This was an interesting article, shared without comment by a musician friend.
Now I am a songwriter and musician (please imagine Star Jones parody voice), but oddly enough my main initial reaction to David Lowery, the protagonist of this article, went something like this: Boo-freaking-hoo.
In 2012 he only made $440 in songwriter royalties from his 1985 debut album while back in 2002 he had made $1,147. To suggest that, thus, the system is broken, struck me as ridiculous. I was all set to blog about how writing a song has zero inherent monetary value. It's the promoters - the people who mesmerize journalists and other strangers into believing your song has value - who really earn the money. You made deals with multi-national corporations to record, release, and promote your music to the point where it gets a million plays on Pandora and now those corporations aren't giving you enough money? Again I thought, boo-freaking-hoo. You're actually impossibly lucky to have gotten as far as you have. Get some perspective. Get a real job.
The music business is the system by which the vast number of people who would not inherently care about music (hereafter referred to as Z for Zombies) are all but forced to care about music by people who forcefully shove that music down their throats (hereafter referred to as F for Feeders). The F can not create the product and thus require people who care deeply about music and create it themselves (hereafter referred to as B for Brains). Sometimes a young, naive, excited B, full of love for their craft (think 1962 Bob Dylan), makes a deal with a hardworking, highly skilled F (think Albert Grossman), to get their music to Z. Later B is sad to learn that F expected to receive money for getting B the attention of Z. "It's all because of my genius that Z loves me!" thinks B, deluded. B sues F, etc.
Then I read David Lowery's original blog post and most of the indignant wind went out of my sails like Roseanne Roseannadanna.
My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale!
Now I get it. Songwriters can't negotiate a rate with Pandora. The government sets that rate. That is unfair. Agreed. Nevermind.
Am I even going to post this? What would be the point? I guess the point would be don't draw conclusions about a person simply from reading a New York Times article about them. Read something they wrote themselves.
Which I knew already, having been myself the subject of 3 (three!) newspaper articles, all mildly or wildly inaccurate, over my twenty-four years in (actually mostly out) of the music business. Anyway, I woke up an hour early today with no hope of going back to sleep, thus blog post. Enjoy. Could have written a song, I guess, but what would be the point? I don't have an F and wish to avoid the attentions of Z.