music industry

Tyler SamanskyHere is an interview I did with my cousin, Tyler Samansky.  Tyler has played in a few bands since high school and has closely followed the evolution of both live music and the industry. I wanted to get his opinion on some questions I’ve had on my mind lately.

What do you think is the strongest thing the music industry has going for it currently?

I think concerts and live music in general is the most important thing in the music industry at the moment.  The fact is that people are downloading music and not paying for it, but many of those same people still go to shows.  They spend money on tickets, and hopefully they might buy some merch while they are there, and the artists are making money from those kinds of things.  I know especially for smaller bands like the ones that I’ve been in, it is really, really hard to sell your music, so having concerts are sort of like your saving grace.

Adele just sold ten million copies of her album, ‘21‘ in the United States.  Does this mean that tangible music may still have its place?

Unfortunately that is sort of a one-off thing.  We know that that does not happen on a regular basis. I think she’s only like the 25th artist or something to have done that?  Yeah that doesn’t mean that the industry has magically been fixed or anything Haha.  That sort of happens when an artist becomes a phenomenon for whatever reason, but when you look at the rest of the sales of music from this year, that’s not a common thing at all.  We’re still in trouble in that regard.

What do you think we will see in the way of technological advances to how people will experience music in the near future?

Well I’ve heard about these new advances that they’ve wanted to impliment for a long time, and I guess we’ll probably be seeing them at some point.  Like instead of having physical tickets to get into shows you just use a code on your smart phone or something like that.  And I think that’s lame. I’m all for saving trees, but I love to collect my tickets from shows.  So little things like that.

Also a huge one is how the compact disc might be going away.  Well, there’s been talk about that for a while now and it obviously still hasn’t happened.  But I think aside from just digital downloads, it’s about time for a new form of physical music.  Maybe like something like a flash drive or something.  Definitely something more sturdier than a cd is now.

Talk about how important a proper setlist is for a show.

Oh well that’s a science.  Haha.  There definitely is an art to putting together a good one.  You need to draw people in with the first songs, and then maybe you have a change in the middle to experiment a little.  Then at the end you got to send them off right.  And that’s not going to be the same at every show, but I think that’s the basic idea usually.  Then again sometimes you’ll see a band come out and play a new song and the whole crowd goes crazy.  I think different artists have to know how to read their audience and then build the setlist around that.  That’s the smartest way to do it.

What do you think about bands like fun., who sort of pop up and are suddenly performing everywhere and touring all over the place.  How does that happen so quickly?

I think that’s a little like what I was saying about Adele being a phenomenon earlier.  It’s great to see a band start very small and, especially in fun.’s case, they built themselves out of members from other smaller bands, and sort of take over with their music and get such a large following.  That makes me really happy to see that.  And I can’t explain what the formula for that is.  It just sort of happens.  They’ve had two hit singles that everyone just instantly gravitated to.  Somehow they got ‘We Are Young’ into a Super Bowl commercial last year and from there they just took over.  And that’s great.  They’re a great band and a lot of fun live.  No pun intended Haha.


If you guys have anything to add to what we’ve discussed, share your thoughts in the comments!  Thanks!

Bruce Springsteen Live

Bruce Springsteen Live
Photo by John Leyba 

Adele’s 21 remains the only album to sell a million copies so far in 2012.  The music industry is very much in trouble, but that is nothing that we didn’t already know.  Still, live music continues to bring in a lot of money.  Live music made about one billion dollars in 1995.  In 2006, the business made about 4.6 billion.  Ticket prices continue to go up, but fans keep paying them to see artists live.

Why do we as fans keep paying the high fares and making the effort to see the artists in a live setting, especially if we can’t even fork over the cash to buy their albums?  I wanted to investigate this concept a little.  Here are a few possible reasons I can think of:

1. The Atmosphere

Seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band playing live in an arena of people screaming BRUUUUCCEEEE is exciting.  To be surrounded by fans who are just as enthusiastic about the Boss makes you feel welcome. It makes it a better experience than listening to The River alone in your living room.

2. Fan/Artist Interaction

I put together a podcast below investigating this topic.  In the interviews I conducted, my subject both brought up this idea that there should be a connection between an audience and the artist they are there to see.  The concert should work to bring the two together and make the the artist more accessible.  When the artist takes time to talk to the crowd and relate to them, it usually hypes up the audience and makes the show more exciting.

3.  Simply to see it Live

There are some really good artists that you just feel you need to see in a live setting.  Whether it be for their pure talent, or their personality, it just makes more sense to go see them perform.  When you experience a particular solo, or maybe your favorite song, those memories tend to stick with you when you think about the artist in the future.

Check out my podcast and listen to more support for these theories:

Are there other reasons that you go to shows for?  Tell me about some of them in the comments!