monetizing music

January 30th, 2009  |  Published in Uncategorized

The music industry is whack.  We all know this, but as a person making DIY punk music it’s always hard to reason about making money from making music.  Working a crappy (and moreover, undignified) job to support making records is something that is respected or revered.  With many folks making music coming from college-educated backgrounds or middle-class economic situations with lots of community and family support, the reality is that people could easily transition from a life where they live at income levels below the poverty line and make music to a life where they work a dignified, or at least lucrative, job to support themselves.  Are you flaunting your privelege by artificially living in poverty or by succumbing to an economic vision that doesn’t allow musicians to support themselves without all the cruft, exploitation, hype and wasteful promotion of the traditional record industry?

I don’t have the answers to this, but in his song Moment of Clarity, Jay-Z seems to have made his decision, at least in his completely different set of experiences in life and with the music industry:

The music business hate me
’cause the industry ain’t make me
Hustlers and boosters embrace me
And the music I be making
I dumb down for my audience
And double my dollars
They criticize me for it
Yet they all yell “Holla”
If skills sold
Truth be told
I’d probably be
Lyrically
Talib Kweli
Truthfully
I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
(But I did five Mil)
I ain’t been rhyming like Common since
When your sense got that much in common
And you been hosteling since
Your inception
Fuck perception
Go with what makes sense
Since
I know what I’m up against
We as rappers must decide what’s most important
And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them
So I got rich and gave back
To me that’s the win, win
The next time you see the homie and his rims spin
Just know my mind is working just like them
(The rims that is)