Given repeatedly dire news about the financial pointlessness of recorded music, it's heartening that there are brave people not only recording music, but still sending it out to the world in the form of full albums on CDs.
Actually, the latest report about profits in this business we call music is almost laughably awful for everyone except big corporate record labels. I'll save that
for a treat at the end.
Firstly, I have some recording titbits, kicking off with the excellent news that legendary Waikato rockers Knightshade have released a new single, a rare and joyful moment for fans of the band.
‘U Say' is I guess what you'd call a power ballad and comes with a video you can check out via the band's Facebook page. The song itself is available via most digital platforms (YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music etc.) and is on the playlist at the Mount's Kiss FM as well as Tauranga's latest radio venture The Station 105.4 FM which broadcasts from Vinyl Destinations on Devonport Rd and is featuring a solid amount of Kiwi content. More on that in the not too distant future...
On the absolutely opposite end of the spectrum, I was glancing through new CDs from eclectic Auckland label Rattle, who have four very worthwhile releases this month. The label specialises in classical and jazz as well as some hard-to-categorise items such as Utterance, a collaboration between taonga puoro expert Richard Nunns, Muttonbird David Long (banjo, theremin, bowed guitar) and Natalia Mann (harp, prepared harp, zither, gongs, voice).
This month sees both classical and jazz: there's a Michael Houston album of French piano trios and chamber music for piano and two voices from contemporary classical composer Lyell Cresswell. Then there's music from two jazz trios: ‘Unwind' from Hayden Chisholm (saxophone), Norman Meehan (piano) and Paul Dyne (bass), and ‘Another Time Another Place' from American bass player Dave Friesen, recorded live on tour here with Kiwis Reuben Bradley (drums) and Dixon Nacey (guitar).
Rattle have a brilliant catalogue of high-end music; they regularly win awards and if your tastes run to the path less trodden this may be the label for you!
Meanwhile, things are being released and recorded locally. I've received four albums with Tauranga connections in the past couple of weeks and reviews will ensue almost immediately.
There's ‘Beginner's Mind' from Davey Beige And The Blackdoor Band – Davey lives here though it was recorded in Auckland; ‘Play It Again Jan' from Sydney-based Kiwi Jan Preston, ‘The Queen of Piano Boogie', which was recorded here at The Boatshed Studio; ‘Infinity' from Infinity, an all-instrumental feast from a guitar/drum duo, the guitarist being Pat Hura, who once lived and played here; and ‘Let's Take Offence!' from The Andrew London Trio who don't live or record here but play frequently and have a good following in the Bay
Now, if you want to have your worst fears realised about the music biz, let's wrap up with some financials...
Recent figures from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) calculate that a music creator only earns US$1 from 58 hours of streaming video on YouTube and, on average, an artist earns US$100 for 152,094 streams of a song on Spotify.
Particularly not good since in just two years streaming has grown from 33 per cent to 62 per cent of the market. This is where the money should be. But the money, it seems, went to purchasing the rights to huge back catalogues, the ‘library', the essential core of a streaming service.
And who controls the rights to the artists' back catalogues? The same major labels as in the old days –Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music – who are laughing all the way to the bank. Warner posted a record profit in the three months to June.
And Goldman Sachs' recent forecast for the industry is that record labels' share of revenue will increase by 133 per cent between 2015 and 2030.
At least someone's making money.