Missing the boat
One of our Community Forums members posted an article in the UK's Guardian, written by Talking Heads founder David Byrne, who recently started pulling his music from the likes of Spotify and other online music services. Why did he pull his music? He's apparently fallen into the short sighted trap a number of musicians seem to have gone: fear that download services are taking all the profits and leaving musicians none. I know a number of musicians who agree with him and in my opinion they are missing out. Change is difficult, some benefitting while others suffering. That's the nature of such things. If you read the article Mr. Byrne sites a number of statistics showing how musicians get the smallest share of the money from services like Pandora, Spotify, MOG, etc. And then there's Youtube that pays nothing. He further goes on to ask why anyone would purchase music they can get for free, causing the ruination of music itself. I think he misses the point of what's happening now. To amplify his thoughts on the matter he writes "For perspective,Daft Punk's song of the summer, "Get Lucky", reached 104,760,000 Spotify streams by the end of August: the twoDaft Punk guys stand to make somewhere around $13,000 each. Not bad, but remember this is just one song from a lengthy recording that took a lot of time and money to develop. That won't pay their bills if it's their principal source of income. And what happens to the bands who don't have massive international summer hits?" What Mr. Byrne seems to ignore is the 104,760,000 free listens to this great music and what that basically free publicity has resulted in. The French duo Daft Punk sold over 1 million copies of their vinyl LP in one freaking week and if you go to the store to buy one today they are hard to find. In fact, they are one of the single largest sellers of LP's in the world, beating out Fleetwood Mac's Rumors among others. That doesn't include downloads from iTunes (they are the largest of those in recent weeks), the CD or any other medium. Think they will have a problem filling seats on tour? How does Mr. Byrne think this happened? By chance? No, of course not, it is by the band building a community of people listening to their music. Giving it away for free so the folks who love their music will want to have it at home. Yes, on vinyl of all things! If I were a band starting out today and someone told me there was a service available that gave my music access to millions upon millions of people around the world, access like nothing we've ever seen before in the history of music promotion, and that access did not require a label or a marketing engine to gain access to it I'd be the first to sign up. Musicians had no problem with free plays on the radio because those plays couldn't be recorded, downloaded and enjoyed whenever someone wanted for free. Giving this music out for free, like Google giving search results for free, builds audience, following and desire to own the product. It's a new day, seize it and make it work. So when Mr. Byrne asks the question "why would anyone pay for what he can get for free?" I would suggest he contact the folks at Daft Punk and ask the same question. They seem busy counting their money right now, but maybe they can squeeze Mr. Byrne in and help educate him. Oh, and the $13,000 Spotify paid Daft Punk for the right to get their music in front of millions of people? If the band had to pay that to Spotify instead of the other way around, that would still be an incredible deal. Their music is what makes the band, their savvy on getting it heard for free, building a loyal following and then what to do with what they built is what makes them money and supports their next album.
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