Three years ago, we wrote about the phenomenon in Brazil of "technobrega" music, and how the musicians involved had embraced piracy
to help spread their music, and then capitalize on other business models, including free. Since then, I had been wondering if more established "industry" types would move in and try to lock down the music. Thankfully, reader tuna sends over a more recent article about technobrega, and it appears that technbrega artists are embracing free to an even greater extent than before
. Last time we wrote about it, the technobrega artists would rush copies of their (hastily burned) CDs down to street vendors, who would burn and sell copies of it (with none of the money going to the artist -- but they didn't care, because they wanted more people to hear). Now, they're even skipping that middleman and focusing on getting the music online quickly and spread as widely as possible. As Jose Roberto, who runs a technobrega website notes:
"If you don't have an official CD, then what is piracy?"
So why are the artists so eager to give away their content for free? Because the bigger your reputation, and the more people know who you are and like your songs, the more money you can make with live shows. Quite similar to the history of Jamaican music in the 1950s and 60s, the technobrega musicians and DJs have built up traveling soundsystems. Another way to make money is in dance classes. Apparently, learning the complicated dance steps is a big business. A researcher, Ronaldo Lemos, who has studied the technobrega business, notes that it's doing amazingly well by embracing technology and embracing file sharing:
"The crisis in the music industry is widely talked about... Tecno-brega is an industry that makes millions, but it is a completely different model of business. It doesn't see technology as an enemy but as an opportunity."
And yet, I'm sure, we'll soon hear from folks trying to explain why this could never work anywhere else.