Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Destroy or change the music industry?

Today it was announced that Last.FM would be allowing users to steam songs in full length for 3 plays and offer a subscription model if you want to open it up to play those songs indefinitely. Aditionaly they will be paying artists directly for the plays out of the money generated from advertising and subscriptions.

Seems like a step in the right direction to me. But once again I am freaked out by the lack of respect for the artists themselves on the message boards. Shouts of "Music wants to be free!" and "down with the music industry!" were common. People that know me might understand that this set my head spinning with what is wrong with this line of thinking.

File sharing people and unlimited streaming people feel that it is them versus the evil suits that have been getting rich for decades off of overpriced record and CD sales and they are screaming for the end if the music industry!

Don't they realy mean, the end of the music industry... as we know it?

I don't think many people would be happy if the hard working people that make music all stopped because they had to get jobs at walmart. You have to think about all the people involved in music creation... musicians, producers, recording engineers, even the talented independent artist that has invested a huge amount of time learning the craft and money on decent equipment.

Anyone who has ever tried to make a great song knows just how hard, expensive, and time consuming it is. Even with the vast advances in music technology over the last few decades it still takes a lot of skill, imagination and time. If you are someone who has never tried, and you think I am full of it... then I challenge you to go make an interesting original song that is ready for distribution. Go ahead, I'll wait here... no? yeah, It's not so easy as most people assume. Dire straights were being sardonic suckas!

The music industry is not just a few vastly wealthy jerks at the top. Any new model needs to consider how to compensate the "worker class" people that put themselves into bringing you music that doesn't suck. Hopefully Last.FMs announcement is a step in the right direction.

Now if we could just get the average joe thinking about the people that make music as being worth supporting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Is Tom a nut job? Or just the most recent nut job.

At the moment the web seems to be going bonkers over a leaked internal video of Tom Cruise speaking on his involvement with Scientology. From the looks of it I would say it was produced for a large cooperate style meeting where he was being honored. In the video he seems to ramble on and somewhat confirm that he is a bit off his rocker in comparison to the average joe. This got me thinking again about cults, what people perceive as cults, and religion as a whole.

Here are some things I know about Scientology:
a). They think they are helping people...
b). They have strange rituals...
c). They have beliefs that can't be confirmed through observation...
d). They want to convert as many people as possible to their way of thinking...

Sounds like a pretty typical religion to me. :)

Sure, they seem pretty wacky, and I don't know enough about them to make a judgement wether they are dangerous or bad for our society, but I find it interesting that the religions that we find most strange are the youngest ones. I think time makes us think of unlikely events as more plausible and therefore legitimizes older religions. In actuality, is believing in resurrections, virgin births, creating humans from clay and the like really any different from thinking Jesus visited the native americans or that space aliens are involved with the course of human events?

In another 2000 years I wonder if people will see much of a distinction...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is only 18% of people who download an album paying for it bad?

In a word...Yes.

Recently an interview was posted with Trent Reznor and in it he expressed his disappointment that people had not supported the direct distribution of the The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust project he had worked on with Saul Williams. Digg and the talkback forum went nuts with people doing napkin math and claiming that the record had made $140k in 2 months.


People don't seem to know or care what goes into making a record... The recording and distribution cost is a big point. studio time and hiring people to put out what is considered a "Pro" product still costs a lot. if you do it all yourself and forego those costs then you have to invest a hell of a lot of time. Another point is that this project was promoted by Trent Reznor, a very popular artist with lots of fans. Imagine being a small or new artist without that support? Your costs are still the same... but the percentage of people paying will likely be much lower because someone well respected isn't essentially asking fans to support it.

Now do that same napkin math on a new artist without a record company or a big name behind him or her it looks pretty dismal. For future independent artists to hope for this model to work the sales would have needed to be dramatically better.

Once again people are only seeing the tip of the iceburg and ignoring all thats underneath. If friggin Radio Head or a project promoted by Trent Reznor can't sell enough to make it worth wile, then what chance do the thousands and thousands of talented independent recording artists have... not to get rich mind you, just to make a modest living.