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The future of music on the Internet The future of music on the Internet     (Back to list)
Posted by David (2) on 2007-Aug-06   17:19

In the past, people made money from selling content in the form of discs (plastic or CDs). With the Internet and technologies like Bittorrent, the economics of this business is being turned upside down. Although publishers are desperately trying to enforce copyright, it is clear to me, whatver system is used, someone will hack it. So, such activities are ultimately futile.

In my youth, bands and artists made money through sales of record (singles and LPs). They used tours, gigs and appearances as a means of promoting their records. In many instances performances were loss making but merchandising and sales of records more than made up fot such losses. In effect artists and bands were using personal appearances as loss leaders (in retailing terms).

Come in to the present age and we find that content (the digital download) cannot be protected. Someone, somewhere will rip your CD and make it available for download. So instead of wasting energy chasing down these people, a better strategy is to embrace this change and look at how it affects your business model as a band or performer.

I think we will find over the next few years that music will be made available practically free. However, personal appearances (whether at gigs or interviews) will be the means of making money together with associated merchandise. I see new artists and bands giving away their content with the hope that they can rise above the other 'me toos'. once they have achieved a level of fame, then they will use personal appearances as the main source of revenue.

Would anyone like to shoot holes in the above argument?

Comment by Peter (1) on 2007-Aug-07   11:01
I think the music industry lost a massive opportunity when the Internet became mainstream. They could have been world leaders in digital music sales but chose to stay in the 1980s and start pointless 'jihad' style wars on any new technology that came along.

Here are a few points the music industry seems to have forgotten :-

1. People don't really care what medium the music comes on so long as they can play it.

2. Treating your customers like criminals is a really bad idea.

3. Your product is not essential to life -or- you need us far more than we need you !!

4. Each attempt to put copy protection on your music will simply make your product less useful to normal people and will be cracked soon anyway.

I could add more but I have a couple of 'Dingo' companies to build !!

Comment by Darien (13) on 2007-Aug-08   14:43
The Backlash Starts Where?

Not too long ago, one man had an idea it wasn't a new idea but it was a simple one. Take an established principle, destroy it and make sure your the one holding the reigns of whatever rushes in to fill the vacuum. It helps if you can manipulate circumstances and be sure of what the new thing is going to be.
Now if the thing to be destroyed is skill dependent, the last thing you want is for the new to be similarly encumbered.

It's imperative that the only advantage the new can have is to be under your control. That way the new must do as it's told, for fear of being replaced.
Next control and merchandise, you must influence the buying public, into the belief that you valueless talent-less product is the thing and that they would be sad pitiful creatures, should they get caught by their peers searching the bomb site for the remains of the former order.

Shock tactics are now called for, in order to create news and spread your brand consciousness through the minds and more importantly wallets of the easily lead. Now it's a foot race, the idea is public. The next destroyer has learned the trick and waits only long enough for the luster to fade, you must make hay while the sun shines. Exploit any area and gather all the money that can be squeezed.

However, be warned. Do not think of investing in the longevity of your phenomena, you'll lose. But rest assured, your pension is intact, you can sit back and listen to the gulled fools, who know they've been played but will justify themselves till the end of their days, saying how much the old order needed a good shake up and how happy they are with a constant diet of music designed for the eye alone, low price and lower life span products, tasteless food, mayfly trends and fashions and bland talent-less soft furnishing accessories where art used to be.
The idea has reached it's furthest distance, the established principle targeted and mostly destroyed, was the art of creativity itself. Condemning the artist and musician to the status of 'mere craftsmen' cleverly damning all three into insignificance. Until recently artists and musicians were proud to be called craftsmen.

Today the pressure is on to remove talent and skill, from the areas covered by the term craft, including art and music, aiming for easy access mass production. If the aftershock is going to be the same for everyone, then look at music (for gods sake don't listen to it!) to see the shape of things to come.

At present the money chasing fools of the music industry (their term not mine), who queued up to abandon musicians in order to sign easy merchandise packages, are moaning and crying, over revenue lost to the Internet which is an animal that in many ways is of their own making.

Recently I read an article, which speculated on ways a musician or group thereof, could continue to operate in these web days. It's conclusion as far as I could make out was that groups should give their stuff away for free, via the web and earn their cash from live performances alone. I have my doubts. How do you get bums on seats lovee ? How do you get the seats in the first place? In short how do you rise above the foreground cacophony and earn your audience?.

In my opinion it's impossible for all creative pursuits, without quality control (voluntary of course) that is trusted by devotee's of the medium. Record companies, no. Art establishments, no. Critics who have already proved they can be bought and sold, no. Who then? why! how about the artists themselves? But still impossible without a backlash against the absence of both art and craft in all creative media.

The artist is regularly told by gallery owners, that commissions are so high (artificially high), because less money is available for art these days.
Rubbish! (again in my opinion). The problem lies with the fact that galleries stock themselves with bland safe work, in order to get an even slice of the available cash and when gallery owners get greedy, they can only make more money by screwing both the artists and their customers by inflating commissions and thereby wall prices. Unless of course artists cut there own prices and work for next to nothing.

The same thing happened with music, CD prices went up because cash was leaking onto the Internet, and sales plummeted. The irony being that recent surveys indicate CD sales and thereby CDs themselves are only kept alive by 40+ year old men buying 'Dad rock', on a nostalgia trip for the very thing the industry tried to kill.

(note) the term Dad rock was coined to steer the young music fan away from the music his dad might listen to and buy Nu-rock. the music industry still trying to kill off anything pre-punk. A tactical error probably never to be recovered from.

They even failed to learn lessons from the multi million increase in CD sales (yes over priced CDs), of the entire Pink Floyd back catalogue, after a few minutes exposure near the end of the Live 8 thing.

In conclusion, are artists, musicians and craftsmen (you can keep p.c.) dead? Can their work be found? The answers are nearly and yes, but who's providing care to keep them alive and telling us where to look?.
Comment by David (2) on 2007-Aug-08   23:10

Artists, musicians and craftsman are not dead. Yes, their work can be (and will be) found if they have merit. Just look at the comedy performers over the last decade. They use to eke a living on the circuits living from hand to mouth. in the nineties, comedy became fashionable and several 'alternative' comedians became mainstream through television. Now many of them make their money through appearing on advertising, promotional activities and public speaking. I remember going to an event in Harewood, Yorkshire where the compere was Angus Deaton and I understood his fee for a day's work was several thousand pounds.

It is a fallacy that the old music establishment supported the creative artists. Yes some people made money but most of the creatives were ourageously exploited by the record companies. To quote Paul Simon, they gave their future "for a pocket full of mumbles that are promises". Many bands sunk without a trace and even quite talented bands such as AHA decided not to continue because the publishers had tied them to such onerous contracts. Prince spent several years under a different name because Sony had the rights to materials published under Prince.

I believe there will always be a market for good art, music and literature These may not be mass markets but the genuine creative who create a new insight or a new approach, there will be a way.

Let us not make the mistake of looking at the past with rose-tinted nostalgia. Look at Mozart. He died a pauper even though he has produced sublime music. Look at Van Gogh who use to exchange paintings for a meal that are now valued in millions. Certain crafts may well die out. fifteen thousand years ago, the expert flint-napper was a respected member of any communities. now we have no use for flint, the only ones that practice this craft are academic archeologists. Similarly, how many fletchers ply their trade now that we no longer need bows and arrows to hunt?

We have not begun to identify the possibilities of the new digitalised globalised environment that we have created. Who knows what means will be created link the various interest groups? I have described one possible way of creating businesses. There may well be many more. Similarly, in bringing great art to the attention of a wider audience, there will evolve new ways of linking the creator and those who appreciate their output.

Comment by Peter (1) on 2007-Oct-03   09:27
Its seems like the Music industry is slowly losing the plot - Sony BMG's chief anti-piracy lawyer: "Copying" music you own is "stealing".

I think this argument goes both ways.

Lets suppose I want to go for a walk down town and listen to some tracks I have legally bought while I wander around. As my CD player isn't portable, my first action might be to copy some tracks on to my MP3 player.

But the music industry says I cant do this, thus making their product less useful to me - a kind of mini denial-of-service.

Does that mean they have stolen from me ??

I think the "Music" Industry is the ultimate Marsupial Lion company - constantly finding new ways to criminalize its own customers as it slowly sinks to irrelevance.
Comment by David (2) on 2007-Oct-04   11:02
The notion of property rights is not an absolute but is a matter of social consensus. For example, the fact that someone has a deed to a piece of land means nothing unless everyone, or at least the majority in power, in the society agrees that this is establishes the person's rights to the land. This may be illustrated by looking at history.

In both the French Revolution (18th Century) and the Russian Revolution (20th Century), landowners were dispossessed by the new regime. Even in the UK, a change in the definition allows such 'rights' to be forfeited; cf Henry VIII takeover of the monastic properties. So there is nothing absolute or inalienable about rights to music. It is what we all agree to abide by.

The issue with the music industry is that the Music publishers and Music companies have relied upon the physical medium to make money. Whilst we distributed content through physical media (vinyl, CDs etc), it is convenient to associate a 'right' to the 'owners' of such materials as copying was relatively expensive and awkward. With digital media, this is completely changed and therefore the music companies have to change their business models.

The article Peter quoted is an attempt by Sony BMG to fight the inevitable. It is as futile as Canute's attempts to stem the tide. The technology basis of the music industry is changing and music companies need to create different business models in order to survive at their current size.

So do not be fooled by the arguments. The 'rights' are what we as a society grant. There are no absolutes.

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