The music industry is in a terrible state. Check out music biz sites like Hypebot, you see that everyone is shouting, “Doom!” That’s because no one knows what is in store for the industry. They are less certain what will happen to the growing numbers of indie musicians. Everyone is going digital. Heck, the Celtic Music Magazine led the Celtic revolution for digital music when we first started publishing in 2000. People wonder if CDs are done. Streaming music sites like Spotify are gaining popularity, but they are partially owned by Major Labels. They pay major label artists more than indie artists. Thus, indie musicians barely profit from listens. It is not looking good for the indie Celtic musician. So buy a CD today.
You see, folk musicians, especially Celtic musicians, are usually behind on the music business curve. I’ve had numerous Celtic musicians refuse to be played in the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast, despite the fact that is the #1 Celtic podcast online and won two awards for Best Podsafe Music Podcast in the annual Podcast Awards.
To many folk musicians, it’s not about publicity, it’s about selling CDs. They have trouble seeing that those go hand-in-hand.
For the longest time, you couldn’t even find some indie Celtic CDs for sale online at all. If you wanted the album, you had to go to the show.
Thanks in large part to CD Baby, most bands sell their CDs online now. But with the music business changing, no one is certain how bands will make money in the future.
CDs are going the way of vinyl and cassettes. Only a limited number of people actually listen to physical CDs. If you’re at all like me, I don’t blame you. I have 24,000 songs in my iTunes library. I barely listen to 1% of those songs when I hit random play. That means there are thousands of songs that are being ignored.
Much of the industry is talking about subscription services as being the next big wave. Will Spotify be the only way you can hear music in the future? Or will you choose to keep your music in hand.
Now let me specify that when I say, “buy a Celtic CD”, I do mean buy a physical CD. I suggest this because for one, many Celtic bands don’t have another option. I also suggest it because bands need income if you expect them to keep making great Celtic music. The only other option is merchandise like shirts or coffee mugs. Those are often extremely expensive and limited in their appeal.
Bands need some sort of financial support for the future if they are to continue making music. MP3 downloads are a great option. Some bands are starting fan clubs, like I did. A fan can pay X dollars per month or year. They get cool bonuses. The musicians get the financial support they need to keep recording more music.
Most music biz professionals will tell you that artists can only a make a living by touring. As an indie musician, I know that is kinda true. I make most of my money when I have a regular gigs. But it’s not easy. I play acoustic Celtic folk music. Most Irish pubs don’t want live music. If they do, they want a loud, rock band. They’ll take Celtic rock if they can get it, but it’s not a necessity. If they do you a gig, expect four hours of playing for minimum money, to be divided up by all your band mates. It’s a tough racket. I typically sell only one or two CDs at any pub gig. Festivals are typically better, but then getting into them is even more difficult. And the pay? It varies, a LOT.
I know. Things are tough all over. I love Celtic music. I want to see it flourish. What it boils down to is that indie Celtic music is even more reliant on YOU the Celtic music fan than ever before.
So if you love Celtic music, support the artists who bring you joy. Buy a Celtic CD today!
Cats. Kilts. Science Fiction. Irish drinking songs. Nowhere else but from the bizarre imagination of Marc Gunn would those four elements be so neatly integrated. Marc Gunn riotously combines Renaissance festival fanaticism with Irish drinking and Sci Fi fandom into a satirical jam session between Jonathan Coulton and The Clancy Brothers. Gunn is an award-winning Celtic folk musician. Armed with an autoharp, he mesmerizes audiences with an enthusiasm that crosses Elvis Presley with Shane MacGowan. He is the Chief Editor of the Celtic Music Magazine and host of the award-winning Irish & Celtic Music Podcast. Gunn is currently raising money for his latest album Celtic Music Is Freedom through his own personal Kickstarter-like crowdfunding project.