the music business is collapsing

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by mike ansberry, May 24, 2005.

  1. mike ansberry

    mike ansberry Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Clarksville, Tennessee, U
    I don't think this is anything new. I may have posted about this before, or it may have been on TH. I can't find it here.

    A friend of mine played sax in the early part of the last century. His name was R.F. "Peg" Meyer. He started out in 1917 and played full time until about 1925 or 26. Then he got married, bought a music store, and "settled down". Peg wrote a book called "Backwoods Jazz In The 20's. It isn't very well written, but it is interesting.

    In the early part of the last century, before talking movies, every movie house had an orchestra, or at least an organist. In dinky old Cape Girardeau, Mo. there were 2 movie houses with orchestras. In addition to this there was the vaudeville, which also employed musicians. Amplification technology was all but non-existant. If you had a dance, you hired a band. There was lots of work for musicians. The advent of talking movies meant the end of all the movie house orchestras. TV (and radio?) brought the end of vaudeville. "DJs" are virtually killing dance jobs for local bands.

    None of this is news, but I thought the recording business was pretty safe. Last weekend I worked with a friend of mine who is one of the top call guys in the area. He plays a lot of the broadway musicals that come through town. He said that the guys who play the book in many cities write their name in the book. A show he recently played had Bergeron and Baptiste's name in the book. I thought these guys would rather shoot themselves in the lip than play a broadway show. Is the recording session business collapsing too? Will there be playing jobs for horn players in the next generation?
  2. Musician4077

    Musician4077 New Friend

    May 23, 2005
    Essexville, MI
    I must respectfully disagree with your statement that the business is disappearing. I recently attended a local orchestra concert, and most seats were taken by season ticket holders. All other seats were filled. Now you must remember, I live in a small community, so that is saying something. The next day while I was working at McDonald's, a gentleman came in and somehow we got on the subject of the previous night's concert which he had also attended. Interest in the symphony has actually grown.

    I like to think that with the latest advancements in music technology (and they ARE advancements) that the industry of music is actually growing. There are many more ways of being involved in music.

    As for not doing broadway gigs, perhaps they wanted a break from what they had been doing. I know that I would want a variety in what I play.
  3. badocter

    badocter New Friend

    May 23, 2005
    Advances in technology don't seem to have hurt the job market in accounting and engineering, though the nature of that work has changed significantly over time. What I think you can say for certain is that there will always be careers in music-some opportunities will disappear, and others will take their place.
  4. music matters

    music matters Pianissimo User

    Apr 26, 2004
    ON Canada
    I think the music industry is changing rather than collapsing, as it will always do over a period of time. Those who embrace the change and adapt will more likely survive than those who don't.

    For example, many live shows have more electronic instruments than before with reduced orchestrations, sometimes to keep the costs of a full orchestra down. However, cinema is more popular now than it was 50 years ago so they are employing more musicicians involved in film scores etc.

  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Since the mid 1980s I have noticed some changes toward instrumental music for the positive.

    Sometime in roughly 1986 or 87 (I was a sophomore in high school) I once went to a demonstration at a music store dealing with Yamaha keyboards, sythesizers, and midi technology. The demonstration was impressive and the guy showed how keyboards/sythesizers could be utilized to create new sounds or duplicate the sounds created by real, acoustic instruments. At the time of the demonstration, the rep from Yamaha basicially said "look, this is where technology is going and the need for musicians in recorded music is going to decline because of it - get used to it!" This idea bothered me because at the time, I was bent on pursuing a career as a musician.

    Fortunately, his prediction regarding the role of the synthesizer in recorded music hasn't come to pass and in fact, it seems to me that studio recordings are using far more real live musicians these days than they were back then, although there did seem to be a surge in electronically produced music for a time.

    Something else that cannot be changed is the spirit of the musician that is channeled through their voice or instrument during live performances. This is an intangible thing, but it very real and I love going to hear someone who gives a great performance because it shows a dedication and love for something that transcends the person or persons performing. The performance itself becomes a living, breathing entity and the energy channeled to the listening audience in that performance cannot be matched with a recording. That's why it so important to support our symphonies and other musical ensembles - people miss out on so much when they don't go to hear live music.

    Collapsing? I don't think it's collapsing. What I do think is that it is becoming more and more refined in both the musicians and the audience's expectations. There may be fewer actively working musicians, but the quality of music is generally higher.
  6. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    From a classical/orchestral music perspective it seems that I aslo have to say that the interest in the Twin Cities for that genre of music is good. Here we have two major youth symphonies that total about 900 kids between the two.

    We have two world-class classical music ensembles, the MO and the St. Paul Chamber orchestra. Both groups do well at the gate. The last bunch of concerts have been sold out and that was without a soloist, which is unusual.

    We also have a huge number of successful chamber groups that have a strong following. So, this is all to say that classical music is thriving here in the TC. Now, I recognize that it's not the same everywhere, so, one can't generalize about the entire industry in the US. It looks like there is a Darwinian adjustment going on as far as organizations failing when they are mismanaged. I think that mismanagement is the prime reason arts groups fail. Stupid ideas, poor marketing, misjudging your audience and their respective pocketbooks, artists that don't know how to speak to audiences, weak concerts for young people... all these things add up.

    It's one of the reasons that I'm not much for government support of the arts for large organizations on a regular basis. I don't want poor management propped up artficially. If government is to help, let it help groups starting up to let them get their feet on the ground, or let them help bigger, more established groups put on special projects to keep young people interested. The bigger, healthier groups can get along on private and corporate donations so that the amount the government gives can go to help the truly needy and deserving arts groups.

    I have a feeling this is going to be a long thread. This topic is rife with possibilities for discourse.

  7. mike ansberry

    mike ansberry Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Clarksville, Tennessee, U
    I guess I should have been more specific in my definition of music business. I was referring to the amount of work available to freelance horn players. I have no idea what it is like for guitar players, keyboardists, recording engineers, etc. I also wasn't really referring to how many people attend concerts. I meant the sheer volume of work available to a trumpet player. I know all the guys in Nashville who aren't employed full time by the symphony are hurting. A friend of mine told me that George Tidwell has been going out with the Jack Daniels band. I think that job is way below what he would have considered doing 10 years ago.
  8. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

    Mar 7, 2005
    Rochester, MN

    You know how rare it is to hear a professional musician (at least, in MY experience) actually say they're NOT for government support of the arts? Okay, that's not exactly what you said, but the gist of it I agree with 100%.

    I DO think it's okay for government to fund and support startup groups or to fund public music endeavors which perform a service to the community (free concerts, educational outreach to children or the underpriveledged), but for larger groups or implementations I think a group is either self-sustaining, or it's not. You're completely right -- if management does not understand the target audience, market conditions, musicians, etc., and they loose money, why should government step in?

    I sure wouldn't mind if they'd prop up my poor financial situation!

    The local Civic Music organization here in town gets a HUGE budget compared to the size of the ensembles performing (and the fact that the one premier performing group doesn't get paid anyway). I've always been against having such a huge budget, but I don't say that too loudly because my fellow musicians would lynch me!

    But they don't use the money to support the live performance ensembles, they use it to bring in other live acts from around the country or world. These acts cost tens of thousands of dollars. And they do an exceptional job of it (mostly because of one person who clearly doesn't get the pay or treatment she deserves, but that's another rant...), but they loose money on almost every one of them. My beef is that if you can't make money off the group, then you shouldn't book it. And if you CAN make money off it, then you don't need public funding to support it. We're close enough to the Twin Cities that if you suddenly dropped these groups from the area, nobody would really miss much -- they'd just attend the local performances more often or drive to the cities. Still a win for everyone without the 1/2 million dollar public overhead. So, okay, I wouldn't get to see "Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers", and it IS pretty cool that Canadian Brass is coming to town; but if the public can't suppor them privately then too bad.

    I mean, it's fine for folks like me who like good music, but someone out there is paying tax dollars (about $8-10 per person per year) to support an art form many may not appreciate. I mean, I wouldn't want my $10 getting thrown at Snoop Doggy Dog.....

    Sorry ML, gues you got my wheels greased on that one!
  9. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    Things AIN'tWhat they used to be...

    They are sure different.

    From the point of view in Chicago, work is way off from what it was in the 80's and earlier. Back then a freelancer could work 300+gigs a year. Now 100 to 150 is a good load.

    DJ's HAVE seriously eroded the jobbing scene in Chicago. I used to play 2 or 3 bar mitzvahs per week. Now, one a year is a stretch. Even the Klezmer bands are struggling.

    Now, one post suggested that more live musicians are being used in the studios. I think, from our point of view down here, that could be argued.

    The recording scene in Chicago was just fantastic in the 70's and 80's. However, what was hot around here were JINGLES. Ad agencies and jingle producers are bottom line oriented and the target audience is, well, musically dim. What's more is that the tunes are going to be 30 sec to 2 min pads behind some voice over or video selling some product. The ad agencies don't care about musical authenticity. They care about reaching their market. Unfortunately for those of us trying to work the jingle scene, syntheziers, sequencers and looping softare make it extrmely easy to fool most listeners and still keep the "bottom line" way down. The studio scene in Chicago is a mere shadow of what it used to be.

    A quick comment here. I am a union man (I'm a member of two!) however, the unions in the US so woefully mishandled their affairs with respect to trying to keep work up with jingles, that they may have contributed to the back slide.

    Another industry that was big in Chicago was the industrial show - playing for name acts that toured the US doing big trade show performances. During the recession of the 80's the term "downsizing' became rather "popular." Well, among the first thing corporations cut out were these big trade shows, and they went in a hurry! Small industries serving this business were all but destroyed during that decade. Sure we get a few around here, but again, the numbers are so far down, it is astonishing.

    OK, some much for the bad news. Now for some good, I think.

    IMHO, things are in a state of flux. Technology and the internet could be blamed for damaging the "in the trenches" music industry, but I would suggest thay are opening up venues for many an obscure musician to share his/her music with the world that were once only open to big name acts with very deep pockets. Now, how these developments can be used to enhance the quality of life for many musicians is also in a state of flux. However, I think we are going to be witness to a renaissance of REAL music that will be fuled, in part, by technology!

    Or maybe not! ;-)

    I will NEVER give up hope nor will I ever encurage anyone else to do so! There is work out there - both to be found and yet to be created.


    Nick Drozdoff
  10. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA
    Not only is the work way off, but the remaining work pays the same as it did 20 years ago.

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