There's a rather depressing article in Washington City Paper entitled "Rockin' in the Free World - Nobody pays for music anymore. Except for the people making it. Just ask Hotspur". In brief, it details the woes of a local DC band called Hotspur who seem to be working their asses off doing everything right and still not making a dime in the business. They tour madly, have their songs appear in television shows, and work the internet hard. They are young, reasonably photogenic, and serve up a solid modern rock sound -- not revolutionary or overly remarkable, but very solid and with lot's of room to grow. And yet, they're sinking deeper and deeper into debt
"When Hotspur released Beta (their self-released CD), the band quickly got a taste of the new music economy: Just a week after it went out, the entire disc was available for free online. The band found that on one site, the CD had been downloaded 50 times-a good day of sales on Warped Tour for one of the guys. Hotspur decided not to pursue legal action, figuring that the 50 people wouldn't have paid for the CD anyway. But legal sales aren't filling the gap: Hotspur's MP3 sales are modest, according to Robinson (the drummer)."
I've been trying to figure out, from an outsiders perspective, what they're doing wrong. Maybe nothing. Maybe it's just taking time for their fan-base to reach critical mass an once it does, sales will follow. But maybe, just maybe, their target audience (which seems to be the young college crowd) isn't worth targeting anymore.
As long as I've been around the music industry has largely been about targeting "kids". Not children exactly but not adults either. Something from middle school to a few years out of college seemed to be the sweet spot and that's what everyone shot for -- and for the most part still does. But what if this group isn't worth going after anymore? Has anyone asked that question?
I don't have enough information to answer these questions but it would be a very strange world indeed if the "teeny-bop" and "college rock" side of pop music suddenly withered and died. Perhaps the "classic rock" model of making adult's music that kids could enjoy as well would become the new sweet spot.
By Fitz - 9/24/2007 | Permalink