Beliefnet

When you went on hiatus, and in that time period, I really feel like that was a time when how music is distributed just completely changed. Was there any kind of culture shock for you when you came back to the industry?

Oh, huge culture shock. Yes. When I left, the idea was you make your record and you go out and tour the crap out of it; because that’s how you sell records. So you work really, really, really hard on the road and it paid dividends. And the funny thing about the road is it’s extremely expensive to do it. It's not very cost effective. But when you coupled it in with your record, you can make a very good living not selling a lot of records, but working really hard, when you put the two of those together. And on top of it, you, as a songwriter... touring and selling records and stuff, the publishing side of it helps a lot too. Well, culture shock. It’s totally different ten years later. Now, you don't have the supplementary income that you used to have because you’re not selling as many records. I think what they say now is, “Whatever you’ve sold in your records, you add a zero onto the end of it.” So if you sold 10,000 records, you sold a hundred thousand records ten years ago. That’s a 90% loss in income. 90%.

When -- here’s my math nerdiness. In terms of that, artists very rarely get more than 5% net. So to get a 90% hit on a very little amount of income as an artist, is devastating; it’s absolutely devastating; and then, as a songwriter as well, that same perspective kind of holds. So we’re -- one of the things that we do now to combat that is we’re pushing up film and television licensing a lot more than you used to. You see artists pushing placements a lot more. You’re hearing big artists on television. It used to be here, only the soundtrack of Grey's Anatomy used to be an artist you’ve never heard of; but now, every once in a while, Sheryl Crow will pop in there. Those are big name artists that show up on free-to-air television shows. So those kinds of things are happening. Of course, with the economy the way that it is, people just are really hesitant to go out to the live shows as much as they were. I was looking at U2's tour schedule and remembering the Zooropa tour, they went everywhere. And then I think some day it was like their show was $2 million a night. They just put on a show. And -- it makes you crazy, but they did that over 200 shows. This tour, they're doing less than a hundred, I think. And I think they’ll probably be in the blacks if they do it right -- in terms of actually just being a business and being cost effective, you have to be very, very smart. Ten years ago, you could be -- you could make a lot of mistakes, and you could still come out being able to pay your bills. Now, it’s a lot harder.

Do you have any wisdom for musicians who are kind of getting started in this particular climate?

Well, I think my advice from that core hasn’t ever changed, because -- that’s been -- if you want to play, you better play because you love it. What I did last weekend, I drove 18 hours and I had one hour and a half show. You’re not going to count the time that I spent in preparing the paperwork for that, as an independent artist. I did one and a half hours worth of the glory thing, being the rock and roll star, and I spent four or five other days doing something just to get to that point. So if you don't really love music and you want to do it as a job, then go do it as a job. But I think you really have to be in love with your music, and if you want to play, then just play. Who cares what people are going to pay you? It's not dreaming about getting a record deal. Everybody and their dog right now is recording it on their own computer, and checking it up on the Internet and sharing it.

Yes.

I think some of the most inspiring artists right now that are being successful are those who are just creatively -- just love the whole process. Anywhere from the social networking to going out and playing live shows and figuring out new and creative ways so they can get their name out on the street; because their that inspired to go and work and play and write and share the music. If that’s not what you’re after, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. Have fun with it, no matter what. Because if you don't love it, there’s a lot of other stuff that -- like I said, in any 24-hour day of doing what I do, only one hour of that is on stage. The rest of it’s a lot of really hard work. And I love it, but if I didn't love that one-hour I got a day, it wouldn’t -- it’d make a very disproportionate ratio, I think. I’ve been there enough, [where] the ratio got disproportionate.

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