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. icon
    Mike (profile), 21 May 2009 @ 12:47am

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

    That's my point. With more bands depending on live shows to make up for lost income from CDs, there will more available entertainment than opportunities to play.

    This makes a few assumptions that may not prove true. First, no one said that live shows were the only way to make money. There are numerous other methods. Second, it was pretty rare for bands to make much from CD sales anyway -- so the point you're making is slightly off "make up for lost income from CDs" is meaningless if there's not much income from CDs at all. Third, if there's a larger supply of top acts, then that's incentive for more venues to open (and if they're not top acts and won't draw a crowd, then what's the issue?).

    As for more venues offering live music on a nightly basis, I'm not sure that will happen under current economic conditions. People are staying home more to save money. I've been watching the financial figures on liquor sales and restaurant visits and people are cutting back.

    A few points on that as well: the economic situation won't last forever. Second, if the band is actually making an effort to connect with fans, they'll come out no matter what the economic situation. It may be true that bands used to just showing up and playing are having a hard time, but the last few shows I've gone to (with bands who REALLY connect with their fans were PACKED).

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