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Yesterday the inimitable Scott Drummond came to my rescue. Scott is my musical educator, always throwing me new tunes and genres to check out, in addition to being an amazing friend and weekend brunch buddy. He hit me with a world of great stuff, but I want to talk about one artist in particular, Girl Talk.

Girl Talk is a DJ who mashes up everything he can get his hands on. It is absolutely not for everyone, but I can’t get enough and makes it Saturday night in my heart when the calendar says Tuesday morning, so for this I am grateful. Scott hit me off with a link to a live bootleg which is absolutely off the handle (and on this Friday July 4th exactly what you need to get the party started).

The model he is going with selling his latest album though is perhaps more interesting than hearing Roy Orbison laced over gangsta rap, spun into Nirvana with Salt’n’Pepa over the top (in my ears right now).

Head to his MySpace page and you’ll see the below:

Buy Girl Talk\'s new album!

So the “pay what you want” thing in music isn’t new, agreed. Click-through though and you’ll be taken to a page which displays the purchase options:

any price grants the download of the entire album as high-quality 320kbps mp3s
$5 or more adds the options of FLAC files, plus a one-file seamless mix of the album
$10 or more includes all of the above + a packaged CD (when it becomes available)

Additionally below that it says the album is released under a Creative Commons licence, the same licence under which all the images I use on this site are licensed. Attribute the creator, don’t profit directly from the work, and you’re welcome to do as you please.

Now here’s the trick: you punch in the amount you would like to pay on that page, and then the files are available on the next page with a separate link off to PayPal to make a payment. The entire system is based on goodwill and honesty, as I punched in $5 and started downloading the tracks before the payment had gone through. I’m happy to pay as I really like what he does, but I’m wondering how many people will reach that page, grab the tunes and take off?

The ironic thing though is none of it really matters. If someone wants your music for free, they will take it for free. A model of a dollar is better than a model of no money, and by putting your music out under Creative Commons people can remunerate you based on the value you provide while giving them access to your music without the shadow of illegal downloading coming into it.

This goes back to what I was saying in my Life after the dip post:

Exposing what people want to engage with and burying the stuff they’re not interested in is key, and it is only an issue if your business model rests on the viability of the things people don’t like. Digital Rights Management for starters if a zero-sum strategy where nobody wins. I’m a big believer artists should be compensated for the work they do (indeed one day I hope to do nothing but), but in the interim we need new models that are malleable.

Seems to me this model is right on track

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Note: This is a continuation of yesterday’s thoughts.

Also note: not The Dip.

Capitol Records buildingIn the music industry’s case, they’ve spent the last decade attempting to bend consumer behaviour to their will. All the time and effort put into better encryption, DRM etc. only for it all to be futile, forcing people into a dead model. Think about that. Ten years of lawsuits, of bad ideas, of attempts to stall the forward march of consumer technology. Each writ issued was an extra nail in the coffin of a decrepit business model established to confuse value and price point and foist it upon the unwitting consumer. As one of my favourite writers likes to say, the epic, epic lulz. As a complete aside, anyone know how many lawyers the RIAA has? I’m just curious…

In the games industry’s case, budgets and teams are swelling, but this is not where industry growth is coming from. The really booming sectors are taking things back to small teams and games that take hours not days to play. Respecting people’s time and attention spans, you can spend five minutes doing something else entirely and then get back to what you are doing. It is a business model that is fluid, moving with the trends of its audience who are not the pimply teenagers with plenty of time on their hands anymore, they are developers themselves, they are in advertising, they’re lawyers and doctors and parents whose free time has not grown with their disposable income.

Exposing what people want to engage with and burying the stuff they’re not interested in is key, and it is only an issue if your business model rests on the viability of the things people don’t like. Digital Rights Management for starters if a zero-sum strategy where nobody wins. I’m a big believer artists should be compensated for the work they do (indeed one day I hope to do nothing but), but in the interim we need new models that are malleable. In the words of Seth Godin:

Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

If your goal is delivering value, then everything will be fine. If your goal is to keep the game unchanged, then we have a problem on our hands.

Image courtesy of maubrowncow, with thanks to compfight.

In case you haven’t heard, Coldplay’s new single is available for free download from their website as of right now (actually as of about an hour ago). I’d share my thoughts, but the email they’re *apparently* sending doesn’t seem to be coming through…

ANYWAY, the song is called Violet Hill. A 7″ version will be available with this week’s NME, but rumour has it there are no plans to release it as a paid-for single. This comes on the back of recent efforts by Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails to innovate in the distribution of (and subsequent financial compensation for)
their music.

Look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts – as well as my own if the email ever arrives…=]

Last week Scott and I were engaged in a conversation (likely entertaining to only ourselves) about how the right song at the right time can take a moment and make it seem bigger than it actually is. Sure you can achieve that at a decent gig by any half-wit band, but we were talking more so about times when you’re on your one, or at most one other. It’s how a song becomes “our song” as opposed to just “the song that was playing when…”.

I love and think about music for different reasons to a lot of people, but respond to it in entirely the same way. I can remember hearing The Blue Nile’s She Saw The World (from the album “High” – review | buy), streaming from Pandora (before it was restricted outside the US) in my first couple days at DDB, late one afternoon when the sun comes bursting through the venetian blinds that obscure the city in their Melbourne office, how perfect that was. I remember hearing Take ‘Em As They Come on my birthday last year, an obscure Springsteen song from disc 2 of Tracks. Those moments were much larger than the inherent mundaneness of sitting in an office or thinking about a girl as I walked to meet my friends for dinner.

Now those moments are only made possible by the products that serviced me at the time; Pandora, a music streaming service, and my iPod. When I think about those times, I’m aware of how those moments were facilitated, and they inherently instill good feelings about both companies as well as their offering. The afore-mentioned Scott touches on this in his latest post “The future of advertising and marketing, or why having a boring product means you’re officially screwed”. Music is an easy one, but the lesson inherent here is genuine value was created. The products enriched my life.

A product that creates value gets talked about on its own. If it’s being talked about then it reduces the need for marketing spend. Or rather markets itself. I think was Seth Godin who recently said “Instead of spending $50 million on marketing, spend $50 million on a product that is actually worth talking about.” Brands and products become more than the sum of their parts when they get it right, but first you have to care more about getting it right than that quarter’s results.

Once you’ve made that shift, that’s when things get interesting…