The top song lyric websites are lucrative
Change in the music industry : What does a hit for 100 euros sound like?
When Fools Garden suddenly topped the charts in 1995, it was more of an accident. The band from Pforzheim played "Lemon Tree" in an inconspicuous pub, a radio presenter was in the audience and took the song with him to his show. It became a hit. How did the musicians feel at that moment? Famous and successful from now on, being a pop star belongs in the top ten childhood dreams. But you can't wait forever to be discovered.
It's just stupid if you have no idea what makes a hit yourself. But: do you have to know that at all? When you can buy practically everything on the Internet. In Berlin there are advertising posters for the “Fiverr” platform on every corner.
This is a kind of Ebay classifieds for services that create intellectual property, especially audio and video. You can buy pretty much anything here, from jingles for a podcast to sounds for an app to a professional dubbing voice for a commercial - and sell. Musicians also use the service. The Israel-based company was already one of the 200 most popular websites in the world.
The jazz standard is missing a drum beat? A guitar solo would do the rock ballad any good? A soulful background singer would spice up the chorus? The song fits, but the tracks are not mixed properly? There is probably someone at Fiverr who can solve the problem.
Time for an experiment: can you buy a complete song without writing a note yourself? Just by giving the right assignments to the right musicians? What would a world hit cost? Let's try 100 euros.
One fifth of the Top 100 charts in 2018 were hip-hop songs
It should be a hip-hop song, that seems to be the cheapest - not too many instruments, but still suitable for hits. In the German charts alone, a fifth of the top 100 rap songs were in 2018. Just listen to a few old favorite albums and then it is clear which songs should serve as a model.
There are enough testosterone-charged hip-hoppers, so this time a woman will be rapping. The lyrics have to be something that everyone can agree on. English, for international success, of course. Not sexist, racist or homophobic, no swear words. It should be about a topic that has worked many times: "Big City Life".
No hit without a beat. The musician who accepts the order by credit card for 18.67 euros is called "Splacyice". When he hears that his work should somehow sound like Jay-Z, with drums, bass, a bit of synthesizer, two verses and a chorus, all about two minutes long, he doesn't complain about too precise specifications. "Thanks, I'm on it," he writes in the messenger and promises to deliver in 48 hours.
It shouldn't be too complicated, that was already known in 1988 by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, better known as "The KLF". In their cult book "The Manual - How to have a number one the easy way", they ironically and in detail describe how a hit is created without the need for musical skills. According to these instructions, The KLF had a number 1 hit themselves with "Doctorin’ the Tardis ".
According to the profile, “Splacyice” comes from Nigeria and writes about himself: “Your satisfaction is my priority.” Therefore, after delivery, he will remind you several times to give him good feedback, i.e. a maximum of five stars. By the way, he also judges his customers. "I had a great experience with him", he will write after this gig, as the individual assignments are called here. Even then, satisfaction has priority.
At Fiverr, musicians are subject to the logic of Google and Tripadvisor
At Fiverr you are not an artist, but a service provider, and you are subject to the same logic of evaluation as pizza restaurants, dentists and budget hotels experience on Tripadvisor, Jameda and Google. “Splacyice” delivers much faster than promised, he needs three and a half hours for the goods. That sounds less like Jay-Z's “99 Problems” and more like 08/15. In the supermarket for hit parades, the price-performance ratio applies. And a total budget of 100 euros, which quickly turns out, is more of a discount price.
Music was never just about living out one's own creativity, it was always also about earning a living. Mozart's “Requiem” was of course a commissioned work for the eccentric Count Franz von Walsegg, today studio musicians play entire albums to order. When Hans Zimmer composes the soundtrack for a film, he has it recorded by the London Philharmonic.
At the beginning of the 1960s, New York's Brill Building brought together so many songwriters under one roof that “Brill Building Pop” became a genre of its own. Here hits were produced for others in assembly line work and sold directly to the record companies, who then practically assigned them to their artists.
Tryna live my life I need the money, not the fame. "Gucciboymelv" is the name of the man who wrote the line. This is not his artist name, but his username under which he offers “professional rap lyrics”. Sounds like blingbling, in his profile photo the American is wearing a headband from the fashion brand. But instead of fame and fortune, he gets 37.42 euros - with delivery within 48 hours. For the lyrics.
Two stanzas that tell of life in the big city, of the hardships, the problems - and of the hopes, that was his mission. The city should not be specifically named, it could be New York or Chicago, London or Berlin. So that as many listeners as possible can find themselves in it. The stanzas correspond to what was wanted. Unfortunately you wait in vain for the chorus while listening. Only what was ordered is actually delivered.
When “Gucciboymelv” received the MP3 file with the beat of his colleague “Splacyice” over the messenger, he did not complain that the goods fell short of his artistic standards. He also takes the other outrageously precise instructions calmly: A verse likes gloomy, like “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash, at the back please a little happier. Frank Sinatra was already singing about New York in a good mood. "Gucciboymelv" delivers twelve hours before the deadline.
If you offer your talents at Fiverr, you don't do so to become famous. And probably not rich either. The majority of the musical offerings range between five (hence the name of the platform) and 250 dollars, depending on the effort and level of professionalism. For most providers, this is a mixture of a hobby and pocket money. Street music on the information highway.
All these great advantages I hope to get paid. The subject of money appears in both stanzas of Gucciboymelv. But who are the opportunities at Fiverr for? Music has never been so cheap as it is today, that applies to every level. Stacks of records have often been replaced by inexpensive digital subscriptions at Spotify and Co., brand-new entry-level guitars hang in shop windows for far less than 100 euros. Recording technology has long been affordable for the living room.
On Spotify, artists get $ 0.0038 per stream
The KLF already predicted in the “Manual” that technology would soon be available that would allow the entire production process to be carried out at home. "Then you will be able to do without the crap of having to go to a studio," it says there. Apple's “Garage Band” program is even free of charge, so you can use it to compose entire songs on your mobile phone. Listening to music, discovering it and making it yourself is more accessible than ever.
The Beat, as "Splacyice" reveals in one of its terse news stories, was built with FL Studios, a software that costs around 200 euros, and after ten gigs it has the expenses back in it. But not only have capital expenditures for music, programs and instruments decreased, but also income. At Spotify, for example, artists are currently paid $ 0.0038 per stream.
To earn the same as with Fiverr, the beat of “Splacyice” would have to be called up several thousand times there. And it just delivers a component. At Fiverr, the composer can keep 80 percent of the price, and 20 percent stays with the company.
The precarious payment system Spotify has had a measurable impact on artistic creation. For example, studies have shown that pop songs end earlier and earlier. From 2013 to 2018 alone, the songs were on average 20 seconds shorter. While in 2004 less than half a percent of the “Billboard Hot 100” charts were shorter than 2:30 minutes, last year the figure was already six percent.
The assumption behind it: Because every stream is worth the same, shorter songs are more lucrative. The modular song about life in the city, which the musicians independently christened “trouble”, lasts almost exactly two and a half minutes. Perhaps that is also her subtle way of venting the frustration with this immoderate customer.
“Gucciboymelv” is a songwriter, not a performer. What he delivers is a pdf file with the text, as well as a roughly sung version so that the buyer can understand how the rhythm, melody and timing fit together. You have to purchase the voice separately later. Because the budget is tight, the choice falls on “Lifestalax”: 4.68 euros.
“Lifestalax” is Italian and at Fiverr not only offers her voice, but also English translations (from 9.41 euros) and model jobs (from 14.11 euros). If necessary, she also cuts YouTube videos (from 9.41 euros). Her profile says “I believe in dreams” and the call to look for her on the Internet to listen to her album “Chikitakabum!”. She has a video in her profile, the voice sounds lovely, stylistically a bit like Kate Nash. A good decision.
"Lifestalax" uses Fiverr to gain reach, as she explains in the chat. Fame is more important to her than money, even if she'll end up singing something different for “trouble”. She is enthusiastic about the demo tape for the job, at least that's what she writes. Her recording ends up a bit off the beat - maybe it would have been better to let her sing instead of rap.
Böhmermann demonstrated in 2017 how simple pop songs work
The song is taking shape, but something is still missing. "Pepercorn" helps with this. According to his own statements, the Serb is a professional guitarist and has been using Fiverr for almost two years. For him, he says, it's a daily business. “I play in two bands and also give concerts in Serbia”, but now he's also earning his money on the platform.
“Pepercorn” has numerous positive reviews in its profile, its delivery time of five days is slightly longer than that of the other musicians. For 60 seconds of acoustic guitar he gets 9.41 euros. To make a living from it, he has to complete a few gigs a day, even if rent and food cost less in his home country than in the USA, for example.
“Pepercorn” literally does piecework work that always works according to the same principle. Be simple, catchy, the sound has to stay in your head the first time you hear it. Just as Jan Böhmermann parodied it in 2017. The satirist collected fragments of advertising slogans and had a chimpanzee throw them together in the zoo. He turned it into a song that actually made it into the charts. This was of course also due to Böhmermann's enormous PR reach and the fact that the song “Menschen, Leben, Tanzen, Welt” could be produced with large financial resources. Most of Fiverr's customers don't have these resources. But that is exactly where there is an opportunity - practically everyone can afford a studio musician here.
“Pepercorns” recording sounds surprisingly good. Four chords, subtle fingerpicking on an acoustic guitar. Well played and recorded. Apparently he really listened to the given reference song - "Thugz Mansion" by Nas. Delivered as ordered. "Pepercorn" allows you to copy the soundtrack and use it again elsewhere in the song. The question about it is more of a courtesy, after all you have paid for the music. And with this, the authors assign all rights to the buyer according to the terms and conditions of the platform.
Some charge extra prices for use for “commercial purposes”, but even then it is settled with a small one-time payment. That means: if “Trouble” turned into a hit, contrary to expectations, “Splacyice”, “Gucciboymelv”, “Lifestalax” and “Pepercorn” would not receive a cent of the success.
The sound mixer advises removing the Cloudrap filter
As a professional, “Pepercorn” is more of a minority on Fiverr, and conversely, the platform seems to have played a small role among professional musicians so far. A Berlin studio guitarist says that although tracks have been sent back and forth in the professional field for a long time, you no longer necessarily have to sit in the same room while the music is being made. The real high-end production still happens in the studio - "and that costs a lot of money".
The song finally has all the ingredients. Now you need someone to season and serve them. These work steps are called mixing and mastering. The individual audio tracks are superimposed, mixed and leveled to form a complete work. The "guitatrplyr" from the USA takes over for 18.73 euros. He gets a lot out of the material.
He cannot compensate for the lack of catchy tune potential in the chorus, but at least offers different versions. When asked to apply a filter typical of Cloudrap over the voice, he listens to the genre and suggests a sample. However, he recommends avoiding it. He's right. But hear for yourself!
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