People love music because music is that magical means of communication that never fails. The music industry is going through some rough times, but it is not going to die because music is a basic, central need in everyone’s life.
The old model of music creation and distribution that centered on an all-powerful recording company, however, may not survive, at least, not in its present form. Record company income had been greatly reduced due to illegal downloading of music, and the balance of power in music distribution, in making music available, has shifted from record companies to consumers. For better or for worse, this has changed the music business forever.
At its most basic level, the music industry needs great new talent to produce great new music. In the “good old days” 20 or 30 years ago, a hit record could experience sales of 500,000 or 1 million albums. Since record companies often made 50 percent profit on the sale of each album, there was plenty of money earned to allow investment in the support of new artists and songwriters, most of whom would not make a profit during the early part of their careers. Record company support allowed musicians to hire a much-needed team, including a manager, an attorney and a publicist.
In more recent years, record companies are struggling to stay alive and musicians must prove their ability to attract audiences who will attend their concerts and buy their CDs before record companies will even consider investing money in that artist’s career.
To learn how musicians are building their careers despite greatly reduced support from record companies, I spoke with Mike Scala, an accomplished New York City-based musician who has taken his band on two world tours and who has started his own foundation to help young people in need. Mike built his success without significant investment from any corporate group. He works tirelessly to compose new music and set up tours that earn enough to pay his travel expenses. You can visit Mike’s website, www.mikescala.com, and hear Mike and his band on their most recent European tour at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXD4QqbUp98.