or anything else that may fancy you.
By Emil, Nico, and Patrick
Musaic Founders, March 2021