The egg of Columbus refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. Christopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was no great accomplishment, challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip; and, after they gave up, he did it himself by tapping the egg on the table so as to flatten its tip.

You did everything to build your musical career. You studied music at a well-respected university. You gained degrees in recording and music composition with summa cum laude. You even made an MBA in music industry. You spend much money for your own music studio, which is state of the art. But something is going wrong. The old receipts don't work anymore. Since the new area of Internet music sales, revenue, and profits are down.

At the end of last year, the music business was worth half of what it was ten years ago and the decline doesn't look like it will be slowing anytime soon. After a report of CNN Money total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.

Joshua Friedlander, vice president of research at RIAA comments: "The industry is adapting to consumer's demands of how they listen to music, when and where, and we've had some growing pains in terms of monetizing those changes."

Fact is, that in the time between Napster's shuttering and iTunes' debut, many of Napster's 60 million users found other online file sharing techniques to get music for free. Even with today's commercial download offerings people don't change this behavior anymore. Now just 44% of U.S. Internet users and 64% of Americans who buy digital music think that music is worth paying for, according to Forrester. The volume of unauthorized downloads continues to represent about 90% of the market, according to online download tracker BigChampagne Media Measurement.

These are hard times for musicians. In order to build a successful music career, you need to be prepared and you cannot simply hope that “things will work out”. Tom Hess suggests to have an intelligent backup plan.

Paul McGuiness (manager of U2) states: "The mechanical royalties that sustain songwriters are drying up. Labels and artists, songwriters and publishers, producers and musicians, everyone's a victim. He opts for a revenue-sharing model. Can you imagine an official institution, who decides about, where this income is going? What would be the distribution list? No, this is only a solution for the major labels not for the musicians.

We should face the problem, that users are always try to find the cheapest way to get their desired music. The music industry had great hope, that the ringtones would help to survive. IBIS World, a consumer analyst group, prognosticates, that the ringtone business will be nonexistent in 2016. New technologies like text messaging, smart phones and mobile apps are destined to replace the phone call.

Why should I pay money for something, that I can have for free? The interest of listeners to get the music and the interest of musicians to sell their music for a fair prize isn't concurring.

Apple followed an own protection strategy. By creating innvoative products like iPod, iPhone or iPad Apple hooks the consumer. Simplicity, lifestyle and design combined in an irresistibe product, that people motivate to queue up for it. To protect the music copyright Apple introduced FairPlay. FairPlay was Apple's digital rights management (DRM) technology. Steve Jobs early realized the problems, which are caused by the use of DRM as he indicated in an open letter. DRM was cirumvented by the users in multiple ways. Finally Apple gave up the DRM format in 2009.

It is obvious that every protection scheme is doomed from the start. Users will never accept crippled formats or technology, when there is an alternative. What we have to learn is that we cannot solve the problem. We have to live with it.

You might think, that the independent artist isn't yet popular enough to be targetted by the major pirating gangs, but unfortunately there are thousands of users who are acting like these gangs. Just google your album and you will find it as illegal download offer, sometimes before the official release.

Music is an art form that moves the listener emotionally. But our appeal for sense of honor, respect for the artists and their hard work, for a payment commensurate with the performance will fail, when it comes to sell your music.

There is apparently no solution. Think about a backup plan!


Do you have a further advice for musicians? Share it with us.