Music is undeniably one of the most freely-thinking areas of human life. When it comes to creation, the only rule is that there are no rules; you can follow your heart all the way to an hour-long symphony of dissonant chords, complete with solos for ocarina and plastic kazoo. However, the rules begin when you try to market and sell your music, as well as your brand. There is a litany of rules that is constantly being edited, redacted, reformatted, reinterpreted, and reformed and this litany is the foundation work and upkeep for careers, despite the fact that you don’t really get a say in them as you would your own music. The fact of the matter is that you have to follow these rules, if you want to keep your relevancy and your marketability.
As is the typical case with the baby-boomer generation and those fringe children born on either side, some older artists can’t seem to separate music creation from music business in that they want things simply as they want them. Garth Brooks, we’re looking at you today.
The legendary country artist has announced harbingers of the death of his own streaming/music sale service, GhostTunes. GhostTunes was Brooks’s answer to his dilemma of wanting a site that would allow streaming and selling of music. Adamant in his desires, Brooks refused to join the likes of streaming powerhouses Apple Music and Spotify, the former for its inability to provide him with his version of a decent deal, the latter for its nature of solely streaming music. With his baby going belly-up, Brooks has decided to begin moving his catalog from GhostTunes to Amazon, giving into the temptation to go mainstream.
Here’s the thing about GhostTunes’s fated passage into eternity: no one cares. I hadn’t even heard of GhostTunes until half an hour ago. It is highly likely that artists whose music is featured and on the site don’t know the site exists either. The ideas behind the site were too hopeful and not substantial enough to keep the streaming service alive for very long. All streaming is premium and you have to actually buy the albums if you’d like to add them to any file or device. In an age where musicians are embracing the concept of “Pay However Much You Want,” this is too much money for the consumer.
In addition to the unrealistic fees associated with GhostTunes, it’s another account that demands upkeep, another password you have to protect, another service people are expected to use. Why create several accounts for streaming, purchasing, and everything else under the sun when I can just create one account with all services included on Apple Music or Band Camp or, Brooks’s latest career move, Amazon?! I mean, really. The 1990s have been over for quite some time; people no longer wish to control a plethora of accounts when consolidation is an easier, more manageable, more accessible option.
At the end of the day, consumers want what they want and older artists need to remember that, in the modern age, the consumer is the final say in the industry. Consumers aren’t taking what GhostTunes is handing out, so GhostTunes’s passing is only natural. If we’ve learned anything from streaming, it’s that free is key and less is best. This isn’t to say that artists can’t get what they want. Artists can achieve their goals, but they have go about their pursuits in ways that are compatible with the market.
If Garth Brooks is your ideal or career model, this is one of the times where you should stray from the path. His proposed business model is in hospice with cirrhosis and a nasty case of IBS. Old models and principles work in things like philosophy, cuisine, and fashion to an extent. The music industry is in a constant state of evolution, so the only old people want to see these days are re-releases of legendary acts, covers, and farewell tours. Buy yourself a pair of pointe shoes because the beauty of the music business is that you have to constantly stay on your toes.
Sorry, Garth, but Ghosts aren’t real. Oh, well. Maybe you can start trying to sell your music through your wife’s cooking show!
If you’d like to read the article that prompted this post, you can click here.
If you’d like to see GhostTunes during visiting hours, you should click this link.
Once again, this has been the view from 214.