Whitey is an alternative rock/electronic artist from England.
We’ve never heard of you, but we’ve seen your recent email tumbling around the blogosphere. It’s one of those emails that people read and think, “Yeah! That’s how I feel! You tell ’em!”
The long and short of it: A major company asked you for free music. You got pissed and said no. But instead of a polite response, you wrote an eight paragraph rant, lambasting the guy for having the gall to even ask you for free music.
Listen, man. We know you’re fed up. We know you wish you were born in the golden days when musicians would get paid millions of dollars for an album. We know that it sucks to be hungry and it’s infuriating to have your craft belittled as something ‘anyone could do.’
But guess what? There’s nothing you can do about it.
First of all, the good ol’ days weren’t, in reality, all that good. The old paradigm was corrupt. The only artists who were eating well were the top dogs: the Ems, the Radioheads, the Beyonces. The music business of lore was marked by insane profit margins for the suits, decent paychecks for top-tier artists, and practically nothing for everyone else. The life of a session musician, for example, was not a comfortable one.
Your indie band wouldn’t have a fraction of the money-making opportunities you do today. Technology has made it possible for you to record, promote and sell your music internationally–on a scale that was only possible for the top 0.1% of artists 20 years ago.
And it is that very same technology that makes your music practically worthless, from a monetary perspective. Not because what you do doesn’t have value–in fact, one of the most valuable, noble things one can do is dedicate one’s life to creating art. It’s because it has become exponentially easier for people to create and market their own music, your music just isn’t special. It’s simple supply and demand.
Yeah, the company that wrote you obviously has money. But what you need to understand is that how they spend that money is their prerogative. You can bet that they can find THOUSANDS of talented, hungry musicians to give them great music for free. Hell, they could just buy a copy of Logic, stack stock loops, and have something that would work in a pinch. Think about the cost/benefit analysis from their perspective; there’s so much other shit that it makes more sense to spend money on.
This is the reality of the situation. Stop crying about it. This reality is better than the old one. 30 years ago, you would be an accountant that made music on good weekends. It is better to make music for love than for money. Today, more people are in a position than ever before to do both.
The commoditization of music isn’t inherently a good thing. A future with starving musicians grinding their asses off is better for culture and art than one of comfortable, well-paid artists casually carrying out their craft. Fuck comfort. Struggle leads to better art.
Who knows? If you delivered a quality product and developed a relationship with the music supervisor, maybe next time they have a budget for music, you’d be their first call. Instead of taking the time to write out that pointless email, you should have been grinding. You should have been writing new music. You should have been building relationships.
Be as creative in how you approach monetizing your music as you are in making it.
Good Logic and Common Sense.
p.s. read this book by Diplo. We think it will help.