Monday, May 14, 2007
volume 1 number 19
here's a question
no one asked:
how does a mid-level artist
(i.e. someone who's not well-known but also not unknown who sells a medium to small amount of records and has the corresponding amount of airplay and/or media exposure)
earn a decent living in today's shrinking music market rife with CD burning (i.e. theft of intellectual property) and sharing of downloads which pay the artist a pittance or nothing?
phew...that's a question?
well, in my case I do two basic things:
a. I do as much of the work myself as I possibly can. I write, produce, sing, and play all the parts as often as I can. I own and pay for my own studio. I create my own artwork and packaging. I run my own eStore* (one of two of the best ways I know to actually receive the money, the other being live performances). I own my own publishing company (robert steven's music) and record label (adrian belew presents), both of which exist only to service my music. I manage myself. I even sell my old musical gear on eBay.
b. I try to work in as many areas of music as possible. I produce records for other artists. I play on other artist's records. I make solo records but play in four bands as well. I perform as many shows per year as the market will allow. I do "guest appearances" and as many interviews as are available. I sell downloads. in fact, I am always looking for new income streams available for the kind of work I do: music. and that is the point of this "I-filled" diatribe: a mid-level artist must DO and TRY a myriad of things in order for them to add up to a decent living.
and so it was with the help of my friend Scott Weinberger** (who works in television) I made my first attempt to break into the business of music for TV. unsuccessfully I might add, but I haven't given up just yet.
spies was a track I did last year for a TV pilot called Spying On Myself which barely got into the airwaves before crashing in the dumpster like so many new programs do. the track was not used. I was hoping spies might become the theme song for a weekly series. that would be called passive income or money you receive over and over for something you did once. passive income is the "gift that keeps on giving" which is why it's so heavily guarded by those in the industry who have it. imagine, for example, how much money accrued for mr. bob seger for his (in my opinion) lame-ass "like a rock" theme which was played over and over and over every commercial break on every channel during every 3-hour football game for what seemed like a thousand years. you can bet bob doesn't sell things on eBay.
stop: before you start thinking I'm ungrateful, unsatisfied with my lot in life, bitter, or complaining let me stop you mid-sentence. I'm none of those things. I love what I'm paid to do and would do spies again for nothing any day.
which is what I earned the first time.
*with a huge dose of help from rob murphree, of course.
**scott also had a hand in the making of the "life in a nutshell" video we feature.
guitar, bass, and v-drums: adrian
engineer: ken latchney
recorded at studiobelew sometime in 2006