What's the future of the music industry?

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Ok, so how many of you now bother going into a record shop when you can get pretty much the same product (bar the graphics and asthetic value of the CD) for free off the net?

What hope is there for the bands and talent of this country if the record companies are so wary about who they are signing that they bank on the likes of pop idol, fame accademy, and pop rivals to filter off the talent of the nation (and probably net millions in the process?

As record company profits are plunging (5% last year), EMI has been knocked off the prestigious top 100 share index in London, and artists are being paid more and more (£80m to for Robbie Williams) where do you think it will go next?

Paul Rigel (rigel), Friday, 18 October 2002 12:51 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I go to record shops coz waiting for stuff to download is tedious, and computers are always messing up.

jel -- (jel), Friday, 18 October 2002 13:07 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

What if those things are fixed, Jel?

Mark (MarkR), Friday, 18 October 2002 13:18 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Sadly I can't find music I like online, and if I do its been recorded so bloody loudly its clipping 90% of the time.
Then again I can't buy music I like EMI usually. So to them Im one of the populace that only buys 3 or 4 cds as far as they're concerned.

Where its going? Down the tubes of course. I've had to encourage my friends who know nothing about music to stay away from the industry for their sake and mine. Their marketing majors who want to 'promote products cause its not being very well done right now'. I was very kind (much kinder then I usually am) and did not slap them. Of course they won't listen to me but its there loss not mine and I won't be sad to tell them so.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Friday, 18 October 2002 13:33 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i don't think downloading stuff stops you from buying. maybe it will stop the crazy amount of records coming out every week, which wouldn't be such a bad thing.
you're ignoring the importance of fetishism in music collecting: i like to own the original artwork, read the credits and the lyrics, turn the cover upside down, look for hidden messages...
maybe it'll become a mini-industry for rock freaks, like with comics or with toys. fair enough,as far as i'm concerned.

joan vich (joan vich), Friday, 18 October 2002 14:57 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Downloading will kill singles.
Downloading might kill albums if...

  • Sound quality doesn't improve
  • They keep up the "hits plus filler" formula
  • They don't realize that $19.00 is too friggin expensive, especially during a recession.

Lord Custos Omega (Lord Custos Omega), Friday, 18 October 2002 15:02 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The logical next step is for record companies to embrace download culture. It would be a big change for them though. The profit margin on CDs is so high that record executives can be pretty wasteful and reckless. For data, which has no tangible commodity, you can't realistically expect people to pay £12 for an album.

In the last ten or fifteen years, many artists have had a load of money spent on launching them. Record companies are unlikely to have the funds to do this in the future, so perhaps there'll be less manufactured pop.

With the increase in bandwidth rates, you don't really need to download. I reckon we'll have devices that play, on demand, tracks from a central database, through a subscription service.

Alfie (Alfie), Friday, 18 October 2002 15:15 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

DIE DIE DIE DIE DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 18 October 2002 15:20 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

downloading's like sex with condoms, like FMV in videogames, etc
streaming's better, but good lord how I still love the tangible!

hands off, now!?

Paul (scifisoul), Friday, 18 October 2002 15:21 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

As record company profits are plunging (5% last year)

Meanwhile, the general economy has been growing at blinding speed....?

The future of the music industry is that artists who've never made anything off record comapnies anyway are going to use the internet to promote their music or sell it at a reasonable price. They'll continue to use touring as their source of income. And they'll just quit bothering with record companies.

Meanwhile, big pop-idol types will still be the product promoted by record companies and the general public will keep buying it.

i.e. - nothing will really change except the means by which to find out about & aquire independently-produced music.

dave225 (Dave225), Friday, 18 October 2002 16:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Even if they are fixed, are be like one of those old vinyl record people going around saying "it were all better in my day, we used to go to a shop, remember them, and buy a CD" "what's a CD grandad?" "grumble"

jel -- (jel), Friday, 18 October 2002 16:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Sound quality doesn't improve

Just throwing out all the brick wall limiters from the mastering studios will do.

Siegbran (eofor), Friday, 18 October 2002 16:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Well, what I'm aiming at is this: If the RIAA wants $19.00 for a cd, then 24-bit "Gold Ultradisk"-level mastering should be the only kinds of disks out there. If they want to charge a premium price, they had friggin better have a premium product.
But I also agree the "brick wall" must fall.

Lord Custos Omega (Lord Custos Omega), Friday, 18 October 2002 17:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think that blaming downloads for poor album sales is just an excuse for the level of extremely mediocre output we've been getting from the record companies. And I think this is due, partially, to their aggressive marketing tactics, and over-commodification of music, leading to cynicism and apathy taking hold in the record buying public. Also these record company tactics, i.e., taking fewer chances/risks, jumping on the next bandwagon, will inevitably lead to a local maxima, i.e., less exciting trends in popular music due to a smaller number of "acceptable" alternatives, leading to, as I say, comsumer apathy...But saying all this, I have to admit, I haven't heard many records made this year(nor have I been following the fortunes of pop music), so can't be all that qualified to comment.

Anas FK, Friday, 18 October 2002 20:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

[rant]Do you really think any 24 bit audio will actually sound better? 16 bit already has 96 dB dynamic range, which means you'll have to play it at 110+ dB (=96 dB plus noise floor) to get to the limitations. At those levels, your ears will be bleeding so much you won't be able to hear any subtleties whatsoever...24 bit is just an excuse for reissueing everything AGAIN, mastered *just* a little bit different so that it will appear better. Didn't we learn anything from all those "remastered" reissues that only added extra compression and actually worsened the dynamic range of the signal?

The reason that current CD's sound so bad is not that the format isn't up to the task, it's because it is compressed up to fucking -5 dB levels which kills all dynamic range in the first place. Going to 24 bit will not have ANY effect but on your wallet.[/rant]

*Recording* in 24/32 bit is a whole different thing of course...

Siegbran (eofor), Friday, 18 October 2002 20:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It's fucked.

Next!

Marinaorgan (Marina Organ), Saturday, 19 October 2002 00:59 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

In the future, people will just type their preferences into a computer, and everything will be tied into a central network that programs stuff corresponding what mood the listener wants to be in that day. If they want new stuff, the computer will just automatically program something the person is guaranteed to like according to said preferences. There won't be any more middlemen like artists, promoters etc

dave q, Saturday, 19 October 2002 08:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

[rant]Do you really think any 24 bit audio will actually sound better? 16 bit already has 96 dB dynamic range, which means you'll have to play it at 110+ dB (=96 dB plus noise floor) to get to the limitations. At those levels, your ears will be bleeding so much you won't be able to hear any subtleties whatsoever...24 bit is just an excuse for reissueing everything AGAIN, mastered *just* a little bit different so that it will appear better. Didn't we learn anything from all those "remastered" reissues that only added extra compression and actually worsened the dynamic range of the signal?
The reason that current CD's sound so bad is not that the format isn't up to the task, it's because it is compressed up to fucking -5 dB levels which kills all dynamic range in the first place. Going to 24 bit will not have ANY effect but on your wallet.[/rant]

Mod Up: +1 Insightful.
Yes, Siegbran, but I optimistically assumed the record company would do a 24/32-bit remaster from the original master tapes (without adding any compression or studio trickery); This is of course,
possible but not probable. In the "Dynamic Range Compression" article I posted a couple weeks ago, I discerned the major gripe was that alot of current reissues have needless compression tacked onto them. Was he telling the truth?
*Recording* in 24/32 bit is a whole different thing of course...
Yeeeessssssssss.

Lord Custos Omega (Lord Custos Omega), Saturday, 19 October 2002 15:55 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

four months pass...
Casting *RESURRECT THREAD*

Lord Custos Epsilon (Lord Custos Epsilon), Friday, 14 March 2003 15:33 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

interesting timing. i did an interview with a record store manager abut music downloading for a college assignment today. he wound up talking about how robbie williams was robbing the world of good classical music. fortunately he gave me a couple of good quotes on the way...

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Friday, 14 March 2003 15:37 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Users will become completely dependent on digital formats and personalized music delivery systems. "Would you like to come up to my apartment and hear some vinyl?" will be (an even more prevalent) seduction technique.
Publishers, copyright holders and music production entities will reach a detente with technologists to perfect digital accounting, payment and credit history/record-keeping devices. If a user has bad credit her personal access to music-on-credit will be cut off, unless she can pay as she goes, like with some kinds of mobile phones.
"Live" music will be the new, politically correct "Indie."
Children will ask what those CD Discman players in the basement were for ("Why didn't you just wear the satellite ear bud?")
Scratching and turntablism will be a guilty pleasure, like eating meet.

felicity (felicity), Friday, 14 March 2003 16:20 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think they could defeat online file-sharing if they put a coupon for a backrub in every CD.
I would buy lots, I got sore muscles.

Horace Mann (Horace Mann), Friday, 14 March 2003 16:24 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Why didn't you just wear the satellite ear bud?"

This kind of Wired-driven digital utopia is decades away. People wil buy CDs for the forseeable future.

Unfortunately, downloading will never be as easy as it was with Napster. That was truly an amazing time. The other, newer programs [Kazaa, etc] lead to spyware, decoys and lack of the sheer breadth that Napster had. Napster was so amazing.

Kids under 18 will slowly destroy the corporate-driven realm of high-priced CDs [as I've mentioned before the new Linkin Park will retail for $19.98]

As for the decline in music sales, this is an indicator of the unspoken Deflation that is present in the market today. Fast Food, autos, movie rentals, clothes, housewares, are all indicators of deflationary tendancies in today's market. Which no self-respecting economist evens wants to mention, unless they want to be fired.

Take McDonald's for example. Much like Interscope, they mass market complete shite, have almost cut their costs in half, yet poss a first-ever loss [like 3 quarters in a row now].

Music just happens to be the biggest example of deflation. Having driven the prices down, it still went from having a $17 product to having a free product. Not easy to rebound from.

There are people who will always buy CDs and vinyl [like me, who's spent $200 already this year], but they are not beholden to Geffen, etc. as much as they are to Barely Breaking Even.

I could seriously drone on and on about this, but let's just say the future of the music business is not in any way corporate [unless they can agree on the SACD/DVDAudio argument, and not even then], and will continue to contract for at least the next 5 years...

but this Jetson's-style centrally controlled wi-fi music satellite atmospheric nonsense will become a reality, if at all, in maybe 20 years, and only for the rich. Remember, to be technologically adept, you have to have money, and the more, the better.

Wired never thought enough about that.

david day (winslow), Friday, 14 March 2003 16:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

there are several programs out there that work as well as Napster, except they dont quite have the broad userbase because they're not publicised enough by the press or the music industry itself. KaZaa's userbase mustve surpassed Napster's by now though - and using the Lite version and various programs such as Zone Alarm and Ad-Aware means you can avoid adware, trojans and other dubious stuff linked to it.

stevem (blueski), Friday, 14 March 2003 16:46 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

if i ever buy a new CD its from CD Wow at £8.99 with free shipping. but i want more than the music and an inlay card now. i would pay up to £20 for artists DVDs featuring videos, gig footage etc. and this is an area that is taking off, tho i'm not sure how well the DVDs are doing (can't be too bad). they are not that expensive to produce and £20 is a fair price for a one or two disc DVD, from which you could extract the audio files (having a choice of low-bit mono to 320kbps or even wavs perhaps) to keep on your computer or burn to audio CD perhaps, the corps should accept that as a 'trade-off' for buying the DVD in the first place perhaps). the more effort and care people put into their DVDs the more they could charge for them and while they wont sell anything like as much as albums on CD do its still a way forward.

stevem (blueski), Friday, 14 March 2003 16:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

unsigned bands will soon be able to create their own DVDs and sell them on their sites as the technology gets cheaper. of course they can do this with CDs right now and anyone not doing so is missing out on at least making some cash out of it.

stevem (blueski), Friday, 14 March 2003 16:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Why didn't you just wear the satellite ear bud?"
This kind of Wired-driven digital utopia is decades away. People wil buy CDs for the forseeable future.

"Decades away" is my foreseeable future even if not yours. I only wish copyright were the small matter of 20 years. Unless a miracle happens NEW digital music downloading (that is, music produced of the time, not talking about music available for years in non-encrypted media) will become extremely corporate and user-lobotomised-friendly, you'll just have to pay. You can bank on it.

Then we can reminisce about when you could free-ride on leaking bandwidth, those were the days, sigh.

felicity (felicity), Friday, 14 March 2003 17:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(BTW, if by "utopia" you mean "nightmare" then, yes)

felicity (felicity), Friday, 14 March 2003 17:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Bands will play a 30 and over, non-smoking show at 7:00. Then, if they wish, they can play an under 30, smoking & posturing show that starts at 11:00.

dave225 (Dave225), Friday, 14 March 2003 17:25 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Kazaa is publicized constantly. Every article in recent memory lists it. And all the additional plug-ins and whatnot are rarely used. Kazaa is also not just music, making it radically different from Napster.

I remember finding the most amazing things on Napster, and quickly and easily. It was an incredible phenomenon and, I think, the pinnacle of Internet technology. Soulseek is closer, but not nearly with the vast array of music like Napster.

Felicity is right, people growing up will know the Internet more and more as a commercially-driven, corporate-controlled medium. And, yes, I said utopia with my tongue in my cheek.

Commercial databases will never contain all the music you like, anyhow, and the idea that all bands will rely on their own marketing and distribution solutions is truly utopian. Would anyone have heard or cared for Avril Lavigne if she had only had her own website? I doubt it.

Her company put her on billboards, MTV, radio, etc. downloading or no, pop stars will continue to be manufactured by the record companies, as they have been for going on 75 years now.

david day (winslow), Friday, 14 March 2003 18:13 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yes, it depends on whose utopia you are talking about.

david is talking about the transaction costs of transfer of information -- not just transfer of the music itself but transfer of information through publicity and advertising. Signal-to-noise is often the issue in a hypermediated, overinterpreted, Late Capitalist society (as we have seen on this very board).

Any valid criticism or prediction of the contemporary (at any given point in time) music industry must account for the production and supply side, not just the consumption and demand side. Failing to account for the role of law is denial, and effectively takes the bite out of any commentary or proposals of the industry that lack this understanding. Also, such critiques appear unprincipled and are thus unconvincing.

Those that created the game are simply not going to continue handing out the technology needed to rip the game apart once they have it the way they like it. (Kind of like with Iraq.) However, it is human nature to sabotage for personal gain. Do you think there is value in examining how one's user choices and decisions contribute to patterns? The music companies do. Also, I think you must look at the entire environment of a user's everyday world, from elevators to scryscapers to rural country power lines and crackling AM radio -- not just the time where you are sitting at a computer (geeta's "Fuck You, Music" experiment was a great illustration of this.) The fact that ILM exists on a computer message board may contribute to a certain heuristic bias here, but the market influence of millions of world-wide Garth Brooks fans who don't contribute here should also be accounted for in making predictions.

The most interesting development has been reduction in the transfer costs of certain types of information (like distribution of digitized music itself) but as certain aspects of these become more regulated by technology, new battle fronts in the war between "legitimate" (positivist and sactioned by the Western model of capitalism) and "pirate" (for lack of a better word -- it has always been an aspect of a certain type of culture in industrialized society) elements within music production, distribution and consumption.

Imperfect and incomplete availability of information makes most markets. Auction models are certain ways of creating efficiencies between supply and demand over specified time increments. EBay is one of the most significant paradigm shifts in the Information Age. It is a sampler of things to come, as the free market system is set up to incentivize the capture of wasted value. How do people feel about the effect of eBay on after-market record collecting? Is it closer to or further from everyone's personal utopia?

felicity (felicity), Friday, 14 March 2003 20:06 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

CD's are (from a business standpoint) a really crappy way of selling your 'product'. Customers pay a whopping $17-23 for them (depending on location, for releases on the majors), while the record labels only make about $.75 to $1 on them, and the artist aren't too well-paid either (at about $2 per unit). Extremely low margin stuff, if you think of it. Indie labels aren't doing much better in terms of net margins. The money is clearly in publishing, but how they're going to milk that out effectively is the big question. You can't license every tune out there for ads...

Siegbran (eofor), Friday, 14 March 2003 20:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

artists obv.

Siegbran (eofor), Friday, 14 March 2003 20:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Welcome to the world of publishing advances and admin deals.

felicity (felicity), Friday, 14 March 2003 20:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

in answer to your question Felicity yes eBay and the like do bring that utopian vision closer for me. already you have people making money by flogging CDs of bootlegs and mash-ups they've collected from here and there in an attempt to satisfy the demand there has been from them both here and particularly in the States I notice. the Radio Soulwax CDs have been going for ridiculous amounts too, making it tempting to create 'clones' of such rare material - if people are prepared to pay for them etc. then theoretically, why not?

what also interests me is the potential for selling CD-Rs full of media tailored to the consumer's needs/interests. what if you could purchase a band's entire catalogue as bog-standard mp3s on a single CD-R - legitimately or otherwise? surely someone somewhere is doing this. what about movies on CD? TV shows and captured footage you can't buy anywhere else anyway? there are lots of exciting possibilities...

stevem (blueski), Friday, 14 March 2003 21:06 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

the Radio Soulwax CDs have been going for ridiculous amounts too, making it tempting to create 'clones' of such rare material - if people are prepared to pay for them etc. then theoretically, why not?

What do you mean by clone?

felicity (felicity), Friday, 14 March 2003 21:15 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

what also interests me is the potential for selling CD-Rs full of media tailored to the consumer's needs/interests. what if you could purchase a band's entire catalogue as bog-standard mp3s on a single CD-R - legitimately or otherwise? surely someone somewhere is doing this. what about movies on CD? TV shows and captured footage you can't buy anywhere else anyway? there are lots of exciting possibilities...

Are you being sarcastic? (I'm a little dense and literal.)

felicity (felicity), Friday, 14 March 2003 21:17 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

by clone i mean copy the CDs and replicate the cover etc. - excuse my fancy terminology ;)

and no i wasn't being sarcastic at all! i mean if people are prepared to pay £10-15 for albums on CD why not a little bit more for a CD-R with every album by a band on one disc? i am lazy and searching for obscure material online can be a chore - why can't i just buy it easily from an organised source and in a format thats as convenient as possible for me, if i want to? obviously it would take the industry to wave a white flag and say 'we can't beat you so we'll join you' somewhat and put up with piracy like they're going to have to anyway, but i really dont see what the problem is with being able to buy mp3s on CD or video on CD legitimately. while its fair to say doing this kind of thing of yourself and selling them via eBay or wherever is dubious and disrespectful, i would have no qualms about paying money for, say, 100 quality mp3s on a CD or 10 decent quality music videos of my choice on a CD or DVD for the same price you'd pay for the equivalent in the shops.

stevem (blueski), Sunday, 16 March 2003 12:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The quality of the consumer will decline for the forseeable future

dave q, Sunday, 16 March 2003 12:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

now THAT'S sarcasm

stevem (blueski), Sunday, 16 March 2003 14:01 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Depends on whether the consumer has been thoroughly distressed before going on the market.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 16 March 2003 16:09 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

In the future, people will just type their preferences into a computer, and everything will be tied into a central network that programs stuff corresponding what mood the listener wants to be in that day. If they want new stuff, the computer will just automatically program something the person is guaranteed to like according to said preferences. There won't be any more middlemen like artists, promoters etc

― dave q, Saturday, October 19, 2002 6:39 PM (7 years ago)

dave q otm

Bands will play a 30 and over, non-smoking show at 7:00. Then, if they wish, they can play an under 30, smoking & posturing show that starts at 11:00.

― dave225 (Dave225), Saturday, March 15, 2003 4:25 AM (6 years ago)

dave225 sadly not yet otm

Santa Boars (winshit@burgerfuel.co.nz) (sic), Friday, 4 December 2009 03:48 (eight years ago) Permalink

Ha, like in the sixties, but the age groups are the wrong way round.

Mark G, Friday, 4 December 2009 10:47 (eight years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

the aime street digital music site was bought by amazon.com. they promise to integrate parts of it into amazon.com's overall service, but it sounds more to me like the service is dead.

Daniel, Esq., Wednesday, 8 September 2010 18:46 (seven years ago) Permalink

http://www.lala.com/

RIP

markers, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 20:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

Rhino -- whose name was once synonymous with high-end reissue packages and imaginative cross-licensed releases -- is plotting a course to move further into the digital realm.

great idea

markers, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 20:24 (seven years ago) Permalink

i just hope that if cd's go out vinyl remains. that's all i really care for. cd's can fucking burn for all i care. most unattractive display pieces in history.

lieutenant jimmy john (kelpolaris), Thursday, 9 September 2010 02:24 (seven years ago) Permalink

not to sound like a raging grandaddy or someone with a newfound hipster complex. i just like to display my album art around the house.

lieutenant jimmy john (kelpolaris), Thursday, 9 September 2010 02:25 (seven years ago) Permalink

I mean such is the progression of history. There was also a time when things called "DJ's" killed off a whole class of professional musicians who didn't even have to be recording artists, because they could make a reasonable living through playing parties and weddings and bars without ever being nationally known. Synthesized music killed off a whole class of studio musicians too, although it did create work for a smaller class of people who could program synths/electronics. Overall I'd guess that the number of people who could make a living from music declined quite a lot long before the advent of the mp3.

happiness is the new productivity (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:33 (six years ago) Permalink

lol did no one hear ever work at record stores? profit margin was nowhere near 30% unless you REALLY marked shit up

xp

max buzzword (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:33 (six years ago) Permalink

Hurting on all sorts of money

max buzzword (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:34 (six years ago) Permalink

Even if a store's typical markup was 20%, you've still more than made up for the difference by eliminating manufacturing and shipping!

timellison, Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:38 (six years ago) Permalink

i know stores that regularly sell shit for 20% more than other stores, so a 30% markup hardly seems outlandish.

Lowery's point is that the former deal was better for the artists, which is true.

OTM, i wasn't disputing that, just agreeing w/ iatee that there will still be music in the ruins. nothing in the present situation bodes well for artists, except the ability to get their music out in front of the entire world instantaneously with no distribution or promotion.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:42 (six years ago) Permalink

His point of comparison is the old model versus someone marketing themselves today, though. Is the 20-35% profit range still applicable for artists on major labels today? If so, what's the difference? Just that the other 65-80% is going to different places?

timellison, Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:47 (six years ago) Permalink

how much profit margin did record stores need to get by? 20% sounds awful small. That's about costco level.

Philip Nunez, Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:47 (six years ago) Permalink

steve albini:

There's a part of the digital paradigm that nobody has really exploited yet. Sooner or later, there will be a "come to Jesus" moment with all the big corporate entities that hold all the rights to these recordings. I'll explain to you what it is. This is a legal avenue that someone should pursue that might open a lot of stuff up. Almost all old recording contracts were written using the model of a per copy royalty. The reason that's valid is because there's an inventory of those items and you can do accounting. The record companies have applied that model towards electronic downloads. But, from a contractual standpoint, anyone whose contract survives from the era of physical records... You cannot inventory downloads. You cannot account for their manufacture, because there is no manufacture. You cannot account for free, broken or lost-in-shipping goods. From a technical standpoint, downloads are not manufactured items. They are a "licensed use." Licensed use income typically, for older record contracts, would earn bands 50% of the income.

Right. Or far more.

Some brilliant lawyer is going to win a case, holding Sony or whomever, accountable for the unaccounted 50% income from the downloads that they've been accounting for pennies a copy as a manufactured item. Someone is going to win that case. It could even be class action; but, someone is going to win it and put all those record companies out of business.

the third kind of dubstep (Jordan), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:25 (six years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

They have a recommendation engine, filterable search database, listener reviews, outgoing marketing based on users' previous purchases, etc.

Each of these things on itunes blows a goat.

how's life, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 18:07 (six years ago) Permalink

same as the past, marketing, marketing, marketing.

people are having less and less time for being music nerds, not that they were ever a large percentage of buyers. telling kids what music to buy will always be the "music industry"

nicky lo-fi, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 20:01 (six years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...

great article here -- http://nplusonemag.com/chiquita-banana-jingle

tylerw, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 21:42 (five years ago) Permalink

that's a good read. lots to think about.....

m0stlyClean, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:23 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, anyone read that jonathan sterne / mp3 book? that one sounds pretty interesting...

tylerw, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:25 (five years ago) Permalink

It's funny to me how this writer insists that "back in 2007" it was still uncool to sell out, whereas I remember having virtually the same conversation about there being "no such thing as selling out anymore" in the late 90s/early 00s when I was in college

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:33 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah i dunno, you don't think it changed somewhat in the 00s? I guess it seems like there are a lot of bands/artists from the 80s/90s milieu who would never have done the "song in a commercial" thing, but at some point it became less of a thing?

tylerw, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:42 (five years ago) Permalink

I think it may have changed in the early 00s. 2007 seems awfully late to me -- so many bands I liked had songs in commercials by then. I think the Volkswagen ad campaigns were kind of a watershed.

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:47 (five years ago) Permalink

I remember reading an article in Alternative Press magazine back in like 1996 (I was in high school) about an indie band, I forget which, selling a song to a commercial and they were like "this allowed us to buy the things we needed for our baby" (it was a band with a husband and wife in it). At the time it still seemed like a novel idea to me that there might be a justification for "selling out," but I was also a teenager.

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:49 (five years ago) Permalink

VW ad is def some kind of turning point, but it had been ramping up since the 90s (during which I remember thinking the only indie bands of note that hadn't made a commercial were Pavement and Beck)

four Marxes plus four Obamas plus four Bin Ladens (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:50 (five years ago) Permalink

The Volkswagen "Pink Moon" ad (featuring the nick drake song) was the first time I remember people talking about actually finding out about music from commercials. That ad and the ones that followed definitely convinced a lot more bands to ride the gravy train, especially since Volkswagen's ads seemed "cool" and "artistic"

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:52 (five years ago) Permalink

which was 1999 btw

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:52 (five years ago) Permalink

xp Shakey you don't remember the Supercuts commercial that used Cut Your Hair ;) ?

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:53 (five years ago) Permalink

i guess the shins did mcdonalds pretty early in the 00s and iron and wine did m&ms... but I don't know did that many indie bands in the 90s do commercials? Did guided by voices? i remember they tried to get a budwesier sponsorship lol.

tylerw, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:54 (five years ago) Permalink

I remember reading an article in Alternative Press magazine back in like 1996 (I was in high school) about an indie band, I forget which, selling a song to a commercial and they were like "this allowed us to buy the things we needed for our baby" (it was a band with a husband and wife in it). At the time it still seemed like a novel idea to me that there might be a justification for "selling out," but I was also a teenager.

for some reason i had it in my head this was Low? can't remember if they were pro or against..

six times? (electricsound), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 23:09 (five years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
two years pass...

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/07/05/137530847/how-much-does-it-cost-to-make-a-hit-song

But it's not a hit until everybody hears it. How much does that cost?

About $1 million, according to Daniels, Riddick and other industry insiders.

"The reason it costs so much," Daniels says, "is because I need everything to click at once. You want them to turn on the radio and hear Rihanna, turn on BET and see Rihanna, walk down the street and see a poster of Rihanna, look on Billboard, the iTunes chart, I want you to see Rihanna first. All of that costs."

That's what a hit song is: It's everywhere you look. To get it there, the label pays.

F♯ A♯ (∞), Tuesday, 25 August 2015 19:40 (two years ago) Permalink

Article is from 2011, so I wonder if that's changed slightly, after Spotify and other streaming services. I'd imagine it's harder to recoup a million dollars today than it was even 5 years ago.

Dominique, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:20 (two years ago) Permalink

Is there any tracking of "flop" hit songs, the way the track flop blockbuster movies? I've always been curious if it's possible to follow the formula, get it to all the outlets at once and still just have no one want to hear that shit to the point that you lose money.

five six and (man alive), Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:24 (two years ago) Permalink

also, good call Alfie:
The logical next step is for record companies to embrace download culture. It would be a big change for them though. The profit margin on CDs is so high that record executives can be pretty wasteful and reckless. For data, which has no tangible commodity, you can't realistically expect people to pay £12 for an album.
In the last ten or fifteen years, many artists have had a load of money spent on launching them. Record companies are unlikely to have the funds to do this in the future, so perhaps there'll be less manufactured pop.

With the increase in bandwidth rates, you don't really need to download. I reckon we'll have devices that play, on demand, tracks from a central database, through a subscription service. ― Alfie (Alfie), Friday, October 18, 2002 11:15 AM (12 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Dominique, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:43 (two years ago) Permalink

damn, nice. I read a book called The Future of Music: A Manifesto which makes the same argument, but it was not published until 2005.

five six and (man alive), Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:45 (two years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I finished David Arditi's iTake-Over recently. I thought it was pretty strong, although it's clearly coming from a particular perspective. Arditi does a fairly convincing job of challenging the narrative that the music industry has been struggling in the digital era as a result of piracy. He argues that i) the major labels drove and promoted the digital transition. They were thrown off by Napster but ultimately made use of the situation to strengthen their position, both through aggressive legal action against customers (which functioned more as an intimidation/propaganda campaign than it had a strong grounding in the law), and by actually using P2P technology to develop customer surveillance techniques.
ii) there is no evidence that industry profits have declined and plenty of evidence that they have actually expanded in a number of ways
and iii) the industry has been pushing this narrative in order to push for increased corporate control over intellectual property.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Saturday, 8 July 2017 17:43 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Seems the only constant is that the fat cats get fatter and the artists get a pittance; albeit, maybe, with less chart manipulation by the industry. Some musician was on Charlie Rose last week talking about the disparity between the royalty check he received as an artist versus the (same) check he got as a label head.

bodacious ignoramus, Saturday, 8 July 2017 23:59 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Yeah, Arditi argues that the industry have used this 'crisis' to justify even more exploitative '360' contracts with artists, where the labels get a cut of revenues from performance, merchandise, etc, as well as recordings, ironically, while having justified their increased control in the name of protecting artists from 'stealing'. Also, labels collect mechanical royalties from Internet streaming, which they don't from terrestrial radio.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Sunday, 9 July 2017 13:39 (eleven months ago) Permalink

...it also makes sense that the "industry" would be in support of digital media so they don't have to deal with the overhead required with a physical object (to say nothing for for all those pesky people who manufacture, ship, and sell their wares -- more resources focuses on pushing whatever "the flavor-of-the-week" might be).

While i certainly don't fit the demographic that execs aim for, it's likely i spend at least as much money on music as any 10 random teeny-boppers.

bodacious ignoramus, Sunday, 9 July 2017 18:25 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Overhead = IT, ie tech firms, which is who really runs the music industry at this point

Οὖτις, Sunday, 9 July 2017 18:35 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Arditi discusses the overhead issue quite a bit as well. The music industry, if defined as the major record labels, really traffic in intellectual property so I'm not clear on how they'd have significant new IT expenses that have replaced their previous manufacturing and shipping expenses. If iTunes/Amazon Music/etc have been replacing record stores and Spotify/Pandora/Apple Music/Youtube have been replacing radio, it would seem to be cheaper for the industry to get their product to those outlets (not to mention performance rights wrt things like games, ringtones, ...)

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Sunday, 9 July 2017 19:03 (eleven months ago) Permalink

That would be my guess yes

Οὖτις, Sunday, 9 July 2017 19:10 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I'd assume the new overhead is in maintenance of all the official accounts and relationships with the tech firms to make sure your new A&R content drops at the right times and places, which seems like a lot of work in itself

El Tomboto, Sunday, 9 July 2017 20:00 (eleven months ago) Permalink

...to say nothing for all the realtors, architects, interior designers, automotive sales professionals, and coke dealers you can shake a stick at.

bodacious ignoramus, Sunday, 9 July 2017 22:38 (eleven months ago) Permalink

That's not new though. Those amenities are how you retain top talent, been true since wax.

El Tomboto, Sunday, 9 July 2017 22:40 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Trying to imagine wax cylinder record industry associated coke lords.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 9 July 2017 23:02 (eleven months ago) Permalink

"My card, good sir."

http://www.toptenz.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/cocaine.jpg

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 9 July 2017 23:04 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I have been looking for a cure for Scald Head for years - they told me it was not to be. Thank goodness we have found each other on this blessed day.

El Tomboto, Sunday, 9 July 2017 23:13 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I say my good man if you could see your way clear to grant Scott Joplin's latest rag a few morning drive time spins I daresay Scald Head shall not darken your door again, if you catch my meaning

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 9 July 2017 23:39 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I assume Joseph Burnett there was the original Whitey Bulger.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 9 July 2017 23:44 (eleven months ago) Permalink

back then the real money was in sheet music

The Saga of Rodney Stooksbury (rushomancy), Monday, 10 July 2017 01:38 (eleven months ago) Permalink

"First one's free, kid." *hands over sheet music of "Alexander's Ragtime Band"*

Ned Raggett, Monday, 10 July 2017 03:00 (eleven months ago) Permalink

$69 for an ebook seems a little excessive, no?

husked, tonal wails (irrational), Monday, 10 July 2017 16:30 (eleven months ago) Permalink

It does. I borrowed it from the library at the college where I work tbh.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Monday, 10 July 2017 17:50 (eleven months ago) Permalink

five months pass...

https://thebaffler.com/salvos/long-distance-rocker-miller

When they’re feeling particularly ungenerous, the company will cut you out altogether. Google did that to me when they used the guitar riff from my song “Question” as the bed music in a commercial for one of the company’s crappy phones. Google hired an ad agency. The ad agency hired a jingle house, probably giving them “Question” as a reference track. Grateful for the work, some dude in a windowless room at the jingle house (probably himself another victim of the modern music biz; maybe he used to be in bands but was now trying to feed his kids by making innocuous instrumental music to go under Google ad voice-overs) re-recorded my riff, cleverly adding an extra note at the end of the progression—just enough to absolve his employer of any obligation to compensate me for having written the thing to begin with.

I did what any aggrieved artist should do when their work has been ripped off: I contacted my publishing company’s lawyers to threaten these digital brigands with a lawsuit. Within the ranks of the publishing company, it was unanimously agreed that we had Google over a barrel. But then they hired a musicologist who specialized in copyright infringement and he pointed out the almost imperceptible difference between the two recordings. His prediction was that it was possible but unlikely we could win in court. After my publishers sized up the odds of going against the great content leviathan, they advised me to drop the idea. I agreed reluctantly, and lost a few nights’ sleep thinking of how lucky the Nick Lowes of the world had been: here, some untold millions of ad viewers would be hearing a nearly note-for-note rendition of a song I wrote, and all I was getting in return was teeth-gnashing insomnia.

I considered making a video documenting the Google heist, featuring an A/B demonstration of the two versions of the song. I would certainly have prevailed in the court of public opinion at least. I could have told the story of how I’d written the song after spending a day in London falling in love with the woman I’d go on to marry, maybe show some pictures of our sweet kids that I’m busting my ass to feed in this barren new musical landscape. But in the end I didn’t want my career narrative to be overtaken by an Ahab-like quest for the leviathan’s unlikely destruction. I took a deep breath and let it go.

Music saved my life. And musicians. And club owners, record store clerks, college radio DJs, and rock critics who owed a thousand words to the local weekly. We were often reckless, short-sighted, and profligate, but we were all in this together. And now there’s no more this.

infinity (∞), Friday, 29 December 2017 21:28 (five months ago) Permalink

Another interesting article from that publication that fits in this thread:

https://thebaffler.com/salvos/the-problem-with-muzak-pelly

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Friday, 29 December 2017 22:43 (five months ago) Permalink


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