Steve Peters

Experience Design

Music just wants to be free!

Techcrunch has a great article today about the Music Business and the changing technological landscape:

“…artists and labels will stop thinking of digital music as a source of revenue and start thinking about it as a way to market their real products.” (link)

I’ve been saying this for a while now. So much of what happens on the internet and related tech is like Pandora’s Box. Once something is in the wild, it’s there to stay. Whether it’s someone posting bad things about your company, sekrets to your game or DRM free music, trying to control it or stuff it back is like trying to put a broken egg back together. It ain’t gonna happen.

Unfortunately, rather than embracing the technology, the music industry has, by and large, made huge efforts to put locks on things, spending millions of dollars in the process. Thing is, they have to know it’s a losing battle, that they are facing the end of a revenue model that’s been in place for decades. So I’m thinking all of this DRM stuff and accompanying RIAA lawsuits must just be some sort of money grab while there’s still money to be had down that avenue.

But here’s my prediction: Record companies will eventually come to the conclusion that the albums themselves aren’t product, but promotional material for the real moneymaker: Concert Tours.

Record companies already underwrite tours and take a cut of the profits. For the artists, their concerts are where they net the most income as well (at least most artists), so it’s a win/win there.

The only folks that lose in this upcoming scenario are the songwriters, who usually make their income from album sales. If album sales go away, so does their paycheck. Sure, they’ll still get airplay royalties (thanks to ASCAP, SESAC, etc.), but those royalties are usually a fraction of what they now receive from sales.

As a result, I think there’ll be a change toward more successful artists writing their own material. The days of the staff songwriter will come to an end, pretty much. But I don’t think that’ll be a bad thing.

But that’s all I’m going to say on this here, even though there’s so much more that could be discussed. Sorry I felt the need to even talk about this whole thing, but since I’ve been a musician/composer all my life and this is a tech issue I thought “hey, why not?” But I shall not pontificate further. This is supposed to be a micro-blog after all. :)