Another Music Label That Gets It

from the slowly,-but-surely... dept

For years we’ve been saying that the issue with regards to mp3s is not about theft or copyright infringement or anything like that. It was simply a question of competition – where sooner or later music labels would come along that “got it”. They would understand that the music itself is a promotional good and can be used to sell other things – and that the big music labels, whether they liked it or not would be forced to compete or die. That’s why it made sense for them to embrace the technology early and beat the competition before it existed. It has nothing to do with “control” or “piracy”. It’s simply a business issue. Here’s a way of offering something that’s cheaper and better for the consumer – and if you’re not going to provide it, someone else will. For the last couple of years, though, I’ve been a bit disappointed that such new record labels hadn’t sprung up and began to wonder what was happening. It looks like that’s changing. Last month we posted about Magnatunes, and now here’s an article about another, similar music label called Loca that is giving away mp3s and encouraging other musicians to take, sample and experiment with the music on their label. This is great news, and it sounds like more new music labels are going with this approach. At this point, they’re all small time operations – but it’s a step in the right direction. It will take time, but these new labels that are both artist and consumer friendly are going to be what kills the old time recording industry, not Kazaa.

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Comments on “Another Music Label That Gets It”

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Tatum (user link) says:

Marketing free crap is still free crap

I definitely think Mike is right that a good number of labels are going to have to figure out how to support themselves with a roster of acts who need to “give away” their music as a loss leader to concert and merchandise revenues. And some of the bands that start out with these free labels might graduate to a major- who can afford not to completely give it away.

I’ve heard for years about “I found a really cool band on, and I totally bought their album!”. While I’m sure that happens, obviously not enough for anyone to quit their day jobs. If they can’t quit their day jobs, they can’t tour. If they can’t tour, they don’t make enough money to follow their dream- to play music every single day. Instead, these et al artists are asking you if want pickles on your turkey club at Subway. Nothing cool about that. They would be more than happy to get screwed on a record deal so that they could get the support to create touring and merch revenues. It’s been that way for years, and it won’t change. If they really make it, they can pull their Garth Brooks/REM/Petty/Dixie Chicks “renegotiation” for a bigger chunk of sales.

And to address the subject of the post, almost all of these artists giving away their music SUCK. And I mean hard. The people who say, “nah, this is pretty good”, are also the people who would wear high-water jeans that are too tight because “they were free”. I appreciate a good deal as much as the next person, but I hate when the economics of free (or near free) influence the perception of quality. See anything sold in Walmart.

I’m sure there is a jewel that falls through the cracks eventually, but have we seen our “Internet breakthrough artist yet”? Not that I know of. I know some indie label bands who have used the internet effectively to gain attention and build a fan base successfully. But we all know that touring is STILL the best to build a fan base. And they will sell more records at two shows than they sell online in a year.

I’m happy to pay for music. If I can pay $10 bucks so an A&R guy/indie label owner to sign, produce and deliver a quality music product, I’m happy. I don’t want to sift through all that crap to find a jewel. I think major(and major indie)labels are still very valid because of this very point. A good example is also a free plug for a friend’s label, but check it out: This guy goes out every night listening to music. Not ALL of it is good. The ones he signed ARE. He provided a service I’m willing to pay for. Good deal.

The price of music is going to drop hard and soon. We are going to get to the right price point in the very near future that moves product. And that price won’t be free for quality music. People will buy it online, on cds, albums and some folks in Mississippi will buy it on cassette tapes at truck stops. The point is, all music will not be free, and I think that is a good thing.

MissinLnk says:

Re: Marketing free crap is still free crap

I’m sure there is a jewel that falls through the cracks eventually, but have we seen our “Internet breakthrough artist yet”? Not that I know of. I know some indie label bands who have used the internet effectively to gain attention and build a fan base successfully. But we all know that touring is STILL the best to build a fan base. And they will sell more records at two shows than they sell online in a year.

You’ve got some good points. Of course, the “almost all of these artists giving away their music SUCK” line is misleading. Most bands suck. Of course, most bands don’t get play on the radio either. It’s just that now it’s a lot easier to stumble into their stuff instead of it only being heard by a few unlucky souls in Salina, KS.

But to talk about the Internet breakthrough artist…maybe there’s a reason there hasn’t been one yet. Outside of the Internet, when I am looking for new bands, there are pretty much two choices: bands getting play on radio stations and bands playing in your local clubs.

The Internet requires me to actively go out and find new bands constantly. There is no good push method of finding new bands on the Internet right now. The radio station has it’s limited playlist of what it defines as the best, and a local music scene has a small enough choice that you can actually browse through them (or are suggested by friends and even music critics sometimes). With the Internet, there’s no easy way to drop all of the bad to find the few good bands…and since now there’s just one giant local scene online, there’s a lot of crap to shovel out of the way, making it nearly impossible to browse.

So what’s the solution? Not sure. Seems to be what everyone is looking for right now. I figured it would have already been found personally (too bad the RIAA doesn’t take all the money going into their legal funds and start looking for the new way to spread the word about their bands). I’m very interrested to see what it will look like.

Whatever it is, free music will be involved. Most people won’t put a dime down until they know that they like a band (or at least one song of said band). Maybe just making a few tracks free…maybe going twords everything free. I’m still leaning twords the first, unless the economics of recordings drop to a point where a band can record tracks in their home at a pretty cheap price point and still get a decent sound. (Microsoft Frontpage for sound recording anyone?)

Brenden says:

The Little Guy

I say the creator of Magnatunes on the screen savers the other day. He make a very interesting point. There are several artists (mainly classical) that couldn’t even make a dime working for a major label, but they are making money selling their music on Magnatunes. The fact is that the major labels are designed to make money for the most popular artists only. The creator of Magnatunes pointed out that there are plenty of artists who sign on with a major label and sell and don’t see a dime of profit even though they’ve sold over 20,000 copies. Magnatunes and companies like them are built to help the small time artist who loves to make music, but has no hope of making it big. Not everybody wants to be a big star. Some just want to be able to make some money doing what they love to do. Unfortunately the recording industry only wants a select few to make money at the expense of others.

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