----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>
> So how many people, per capita are musicians? or trying to make a living
from making music? That said, I wonder if there are any statistics on the per
capita AFM membership numbers before the invention of recorded sound versus
today. Of course, before recorded sound, if you wanted music in your home, you
played it...or if you were rich, you hired some musicians. So, probably, the AFM
numbers wouldn't tell you all that much about how many people "made" music and
if we had a need for as many professional musicians. And of course, since the
AFM was founded in 1896 my question is technically meaningless...but hopefully
you get the idea.
> And then, when it came to recordings, lets see...$7 for the Sextet from
Lucia (c. 1908) in today's money would be $146...ok, it was a premium record,
but today, who in their right mind would think to pay that kind of money for
less than 5 minutes of recorded sound...maybe if it was a unique disc...but it
seems to be a question of the economies of scale.
> After having read a bunch, I still don't understand the economics of it all.
> How can artist "tip" in the current licensing structure? Expressing my
ignorance, are there non-profit, tax exempt internet outlets for the "up and
coming," or that which has "nostalgia value?" Have you noticed how those
nostalgia music shows on PBS sound and look like infomercials for K-tel? Sorry
if this reads like a stream conciousness, but I see it all being part of the
same grabbing for a piece of the action.
> I also don't understand the history of this. In the "old" (not the oldest)
days, a union musician was paid a recording rate which was higher than the rate
played for a service. That was at a time when record companies determined who
would record what. Now, increasingly, musicians have the control over what they
record...so, in a sense, the old "recording rate" fee structure is, in popular
music, (except for session players perhaps), meaningless? So, is the rationale
for the broadcasting fees a replacement for the recording rates musicians
abdicated so they could have artistic control over their product? I am also
reminded of the days of payola when record companies would pay for air play.
> Admittedly, I did not read all of the articles I encountered, but would it
be possible, within the guidelines of the law, for there to be a non-profit
organization which would list all of the musicians/groups/labels that want to
opt out of the payment scheme and could be aired over the net for free?
> Karl (still confused)
Well, one of the challenges the AFM was formed to face was, of course,
"canned" (i.e. recorded) music! By 1896, both Mr. Edison and Mr. Berliner
were selling sound recordings with musical content, as well as machines
to play them. Also, the majority of present-day musicians DON'T belong
to the union, since very few venues can afford to pay performers "scale"
or anything close to it.
Secondly, consider that it wasn't until 1905 that Victor lowered the price
of an ordinary 10" record...with ONE playable side...from 70 cents to 60!
Double-sided discs generally cost from 65 cents to $1; in 1919, Emerson
introduced the 50-cent Regal label, quickly countered by Pathe's Perfect
label (also 50 cents)...and by 1920 one could buy a Silvertone disc for
less than a quarter. Note, however, that many people were working for $1/day
at that time!
Finally, most not-yet-famous groups are promoting their recordings via
their own web site...and selling them via operations like CDbaby. The
"terrestrial" radio operations still get free records from the "major
labels" (so far, anyway)...but, given net radio, sattellite radio, and
all the various low-cost (as well as illicit) sources for digital music,
old-fashioned electromagnetic radio is becoming the least-used way to
distribute one's music...
Steven C. Barr