This time I want to write about a problem that has been brought up in Social Media again and again: Many people out there refuse to pay money for music. That this is a serious problem, I have no doubt.
How much would you pay for music?
As a matter of fact this problem affects mushroom magazine as well, because music labels make less money selling music and therefore have budget for adverts – adverts which pay for the production of this magazine. So today I don’t want to deny this problem itself, but I want to have a critical look at the arguments.
Those pictures that circulate on Facebook & Co. claim that “it costs thousands” to record an album. As a matter of fact, there are some very successful producers out there who only use a more or less good laptop and headphones. That’s basically all you need to get started. Oh yes, and broadband internet. It enables you to download all those ridiculously expensive music programs, samples and plugins for free. Once you finished a track, you only have to invest a small amount of money to hire a mastering service that will add that certain loudness and pressure, so it is on one level with other productions. Actually you don’t really need thousands to get going – technically, you can start on a fairly small budget. Sure, that mastering service we just mentioned has some seriously expensive gear – but hey, I haven’t seen any mastering service lamenting about the unwillingness of people to pay for their service, probably because you can’t download a high-end tube compressor illegally from the internet.
The next claim is that the music “can be used over and over again”. Hold on a minute – if that’s true, why are there different tracks in the charts here in mushroom with every new edition? Well, you don’t even have to be a DJ to understand that being new and up-to-date is as important as in any other market of the capitalist world. A really nice, solid dance floor tune can be played for a couple of weekends – then it’s rendered irrelevant, because there’s 100 new tracks that sound just the same, but that are new. Okay, some DJs play an oldschool tune or even an oldschool set every now and then. But let’s be honest: That’s an exception rather than the rule.
Last but not least those pictures claim that “it took years of practice to create” a piece music. Well, maybe that’s somehow true for the upper league of music producers, that consists mainly of immortal dinosaurs. In reality, there’s all too often only a couple of weeks between the first audio track in the sequencer and the creation of the Facebook page for this new music project. And just like that the expectations towards money grow all too often very, very quickly. After only one or two years many producers ask for an artist fee that equals the monthly income of a casual worker, after three years in the game the time has come to ask for business class flights, because of all the stress of touring and all that. And what about those expectations?
No matter if we talk about a dance track or a cup of coffee – it should be the most natural thing in the world that you have to pay something for it. The interesting questions are: Which price is appropriate? What’s too expensive – and what’s too cheap? Also: Exactly where is the money going, who earns how much?
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