How moving to a patronage model can help you escape music industry exploitation


Advantage: Artists (Finally)

Looking at the last 100 years of music, it’s clear that things have changed at a wildly rapid pace — and the artist has unfortunately been taken advantage of time and time again by the industries who exist to profit off of them.

In the year 1930 the LA Times ran an article highlighting a petition being signed by musicians asking the Federal Radio Commission to play less phonograph records during broadcasts. They argued that the "broadcasting of such recorded music is a detriment to the development among our people or proper and natural appreciations of music as a fine art," and that recorded music being played on the radio "results in the direct injury to the development of music as an art in the United States" and deprives musicians of "the means of sustenance." As you might imagine, they didn’t win. Recorded music being played on the radio became commonplace, and the way that the majority of people consumed music moved from live performances to recorded works. Artists who were able to roll with it and make this work survived. Artists who were unable to fathom this change did not.

We will see more shifts of the way music is listened to within our lifetime. Currently TikTok is changing popular music, with the average length of popular songs decreasing year-over-year as of late. Viral sensation ‘Old Town Road’ was just 1 minute and 53 seconds in length, and the fact that it was short (and fairly loopable) meant that it both gained more plays on streaming services and was more likely to be used as background music on platforms like TikTok which limit the length of videos to one minute or shorter. What changes will occur next? It’s impossible to tell. But the good news is that one trend you can bet on is the move towards a direct relationship with your audience, and it’s a wholly positive one.

In the future, artists may become accustomed to working with their audiences directly, and their relationships with record labels may begin to change. Labels might begin to be seen as service providers instead of owners, and work with fewer artists. The Big Three was The Big Six only twenty years ago, and their monopoly-like hold on the industry may begin to wane. If it does, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

When I think of ‘patrons of the arts’, I think of the renaissance, and I truly hope that a new renaissance of the arts occurs because of this New Patron Age.

David Bowie talked about the way in which the artist can be consumed by expectations, saying this: “It’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other peoples’ expectations. They produce their worst work when they do that. If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

The New Patron Age creates a world that allows for this type of exciting work.

A world where artists are beloved by the world for the work the create and not for the money they make the industry. A world where artists are able to support themselves doing what they love, and take all the time in the world in order to create their next masterpiece.

By moving to patronage, you’re working to bring this era to life. Create something that matters, on your own terms, today.