Music Fans Not Actually Criminals, Willing To Pay For Music

from the sell,-don't-sue dept

Memo to the record labels: You don’t have to treat your customers like criminals. Canadian pop singer Jane Siberry has been experimenting with a voluntary pricing scheme for downloading songs over her website. Fans are offered the choice to pay nothing, pay later, pay what they wish, or pay $0.99 for each song they download from her. The results might come as a surprise to the record labels as the majority of people opted not to take the free track; in fact the average price paid for a track came in at $1.14 per track. But should it really come as a surprise that people will pay voluntarily for music? People often throw a dollar into a musician’s bowl when they’re playing on the subway — people who are fans of the musician and actually go to their website should be even more inclined. What’s more interesting is that the typical explanation for why people give to the subway musician (or donate $100 to NPR in exchange for a tote bag) is that they get some sort of recognition from others for their generosity. In the case of Jane Siberry the transaction is completely anonymous, meaning that people are happy to support a musician if only for personal satisfaction. This experiment doesn’t prove that the donation model would work on an industry-wide scale, rather it simply shows that music fans aren’t thieves, and that they do want to support the musicians they like. The labels should see this as a reason to least explore alternative models of pricing and distribution.


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Comments on “Music Fans Not Actually Criminals, Willing To Pay For Music”

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33 Comments
Mike says:

I agree from personal experience 100%

The band Winters Bane hooked me up with an advance of copy of their cd, just a burned one, but great enough to listen to on my iPod. The day it was available at their online store, I went and bought a copy.

It’s all about supporting the things we love, and the people who appreciate the support.

Elle says:

Re: Re: Huh?

Joe

Your logic may play to the choir, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense.

The mainstream music industry already gives fans ways to pay for music – by purchasing their CDs or downloading tracks from places like iTunes.

Are you suggesting that if major labels gave everybody the option to download tracks for free or name a price that they’d get an average of $.14 more per track, based on Siberry’s experience?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Huh?

Ella,

I think you’re missing Joe’s point. He’s saying that the industry insists there’s no way to make money unless they treat their customers like criminals.

This is proof that that’s false — and, in fact, that it is possible to make money treating your customers right.

He’s not saying that this is the way to go, or that this demonstrates how much money they’ll make. Just that what they’ve said in the past is clearly false… and there could be some benefit in treating customers right.

RenderingSanity says:

New Business Era? New Business Model.

The music industry, as everyone knows, is running on the old model for music distribution, from an era where you could only get good quality music on a tape or disc. That’s no surprise, you all know that. What we forget about is if the old business model doesn’t work, someone has to “come up” with the new one, it just doesn’t appear on it’s own.

This is a stepping stone to new business models, maybe it won’t work with everyone across the board, but it’s just one step in the right direction and perhaps the final step for certain genres.

meofcourse77 says:

Re: US?

HAHAHA, Canadians nicer than Americans? Thats funny. Either you only know a few, or no Americans or you are Canadian with a chip on your shoulder or both.

But thank you for making me laugh, that was very nice of you.

As for the topic, the music industry hasn’t got a clue. I downloaded “I did it” by Dave Mathews from a defunked P2P called Aimster. I didn’t steal it, the band gave it away through Aimster. Guess what. I liked it so much, I bought the album.

Bottom line, sharing music is one way for ppl to try before you buy. If they don’t like it, they are not going to buy it anyway.

It is not and has never been “stealing” to begin with.

Was it Shakespear that said “nothing is evil, unless it is thought evil”?

I guess someone thought it.

My2cents

Duh says:

If It's Good I Buy...

I believe in the title of this article… this is very true… fact I never went to the store to buy music before there was online piracy and they never complained then… doesn’t mean I don’t and didn’t listen to music… if I like a musician I will buy their CD… just to have it… because pirate copies are kind of like recording music off the radio in the old days… it’s ghetto… the fact that musicians whine about money they lose makes me wanna pull out “The World’s Smallest Violin and play My Heart Bleeds For You” Basically I get some small satisfaction from pirating their junk. Knowing they are less stinking filthy rich as they were before. :)~

Not really says:

Re: If It's Good I Buy...

The vast majority of musicians selling their music are hardly stinking filthy rich. The record label executives, and the reps that sign those bands are, because they’re the ones who pocket the bulk of the money from sales. If you have any doubt about this, Steve Albini once wrote an essay on just how deep in the hole a typical band would wind up after a record deal and “successful” album sales and tour. It’s pretty shocking… look it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

although i have a substantial collection of music some of which is pirated many of the peices i like are purchased. anything i listen to that isnt purchased is on my list of things of things to buy when i finish uni and can afford it.

owning the genunine article is much better than the pirated version, you dont get the artwork or the inside stuff in a pirate version

Anonymous Coward says:

Haven’t bought a CD – at all in…. 7 years? Seriously – ever since Napster – just can’t get the nasty taste of the RIAA out of my mouth..

I’ll go to this site and check out the music, I might pay for it even if I think it’s only so/so to prove a point.

I’ll never buy anything from any musician or recording company that’s a member of the RIAA, period – ever again.

As a matter of fact, the second I hit submit below, I’ll check out that site and see what she’s got~!

I Hacked Ur Ferrari! says:

Imagine a music industry where the musicians actually had to put out good music rather all this crap they are doing now (Ciara, Bow Wow, Beyonce, BSB, etc….). A world were music popularity was determined by not how much money the labels paid to make it popular, but how much money the artist earned from fans for actually doing well. It’s going to be up to the artists to make the industry change, not the pigs in executive seats at the top of highrises who do nothing but look at numbers and ignore reality.

Dima says:

meaningless

To resummarize the article – artists with extremely loyal fans have extremely loyal fans… willing to pay

By labeling Jane Siberry a “Pop singer” it implies that she is a Canadian Brittany Spears – and in turn that labels can sell pop music this way/trust their pop fans this way.

For those who have not heard her music, she is a Tori Amos meets Sara McLaughlin with a little less angst – less pop/more singer songwriter adult alternative.

Can this model be used to sell other such artists that thrive on a hugely devoted fan based? Probably. It would not be useful though for selling sugar pop… and sugar pop makes lots of money.

RareButSeriousSideEffects says:

Re: meaningless

Now there’s a benefit to the new delivery models that I hadn’t even thought of… the new paradigm devalues the Brittany Spearses of the world while adding value to an artist’s ability to evoke a sense of loyalty from her fans.

With most other categories of products, there is a cost savings to be had by accepting goods that roll off a conveyor belt in high-volume, and there is a premium to be paid for things produced with much personal attention and care. Why should music not have to deal with those same market forces?

I will henceforth listen to assembly-line pop crap only if it’s stolen, but I will go out of my way to donate at least twice for the work of real artists. 😉

Vive la Revelucion!

A bit late says:

Continue the greatness

If I find a band that I like I want them to continue to do what I like. If a band does not make money they go away, thus I don’t mind paying a band for their art if they are good. Maybe my simple mind is flawed but how is that for a business model? Self reward by paying paying for what you want more of?

Bigpicture says:

Artists Earning a Living

I think the issue that gets ignored, is that because of the technology available to the consumers and fans today, the function served by the labels (recording and distribution) is no longer needed. So they can no longer steal from both the artists and the fans, so now they accuse the fans of being thieves.

The artists can now sell their products directly to the customer fans, and don’t need the labels. Knowing that this is only a matter of time is what scares the labels into irrational behaviour.

Jeffrey Muckensturm says:

As I see it, there are a few problems with this argument.

First, as someone else commented, we’re talking about Canadians. I mean, they give free healthcare to everyone. They just have a greater social conscieness then we do here in the US.

Second, as someone else commented as well, she’s a singer/songwriter type. So she draws an older audience who, presumably, are more willing, and have the funds, to pay for music.

Third, the sample size is just too small. Doing this on a wider scale, say on the whole of iTunes, might show people paying less for music. This singer, for instance, might be seen as a struggling artist, thus drawing sympathy from her listeners. I’d be surprized to see many people handing money over to groups calling themselves the Cash Money Millionaires.

The truth is there hasn’t been much good music released by major labels in a long time. Once they open their eyes they’ll see that putting out shitty music won’t make them money. They need to stop blaming 12 year old kids about a lull in their market, which is only due to the bad music they’ve been releasing, and start putting out tunes people will want to buy.

TuxGirl (user link) says:

The difference is....

In this case, the money is going straight to the artist. That makes a difference that will prevent the RIAA from using this tactic. Personally, I have given up on the popular music that is produced through the “normal” channels in favor of creative-commons music and such, solely because i don’t want my money going to the record industry people. They don’t do anything that causes them to deserve the money. If I’m going to pay for music, I want my money going to the musicians.

~TuxGirl

4-80-sicks says:

I'm an American

…and the last show I went to had a few free CDs at the merch table. I took those and also purchased two more CDs. If they had more, I would have bought more. The music was really great and I had a good time. Hell yeah people will spend money on music if they’re not badgered about it. If the labels can’t figure out how to make it work, that’s their problem, and they can’t figure out how to solve it. They clearly think they have, but eventually that will come crashing down, if they don’t change their tune…

ST (user link) says:

I'm an American

…and the last show I went to had a few free CDs at the merch table. I took those and also purchased two more CDs. If they had more, I would have bought more. The music was really great and I had a good time. Hell yeah people will spend money on music if they’re not badgered about it. If the labels can’t figure out how to make it work, that’s their problem, and they can’t figure out how to solve it. They clearly think they have, but eventually that will come crashing down, if they don’t change their tune…

株 初心者 (user link) says:

I'm an American

…and the last show I went to had a few free CDs at the merch table. I took those and also purchased two more CDs. If they had more, I would have bought more. The music was really great and I had a good time. Hell yeah people will spend money on music if they’re not badgered about it. If the labels can’t figure out how to make it work, that’s their problem, and they can’t figure out how to solve it. They clearly think they have, but eventually that will come crashing down, if they don’t change their tune…

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