Remember the 1990s, when the rocketing costs of performers forced television into animation or reality? Animation uses voices only, and reality uses people who pay you for the privilege of being in the show. Now the costs of the top people are coming down.
For this, we must thank piracy. The piracy of CDs and DVDs has done a great service to the industry. It should be encouraged. Maybe it should win awards.
Take any singer. Until recently, you could pick anyone off the streets, shove them into a recording booth, and leave it to the sound mixer to create the band on the synthesiser. Then you would sweeten the voice into something usable. If she sang off key, the mixer could change key electronically. If she was out of time, he could push and pull the track until it synced with the rhythm samples he had downloaded free off the internet.
All you had left to do was cut CDs and hit the record shops. Another one-hit wonder.
Nowadays its pirate CDs that make the sales. If they are genuine, then the retail prices in the shops knock sales because the pirate copies on the streets are half price, or lower.
So it doesn’t pay to market and sell CDs anymore. You give them away to publicise concerts. Or let fans download them free from the Internet, with additional bonuses if they buy the concert tickets online.
What does bring in the bucks are live concerts. You cannot pirate a live event. So you make all your money out of a crowd of 10 000. You make much more giving one live concert a week, than cutting CDs.
BUT, to appear on a concert stage, you have to be able to sing, play an instrument, write songs, read music, dance and project your personality to hold the audience, AKA perform.
So the rats and mice are weeded out.
The piracy of DVDs has made little impact despite the moaning and groaning from Hollywood. The true facts are that people are buying fewer DVDs and renting more. Why own a DVD at R399, and watch once, when you can rent once for R6.99? Furthermore, the rental shops would rather rent out genuine DVDs than pirate ones, because pirate DVDs tend to have digitising defects. These show up badly on those nice new low-cost HD LCD flat screens.
The same has happened to actors and other performers. They make their money out of TV drama and live performances in theatre. Producers are not going to pay them extra for DVD rights, when DVD sales are going to be low. They would rather pay them for the TV recording, and let them have DVD sales rights extra, as a separate deal. After all, under piracy, the DVD sales rights are worth nothing anyway.
So the cost of, even star, performers comes down. Also the aging ones from yesteryear come out of retirement because royalties from CD sales are dwindling from piracy. They come back onto the stage – Abigail Kubeka, Neil Diamond, Rolling Stones, Hugh Masekela and U2. They do very well, far better than if they relied on CD royalties. And they can Perform – with a capital P!. They’ve been doing it for years. In fact, when once they were wonderful, after all that practice, they are now electrifying.
They can act, sing, write new songs, sort of sway instead of dancing, but, wow, it’s still a show. And the TV rights? They can’t be pirated either.
The wannabees become DJs until they succumb to Columbian Marching Powder. Or they get bit parts in the soaps. They’re cheap. But it’s a lot harder to become a real star. You have to hold a stage, and, regrettably, that takes talent.