How music might be distributed in the future

Harvey Danger's new album "Little by Little" is available as a DRM-free Bittorrent and direct download from the band's web site. You can then pay some money to the band via Paypal or buy the real record from a web store. The MP3s (and OGGs) are of high quality, and with Bitttorrent they download very fast.

I wouldn't pay $20 for their CD (which would probably be the average price in Finland after the transport costs), but I happily paid $8 - knowing that this way the artist gets most of the money, and probably way more than what they would've received from a CD sale. And $8 is not that much for a brand new album of good quality music.

The band writes on their press release:

This is by no means a manifesto. We don’t pretend to be the first band to spin a variation of the shareware distribution model. We love record labels and record stores. We buy lots of CDs and are committed to supporting independent music. We’re not a bunch of fake Marxists. We’re just trying to be smart capitalists so we can sustain our lives as musicians. This is an experiment. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the record. Everything else is secondary.

I find this a very sane and sensible approach, and I wish them good luck on this experiment. Direct internet distribution has great potential for musicians, and without all the overhead of CD presses, record companies, distribution, and a bunch of other people, the audience you need to reach to get the same number of income is significantly less. However, it also makes it a bit more risky, because you will need to do quite a lot of work yourself, and reaching the audience becomes more difficult. You also need to get the money to bootstrap your business, which I would imagine is a problem for many bands.

But in fact, this is the case with every software program or a new venture or a new company. There are "business angels" which, for a fee or for a promise of upcoming income (=stock), will help you out. There are venture capitalists, who invest in new companies so that the can get their product out. And unlike record companies, these will not sign you in for X number of years, but they expect to exit at some point with some profit. I don't know enough of the music world to say that this is how it should be done, but looking from the outside I have to wonder if there is some special reason why such a model would not work?

I have a - perhaps naïve - belief, that it's just a question of finding the correct business model for music, and DRM systems and content protection will not matter in the long run. But at least Jim Griffin agrees with me:

By promising to play nice, and building DRM and TCPA technologies, the computer industry is simply making come-hither noises that the rights holders want to hear. "When I was 14, I told girls I loved them to sleep with them too. It was a fiction. Steve Jobs just leaves a little money on the table," he says. "These theoretical notions of control run headlong into the real historical experience."

(Via BoingBoing.)


More info...     Comments?   Back to weblog
"Main_blogentry_290905_1" last changed on 29-Sep-2005 15:14:16 EEST by JanneJalkanen.