2018 MEDLEY CD, COULD THIS BE MY LAST?
THE 2018 MEDLEY CD, COULD THIS BE MY LAST?
In 1976 Boston released its first album on Epic Records and today it has sold over 17,000,000 units in the states. Perhaps you bought it for the first time on vinyl, then again a year or two later on 8-track so you could listen to it in your 1978 Pontiac Trans Am, then again on cassette in the early 80’s so you could enjoy it on your Sony Walkman while jogging in a neon colored headband, then again on compact disc in the late 80’s and you finally bought it for the last time in 2001 from iTunes so you could enjoy it on your new iPod. Well the record industry sure got you on that one, didn’t they? Perhaps or perhaps not…Maybe it was the technology industry? Truth is we’ll probably never know, but what I do know and what we are about to discuss from personal experience is that I’ve seen a significant shift in CD sales lately. The big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart only have one aisle or less dedicated to music and we are witnessing the closing of corporate and independent music stores in our area. By the end of this blog I’m sure you will agree that it is safe to say: “The writing is on the wall”.
WHO LIT THE FUSE?
From the beginning of 2016, I had made numerous attempts to raise money for a new studio CD and subsequently failed. Actually, I was lucky enough to raise just about enough money to buy a high-quality microphone and considered that a sign to convert a room in our home to record the next CD by myself. It was both challenging and frustrating learning to do everything alone, but I think the dedicated listeners will agree there was a significant reward in the sound of the final product. A few months into the recording, I had the opportunity to do a few shows as the opening act for The Whispers whom you will hopefully remember for their radio hits And The Beat Goes On and Rock Steady. Each show I played a short 45-min solo set and afterwards I ran my own merchandise table for the rest of the night where I had 5 different CD’s and t-shirts for sale. In those audiences were some of the nicest people ever, who offered to buy one or even two of my CD’s but they always asked: “Which one is your favorite?”. I had a clever reply where I would smile and say: “Well that’s like asking which one of my kids is my favorite?”, but truth is it made me think…Maybe a some kind of greatest hits CD would be a good idea in these scenarios, but calling it “Greatest Hits” seemed really contrived to me. After all none of my songs had really been a “hit” per se and I felt that it was a little too early in my career to put out something that sounded so final. However, I had to remind myself again that I failed at raising funds for the new CD and I knew that if I was going to go through with it, it could only be a collection of fan favorites. So, I put together a CD of road tested, tried and true songs that included the three singles I released on iTunes only and I even found a song that was previously unreleased from the SEGUE sessions. I self-designed and ordered a limited number of the CD and called it THE FUSE, hoping it would help raise the money that I needed and that it would also serve as the perfect gift from full-time supportive fan to a first-time listener.
Fast forward to today, THE FUSE thankfully sold out in 6 months! Using the profits from that experiment I was able to finish GUITAR&B which began shipping in July of 2016 and now I have already begun the recording process for my next studio album STRIDE (2018). BUT! Just like in the previous paragraph something happened at a show recently that will delay the next studio release. BECAUSE! For the first time in almost fifteen years I entirely sold out my product case at a festival performance this July. So, it’s hard to once again say to you that CD’s sales seem to be tapering off, but they actually are if you are a looking forward type of person like me.
LIVING IN THE PAST, MYSELF INCLUDED
Let me once again bring up the technology industry. The Mrs. and I went shopping for new vehicles last summer. She was driving a 2009 and I who was driving a 2010 were both shocked to find out that most new cars do not have CD players in them. Matter of fact, in March of this year Forbes magazine published an article with a headline of: It’s time to say goodbye to the CD player in American cars. Around the same time that I read the article, I was also shopping for a new studio computer and was again surprised to find out that they were also coming without CD ROM’s. So, here’s me in summer of 2017…all my previous CD’s are sold out except for the most recent one. Reordering those 5 CD’s would cost me close to $10,000 and the technology industry is unofficially “phasing out” the much-needed players for the product that I’m trying sell? At that rate, I could end up with $10,000 in idle inventory sitting on my storage room shelves. I’m sure that you have seen by now a webzine story or two of the musicians facing these facts and how they can no longer rely on mailbox money from sales and royalties. In case you didn’t know, royalty checks are issued bi-annually and that type of income is quite difficult to judge and rely on for guys at any stage of the game. Let alone a more recent article published in Quartz Media on Donald Fagan of Steely Dan where the headline reads: With no more income from album sales, a 69-year-old rock legend has to go back on tour. Now I’m sure someone reading this will debate and say: “There’s a huge resurgence of used record stores all across America with new and younger listeners buying them.” While that may be true, let me remind you that artists don’t get paid a second time if their record, tape or CD sells in a used music store. Especially to someone wearing skinny jeans, a cardigan sweater and a handlebar mustache. Nope, that’s pure profit for the owner of the store usually leaning towards the 100’s of percent or more. So, yes that “…69-year-old rock legend has to go back on tour” to stay afloat.
STREAMING MUSIC ARGUMENT
I’m not entirely like other musicians on this topic, I think streaming services like Spotify have their place, but I wholeheartedly agree (as an artist) that the payout per “spin” is more than embarrassing. Granted I’m just like you, I'm not crazy about commercials and I completely disagree with paying for a premium service to avoid these commercials. I mean think about it, big corporate company X is paying to advertise on Spotify and customer X is paying for Spotify Premium to avoid said commercials. Talk about double dipping! Let me add that Ray Charles is my favorite artist to use against the streaming argument, I have so many great Ray Charles records from the 50’s- 80’s and most of them are not on there to listen to. Matter of fact, if you search Ray Charles you will see: The Ultimate Collection, The Best of Ray, Ray’s Greatest Hits, The Ray Story and many more compilations thus leaving off the album deep cuts. To add to those first two points, since 1999 I have always asked people "What kind of music do you listen to?" and somewhere around 2010 a significant number of people started saying: “Oh, a little bit of everything”. First off, that’s the blandest statement ever and secondly I have a theory of why…I think that this is the result of iTunes playlists and streaming services. I think so few people are giving music a chance to grow on them, and they keep listening to all their favorite songs over and over again. If you will remember back with me to your 8-track days when we were stuck listening to all the songs on the only 4 programs it had, sometimes those in-between songs grew on you and worse yet you couldn’t even hit rewind to hear it again, but at least you were exposed to them long enough to catch a fancy.
Here’s the Spotify payout per “SPIN” for my song The Spark Has Faded Away
I’ve decided to use this headline because I’m feeling the enemy closing in and I’m hoping that maybe we can forge a compromise? I’ve decided to make a new CD and it could quite possibly be my last physical CD for sale. I’m calling it MEDLEY, it will be the official compilation of Mick Hayes songs 2005-2017 with 2-3 unreleased songs added to it. From now on my previous albums SEGUE-CAFÉ ARTISTRY will be available on Dropcards only at shows. Dropcards are a physical product with a digital media download for customers to buy and a way for musicians to still earn money at each performance. This way if a customer only buys the MEDLEY CD and a song curiously grows on them, that whole album will be now be available on Dropcards for them to purchase the next time they come to a show. As much as I hate to see CD’s, music stores, CD players both in home and in cars going away, they are! My advice to those of you like me with extensive collections that are over 20 years old, don't throw them away because of so-called "technological advances". You will regret it! Just go out and buy a brand new CD player today and leave it brand new in the box under your bed for the day that your current player dies.
FAN CHECK: Which MH CD’s do you have?
2005: Michael…The Other Side of Me
2005: Live at Root 5
2005: Live at The Lafayette Tap Room
2009: Mick Hayes Band
2012: Café Artistry Live
2016: The Fuse