thoughts on music, design and literature

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Quote By David Geffen

"The music business, as a whole, has lost its faith in content. Only 10 years ago, companies wanted to make records, presumably good records, and see if they sold. But panic has set in, and now it's no longer about making music, it's all about how to sell music. And there's no clear answer about how to fix that problem." - David Geffen

There was a time when the consumer could righteously declare that they hated the economics and questionable business practices of the record industry. Since the advent of filesharing, however, that moral center has shifted back against the consumer. Every year, the record industry is seeing a 15% drop in profits--soon it will implode. While that may level the playing field and herald the dawn of the indie era, at the same time it's killing creativity on all fronts: musicians are spending more time worrying about how they're going to make a living in the industry, and less time on actually making good music. And what's causing all this? Piracy.

Geffen's right to say that the soul of the major labels has been forcibly removed by piracy--their very own lives are at stake, and they no longer have the luxury of focusing on releasing good music. Instead, their focus is simply on survival: meaning, focusing on selling music, not on making quality music.

On the contrary, my focus with Calling All Dawns is in making as good of a product as possible, but at the same time, my greatest fear is that it's going to be financially disasterous for me. The mindset that kids these days have is that music is free--and while an artist like Christina Aguilera can afford to see her album sales cut in half, she'll still make a bundle of money on tour. Indie artists such as myself, however--particularly those of us who do complex, expensive orchestral/choral/world-music collages, are going to suffer first.

(Quote taken from New York Times article The Music Man.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true! I read the same article on Rick Rubin and it's very alarming. Clicking a link and downloading an album is so anonymous and emotionally detached that I believe the notion that this is bad/immoral/hurting the artist is near impossible to get through to most people. All we have left to sell is album artwork, merchandise, booklets, and live performances. What are your thoughts on the Radiohead method? Releasing the music digitally (160k), having an option to pay what you feel the music is worth, and if you want the full package (artwork, tangible high quality cd, vinyl, etc) you pay for it. Instead of the album being the final product, the music is the introduction to the profitable product (merchandise, allure to see live performances, artwork, and if they want to really help you, they can buy the damn cd!)

October 16, 2007 at 11:45 AM

Blogger Christopher Tin said...

Funny, I got the news about Radiohead's In Rainbows right before I left for Ecuador. I think it's an awesome new model, and I wish that it would work for non-touring musical content creators like myself--but sadly, unless I can figure out a way to tour with my music, or sell merchandise, it's not going to work for me. But everyone's certainly fixated on what's going to happen with them. When the best band in the world basically declares that they're giving away their recordings for free, the entire industry takes notice.

With regards to the anonymity of music downloads, I read in Billboard that some bands are tackling it the old fashioned way--that is, staying for hours after their shows until the last autograph is signed, forging a personal connection with their fan base, etc. I've been doing that myself ever since I first started getting fan mail, not because I'm trying to curb piracy, but because I genuinely like interacting with people who take the time to tell me that they like my music. In fact, I encourage people to write to me, if they feel so inclined. And I almost always write back.

October 17, 2007 at 12:58 AM

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