David Crosby Says Music Business Is Heading for ‘Middle Ages’
David Crosby predicted that the music industry was heading for a “middle ages”-style structure, where rich patrons commission artworks to order from artists.
He was replying to a question from a 17-year-old woman who wanted advice on entering show business, and set out by stating that he wouldn’t tell her “nice convenient lies.”
“Show business is hard and it’s gotten a lot harder,” Crosby said in his most recent Ask Croz column in Rolling Stone. “Streaming has made it immensely much harder for anyone to get started in show business because you can’t make any money off records. Period. They pay you roughly as if you worked for a month and you got a nickel. The only money you can make until you’re a gigantic star is live performing, selling tickets, asses on seats as we say. That makes it very tough.”
He noted that he gets "asked this question all the time and I say, ‘Don’t do it unless you can’t stand it, unless you really can’t help it. If you are compelled to sing or write or play, then I guess do it. It would be good for your heart, but understand its an insanely difficult thing to make a living at now.’ I think its headed for a thing like what you saw in the middle ages. There’s going to be sponsors/patrons who make it possible for art to be created. ‘You’re really talented, I’m going to pay for you to make me a record.’ That’s probably going to happen.”
More positively, Crosby added, “I’ll tell you this: I do it because its the most fun I know how to have. When I’m singing, and I never sing anything exactly the same, it’s kind of like having my own rocket ship. I can go anywhere with it. It’s worth it. I love it. If that’s you, go ahead and do it. But don’t have an illusion that it’s going to be easy. It isn’t.”
Elsewhere in the column he replied to queries about learning guitar at age 64, living with diabetes and dealing with anxiety over the global political situation, telling a grandmother, “Take a handful of sleeping pills every 15 minutes.” In a previous column he discussed how to survive a prison sentence.