?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Bring the new era in music publising a little closer - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
void where prohibited, except by law
sesquipedality
sesquipedality
Bring the new era in music publising a little closer
Two weeks ago, I had never heard of the Indelicates. I noticed their name on one of the many letters about the Digital Economy Bill, shrugged and moved on. Then kaberett linked to their latest album, which is released on the pay what you like principle pioneered by Radiohead.

I paid nothing. I listened. I realised that this album has a layered classical sound somewhat reminiscent of the Divine Comedy, thoughtful lyrics reminiscent of Thea Gilmore, but somehow more accessible, and a sound that's genuinely fresh, possibly as a result of the rare equal partnership of a male and female vocalist. Add to that an anger belied by the approachability of the music that's reminiscent of late Chumbawamba, and I think it's a winner. Also, it has wonderful cover art.

Cliff notes: I think it's good, and it grabbed my attention on the first listen through - a rarity for me these days. "Flesh" in particular has the feel of an instant classic (although I may be unusual in thinking that).

I went back and gave them money, because they deserve it. And now I'm pimping it to you, which is the way it should work. You too can download it for free, see what you think, and give them money if you think it's worth it.

http://corporaterecords.co.uk/artists/The+Indelicates/Songs+For+Swinging+Lovers/
85 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
kaberett From: kaberett Date: April 20th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hurrah! I do like it when recommendations work.

I thoroughly encourage you to look up their older stuff too. At least last time I checked, it was all available as mp3 to download for free from the members'-only section of their forums...
karohemd From: karohemd Date: April 21st, 2010 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's an excellent system, too.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2010 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
No, it's not the way it should work, because you've basically reduced them from being artisans offering their work for sale in a transaction of equals, to beggars and buskers giving away the fruits of their talents and labours for free, dependant upon the goodwill of patrons for their compensation.

This is a massive step backwards, wiping out a couple of centuries of development of the economic position of creative types.

S.
lnr From: lnr Date: April 21st, 2010 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Alternatively, like me, you could wait and buy the physical release.
pjc50 From: pjc50 Date: April 21st, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
If it were a transaction of equals there would be a lot more negotiation and compromise happening...
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
You often haggle over the price in Tesco, do you?

S.
pjc50 From: pjc50 Date: April 21st, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tesco are "artisans offering their work for sale in a transaction of equals"? I thought they were a property speculation company with a side business in groceries.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
'you either pay what the record store/iTunes say you pay, or you steal it'

There is the third option, you know.

But frankly, it doesn't matter what return the artists receive, it's the very principle that is wrong. If the music is worth anything, then they shouldn't have to rely on people's goodwill: they should be able to insist that people pay the price they set if they want it (a deal which people are free to decline, of course, if they think the price is too high -- then they don't sell any copies, and that's how markets work).

S.
tigerfort From: tigerfort Date: April 21st, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
But with the current mainstream model, the artists don't get to set the price, and frequently don't get any significant proportion of the income stream either. Why is it such a good thing for artists to be entirely reliant on rent-seeking media conglomerates that actively seek to prevent them from having any control of their output? Because that's the status quo.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no problem with the artists selling directly to consumers, setting their own price and bypassing the record companies. Just like they might sell their own CDs after a gig in a pub for a tenner.

That, however, is not the same thing as a 'pay what you like' model.

It's the 'pay what you like' model which I am saying is wrong in principle, not the act of bypassing the record companies and selling directly to consumers.

S.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
davywavy From: davywavy Date: April 21st, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you're misunderstanding how markets work, here. Value and price are often driven by availability. To use an analogy, think about Verhoevens film Total Recall. The Mars Corp made it's money by selling air, until at the end air is made bountiful and pretty much freely available for all. If Mars Corp. was stupid, it'd go right on trying to sell the air it makes and complaining that it's monopoly on Mars-Air was being flouted. Possibly it might pass a few laws and make a few scapegoats of people breathing air without paying for it, but long-term that's a doomed strategy.
If Mars Corp is smart, it'll switch it's business model and take advantage of that bountiful air by selling holidays and outdoor equipment instead. I know which I'd do.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
tigerfort From: tigerfort Date: April 21st, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
The thing (from a financial point of view) is that while people tend to pay (on average) less than they would have to spend to get a CD in a shop, all of that money goes to the band, and so their income per buyer is actually much higher. And they get more buyers, because the people who are only willing to spend GBP3 (whether because they're tight, or because they're broke, or because they only actually like a couple of tracks) buy a copy from the band at that price, rather than either not buying it, or getting an (ahem) illegitimate (or s/h, where the band, again, gets no money) version.

It's notable that the record industry likes to talk a lot about how the Radiohead experiment was a terrible disaster because people only paid about GBP4-5 on average, which is only a third of what the RRP for a big label CD would have been. Whereas Radiohead regard it as a huge success, because GBP4-5 is three times what $BIG-RECORD-LABEL would have paid them per copy. (In addition to which they sold about three times as many copies as with previous albums, thus making an order of magnitude more money.)
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: April 21st, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I certainly didn't expect that kind of response.

I don't have much to say save to say that the premise of this kind of marketing as being a tip jar economy ignores an important point. Firstly, it's a marketing technique. I have never heard the Indelicates. None of my local friends have played it at me. Nor was that ever likely to happen. By making their music free to access, they have made a sum of money they would not have otherwise made. They have also made a bunch of people that read this journal aware of their existence. In the same way that home taping didn't kill music because it increased exposure and therefore sales, neither does giving away the album. It's marketing that means more people will buy merchandise, real CDs, and concert tickets. To suggest that it's begging totally misses the point. Those in the music industry have been getting promo copies of albums for years. Now the rest of us can get them too.

It also ignores that music is one of the ways that people express their identity. We value our identities, and will back that perceived value up with cold hard cash. While I don't believe that everyone sees the connection between paying artists money and their continued ability to produce artistic works, those that don't will share their music with those that do, and create more paying punters. I honestly believe that if the music industry would shut the fuck up about the evils of piracy for five minutes, and launch a reasoned education campaign along the lines of "if you don't pay, music won't get made", a serious social stigma against not supporting artists might well actually come about. As things stand, all they're doing is giving a bunch of selfish, greedy people undeserved anti-establishment street-cred.

The cost of producing an album is finite, and it's small. The cost to an independent artist of a million rip off copies of their album on the internet is nothing. The benefit of a million rip off copies is reaching ten thousand paying punters who would never have heard of them otherwise, and will pay for this album, this T-shirt, and that concert, and the next and the next. Why else do you think radio playtime was so important to artists in the days before the Net?

By the way, S., do I know you?

Edited at 2010-04-21 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 23rd, 2010 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
All your first paragraph seems to be saying is that 'try before you buy' is a good model for music. Well, yes, it is. but that's not what we're talking about here. If you 'try before you buy', you don't get to keep a copy of the thing you're trying whether or not you buy! There's a big difference, surely you admit, between playing someone a song seeing if they like it, then asking them to pay for a copy (so they can either pay or not, their choice); and giving them a copy and then asking them to please give some money out of the goodness of their heart. The first is 'try before you buy'; the second is begging. So your first paragraph misses the point. You defend 'try before you buy' as a market strategy; but that's not what they're doing. They're begging. There are already ways to 'try before you buy', from the old (radio, as you mention in your final paragraph) to the new, like streaming Flash player songs, which are more difficult (though of course not impossible) to steal (their main value form an anti-theft point of view is that they remind people who steal them that what they are doing is wrong, rather than that they make it impossible -- this is not that.

As for your second paragraph, I wish -- I really wish -- that I could agree with you. But any strategy that starts with such a ludicrously optimistic view of people is inevitably doomed as people find ever new and more inventive ways to disappoint you. If only we could operate all markets on an honour system! Sadly, we can't: if people can steal and get something for nothing, they will (probably rationalising that as their individual contribution would be so small, and most other people will pay, their contribution won't be missed). Exactly as people rationalise shoplifting, people will rationalise this theft of content. So I'm afraid that while I wish we lived in a world to which your second paragraph applied, we do not.

Finally, I believe -- though I'm not an expert -- that the cost of producing (and promoting -- I'm sorry, but internet word-of-mouth simply won't spread anywhere near as far or as fast or as deep as a radio, TV and print campaign, and the only people who think it will are people on the internet who mostly talk on to other people on the internet, and so get a vastly inflated view of the reach and importance of the internet) an album is quite large, once you take into account studio hire, session musicians, producing, mixing, and all the other whatnot that goes into making professional music for a living (not to mention the cost of professional-grade instruments). Certainly it's not something your average band could do properly out of their own pocket (they could probably hire a studio for a day and do some quick recording and mixing, and that will sound exactly as amateur and rubbish as you'd expect) without plan to recoup those costs (and even then, the chances of them making enough to recoup the costs are so small no bank would loan them the money -- that's why record companies exist as, effectively, risk brokerages, betting on many horses in the hope that a big payoff from one will cover the many losers).

I'm not good with names but I'm sure I'd remember being introduced to someone called 'Sesquipedality', so I have to assume I do not know you.

S.
85 comments or Leave a comment