We’re Being Imprisoned

Word Round Town is That the music industry is trying to imprison us.

What do you think about the way the music industry is heading? I don’t like it, but then again this is the music “industry” and not simply music. As I mentioned the week before last week, the industry (through music streaming services) are gradually bringing their users into a place where they’d have to pay for the music which they listen to. Think of it like money and the debit card or contactless payment. It starts off with the rare few and soon government will force it on every individual (the world will be paying contactless, no cash….maybe even no card….) Anyway, that same principle is what we are seeing here. The day will come, or at least the industry want the day to come, where listeners will have the option to either listen to music legally by paying for it or (the only other option) listen illegally through illegal downloads or pirate radio.

I think we should see music like a book (see Josh Mangel’s comments). We all have the right to read. The principle we often use with books is that I can read it in the library or loan it from them, borrow it from a friend etc.. If we like it, then and only then will we buy it. If anything, file-sharing and streaming only helps artists. It builds promo, recognition and can be the link to reaching out to untouched areas, locally, nationally and even globally thanks to the internet. Our word-of-mouth promotes the artists without costing them a penny. And true to the point those pirates buy just as much music, or even more, than those who don’t.

I listen to Spotify freely and if I like a song or album I’ll invest in buying it because it means so much more to me than the random tracks I may listen to whenever I check in the Spotify. I know I’m going to listen again and again, wherever and on whatever device. I love it.

I’m not going to pay for something I may not like. Simple. None of us should.

It isn’t just me, even the artists generating money from us listen to music for free.

  • Jake Bugg said “I stream music because it’s such a handy tool that, if somebody mentions a record, you can get it up straight there on your phone. And if I really like it, I will go out and buy the record.”
  • Kanye West went to the extreme and pirated Serum (…I know that isn’t streaming but still…).

To be frank, artists and the industry are making so much greater a deal out if this whole thing. Did you know that artists of all levels, wealth and status gain only 6% or less of their entire revenue from record sales. The top percentage of income, just as always, comes through performances and touring (other revenue streams come through songwriting, composing, teaching, endorsements and more). Taylor Swift generated over $39 million in 2013. ASTONISHING!!! 6 months on the road touring the US gave her an estimated $30 million. Remember, Taylor Swift has other revenue streams beyond record sales and touring, so $9+ million may very well link to endorsements, merchandise, interviews and special guest appearances, radio airplay and so on.

To add, the average artist will receive 10-20% from a sale. A band will have to split that 10-20% between them. So, from a £0.99 sale an artist would get 1penny, 20p if their lucky. See what I’m getting at?

With that into consideration, why are we being imprisoned into this cage of subscription fees? Who will we go with when we’re finally (if it goes that way) forced to pay for streaming? Will we go for Soundcloud? Tidal? Apple Music? some other new streaming major? Why? What artists will be exclusive to that subscription? Are we meant to pay for every streaming site if we want to listen to a variety of artists?


Grassroots Venue Survival/Night-Time Economy

Word Round Town Is That grassroots venues are being forced to close, and they are closing…Rapidly! Around 37% have disappeared since 2007. Some of venues music legends once performed at are no more and fortunately some have been rescued by their grateful alumni e.g. Paul McCartney in 2010 saved the 100 Club with a special performance, since Blur have also played there.

The manager, Jeff Horton, blames this trouble on rent pricing, “…when I started working here, we were paying something like 16,000. We’re now paying around just under £200,000.”

There are other reasons too why venues are closing. Property development is one. As residential areas are being built around venue locations the new community of people make complaints about the noise.

Who can save our venues? Who can save the future of upcoming stars who need these venues to build up their career, fanbase and network? WordRoundTownIsThat Boris Johnson is the man. Yep, I said it, Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is setting up ways in which grassroots venues can remain open. For the past 6-7 years he’s been bigging up the quality of UK venues that help to liven’ the UK’s music culture by bringing up acts like Adele, Ed Sheeran, and The Rolling Stones. It’s not just culture Boris wants to maintain, it’s also the economy.

The music industry boosts the UK’s economy massively and brings in £3.8billion, and the grassroots sector is worth £600million on its own. So Boris set up Music Venue’s TaskForce. What’s his plan? To:

  1. Implement the Agent of Change Principle (adopted in Australia and Canada)
  2. Make London a champion for Night-Time Economy worth £66billion a year
  3. Set up a Music Development Board
  4. Publish his Culture and Planning Guide
  5. Continue working in and supporting places where live music has thrived (Soho, Camden, Hackney)

There’s some water under the bridge. But with that water there’s some hard rocks too. Yes, it will create a much larger benefit to economy, keep venues open, create jobs and liven up the UK’s culture (music, restaurants, other entertainment), this “city that never sleeps” mentality will for sure effect some in a not so good way.

The residents. The residents are making serious complaints about the night-time scene. I guess, who can blame them. Families need their privacy, the elderly want their much deserved peace, the people want their sleep. However, sometimes compl
aints can’t be placed on the venue management. Property developers occasionally build right by a venue that’s been active years, decades even. What do we do? What te Mayor of London announced is the Agent of Change principle where those who are effecting change must be responsible for it. So if property developers are building in a live music zone, it’s up to them to conjure up ways of dealing with it, e.g. sound proofing the houses or flats. Likewise if a venue opens up in a residential area, the venue managers must find ways to settle to the residential agreement and sound proof the venue, ensure noise doesn’t go over the threshold and somehow manage the drunkards hanging round outside and ptumblr_nlqqchcor51qemiigo1_500eeing on the neighbours front door at 3am…..(that has been a real complaint, I’m not making that up).
The Borough of Hackney are against this idea, mainly because incidents that take place and not wanting youth to indulge in drunkard late night activity and consequently anti-social behaviour. ….I’m all for that really. I mean boosting the economy is good, but not at the risk of our youths health (dangerous drinking, riotous living, and all sorts of other madness that goes on). Hackney’s council want to release a borough wide bylaw by which night-time businesses must close at 11pm.

Police are definitely up for night-time economy. Stats show 80% of weekend arrests are alcohol related and over 50% of all violent crime is committed while drunk. 50% of our police officers’ time is spent dealing with alcohol related casework and 92% believe night time economy has a large or very large impact on their workload.

What are your thoughts?


Images taken from musicvenuetrust.com & madwealth.tumblr.com

Hello from WordRoundTownIsThat..

WordRoundTownIsThat has been set up to discuss, right here on WordPress, the current topics that are prevalent…aaand maybe not so prevalent today.

“What kind of topics are we speaking of?” you say? Topics revolving around the music industry, specifically the business end and law. For example, WordRoundTownIsThat Mayor of London Boris Johnson is very ambitious on this night-time economy thing. How is it going to effect venues and clubs? How is it going to effect music lovers? How is it going to effect the peeps who can’t sleep because people are galavanting outside their houses and peeing on the doorstep? (I may as well take that up as my first post 😉 )

Another example, WordRoundTownIsThat music should be free.

Let’s try another, WordRoundTownIsThat copyright has messed up the music world.

I’ll be posting for the next few months and see what we can all get from it. Keep on the lookout, let’s stay in touch. First post will be up tomorrow 8am (GMT).


Image credit to sesame street.org