Some thoughts... music or business?

I’ve been invited two days ago by Doug Clement (check out his many times to be part of the panel he puts together to judge the final project of the students at the Harris Institute Toronto… and I do feel good when I can help the young guys. 

It was interesting, as always: the students had to present a music business related project, trying to sell it to the panel and to convince the panel to invest in it. That is really a good thing, you learn about the real world scenarios, and so the students, unlike some years ago, have a clue about what they need to do in order to succeed. The talent is great, but you need definitely more skills. 

I am both glad and sad; I am glad that some schools - like Harris Institute - are adapting fast to the changes in the business. I am sad because I have the feeling that, no matter what you’re doing in the music business, it becomes mandatory to learn the business aspect of it. Not a bad thing, but somehow in the old days the producer was producing, the mixing engineer was mixing, and so on. When you have to do them and, on top of it, be business savvy, you may not be as good as possible and it will take definitely longer to learn your kraft.  

Somehow I think that technology has something to do with it. It allows anybody to make an album at a low cost, but rarely the albums sound good. The first question in most of the cases when somebody calls the studio is how much it cost to record, or mix. Very few are concern right away about the quality, and everybody assumes that they get something that sounds perfect.

So, yes, it is way cheaper today to record and make an album. It is even easier to put the product up for sale, to discover that you eventually sell a few of them, and that’s it.

Good or bad, the record labels before were grooming the acts, and they had expertise in all the market aspects. Yes, they made a lot of money, yes, they controlled the whole business. But at least they had people who were able to make the difference between good and bad music, who understood what had to be done. All this structure tends to disappear, and we’re in a middle of a process of fundamental change in music business. I am quite sure that these functions will continue to be performed, but, until the new business model will take shape, there will be casualties of war all over.

I have hopes; one of the great thing about the student projects was that they understood to divide the responsibilities, even tough all of them may have had in mind the moment when they’ll be the next Michael Brauer. We learn from our mistakes and we move forward (or give up and start to sell cars or perfumes!). So, after this happening at the Harris Institute I am convinced that not everybody will follow a career in perfumes, banking or car sales!

Stay tuned,

Flo Fandango

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