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“We don’t do this to get rich. If we did, we’d be doing something else”: Bumblefoot says musicians are “travelling T-shirt salesmen” in today’s industry

“If you do get signed, yeah, they’ll give you a lot of money, but it’s basically just a loan at a 900 percent interest rate.”

Bumblefoot playing a yellow double neck guitar. He has his fingers positioned high up on the frets of the lower guitar and is looking down as he is playing.

Image: Mark Weiss / Getty

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Guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal has given his thoughts on the current costs of being a musician, and how artists make most of their profits through merchandise sales.

Despite the fact that “anybody” can release music of their own and distribute it on streaming platforms far and wide, the guitarist recognises the challenges of low royalty payments and the expenses of touring or recording albums faced by artists.

Speaking on The Heavy Hooks Show, Bumblefoot – who played in Guns N’ Roses for several years, and now for supergroup Sons Of Apollo – shared his opinion on the pros and cons of artistry today.

“It has the good and the bad. It’s what we’ve always dreamed of. Anybody can release their music to the entire world for nothing. I guess in the old days, you had to hire a lawyer for God knows how much money because the labels don’t accept unsolicited material,” he begins (via Killer Guitar Rigs).

“If you do get signed, yeah, they’ll give you a lot of money, but it’s basically just a loan at a 900 percent interest rate. And if you get on tour, maybe they’ll give you tour support too at a 900 percent interest rate, basically.”

He also adds how hiring a studio space and paying for a producer costs a large sum of money: “So all the money that the label says they’re going to give you, they give it to you, but it all goes everywhere else. Everything is very expensive,” he explains.

“When you have a distributor – that the label has – if you want any visibility, you had to pay $500 a month for just one record store to put it in their little spinning thing in the front. So imagine doing that for 10,000 stores in the US. And then you have the whole world. And there, it’s the only thing you can do to make any money – sell T-shirts, so you are a travelling T-shirt salesman.”

He later continues, “Just now, the labels don’t have a pot to piss in. Not all, but a lot of them, because nobody’s buying physical products, and that’s where they made their money. So they can’t fund and support the band anymore. So the band is relying on other ways to make money, and they’re not getting it from Spotify, that’s for shit sure.”

Despite the hardships, he later concludes, “But you know what? Fuck all that. It doesn’t matter. We don’t do this to get rich. If we did, we’d be doing something else. We do this because we fucking love music. That is the reward — when you play a show and people love it.”

Watch the full interview below:

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