Monday, April 6, 2009

for what it's worth...

Andy (The Importance of Being Andy) has addressed a topic near and dear to my heart, which i feel compelled to glom onto, (i.e. whore off of...), that being, 'what, my dear friend, is music worth to you'? What is a "reasonable" price for music, and to whom should we pay it? (My personal threshold is mostly based on directness of artist involvement...i.e. directly from the artist at an indie show, i won't even flinch about paying at or over retail, knowing where my $$$ is going...), where on I Tunes, i thought 99 cents was a nice round price point, but there subsequent price raising strategy leaves me less amused...(yes, price dropping too, but you can bet less so, considering the source).

Not to mention, how do you consume? I think i can safely say that my family accounts for everything from wax cylinders to 78's to aluminum transcription discs to 45's to 8 tracks to albums/tapes/heavily encrypted files...virtually any format you can think of...but what's your preferred method of consumption these days, since we have so many options?

I am totally biased, so i'll recuse (or is that j'accuse) myself, save for some pithy observations, which would seem to be the whole point...

I just finished reading Steve Knopper's 'Appetite For Self Destruction', which makes a far greater case for the industry killing rampant arrogance and stupidity than i ever could...

Essential companion to Chris Anderson's 'The Long Tail' in terms of analyzing the shifting paradigm, and worthy successor to Fred Goodman's 'Mansion On The Hill', or Frederic Dannen's 'Hit Men', (among others), as industry dissections.

I know have a permanent kink in my neck from the amount of times i shook my head reading this...let alone casting it aside into the fireplace screen, scaring the bejesus out of the dog...That being the literal approximation of Dorothy Parker's great gem...
(For her review of a novel by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Parker wrote "This is not a book to be cast aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force.")
Which is not to be misconstrued as a comparison, merely a sad attempt at humor.

Oh yeah, pithy observations...behold the discbox, ah sweet discbox, bringer of life. This of course, being the physical manifestation of Radiohead's great industry experiment of October 2007, 'In Rainbows' which the band with very little notice, dropped their new project on an unsuspecting, and very suddenly freaking out, audience. The choices were 1) pay what you wish for a download, or don't pay...since you will be underwritten wholly by the freaks, (c'est moi), who plump for option 2) the deluxe box set (which was worth all 40 pounds, thank you), or option 3) wait until Jan '08 for an actual domestic CD release. Everyone and their brother and Trent Reznor weighed in with their opinions, which can be parsed pretty easily on line...(i'm way too tired to google 'In Rainbows Pricing Debate', but that should keep your behind out of trouble for awhile), but for me it was just cool to see someone take a chance & shake things up.

If i have a format of choice now, it's anyone who puts out an LP and includes a free download code, thereby allowing me convenience and pleasure in all their forms...This is a trend i saw with a number of releases in '08, (mostly Indie & punk rock), that hopefully will continue.

That the battle is now shaping up between ITunes and Walmart for the music industry is kind of sad...much as i am an Apple devotee (or long time sufferer, take your pick).

And finally, i couldn't get out of this without mentioning the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger.thing, that if nothing else, got congressional testimony out of Billy Corgan...hee hee!
Once again, my feelings will be pretty obvious, it's just morbidly fascinating to me to see who lines up on what side...


  1. You reminded me I have to get rid of that subtitle..meant to do it last night...done now.

    I was debating the Knopper book - I can't tell if your disgust is for the book or the situation described though - recommendation or no?

    I have no pity for the music "industry" and I think we'd probably be better off (in many ways), with them gone, so I'm just counting down.

    Distribution might have been an issue...but I think the internet has that licked. I've always thought iTunes was priced way too high - as you can tell from my thread. Also, I suspect iTunes profit sharing is set up similar to the way standard CDs I wouldn't be surprised if big label artists didn't see much (outside some exceptions of course).

    Now, Record Stores - which will probably be a casualty of all this - THOSE I will and do miss. But who knows, some kind of digital listening station + transfer to your mp3 thing may rise up in its place - audiophiles need a place to congregate in the physical.

    I don't think I agree with Corgan..I can't stand monopolies in general.

    I like the thought that people who go into music for money may be dissuaded...weeding out more of the crap. But who knows.

    I wish the Radiohead model would work for smaller artists too - but the lack of folks to pony over $40 as you have done seems to be the limiting factor. I think the Rentals are trying something similar. I'll pick that up in one form or another.

  2. working bottom up (as i seem to...):
    40 freakin' English pounds, as opposed to $ as it looks on your cc bill, is actually (at that time) $75ish...d'ohhhhh!
    i, sucker...
    The model is really set up for bands w/a cult audience...for all it's 'i hate muzik sharing crap', this is tailor made for a band like Metallica, who could vastly increase their mountains o' cash w/a situation like this, given their rabid fanbase, (and i think their deal is up, if i'm not mistaken...)

    as for corgan, the subtext is that Irving Azoff is his manager...the same Irving who is president of...wait for it...Ticketmaster!

    One way to fight back, as has been tagged here before, is Record Store Day!!! 19th of April, carry a sackload of $$$ into your nearest record store! I'm half kidding...

    absolutely right about profit sharing...that's the record company's biggest issue, and why the pressure to raise $$ came from them, not artists...

    finally, i'm sorry in my urge to be clever that i didn't make a stronger case for book v. situation it describes...
    Wonderful lucid book that takes a difficult subject to heads or financial wizards and does a great job of clarifying heroes & villians...i think this is a great 'signpost' bk that you can intake, w/out being in the 'industry'...a cross.over if you will.

    Any consternation was directed specifically at the ghouls who have been hoovering up my $$, & me for giving it to them, not the book.

  3. Man, they must have made a killing of the exchange rates!

    The older I get, the less music I buy - in any format. Some of that is that I don't have the $$ anymore with the kids, some of it is that I physically don't have the space - I got rid of like 200 cds a while back, and I think I'm fixing to clear out another few hundred - and some of it is just boredom I think.

    There's just not many bands that grab me anymore. In truth, I'm thankful, because there's less to buy :).

    I'll throw the book on my list. I suspect I've seen most of the arguments in separate forms on various net threads across the years, but it will be good to see them all in one place.

    It's been obvious for years that the labels are blind to technology and just plain spiteful towards the fans (and often the bands). I am very much looking forward to the "next thing in the music system" - I'd love to see small, self produced & net distributed, hard touring acts be the thing. "Working" musicians are due for some time in the sun - and that time shouldn't necessarily translate to wealth imho.