Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 307: Digital music sales on the up. FACT

Music company whiners would have you believe their children are starving, and they can barely afford new 21" alloys for their Land Rover Wide Boy addition. Boo Hoo.

Conversely, and in fairness, I don't really buy this idea that they should be expected to change their business model just because people thieve music these days. Do you think the local corner shop would be looking at a shared milk and tea-bag monthly subscription service just because all the locals stole from their shop?

That said... I never really suspected that music sales were all that dire anyway. Yeah, I mean sure, compared to the 90s they will be. But that's as much to do with the fact that the big labels were loving it as they watched everyone 're-buy' their entire music collection to get it all on CD. That and the whole CD revolution, portable players, in car and the like.

Not to mention the popular bands of the era were also stadium fillers, unlike today's far more fragmented scene. Ravers kept the vinyl sales afloat, while hoardes of musos happily paid for quality albums from bands such as Suede, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N Roses, Moby, U2, Michael Jackson, Sonic Youth and many many more.

This decade to compensate, we have seen a constant churning out of mediocre pop, often under the banner "RnB". This is the one genre that still sells physical units, and the labels know this, so they have milked it for all it's worth, at the expense of actually fostering any talent. Typically going for the quick win. Well it's coming back to bite them now.

A good example might be someone like Duffy. Like her music or not, she has been an undeniable success of recent years. NOT however thanks to big lable talent spotting. She was actually gentle brought to the fore by none other than Rough Trade (one of the longest standing, while checkered independent lables ever). While not definitive proof, it is a nice example of the golden goose attitude of the majors being out witted by keen and dedicated music listeners.

Who would have thought that music fans might actually know a thing or two about music (big lables take note).

What does' all this mean? Well who knows, but I for one know that I am still willing to pay for music, I know that, because I still do. Probably more so today that a few years back, which is the final part of the puzzle for me.

When the technology to steal first became available, of course people went nuts. Like if someone bought in a plate of donuts into the office. However bring some in everyday, and the novelty soon wears off, they become sickening in fact.

Well this is what I think is happening with music. People have gorged themselves on the free stuff, so much so they are full to the brim after basically stealing anything they could, just because it was there to be stolen, much like munching on the coffee creams at the bottom of the chocolate tin. You don't really like em, but hell you might as well as they are there.

Now though that the thrill of stealing is over, we can all just get back to buying the music we like now. I personally like owning my music, and I certainly cherish mp3s that I have paid for more than one's I get sent as promos for example. There is something rewarding too paying for music (independent music at least that is) as I know this most likely ensures it can continue to be made.

Therefore I have been semi predicting better times for the music business for a while now, and the following graphic would seem to concur. OK, so it might not buy those 21" rims, because the money is being distributed in many more places (and importantly more directly) than previously, but maybe this is more like how it should have been all along.

It might not be the saving of the industry, in fact numerically cash flow is likely to still be on the decline. However it's encouragement enough in my eyes that people still want to buy music, just give them good music to buy in the first place, and it might not turn out all that bad after all.




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