Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is the Rock CD Dying?

When I was in high school, there was nothing better to me than getting one of my favorite bands new tapes (remember cassettes?) and listening to the whole thing over and over. I'd come home from school and blast Guns 'n' Roses, Skid Row, Tesla, Motley name it! My friends would do the same thing and we'd talk about our favorite tapes (soon to be CD's) for hours. As we all know, the music scene has changed dramatically since those day.

Despite the fact that this year has actually been a strong year for rock CD releases (Slash, Judas Priest, Black Label Society, Tesla, Ace Frehley...just to name a few), are we nearing the end of the rock CD? I'm not talking about pop CD's like Taylor Swift's 1989 that was the first CD to go platinum this year, although even that may be the last platinum CD if you believe this article by I'm talking about pure rock artists. The sad truth is that the CD's just don't sell enough to make money for most bands.
It's not just newer bands that have a hard time selling CD's, it's established artists like Aerosmith and Sammy Hagar who have dedicated fan bases. Joe Perry told Rolling Stone (read it here) back in May that he doesn't know if it makes sense to record a new album. Joey Kramer also said as much on Eddie Trunk's podcast. It costs a lot to make a record and it's hard to make that money back in sales. Additionally, when it comes to their concerts, most fans don't want to hear any new songs anyway. Perry backed off a bit in a recent article and said that he expects Aerosmith to head back into the studio at some point. 
Sammy Hagar, who actually has put out two solo CD's in the last two years, has similar concerns when it comes to recording a new CD with his band, Chickenfoot. (read the article here). He says as much as he would love to record more music with the band, it's a lot of work and money to put out a record at that level only to be disappointed by the lack of sales. 
One of the problems (and I'm just as guilty as anyone) is that CD's have been devalued with being able to download music. U2's stunt with Apple (The New Top Selling Album of All Time – Songs of Innocence by U2) didn't help either. Supposedly, they are working with Apple on a new music delivery system that is supposed to benefit bands. Trent Reznor is also working with Apple (not sure if it's the same project) on a music delivery system (read more here). Hopefully they might be able to come up with something that would offer value to rock bands to make new music. Time will tell.
On top of touring to promote a CD, bands need to look for better ways to market themselves. With social media, they have direct access to their fans. Give them interesting things to watch or listen to. Tease bits and pieces of upcoming CD's. Bring fans backstage and behind the scenes. Don't just do it randomly though. Come up with a strategy and follow a marketing plan. See what's working for artists like Taylor Swift. They may get more attention and budget from their record company, but there are definitely takeaways that rock bands can learn from and implement. There's great new music out there. Rock bands need to do a better job of letting fans know it's there and letting them get a taste of it so they know it's good.

What do you think would change the state of rock CD's? What would make you want to buy more CD's? Reply with your ideas in the comments below or on any of the social media posts. Thanks for reading and please share my blog with your friends. 

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