Remember when everyone wanted to be a singer or a rapper or some type of entertainer? Well just a decade ago, people who got record deals made way more money┬áthan they do today. That’s probably why there’s so many one hit wonders, why you keep hearing the same artists on the radio, or why when you tell people that’s still your dream, you get scoffs, chuckles, and the jab “get a real job!” Well, what gives? Why did singers and other musicians make more money back then than they do now?

  • We weren’t in a recession: Think about how you were sitting financially back in 2001. The stock market wasn’t crashing every other week, people weren’t occupying Wall Street, and there wasn’t so much competition for a job. The recession has called for cut backs in just about every industry, including the music industry.
  • There were more marketing dollars: In 2001, marketing and promotions through money out the door without a second thought. Million dollar music video budgets, promotional tours in every major metro area, 5 singles before a studio album was released, and nationwide tours. Many artists are starting to feud with record companies now, claiming they did not receive ample marketing and promotions for their new project. The money simply isn’t there anymore.
  • CDs were going for around $20 a pop: My husband and I discuss this all the time. People were really spending $20 every time a new CD came out. Now people turn their noses up at CDs going for $13.99. “That’s too expensive!” Or is it that customers are now too cheap?
  • Pirating wasn’t mainstream: I’ll admit that back in 2001, I was hip to Napster and illegal music downloading, but most of my friends weren’t. It wasn’t until a few years later that it became a huge trend to get music for free online. Artists still had a chance to sell over 1 million copies of their latest project, getting not only the profits from each sale, but also a bonus for going platinum. Now that people don’t buy music like they used to, artists aren’t seeing the paychecks that they’re used to.
  • You need to jump through hoops before getting a contract: In the “good ol’ days”, you could audition for a current hit singer and get a record deal on the spot. It’s certainly not that easy anymore. Many companies require you have an established fan base, doing things on your own including already having shows lined up, your own website, and a demo constructed just like a studio produced album. It’s a lot more difficult to sign with the likes of Capitol or Universal.
  • With streaming and iPods, who needs the radio: I don’t really listen to the traditional radio now that I have my iPod and have options like Pandora and Spotify. Why wait for my favorite song to come on when I can choose when it comes on? Less requests for a song on radio stations means less money as well, as there are less plays on the radio. Radio is still hanging on, but I believe it may go the way of the newspaper sooner or later.
If you still have dreams of being a millionaire via a recording contract, you may have to come up with a backup plan or two. It’ll be a lot harder to make your first million when you’re done paying everyone back for your project, including producers, managers, publicists, and more.