In a recent interview with Metal Godz Radio, former DREAM THEATER and current SONS OF APOLLO drummer Mike Portnoy spoke about the importance of having a large-enough fanbase to where artists are able to give their music away for free or at little cost and still survive financially due to ticket and merchandise sales.
"I thank God that I've been doing this for over 30 years, and I have an audience, 'cause, luckily, they kind of support what I do," he said (see video below). "But I can't imagine starting off in this environment. I mean, the Internet's a great way to get your music out there — you have social media and Instagram and YouTube, and all these ways to get your music out there — but in terms of making a living off of it, nobody gets paid anymore. It's a shame, because I can imagine how many great, young, talented artists and musicians there are that are going to never be able to blossom and fulfill their full potential, because they're gonna get scared away by not being able to make a living off of it, and that's a shame."
He continued: "I mean, it's great that you can access music at any time anywhere in the world — Spotify is very convenient — but it doesn't pay the artists. So artists now have to think of new ways to make money. And a lot of bands have to do these paid meet-and-greets and things like that, and people look at it like the artists being greedy, but no — it's a matter of the artists actually finding a way to make a living.
"If you were an electrician, I wouldn't expect you to come to my house and fix my electricity without getting paid for it," he explained. "You have a wife and kids, and a mortgage to pay for. It's no different for musicians — this is how we make our living, and if we're not getting paid for it, we can't do it, and people don't expect that.
"Today's kids, they feel this entitlement that they should get all their music for free, so, unfortunately, I have to sell drumsticks and drum heads at the merch stand in order to pay for my family. That's the stone-cold reality of where the music industry is at in 2020."
Asked if he as any advice for artists looking to have a career in music in this digital age, Portnoy replied: "I hope that young musicians don't get discouraged by the fact that it's harder to make a living off of it these days. I would hope that young artists will still follow their heart and still persevere by any means necessary to survive. And I'll be curious to see how music develops in the next 10 to 20 years. But my advice to young musicians out there is follow your heart, don't give up. It's gonna be harder than ever. And follow your heart and make the best music you can and get it out there. I guess you can't rely on record sales anymore, you can't rely on record companies anymore. So take advantage of the fact that you have the ability to do it yourself, and make the most of it."
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER 35 years ago, abruptly quit the band in September 2010 while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).
SONS OF APOLLO's second studio album, "MMXX" (pronounced: 20/20), was released on January 17 via InsideOut Music/Sony.