Shifts in the Industry
I can’t say that any of what it presents is new to me, but it does bring together a nice bit of coverage of trends in the music industry over the past decade or so. And what it has to say is really just as relevant today as it was in 2006 when the film was made. It is certainly well worth watching.
And the fact that I watched it for free as a streaming on-line video (with ads interspersed throughout it) makes it even more interesting the context of my thinking about it and Kim’s recent post about Making a case for free streaming music.
I have to say that while this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such a notion, each time it disturbs me just a bit. Lots of what strikes me as hand waving about the music being free and artist will have to make money through mysterious “yada-yada” means.
Is the model things are shifting to one where artists create music to give away, so they can establish a brand, by which the sell merchandise (get your Uncle Earl bobby-heads while they last!) and thus raise money to make the free music?
Sounds kind of like the old marketing crap that the music industry used to do and so many artists and serious music fans decried as commercialization of the music. Have we come to a point where selling out is the only way to make music?
I can’t say I’m against the free streaming of music as long as it is aimed at being a publicity tool and does not eliminating selling of music via downloads, CDs, etc. Because I don’t think most of the artists I like to see making music can support themselves without music sales as part of the equation.
I was reading an article about Jonathan Coulton who has long fascinated me for the sheer amazing marketing savvy and effort he puts forth. The figures may vary now, but in the article music sales (cds, mp3, etc.) were still 60% of his revenue flow and that is where he offers plenty of merchandise from t-shirts, books (including a coloring activity book!) And that is with a fiercely loyal fandom.
It does make me a bit cynical about models sans charging for music in some form or another. I’m not disallowing free streaming or offering it for download for free for publicity or DRM free music selling.
I suspect that the impact of free distribution of music (whether illegal downloads or not) on music sales actual depends a lot on the fans of the type of music. I’d like to believe that fans in this community appreciate the work of the artists and will pay given a chance for the music. I don’t necessarily think that is the same story with significant numbers of fans of top 40. 😉
I’m not sure what the answer is in the short term or where we’ll be in terms of how, or whether, music is sold in the future. But I am intrigued by stuff that I see as different models (like all the stuff Coulton does.)
or how Jane Sibeery (now Issa) who uses pay what you want models and then listed the average price per song/album which I’d like to think creates subtle pressure upwards amongst fans.
Or Deutsche Grammophon (yes, I follow classical music too – so pardon the genre shift but there are things to learn there as well) who not only sell mp3s but have an incredibly intriguing option where for 99 cents you can listen to an album as much as you want via streaming for a week, and then the 99 cents is credited to the purchase of the album if you decide to buy.
Heck, I really like the idea pre-buying to help an artist make an album. I’ve supported that in other mediums to help indie comic artists and film makers get their product made and got to have my name buried amongst the credits for the fanboy thrill – which I could easily imagine working well for the right fan crowds.
But I babble…