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Thursday, January 28, 2010

BBC Reports on the Future of Music

"Is Streaming the future of music?"

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News, in Cannes


Good article. I think streaming is going to go a long way in 2010.


Hot Photos Music Artist said...

thanks for sharing this article friend. I think digital shop for music in my country is still a big market. but, this article can answer a little bit question on my head.

Nice to know you.
Addy (Admin of fotocantiq.blogspot.com)

Kvon said...

We use and have used Pandora for a couple of years. We regularly make purchases (from itunes) of songs we find on Pandora. We rarely purchase full albums anymore.

I am enjoying your posts about market trends and business issues. I wonder how any artist can make a comfortable living from selling their own art these days.

DittoBox said...

Forgive me, this is insanely long (and quite possibly boring).

I like the idea of syncing my work computer, my laptop and my phone so that I have my music collection on all of them. I'm pretty particular about quality though, 192 or less mp3s or itunes files don't sound good to me. I can't imagine streaming any of that that over the internet; the files are just too large. Pandora is a neat concept but it doesn't sound good.

Digital goods aren't "scarce" like physical CDs are. Once the audio itself is recorded, mixed and mastered those audio files can be duplicated and distributed infinitely and with little cost. Obviously there's a staggering initial investment, but after that's paid for...it's like free money. Streaming is just another piece of that puzzle.

From a technical standpoint, if I've already purchased an album and it's just being stored on a server in, say California it's no different than if I purchased it and downloaded it to my iPod or laptop. In reality the only difference when I hit "play" is if the bits are being carried over the internet or coming from the hard drive...I don't pay royalties every time I spin vinyl.

Subscription models are different though, that does make sense to pay royalties. Then again, I wouldn't ever use a subscription service. I would rather know that I'll still have the same mp3s 10 years from now, just like I have CDs and Vinyl from 10 years ago. I'm anal about that, which I think puts me in the minority.

As a visual artist whose business models (I run a couple of different outfits) are based solely on copyright I understand the difficulties in finding our way in the "digital era." Being a photographer I know that people expect a CD with JPEGs, as opposed to ordering prints from me at far higher costs. I have a harder time controlling licensing of individual photos if it's a business, and I can't control what sort of printing projects people will take on (paper prints, canvas wraps, books). I lose a lot of artistic control.

And I don't care.

I realized that because of digital I have lower overhead both in time and money. Significantly, the barrier to entry in this business is lower too. That's what technology's impact on the free market is all about. The best part is that because the stuff can be infinitely copied I can use free stuff as a sort of loss-leader to gaining people's business, and locating new customers. Free doesn't mean it lacks value or usefulness, in many cases it enhances it.

Back to music though. I discovered Mutemath because I copied a few songs by different artists from my brother's music collection. I listened to things a few times and then subsequently deleted most of it. I kept what I liked and went out to purchase full albums from the ones that I liked. In fact, to date I've spent well over 400USD on Mutemath physical goods (CDs, Vinyl, posters, VIP passes etc.). I even sent Jordan a bunch of photos that I took at a show in the last tour. Licensing for the photos that were used would have cost you guys a pretty penny. But I love MM and it was pretty decent advertising for me.

I see recorded music not so much as a sell-able product, but as a tool to find and connect with fans. Once you've done that, you've got a group of suckers who'll buy anything from you. Bands are businesses just like any other, but the brand presence of bands is something most any business would kill for. Apple is about the only non-artist business that has "raving fans."

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on subjects like these, it's great to read an actual musician's ideas as opposed to what I've read elsewhere, mainly consisting of opinions from file sharing losers or record label executive slime.

DittoBox said...

PS: Not to be pedantic (I love the blog and your work) but I think you might be violating the BBC's copyright by posting the entire article, depriving them of ad revenue and click throughs to other articles. Best to quote just the juicy part(s) and provide a link.

Stephanie said...

I'm going to take your side on this issue Roy. At the start of your posting of these articles though, I was not. I was thinking "What's the big deal if you just do it a few times?" I've never been huge on free downloads past the point of acquiring songs that aren't sold or that are impossible to find. But after reading these and looking at it through an artistic standpoint, my opinion has somewhat changed. The part about supporting your wife and son got me to thinking, "How would I feel?" I write blogs of my own and make jewelry also. There have been people to quote, and even re-publish whole articles. The first time I was flattered because it was a college professor, who gave me credit. After that.... not so much. There have also been people who have used my designs without permission. I was angry. I was angry because someone else was reaping the benefits of my work without paying for it. So looking at it from that standpoint, I understand completely. Also, I for one think posting these articles was brilliant. Credit was given where it was due. It raised more awareness, which was the main goal of the original writers. And this latest article even gives the direct link, so I really don't feel that the BBC has been violated.

I think we are living in a very important time, a time of change. I have noticed a lot of changes in the music business while growing up, but the most recent have been the most drastic. There was an article in Rolling Stone magazine a few months ago about these changes. In it they spoke of copyright infringement changing music forever. As a result artists have resorted to shorter albums, more singles and EPs in an attempt to boost sales and make finding such songs a little bit more difficult. With all of these changes I can't help wondering what's next.

DittoBox said...

Again, I'm not trying to be a jerk but copying music can be seen as "promoting the band." Just like copying an article can be seen as promoting the content of the article. If you can justify republishing an entire article sans license, you can just as easily justify sharing music.

For the record: out of respect for artists I don't share music that isn't free.

Here's a good article on competing with free though. It can be done, it just requires a shift in thinking:


Roy Mitchell-Cardenas said...

Wow, DittoBox, you're such a jerk! Ha! Just Kidding.

Yes. I agree with you. There are certain things about "file sharing" music that are beneficial and positive, and if you noticed, I took your advice of just linking the article, which is what I would normally do (look at past posts), but I wanted to see if anyone would make the comparison to what we've been taking about, and thankfully, you did!

Even though I did give the writer credit, on the original post, I was taking away from the bigger picture of the profits from BBC, right? Is there something wrong with that? I could be just promoting the work of that writer, perhaps, even though he's not really making money off it anyway.

It's similar in the music industry. There is a bigger picture to be considered with illegal downloading of music, movies, etc. And copyright law is there to protect the makers of original material, and encourage others to create works (both physical and intellectual property) because they can be assured that there work will be truly theirs to do as they see fit. Is the law perfect? No, but if there is one thing I learned in law school, it was that the law is ever-changing (slow to change) but yet always evolving hopefully for the better of society.

Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).