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January 26, 2004



Doesn't this model impose a burden on artists who are below the mainstream? If I create a new CD of, say, early american railway songs, I'm never likely to get into the sales realm of Bono, Bono gets richer, I get pushed farther and farther back in the consumer awareness queue.

in the old days, the consumer awareness cue had an out to escape a pure powerlaw distribution: the Remaindered Bin. My friends and I would comb through those bins looking at anything even remotely interesting, sifting the credits for any connections like sidemen, engineers, producers, even graphic artists and sometimes just because we liked the cover (like the Meke-Marcke Men) and sometimes we got a hit (Moby Grape!) sometimes not (Attila Zoler's Jazz Raga) but the cost was so low the risk was negligible, especially when we could take almost any of them down to the second-hand record shop (which is what kids do today with CDs to mitigate risk)

The thing is, there is a lot of music out there. The music industry that serves people who make music is booming, third year in a row, it is only this dreadful pap passed off as pop that is suffering, and lowering it's price will only convince more grandmothers to buy it for the little dears because, down at the discount shop, the girl said it was the latest rage and the whole wall was stacked with them, on sale at an unbeatable price.

Earl Mardle

On the other hand, while your railway CD sales are never going to approach Bono's, you would receive more per CD than he would, which might soften the pain of obscurity.

My take on these two postings is that they are about the "industry" and its business models, rather than music makers so naturally leave out a pile of interesting stuff.

This whole set of ideas however, emerges from a fundamental change in the structure and process of markets.

In the past you (Gary, not Bono) were totally dependent on a very inefficient word of mouth marketing strategy, even if you had managed to get a label to take you on. What he is in essence suggesting is that your devoted fans get paid for promoting your fine product, they have a vested interest in you not just becoming "more popular", but actually selling more copies of your songs.

I think that would work, Amazon already uses a form of it by paying a small commission to people who buy books via links on other people's websites. I can see a graduated structure where prices fall more slowly but more people have an financial interest in promoting your work, those who actually bought your CD themselves get a slightly faster reduction in price and so forth.

What gets my goat is that the so-called business is dead set against actually trying anything new and is in the process of slitting its own throat which will cost a lot more people their livelihood than embracing the changes.


This whole discussion confuses me to a degree because there is a blurring between the economics of buying CDs and the buying of downloads. In many cases, they are treated as the same kind of transaction.

More ramblings here:

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