Art vs. Commerce-The Business Of Music

Years ago, I took my first day-job, selling TVs and stereos. The town was Berkeley, CA and it was a crazy 8-hour day. I remember talking to PhDs there, with a fine assortment of pens in their pockets, drooling over televisions with that I want this so bad look. Of course, all the while they were doing their best to convince me that they only wanted that TV for PBS channels! I found it interesting that they couldn’t look me in the eye and admit that they loved regular television programming without somehow feeling less academic.

The same little quirk happens from time to time at Artist Development Network, where I work today. I’ll be working diligently at my computer when ding… I receive a 1500 word email from somebody that is “interested” in working with us. Peppered throughout their ramblings I’ll see statements like “I’m not in this for the money, or the glamour or whatever” and I’m left scratching my head. Why on earth would anybody want an unsuccessful musical career?

Today I talked to a beautiful woman who sings like an angel. She is particularly fond of spoken-word music and envisions herself as a world music singer. And again… I’m thinking… have you even looked at the CD unit sales of world music artists? Sorry… but that ain’t the way to roll. The world sales numbers are pathetic. Albums that sell 1500 copies aren’t going to do anything but insure bankruptcy. Here she is, in her comfy, warm apartment somewhere thinking… I can make the world a better place. She obviously hasn’t done the math. If you’re an artist and you want a well maintained tour bus and a sound man and a band and stage outfits and decent hotels to sleep in along the way… it’s going to require significant CD sales and revenue to pay the bills.

It’s a vicious cycle, art vs. finance. But I encourage you all to create music that does have mass appeal. I know it’s difficult… and don’t give me that anyone can write that crap line because I know better. I’m a professional songwriter! I know how hard it really is.  So seek help. Learn to write commercial music well. The overhead is too high to shoot for anything less. You should also note that the stars of today do whatever it takes to keep the gravy train rolling. Corporate sponsorships, tee shirts, hats, ring tones, purses, albums, toys, are all apart of the game. The industries that can keep your bus rolling on the road have an abundance of promising bands to pick from. Which bands do you think they’ll choose first?  Not a trick question, by the way. The answer is: they’ll want to work with the most driven, commercially appealing bands. It’s called return on investment folks…and your banker won’t be terribly understanding to your dream of saving the world.  He will, however, respond to money.  🙂

So there we are kids. It’s still all about money. You get but a few legitimate shots at stardom in your career. The last thing you’d ever want to tell an interested A&R rep or manager is that you’re goal is to simply make a “living” with your music. He’s thinking about his percentage of the take! You can still have your personal projects, perform at Earth Day and give your time to charity. But whatever you choose as your bread and butter gig had better be profitable.

Glen Shelton

Nashville’s Artist Development Network president Cathy Lemmon congratulates artist and songwriter Glen Shelton for his outstanding vocal talent and songwriting skills, in his newly released album featuring Glen’s brand new single ‘Writing You a Love Song’ which is hitting the airwaves the end of July!

Chloe Jayne La Deaux

Meet 19-year-old singer/songwriter Chloe Jayne La Deaux. Born in Bournemouth England to a musical family, Chloe Jayne left England with her parents at the tender age of four months, and moved to a small town called Port Orchard in Washington State.

From Past to Present — God Bless America!

Cathy Lemmon, president of the Artist Development Network in Nashville, TN congratulates songwriter Gustavo Perales for writing this beautiful and powerful song, “FROM PAST TO PRESENT”. The song is in honor of all our men and women from around the country who sacrifice their lives on a daily basis, to protect and defend our great United States of America.