Cody Blakely is a local musician and recording engineer, who has seen the impacts of the pandemic firsthand from finances, to live music, to a lack of both.
This Corona pandemic has also made music at the media forefront. This includes getting music online both from streaming and illegal services and encouraging a conversation on music piracy.
Below is an interview between Blakely and Dylanna Fisher from Switching Styles.
Do you think Covid-19 has impacted the conversation about pirated or downloaded music?
That is a whole conversation that will get my blood boiling. I get right now it would be foolish to assume everyone has extra money they can spend buying records. I haven’t purchased a record myself in a bit and I subscribe to a streaming service. I am not exactly helping the situation, but I also feel like I buy a lot of music right from the bands.
Plus, with record shops being closed down or having limited access it’s tough to acquire music. It’s a tough situation. Some people haven’t felt a loss in income and if they can help support a local band by buying some of their merchandise, it would mean the world to them.
But I don’t think people understand exactly how much money musicians invest into their own music, or how much money is invested. I say money, but also at the same time, becoming a musician that people, care about is not an easy thing.
It’s a 10,000-hour job. It’s just like any other trade anything like that just even the way record labels and whatnot sort of conduct their contracts and why not it borderline in a lot of ways makes it impossible for musicians to make money. For every, every Platinum-selling artist that you have, there are 10 million bands that are rubbing pennies together try to afford to make a record.
I think a lot of the problems with pirating a lot of it just kind of comes from people not necessarily, thinking about essentially what goes into making a record or being a musician and whatnot. But I also think that the record labels themselves they’re not helping the cause. Even if pirating wasn’t the thing, I still don’t think that there’d be a tremendous amount of wealth shared with the artists
Why do you think that that kind of sentiment is there in the music industry?
The economic aspect of that alone, why there’s not any sort of laws against pirating or anything like that is crazy. And a lot of people say they pirate movies and whatnot. And that’s true. I do. I do agree with that. However, when people are not understanding how a record deal works, versus like a movie studio or anything like that, they’re going to be making billions of dollars potentially off of a movie where, you and I both know, what’s a record. The amount of record sales that it’s actually going to take for the artist to make a profit, is it you need to sell like at least eight times what the value or how much you invested into the record just for anybody to make money.
People often overlook when it comes to paying artists is, even sports, you can put as much work into being a musician as you do to an athlete. And these I mean, there are people dropping 1200 dollars for one night just to go to like a hockey game or something like that. Like I was mentioning earlier that Derek filled a brand or whatever his name is. He can’t be bothered to pay $3 to support 10 bands.
I don’t understand why there’s such a lack of faith in the music community is as a form of entertainment.
Maybe people just haven’t done the research. Maybe they just don’t understand.
But when it comes to music, it’s almost like people the wallets immediately put away And I’ve never personally understood why. I’m the furthest thing from a social expert but it’s definitely something that I’ve noticed, and I hope that it goes away, record sales are back up with vinyl. But how many people are shopping, right from the band or going to a record store and purchasing vinyl? Either way, most of the money’s just going to go back to the label and not back to the artists.
One thing that a lot of artists that I’ve talked to mention is ways that online music services can help. Watching it or listen to music on Spotify.
What are your thoughts on that?
Streaming services are an incredible discovery tool.
I think we can all think of a band that we had no idea existed before. And then when Spotify or whatever streaming service you use came into play, the amount of music we’re able to consume is, it’s overwhelming, almost, especially considering where we are in Edmonton. It’s no, it’s no secret that we’re not a major tour stop.
That’s the best way to discover bands. And if you discover a band that you like, if you reach out to them, and you ask them to buy some of their merch, they absolutely crazy to turn that down. It happens all the time where we’ll have people from like Pol discovering us. We’ve said that merch overseas before and it’s extremely appreciated. , it’s, you do make a tiny bit of money and that’s nothing you can obviously live off of, but it’s a fantastic tool for discovering new dance music.
Why would you want music lovers and musicians to kind of know about the topic?
I think the important thing to realize is that even with standard 12 point deals that Generally the artist, their record is going to need to usually make eight times what the budget is of the making of the record, just for the artist received a pennyworth of royalties.
I mean, I’m the worst at math. I like to use basic numbers. If you’re working on a $100,000 budget for the record, for an artist to receive a penny, they’re generally going to need to make $800,000 on album sales.
And I can’t think of a single industry where it’s like that. If you went and bought a car and they told you that, yeah, we can get you a $20,000 car, but you’re going to have to pay $160,000 for this car. Would anyone seriously consider purchasing that? Personally, I don’t want to believe that there are people that are purposefully pirating music.
I just don’t think that there’s enough education that goes into exactly how much goes into making a record. The lack of education is a big one. That’s also not just with music lovers, musicians as well. There need to be better resources for them to understand how much they should be investing in their own music as well. If they’re wanting it to be commercially accepted.
What kind of resources?
Alberta music, that’s kind of the first one. If you want to know the information, it’s easy to find on the internet. Like there are many sources out there.
[Check out some financial aids for Canadian Musicians]
People, just from my experience, need to take a little bit more initiative and perhaps creating education for those musicians. I find you can Google for an hour and the amount of information that you’ll learn is astonishing. Oh, well.
With people not having extra, spending cash if they’ve been laid off. It is going to affect pirating music. I mean, there’s still there are still records coming out. And if you’re not part of a streaming service, well, the only way that you can really, listen to that now is going to be pirating everything. I do understand And I am sensitive to that, that, there’s I don’t think that there’s a single record out there where it’s, missing all your bills for. I totally respect and understand that.
There’s a lot of bands that are starting to stream them play shows and whatnot. I think there’s a lot of steps in the right direction. , and until, there’s going to be a lot more people normally losing their income. It’s going to it might be the norm for a bit, unfortunately.
Streaming services before COVID-19 were Increasing quite amazingly, it seems to have kind of plateaued, not decrease, not increase just stayed the same. Right? After COVID-19 What do you estimate will happen with streaming services?
Wow, that’s a really good question.
It’s always going to be used as more of a discovery tool. I can’t see a way for streaming services to get any bigger. Even TV streaming services and they’re in the same boat, they’ve kind of plateaued as well. I don’t necessarily see them getting any bigger. That there’s only much you can do with a streaming service. If you’re using it as a discovery tool, please be my guest. But at the end of the day, if you want music to join and new music to be made, you got to invest in it.
Provincially something’s going to have to change during COVID-19 preventing us to stay alive realistically
It’s a satellite business astronomy map between, people going to shows going to restaurants before the concerts. If you have somewhere like starlight room, for example, that’s hosting multiple 500 plus shows a week. , bringing that money downtown. People coming from out of town and bringing money into Edmonton to let something like that go, while we’re investing in pipelines that are still not going to go through, is incredibly short-sighted. That’s pretty much how you turn Alberta into a corporation.
The big thing that I find is that a lot of people, we can just be honest, a lot of people in Alberta. I don’t think cultures are overly grasped by the arts or take too much interest in it. And it very, very quickly becomes something that people need to realize that it does no matter what you do. Everything about your life is going to be affected by some sort of art. , whether you’re watching TV, whether you’re watching a movie, wherever you’re, you’re throwing on the radio, the clothes that you wear, those were made by a designer. Even if you’re watching the Oilers play someone had to design that logo. For people to overlook the arts as not a major industry, just because it wasn’t anything that you can, drive your car with or anything like that. It’s not oil.
Alberta music needs to do a little bit of tightening up. That there needs to be more education for musicians to they don’t, they don’t get taken advantage of because I feel like a lot of musicians get taken advantage of.
To be totally honest with you. I see nothing but potential for Alberta music.