free music less valuable?

yellow submarine

yeah yeah yeah

Okay, as you may know I really dig music. I want all my favourite bands to become huge and conquer the hearts of millions.  And one of the big ways to do that is by using free. A concept that the music industry ignored in the beginning of the past decade

What happened was they continued with its rigid thinking, which led to traditional revenue sources evaporating, disappearing. They weren’t thinking of new sources. There wasn’t a fluidity in there thinking.  Basically they wanted fight with free, instead working with it. The prevailing attitude was that free is less valuable. Not so in the case of music.

There are kids now listening to the Beatles, all the glorious albums downloaded for free, and guess what? They love the Beatles. Some of them are viewing all the demo takes from the Anthology albums and leaving reviews, questioning why didn’t McCartney use take 1 of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da instead of the studio version on the White Album? (click here to check for yourself).   A Liverpool band from 40 years ago has their complete time and attention. The original human currency. So the fact that these viewers can get something for free  doesn’t mean they’re less “valuable”, far from it.

See I fit into the demographic that many studies have shown to be true: the biggest downloaders are also the most loyal fans. I sometimes get the pricey, limited edition specials with all the extras from my favourite bands. I go to the major music festivals yearly.  I have stopped buying all the t-shirts though, trying to class up the look.

tame impala's debut album- innerspeaker - one of my favourites of 2010

This is why I feel the business model we use to calculate success of a band  is completely outdated and has been for awhile. There is limitless choice of music nowadays online and from all that choice I choose music from all that is blasting at me. I mean the rise of free streaming music by companies like Pandora Radio and news that Apple buying Lala show were living in a attention economy.

At the same time I like to still “own” my music. So I do have problem overcompensating record companies that put encoded music on plastic, mass-production in cd format, but I have no problem paying top dollar for bands that I love. See the conflict?

A better model for today’s band is for their album creations be rewarded 100% by the fans. Meaning the band receives close to 100% of the proceeds from sale of the album or single.  They create their own label, they do there own promotion – by using free, and outsource some responsibility to a manager. I say this because new technology is making this easier. And its great that its happening, because basically bands should be mostly  rewarded, instead of the hierarchy being rewarded.  They are the creators,  that turn nothing into magic. Everything hinges on the artist and they aren’t being compensated enough for it. I mean I find it disgusting that Michael Jackson was only making 12 million in royalties per year from his recordings. The biggest pop star ever only making that from his recordings? That means the rest of the money was making his label super rich, that used those funds to promote shit like Britney, Nicki Minaj, etc.  I mean he was an 1 billion empire. Think how nonsensical that is.

This again refers to my post on making less, selling less. Lots of exposure,  less customers, but monetizing on that less. Imagine if its 90 cents of that 99 cent itune  goes toward the artist?  How about a private gig to hardcore fans that bought limited edition albums? Allowing fans to remix the tunes? Hardcore fans would love that.   All through the power of free music.


3 Responses to “free music less valuable?”

  1. 1 littleexplorer November 17, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Interesting post – I think that free music has pros and cons. The obvious pro is that it is free, easily accessible by anyone and with a potential to reach a greater audience. The con is that maybe it looses value, because you no longer ‘own’ the CD that you’d been longing for a while and finally bought after looking for it. In a way, free music encourages consumerism of music: you enjoy a song, you download it, you listen to iy, you forget about it…and on to the next song.

  2. 2 Nishant November 17, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    There are some albums that take longer to appreciate, and your right because you don’t pay, you just say next… thats why i feel bands have to focus more on those fans that love them.

    thanks for leaving a comment!

  1. 1 Tweets that mention free music less valuable? « nishant mehrotra -- Trackback on November 17, 2010 at 8:12 pm

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