Musician: Sell Physically Attractive Objects Worthy Of Purchase; Let Free Music Drive Success

from the someone-gets-it dept

Hypebot points us to a great post on the new blog Pirate Verbatim, which posts quotes from various musicians about their thoughts on "piracy." One recent post is from musician Phil Elverum, of the bands Mount Erie and also The Microphones. His response touches on a lot of the themes we cover around here, including how giving away infinite goods for free can help you out by making scarce goods more valuable and desirable. The key part:
It seems pointless to try to stop the practice because it's a reality of the world we live in. People will find a way. It's not a bad thing. In fact, I probably owe like 80% of my success to the fact that people can hear my music for free to see if they like it. My approach to the question of making a living off this "work" has been to make physically attractive objects that seem worthy of purchase.
He also points out that this doesn't mean that everyone who downloads needs to buy something, but that it's their choice:
Of course there will be people who don't care about owning an object, or maybe donít have any money, or maybe who live in Siberia, and so they can just find a way to hear it for free if they want to. I don't think there's an inherent moral duty for the listener to support the singer. In the broad historical perspective music is frivolous non-work and we are lucky to have time to make it at all. Those of us who are temporarily feeding ourselves by this activity are even luckier. The internet changed the world. Old ways need to adapt. There is a new way taking shape that no one knows yet. Trying to impose the old model of lucrative systems of parasitic labels, managers, agents, distributors, etc., on the new reality is a little blind.
It's always nice to see more musicians who seem to understand the key issues, and how to take advantage of them, rather than complain about them.

Filed Under: business models, free, music, phil elverum


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  1. identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 9 Nov 2010 @ 3:44am

    Right attitude on music: "frivolous non-work".

    Not defeatist, but realistic. Those who regard "the arts" as the crowning achievement, vital to civilization are simply trying to make for themselves a privileged place. Artists would starve within a week except for those with strong backs.

    However, at: "Trying to impose the old model of lucrative systems of parasitic labels, managers, agents, distributors, etc., on the new reality is a little blind." Elverum goes blind himself. That existing structure is *not* going to crash or fade away. Those parasites *are* changing their "model" by reaching into politics (other parasites), for new "laws". They're *slightly* hampered by desire to maintain high profits especially on old works, but they're not at all "blind" to the new situation. And as I've said before, I expect them to *keep* most of what they have -- because as is popular to point out here -- and as even the Elverum comments confirm -- copying doesn't even "cost" them a lost sale, are still others who *do* buy (something: Elverum thinks he'll sell T-shirts instead of music is the only difference on that point).

    Giving away music for free just isn't going to run the industry, though. Since the industry is so entrenched and rich enough to have "laws" written on demand, it's here to stay. Adjust to the new model, same as the old model.

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