Less Well Known Musicians Embracing 'Pay What You Want'

from the small-musicians,-big-musicians-alike dept

It still amuses me how often when we talk about specific music business models, defenders of the old system rush in to explain why any particular example is an exception. For years, we showed examples of less well known musicians embracing these kinds of new business models, critics would complain that they might work for unknown musicians who have "nothing to lose" and need attention more than anything else, but it would never ever work for a big star who has too much to lose. Then, of course, we talked about big time musicians like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails embracing these kinds of models, and the critics said "well, sure, it works for them with their well recognized name, but it would never work for unknown artists." Hell, someone said that just yesterday in response to a post here, leading another commenter to jokingly (I hope) coin the phrase "Masnick's Law", which is loosely defined as
"in any conversation about musicians doing something different to achieve fame and/or fortune someone will inevitably attempt to make the argument that 'it only worked for them because they are big/small and it will never work for someone who is the opposite,' no matter how much evidence to the contrary might be readily available."
I might expand on that definition a bit to have it go beyond just big/small. People will keep looking for excuses why each example is an exception, (big/small just being an easy such reason) to the point that they'll eventually miss the fact that all of those exceptions are the rule.

Anyway, based on all of this, it will be interesting to see how Girl Talk's new album does. Girl Talk is a one man DJ once mentioned (positively) in Congress as an example of why traditional copyright laws might not make sense anymore. With the release of his latest album, he's decided to use a Radiohead-style model, with a few improvements. That is, rather than just a pure "give it away and pray," he's giving people an additional reason to buy -- though I think he could still put together a better model. His is set up so you can pay what you want (including nothing at all) and get 320 kbps MP3 files, but if you pay over $5, he offers FLAC files as well, and at $10 you'll also get a copy of the physical CD when it comes out. If you pay $0, he does ask that you fill out a little survey explaining why. There still are some problems with this model (it's still a little too much like a give it away and pray model), but overall, it's quite similar to Radiohead's experiment.

Now, of course, all the folks who insisted that Radiohead's model would never work for a relatively obscure musician are supposed to now insist that this model won't work at all for Girl Talk, right? But what happens if Girl Talk is actually happy with the results, whether in direct payment amounts or in the fact that it gets him more publicity? Will they finally admit that the model isn't just an exception?


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 7:22pm

    We'll never know...

    until people stop covering it. The argument shouldn't be big or small, but how widespread it is. Novelty or not, we aren't going to see anything close to an objective test anytime soon.

     

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    Dude, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 8:12pm

    Thing is

    Thing is, in music, there are two sets of rules. The set that belongs to exceptions, and the set that belongs to the medocre group. The ONLY group helped by mass markiting of the recording industry are that medocre middle group.

    Big ones, small ones, good ones, haliriously bad ones... all of them are not middle of the road. all of them are helped. Middle of the road ones are only hurt by rocking the boat.

    Still, they deserve to be run over. They're not really worth all of this dead weight, and there will be a new middle that will develop once the switchover occurs, embracing the new crease. Some of them will be survivers of the old middle. Most of the old middle will just get burned.

    This is a good thing. In music, and in art, the crappy center are crappy, and like a cancer, need to be regularly purged so that the animal is not killed by their size and dead weight. Too bad sculpture and painting are overdue a model change, and so full of lack-wits selling unmade beds, but that's a discussion for another day.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 8:58pm

    Masnik's law FTW

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:29pm

    So, if I pay $5 and receive a lossless file the musician will not lose out if I then turn around and upload those files for sharing.

    For $0 I can download a high bitrate MP3 that I can upload for sharing, with of course the risk that downloaders may not have a clue that a tin cup is extended or that the musician would like them to take a short survey. For $5 I can flac it to the world. For #10 I can rip the CD and upload for sharing in whatever format I decide, including an ISO.

    Try as I may, I have a hard time figuring out just how this model is calculated to generate any form of a predictable income stream that cannot be seriously undercut by file sharing.

    Yes, sales of scarce goods may result...but I do have to wonder if this is realistic in the case of this particular musician. I guess only time will tell.

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:38pm

    Re:

    Try as I may, I have a hard time figuring out just how this model is calculated to generate any form of a predictable income stream that cannot be seriously undercut by file sharing.


    Which is why I noted that the model isn't the greatest...

    But, I actually disagree to some extent. If the idea is not to worry about sales of the music at all, and focus on other scarce goods (live performances, the ability to make new albums, access to the musician) then who cares if it's shared far and wide? In that case, it's actually better.

    Sure, those receiving the music may not know what the business model is, but if they're really interested in the artist, they can easily do a Google search and find out.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:41pm

    Re:

    AC, the artists revenue streams ARE NOT UNDERCUT BY FILESHARING. Revenue streams are undercut by artists themselves by being stupid and driving potentially paying customers to be freeloaders for lack of a better alternative.

    Some filesharing will happen, and you cannot stop it or argue with it. This is a bit hard to understand, but try: not every download is a lost sale. These are not undercut revenue; and downloads that are lost sales are the artist's own fault.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Re:

    "But, I actually disagree to some extent. If the idea is not to worry about sales of the music at all, and focus on other scarce goods (live performances, the ability to make new albums, access to the musician) then who cares if it's shared far and wide? In that case, it's actually better."

    True, but if I was this guy I would be going to bed each night hoping that these other opportunities actually materialize, and especially if people like his music, but live performances are not his forte.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    AC, I go to sleep each night hoping that people cooperate and opportunities that I am most skilled at working with materialize in the next day. So what?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:53pm

    Re: We'll never know...

    This is an important point, I think.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Re:

    I hope that by this: downloads that are lost sales are the artist's own fault

    You really and only mean this: Revenue streams are undercut by artists themselves by being stupid and driving potentially paying customers to be freeloaders for lack of a better alternative

    In other words, downloads that are lost sales are attributable to a business model not ideally suited for the current realities of the market.

    Otherwise, you're being really harsh to the ones who create music you enjoy.

    Also, if you like music, how about helping the artists you like to successfully make the transition to the new business models, rather than just writing them off as stupid and telling them their lost revenue is really just all their fault.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:58pm

    Re: Re:

    Mike,

    In the original post, and in this comment, you say he could make a better business model. Could you be more specific and give some concrete examples? As you do so, bear in mind what another commenter said: live performances are not his forte (given his particular genre/style of music creation).

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Do you really go to sleep each night worrying that your entire industry will disappear and you will have to recreate that industry for yourself with very little guidance? If so, my condolences.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 10:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That is the reason I mean, the business models being disastrously ill-suited, and it is only the artist's fault to the degree that it is his choice to use them. I recognize that some artists are helpless in the grip of their labels and the stupidity in the equation is entirely supplied by the label.

    I mean only to be harsh to whomever is stupid in each case.

    And since you mentioned it, I have spent significant portions of my time and treasure helping artists transition to the new way of doing business in a variety of commercial and noncommercial ventures. I certainly havent written them off and calling them stupid is just my way of showing here that I care. I care deeply about them and if I could change the world into a better place for them somehow by sacrificing my life then I would do it and be glad.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 12:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah I think of all the poor saps in the buggy-whip manufacturing industry and how much uncertainty and worry they went through before their industry collapsed altogether.

    If the industry is actually going to vanish (laughably unlikely) then its because its time has passed. Or if it is going to democratize into some sort of non-industry artform then more power to it, if thats the way the people want to take it. But that also is quite unlikely.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 12:47am

    Re: Re:

    you are incredibly naive if you think artist revenue is not undercut by filesharing. It is a huge problem. If someone has the know how to find a place to download it for free, chances are they are going to. "Lack of a better alternative"? what kind of BS is this? most music can be found for digital downloads legally from sites like itunes, amazon, etc. Exactly what better alternative are you looking for?

     

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    Record Jacket Historian, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 12:47am

    Pay what you want

    Quoted from anonymous: "Try as I may, I have a hard time figuring out just how this model is calculated to generate any form of a predictable income stream that cannot be seriously undercut by file sharing."

    Its not calcualted to generate a predictable income stream. Recordings were originally simply souvenirs of a concert or more likely of an artiist. That's all.

    The musicians, like they have in the past, really make their living from their live performances. The whole recording industry has been created on the pipe dream that hit recordings can be produced by somne formula, or worse, advertised into existence. Instant mediocrity results. Recordings will always be here, but not as a real source of income for a musician. Always, live performances are a musicians bread and butter.

    Some do make a living as studio musicians, but they are paid a fixed rate for their work. Thus, they are paid for their live work, not the recording they are on. It is also intersting to note that many name artists appear on recording after recording as studio musicians.

    Let this present nightmare dwindle into nothing like it should

    cheeers,
    RJH

     

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    The Waxwing Slain, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 4:30am

    There are lots of models

    I can give another example of a model for making a living as recording artist:

    A few years ago, on a lark, I offered to do music by "commission". That is, I would make a one of a kind piece of music, from 23 to 37 minutes long for a certain price. I would make no other copies of that music so the patron would truly have a singular work. Then, the patron could do whatever they wanted with the high-resolution recording, as long as I retained attribution. They could even press it to a CD and sell it themselves. Surprisingly, within about 6 months, I was generating a steady, sustainable income this way. During that time, I also sold music the old fashioned way (although my new way was really really old-fashioned) and I liked this better. It was the way painters and sculptors have always worked.

    I now go so far as to offer the work on a sliding scale, depending on income. I actually require an interview with the patron and sometimes request a peek at income tax returns before giving a price. On occasion, the sliding scale also moves according to the political orientation of the patron, but rarely.

    Oh, and I of course give away music on my website too, otherwise only people who have heard me perform would be interested, and that's a limited number.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 4:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, if an artist is not also an effective entrepreneur, then you're fine with them "failing"? I think it's a mistake to demand that artists be both.

    Sure, some are ... and that's great for them. But if someone is a talented artist (meaning she produces something that I value), I don't want her chances for success or failure to depend on whether or not she is *also* a talented business person. That's why things like management companies, labels, etc. came into existence in the first place.

    What I mean by "help" is not simply buying music. And I'm not questioning whether or not you've done that and more. What I'm saying is we need to fight for models that can sustain talented artists *even if* they aren't *also* talented business people.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    By industry, I assume you mean the recording industry. Otherwise, it's a woeful lack of concern for art, which reveals more about you than it does about the issue at hand.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:24am

    Re: Re: We'll never know...

    So, wait: it'll be a successful marketing scheme when nobody's talking about it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Did you happen to see what NIN did? Trent made, what, $750k over-night selling vinyl. As noted above, the problem with this model, if the idea is to generate revenue, is that it still relies on selling infinite goods (the only scarce good sold is a CD at $10). Liver performances aren't the only scarce good an artist has, it's just the most obvious.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Live performances aren't the only scarce good an artist has, it's just the most obvious.

    I would replace "artist" with "musician" ... which is then not very helpful for other artists whose works can be digitally copied and distributed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Re: We'll never know...

    As long as it's a case of "oh, look! whathisface is doing this different thing!" it won't be relevant to the market at large. Once everyone's doing this new thing (i.e., Mike's proposed model) so that it's not "news" that someone's doing it (i.e., the method of delivery, due to its novelty, is no longer the news) then we can see if it's actually a sustainable model.

     

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    Matt (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: no

    See, it doesn't. You're making cash off promotional value.

    That's a double bonus right there. Selling something online free or not, to increase your audience and market a side-product. This philosophy has been used for years for tons of business models, its just the music industry that fights it.

    How do I suspect the music industry will get back in the game eventually on this? I suspect the labels will get into the business of hosting the servers that take the massive download requests when big artists put files up under a pay-as-you-choose....requesting a cut of the sales, of course. This would be my guess if they embrace it, not that it's a great idea. I just can't see the music industry willign to come up with a model other than "I get my cut".

    With that said, marketing an alternate item via a free one has been around forever in many businesses. An example is a location that has no fee for admission but sells souveneirs (say a museum with free admission) and/or food (museum restaurant), or sells alcohol (bar with no cover).

    Or how about free concerts where they ask people to donate, for a music example?

    If people really look for examples, it's out there. Just music industry screaming and kicking, and the artists doing just fine.

     

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    Bob, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:46am

    Re:

    While this may be true, why would you bother to upload the mp3, since it can be obtained for free by anyone? Why would you pay for the FLAC, or the CD, then distribute it when it's so easy & cheap to get it? Are you just an ass?

    It seems to me that this is good for a potential customer, like me, who hasn't heard of the artist. I can listen to it for free, then pay if I like it.

    I believe that if you give people the ability to pay a small amount for a decent product, many will pay.

    There will always be a percentage of people who will rip you off, or violate copyright, no matter what the law is, or how hard it is to cheat. I personally know people who will spend more time/effort/money trying to cheat than they would have if they just paid... the fun to them is in cheating.

    I believe that the greater majority are generally decent people, and given the chance to do the right thing, they will.

    It really depends on the audience who's interested in the artist... what type of people they are. If the content and audience is pro violence or crime, then that artist may have some issues getting the audience to pay.

     

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    RMn0.1, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:52am

    merch sales

    musicians signed to major labels only get a very small percentage of the record sales and they are in debt to the label for the advance they received to pay for equipment, recording, etc. They make their money with ticket sales & merchandise which the label usually has less to do with. Small bands make money the same way with t-shirt & other merch sales and with a cut of the ticket/door money. In this way the recording is more of an advertisement for the live shows, so if it's getting to more people through file sharing then more people will know about the band and possibly come to the shows when they're in town. A friend's band will often only sell 4-6 CDs but 15-30 t-shirts (which cost twice that of the cd) they make almost all of their money this way.
    It may seem negative that the record is reduced to an advert this way but it also emphasizes the live performance which in many way is real experience of music and it's truest test, one that can't easily be faked with the recording tricks and technology that is all too common today.

     

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    hegemon13, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, and he doesn't, either. No rational person believes that the entire music industry is going to disappear. It may change dramatically, and that can be a bit stressful to those caught unprepared for the transition.

    I work in the technology industry as a technical writer. Do you think maybe that position has changed a bit over the last few years? Almost everybody works in a changing industry. Many of us worry about some of those changes. Most of us, however, accept change as a matter of course, rather than fighting it tooth and nail to the detriment of our careers.

     

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    David Claughton (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "But if someone is a talented artist ... I don't want her chances for success or failure to depend on whether or not she is *also* a talented business person. That's why things like management companies, labels, etc. came into existence in the first place."

    Exactly right, but have I missed something here? Did anyone say the artist has to do the business side themselves? Even if the big labels aren't interested in this, surely one can still employ an independent manager?

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    True, but if I was this guy I would be going to bed each night hoping that these other opportunities actually materialize

    Well, "hoping" is not a business model.

    especially if people like his music, but live performances are not his forte.

    You should see Girl Talk perform. It's quite impressive.

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    In the original post, and in this comment, you say he could make a better business model. Could you be more specific and give some concrete examples? As you do so, bear in mind what another commenter said: live performances are not his forte (given his particular genre/style of music creation).

    Well, first, having seen Girl Talk perform, I'd say his live performances are quite impressive -- so I'd disagree there.

    But, more concretely on the business models:
    * His real speciality is his ability to create these songs. So he could sell his ability to create these mashup songs for whatever purposes (commercials, to fans who want to fund the new album, etc.)
    * Also, the music that he uses for these mashups helps them become more popular. In DJ culture, musicians have often *wanted* to be included in popular mashups to get them more exposure. So, labels could pay someone like Gillis if he includes certain samples in his mashups.
    * As I said, his live performances really are something to behold. I know it's hard to believe, but you have to see it.

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, if an artist is not also an effective entrepreneur, then you're fine with them "failing"? I think it's a mistake to demand that artists be both.


    Huh? No, that's not true at all. It's no different than it is today. Do we demand that musicians today are effective entrepreneurs? No, that's why they sign with a label. There's no reason that the labels of tomorrow can't provide the same sorts of services, allowing the musicians to concentrate on the music, while the label concentrates on the business.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 9:24am

    Note Severed Fifth

    Severed Fifth (not severed filth) is a conscious effort by a well-known activist and member of the Linux/Free Software world, who also happens to be a musician, to explore alternate business models. He reckons he could get signed to a 'proper' label relatively easily, but since he already has a day job, he's willing to see what he can achieve with free distribution and online promotion. Pity he's a metalhead, but we can't have everything...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 9:27am

    I have not spent a dime one a record for the past 5 years but ive gone to many concerts and events by obscure/indie artists that I only heard because of my downloading habits. I dont have time to read about new artists in music magazines so I discover artists by downloading dj mixes of djs I like. then I get the tracklist and download the tracks he was playing. I have found a lot of good music this way. In these concerts I always spend at least $100 for two tickets, drinks, anything extra @ so in a sense more people are making more money out of me than in the old model because I would never spend so much money on recorded music, mostly because they scratched so easily. I just dont get my moneys worth with cd's.

    So the artists and people directly responsible for the show are getting money from me and I am getting more value for my money. Why is this situation bad for the musicians?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OK, thanks ... I don't doubt he's good to see live. I was just taking the other commenter's word for it (and also just wondering in terms of a musician who might *not* be so great to see live).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So the majority of your criticism, then, are against the labels (etc.) not finding ways to adapt to the market *so that* those labels (etc.) can continue to support musicians, allowing musicians to focus on the music?

    If I've got that right, then I'm suddenly in almost 100% agreement with all of your blog posts!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 10:18am

    The Grateful Dead were consistently in the top 10 earning bands, year in, year out. All the while allowing recordings of their performances to be freely traded. In their entire existence they had a grand total of 2 top ten hits yet they were making as much or more money than bands with far higher record sales.
    They made their money the way most bands make the bulk of their money, from concerts.

     

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    SomeGuy, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: We'll never know...

    I think you're a little confused: exactly what do you expect to work differently when this is no longer a 'novelty'? People may be hearing about these offerings because of news coverage, but they certainly aren't just handing over their hard-earned cash because it's "a new idea." (Especially given that one option is $0.) Mike's model doesn't say anywhere that you stop promoting yourself, so even when everyone's doing it bands will get the word out that they have this or that offering. And especially since we're talking about the Internet, fans,/i> are going to be doing most of the "news coverage" anyways every time their favorite band comes out with a new album.

    That these models generate cash has nothing to do with novelty.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Like who? Certainly not actors, unless you think that those who do live performances are hurt by recordings of those performances. They were paid for that performance already, and additional exposure just builds additional demand for future performances. Maybe painters, who actually create original works? Prints aren't the same thing. Maybe photographers? There you MIGHT have a point, except that no one wants to use the same picture everyone else already has, and certainly not over and over. And if you want a new picture then you're going to have to pay the photographer to create it. You can't copy it before it's been made.

    So, what artists are you concerned for?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mostly, writers (and, related, journalists).

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mostly, writers (and, related, journalists).

    Journalists aren't paid based on each copy of their content anyway. They're paid by salary. So I'm not sure what the concern is there.

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So the majority of your criticism, then, are against the labels (etc.) not finding ways to adapt to the market *so that* those labels (etc.) can continue to support musicians, allowing musicians to focus on the music?

    Yup. That's pretty much it. There are tons of ways that they could adopt new models that will help musicians and themselves. And they refuse to do so.

     

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    Howard Lee Harkness, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 11:33am

    Pay what you want...

    There is an outfit that has been using a similar model for a couple of years (that I know of): http://magnatune.com

    They have a fairly extensive collection of nearly every genre, and they are adding new stuff regularly (if you are in an indie band, and would like some exposure and more money, check them out).

    You can even listen to all the stuff on the site for free, although each track comes with a short commercial on the end. Personally, I find the sexy female voice delivering the low-key commercials pleasant enough that I would be happy to have the commercials kept in the paid downloads...

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You, sir, are mistaken. Most music cannot be found in those places. Either get more diverse tastes in music or study the situation some.

    And, once again, I insist that each download is not a missed sale. Many downloaders download waaaay more music than they'd ever pay for. It is insane to propose that you have lost potential revenue from that.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Re: There are lots of models

    Thats a cool idea, waxwing! As far as I'm concerned, any indie musician should be eager for propositions like that.

     

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    Isis, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 3:56pm

    If you've been on the buying side, you might agree.

    It's psychologically smart to do so -- there are many instances where artists tend to undervalue their work and end up getting more for their music than they would have asked. And with the normal base price set by iTunes, a musician could conceivably extend their long tail, and thus their ability to make money by focusing more time on producing more music.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    Considering only the most famous artists get over 25cents a almbum sold from the record industry, they're much better off embracing the pay what you want model. Their only disadvantage is their limited access to distribution. Without a big company to front the advertising costs, the artist is left to posting flyers, plugging shows, and word of mouth. If someone's smart enough to startup their own "Digg"-ish site so people could rate a bunch of independant artists, then something like this could skyrocket, and when it does I'll sue you for my idea.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 10:05pm

    Re: Re:

    True, but I think that the best business models out there don't considering this sharing to be cheating. Girl Talk, maybe not, but Reznor, for example, releases his music under a license that explicitly permits file sharing.

    If the business model is about leveraging the infinite goods to add value to the scarce, why not let or encourage people to share your music? I don't think that's "cheating" or doing the wrong thing.

     

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    Lyrael, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 4:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    'you are incredibly naive if you think artist revenue is not undercut by filesharing. It is a huge problem. If someone has the know how to find a place to download it for free, chances are they are going to. "Lack of a better alternative"? what kind of BS is this? most music can be found for digital downloads legally from sites like itunes, amazon, etc. Exactly what better alternative are you looking for?'

    I'm looking for music in the file format of my choosing, without DRM or vendor lock-in. I move my music (and movies) about a lot and it's extremely difficult to do so with DRM and vendor lock-in about. I'm not sure where you come from but in England it's perfectly legal and within the rights of the consumer to 'copy' for their own use something that they have legally bought. Unfortunately, as all CDs/DVDs come with DRM these days, the industry is pretty much just fucking over their customers and I have turned to pirating purely because that is the ONLY way I can get what I actually want.

     

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    Mr Pitiful, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 6:16am

    I use the Pay What You Want system

    The music industry is a tough tough gig right now. One of the problems is that as the value of music continues to drop, the marketplace becomes more and more crowded with musicians who now have access to inexpensive recording equipment and distribution over the internet.

    I have a regular job to pay my regular bills, and for the music stuff, I have to be careful to pinch every single penny to make sure that I break even.

    I've had varying success. Last year I was able to launch a "pre-order" campaign on YouTube that allowed fans to contribute to my record at different pre-set levels. Using that I was able to raise $10,000 over the course of 6 months to make my first record.

    Once the record was finished, I used a "pay what you want" strategy on my site that suggests a price of $10.00 for the mp3 version of the record but allows people to set the price to whatever they want as low as $1.

    With this set-your-own price I've had many downloads but I was nowhere near as successful as I was with my pre-order campaign.

    Meaning for my next record, I'm going to have to do something that's not quite as rich, dropping out all the great horns and other session musicians I was able to use for my first record.

    In the future, I plan on setting up a "membership" model that is based similar to PBS. The idea is that instead of buying a physical record or cd, or a "license" to listen to music as the record companies would like, you will be giving money as a resource that helps to actually create the music.

    People will be able to join at different levels with lots of levels with rare goodies as incentives such as signed & numbered concert posters, and limited-edition first-run CDs, etc.

    If you guys are interested, I'll keep you updated on how its turning out.

    In the meantime, you can find me on youtube at
    youtube.com/mrpitifulband and you can "pay what you want" for my record at mrpitifulmusic.com

     

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    Chris, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 7:23am

    Re:

    The problem is you're assuming that once you buy or download the album, it's your duty to upload it so everyone else can take it for free (or survey-less).

     

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    PJ Brunet, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 7:51am

    Art

    "then something like this could skyrocket, and when it does I'll sue you for my idea."

    It's called last.fm

     

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    madvek, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 10:07am

    Masnick's iPod

    I see Mr. Masnick's many writings about music and how it needs to be marketed in this new economy.

    Would he be willing to share with us what percentage of the music on his iPod he has paid for, and what the average price he paid per song is. Very curious to see what his honest reply would be.

     

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    John, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 10:14am

    Each music genre following will respond differently to different distribution/purchase models. "Big" names want the money and will always get what they demand, small names will continue to use more creative tactics to achieve their goals...which in the end may not always be monetary. So are you about huge profit or about finding new music worth listening to instead of crap that some company thinks is good and you need to pay for it? Keeping in mind there is some very good "big/small" music and there is also very poor "big/small" music and that's where the line is for musicians. The small good ones, grassroots, cannot make a living wage from their music unless they sell drugs to finance their ventures...which in time turns the the music to crap and destroys a life.

    There is something much larger and more complex looming in the background of the "how should we pay for music" discussion and if it's reduced to only dollars and cents, the lowest common denominator for all artists, then it's lost before it's begun.

     

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    nonuser, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Re: concert tours

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080622/ap_en_mu/touring_on_empty

    I like "Masnick's Law", that's a good one. To play devils advocate though, one could similarly note that a number of Hollywood stars and professional musicians have embraced Scientology. Does that validate Scientology as the spiritual home for entertainers of the 21st century, or should we argue the famous converts are all exceptions? I guess what I'm trying to say is, this blog does some cherry picking when it comes to these stories.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: concert tours

    Are you suggesting that it's cherry picking to say the "exceptions are the rule" in this case?

    No one is saying exceptions are always the rule, then they wouldn't be exceptions. The point is that when people start labeling virtually all examples as exceptions, they make a mistake in doing so. Everything can't be an exception.

    I don't see how the analogy with Scientology holds... that isn't an example of someone calling virtually everything an exception.

     

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    Lucretious, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 3:10pm

    I'd like to ask the folks who are constantly at odds over the new business model is: what is the suggested alternative? CLEARLY things are NOT going to go back to the way they were. There are also a couple of truths about downloaders and downloading that have been established:

    1.) people will NOT be guilted, cowed or forced into paying for music if they don't want to. Argue morality and ethics until you are blue in the face. It doesn't change what is.

    2.) there is not now, nor will there ever be a DRM system that will work the way it is intended....particularly one that doesn't alienate customers who are willing to do business on the record companies terms.

    You can kick, scream, threaten to litigate (in which case whatever downloader you take out of the mix will only be replaced by 2 more) but things will NOT return to the way its been. Period. Yet daily I see otherwise brilliant people posting entire blogs over why new models are doomed to fail without putting forth any alternate idea of what may or may not work.

    To be honest I gave little thought about copyright until I started reading techdirt and Mikes postings. It been an education. But, like many, I don't agree with 100% of everything he posts (I find him too vague on certain specifics) but I have enough of a grasp to tell when there are people in a heavy state of denial over the aspects that are cut and dried.....that things have change for good.

    To those people I ask, again, what is the alternative?

     

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    Chiropetra, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 4:28pm

    Business models

    "True, but if I was this guy I would be going to bed each night hoping that these other opportunities actually materialize, and especially if people like his music, but live performances are not his forte."

    AC, if he's merely going to bed hoping, he's not grasping the tao of the business model. Like any other business model, the "pay what you want" plan requires planning to execute profitably.

    In fact, releasing the music for free, or for PWYW, should be the last duck in the row.

    Granted, for a musician, live performances are a major source of revenue, but there are others, from T shirts to posters to extras. And very few musicians, in my experience, don't like performing. A lot of them hate touring and a few prefer smaller venues, but for most of them performing is a lot more fun than recording.

     

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    Chiropetra, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "So an artist who is not an effective entrepreneur, you're fine with them failing?"

    *sigh*

    Let me fill you in on some basic facts of 21st century life, especially as it applies to people who create value.

    For now and the near future, we are all in the "me" business. Our success or failure increasingly doesn't rest with General Motors, or Sony or some other third party. It rests with us. That is a very liberating and really scary realization. But the sooner you come to it the better you'll be able to prepare and profit from it.

    The truth is it has always pretty much been that way for artists. There have been a few exceptions, such as some musicians and some writers, but an artist always had to be an entrepreneur. At least back to the 15th Century. (Read Michelangelo's letters sometime.)

    So how do you deal? Besides entering a monastery there are several ways. The two big ones are learn how to be an entrepreneur yourself or hire and entrepreneur to market you.

    The difference, if you're a recording musician, is that today it is easier to be in control of your own destiny. You can bypass the big record companies and Nashville/Hollywood/Tin Pan Alley far more easily that ever and you can pretty much have it your way.

    The problem I see here is waaay to much old thinking.

     

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    Solo Mio, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 6:32pm

    What about musicians that can't play live?

    What about a one person writer/musician/producer who creates by himself and can't translate to a live environment?

    Should he just hang it up and sell real estate, or maybe blog about something? The recorded songs are this persons only tangible product. Is it unreasonable for him to expect to have an opportunity to sell his product???

     

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    Willton, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 9:46pm

    Re: What about musicians that can't play live?

    What about a one person writer/musician/producer who creates by himself and can't translate to a live environment?

    Should he just hang it up and sell real estate, or maybe blog about something? The recorded songs are this persons only tangible product. Is it unreasonable for him to expect to have an opportunity to sell his product???


    No, the Masnicks of the world propose that the songwriter who creates but does not perform be turned into some rank-and-file employee that gets paid a salary based in his reputation, not a royalty based on the value of his actual work. Masnick thinks that songwriters should be treated the way journalists are in the printing and publishing business, implying that because the two professions are so similar (or so he assumes), they should be compensated in similar fashions.

    It's almost as if Masnick thinks no one has actually considered this method of compensation for content creators in the music industry. I find that extremely doubtful, especially considering how long both industries have been around. My best guess as to why this compensation model has not been employed for songwriters is because it does not work for songwriters, as songwriters are NOT that similar to journalists, and the craft of a songwriter is considerably different from that of a journalist.

     

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    Tucchus Johnson, Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 9:48pm

    girl talk isn't small

    he's one of the biggest DJs around these days. this big/small discussion doesn't go very far when you describe Girl Talk as not being very well known.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 10:34pm

    Re: What about musicians that can't play live?

    What about a one person writer/musician/producer who creates by himself... ?

    You mean like Girl Talk? Apparently, he puts on a really good live show. He found a way to translate it into a live environment.

    I've witnessed lots of amazing live one man acts, from Fr. Stan Fortuna to Danny Michel. Fr. Stan, in particular, used to rap and sing to pre-recorded backing tracks, but in the past few years with the advances in audio equipment, he began using repeater pedals to build his own backing tracks on stage during his performance. Danny Michel sounds like he has a full band behind him even when he's on his own.

    Aside from opportunities beyond live performances, most talented artists I know are able to put on compelling live shows, even as a one man band and even if it involves layering.

     

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  63.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 22nd, 2008 @ 10:47pm

    Re: Re: What about musicians that can't play live?

    No, the Masnicks of the world propose that the songwriter who creates but does not perform be turned into some rank-and-file employee that gets paid a salary based in his reputation, not a royalty based on the value of his actual work.

    Songwriters can get paid to write songs, rather than only getting paid for songs they've already written. Isn't that what songwriters are supposed to do, write songs? A salary may be one example, though it may have limited application if few people need a salaried songwriter. Commissioned works are another great example though. A television producer might commission a theme song from a songwriter. Before copyright existed, works were often commissioned from composers. Or there's the fund-and-release model, which Mr Pitiful was just talking about, where fans contribute to the costs of producing a record, to the cost of writing and recording songs.

    These are all just examples of songwriters being paid to write songs.

    My best guess as to why this compensation model has not been employed for songwriters is because it does not work for songwriters

    My best guess is that there's been little incentive to do so, since money was largely made off works that had already been written via copyright rather than from creating new works, before digital technology began to pose a serious threat to that system.

    Of course songwriters aren't exactly like journalists, but it's an analogy. There are some similarities, namely, that both songwriters and journalists can be paid to create content.

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 12:46am

    Re: Masnick's iPod


    Would he be willing to share with us what percentage of the music on his iPod he has paid for, and what the average price he paid per song is. Very curious to see what his honest reply would be.


    Sure. I've paid for about 99% of the music on my iPod. I don't use any file sharing programs and I don't download music. Believe it or not, I still buy CDs and rip the songs to my computer. I like having the physical artifact and am willing to pay for it. And actually, the % was 100% until last week when I was visiting a friend who wanted me to hear some music from a couple bands. So he put the songs on a USB stick for me to put on my computer. I spent a lot of time on my flight this weekend listening to both, and really liked them, so I'm about to go buy the CDs on Amazon, which should get the music back up to 100% bought.

    I also have some podcasts that aren't bought, but those are given out free on purpose.

    One caveat: in the early and mid-90s I did some DJing and received a bunch of CDs at the time for free. There's a chance that some of that music is on my iPod (though I don't think so), but it's been so long that I forget which CDs were sent to me and which I bought (during that time I bought a lot more CDs than at any other period in my life, because I wanted to have a much more comprehensive collection).

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 12:53am

    Re: Re: What about musicians that can't play live?

    OK, maybe you can explain something to me then that I don't understand about these arguments:

    Why do songwriters expect to be paid ad infinitum for work they've already done, while working in virtually any other industry only get paid for the work they're doing *now*?

    An architect doesn't get paid every time someone buys an apartment in the building he designed. Nor does the builder. Nor does the designer of your car get a cut when you buy it. Computer programmers generally get paid for the lines of code they create, not a cut of the sales of the final product.

    It's strange that songwriters seem to expect a different wage scale. I can understand wishing to get a cut every time the song is licenced, but songwriters need to stop expecting a cut every time it's used.

    "My best guess as to why this compensation model has not been employed for songwriters is because it does not work for songwriters"

    Actually, I'd guess that it's not been employed for songwriters because they have no incentive to - they can get just as much money under the old model without doing any additional work. Hell, if I could get paid for work I did 20 years ago, I wouldn't bother working now either.

     

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  66.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 12:57am

    Re: What about musicians that can't play live?

    What about a one person writer/musician/producer who creates by himself and can't translate to a live environment?

    Two things: First, as Blaise pointed out, who says it can't be translated to a live environment?

    Second, I never said live music was the only scarce good you have. In fact, a much bigger potential scarce good is your ability to write new music. Good musicians can still charge for that without having to do any performing.


    Should he just hang it up and sell real estate, or maybe blog about something? The recorded songs are this persons only tangible product. Is it unreasonable for him to expect to have an opportunity to sell his product???


    First of all, the recorded music is not a tangible product, and as noted above, you're wrong in thinking it's the only thing he or she can sell.

    As for it being "unreasonable" to expect someone to have the "opportunity to sell his product" that's not up to you or me. It's up to the market. And if the market says no, then, yes, it is unreasonable for you to expect him to keep selling what the market says is unsellable.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 1:00am

    Re: girl talk isn't small

    "he's one of the biggest DJs around these days"

    Huh? Maybe in the US or wherever you're from but I'm a dance music fan and I've never heard of him. A search for him on Mixmag's website also returns 0 results. I'd say that until he ranks with Tiesto, Sasha, Fatboy Slim or Daft Punk, your claim rings a little false...

     

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  68.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 1:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Exactly what better alternative are you looking for?"

    A reasonably priced, high quality, DRM-free, non-region controlled file that I can use on any device I choose at any time.

    iTunes, Amazon, etc. do not fit this criteria.

     

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    cram, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 1:33am

    songwriters

    Hi Paul

    "Why do songwriters expect to be paid ad infinitum for work they've already done, while working in virtually any other industry only get paid for the work they're doing *now*?"

    That's because songwriting is a whole lot different from other vocations. It's not something people can be trained to do, like plumbing or writing code. Good songwriters are themselves a scarce resource, just like good musicians or good writers are.

    Also, most workers have retirement benefits, regular wages...many have unions, collective bargaining, etc, which luxury is not afforded to the songwriter.

    Society and the economy recognize the fact that creative artists like songwriters are a lot different from architects or designers.

    "Hell, if I could get paid for work I did 20 years ago, I wouldn't bother working now either."

    But that's not about to happen, is it? And it riles, doesn't it?

     

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    cram, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 1:57am

    Hi Mike

    "In fact, a much bigger potential scarce good is your ability to write new music. Good musicians can still charge for that without having to do any performing."

    Aren't those who write music for movies and events already doing that? What's new? Are you suggesting popular music acts try and charge fans for coming up with new albums?

    "First of all, the recorded music is not a tangible product, and as noted above, you're wrong in thinking it's the only thing he or she can sell."

    Music is not tangible, but the moment it's recorded it becomes tangible. I don't understand how recorded music is not tangible, because the recorded music has to exist in a physical medium.

     

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  71.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 2:20am

    Re: songwriters

    "Good songwriters are themselves a scarce resource, just like good musicians or good writers are."

    Exactly. So, what's the problem with them being paid to do that work rather than relying on royalties for previous work? A good songwriter should be in constant demand, if he's that good.

    "Also, most workers have retirement benefits, regular wages...many have unions, collective bargaining, etc, which luxury is not afforded to the songwriter."

    Increasingly large numbers of workers don't have automatic pension funds (at least not in Europe where state pensions are increasingly inadequate and many employers don't offer their own scheme, maybe it's different in the US).

    A good songwriter should be able to negotiate his terms to ensure a decent income, with the help of an agent if required. It may be relatively unstable, but a regularly working songwriter with money management skills shouldn't have a problem, especially if new work is supplemented by income from licensing older work (different from simply expecting royalties).

    I don't see the problem with a songwriter being expected to manage his money and pay into his own pension fund. If he wants a regular income, he shouldn't be in that industry.

    "But that's not about to happen, is it? And it riles, doesn't it?"

    Not really. I say good to them if they can negotiate to get these kinds of pay deals. What annoys me is that they seem to think they are *entitled* to this payment method. The industry has changed, power is back in the hands of the consumer, sorry.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 2:23am

    Re: Hi Mike

    "the recorded music has to exist in a physical medium."

    Funny. My MP3 player, web radio and YouTube videos say different. Modern music is nothing but a stream of bits, transferred from hard drive to hard drive through the mixing, mastering, encoding and sales processes. It may be many things, but tangible is not one of them.

     

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    cram, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 2:53am

    tangible

    Hi Mike

    Your MP3 player, the servers that host the music are all tangible, aren't they? You can transfer the bits but essentially they exist in a physical medium somewhere, unlike say a live performance, where the music is truly intangible.

     

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  74.  
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    cram, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 3:12am

    Re: Re: songwriters

    "Good songwriters are themselves a scarce resource, just like good musicians or good writers are."

    Exactly. So, what's the problem with them being paid to do that work rather than relying on royalties for previous work? A good songwriter should be in constant demand, if he's that good."

    Sure songwriters may be in demand, but does that mean their productivity will be or should be consistent? Unlike other professions, artists have the luxury of churning out work once in a way. And to compensate them for the time taken, they get paid long after the work's published.

    "Also, most workers have retirement benefits, regular wages...many have unions, collective bargaining, etc, which luxury is not afforded to the songwriter."

    Increasingly large numbers of workers don't have automatic pension funds (at least not in Europe where state pensions are increasingly inadequate and many employers don't offer their own scheme, maybe it's different in the US)."

    The fact that large numbers of workers don't get benefits must be addressed separately. Why deny songwriters royalty simply because others don't get what's their due?

    "A good songwriter should be able to negotiate his terms to ensure a decent income, with the help of an agent if required. It may be relatively unstable, but a regularly working songwriter with money management skills shouldn't have a problem, especially if new work is supplemented by income from licensing older work (different from simply expecting royalties)."

    Ah...there's the word, unstable. It's precisely because of the unstable nature of their vocation that artists are given the benefit of royalties. > Many musicians can stop being popular with the arrival of the next generation of listeners. Royalties theoretically ensure a steady stream of income once they are out of the scene.>

    "But that's not about to happen, is it? And it riles, doesn't it?"

    Not really. I say good to them if they can negotiate to get these kinds of pay deals. What annoys me is that they seem to think they are *entitled* to this payment method. The industry has changed, power is back in the hands of the consumer, sorry."

    You certainly sound quite annoyed:-) I'd be too if I think of the number of years I have to work, when these guys write a few songs and retire to live happily ever after.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: Hi Mike

    It is most definitely tangible: those bits must exist *somewhere* (they're not floating around in magic-space) and they must exist in *an exact, particular order* if they are to translate to the song originally recorded.

    Just because the bits are now easily moved around doesn't mean they don't *exist in fixed form* ... digital /= magic

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 5:08am

    Re: Re: Re: songwriters

    "Sure songwriters may be in demand, but does that mean their productivity will be or should be consistent? Unlike other professions, artists have the luxury of churning out work once in a way. And to compensate them for the time taken, they get paid long after the work's published."

    Songwriters will still get compensated for their time and creativity, but it will be in the form of licensing and additional work opportunities rather than royalties for past work. As for the time taken, some of the best songs ever written were done in an afternoon. Creativity ebbs and flows, but more people will be interested in hearing the better songs, hence more opportunity for licensing and other ways of making money from those songs.

    "The fact that large numbers of workers don't get benefits must be addressed separately. Why deny songwriters royalty simply because others don't get what's their due?"

    It's not about denying them anything as such. It's just that there's an expectation by some that such royalties should be guaranteed in some way, leading to the lawsuits etc. against customers rather than changing money making tactics. Songwriters should not be made an exception when the rest of society is moving in a different direction. If I choose to go to a gig instead of buying a CD and the songwriter isn't getting paid for the songs I hear, that's their contract's problem, not mine.

    "Ah...there's the word, unstable. It's precisely because of the unstable nature of their vocation that artists are given the benefit of royalties. > Many musicians can stop being popular with the arrival of the next generation of listeners. Royalties theoretically ensure a steady stream of income once they are out of the scene.>"

    Many of the best songwriters have been working steadily for decades. If you can't alter your writing style to reflect current trends (or be ahead of the curve), that's your problem. Remember also that we're talking about songwriters in this particular thread. The writers are often anonymous to the mainstream listener, unless they also perform their own music. Maybe less people will be interested is seeing current pop artists in 10 years time, but the people providing their songs should still be able to work unaffected, unless they're still trying to produce 2008-style songs in 2018.

    We could expand this to cover performing musicians as well, but that would be a different topic. Good musicians needn't necessarily go out of style - many artists (e.g. Madonna, Prince, Rolling Stones, Public Enemy) have been continually working for decades while others have made successful returns to touring after years of absence.

    "You certainly sound quite annoyed:-) I'd be too if I think of the number of years I have to work, when these guys write a few songs and retire to live happily ever after."

    I can't argue with you there. Again, I'm fine with them doing this, it's just the expectation by some that this should be guaranteed that irks me.

     

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  77.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    Two questions:

    1) If you believe the current market doesn't work, musicians should be making some other way, and copyright laws are unnecessary, why are you buying all this music (and presenting it as a morally responsible position)? Is it only out of obeying a law for which you have no real respect?

    ... and related ...

    2) If everyone did what you do, that would seem like an ideal position for all involved, given a few provisions: a) prices for songs/albums are reasonable, b) songs are DRM/device free, c) "sharing" a few songs among friends is as "non-punishable" as it used to be for mixed tapes/mixed CDs, d) the expected and socially ethical response to a musician whose songs you truly enjoy is to purchase the work when possible (though not necessarily re-purchase songs that have been shared with you). Here's the question: your actions suggest that current model can and does work (particularly with the above provisions), so why must it change (except for the above provisions)?

    In other words: you seem like a poster-child for responsible music consumption. Why shouldn't we follow you?

     

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  78.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Hi Mike

    My point was that it's not "tangible good" any more as it was in the days of vinyl, tape or CD. Sure, the bits exist somewhere but if I listen to a song streamed over a wireless connection from an internet server, its tangibility is pretty much zero as far as I'm concerned while listening to it.

     

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  79.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    I think that's a little disingenuous to be honest. Mike's supporting of the current industry has nothing to do with his view of its future.

    Most of these articles are in response to the traditional music industry's complaints that its profits are falling and there's no way of making money other than selling the songs. Mike tends to point out that there's plenty of other models out there. Whether he personally chooses to support the current one is irrelevant.

     

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  80.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi Mike

    But, Paul*IT* ... as far as your computer is concerned, as it downloads the bits and stores them in temporary memory, allocating them to the appropriate software, etc. ... it's definitely tangible. So what's the point of this argument?

     

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  81.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    That the current model could work just fine for all concerned (given some revision of the overly-harsh laws) is at minimum *not* irrelevant, and simply calling it that is really just dodging the issue.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 5:39am

    Re:

    You can rip and upload the CD even if you pay full price to a record label for it. The third party sharing is not the question here. No matter what, the musician makes more money if some people choose to download it from him and give $5 than if everyone were to get it from P2P.

     

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  83.  
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    Bobby Bobenano, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 6:26am

    One musician was doign this in the 70-80's

    Keith Green, a well known Christian musician, actually used this model in the 70-80's for all his records. His wife continued this model for years after his death. Just as a heads up, the christian recording industry gave him a hard time. They still continued selling his albums in stores due to the sucecss of his music.

     

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  84.  
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    Solo Mio, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: What about musicians that can't play live?

    No. Not like "Girl Talk" He is a DJ/remix/producer/performer. He does not actually play a musical instrument... other than turntables and software. He uses sound recorded by other people. And he does perform live, a lot... That's what a DJ does.

    I'm talking about a musician, you know someone who plays notes on a keyboard, guitar or whatever, even multiple instruments. Writes original music and plays and records his or herself playing all of the parts of their music in a multi-track recording. There have been many "Studio bands" over the years who rarely, if ever played live and made a living by selling their music.

     

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  85.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    Except it's not working. It's not been working for a long, long time (as evidenced by price fixing, payola, etc.). The only reason it's appeared successful for so long is because the majority of people didn't have any other way to get hold of music. That's changed and the old guard are suffering. New people are coming in and making a decent living on new business models that don't depend on treating a digital copy the same as a physical one.

    The music industry needs to realise that, like any other industry, it has to offer people what they want. They can't control the market any more. They've had a decade to get their act together and they failed to do so.

     

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  86.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi Mike

    OK, we're just arguing semantics. My point is that a digital file is not the same as a physical object such as a CD. The main problem with the music industry is that they've been trying to apply the same logic to these files as they did to CDs, which isn't working.

    People view digital files differently, most people consider a piece of data as less valuable than something they can hold in their hand. Therefore, the acceptable price point is lower. If the acceptable price is too low for an artist to make a living by simply selling songs, they need to find other ways to do so. That's market forces in action.

     

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  87.  
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    Norman619, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dude you are clueless. No artist is forced to do anything. They are free to accept or decline these contracts. The problem is that they want to be ric more than they care about being rapped by the record industry. I have no sympathy for a group of idiots who do not know how to negotiate a better deal. The artists are 100% to blame for accepting these contracts for so long. There are 2 people in these deals and the contract can't go if one of the two doesn't agree.

     

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  88.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    1) If you believe the current market doesn't work, musicians should be making some other way, and copyright laws are unnecessary, why are you buying all this music (and presenting it as a morally responsible position)? Is it only out of obeying a law for which you have no real respect?

    You seem to have confused my position. I am only talking about from the position of the artists. I think *think* they should be the ones recognizing the value of giving stuff away for free.

    I make no argument saying that it should be okay for others to ignore copyright law, and I do not ignore it myself.

    I will tell you this, however, I believe that I would know about a lot more bands, and most likely spend a lot more money on those bands if they started giving away their music for free.

    2) If everyone did what you do, that would seem like an ideal position for all involved, given a few provisions: a) prices for songs/albums are reasonable, b) songs are DRM/device free, c) "sharing" a few songs among friends is as "non-punishable" as it used to be for mixed tapes/mixed CDs, d) the expected and socially ethical response to a musician whose songs you truly enjoy is to purchase the work when possible (though not necessarily re-purchase songs that have been shared with you). Here's the question: your actions suggest that current model can and does work (particularly with the above provisions), so why must it change (except for the above provisions)?

    Because, this model is not the most economically efficient one. As mentioned, I know about many fewer bands than I would have otherwise, and I end up spending less on all of those other bands.

    Again, this is not about what I want or what I think should happen. I am simply explaining what is happening and what will happen from understanding the economics.

    Even if you and I *wanted* to keep the music industry working this way, it wouldn't, because it's just not economically efficient.

     

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  89.  
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    Abdul, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 9:37am

    Is NYOP working???

    I came across Dr. Stan Liebowitz's piece on this issue and it really make interesting readind: Are 'Name Your Own Prize' Music Downloads Working?( http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=568&doc_id=143385&F_src=flftwo)

     

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  90.  
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    Tucchus Johnson, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: girl talk isn't small

    well during LAST year's coachella he absolutely rocked the stadium crowd to the point that Paris Hilton was on stage dancing with him.

     

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  91.  
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    Willton, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    I will tell you this, however, I believe that I would know about a lot more bands, and most likely spend a lot more money on those bands if they started giving away their music for free.

    I find that to be a dubious proposition, because the amount of time you have to spend listening to these bands does not change. It's not like the digital era has allotted you more free time to listen to these music groups, whether at a live performance or privately on your MP3 player. I find it very hard to believe that you would actually spend more money on music if it were cheaper or free.

     

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  92.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: What about musicians that can't play live?

    Did you read my whole message? Without getting into a debate about whether or not Girl Talk is a musician, I already named and linked to two other people who "play notes on a keyboard, guitar or whatever"

    More? Imogen Heap and Pat Robitaille both layer in their live performances, just going off the top of my head from artists I've actually been out to see recently.

     

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  93.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: girl talk isn't small

    Like I said "maybe in the US", and I seriously don't care what Paris Hilton does... I really haven't heard of him and I'm not exactly a slouch when it comes to dance music - my weekend was spent in a club with Sven Vath and then the closing night of Sonar in Barcelona for example. I'll check him out, I was just refuting the comment that he's "one of the biggest DJs".

     

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  94.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    It depends... I've certainly found that my eMusic subscription (tracks ~30c each) and free podcasts have helped me discover a lot of great music that I really love. Because I love the music, I make more time for it. Also, I spend much more time listening to my MP3 player during commutes where I'd previously have just read a book or listened to the radio.

     

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  95.  
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    Coward of Anonymity, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 12:46pm

    Masnick's Law is already a term on Urban Dictionary.

     

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  96.  
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    Willton, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    It depends... I've certainly found that my eMusic subscription (tracks ~30c each) and free podcasts have helped me discover a lot of great music that I really love. Because I love the music, I make more time for it. Also, I spend much more time listening to my MP3 player during commutes where I'd previously have just read a book or listened to the radio.

    Okay, but does this in the end cause you to spend more money on music? Are you purchasing tickets to more live shows? Are you buying so many more music tracks at 30c a pop that your expenses on music have become larger? My guess is no. I find it extremely hard to believe that one would increase his personal budget for music as the price of it goes down.

     

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  97.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    I find that to be a dubious proposition, because the amount of time you have to spend listening to these bands does not change. It's not like the digital era has allotted you more free time to listen to these music groups, whether at a live performance or privately on your MP3 player. I find it very hard to believe that you would actually spend more money on music if it were cheaper or free.

    It's got nothing to do with time. As it stands now, I end up listening to a few bands over and over again until I discover new music that I like -- which is pretty rare. Yet, when I do find new music I like, I definitely do go out of my way to see them live. So, I believe if more bands made their music free, I'd spend a lot more time going to see bands.

    But, on a secondary point: much more of the money I spend would also go to the artists directly. As it stands now, when I buy CDs very little of that money goes to the artist (more than in most cases, since I'm often buying from independents or even directly from the musicians).

    So I definitely disagree with your premise. It has little to do with the time available -- and everything to do with the fact that I just don't know who's out there that I would like.

    That's why it was so great to see my friend last week who introduced me to some new acts that I hadn't heard before.

     

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  98.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 24th, 2008 @ 12:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Masnick's iPod

    "Okay, but does this in the end cause you to spend more money on music? Are you purchasing tickets to more live shows? Are you buying so many more music tracks at 30c a pop that your expenses on music have become larger? My guess is no."

    Short answer: yes. I buy at least 5 albums a month through eMusic, whereas I might have bought one CD a month previously, if that. I went to the Sonar festival in Barcelona at the weekend, and one of the things that attracted me (apart from a relatively close physical proximity) was the presence of several artists I'd never heard of before joining eMusic. I only attended one night of the festival but the night before I went to a club where Sven Vath was playing. I bought his album on eMusic the next day.

    "I find it extremely hard to believe that one would increase his personal budget for music as the price of it goes down."

    Over the last 2 years, my love for music has been rekindled. My exposure to new music is no longer through the increasingly homogeneous radio and TV outlets, but through services like podcasts, last.fm and pandora. I've gone from being mildly interested by some new acts to loving a wide range of new music. As my interest has increased, so has the money I'm willing to pay.

     

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  99.  
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    Ana, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:28am

    More money on concerts

    I'd gladly spend more money on a live show than on an album. After all, real musicians can do it live. Just about anybody can spit out a pitch-corrected, over-produced piece of crap, but if you can pull of a good live show... fan forever.

     

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  100.  
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    Cliff, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 3:08pm

    Whoever said that live shows aren't Girl Talk's forte obviously have not seen him live.

     

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  101.  
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    Antiqcool (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    Creative Commons anyone ?

    These comments are fascinating to read....love a good debate.

    We are an independent record label and publishing company not a big bad corporation out to sue people for file sharing, we WANT them to spread our music around. Songs from our catalog have been played by hundreds of radio stations and podcasters worldwide and it didn't cost them a penny, in return we got exposure and promotion.....sounds like a good deal to me, that's why many of our tracks have been released under a creative commons license.

    So what if you lose out on lost sales. You gain more in the long term (If you can survive that long)

     

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