News.com has an editorial with some interesting options for fixing the music business. This model involves using an ASCAP-like organization to monitor music usage and distribute revenues that come from unusual sources (like car companies and other sponsors). The author estimates that 50 million people spend an average of $250 a year on music, and that this figure seems manageable for other marketing methods. He mentions that Apple or Sony are possible companies to lead the charge, and he might be right. If someone can propose a model that will give artists similar or better pay to what they have today, but with increased exposure and other benefits, they would probably jump at it.
The Christian Science Monitor has an article about new musical instruments and how instruments have changed over the recent decades.
It seems like an appropriate time to be looking at the music business, with the annual attention-grabbing Grammy awards. I haven’t watched the whole show (but my ReplayTV did), so I don’t know yet if the new NARAS president made comments similar to those made last year. There’s no question in my mind that the music industry will have to come up with new models.
Maybe China is one place to look for new music industry models. Though it’s sad to think of corporate sponsorship as being the way to get quality music made, apparently there are ways to make it work. Robbie Williams’ new contract is cited as an example of the new style contracts making it to the West. Moby has famously made a small cottage industry out of marketing his songs for use in commercial areas.
Continue reading Three More Views on the Music Biz
There seems to be an ever-increasing number of articles on the sorry state of the music industry today. For example, the NY Times says that CDs may be reaching the twilight of their market. It has this interesting quote as well:
Most analysts and industry executives agree that selling music online is the future. But they say it will take at least two years for companies to devise a business plan for it that makes financial sense.
Newsweek’s Steven Levy talks about the record industry killing Net radio. I hope that some day our culture will recover from all of the damage this handful of companies is causing.
Though I’m not familiar with her music, I find Janis Ian’s article about music downloading very interesting. Reading an artists take on this is interesting, because the record companies claim to be trying to protect the interests of artists. Janis doesn’t think so, and I’m sure there are numerous others who agree with her.
The NYTimes reports a bit more broadly on the news that the record companies are releasing more music for download. Again, I say to them: “Try MP3, you’ll like it!”
Here’s a great pair of links from a couple days back. Salon has done some reporting on the current state of payola in the music business. Technically, what they’re doing right now is not payola, because that would be illegal. But it amounts to the same thing and it’s one part of the reason that music is priced so outrageously. Also of note is a comment in the slashdot thread, where someone pointed out how natural payola is and how those “greedy record companies” don’t really make much money because 90% of albums fail.
According to this article, two of the major labels (Sony and Universal) are planning to offer downloaded singles for $0.99. The article says that in addition to the price cut, the major breakthrough is that these songs can be burned to CD. To which I say: almost but not quite. I want MP3 files, not Liquid Audio files. Sure, I can burn the Liquid files to CD and then rip them into MP3 format, but that means using lossy compression twice on the music, thus sacrificing sound quality.
Continue reading Music Industry Almost But Not Quite Giving In