Look in the mirror - are you your own worst enemy?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Friday April 8, 2011

Look in the mirror - are you your own worst enemy?

Songwriters, musicians, producers and - yes - record companies deserve to make money from their music. Do you disagree?

I filled my car with petrol (gasoline) the other day. It was free. I drove to the supermarket and filled my basket with food. It was all free. In the evening I went to the local pub and had a pint of beer. It was free.

It's a fantastic life when everything is free. Literally fantastic, i.e. in the realms of fantasy.

Since this is the Internet we understand that a lot of people want to get music, and movies, and computer software for free. I have no problem with them wanting that. I want my petrol, food and beer free too. But the way things are in society, I don't get it.

What I don't understand however is that many people who aspire to make a living from music also seem to believe that music should be free.

I have asked the question many times, to literally hundreds of people who aimed to join the music and sound industries, whether they believe that they should have free access to music, and the answer of the vast majority has always been yes. Yes, they want to work in the music and sound industry, and at the same time they believe that music should be free.

I have run a few articles on Audio Masterclass about this, and a few more that are not currently online. Always the bulk of opinion in the comments has been that somehow it isn't reasonable to ask for money in return for music. And it certainly isn't reasonable ever to ask for more money.

Well I disagree.

I believe that music has a value, and when I create a piece of music I am entitled to seek to make money from it.

Let's take the recent example of the Belgian truck drivers, whose employers - it is suggested - should pay a licence fee to allow them to listen to the radio while at work, where undoubtedly they listen to music all day long.

OK this is look in the mirror time...

Are you weighing up the pros and cons of whether Belgian truck operators should pay? Or are you marshalling your arguments so that you could, if asked, state your case effectively so that ultimately you will earn more money from your music?

Put it another way, can you think of any business other than music where companies do not seek to maximize their profits? Indeed, a publicly-traded company has a duty to maximize returns for its shareholders.

That new microphone in your studio... Was it free? Your keyboard? Computer? DAW? Did anything that you use in your studio to make music come for free? Apart from the hours of dedication you put in to develop your craft - that came for free in monetary terms, and you're content now to give it away?

You know, we music creators are surrounded by people who want to leech off our work. Not just the freetards, but businesses that would be very happy to use our products for no payment to boost their profits.

It's time to stand up and insist that music has a value, and demand that we be paid properly for our work. If we don't then you can be sure that as time passes we will be paid less and less. The first step will be to stop being our own worst enemies, stand up for ourselves and state clearly that what we do has a value.

And that means, among many other things, that Belgian truck operators should pay for the music that makes their workforce happy and contented.

So go on... Tell me I'm wrong...


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