R/E/P > Budget? Budget? We Don't Got No Steekin' Budjet

The New Millinium Is Finally Here.


This 21st century thing may not be a big deal for most of you, but it is for me.  I was born in 1937 and a lot of things have been created in my lifetime.  

When I was born, there were no refridgerators (you got blocks of ice that went in the top section of your "icebox"), no air conditioning, no television, no FM radio, no stereos or hi-fi, no automatic transmissions, no computers, no tape recorders, no transistors, no wireless phones, no jets, no guitar amplifers, electric guitars or basses, and no synths.  People still traveled mostly by trains, not planes.  

You wound your watch every night when you went to bed, and you walked to school, or rode your bicycle.  There were no cross-country highways, and you knew all your neighbors.  All your friends lived within a few blocks of your house.  

Phone numbers in the big cities had two letters and five numbers, and the phone had a rotary dial - no buttons. In the country, you cranked the phone, got Shirley or Mabel, the operators, and told them who you wanted to talk to.  You listened to the radio, read books, or paid a dime to go to the movies on Saturday to watch 2 full length westerns, 4 cartoons, and 3 serials.  The bigger theaters that carried the feature films sometimes had live music before the movie.

So, what's my point?  Things change, and there are big changes still going on.  The changes are occuring at a faster rate.  "New" technology is "obsolete" inside a year.  Video games cartridges have replaced Monopoly, and even though Monopoly has been selling for 65 years (it came out in 1936, a year before I was born), it's the new video games (Play Station, etc.) that are hot, even though most don't last more than a year before players demand something new.  

The music industry is going thru the same kind of changes.  You may have a nice amp, but you also better have a Line 6, Pod, Zoom, SansAmp, modeling amp, a ton of pedals, etc., to create a wide range of sounds, or you'll be left in the dust.  The quality/price bar is going up and down at the same time.  You can buy modeling amps to recreate classic sounds pretty cheap, but if you want to own the original classic instruments, get ready to take out a bank loan.

Napster, garageband.com, mp3.com (which has artist listings from names like Madonna to Faith Hill), and the Internet in general are all new ways to distribute your music and get your band heard.  Record companies have found that it's safer and more profitable to simply re-release their old catalogs, sell slick, manufactured groups/stars, or sign groups that are already selling well on their own.  So where does that leave you - and your unsigned band?

You still have several options to make good money in the music business.  It ain't all doom and gloom.  There are independent record labels still out there, good local clubs to play at, and overseas tours (that pay very well) and self produced/sold CDs..  You hafta think about music a little differently than you're used to.  

It's not just about the music anymore - it's about getting your music out to as many people as you can - it's all about getting known.  For example, if you have a CD of your band, have you sent it to any local magazines or newspapers for a review?

On to other things.  How many categories of Metal do we really need?  Death Metal, Speed Metal, Black Metal, Alternative Metal, Thrash Metal, Heavy Metal.  I can see Metal, and maybe Death Metal, but that's about it.  I'm sure that pretty soon, we'll be adding Classic Metal, and Oldies Metal, and Pop Metal, but do we really need all those names to describe one genre of music?  Why does music hafta be pidgon-holed like that?  I know it's been going on for a long time, but isn't Rock, Pop, Folk, Jazz, Blues, and Classical enough?  I can't keep up.

And along with the repackaged box sets that record companies are putting out, and all the classic amps and classic guitat reissues that are coming out,  how about one brave soul who will consider making an entirely new guitar or amplifier?  Yeah, there's the Parker Fly,  but that's been around for a while.  I'm not denying anyone the right to come out with thier version of a Strat or a Les Paul, but even those original guitars were new to the market at one point.  Why doesn't research go on any more, like it did in the past?  Have people just learned to accept a "me too" attitude?

Another point, where is the recording industry headed?  Being a studio owner, that's a big concern for me.  There are a lot of ads in magazines that promise you professional results from inexpensive equipment.  I have no problem with inexpensive equipment, since most people don't have my experience, which is worth something to a lot of groups we record here.  But in general, the ads lie a lot.  A good percentage of it won't give you the professional results you're expecting.  

Think about it.  Studios are in business to make money.  If we could buy some pieces of gear for $5,000 that would replace the $50,000 worth of stuff we already have (with even better results), why wouldn't we do it?  I'm not dumb - if a piece of gear comes out that's better than what I have, I'll sell the old gear and buy the new stuff, before the old stuff loses it's value.  Some of it is better and that's why we spend about 10 to $20,000 every year on new equipment.  It's also why we hafta raise our prices from time to time.  But, since it results in way better recordings, it's worth it to us.

So what does this new millinium hold for all of us?  Sorry, I don't have a crystal ball, but some things will chnge dramatically, and some things will stay the same.  The really good musicians and groups will eventually make it if they hang in there and do all the things they need to do to promote their music.  The less talented musicians will eventually put down their instruments and go to work 9 to 5.  People will quit bands and start new bands.  

The world will continue to go round and round, and the sun will continue to shine.  Gravity will still be in effect thru tomorrow, but beyond that, it's anybody's guess what will happen next.  

Have a great rest of the century!


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