In a candid and insightful interview with Radio Artifact, Rich Williams, the guitarist of the renowned prog-rock band Kansas, has shed light on the harsh realities of the modern music industry.
His perspective underscores the challenges faced by musicians in a world where streaming dominates and the notion of purchasing music has shifted drastically.
Williams declared, “There’s no money in making records anymore.” It’s a stark statement, one that reflects a profound shift in the way musicians generate income from their craft. He goes on to emphasize that for musicians, particularly those of Kansas caliber, the financial returns from creating new albums have dwindled significantly.
While there may not be substantial monetary gains in releasing records today, Williams is quick to point out that there are non-financial rewards. “The payoff musicians get from doing so these days comes mostly in the form of non-financial rewards,” he notes. This shift signifies that artists often find motivation and fulfillment in their creative process, rather than expecting substantial financial returns.
Williams also highlighted the decline of physical music formats, saying: “Hard product is not much of a market anymore.”
Although vinyl enthusiasts persist, it’s no longer a major source of revenue. The expenses involved in producing physical records often outweigh the financial gains.
The guitarist attributed much of this transformation to the rise of music streaming platforms like Spotify. “Mostly it’s all downloads, Spotify type of things,” he explained. These platforms have found ways to monetize music, but the income generated pales in comparison to the pre-internet era.
The True Motivation for Album Creation
Williams suggests that artists now make albums out of a genuine desire to do so. “I’d say, to make an album, you have to really want to do it because there’s no payoff in doing it,” he admitted. Musicians are driven by the need to satisfy their creative urges and remain relevant to their fans.
While recording may be fraught with challenges, Williams underscores the importance of live performances. “The joy of it all, that’s the payoff,” he says. He highlights that the recording process can be long, painful, and tedious, whereas the essence of music truly thrives on the stage.
The Impact of Pre-Release Leaks
Finally, Williams expressed frustration over pre-release leaks. He pointed out that fans sharing music links before official releases can significantly impact album sales. That’s making it even harder for musicians to earn from their work.
In an industry where the landscape has shifted dramatically, Rich Williams’ candid insights provide a glimpse into the challenges and motivations of musicians in the digital age. Despite the financial hurdles, the love for music and the connection with fans continue to drive artists to create and perform, proving that while the industry evolves, the essence of music remains unwavering.