Drummer and musician Alex Van Halen is mourning the loss of the music business. He says technology has done pushed out artists from their own music they created.
In an interview with Modern Drummer, Van Halen criticized the rise of streaming services like Spotify. He said such services have taken away ownership and make it harder for musicians to make money.
“There’s nothing left in the music business,” Van Halen said. “It’s a bunch of ones and zeroes. In the old days, you’d get a dollar a record, and now you get 50 cents for 275,000 streams. It’s insane. It’s wrong. Now the only thing you have is playing live, which is ironic because that’s how it all started.”
Van Halen knows a bit about touring. After all, he is the drummer for the band Van Halen, which he started with his brother the late Eddie Van Halen. The band is considered by many to be one of the greatest rock bands of the 1980s and potentially ever. The band performed a litany of hits. Alex Van Halen always enjoyed their live shows.
“After we honed our skills, you learn the connection between the people and the music,” he explained. “Playing live, there should be no dead space. Never turn your back on the audience and never insult them. They are equal to you. That line that separates the audience from the stage, that’s not a line. That’s just to keep them from puking on your s–t! You’re there to make the audience feel good.”
Alex Van Halen Reflect on Life on the Road
But these days, that might be all that’s left for musicians. The rock star also reflected on his time living with the band on the same tour bus in the 1980s. He said it was a great bonding experience for the group.
“Leonardo da Vinci said, ‘Large rooms distract the mind; small rooms focus the mind’,” Van Halen quoted. “When you’re all tight in close quarters, it focuses your energies and you learn how to deal with issues and problems. If you’re in a large space, you never even have to say ‘hello’ to the other guys. What’s that all about?”
Ultimately, Van Halen said camaraderie between his bandmates is the draw for musicians like him, even in an age of new technology.
“I’d rather have someone wake up in the morning and say, ‘Hey, f–k you!’ as opposed to not saying anything at all,” Van Halen said. “I’m serious. Give me some emotion! That’s what this is about. Music is a celebration of being human. With the drums at the forefront!”