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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:
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
Saturday night, after watching No Country For Old Men (great movie, very heavy though), my band of reprobates and I descended on Jimmy Watson’s to down a few bottles of Dry & Dry (dry vermouth, dry ginger ale). One of the crew is a good mate from England who spent many years working in traditional media, think newspapers, Sky TV, etc.
We got into a debate around the future of advertising and entertainment (because on Saturday night we clearly had nothing better to do…), using The Sopranos as a case study. My friend is not old, but older than I, and definitely from a different school thought. He does currently work in marketing though and has lectured at universities on journalism – he is by no means an idiot. With this in mind I was astounded by how little he grasped of the web 2.0 world, convinced that changes in consumer behaviour only came about because traditional advertising and media companies decided to alter the lay of the land.
I initially thought he was taking the piss, but upon further exploration he was deadly serious. His argument centred around a rather bizarre core, stating that if advertisers and media companies didn’t remain in control, then productions such as The Sopranos would simply cease to exist because of a lack of advertising dollars. My point that a market for quality entertainment would forever exist, citing everything from Homer’s Odyssey to Quarterlife seemed to fall on deaf ears; sure levels of production quality are bound to vary from project to project, but people don’t tune in for the lighting, they tune in for compelling characters and stories they see something of themselves in.
My friend’s issues ran deeper than the quality of story-telling though. Once of his fundamental concerns was, essentially, “Who will pay the salaries of the people who book the ads if nobody comes and books the ads?” I told him nobody, because we don’t need the ads, and that seemed to trigger a small nuclear explosion inside his head. In the mind of my educated and intelligent friend, it was inconceivable that ad-centric business models in traditional media would not survive ad infinitum. More than that, he couldn’t conceive of people who weren’t part of these establishments being the ones that changed everything, even though he himself uses things like MySpace and Facebook.
It reminded me of a moment I had a month or so ago on a tram going to work. I was reading RSS feeds on my BlackBerry, everyone else was reading a newspaper; I was the odd one out, but somehow had not removed my head from my ass recently enough for this to come as anything other than a surprise. It is so easy to get lost in the Brave New World™ of Web2.0 and forget that Facebook is still pretty novel for most, that the things we spend so much time discussing are not even blips on the horizon of the general public.
In the end, I opted to change the subject. After all, it was Saturday night, and my choices were to persist with my ad-hoc oral essay entitled “Everything you know is wrong”, or I could order another round.
Better make it two then…
N.B. For a thought-provoking look at how consumption of media is changing, check out this post on Fred Wilson’s blog.
*Update* The inimitable Bob Lefsetz hits the nail on the head.
I try to keep this blog free of introspection, philosophising and general ponderance of things not related to marketing, digital strategy and the things that go on around those broad categories. Anything that falls outside of that either remains inside my head or (less frequently than I’d like) winds up on my MySpace blog, a page that for obvious reasons exists to promote my musical endeavours.
Today though I posted a piece on passion, and it was a pleasure to write, flowing effortlessly without much pause for thought. Living life with passion is something I am a big believer in, and it’s something more important than marketing or why Facebook is so successful. If you’re wondering what it is that really gets you up out of bed each morning, go have a read. Better yet, step away from the computer and take a walk. Without your phone.
Everyone has a quiet voice that comes to them, but not everyone takes the time to listen. That is where you’ll find your passion, believe me it is waiting to be heard.