Over the years, the artist benefited from a music industry swelling with a backroom of talent. It was the creative infrastructure of the music industry and what I like to call ‘The Engine Room.’ It’s where collaborations were born and where the road used to begin.
When you signed to a record company it was the beginning, it meant the start of a relationship. And the better the relationship, the greater the chance of success.
You see success was something everyone used to share and it was an industry that drove people to succeed. The pleasure was shared with everyone because everyone played an equal part. Today with a rapidly diminishing return I don’t think it’s a unity, it’s a jungle mentality. Eat or be eaten, artist against the record company. As the record companies no longer sell a significant amount of albums they want a piece of every part of the pie. The shift of power, however, has moved to the artist and they now have greater control over their livelihood providing of course they have the correct infrastructure in place as in management, accountants, etc.
Many of the things that worked so well in the past are seemingly lacking today. Yet so many of these things are quite simple when you think about it. In the music industry, people are scared of losing their jobs and even artists nowadays are scared of being dropped. Why should that be any different though? It’s supposed to be a risky business, it’s supposed to be about taking chances and pushing out that little bit further. We lost our mavericks and we lost our risk-takers. We lost our innovators and we lost our way. The accountants and the lawyers came in and the creativity and development which ultimately help build a career became less important than the return.
We live in an age of instant gratification, where the quicker the return on investment, then the happier the label. And the safer the jobs.
But are we creating anything anyone is going to remember in years to come? Are we going to have any ‘heritage acts’ who stand the test of time and get to be rediscovered by a younger audience or are their personal tastes elsewhere when it comes to entertainment?
The relationships were everywhere, the artist with their manager, the manager with the label, the label with the publisher. Then the producer and the A and R manager and from there it went on. The only thing that may have changed is that the fan is able to have a closer relationship with the artist. Since the emergence of social media there are ways for the artists and their fans to engage making them more ‘real’ in the eyes of the fan. It works when both parties reciprocate.