Greatness Will Be Our Salvation

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

Remember the first time you heard The Beatles.  Or The Who? Or Nirvana?  These artists broke through the clutter of the ordinary, inspiring us to want to be part of the world of rock n roll.

But today, as the music industry struggles to survive, economic challenges overwhelm even the most hearty insiders.  Many are searching to find a fix to the financial sinkhole currently undermining the business.

A quick look at how the financial pie is split illustrates the basic issue. Let’s say you bought a new CD at your local record store for $14.98. Once the distribution fee, discounts and manufacturing costs are taken out, the record label is left with about $7.50. With that money, the label must pay for the recording, promotion and marketing of the record, not to mention touring and royalties. This isn’t a new equation. The economics have always been the same. The difference is, in the past, all that hard work yielded a strong result.  Today sales are weak at best.

And it’s much worse in a digital economy. While there’s zero cost to manufacture, an average download only earns 70 cents  That income stream still has to pay for all the other regular costs.  As a result, no artist is getting rich on their digital sales.
Outsiders often point out that music is just promotion for a tour. They argue ticket and merchandise sales make up the losses in other areas.  But across the board, ticket sales are significantly down.  And with a downturn in ticket sales, goes a downturn in merchandising income.
We are hungry for salvation.  It’s time for music to stand up again and be the defining inspiration in our lives.  It’s time for our musical renewal.

One day, there will be a record you just can’t stop listening to. A record you gotta hold in your hands.  A band you gotta see.  Then, and only then, will we be redeemed.
This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.