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Heather McDonald

For Love or Money: Why Do You Make (or Release) Music?

By December 10, 2012

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In one of the classes I teach, I always pose a question to my students on one of their tests: Should Record Labels Like All the Music They Release? Now, since this class is specifically about record labels, that question is fitting there - but the topic is one that resonates with everyone throughout the music industry. When you make music - or decide to release music, put on a show, or get involved in music in some other way, does love or money trump?

Let me be clear about one thing here. I'm not on some "art should be free and anyone trying to make money at is a sellout" trip. Far from it. Making smart decisions about finances so you can actually sustain yourself in the music industry is crucial, so making money has to be part of the picture if you want music to be your career. As I told an up-and-coming musician friend the other night, you can't pay for your tour with cool points. However, let's consider the spectrum. For instance, if you're a musician - do you just write and see what comes out, or do you try to write "hits?" If you want to start a label or manage a band, would you take on musicians you love whose work is not that marketable, or would you work with music that doesn't really speak to you but that you think you can sell?

For the record, most of my students say that a label shouldn't care if they like the music they release, save for the few who make the point that many labels will be more active pushing music they like because they believe in it more (sometimes they accidentally internalize the ramblings of their indie professor). What about you? Do you make music for love or money - or more to the point, where is your balance? Share your thoughts and see what others have had to say!

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December 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm
(1) Guest says:

Music has become a talent show competition.
No problem, but unfortunately it makes people believe they can do it.
(If while seeing others sing/perform you believe you can too, they probably aren’t that good)
My job is to make sure you know that you are not qualified to do it.
I owe that to love. The standard is forever High.

Taking the genius out of the equation to allow you to feel better about your talent
is really about the industry gaining control of the art form itself.
Why do you think there are so many look and sound alike artist?
Easily replaceable, that’s why. “Factory” artist is the term.

Mediocrity is the death of any business.

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