I wasn’t needling him, I was mocking him. Because he is a big, privileged baby whining about how hard it is to play SXSW and being ridic. If it’s so hard being a band, he should stop. Fugazi taught us we can say no to anything and still have a totally brilliant career.
- jessica hopper, talking about diiv in response to my tumblr post
would fugazi’s career be possible now? The Evens are of course in no way in Fugazi’s league but I noted they play mainstream fests that Fugazi would in no way ever have played-obviously different band, different times, mass amounts of kids are not gonna mosh to their sound, but I don’t think fugazi would play pitchfork or coachella… times have changed.
I am trying to think of a band that exists on the same terms as fugazi now (only playing all ages shows, no booking agent, five dollar shows) even on the DIY punk scale the morale/morals have shifted… I got really indignant re: NO AGE when I was editing MRR, their music was outside of our coverage anyway, but they were my friends and my band played with them, and MRR reviewed their old more trad punk/HC band… I got irate bc I felt like they could have been the fugazi of now; they talked the talk about all ages shows, DIY culture, kids were swept up by them; but they only seemed to play booking agent style tours, they made use of weird corporate sponsorship opportunities (which I know a lot of “big” indie bands rely on because of a lot of the points made in the article J.Hopper linked to above; ie bands will play Blackberry’s employee XMAS party bc they will make 15,000 bucks, which is the sort of money I am sure Fugazi made in a DIY manner not playing corporate christmas parties, because their records fucking made the billboard hot 100 and thousands of kids would go see them play when they toured. Not to say No Age made us of those kind of opportunities, I have no idea, I just know bands who have done, I was referring to the usual weird SXSW sneaker company freebies that all “one step above DIY/punk rock booking agent” level bands do). I find the engagement with that specific sort of corporate culture gross: esp when you are not actually getting paid (ie the people playing the xmas parties are GETTING PAID, when your band gets free sneakers and or endorses a multinational car company bc they made u a CDR you are not getting paid, you are giving a huge corporate entity cool points for free. When actors or paid models do car commercials they make a lot of money, and when the commercial gets played over and over they get even more money. When bands have scion merch on their tour table, it’s free advertising for the brand, and uh, maybe some gas money for the tour? Maybe?! It seems like a totally shitty deal. BUT I am talking about this bc things have shifted since fugazi era-my friends band toured with a big popular indie band, who make music for a living, that is their job. my friend literally had to pretend to be her band’s manager in order to get venues to actually pay them (ie big venues will not take you seriously and will try and fuck you over; maybe not if you are ian mackaye, but if you are girl x in a punk band that does not have a booking agent or a manager negotiating on their behalf….) and what they were getting offered was pretty similar to what my teenage band got when we supported Beck in like 1993 during the loser tour, ie the supporting band paycheck at huge venues has not changed with inflation since I was 14! The main band gets their guarantee, but you will be lucky if you get $100. You can play a DIY show in a basement somewhere and make more than that! Assuming whoever is running the show has their shit together and makes everyone pay their $5 and doesn’t accept the “crusty bro with dog on a rope and six pack in other hand” excuse that they have no $ from too many attendees. Also-if you do have a booking agent, and they are taking their 10%/20% you are not even gonna make your gas money. so. I don’t know, this is rambling, but I just wanted to point out that 1) does the culture exist at this point in time that COULD support a big band that wanted to do things fugazi style (gas prices are four times what they were during that band’s height of fame, kids don’t wanna buy anything, the internet, the ethical concerns that fugazi espoused no longer seem to be of interest to most youth etc etc) 2) why is it that the “indie rock” or whatever you wanna call it culture has just straight up replicated gross mainstream music biz practices that are unethical and bloated at a time when it seems like being streamlined would be more appropriate for survival.
Obviously I am not a music biz insider, I used to edit a DIY punk publication and I have toured with bands since I was 13; but I have no mainstream imusic business experience other than getting fifty thousand emails a day from “punk” PR companies about their tired roster… Also I do not care about bands decisions to endorse corporations at this point in time; it’s not something I would do, and I don’t mean to single out no age in this thing-just that that was my first experience of a band engaging with that culture, I don;t think what they chose to do was particularly gross when compared to like, scion shit
EDITED TO ADD: I know bands make most of their $ via merch sales, tote bag lifestyles, while touring rather than from the door, so it is possible to make your gas money at a big show. fugazi did not have a merch booth tho.
- tumblr user modraucous, talking about fugazi in response to jessica hopper
One of my biggest frustrations at the moment is the complete lack of leadership from the artist community on the key issues facing our industry. It is a complete void. Those who step up are either painfully wrong and disorganized (as in this case), or go completely unsupported by their peers. There is no artist union. THERE SHOULD BE. Managers and agents keep that from happening because they’re afraid of poaching if they let another representative get close to their artist. But artists aren’t demanding unionization (or something like it) either. Collaboratively in the live business alone, they could:- Stop the poisonous attack on artists’ rights to try to get a cheapticket to their fans through legislation- Force a better consumer experience by insisting on all-in pricing (and potentially secure better economics for themselves)- Drive full inventory disclosure so fans get the best shot at tickets- Even potentially break the venue control of the ticket if they wanted toThey are missing the fact that being an artist in this age also means being an entrepreneur. And good entrepreneurs know when to partner to further their interests. My observation is that most of the bad things about the consumer experience in both recorded and live music have been allowed to persist because the artist community is fragmented, and therefore powerless as a whole. They lose out to established status-quo forces via thousands of one-on-one negotiations, rather than creating leverage by assembling their interests. It also allows larger artists to act with only self interest, rather than using their status to advance the cause of all artists. There are no ties that bind.I’m obsessed with solving this, because without a collective voice from the artist community, transformative forces will shape the future of their business (and potentially their craft) without them. And history says that is an exploitative environment for artists, and a mediocre-at-best experience for fans.Nathan HubbardCE0Ticketmaster
- ticketmaster ceo nathan hubbard, in an email to bob lefsetz
1. Things are more expensive in Japan
Taxi meters begin at 710 yen ($7), movies are about 1800 yen ($18), and CD albums are an average 3000 yen ($30).
So, CDs are expensive in Japan, and the same goes for digital products. The average song on iTunes is 250 yen ($2.50). Japan certainly sells a lot of units, but what makes the market so big is that the price of each product is so high compared to the rest of the world. Not only is Japan the biggest music market in the world now — it’s likely the most expensive music market in the world too.
2. Price fixing on CDs
The price of CDs hasn’t changed at all for over a decade (possibly more), although most releases these days have bonus content like DVDs or bigger photo booklets to justify the price. Prices for music product have always been legally protected from discounting — the prices are actually printed onto the product itself, so historically, there has never been any retail price war to drive prices down. The equivalent of Best Buy or Walmart cannot sell CDs at a deep discount in order to get customers in the door. (The same price fixing is also true of books and DVDs, which I believe is the reason those industries too are enjoying a robust physical business.)
3. Obsessive collectors inflate the market
Many CDs these days include a bonus package, like a CD/DVD combo. Artists who have a rabid following (boy bands, female idols, and K-pop groups) will go even further and release multiple versions of one product — for example, a single album could come in three physical versions:
- CD with DVD of a full concert
- CD with DVD of music videos and behind the scenes footage
- CD with 40-page photo booklet.
The loyal fan needs all three versions of an album to complete the collection, with each one priced at 30 bucks or more. Sometimes, they’re just buying another version for alternate cover art. It’s not cheap being a dedicated music fan in Japan.
TVXQ, the biggest K-pop group in Japan, released three different versions of their 2013 album, Time, and three versions of their 2011 album, Tone. And girl group AKB48 had the top-five-selling singles of 2012 [the article quotes Swarts], and is an interesting study because their CDs are not just recorded music but currency for something else, like entry tickets for a meet-and-greet with the artist, or voting tickets for the annual election where fans pick a lead vocalist is for the upcoming single.
Although the Recording Industry Association of Japan are understandably pleased about Japan’s music market becoming #1, they should worry about the future. The current size of the market is due largely to a handful of acts who have obsessive fans willing to buy three different versions of an album, or 100 copies of an AKB48 single, because it gets them 100 votes for their favorite girl in the election. The market will shrink when these acts wane in popularity and the value-added CD scheme no longer works.
See also: RIAJ’s Statistics and Trends 2013 (.pdf)
4. The illegal download revolution never happened here
There has been no Napster, no Bit Torrent, or anything similar, that was embraced by the Japanese youth. It could be that Japanese people are generally honest — or [we like this theory], it could be that the preferred mode of netsurfing for Japanese young people has always been the phone, which won’t allow much file sharing.
Whatever the reason, illegal downloading is/was not as debilitating to the music market as it was elsewhere. Most people still buy (or rent) music from legitimate sources, and pay full price. Japan wasn’t immune to decreasing physical sales, but for many years, that gradual decline was countered by a growing mobile download market — with full-length songs selling for approximately $4. There is concern about the digital future now, because the feature phone download business is tanking as everyone migrates to smartphones. Meanwhile, smartphone music downloads are not growing at the same pace.
5. Physical rules because digital is still in its infancy
The conspiracy theory: Japanese record labels never wanted a real digital music market, because that would threaten the lucrative physical market.
Mobile sites selling select singles at $4 a pop was okay. Letting iTunes or an equivalent build a library of music to rival that of a physical retailer was not okay. ITunes launched in Japan in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2012 that Sony Music Japan licensed its Japanese repertoire to Apple, meaning that iTunes Japan had been missing a significant chunk of the Japanese music scene for several years.
Subscription services still face major hurdles, too. Multiple music subscription services have been working on launching in Japan, as well, but there are still major holdouts. Meanwhile, Sony’s Music Unlimited launched with an enormous international catalog, and also has Sony Japan material, but has nothing from Japanese major label Avex, which seems less cooperative with other platforms now that it has its own music/movie streaming service, called Uula. Conversely, Uula has no songs from Sony Japan. Recochoku is operated by a consortium of local labels, which gives it the best chance of becoming the default digital choice. However, it has a comparatively small catalog at around one million songs, and makes it a point to explain that they focus on having recognizable J-Pop hits.
The bottom line is: There is no digital service that is so complete that it makes consumers think they can abandon CDs and go entirely digital. And that’s probably how the industry likes it.
- billboard.com article by alan swarts about japan’s music industry, talking about why it generates as much income as the US music industry despite japan’s population being only 41% of the united states’