In a response to an article titled “Want to Make $50,000 a Year in Music? Start with One Dollar a Day”, David Hahn provides a little history about the last 100 years of the music business:
For about 100 years there was this economic bubble in the musician industry. We called it the “Recording Industry” and it made a ton of money. Some people made money hand-over-fist. (Most of that money, though, went to the people that ran the business and not to the musicians, but that’s another story.)
The problem was that the whole industry was dependent on a closed distribution system built on limited technology. Eventually some smart people created a way to circumvent that distribution route with computers and the whole house of cards collapsed.
100 years. It’s really not that long. Humans have been on Earth for about a half a million years, so the record industry era represented just a tiny percentage of our history. Beethoven made a living as a musician, as did many of the musicians that played in his orchestras and operas. They never sold a record. So what’s the big deal?
I think the 100 years of the record industry created a set of unrealistic expectations and entitlements in the musician business, and we’re still having trouble getting past it. Selling recorded music used to make a lot of money – quickly – and we want it back. When we can’t get it back we try make up substitute business models that might bring in quick money just as easily.
So what kind of content do we see being served to musicians these days? Articles about the collapse of our beloved recording industry. Articles claiming to give advice on how to make quick money again. Articles about mega-stars that are still making quick money.
It’s all nonsense.
Hahn then goes on to provide some actual useful advice – advice based on his own experience – on how to make $50,000 a year in the music business.