So the pirate are coming... or according to John McLaughlin, they're already here!
My good friend Gary Husband posted this link to john's blog on his facebook page and I ended up writing this long ass comment on it as it's something I feel quite strongly about, and I believe there are so many people who are just lacking a little information on what is actually possible in the music industry these days. There's no need to blame everyone else for your lack of record sales, it's just time to do some research and adapt to where the music industry is at. Turning this scene to your advantage, and profiting greatly not just financially, but emotionally too. It's really nice not to have to be stressed about piracy of music, illegal downloads, and all of that. But it seems john is burning some brain cells on that subject still, and I don't think he has to. Someone with that much music in him, that much talent, that much of a fanbase, and that much of a heart doesn't have to stress about this stuff ever.
Anyway, this was the comment I left on gary's facebook page having read John's blog post.
"I almost completely disagree with John's point of view on this one, and it's something I'm hugely passionate about and take a great deal of interest in. And the more I read the rantings of anyone over the age of 50 who's involved in the music industry (almost always jazz guys too), the more I realize how out of touch artists like John are with the real world. There are also a ton of high profile artists I could name that voice these thoughts privately to me from time to time, but as it's john who wrote the public post it's more appropriate to respond directly to that. I have to first point out that I'm by no means encouraging the piracy, looting, stealing, or illegal use of other people's music. I agree that there are, on paper, laws being broken. But here's my real point... (and this especially applies to artists like john who I'm almost positive haven't broken 100,000 in sales on each record for two decades, and for the most part won't even break 10,000 ever again). Making an album these days is, besides recording a true representation of your emotional state through music at the given time you hit the red button and start playing, a glorified business card and a (depending on the designer) hip looking and sounding advert to people to let them know what you do. I really tire of people saying how much the music industry has been murdered or how's it's totally dead and isn't what it was 20 or 30 years ago. DUH! of course it isn't. How short sighted and defeatist can a person be? what's wrong with using the current state of the music industry to ones advantage rather than bitch about the "good ole' days" not being here still? Why doesn't John try giving his music away? cutting out the Pirates as he calls them. Giving the music away so he's the only source. And not just the music, but why not also give something personal away alongside it? encourage people to sign his mailing list so he can talk to them directly? send them personal messages and updates about things he's doing. "things" like touring which is where there is money to be made now. Selling CD's and merchandise on the road at shows. You have about 10-12 minutes after a live show where people are completely invested in you emotionally, and sometimes on many other levels if you did your job and connected with them for the previous 90 mins or so. It's that time where you can erase the 'pirates' from relevance by having physical product to sell to your audience. Continually growing your fan base through social media and online marketing, and delivering products to your demographic by using intelligent research, innovative design of your delivery vehicle, and moving with the current state of technology to increase exclusivity of your content. Why is John bitching about one version of his music. The Album. Why is he not giving the album away for free? or letting fans name their price at an online outlet such as bandcamp? and then why is he not recording every show he plays, sorting through the performances at the end of a tour, and then running exclusive "short run" releases of that material to create urgency and exclusivity at the same time. "hey guys it's John here, I'm giving you the opportunity to download a concert we played at the north pole that you more than likely didn't make it to. It's available here: XXXXXX for the next 48hrs only". It's simple, it's effective, and I can report from personal experience that it not only works financially in both the short and long term, but it grows a respect from your fan base towards you as an artist. Once people know that, like john for instance, an artist is able to deliver something original and outstanding musically speaking, they'll come to trust that most of the output from that artist that becomes available is worth picking up. Yes, it involves a little more work on the part of the artist, and like anything new to anyone there's a learning curve that must be conquered. But it cuts out record labels (who even at the heyday took way too much bread from the artist), it cuts out the need to stress about piracy, it grows your audience more than you could ever have imagined, and it gives you complete artistic control to do what you what, when you want."