by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 30th 2007 8:01am
Earlier this year, we noted that Starbucks was going to start its own record label to sell CDs, with Paul McCartney as the first artist to release an album on it. This came after the relative success of promoting a few albums exclusively in Starbucks when they launched (on other labels). However, as Bob Lefsetz points out, McCartney's album looks like it's a money loser for Starbucks -- though McCartney likely made money from Starbucks who probably paid him a nice sum to put the album out on the new label. However, as Lefsetz points out, he could make a lot more in concert revenue much faster. Lefsetz goes on to point out what we've been pointing out for years: McCartney would have been better off giving away the music for free everywhere, and actually getting people to hear it. In fact, Lefsetz suggests that he might have put more effort into making better music if he knew that there was a much bigger likelihood that people would hear it and care about it. Where I disagree with Lefsetz is his belief that it makes sense to offer the music for free for now, while you still get a promotional bump just for announcing that you'll be giving away music for free, that it won't make sense in the future when lots of artists are doing it. Instead, it seems likely that more and more new models will arise, where the music acts as the promotion, and bands make their money elsewhere. The more popular and widespread the music is, the more opportunities there will be to make that money elsewhere. Once bands start seeing success using that model, more and more will pile on, and people will wonder why anyone pays just for the music if they're not given anything else of value with it.
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