All Feature Articles

Not to Be a Grinch, But, Who the Heck in Whoville is Buying Music Anymore?

Special for Kweevak.com

How one independent artist from Nashville is working to rebrand
the MP3 into a virtual online tip jar for emerging musicians!

There has been much conversation and shared chagrin over the fact that it seems apparent that much of the modern day populace have no room in their hearts for the idea of buying music. Somewhere along the way the concept of economically consuming the works of recording artists has vanished like a Christmas morning in Whoville.


The Grinch returns in 2018.

Back in 1966 when How the Grinch Stole Christmas! first hit the television airwaves in America the nascent music industry was booming on the strength of a British invasion. Singles, 45s and record albums were a source of joy for artists, business executives and the music loving public. But, remember how The Grinch invaded Whoville to snuff out the season - especially the music?!?

Well, it's a bit ironic to see the grumpy and green protagonist return to the big screen in The Grinch fifty-two years after making his debut to find a music business that has been nearly decimated by a cultural and technological paradigm shift.

Like The Grinch you would have to have been living in a cave not to notice how things have changed over the years. For a long time the biz was healthy while providing ample opportunity and cause to celebrate our beloved pantheon of music makers. We had multiple chances to show our devotion over the decades with buying options evolving from vinyl, to 8-track, then cassette and finally the magical and glittering compact disc (CD).

In the late 90's a new era was heralded and hailed as the great equalizer - digital music in the form of the MP3 audio file format. This was to be the time of the independent artist who would be able to take their music straight to the public by bypassing the gateway of the label system. The first popular site for musicians to reach the masses was MP3.com and this outlet soon became populated by over a million users before eventually being bought out and retooled in 2003.

The next famous entry into the field was Napster.com. Launched in 1999 it grew into a favorite platform to "share" music but it is now considered the true Grinch that really diminished the perceived monetary value of music. There was no need for a record-buying public once an extensive library of music files freely went viral before going viral was even a thing.

Still, the record company giants and online platforms made the pivot to offer full-album and single downloads online. Money was flowing back to the digital artists until Internet speeds allowed the new age of streaming to emerge. Where musicians could expect almost a dollar per song (the unit of measure long associated with "the single") in this current era they would generate only a thousandth of a cent per listen. For the lesser known artist it has become a daunting task to think about recovering recording costs let alone make a living with music when the margins are that infinitesimally small.

We approached several music makers about whether or not people are still buying their music by asking them to respond to this statement: "It's been said, 'Nobody buys music anymore'. Musicians, in your experience is this true???"

"I think people are willing to spend money on musicians they know well," said Nashville's Eileen Bernstein who recently made the move to Music City from New Jersey. "When it comes to musicians trying to break through all the marketing noise online and at venues, it's like pulling teeth to get people to sign an email list, let alone buy music."

"It's over," admits New Jersey's Peter Sando who at one time moved a lot of product via his legendary 60's psychedelic band named Gandalf. He says that personally, "I only buy occasionally and stream on Apple Music mostly."

"It seems the trend is towards streaming services, and that doesn't look like it's changing anytime soon," adds Mark Feuerborn from Topeka, Kansas who works in two recording acts Buyer Beware and Otherworldly. "In my experience with distributing these on some of the common buying and streaming outlets like iTunes and Spotify, I've found consistently in our income reports that our streaming activity is more than double that of individual song or album purchases."

"I get almost no full album sales, downloads or physical," observed New Jersey rocker Drew Vics before adding that, "ninety percent of my money from music is through streaming and single song downloads."

"I'm a fan of vinyl so I'll buy special releases from fave artists if they happen," Vics continued saying, "I'll buy if it's an artist I actively follow or appreciate."

Now, one independent singer/songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee is throwing his hat in the ring with an idea he hopes will generate much more revenue for the independent artist. Rockin' Rich Lynch wants the world to re-imagine the purpose and function of the MP3 file and he found inspiration for this idea by observing the nightly activities at that city's legendary row of honkey tonks where musicians ply their trade all night long working mostly for tips.

"In this town the concept of the thousand dollar tip is not unheard of," relays Lynch. "A lot of acts tell a similar tale about the visiting tourist who is so appreciative to get a request played that they will compensate generously via the tip jar for a job well done."

Lynch says that through his new website called OneMillionDownloads.com he will use this web presence to actively advocate the idea that the once mighty but now forlorn MP3 should be rebranded and now viewed as nothing more than a simple and efficient mechanism for fans to generously compensate their favorite artists. The mechanism for the "digital tip" is already set up and available at all the online retailers who offer digital music.

"We have to educate the fans out there that if indie music is to continue as a vibrant and valuable addition to society, well then the artists need to be paid and appreciated," Lynch exclaimed. "If there are artists out there that you admire you can show them your love by giving them an instant tip via the purchase of an MP3".

Rockin' Rich Lynch went on to say that the sale of an MP3 offers numerous benefits to independent music maker.

"First off," they make so much more percentage wise this way that a few hundred tips in the virtual jar are often all that's needed to fund the next song. "And, the MP3 can become a tool in the hands of the consumer."

How's that you ask?

"Well, if a fan likes a particular style that a musician is pursuing they can let the artist know by purchasing multiple copies of the same song over and over again. Each purchase fills the tip jar and serves as a vote for what the independent artist is doing right in their eyes."

"Look, it took the vinyl album 20 years or so to make an incredible comeback and itself has been kind of rebranded from a relic into something righteous," Lynch concluded. "Let's do the same thing with the MP3. Frankly, the artists don't really care what happens to the individual song file because it's place has been already overtaken by the even more elusive stream."

"But, if we begin to rebrand and view the MP3 as an amazing monetary unit that can tangibly transfer financial support to the working music community, we might be on to something." Lynch added. "It's been a particularly frustrating time for all of us in the indie community where almost every person on the planet has access to an online store via cell phone but the buying public has been conditioned to no longer purchase music. We can change that by thinking differently about the MP3."

"At the end of the day despite the Grinch's best effort," Lynch remembered, "music returned even stronger and more joyously to Whoville and everyone was singing a happy song. I think there's a lesson here somewhere and fans should present a lot more love to the music makers by showing them 'the green'. In the same manner that Grinch was rebranded into a force for good - we can transform the MP3 into a money making tool for the working artists - and that will be music to their ears."

REACH OUT! If you would like to interview or feature the author; or, if you are an indie artist that wants be featured in the next edition of this MP3 Rebrand series, then please e-mail Rich t oday!


Nashville musician Rockin' Rich Lynch wants to rebrand the MP3.

Related Links: For more information on the effort to achieve ONE MILLION DOWLOADS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- OneMillionDownloads.com | Rockin' Rich Lynch

© 2018 Kweevak.com
All Rights Reserved