More Artists Recognizing The New Business Model: Sell The Scarcity

from the very-cool dept

Laughing Squid, in talking about how Eminem is the latest artist to embrace the tiered selling structure (though, I think he got the model wrong -- the music is priced way too high), calls our attention to a short article by famed musician Brian Eno that highlights the point we've been suggesting for years. The music industry is doing great, and it's doing it by selling scarcities:
Digital technology has made music easier to make and copy, with the result that recorded music is about as readily available as water, and not a whole lot more exciting.

This seems like bad news, until you pick up a copy of Time Out. Then you realise that the live music scene is exploding, for, unable to make a living from records sales, more and more bands are playing live. That experience can't be put onto a memory card--and people are willing to pay for it, and to pay quite a lot. Concert attendances are at an all-time high: recordings are increasingly ads for live shows, and live shows have become once again the real thing, the unduplicable.....

The duplicability of recordings has had another unexpected effect. The pressure is on to develop content that isn't easily copyable--so now everything other than the recorded music is becoming the valuable part of what artists sell. Of course they'll still want to sell their music, but now they'll embed that relatively valueless product within a matrix of hard-to-copy (and therefore valuable) artwork. People who won't pay £15 for a CD will pay £150 for the limited edition version with additional artwork, photos, booklet and DVDs. They often already own the music, downloaded--but now they want the art. They're buying art, and they're buying it in a new way. That suggests to me the possibility of a refreshingly democratic art market: a new way for visual artists, designers, animators and film-makers to make a living. So, as one business folds, several others open up.
It's so great to see more and more content creators realizing this.

Filed Under: brian eno, business models, economics, scarcities


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  1. identicon
    Eldakka, 20 May 2009 @ 8:30pm

    Re: There will be too many bands chasing too few venues

    Unfortunately this is going to create its own set of problems. Already guarantees for bands have gone down. And where there once was a headlining band and an opener, now you often see four bands on a bill being asked to split the same amount of money.


    It's called competition.

    If the band is good enough they will get sole billing and all the money.

    If there are several average performers they'll have to share a venue/event and split the proceeds.

    If there is enough consumer demand, more live venues will be constructed/utilised.

    When I was a youngin', nearly all pubs had live music several nights a week, in the 90's this went down to some pubs have live music on some nights. So maybe we'll go back to live music in a pub being normal rather than a special event.

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