More Musicians Recognizing The Power Of Free

from the good-for-them dept

Every time I think we're finally reaching the point where these types of stories aren't necessary any more, because we've shown so many different musicians give away their music for free and make more money because of the additional business models they put in place, we see someone making a statement like: "but, if they give music away for free, they don't make any money and won't keep producing music." So, apparently, the message still isn't getting through. Just because you give away your music for free, it doesn't mean that you don't make money. You just need to put in place a business model where the free music increases the value of some other scarcity.

So, here's yet another example, this one sent in by Mark Rosedale, about musician Derek Webb, who also started NoiseTrade, yet another in an increasingly long list of sites that help bands connect with fans. Webb gave away his last album as a free download, requesting a little info in exchange. The results were that he ended up making a lot more money, rather than not making any money:
"In three month's time Webb gave away over 80,000 full downloads of his record and collected valuable information for as many new fans. In addition, Derek has since seen many sold out shows and increased merchandise and record sales, including a curious spike in sales of the very record that was given for free."
Indeed. That said, there are a few questionable things about NoiseTrade (having the entire site in Flash, for one thing, is a bit annoying). As Mark notes, the service seems to have an odd feature where you have an option of spamming your friends instead of paying, which seems a bit annoying. But, the main point remains: giving away your music can make a musician more money. Of course, now we'll see a bunch of comments explaining why this is an exception. Yet, at this point, we've seen so many exceptions that it's difficult to see why it's not the rule.


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  1.  
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    Luke, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:44pm

    I didn't download it.

    I visited the site while the download was available, and chose not to download it - 10 friend's e-mail addresses are more valuable to me than free music that I may or may not like.

     

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  2.  
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    LostSailor, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    Free Music....Sort Of

    Technically, it's not free. You have to either give them information on 5 friends (though as far as I can tell, you can provide bogus info) or you can "pay what you want" for the download, as long as "what you want" is at least $1 (and not over $25, as far as the album I looked at). So you have to give them something of value for the music. I didn't download anything, but I'm assuming that there are no further restrictions on copying and sharing the music.

    The larger point is not that this is an exception, since musicians have been giving away free music long before digital music came along. The larger point is that these experiments still need a lot of time to play out and to be shown to be sustainable befroe they become "the rule" or the primary business model for the distribution of digital music.

    Further, the NoiseTrade about section you link to is really a promotional piece for the site and the service so the skeptic in me would like to see some hard figures before accepting the claim that he made "a lot more money." He doesn't actually say that he made "a lot" more money, or that he made any money at all. Just that he saw "many sold out shows" (no mention of whether shows sold out before or not or whether he was playing shows in smaller venues). One could looks at "increase in merchandise and record sales" as taking in money, but whether it's profit or not is another story. And "a curious spike in sales" of the album offered for "free" doesn't necessarily say much.

    Whether the "give it away free" model for recorded music can be a long-term model for all musicians is by no means settled or obvious.

    Personally, I'm not inclined to spam my friends for each album I download and wouldn't appreciate their doing it to me. A $1 an album is not a bad price, mind you, but whether it's sustainable for the site or the artist at that price remains to be seen.

    I wonder what fans of the site will think if he starts to sell the mailing list?

     

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  3.  
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    LostSailor, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Follow-up

    It looks as though the email addresses you submit are sort of verified before they let you download and you have to wait for an email with your "download code" in it.

    Seems more of a hassle than it's worth.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:58pm

    My problem isn't with your statements that music "can" be free but with your insistence that it "should" be free. It can be free or not, but that is up to the musician.

     

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  5.  
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    Stephen, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:59pm

    derek webb

    oddly enough i was just listening to a song by webb and his wife which i got free when it was posted to one of the music blogs i periodically check to find new artists. i'd never have heard of him otherwise, and their song is the best of about a month's worth of searching. it's made me look into his other stuff as well.

     

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  6.  
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    Mark Regan, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    Universal Music Group Too

    I just noticed that Universal Music Group has begun posting free videos of music they own on YouTube.com. This is very encouraging as it indicates that they now agree with Google that there IS value to being allowed to plug their products for FREE instead of having to pay advertising and payola expenses.

    UMG is one of the biggies in the music industry, and if their experiment boosts attendance at the concerts of their musicians, it might be considered a success.

    Check out this video which UMG just posted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Exflbnmfqzg

     

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  7.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 12:00am

    Re: "Should"

    Another ignorant coward repeated the old refrain:

    My problem isn't with your statements that music "can" be free but with your insistence that it "should" be free. It can be free or not, but that is up to the musician.

    The real world doesn’t do “should”. The real world is only what “is”. And what “is” happening is that music is being widely distributed for free. You can rail against that like King Cnut railing against the tide, and all it will achieve is that you get wet. Or you can get off your arse and do something about it—exploit it to your advantage. Fight reality and lose, or work with it and win—that’s your choice.

     

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    Gary Loffler, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 6:45am

    Buying free album

    "including a curious spike in sales of the very record that was given for free"

    I don't think this is odd at all. People tend to buy music they know already. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon has been released in at least six formats (different quality LPs, 8 Track, cassette, CD, gold CD, DVD) and people keep buying it. Dropping 15 bucks on a CD you've never heard is a rare occurrence. You would think that an industry that spends hundreds of millions of dollars on publicity would recognize free publicity when they see it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: "Should"

    Actually, my choice is not to steal.

     

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  10.  
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    Jesse, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    If you want to call it stealing, and you don't want to do that, then by all means. No one is forcing you to download.

    But if there is a law, and no one know why it exists, then it is only a matter of time before the law fades away from existence.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), Dec 6th, 2008 @ 5:30pm

    Re:

    My problem isn't with your statements that music "can" be free but with your insistence that it "should" be free. It can be free or not, but that is up to the musician.

    As others have pointed out, it's not "should" so much as "will." It's just basic economics.

    And, no, it's not up to the musician. It's up to the market.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 6:37am

    Derek Webb has been doing this for a long time. Enjoy Christian music.

     

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    steve, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:58am

    Dream on, Freetards

    So people have to get poorer to save P2P downloaders money?

    The CD is dead, but a sound recording has value, I'm still enjoying ones I bought when I was a kid.

    "You can rail against that like King Cnut railing against the tide"


    Tech always leads changes in copyright. Copyright eventually catches up - ALWAYS. You need to learn a bit of tech history before arguing from history.


    "But if there is a law, and no one know why it exists, then it is only a matter of time before the law fades away from existence."

    Dream on!

     

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  14.  
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    Twinrova, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:23am

    And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    First, the fact the artist requires something for his music automatically removes the "free" definition and don't give me crap that's it's only references he's charging.

    Second, we clearly see his money making ability resides in the other venues which clearly pays for his free music.

    Why is it you can't get this argument, Mike, but instead pick on those who say "but, if they give music away for free, they don't make any money and won't keep producing music."?

    I think you keep skipping the "business" notion here. I truly believe you think, as a business, giving away stuff for "free" works without making up costs elsewhere. Not true in the least bit and given you're running Techdirt, you should know this.

    Otherwise, you wouldn't have this site (especially with the ads).

    Ironic, isn't it, that Techdirt screams "FREECONOMICS WILL WORK! TRUST US!" but clearly doesn't practice what it preaches.

    Or do those ads you charge readers not sink in?

    Given you can't do it, I find it appalling you expect others to do it.

    At least Trent Reznor doesn't include ads in his songs he does give away AT 0 COST because he more than makes up for it with other venues.

    You've yet to answer my question: How is it a business is to survive by giving away free items without making up the costs elsewhere?

    When you answer this successfully, I'll quit rebutting your "freeconomic" blogs.

     

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    Stingwolf, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 5:28am

    Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    How is it a business is to survive by giving away free items without making up the costs elsewhere?

    This is clearly a trolling attempt, but I'll reply simply with a quote from the blog post... Which is right up there, and which you clearly didn't/wouldn't read:

    So, apparently, the message still isn't getting through. Just because you give away your music for free, it doesn't mean that you don't make money. You just need to put in place a business model where the free music increases the value of some other scarcity.

    You then "make up the cost" by selling said scarcities.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    How is he a troll for pointing out hypocrisy? Since when is pointing out the hypocrisy of techdirt's ads trolling. Mike wrote some dumb article a while back about how ads where lame yet he has them. He is a joke and he cannot even practice what he preaches.

     

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  17.  
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    Twinrova, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    "This is clearly a trolling attempt"
    Clearly, you are mistaken. I would take a long look at previous posts to understand this position.

    "You then 'make up the cost' by selling said scarcities."
    Speaking of clearly didn't/wouldn't read...
    To catch you up to speed: If a business doesn't sell those scarcities enough to both generate revenue and give away stuff for free, it fails to stay in business.

    One thing to note is Trent didn't do his model through his distributors, who are the ones Mike is targeting with his "freeconomics" model.

    BOTH parties would have a hard time generating revenue. One would have to go.

     

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  18.  
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    Mike (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    First, the fact the artist requires something for his music automatically removes the "free" definition and don't give me crap that's it's only references he's charging.

    The definition of free is quite simple: did you charge money to get the product? No? Then it's free. QED.

    Second, we clearly see his money making ability resides in the other venues which clearly pays for his free music.

    Uh. Yes. That would be the very point we've been making here. Did it just sink in?


    Why is it you can't get this argument, Mike,


    But I DO get that argument. It's the argument *I* have been making. You give the music away free, and make your money selling scarcities.

    I think you keep skipping the "business" notion here.

    No. I think you are skipping the fact that we discuss the business notion.

    I'm really confused as to what your complaint is here. We basically said "the economics say give away A to sell more of B" and you're saying "Ha! Mike! I got you! You say give away A, but you're leaving out the selling of B!!!!!"

    But, we're not. We're quite clear on it.

    Otherwise, you wouldn't have this site (especially with the ads).

    Um.... what? Now you've just gone off the rails.


    Ironic, isn't it, that Techdirt screams "FREECONOMICS WILL WORK! TRUST US!" but clearly doesn't practice what it preaches.


    We absolutely practice what we preach. Please, tell me, what infinite good do we charge for?

    Given you can't do it, I find it appalling you expect others to do it.

    You are wrong. We follow our business model exactly. We do not charge money for any infinite goods. We charge for scarcities.

    No offense, Twinrova, but I have suggested in the past that you actually learn something before spouting off. You appear to have decided to speak from willful ignorance. I'm not sure why.

    You've yet to answer my question: How is it a business is to survive by giving away free items without making up the costs elsewhere?

    Why should I answer that question when we've never said that? In fact, we've said exactly the opposite. You ALWAYS make up the money elsewhere. That's the whole freaking point. That's what we've been explaining from the very beginning.

     

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  19.  
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    Mike (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    Twinrova, hopefully this post from a year ago makes my position clear and you can stop insisting we said something we never said:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070919/230654.shtml

     

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  20.  
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    LostSailor, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    Twinrova:

    In fairness to Mike, you do miss the salient point of his "business" model. The basic thing is that you're only partly still in the music business (the only "music" part of the business would be playing concerts). With Mike's model you're in the business of selling something else (t-shirts; merchandise; colorful disks with shiny wrappers that may contain music you've already giving away for free, so you're really only selling a disk; personal appearances) or you're holding fundraisers. The music you make and record is now nothing more than a promotional item that may or may not be distributed effectively enough to actually promote your real business.

    Over time, you have to trust that the culture of "free" won't extend to the other things you're trying to sell, be they scarcities or not. For example, you'd still have to rely on intellectual property laws to make sure that no one is making and selling unauthorized t-shirt or merchandise with your likeness, name, or logo on it. Once that goes, you have your concert business (which is in many ways a separate business with it's own costs and issues) and potentially selling your personal time to share with fans.

    But you're certainly not in the "business" of recording music, that's just a side-project for marketing and promotion.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    LostSailor, I'm afraid you misunderstand the business model as well, though you're a lot closer than Twinrova:

    Over time, you have to trust that the culture of "free" won't extend to the other things you're trying to sell, be they scarcities or not.

    The point is that "free" doesn't extend to scarcities for the most part, because that's a money-losing proposition. And, if you set up the correct business model, then you don't have to worry about "free" extending to those other things because you're the only one who can supply the good.

    For example, you'd still have to rely on intellectual property laws to make sure that no one is making and selling unauthorized t-shirt or merchandise with your likeness, name, or logo on it.

    Well, again, the t-shirt business is not a particularly big one. We've always shown that the big business is in scarcities that you have total control over: your time, your attention, your ability to make new content.

    Those don't require IP at all. And, since you have total control over them, they don't go to free.

    Once that goes, you have your concert business (which is in many ways a separate business with it's own costs and issues) and potentially selling your personal time to share with fans.


    LostSailor conveniently ignores that most successful musicians make the majority of their revenue from concerts. Why let details get in the way....

    But you're certainly not in the "business" of recording music, that's just a side-project for marketing and promotion.

    Not true at all, and a common misconception. The recorded music is still VITAL to your business. It's what makes everything else more valuable. You'd be a fool to think that recorded music is a side project.

     

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  22.  
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    LostSailor, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    The point is that "free" doesn't extend to scarcities for the most part, because that's a money-losing proposition. And, if you set up the correct business model, then you don't have to worry about "free" extending to those other things because you're the only one who can supply the good.

    No Mike, I understand the economics model quite well. The issue that you sometimes glibly gloss over is not whether the business model that is implied by the economic model can work, but can it work in a sustainable manner, and that's the trick.

    You've repeatedly brought up cases where a business model based on the infinite/scare economic model has worked for particular artists (though exactly how well it's worked in some cases is not completely clear), but that's a tiny fraction of the artists and companies in the recording industry (not to mention the entertainment industry as a whole).

    As Twinrova and others have pointed out, by making recorded music "free" you have to make up a large portion of that business revenue from the scarcities, and in music there are relatively few scarcities that are not already in play. And some of the one's you've mentioned (CDs with special booklets, art, etc.) can be made into infinite fairly quickly.

    Well, again, the t-shirt business is not a particularly big one. We've always shown that the big business is in scarcities that you have total control over: your time, your attention, your ability to make new content. Those don't require IP at all. And, since you have total control over them, they don't go to free.

    Let's not get hung up on the t-shirts, since that's just another category of merch, which would require IP to protect; without the IP protection, you're just giving away another part of your business for questionable promotional value. But your alternatives seem to reinforce my point in the post: an artist's time and attention, sold to fans is not necessarily music. Sure, you can play "private" concerts (the kid's bar-mitzvah?) and hang out with fans. But is that "big business"? It has to be to make up for the lost revenue of "free".

    As for the ability to make new content, this is essentially fund-raising. You have to predicate this part of the business on the PBS model of begging for funds.

    The real question becomes is any of this sustainable at a level that will support a music business. My point is that there is still a lot of experimentation to take place before the current industry is made "obsolete."

    LostSailor conveniently ignores that most successful musicians make the majority of their revenue from concerts. Why let details get in the way....

    Not at all. Mike conveniently ignores that most successful musicians (indeed, most musicians) are already deeply involved in this sector of the business. And this sector would have to be ratcheted up enormously to make up for everything that's now supposed to be given away for free (lost revenue plus costs of production of the "free"). Why let details get in the way....

    Not true at all, and a common misconception. The recorded music is still VITAL to your business. It's what makes everything else more valuable. You'd be a fool to think that recorded music is a side project.

    I never said it wasn't part of the business, but it's now promotional to the other money-making activities that you have to focus your time and attention on. For all the time and effort that goes into making quality recorded music is time that you're not engaging in those "scarce" activities that you "control completely". It's no longer the primary money-making activity.

     

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  23.  
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    Rob_ginger, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER....

    What no-one seems to get is that this is a technology issue - think of the candle makers and gas lamp manufacturers when electricity was invented. Neally all went out of business because there *was* no business anymore.

    The music companies grew fat on selling $30 CDs when no-one else could make or copy a CD. Now people play songs on their MP3 player, and they don't want to buy a CD with 22 songs, of which 20 are crap. They just want the two songs they like. The music industry can whine, moan and sue all they like, but it won't turn back the clock.

    Now, how consumers buy/get/steal those two songs they like is the big question - and I don't know the answer. But I just wish the music industry would get over the whining/moaning/sueing and realise that they have no God-given right to exist. If they can't re-invent their business model then they'll go broke, just like the candle makers. That's tough - that's business.

     

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    Mike (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    No Mike, I understand the economics model quite well. The issue that you sometimes glibly gloss over is not whether the business model that is implied by the economic model can work, but can it work in a sustainable manner, and that's the trick.

    If you understood the model, then you wouldn't claim that I glossed over that issue. Read some of the economic studies we've pointed to in the past, and you'll suddenly realize that this is not a "trick" and it's not a question of whether or not it can work in a sustainable manner. Pretty much all economic growth these days is derived from exploiting infinite goods to make scarce goods more valuable. It's the source of economic growth.

    You've repeatedly brought up cases where a business model based on the infinite/scare economic model has worked for particular artists (though exactly how well it's worked in some cases is not completely clear), but that's a tiny fraction of the artists and companies in the recording industry (not to mention the entertainment industry as a whole).

    Not true at all. We've also shown economic research on how this works at a macro level. Yet, when we do, folks like yourself whine that "well that's on a macro level, how does it work for the artist."

    It's as if our critics can't keep two separate thoughts in their head at the same time.


    As Twinrova and others have pointed out, by making recorded music "free" you have to make up a large portion of that business revenue from the scarcities, and in music there are relatively few scarcities that are not already in play. And some of the one's you've mentioned (CDs with special booklets, art, etc.) can be made into infinite fairly quickly.


    And, as we've pointed out, time and time again (which both you and Twinrova ignore) is that if you properly use the infinite goods, you end up making MORE MONEY, because you make those scarcities MORE VALUABLE. You guys have a static economic model. That's not how the world works.

    But your alternatives seem to reinforce my point in the post: an artist's time and attention, sold to fans is not necessarily music. Sure, you can play "private" concerts (the kid's bar-mitzvah?) and hang out with fans. But is that "big business"? It has to be to make up for the lost revenue of "free".

    Considering how many musicians we've seen make big money by doing so, I'd say, hell yeah it's big business.

    As for the ability to make new content, this is essentially fund-raising. You have to predicate this part of the business on the PBS model of begging for funds.

    Um. Ok. If you want to call it that. You're wrong. It's got nothing to do with fundraising, but luckily, the bands who are embracing this model aren't listening to you for advice.

    We've already talked about bands who raise money for making new content via fan club subscriptions, which is *hardly* fundraising. And we've talked about bands that make new music thanks to corporate sponsorship, which is hardly "fundraising." But, apparently Lostsailor knows all...


    The real question becomes is any of this sustainable at a level that will support a music business. My point is that there is still a lot of experimentation to take place before the current industry is made "obsolete."


    Sure. There's lot of experimenting, but you don't want to be on the wrong side of the boat when it goes down. Because when it goes down, it'll go down quickly and take a lot with it.

    Not at all. Mike conveniently ignores that most successful musicians (indeed, most musicians) are already deeply involved in this sector of the business. And this sector would have to be ratcheted up enormously to make up for everything that's now supposed to be given away for free (lost revenue plus costs of production of the "free"). Why let details get in the way....

    And, again, what you ignore, conveniently, is the evidence we've pointed to about how embracing these concepts greatly ENLARGES your market, so that it IS ratcheted up enormously.

    Pesky details.


    I never said it wasn't part of the business, but it's now promotional to the other money-making activities that you have to focus your time and attention on. For all the time and effort that goes into making quality recorded music is time that you're not engaging in those "scarce" activities that you "control completely". It's no longer the primary money-making activity.


    Uh, no again. I never understand this complaint. It's as if people seem to think that if musicians embrace this model that they alone have to manage the marketing. Right now, a band makes most of its money from concert touring. Do you whine and complain that a band has to focus all its efforts on setting up shows and such? Of course not. Because most bands have managers who do that stuff. Same is true in other models as well.

    And the music making is still the key to make all those other things valuable. So any band that doesn't concentrate on that as the key to their success is going to find themselves in trouble.

    Anyway. We're back to our usual scenario of us clearly not agreeing on this. I see no reason to continue the discussion. You believe that the economics don't work. I've seen enough economic evidence to see that it does. We'll see who's right soon enough.

     

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    Twinrova, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 4:12am

    Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    "The definition of free is quite simple: did you charge money to get the product? No? Then it's free. QED."
    Excuse me, but since when does a charge have to be money? ANY charge, whether it be advertising, cash, or other non-monetary requirement does not make free.

    "No offense, Twinrova, but I have suggested in the past that you actually learn something before spouting off. You appear to have decided to speak from willful ignorance. I'm not sure why."
    No, Mike, you're the one spouting off ignorance to think the freeconomics model will work for every artist and movie/TV producer who can easily distribute "free" downloads while making money elsewhere.

    My argument, and has always been so, is this model will not work if EVERYONE does it. Those "scarce" goods will no longer become "scarce" when consumers, who may enjoy more than just one artist/movie/tv show, won't be able to afford the "scarce" goods due to their markup having to cover multiple costs.

    Here's a point: "Please, tell me, what infinite good do we charge for?"
    This website is the infinite good and your charge is twofold: the ads you post along and the consultant charges to your consumers.

    I think I'll reiterate: ANY CHARGE, REGARDLESS IF MONEY, ADS, INFORMATION, OR OTHER NON-MONETARY REQUIREMENT DOES NOT MAKE THE ITEM FREE.

    You and I do have some agreement that the model Trent Reznor uses is a good one. No argument on my side on this, unless you continue to push this to every digital designer out there.

    Because with this model you're pushing, the CD/DVD becomes the scarce good and who in hell wants to pay $50 for a plastic disc?

    To be completely ignorant of consumers paying attention is a foolish business practice for which they'll regret when consumers go elsewhere to find their wares.

    Oh, and I'm (and others?) still waiting on how you apply this "freeconomics" model to the distributors of music, who have much to lose in this model if the artists do it themselves.

    Trent Reznor wouldn't be as famous is he is today without his distributor(s).

    And finally, the request to "educate myself" spurned from our discussions of the economy, not this. I stand by my conviction that while unique, the "freeconomics" model will not work in the long run.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    Read it when it came out. I think you're placing me in line with those who think the "free" is the model.

    I'll reiterate: I agree with you on the freeconomics used by the few. I disagree with you as you continue to sway all industries in the digital world to use it as the incredible markup of scarce goods will be more harmful, not better, for businesses in the long run.

    Or did you totally forget the "margin cost to $0" you've also been harping.
    Scarcity isn't as easy as you make it out to be, Mike.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 4:26am

    Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    "In fairness to Mike, you do miss the salient point of his "business" model."
    No, LostSailor, it seems you're missing Mike's point more than I am.

    Unfortunately for Mike, he continues to put me in line with those who think the free model is the business model, and it's not what I'm against.

    There's no such thing as free and Mike continues to believe there is. He and I are saying the same thing, but he's using a word I disagree with: "free".

    LostSailor sees "Artist X" is giving away all her music for free. You hit her site, and download all 12 tracks. The "cost" to you? $0 (NOT free)

    Twinrova also sees "Artist X"'s message and also downloads the same 12 songs. Cost to me? $0

    Now you decide you like "Artist X" so much, you buy her special package which comes with various trinkets and a signed CD cover for $99.

    I don't buy a damn thing.

    So, LostSailor, you just paid for your downloads and mine, all because you spent $99 for something which doesn't cost so.

    Oh, and because you bought the last of the package, Mike is out of luck trying to get one because it's scarce (how in hell is a signature scarce?).

    Now you can see my stance on "free" Mike's been pushing. There's a HUGE difference between "free" and $0 cost and no business can run free.

    Even Mike's own Techdirt charges YOU, the reader, with the ads on the site, which clearly is not defined as free.

    Make sense now?

    It's all about definition, this argument, nothing more. If Mike used $0 cost instead of free, I'd have no reason to argue.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    No Tellin, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 8:49am

    I'd like to point out to everyone who keeps moaning about how if you "give away the music for free, the musicians won't make any money and will stop making music".

    First of all, if you do any kind of actual research, you'll find that less than 0.03% of artists see any royalty money from sales of their music. You read that correctly.

    The vast majority of musicians already "give" away their music for free. The big record companies collect and keep virtually all royalties. Any argument which claims artists are being deprived of royalties due to P2P, free downloads etc is based upon a total fabrication by the record companies.

    Artists get diddley for royalties. Allow me to restate myself. Only 3 in 1000 musicians ever see actual royalty payments. That's 997 in 1000 musicians who never see royalty payments. Anyone who makes the argument that free downloads deprive musicians of royalties is either a tool of the big labels or is willfully clueless.

    The facts are that most musicians end up being required to tour in order to first - pay off their advances and costs as calculated by the record companies and only after make a living.

    Frankly, I'm tired of ij10ts who continually spout the roayalty nonsense.

    Don't believe me? Fine - do your own research as I've done mine and as I've verified others. Repeat: Do the research. Get educated on the facts.

    Start here: http://www.futureofmusic.org/contractcrit.cfm

    The Future of Music Coalition website homepage has a lot of good research on various aspects of the music industry as well as links to help of all kinds for independent musicians.

     

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  29.  
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    LostSailor, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And here's ANOTHER one of my rebuttals against "free" when it's clearly not.

    Pretty much all economic growth these days is derived from exploiting infinite goods to make scarce goods more valuable. It's the source of economic growth.

    All economic growth? That's a pretty sweeping statement. Evidence?

    Not true at all. We've also shown economic research on how this works at a macro level. Yet, when we do, folks like yourself whine that "well that's on a macro level, how does it work for the artist." It's as if our critics can't keep two separate thoughts in their head at the same time.


    Again, economic research and facts on the ground business results are different things. And please point specifically where I've written--or "whined"--that it can't work on either the macro or micro level. Or do you just hurl your insults indiscriminately?

    Um. Ok. If you want to call it that. You're wrong. It's got nothing to do with fundraising...We've already talked about bands who raise money for making new content via fan club subscriptions, which is *hardly* fundraising. And we've talked about bands that make new music thanks to corporate sponsorship, which is hardly "fundraising." But, apparently Lostsailor knows all...

    Your recognition of my omniscience is flattering, but misplaced. However, whatever you want to label it, member subscriptions and corporate sponsorships are and always have been core elements of fundraising. Nonprofits do this all the time.

    Sure. There's lot of experimenting, but you don't want to be on the wrong side of the boat when it goes down. Because when it goes down, it'll go down quickly and take a lot with it.

    Talk about knowing it all! The experimenting is a great thing, and hopefully more artists, bands, and yes even record labels will continue. But I think you're vastly overestimating the demise of the recording industry. While overall revenues for the industry have fluctuated and have seen a slight dip in the last two years, that's to be expected with the technological shift from physical to digital distribution, but revenue from digital distribution is still growing. Lots of people, it seems, don't mind paying for digital music.

    In other words, there's still money to be made, and the record labels will keep bailing to keep the boat afloat for some time. They'll also have a rather robust life raft available should the boat actually founder.

    And, again, what you ignore, conveniently, is the evidence we've pointed to about how embracing these concepts greatly ENLARGES your market, so that it IS ratcheted up enormously. Pesky details.

    Haven't ignored it at all. One of the pesky details is whether it enlarges your market of paying customers enough to sustain your business. You keep saying that the increase is enormous, yet there is little actual data in any quantity (as opposed to anecdotal "data" such as the subject of the original post here) to support that.

    Uh, no again. I never understand this complaint. It's as if people seem to think that if musicians embrace this model that they alone have to manage the marketing. Right now, a band makes most of its money from concert touring. Do you whine and complain that a band has to focus all its efforts on setting up shows and such? Of course not. Because most bands have managers who do that stuff. Same is true in other models as well.

    It's clear you don't understand. Of course major acts have support in terms of managers, marketers, road crews, and promoters, all expensive. Smaller acts will have fewer resources and will have to do more of this themselves, especially the lower down the scale you go.

    Major acts can make quite a handsome living from concert tours, others perhaps less so. They're already doing it. Which is part of the point. All the "scarcities" are already being sold, generally for quite high prices. The increase in an artist's "market" has to be more than huge to make up for the lost revenue from free music distribution, and that market has to be prepared to pay exorbitant prices (ticket prices for concerts have already been increasing at multiples of the CPI). At some point there will be a ceiling.

    Anyway. We're back to our usual scenario of us clearly not agreeing on this. I see no reason to continue the discussion. You believe that the economics don't work. I've seen enough economic evidence to see that it does. We'll see who's right soon enough.

    You are incorrect. It's not that I don't believe the economics don't work or can't work. And I know that the limited evidence has convinced you, but it's convinced you that everyone in the entertainment industry should immediately abandon their current business models and adopt yours (otherwise they'll be destroyed or left in the dust or on a sinking boat, whatever the phrase is today).

    What you seem to not understand, indeed vilify instead, is any assessment of the risks involved. You don't see any risks, no conceivable downside even possible. Just immediately adopt this model and it'll be pina coladas and sunshine forever. Give away your music and sell the scarcities...what could go wrong?

    We'll ultimately see who's right: your everybody do it now before your doomed, DOOMED!, or my let's take some time to see if this thing works and works well over time before we jump in. But I don't expect that answer to come soon.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    David F., Dec 9th, 2008 @ 10:18am

    The Power of Free

    The music industry itself knows the power of free. That is why they give away tens of thousands of "demo" copies of every release. These copies are frequently what persuades a program director of a radio station to program tracks from the album, what a music reviewer uses to review new music and what you hear played in a music retailer should you choose to darken their doors.

    Recorded music, in fact, began life as promotional material. It was sold as souvenirs of famous artists concerts, not as its own revenue stream. The real revenue stream is from live music. Live is what has the most vitality, live is what cannot ever be captured in a recording. Granted a live recording may capture *some* of the electricity the live event did, but nothing replaces actually being there for the event itself.

    Recroded music as an industry is as illogical as a tail wagging the dog. Yet, we see many examples of the tail attempting to wag the dog. Things work much better when you do things the right way around. The recording industry in its present form was doomed to die from its inception.

    When musicians give away their recordings nothing new is happening, the only thing that is different is that the muscian is determining who gets the free goods and not the recording company. It seems to me this is the way it should be.

    Cheers,
    Davidf

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    First of all, if you do any kind of actual research, you'll find that less than 0.03% of artists see any royalty money from sales of their music. You read that correctly.

    The vast majority of musicians already "give" away their music for free. The big record companies collect and keep virtually all royalties.


    You seem to be confusing royalty payments as the only payment a record company pays an artist, implying that artists don't get paid anything at all. This is incorrect. While it may be true that very few artists receive semi-annual royalty payments from a record contract, they are paid something called an "advance on royalties". Which means they get paid their royalties up front.

    I'm not going to defend record contracts, but it's extremely misleading to suggest that artists are not paid by the record labels for music they produce for those labels.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Steve, Jul 25th, 2010 @ 5:02am

    I don't agree

    I have seen ZERO hard data and facts from musicians. Detailed, not a bar graph stating we earned more. Not we made more this year than last year on live shows

    I have not seen one balance sheet on the web by a band.

    Not one. All I hear is talk. I have not seen one research article involving profit/loss/revenue for bands in a specific region. Not one

    And we are talking a detailed balance sheet of:

    Promotion costs
    Studio costs
    Equipment maintenance
    Travel maintenance on vehicle
    Food
    Clothing
    General repair
    Gas
    Music instrument maintenance
    Electric bill

    All I hear is we are doing better. That doesn't cut it. when you sit down with a band and say

    "How much for the clothing for the show".
    "How much for the repair on the van last week that broke down".
    "How much time did you spend mixing in hours and days"
    "How much did the new XLR cables cost"
    "How much did you spend for food in the last week"

    All I hear from working with bands as of late "We have no money". And that is the majority

    And I'll say it again, musicians are usually poor business people. And I heard a fan state the other day, they give their music away, they should give their tee shirts away too

    This is what's happened. A mindset that not only the music is free, but other items. More free shows, more free this and that

    So, for the indie band, they end up broke - the music gets worse

    What's happened is, you gave the dog a bone and now they want a BIGGER bone, not just free music, they want more FREE

    This is the problem that has developed.

    Show me a balance sheet and the things I listed above are not even 1/2 of a bands expense

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Sam Fisher, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    This does not work

    I work in the music business (Royalty Accountant) and I can say unequivocally that this model does not work. I agree with Steve, until an unknown band (or ten) show me hard evidence, then there is no way to substantiate that the free model increases sales. There is evidence that would suggest that streaming could work but its marginal at best. Now we have a society of consumers expecting free content and the content producer starving an unable to make more music. I know because I get a call a week from a band asking for a recording advance check.

    You dont write a book and then give the book away. You dont produce a movie and screen it for free indefinitely in hopes that folks will pay to see it a second time. Why are musicians falling into this trap. We are starving the only folks producing the art.

    Sam

     

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