Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Response to Paul Cusick's "Copyright - Copywrong"


My response to Paul Cusick's "Copyright - Copywrong"

BTW: Buy Paul Cusick's "Focal Point" and other songs at his website, http://www.paulcusick.co.uk

Paul:

At the end of the day, your main points are (and I agree with them)... (1) "if my music adds any value whatever to your life then support me directly so I can make more." and (2) "if my music adds no value to your life, then delete it from your life, and take yourself of my mailing list / fanbase. We are of no benefit to each other."

I do think the "big record companies had it coming, they were ripping us of" argument is lame and immature. Sounds like a rebellious teenager. Cost points are cost points, and pricing is based on what consumers are willing to pay for a CD vs. a DVD vs. a book. Funny thing is, CDs are often the same price or cheaper than buying songs via iTunes when you can buy a 15-song CD from Amazon with free s&h, but on iTunes you'll pay $1 per track, or $15.

Regarding the "I use illegal downloads so I can hear the full tracks and decide whether to buy the music" and "I've bought more music because of illegal downloads because I've been introduced to more artists" and "Buying music is just too expensive" arguments, I think all 3 excuses are related and there's a larger story to tell here.

Internet and portable devices in general have, in my opinion, lead to a media overload. We, as consumers, take in more media, more often, in more places, and from more sources than ever before.

Just in music alone, the combination of SiriusXM, Pandora, Slacker, LastFM, Spotify, BandCamp, iTunes, Amazon, music blogs, artist and label websites, streaming radio, MP3s, next day concert downloads, etc. is just diluting the attention span and where consumers decide to spend money.

Local music stores, a few local FM radio stations, and less portable music formats limited what music a consumer was exposed to, to the benefit of big label releases.

For example: 10+ years ago, if you asked me what my favorite bands or albums were, I would have easily rattled off 10 to 20 bands or albums that I listen to 90% of the time. And I would have known most of the lyrics to most of the songs on those albums.

Fast forward to today, and ask me that question, I need 10 minutes to think of the 100 or so bands or albums that I listen to 90% of the time, and I barely know the choruses of many of the songs on those albums.

There's a reason Google Music offers for the customer to upload 20,000 songs. That may seem absurd to some people, but that would not cover my entire iTunes library on my PC!

I have access online to SO MANY new artists, indie artists (like Paul Cusick!), which further fuels my desire to hear it all, that I find myself rarely returning to an album a second or third time.

Now, bolt that onto the fact that music competes in my monthly budget against not just increasing mobile phone, broadband internet, and HD TV subscriptions, but also Pandora or Spotify or Netflix subscriptions, and movie or book or video game purchases. Never mind that clothes, food, utilities, and fuel cost most now while salaries have not increased in lock-step.

So the short story is that (1) consumers have more options that ever on what to spend their money on, (2) subscription services are a great way to save time hearing new music constantly and remain portable via wifi/mobile internet, and (3) there are so many different business models being tested and exploited right now by both big labels, indie labels and directly by artists.

The past 5 to 10 years have been painful, and the next 5+ will be painful until 1 or 2 business models sticks with both consumers and businesses/artists.

Now, what do I find myself spending money on in the music space these days (and lots of it, by the way)?

-SiriusXM in two cars
-Special edition or deluxe packages CD releases from my favorite bands
-Fanclub only releases or fan-funded pre-sales from top 5 favorite bands
-used CD sales at local record stores, which has been my primary MO since high school!
-and a couple concerts per year

...and I have to limit myself to these from a money perspective. I can't order every new album that I previewed and liked online. Nor would I have the time to repeatedly enjoy that many purchased albums.

I'm not writing all this to argue with you. You make valid points. I just wanted to give you the music fanatic (prog, rock, metal, country, jazz, et al), average consumer, middle-income, 30-something, single bread-winner, married with children perspective.

Keep making music. Try all kinds of models at once until one or two work. Get your music in all of the music services/subscriptions (even though some of the royalty schemes are in painful infancy, think: Spotify), keep asking your best fans to pre-fund releases, and get crazy with higher-priced deluxe packages.

Hope this was all helpful,
Wes