Don’t make music to make money

Like most people, I fear change. … Maybe fear is a strong word, but I certainly don’t run right out and embrace things that challenge the fundamental ideas that I’ve built my life around.

Like most people, I fear change. … Maybe fear is a strong word, but I certainly don’t run right out and embrace things that challenge the fundamental ideas that I’ve built my life around.

Take the music industry, for example.

Since the mid-80s, I have been involved, at some level, in the music and recording industry. When I started, a decent recording studio cost around a million bucks to set up and you could charge $200 – $350 an hour for studio time.

Only artists with big recording contracts with big record companies with big budgets got to go in these places. The record company funded the recording and the band paid them back out of their record sales. These expensive recordings were the only ones that were worthy for radio so the record companies basically dictated what was released for public consumption. The lucky few who got “signed” were nearly guaranteed success and stardom. Then along came the personal computer. No one saw it then but this was the end of the world as we know it as far as the big music machine was concerned. The day the music business died …. Flash forward 25 years … . I can now download almost any piece of music I can think of with a couple of key strokes and a click or two and I can explore an endless world of new music via the interweb. That same million dollar recording studio from 1985 now fits into a $1,500 laptop computer and a couple of road cases. No need for a recording contract — anybody can make an album nowadays.

Did I say “album”? What I meant to say was anybody can create an easily accessible bunch of musical zeros and ones and anybody with ears and a PC can access it. Everybody is a potential recording artist. The music business is back in the hands of the musicians! It’s exactly what all musicians from past decades thought they wanted. The bummer is, there’s no money in it anymore. Just ask HMV (HMV fire-sold 121 Canadian stores this week and many more around the world due to plummeting share values).

Dean Fulton is a freelance Tribune columnist and local musician.

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