On Friday, the Future of Music Coalition, a musicians’ advocacy group, published a blog post taking issue with some of the arguments and data from my Aug. 23 cover story in the magazine, “The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t.” I take their comments very seriously for several reasons: First, their concerns — that musicians be appropriately compensated in this digital age — are my concerns. Second, they have assembled some important studies of the new economics emerging in the music business, many of which I drew upon in writing the article.
The day will begin with a panel presentation of professional women including Candice Jones, Talent Buyer at the Black Cat, Jenny Poppen, Entertainment Specialist and Music Manager, Rachel Levitin, Musician and Journalist and Ann Chaitovitz, Entertainment Attorney and former Executive Director of the Future of Music Coalition. The panel will discuss the present music industry landscape and will answer questions from the audience.
“Music always was a hustle,” says Casey Rae, CEO of the nonprofit Future of Music Coalition. “The terrifying moment about this modern economy is you’ve got so many variables now to keep track of, but the flip side is there are so many more things now under your control.
“There are all kinds of ways now to fund music projects and get stuff off the ground that don’t necessarily have to conform to a traditional way of doing business. It depends on where you are in the industry and at what stage of your career, but the real top line takeaway here is you have to make use of a diverse set of revenue streams across multiple venues and platforms. It’s not any one thing.” read more
A New York Times feature by journalist Steven Johnson titled ‘The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t’ is ruffling a fair few feathers in the US, with its claims that the post-Napster era hasn’t been as bad for musicians (and other creators) as is often claimed. “Writers, performers, directors and even musicians report their economic fortunes to be similar to those of their counterparts 15 years ago, and in many cases they have improved.
Earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine reached out to Future of Music Coalition with regard to a forthcoming feature. We like to help out with this sort of thing, because we know that music business structures and practices can be quite complicated, and think it’s important that journalists get the facts and context as correct as possible, whatever narrative they’re advancing. Last week, fact-checkers from the magazine followed up with FMC staff. There was a good deal of back and forth as we were provided short paragraphs, and later, individual sentences, from the article and asked to verify whether they were “true.” (Unfortunately, we weren’t provided with much context.)
Alas, what ended up running was rather disappointing.NYT Magazine chose to publish without substantive change most of the things that we told them were either: a) not accurate or b) not verifiable because there is no industry consensus and the “facts” could really go either way.
And just as there are more avenues for consumers to pay for creative work, there are more ways to be compensated for making that work. Think of that signature flourish of 2000s-era television artistry: the exquisitely curated (and usually obscure) song that signals the transition from final shot to the rolling credits. Having a track featured during the credits of ‘‘Girls’’ or ‘‘Breaking Bad’’ or ‘‘True Blood’’ can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to a songwriter. (Before that point, the idea of licensing a popular song for the credits of a television series was almost unheard-of.) Video-game budgets pay for actors, composers, writers and song licenses.