25 years ago, Nick Magnus and myself were residing in the top ten of the UK album charts as Project D with our Synthesizer Album. We would go on to have many other successes as Project D, named after, and overseen by record industry legend Don Reedman.
This year, 2015, I release two projects: ‘Facades’ and ‘Secrets’. Both very different from one another. ‘Facades’ is ‘concept album’ in style, a story told through a series of songs. ‘Secrets’ is a collection of original instrumental compositions, ranging from film soundtrack to trance/chill-out in style and in keeping with a series I developed with Roger Woodhead Productions for EMI and Demon/Crimson Records in the 90’s and 00’s. We had a lot of success with these previous releases including Tranquility; Relaxation; Serenity; Global Chill-Out; Pure Tranquility; to name but a few.
Here is the reality of the situation I find myself in, the present state of the industry as I experience it, and how it has changed for me over the 25 years since the release of our Project D albums.
Having established some success, as an artist I would now be looking to review some of the financial constraints necessarily put in place when developing and releasing a new project. Once a sales pattern has been established, one could reasonably surmise that the sales pattern would be repeated and those expectations realistically applied to a recording budget. I had hoped that with the success of my previous albums for EMI and Demon/Crimson I would have been able to progress to include more real musicians. It would undoubtedly make for a better recording. Would anyone notice? Or care? Maybe not, but for me, that isn’t the point. Using real musicians transcends the use of synths and samples and gives a legitimacy and quality to any recording far beyond the crudely inelegant, imperfect, yet ultimately measurable assessment of sales figures. In todays climate, no one can make that kind of investment when there is such uncertainty on the return you are likely to realise. Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and others exploit the laws as they stand in order to pay the bare minimum to both composers and copyright holders. Illegal downloads and piracy seemingly operate with impunity.
With the changes in the industry we are left to our own devices. Liberating in many ways but inhibiting in others. We have entered a world of uncertainty. There appears little political will to change the status quo, although those in authority are slowly beginning to realise that pirate sites don’t pay any taxes and illegal downloading doesn’t generate any revenue to tax in the first place. It occurs to me that going after the money isn’t as difficult as is often claimed. Payments made to illegal sites by creditcard companies and companies such as Paypal could be, and should be, easily regulated. As should the companies who place advertising on illegal sites, collecting and forwarding revenue in doing so. Regulating the source of their revenue stream is a logical first step in combating the problem of piracy and the sites that persistantly flout the law.
If music and the other creative arts lose their ability to generate income, there will be consequences. Un/intended. Un/foreseen.
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