Most of us were of an age when Napster and other peer to peer sites that caused a major sea change for the music industry. Since then musicians and the record labels had to adapt. Now most music is free with ads or relatively free through subscription apps like Spotify. How has this changed the industry? Has this digital revolution made it impossible for new recording artists to earn a living? Is the music industry dead?
All of these topics are explored through a great new documentary which just dropped called InstaBAND. As the title indicates, part of this new face of music involves social media as a way for bands to get exposure and break through the crowded noise of a saturated art form. The doc follows and interviews over a dozen musicians at different levels of their careers. Just a few of these artists include: Adara, Aquaducks, Her, Kid Politics, Nappy Roots, Phangs, The Naked Cowboy and The Ries Brothers.
This well paced doc wastes no time getting real about the nature of the music industry today. When you listen to your favorite song on a streaming service, the artist only makes $0.0084 per stream. Musicians only get 12% of all the money made through the music industry. As an independent filmmaker, I can tell you the revenues filmmakers make per transaction and watch hours on ad based streaming apps is only a little better than this. That is what makes this such an important subject, InstaBAND has cross-over appeal to artists who work in any medium these days.
We all have to hustle and adapt. Even top grossing bands have changed how they operate. In 2019 the popular Rock band Weezer released their Teal Album all over the internet for free. They did that as a way to promote their Black Album which went on sale later that year. This is the kind of thinking which fills this documentary. InstaBAND does not miss a beat. New ways of generating revenue through touring and merch sales are explored. The Naked Cowboy has his own brand of wine? Who knew? Well he did, and he was quick to talk about it on camera.
These artist go into detail about the pros and cons of working with a major record label versus independent distribution. Her, talks about playing both sides of the field, one of her albums was released through Warner Music when the band was re-branded as Her & Kings County. This part alone was worth the price of admission.
Is physical media dead? Has it played its swan song? That is addressed in the doc. Can new artist make a living in this highly competitive climate? Yes and no. Most independent artist have day jobs, or weekend gigs to pay the rent. That dynamic is part of the doc, so is the creative ways bands interact with their fans and why this is more important now than ever before.
Music fans and artists of any form should see InstaBAND. It will give you hope, and a hard hitting dose of realism. This doc is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and multiple streaming platforms. And you know how hard it is for artists in the world today. So ensuring that great art continues to be made starts with you, the consumer. This is your time, they’re playing your song.
Curt Wiser is the Writer, Director of the Suspense movie Cam-Girl. As a proud filmmaker and artist, he is happy to say a kind word about other movies and share them with the world.