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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Looks Like Music is Starting to get the Right Idea

   
Author Topic: Looks Like Music is Starting to get the Right Idea
Alcon
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/15/arts/music/15aust.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

I've long held that the music recording industry is obsolete and musicians should no longer try to make money by selling recordings. With the ability to digitally make infinite copies of music for free there is infinite supply. The laws of supply and demand then dictate that the value of a recording is zero.

Instead musicians should be making their money by touring and performing (something that will always have value), and selling merchandise. According to the above New York Times article they are starting to do just that and in the process they are abandoning the record labels of old, which will hopefully just be left to die. The article mentions a number of other ways I hadn't even thought of for musicians to make money that don't involve selling recordings. Looks like downloading is finally gonna cause the change the music industry so very much needs.

quote:
The Shout Out Louds, from Stockholm, were singing about a romance, but they could have been speaking for thousands of people attending the 22nd annual South by Southwest Music Festival. It is Americaís most important music convention, particularly for rising bands, gathering a critical mass of musicians and their supporters and exploiters from the United States and across the world. While major labels have a low profile at this yearís gathering, other corporations are highly visible, using sponsorships to latch on to music as a draw and as a symbol of cool.

Southwest is a talent showcase and a schmoozathon, a citywide barbecue party and a brainstorming session for a business that has been radically shaken and stirred by the Internet. For established recording companies, the instantaneous and often unpaid distribution of music online is business hell; CD album sales are on an accelerating slide, and sales of downloads arenít making up for the losses. But for listeners, as well as for musicians who mostly want a chance to be heard, the digital era is fan heaven. As major labels have shrunk in the 21st century, South by Southwest has nearly doubled in size, up to 12,500 people registered for this yearís convention, from 7,000 registered attendees in 2001, not including the band members performing. In an era of plummeting CD sales and short shelf lives even for current hit makers, the festival is full of people seeking ways to route their careers around whatís left of the major recording companies.


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El JT de Spang
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Musicians have always made their money by touring and selling merch. That's not new.

And the value of a recording isn't zero. It's much less than it was since the advent of digital media, but it still costs money to make and it can't be made by anyone but the artist -- in other words, at the very least, the first consumer is going to have to pay for it. But your larger point stands. The recording industry as it's currently structured is obsolete.

Which is why you see a ton of musicians who don't even want labels, and a bunch more who deal with hands-off indie labels. It's also why the majors now make you sign contracts that give them rights to your touring and merch earnings (another giant reason why musicians are running full speed away from majors).

Luckily, people still like music, and are still willing to pay for it (either digitally or by going to see shows). And with the internet (and myspace, especially), it's easier for people to find artists they'd never hear of through conventional means.

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Mike
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quote:
The laws of supply and demand then dictate that the value of a recording is zero.
quote:
And the value of a recording isn't zero. It's much less than it was since the advent of digital media, but it still costs money to make and it can't be made by anyone but the artist -- in other words, at the very least, the first consumer is going to have to pay for it.
JT is right, the value of a recording isn't zero. (Where are those economists when you need 'em? I'll have to get by on my layman's understanding and terminology here.) Unlike material goods, informational goods such as music, movies, or software can be duplicated for very little cost. This isn't new: gossip, military intelligence, and industrial practices have been disseminated for profit for as long as physical goods have been traded. However, how much it costs to produce a good often has little to do with how much people will buy or sell it for. What people will pay for a digital recording or similar product depends to a large extent on how easy or convenient it is to get it for free.

Thing is, people are willing to pay for easy access and guaranteed quality, which is why models like iTunes and the Amazon Music Store are successful. People are also willing to financially support the artists they love — witness the success of In Rainbows and Ghosts.

This is, of course, complicated by the current state of affairs: DRM, the DMCA, the RIAA, byzantine copyright laws, artist name recognition / airtime, etc. However, as the digital music landscape becomes more consumer-friendly, I think you'll find that people will still be willing to pay for their tunes.

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lem
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Speaking of abandoning record labels, I find it noteworthy to point out that Dupre (the infamous prostitute for Spitzer) has made 1.4 million dollars from download sales of her song Move Ya Body on AmieStreet.com since the scandal broke in NY.
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TomDavidson
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The annoying thing about this is that I got the idea to sleep with the governor of New York to jumpstart my music career years before she did, and no one cared. I guess the press didn't think Cuomo made a credible sugar daddy.
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El JT de Spang
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Clearly, I'm in the market for a female governor. Hell, I'll even settle for a Congresswoman.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
Musicians have always made their money by touring and selling merch. That's not new.

And the value of a recording isn't zero. It's much less than it was since the advent of digital media, but it still costs money to make and it can't be made by anyone but the artist -- in other words, at the very least, the first consumer is going to have to pay for it. But your larger point stands. The recording industry as it's currently structured is obsolete.

As a composer who has never sold a single cd or a piece of music, I see this whole thing as an always double edged sword. I can get things out to people who want to hear them, but I can't make money- not that I would anyway. Also, a good portion of my work so far is recording based, not performable music, and also in programming lately, which is also not necessarily saleable in the traditional sense. Luckily, as an academic musician, I have something of a limited avenue of possibilities in teaching and the smaller community of classical music- this industry is even more impossible to make money in.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Mike:

This is, of course, complicated by the current state of affairs: DRM, the DMCA, the RIAA, byzantine copyright laws, artist name recognition / airtime, etc. However, as the digital music landscape becomes more consumer-friendly, I think you'll find that people will still be willing to pay for their tunes.

At the same time, I hope and prey with all my heart, that the god-awful bloatware that came with my new verizon phone called "v-cast" and other similarly overpriced, front loaded, impracticable, over agressive, privacy invading life-spam will go away and NEVER come back.

Why in God's name have we as a nation decided that when we buy a phone, the company that sold it to us, now owns our souls? This can be avoided in Europe with little trouble. I loved it there, I could have kissed Europe for that fact alone.

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
Clearly, I'm in the market for a female governor. Hell, I'll even settle for a Congresswoman.

Too bad you missed out on McGreevy, when he was our NJ governor.
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lem
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quote:
The annoying thing about this is that I got the idea to sleep with the governor of New York to jumpstart my music career years before she did, and no one cared.
You just needed suggestive party pictures of yourself circulating the web. It's all in the details Tom.
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BlackBlade
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Musicians need to go back to the system of patronage. You find a rich person who likes your music, you tour and sell merchandise, and he/she gets the prestige of supporting a famous artist.
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breyerchic04
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Wouldn't a governors wife and Kennedy work?
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Musicians need to go back to the system of patronage. You find a rich person who likes your music, you tour and sell merchandise, and he/she gets the prestige of supporting a famous artist.

Don't think I'm not pursuing this angle.
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Orincoro
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Yeah, I'd go for that. :shrug:
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