Do you really have something to offer? This question needs to be asked in so many different ways and forms. People today give out music, but is that really something to offer? I was doing a funny video for my friends and was amazed about how many free pictures and music was out there for my project. And most of them are really great. Made by people in their spare time who just want to share what they have filmed or composed. And for my project that was enough. I found what I needed and put it together.
Of course, this was a hobby thing. If I worked on Netflix and did a bigger TV-series these pictures or music might not be up in the top-notch material, they need to compete in their channels. Of course, they pay to get the best material as well. The problem is that most of the material that is offered is in the hobby quality that I used.
A lot of the problem in this business is that people offer things that are worth nothing or close to nothing. With a production rate of 60,000 songs a day (that is the average of what is coming out on Spotify - it might be higher) there is just an overwhelming part of this music that is released that is not meeting any high quality standards.
You can see this on the payment services for films. You can watch YouTube all day long and just see a small commercial for a whole show. To be honest, on YouTube it’s uploading 720,000 hours of video every day. I will never get short of programs to watch so why should I pay for Netflix? Right now I actually watch some shows on YouTube. One is a guy describing true crime and he is really funny. I like the format as well since every episode is around 20 min. Is it quality, no but enough entertaining for me to watch while I have my lunch? Would I pay for it, hell no! The other show I’m watching is old episodes of a program that I liked in the 90’s about detectives and their work. This one is professional, but it’s been outdated for 20 years. The nostalgia for me is that it reminds me of the old days.
If I was satisfied with shows like this YouTube is a great none ending source of content to see. That is why Netflix, HBO, and Amazon produce much higher quality shows where I’m willing to spend money. I don’t know how much new material is uploaded on Netflix, but in February 2021 they had 5800 titles on their service, YouTube gets in more material in an hour than the whole Netflix library. The difference in quality, my guess is that in twenty years I might see what was released on Netflix on YouTube.
Back to if you have something to offer. The risk that the things you create belonging to the brown wave of material uploaded to YouTube is quite high. In the industry, we look for the things that would suit Netflix. The competition is fierce. Not just that you compete with what is released today you also compete with what was released since the start of recorded music.
Here is the problem. Back in the day recording an album was a big cost. That is why they all recorded it in the Netflix standard of the time. Today, the technology has moved on so far that what artists in the 80’s paid millions to get all you need now is to have in an App. What you don’t have is the pressure of making the most of it. When the artist back in the day got the chance to record something they couldn’t just fool around. They had to pass several gatekeepers in the form of producers, executive producers on the label, PR people. To be very sure that they recoded the right song they had tested the song against an audience. They had to fight different decisions for the song by these other people. Many complained that the industry was controlling. What we see now though is when everybody has all the tools and can make whatever they like suddenly most of the big hits are gone. Suddenly it’s mumble rap that has entered the charts. If a song breaks through it has more to do with that the song is from a viral video on TikTok and that is no sure thing that the song is good at all or can stand the test of time.
To make a piece of art, to have something that has the quality so you have something to offer will cost you money, criticism, and a long process. Yes it can still be done, but it’s much easier to just make something mediocre that ends up in the 720,000 hours of YouTube material.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. As well he recently worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for September 16-18, 2021.