A wake-up call from musician and composer Chinmaya Dunster: buy the music you want to hear.
When I had my Reiki and Meditation centre in Scotland I always asked people not to copy the CDs and the (still in those days available) tapes from each other, but to buy them. Not to increase the sales of my little book and music shop but because I wanted the musicians to get some profit, in particular because most of them were my personal friends.
I recently chatted with Chinmaya and asked him how the situation was these days.
Download it, fileshare it, exchange hard disks full of it, copy it, burn it.
Listen to it?
Hell, man, I can’t find enough time to listen to all the stuff I already have on my computer. It just runs in the background while I get on with other things.
Errrr…. Sorry, don’t get you?
So what’s it like for a small independent music composer like me in these days of music download / overload? How does it feel to watch an already small income dip lower and lower with each half-yearly royalty statement? How do I manage to persuade great musicians to play on my CDs for peanuts because there simply isn’t enough in it to pay them properly? What do I say to people who come up to me in all innocence and tell me they just found they got a track of mine off a friend and they really like it?
You’re right, it hurts.
I heard that to get out and gig is now the way to make money nowadays.
Punya, did you notice how few musicians on tour there actually are? Maybe you think it’s because the rest are too lazy, or lack the talent? Any idea how much money and energy and how many people it would take to reproduce my, or Karunesh’s (for example) music live? There are few bands on tour because there’s only enough money in it for a few bands!
Not enough people buying music, not enough people paying to go out to watch it. Any answers out there?
Couldn’t the music industry get their act together and stop piracy?
Record labels, record shops are all closing down because there’s simply not enough buying public. They don’t know how to change the ‚get it for free’ attitude!
But isn’t iTunes and legal download working?
Nope: the figures show that the majority of people buy single tracks from iTunes, not whole albums. If you used to buy a physical CD and now only download a single song, the average musician’s earning just dropped by 90%. Already I’m hearing from musician friends how little sense there is in putting six months of hard work into creating a CD as most of us used to. Inevitably this means quality will fall off.
Can’t you get into advertising / sponsorship / branding and make your income that way?
Sure, we can stop being primarily musicians, and spend more time on self promotion and making links to corporates. But less time spent on music equals less quality. Happy?
The only answer I have is to talk to you as I have here, and post awareness-raising links on Facebook like this one:
It reminds me of the environmental awareness movement worldwide.
The few who care have to shout very loud about change to be heard above the inertia of the majority to continue as before.
Chinmaya was born in 1954 in England and started playing the classical guitar at 15. After taking sannyas in 1982 he took up playing the sarod. The Osho Commune in Pune provided him the ground for musical experiments over the next quarter century until, today, he has nine CDs released on New Earth Records and a further four on Malimba Records. Chinmaya is also involved with environmental / social justice issues in his adopted homeland, India, which takes him around India with the Green Ragas Band. He also creates awareness-raising films on these issues. chinmaya-dunster.com