I was recently lucky enough to be invited by the UK Trade and Investment Government Division to the Great Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, China, where I met our future King (and Paddington Bear!)… It was my first trip to China, and quite frankly it blew me away! The size of Shanghai, the industrialism, the commercialism, and the general mass of everything is like nothing I have ever seen before. The population of Shanghai alone is about one quarter of the population of the whole Great Britain!
With the total population of China now exceeding 1.3 billion people. As an artist and musician who sells commercial CDs, you suddenly start thinking ‘Wow! If I could make it here in China, I could very easily become a multi-millionaire, selling millions and millions of records more than you would ever be able to do here in the UK’. Except of course, the difference with China is that their rate of piracy is massive and in terms of percentages, only 1 % of CDs which are currently in China are legitimate CDs, with 99% being illegally copied.
What this means of course is that although China has massive population, it is almost impossible to become a successful artist in China and make money from CD sales. Of course, the interesting thing about the China is that they love Western music and they seem to love Western products, for example Jaguar Land Rover has their biggest market in China than in the rest of the world put together.
Over the years I have been working, I’ve seen that when I was growing up, it was a very popular thing to buy a CD, now of course for the first time ever, 2015 has seen the overtaking of streaming music instead of purchasing CD. It is clear that the way forward is going to be streaming music and I do predict that in 5 years time, nobody will own music anymore, they will just be streaming the music that they want from the internet when they want it. This obviously has a massive effect on musicians and how they get paid and I suspect that the thing audiences will be seeing that the music is given away free but ticket prices for concerts will rise dramatically. I am not entirely sure if this is a good or a bad thing, I just get feeling that all musicians have been having a bumpy time for the past 5 years but they have not seen anything yet…
Making money out of music is one of the hardest professions that is around and more often than not, the result of becoming financially successful seems to be based more on luck than on talent. It’s for this reason that very early on, I decided that if I could make money out of music, that would be a great thing, but fundamentally I want to make music. At the same time however I of course need to make money, which is why I made the early business decision, to create other businesses around the entertainment industry to support my passion of music making. This is the sole reason why my symphonic orchestra Arts Symphonic was created, why my production house Arts Festivals was built in 2005, why I run the UK’s most successful music tuition agency, the Arts Academy. All of these reasons are simply there to make sure that I can continue making music and I don’t ever have to worry if I can afford to continue doing so. That puts me in a very lucky privileged position, but I do wonder whether more musicians can take this attitude and spread their wings a little?
I suspect that one day in the future, live musicians will be rarely used for film recordings, will be rarely used for live performances, and will be rarely used on live albums. I hope I am proved wrong as I think that would be an incredibly sad thing, but if the people at the top can’t find the way to make their money successfully, then the people at the bottom aren’t going to be able to survive either. But for now, I will carry on along the path that I’ve carved out, with the orchestra, conducting, playing the piano, and looking after my educational establishment. All of this seems to be working well for me and keeps me out of trouble for the majority of the time! Which of course is always a benefit at the end of the day. All for now.
April 7th, 2015