My favorite joke about musicianship is the following:
What is the difference between a musician and a pizza? A pizza can feed a family.
This was the fact before the Corona Crisis (CC) and will become more and more true after the CC. Metallica visualised the musican´s status in their brilliant video for "Turn the Page", which correlates the experiences on the road on the auditive and the experiences of what the life on tour and life as musician is - prostitution - on the visual way. So the crisis has the potential to change this antique system of putting-out system.
Music - a putting-out system
Several points weren´t thematisised: The music business is a putting-out system, means a subcontracting work. A central agent ( CEO of the label) contracted subcontractors (musicans) who complete the work (recording an album, going on tour) in off-site facilities (organised venues by a booking agency), either in their homes (rehearsal room) or in workshops with multiple craftsmen (roadies and technicians in venues). The central agent supplies the subcontractors with means (money) to create a product (record).
As a result of entering the publishing system, the subcontractors became wage laborers who had to meet foreign requirements against a pitiful piece of wages. The homeworker stopped being a direct entrant. He was often at the mercy of exploitation by the publisher, without bargaining power through trade unions or guilds, and without security, especially in times of crisis. Without a doubt, that meant a loss of freedom for the worker, but it was often the only way to keep him from starving. The former do-it-yourselfers were certainly exploited in most cases by the publisher and their labor was skimmed off at the lowest possible cost. The costs for the raw materials (money for producing a record) were immediately deducted from the wages of the laid workers, some of which were paid not with money, but with food or with the specially manufactured goods.
The putting-out system is a pre-industrial system which still lives on in the music industry. The subcontractor has to run for paying back his debts to the agent. Concering an album it will take between 20. - 100.000€, including promotion and physical formats. And he even doesn´t own the rights on his work. These are owned by the label and of course of the recording studio. Music streaming isn´t an alternative for earning money (image on the right) and touring unites a lot of risks.
So is there a way out of this already collapsed system?
Art on demand?
Big bands can tour around the world and they earn their money on touring. They can afford all the costs and the pay back the costs. It is just a short-term credit for them. Smaller bands have to pay for the nightliners - around 1500-2000€ a day - so they need support bands which pay the bus with the main act.
And you cannot travel to New Zealand just to play some concerts.
During the CC, there were a lot of live streams on the airwaves. Some of them were free of charge, others were streamed for paying. This system makes a band much more independent from all the agents in business, for example from "Chainsaw Charlie" on W.A.S.P.´s concept album "The Crimson Idol".
Art on demand is a one-time event that has to generate enough money for keeping the band members surving. Kvelertak charged 10€ for their live stream "Live from your living room". You still have to pay for watch it, although it was streamed on April 10th, 2020.
2350 watched the concert via Twitter and perhaps a third of their 150.000 likes on Facebook. Could be theoretically 500.000€. With just one concert, without paying the nightliner, without being fucked up by a tour or a venue manager, without a daily build up a stage and a wait for playing late at night and without paying the booking agency. Kvelertak still owns the rights for their concert, so they still earn money, if you want to watch it. Of course, they have to pay for the online support of www.vierlive.no which keeps the concert online.
You earn a direct money for your merch, you can answer to all the live comments and get in contact with your fans via social media. More than as ever could be possible after a real live concert.
"Concert" actually means "to compete with", so the crowd wants to be louder than the band and vice versa. Both want to get rid of negative feelings and I don´t know what else. It´s a therapy and a catharsis for both participants for connecting each-other. Same for the spectators among themselves.
Just watch the two concerts of Iron Maiden:
In 1980, nobody took pictures or filmed the concert, because it was stricktly forbidden. The tickets were full of restrictions, you were just allowed to see the band and bang your head. Even the bar was closed during a concert.This remains untill around 2005. Just take a look at your tickets.
Look at the distance between the spectators in 2019! Nobody gets in touch with his neighbour, beer is allowed, filming is allowed, taking picture is allowed. Actually this concert is a bootleg.
In the 80´s you had to pay between 50 and 80€ for a bootleg in some choosen record stores. Now you can have them for free on Youtube.
This 80´s concert feeling will not only come up due to a small venue. This feeling came up when there was a lack of concerts, due to the lack of bands. Actually, the bands were the background for social contacts and no inspiration or identification as they were in the 80´s, maybe 90´s.
The fewer bands there are, the fewer industry and fuss around will be. The CC is a harsh way to dry out the swamp of Chainsaw Carlies, booking agents, roadies and other gypsies travelling with and around bands. The bands should take this chance to regain their personal and financial freedom.