Notes to self from the conference presented by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, November 7th, 2014.
Session: Keynote Closing Remarks
Presenter: Mike Errico (Adjunct Faculty, The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music)
Here comes the reality check.
Making music for its sake and only to be heard is not a financial model of sustainability. I’m not critiquing the purity of being creative and connecting to yourself, the world and the cosmos through music; that is a sanctified act not to be denigrated. But in terms of making a living as a musician there has to be more than creation for its own sake alone. For survival in the biz, it requires licensing (synchronization to film and videos) to align it with ancillary products or services and defined income streams. Merch (music-speak for merchandising) is also good. Then there is touring, but I’m jumping a little ahead of myself.
From the keynote speaker’s remarks and others at this conference twas heard that as far as having your works of sound art on music streaming sites and apps, any music licensing service — subscription or otherwise — is not going to pay back the music creator. Musicians receiving checks for one cent, literally, from Spotify and the like for getting their music played many thousands of times are running jokes among those who are not Taylor Swift, a precious observation made by Mike Errico. A million plays or more might crack the dollar ceiling.
The modes of distribution in the digital realm are far more fracturing than past modes yet, as Mr. Errico noted, there are a multiplicity of new opportunities when you open yourself to looking beyond conventional routes. But you have to be enterprising, tenacious, and fairly innovative. Hopefully, if you have what it takes to write a great song then you may already possess these qualities and only need to refocus your gaze through the other end of the lens. Or partner with those who can.
It is worth noting that Errico deftly and hilariously pointed out (you really had to be there) anyone who says touring is where musicians need to be to make their money has never actually been on tour(!) Its a slog; it can be dangerous for innumerable reasons, not least of which he noted is being able to maintain health insurance; and once off the tour–five minutes after, I believe Mike cited as the exact moment–the income stream, that fabled fount of wealth to be found on the road, is all but over. Hey, sign me up.
Note that I have done my best to accurately represent my experiences, interpretations and impressions. These are my words and transcribed notes and are not the verbatim ideas of the presenters unless quoted directly within the text. Therefore, the conference’s participants should not be held accountable for any misstatements of fact or intention that may occur on these pages.