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
    Michael, 9 Nov 2010 @ 6:37am

    Re: How valuable is music

    Q. How much does it cost to produce a music video?
    A. Far less today than it did 2 decades ago and many people have found ways to produce great high-quality videos for very little money.

    So - Question: Why isn't the cost to consumers DECREASING as the costs to produce decrease?

    Q. How much does it cost to get a tour started?
    A. I do not know, but touring involves scarce goods and is making artists a lot of money these days.

    Q. How much does it cost to promote musical works?
    A. These days? Umm $0. In many cases, we have seen artists promote their own works using services like YouTube that cost them nothing. Luckily, technology has really made this easier and cheaper for an artist.

    "Free music has a place, but if the money's there it can be done better."
    I'm not sure reality supports this position. Clearly, we are finding that many people are enjoying a lot of content that is produced for (nearly) free. Record labels make fun of the videos of cats falling of a log on YouTube, but if lots of people enjoy it, is it not great content?

    "who should be paying?"
    Consumers should pay for things they want. Markets should set the price. And, ideally, the ARTIST should make money. Markets set the prices based on supply and demand (and infinite supply drives price to zero). Smart business models that use the new technology take away the old gatekeepers, puts the money directly into the hands of the artists, and gets consumers what they want. Wait...who is unhappy?

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