Today on the podcast we start talking about your team. Specifically who makes up your team, why they matter, and we go in detail on the first member – the music industry attorney. You don’t want to miss this one.
In our first episode of the music industry podcast we are talking about the old music industry and how it differs from the industry today. If you are trying to make it in music, you don’t want to miss this!
Stay tuned for more episodes!
The music industry we have today is a very different place than the old music industry still portrayed as modern in movies and television.
In the old music industry, you had to make demos and network until the faithful day when a label would be willing to sign you and invest a million dollars or more of their hard earned money into your career. Even if you were signed, you would still have to get on your knees and pray that you get really lucky again and end up in the 10% of signed artists who actually turn a profit. (You heard me right, even in the peak of the music industry, only 10% of signed artists made money, the other 90% of signed musicians LEFT WITH LESS MONEY OR MORE DEBT THAN THEY HAD BEFORE THEY WERE SIGNED.)
There is a concept in economics called the Tyranny of Space and it ruled the music industry. The music stores only had so much space on their tables and shelves to display your CD. There was even less space on the air in the form of radio spins allotted for new artists. In the old music industry, you could have a great record charting in the Billboard Top 20, be touring all over and for all intents and purposes have “made it” only to lose your deal and be dropped because the label found someone in your niche with slightly better numbers, This is the Tyranny of Space. Lucky for you, with the rise of digital distribution, it died.
The old music industry can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because it’s dead. Rejoice. With a decent computer and audio interface you can run the same recording software used by the best studios in the world. (Sound proof room not included but get over it.) The costs associated with making a record are much less expensive now and distribution barriers of entry went away when server memory became cheap. Better yet, Facebook ads are cheap and most of social media is free.
When the Tyranny of Space died, to some degree so did luck in the music business. You can write and record music you love without a label now. You can find your audience online without a label now. You can sell your music without a label now. You can crowdfund your projects or take on private investors and use other peoples money without a label now. And if you do that enough you can change what mainstream music sounds like, at which point a label will find you.
So How Do You Do It?
There is a new music industry in town and with it a new tyranny. The Tyranny of Too Much Space. (I know, we just can’t get it right.) Have you ever spent so much time on netflix trying to decide what you want to watch that you realize you could already be halfway through something by now? Nothing really stands out. This is the Tyranny of Too Much Space. When everybody is a blip on the radar, how do you separate yourself from the noise?
There are as many answers to this question as there are self proclaimed experts on the music industry. I believe it is 20% making good music, the best product you can, and 80% making a good business, running the best enterprise you can. If you are a musician in the new music industry, or want to become a part of the new music industry, then you are a business. So it is time to keep reading, to keep improving, and to start acting like the business you are.
Almost 4 years ago I met a girl, outside of a coffee shop on Avent Ferry road in Raleigh. We fast became friends and went on to spend several hours together in the day and several more together in the night. One such night has left me with a myriad of thoughts I have never had to process before. It has been years now and I still have yet to understand these thoughts. I am hoping that writing them out like this will allow me to understand.
The girl I met lived with her mother in a nice home, big enough for the both of them, their 2 dogs, 2 cats, bird, and rehabilitating squirrels. They shared an obscenely clean 2010 Toyota Rav 4. I’m not sure what year it was but it was somewhere between. Overall, the two of them seemed to be doing well. They had a comfortable house filled with a small army of ridiculously cuddly animals.
But as we were talking that night, I found out that this wasn’t always the case. The girl told me of years where her family could barely eat. Years where they struggled to pay for a Christmas tree. Years I never had growing up. The girl told me that during these years, they sometimes had to dumpster dive to get food. I didn’t understand, so she repeated herself. Yet I still couldn’t comprehend the thought of finding anything someone would eat in a dumpster, much less a meal for a family. I still didn’t understand.
So she showed me.
We hopped in the car and went to a dumpster. On the way the girl talked about her favorite poet, Shel Silverstein, and even recited her favorite piece; “Wishing for Wishes“. She also mentioned a whole bunch of neat science things about honeybees, but I hate bee’s with a passion so let’s not encourage that. Soon we had arrived at the dumpster and got out of the car.
It was cold outside, somewhere in the upper 30’s Fahrenheit (a little over 3 Celsius). We got out of the car and I just kind of stood, looking at the dumpster, wondering how there could be anything but trash inside. The girl was not so dumbstruck. She quickly tightened her shoes, grabbed a flashlight, and launched herself into the dumpster.
When she landed inside, a sound went off like a shotgun. In the otherwise silent night it was deafening. Almost every time she stepped another loud shotgun blast went off. I looked at her in alarm, but she laughed and explained that the newer dumpsters make these loud sounds more than the older ones and that it had something to do with the fact the material of the dumpster itself and the way it is picked up and put down by the garbage trucks. After a few minutes and a few more loud blasts of noise, she exited the dumpster with some fairly high quality bagged animal food for her pets.
That wasn’t all she wanted to show me however, and we went to another nearby dumpster. This time, I felt less paralyzed with shock and the lighting was not as good, so I held the flashlight for her from outside after she jumped in. The girl started digging and soon handed me a perfectly sealed pack of strawberries that hadn’t even expired yet. I was shocked. Strawberries are my favorite fruit. But I don’t even buy strawberries this time of year because they are so expensive in comparison to bananas or even grapes. Yet here was a perfectly good pack of strawberries that hadn’t even expired yet, just thrown a way by the food store because the expiration date was too near for them to expect customers to be interesting in purchasing it. They threw it away. Perfectly good food packaged produce could go towards someone who needs it. It was so wasteful.
As I tried to figure out how I felt about this, I heard an approaching sound; a leaf-blower. The girl heard it too and it was approaching fast. “Shit” she said getting out of the dumpster, “get in the car!” I didn’t know what was happening, but I could tell by the tone in her voice that she was scared. We started to hurry to the car but it was too late, the guy in the leaf blower had already seen us. There was no way we could get to the car before he got to us. But then I heard him shouting over the leaf blower.
“Esta Bien! Dale que tu puedes”
The girl heard too, but did not understand so I gently grabbed her arm and stopped her running. “He said It’s OK, do what you can” I told her. The man spoke to us again this time in English.
“We all have to eat” he said.
He had been a dumpster diver too. The man left us, making no judgement and resumed his leaf blowing. By the time we finished dumpster diving, we had fresh strawberries, bread, and potatoes all was completely sealed. All would have gone to waste.
On the way back, I asked the girl why she started to run when she heard the approaching man. She told me that dumpster diving was illegal and that store owners had called the cops on her back when she dived out of need to eat. Again I didn’t understand and I asked her why they would do that after they had thrown it away. She said they thought people wouldn’t go in and pay them if they got what they needed to survive out of the trash so it was better for the business if fresh food goes unused to a landfill. “As if we could have afforded to go in anyways back then” she added. She also told me that bigger stores like Walmart and Target have special dumpsters that prevent people from getting food out of them for the same reason. It made me angry.
After the dumpster diving, she changed clothes, and we went on to have a fairly normal relaxed college night. We ate ice cream and strawberries, played chess, watched YouTube, did some things Jesus would not approve of, and went to bed. But the experience has stuck with me. And I still don’t fully understand.
Why is it illegal to eat from a stores trash if not so that the stores can profit off the starving? If anyone has ideas on how to address this or there own stories dealing with hunger please leave a comment below. I would love to hear it.
The Real Reason People Move To New York
9/11/2017 Reading Time: 3 Minutes
Given what day it is, I thought that now would be a good time to do this.
“You don’t move to New York to do Nothing.”
I said to Bryan as I began packing my book bag with random goodies from a college welcome week Spin Doctors concert.
“It’s too fucking expensive. A day binging netflix costs like 200 dollars there.”
I spoke with a lot of authority about New York considering I hadn’t put the 10 years of living there required to be a New Yorker. I was, however, in the process of moving to the Big Apple and as far as I was concerned that made me an expert.
(Insert Picture of Crude Crayon drawing that says “Richie Sater, Expert On All Things New York”, Caption: Exhibit A)
I continued to wax poetically about the city and the faces there that “tell stories” as I finished packing. Then I hugged my friend and frat brother goodbye and drove to my sisters house to grab my suitcase and get dropped off at the airport.
Do you my dear reader want to know the real reason why people move to New York?
Despite a 5 minute delay consisting of a TSA agent using the back of his hand to rub my groin because I insist on wearing Fear of God Denim that always sets off the metal detector– I made it to the gate with over an hour to spare.
RDU to JFK is not a long flight, and it is one I had made many times before, so I had a book; I Can’t Make This Up by Kevin Hart and Neil Strauss, ready to go. I didn’t get to read it though because, almost as soon as I sat down, another Frat Brother showed up also flying to the city. He invited me to hang out at the bloomberg building the next day with some of the engineers building the bloomberg terminal. This is why frat’s are important I told myself.
It’s a few days later now, and I am mostly moved in. I will bore you with the details about how my uber driver had an M.B.A and the move itself some other time. For now I promised you the real reason why people move to New York.
The math majors among you who excel at counting may have noticed that this is my very first blog post. It is no accident that this is happening in coordination with a big move. Moving is associated with change and change is an opportunity to reinvent oneself, or simply add a few good habits if you already like who you are.
But why do people come specifically to New York City?
When a recent Pew Research poll asked Americans about different cities and whether or not they’d like to live there, 45 percent of the people under 35 said they’d like to live in New York. So if you’re already here, roughly half of young America would happily switch places with you right now. And the reason for that is F.O.M.O
F.O.M.O is an abbreviation us cool young cats who are obsessed with snapchat use to abbreviate the Fear of Missing Out. People that move to New York City moved because they weren’t content living somewhere else. We saw what life would have looked like if we had stayed put and it terrified us. There is a preconception that moving to New York will make you more interesting and give you the life experience necessary to be the kind of individual that is envied by those who stayed. If you have F.O.M.O you see this preconception and realize that moving to NYC is a way of forcing yourself into being part of the conversation; which is at the core of what anyone experiencing F.O.M.O wants.
I told my mother about a year ago that one of the things I want most out of life is to live a good story, I don’t really care if anyone reads it or not, I just want to have lived it. I think this is why I read so many biographies. I’m obsessed with the idea of my life being a good story. But this is a form of F.O.M.O and it is why I moved to New York City last week. I’ll let you know if it works.