Mark Butterworth observes that there has never been so much talent or ambition in the music world but that that world is on life support. Young and/or unknown artists, particularly writers and composers, simply lack the resources to do quality work. Here's why:
Recorded music costs a lot of money, but recorded music isn't making any money.
Here are a few facts: ... U.S. album sales in 2008: More than 115,000 albums were released, but only 110 sold more than 250,000 copies, a mere 1,500 topped 10,000 sales, and fewer than 6,000 cracked the 1,000 barrier -- further evidence that sales of recorded music are not the way of the future for artists.
Butterworth laments that the production costs of recorded music are so high as to exclude all but the already highly successful artists and even they make little money on their albums. The value of recording them lies in the reknown they bring to the artist who can parlay that fame into sold-out concerts and other venues:
Yes, I know people have home studios and are cranking out tunes by the millions and putting them on their Facebook or MySpace pages, but nearly 100% of them are crap.
Crap, you say? Why? Talent often requires a good deal of instruction, competition, and criticism to develop to the point where it becomes good enough to interest others. Hobbyists don't get that. Hollywood does a good deal of development, and yet 95% of their movies are nearly unwatchable now, and never has so much money been spent on film except for one thing -- the writing. Old Hollywood often spent 25% of a film budget on writing alone. Even the best-paid writers now get nothing like that much.
One hundred thousand or so books a year are published in the USA now, yet millions more are written...and of those 100K, few make money.
So, here are some interesting questions: Assuming he's right about all this, what is the future of music in our culture? Will we be seeing a decline in the quality of our popular music (many would argue that we already have)? Is the decline inevitable? What would it take to reverse it and is it worth reversing? Is a government bailout of the music industry on the horizon?RLC