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September 13, 2004


Chuck Conway

It’s all about control. I’m sure you have visited eff.org, if not check it out.

Industries that rely on distribution of information as a revenue stream are being threatened because the internet is literally a stream of information.

The bottom line is it’s easier to get the music for free than it is to pay for it. -- When that changes people will start paying for it again. It takes me less time to get the exact song I want, than running down to Wal-mart buying 14 songs one of which I want.

When you hear a song on the radio… that didn’t just happen. The record labels make sizable investments to promote an artist. It requires some entity, whether a traditional record label or some other kind of company, to market and promote artists so that consumers are aware of the new releases.

Piles of Horseshit.

Radio stations play the new stuff because they must. It depends on the station format, but if a station plays the cutting edge stuff they compete with other stations to be first to market with a new song.

It’s a pull market.

The problem is the mentality of the RIAA. It’s the idea of hording, not sharing.

Jon Strande

Chuck, another great comment - but I don't agree with one point that you make. It is not a pull market, it is a push market. The stuff that makes it on the radio is put there, on purpose. DJ's choosing what to spin is a thing of the past - that is why I called it "McRadio" - regardless of where you go, the pop stations play the same songs, those songs cost money to get on the radio. And even more money for the DJ to announce who the artist is (even more to announce it at the end of the song).

Read the Salon article referenced above (cost of marketing) and pick up the book 'Hit Men'. Billboard called the book "A sobering, blunt, and unusally well-observed depiction of the sometimes sordid inner workings of the music business". Sometimes??? No, all the time.

If it were a pull market, why don't stations play Ani DeFranco? She is wildly popular, yet her songs never get airplay... that is because no one is paying to have them played.

Oh, and check out: http://jstrande.typepad.com/blog/2004/02/merchants_of_co.html

That is where I got some of my information for this post.

As always Chuck, you and I are on the same page with most of this stuff.

Thank you again for the great comment!


Christopher Grove

I think that pretty much everyone except the music industry agrees that file sharing is not the cause of the drop in sales. Lets not forget that a person’s disposable income is finite, and that even if the industry brings out more DVDs, CD singles, Albums, Greatest Hits packages, etc. people cannot spend more than they earn. CD sales have gone down for the reasons that you mention, but they’ve also gone down because the music industry has released more and more products. It’s the classic line-extension-that-cannibalises-your-original-products trap. Every other industry accepts this and gets on with business, the music industry doesn’t.
I do disagree that most people use file sharing to test music, most people I know who’ve used PTP have done so to expand their collections, not to see if such and such a song is any good before buying it. Personally I like original CDs, so I don’t PTP, but given the prices of CDs it’s not difficult to understand why people prefer to just take the MP3 and run.
So what conclusions should be drawn? Yes the business model is wrong at the moment, but we’re starting to move towards something that could work (iTunes and the like). What should be noted is that Universal reduced the prices of it’s CDs in France and distributors over here just increased their margins, the public didn’t know the prices had been reduced and as the shop prices remained the same, they expressed no outrage. The problem isn’t, therefore, just with the record companies; the distributors are just as bad in their own way. I agree that radio is just as bad, but then again I stopped listening to most radio a long time ago…
I read an article last night saying that since vinyl was ‘phased out’ as a mainstream media, people have been less passionate about music in general, that CDs invoke less passion and that it’s almost to be expected that this generation develop the MP3 format and use it to their own means, because it’s little more than a continuation of that evolutionary process… Whether or not this is true, it is clear that people are less passionate about CDs than vinyl, and that isn’t just because too many albums these days contain merely 1 or 2 good tracks.
I don’t know if CD samplers do get people to buy albums, but at least it’s a good way of letting people test artists. How about downloadable clips (even edited versions of songs that are shorter than the songs on the album, like radio edits) that you can’t play on an MP3 player, but that give you the chance to discover the artist? Make it free, no business would be lost. Plus little video files can be sent by mail: instant viral marketing. It’s not rocket science, so why don’t I see a load of music videos clogging up my inbox, sent to me by friends who want to share their latest discovery with me?
The industry needs to give something back to the artists and the customers. And what's more it needs to do so quickly, because it's heamorraging customers every day.

Jon Strande


Yeah, I love the idea of making the "radio edit" MP3 files available. That is a great idea.

You're probably right, people did use file sharing to expand their collection. I have somewhat of a naive view that people only used it to discover music, but many people did use it to do that. People also used it to get music that isn't being circulated anymore. Out of print stuff, live cuts, etc.

Thank you for the great comment!!


Christopher Grove

Yeah, I agree about the out of print stuff. From what I've heard iTunes has had the great idea of selling loads of tracks that are no longer available, but I don't get the impression that the offer is as good in Europe as in the States (many indies haven't signed up yet). Personally I think that's a great selling point, as long as the music industry doesn't use it as an excuse to stop releasing albums on CD quicker than they are already doing.
I think that the way forward is improving the value added by both channels. How can that be done? Why not improve the selection in the record shops? You mentioned improving the variety of the artists, but we haven't touched on the fact that record shops limit the selection themselves as well... I really miss the smaller record shops that we had in Birmingham, it meant that I could get hold of much more stuff, not just what was in the HMVs & Virgin. Here in France, we have a FNAC chain and little else on a national level that's "specialised" in music /cultural goods. Therefore you buy what's in the FNAC store... It's the same problem as with the radios, but I get the feeling that there was a larger amount of choice in the shops than there is now. I doubt that France is the only place where this happens.

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