Chili Peppers And Metallica Resist A La Carte Downloading

from the all-or-nothing-for-the-fans dept

Metallica certainly doesn’t have the reputation for being particularly fan friendly when it comes to the internet, so it’s no surprise that they’ve made the decision not to let music download services like iTunes offer up their songs on an individual basis. Now, however, many other bands are protesting this a la carte distribution of their music. A number of other well-known musical groups, such as Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day and Kid Rock have all joined Metallica in telling Apple they won’t be included in iTunes if they have to allow for single song downloads. The artists, as they’re known to do, say that this is all for “artistic” reasons rather than financial reasons. They’re certainly allowed to do whatever they want, but they’ll soon find that upsetting their fans isn’t the smartest move in the world. If the music is good, fans will download the full album. If it’s not, then why should they force them to. While some think that iTunes’ unbundling of music will harm the industry, that’s a very shortsighted view. By letting musicians create and distribute music quickly and cheaply, while also giving fans more of what they want, it will let musicians produce more music and grow even larger fan bases. Denying your fans what they want doesn’t exactly make you look fan-friendly – and with so many choices today for where people will spend their money, not being fan-friendly can hurt… in the financial sense. Besides, if fans can’t use legitimate services to download the few songs they want from these artists, they’ll simply go to file sharing networks and download them for free.

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Comments on “Chili Peppers And Metallica Resist A La Carte Downloading”

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Chad (user link) says:

No Subject Given

As a consumer, I’m no fan of the music industry’s shadier practices by any means. But isn’t it plausible that the Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, Metallica, etc., are doing the profit-maximizing thing here? They might make more money by less people buying whole albums versus more people buying one song at a time – its their art, right? Why should we (techies) sneer at someone else who’s choosing how their product is sold? Software companies engage in some of the craziest pricing strategies, including tolerating a fair amount of piracy in order to extract exorbitant licensing fees from customers who are too afraid of being sued to break the rules.

I’m not sure of it but I’m guessing the “old” business model is probably still going to produce more revenue for well-known bands like Metallica who push huge box sets, $20 per CD, etc. For 2nd-tier bands who don’t have such rabid followings per-song purchasing might make more sense. But Metallica & crew are getting 7-figure checks. And they probably don’t want to risk that.

thecaptain says:

Re: No Subject Given

“Why should we (techies) sneer at someone else who’s choosing how their product is sold? “

We sneer because its the old “piss off your consumers and they will throw money at you…they are masochists” RIAA thinking.

They are allowed to do it, just like this “techie” is allowed to sneer at it. I’m just cynical enough to believe it will still work since very very few people actually boycott these bands…

Personally I fail to see the fear, the “well-known” bands would still sell their box sets, and their special collections because these are aimed at the “I must own everything from this band” market…I’m thinking that allowing this new model might actually make them new fans…those people who maybe weren’t “into” them earlier on.

You know…pusher business model: The first hit’s free, the next one will cost yah…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

As I said, they absolutely have the right to do what they want. I’m not sneering at that. I am, however, suggesting that the end results will be the opposite of what you say. By not offering individual song downloads they’re doing more to threaten their big checks.

Customers want individual song downloads. Not offering that is going against your customer’s wants, and makes it much less likely you’ll attract new fans. The industry is shifting. People who try to “hang onto” their old business model will find that it has shifted out from under them.

Glenn says:

No Subject Given

I’m a little curious as to whether iTunes or its counterparts will offer a link to the normal CD distribution models. Such as, you purchase the Metallica CD from a store, and printed on the CD is a one-time use code that opens up an iTunes area of Metallica downloads. I would expect, if anyone ever felt like being fair, that the songs on the CD you purchased would be available for download for free, and additional songs b-sides of old albulms etc, would be availabe for purchase. Ok, as I think through this idea, I can see a lot of problems that would come up. But I still think it has some merit.

Chach says:


Most of the bands that are against individual song sales are the ones who are riding out their names and have become one-hit-per-album wonders (*cough* metallica *cough*). In reality since Justice For All, Metallica has not put out an album with more than 2 good songs on it. And yes I feel cheated that I spend so much money on CDs that have one or two good songs. Same goes for so many bands (most of whom will be against iTunes). They are against it because they want you to spend more money and buy their worthless-direct-to-coaster CDs.

I think, as a fan, I deserve something back. This is also true for so many bands, they release one good song, put it at the begining of the album and the rest of the album is utter crap. People use P2P to share the songs they want and not the crap that litters the CD. I mean in reality a band comes up with a song or two, then records “filler” songs to make it a full CD and tries to push that on the public.

It is a shame how Metallica degraded from a band that was all about music to a band that has not put out a worthwhile album since the 90s and used the courts to get their publicity.

Chad (user link) says:

No Subject Given

I still think we should allow bands the courtesy to determine the revenue-maximizing strategy for their product. If they piss us consumers off, we can vote with our wallets. But still…I personally don’t believe online distribution will make big-name bands more money in the next 5 or so years. But obviously at some point its the way to go, I am not disputing that at all.

Also, that was a good point about albums with only a couple of good songs, and I think the formulaic, single-driven album may be less successful than the quality album at some point.

Tharian says:

Death of Albums

I would think the artists/publishers that allowed music albums to shrink more and more while charge more and more would have been the key contributer to the consumers’ desire to purchase ala carte songs.
What’s the point of shelling out $20+ for a CD that now holds as many songs as the CD singles of only a few years ago when the price is nearly three times as high?
Perhaps the “rapid decline in sales” that has been attributed to file sharing could actually be due to customer dissatisfaction? Nah… that can’t be it.

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