Friday, May 30, 2014


I get tired of artists who are past their prime blaming piracy for their declining sales.

“To everything there is a season”

Remember that passage? Or the song lyric?

All you 80’s hair bands, you had your day in the sun.

Your record sales are not down because people are downloading your new material instead of buying it.

Your record sales are down because your audience is driving their kids to soccer practice and has a Miley Cyrus album in the minivan CD player (if it even has a CD player).

That's right-instead of buying your CD, they're buying Lorde CD's for their kids.

They don’t even know you have a new album out. They're too busy shuttling their kids back and forth to their activities.

Sure they’ll shell out $100 bucks to see your concert, but they want to hear the hits from thirty years ago. If you want this soccer mom to throw her panties on stage, you better play that old power ballad!

Or didn’t you notice how everyone went for the exits when you said, “We’re gonna play a new tune?

The only people who still bother to illegally download music these days were never going to buy it in the first place.

They’re the same crowd that taped the album when FM radio played it in its entirety in the seventies, or got their friend to tape it for them, or got their friend to burn it, or borrowed the CD to rip it.

Since iTunes and Spotify came to prominence, people who are buying music are only buying the songs they want, not the other nine cuts that bookend the hit.

That’s why recording revenues are down-as it  turns out, most people don’t want the whole album, they just want the single. 

You know, like it used to be when there were 45's.

As much as this reality saddens me (an album buff),  a look at YouTube confirms this- the singles have a bazillion views, and the “deep” album tracks only show the handful of hits from the BOTB readership.

The fact that most people do not want to consume most of your music has nothing to do with piracy.

Stop blaming Napster.

If you want to win the recorded music game, you better either be writing hits or partnering with someone who can.

The young people of America, who are still the primary music-buying demographic, have got non-stop media stimulation competing for their attention, and they have immediate access to infinite audio and video options. And they have an attention span rivalling the life of a gnat.

So that thirty second clip of your band playing it’s 30 year-old hit that some guy uploaded onto You Tube is not cutting into you sales.

That guy, by the way, liked your band enough to shell out one hundred times the cost of the song download for a ticket to watch you play it live.

His video upload is not cutting into your sales.

You’re old.

The industry was afraid of home taping, then afraid of used CD stores, then afraid of digital audio tape, then afraid of CD burners, then afraid of file sharing.

Instead of embracing technology, the industry fights it.

The industry is afraid of the future, so it cries wolf (piracy).

The essence of popular music is creating something people want to hear. That will never change.

Think of how powerful the Internet is. Would the United States have heard Lorde without it? Technology has made music far more accessible.

But the inevitable fading fortunes as artists (and their audience) age has always been there.

The fact that people will pay more than ever to see you perform live should be some consolation.


  1. AMEN!!!

    [Hey, that 'cassette and crossbones' image is really neat. Whoever came up with that idea... good imagination!]

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. That was an image from our "yewt!" That scandal was back in the 70's.

      The business seemed to survive it...

  2. This quite literally made me LOL. Sad but true; 'You're old." Get a grip, and stop blaming everything else. Ha!

  3. Woot woot! Are you talking about Poison? I want to know who the b@tchers are so that I can write them a letter. I mean send an email. Okay, post anonymously on YouTube. ha!

    This post made me laugh. I don't understand the whole piracy thing. Never have. The more people who hear and like your music is bound to be good for you. As you say, the big money has to be in concert tix. And groups that rocked the 80s don't have to waste time on new material. NO ONE wants to hear it. So, Brett Michaelson, let go of that solo career you've fixated on for years. No one cares. We just want to hear Every Rose Has Its Thorn, okay??? And you still won't see my panties, but I will sing along. But that drunk chick six rows up is close to naked. Lucky you. Too bad she's fifty. ha!

    I remember fondly listening to the Top 40 with my fingers hovering over the Record and Play buttons JUST IN CASE it was my favorite song. Those were crazy mix tapes. That Casey Casem always managed to talk over the intro so I got his voice plus the song.

    1. I'm the oddball, Robin, because I do want to hear the new stuff...but I am a very small minority!

      Do you break out your leather pants for the Poison concert?

  4. Of course, the problem is they are listening to the record company execs feeding them the garbage rather than someone making sense like you. It feeds their egos better than you do.

    1. SOmetimes, CW, they are actually blaming the record company. Tom Scholz of Boston blamed Artemis Records for his 2002 album, , not topping the charts.

      Not the ten years between records...not that his audience was in their 40's and had mortgages, etc...

      Capitalism in action-you want to sell records? Put out a record people want to buy!