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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Inconvenient Truth About The Recorded Music Business

While I've been away I see the "Spotify don't pay enough" debate has been re-ignited by Thom Yorke, who even says that if they don't raise their rates "new music producers should be brave and vote with their feet". (Seems to me that would be as effective as League Division Two threatening to walk out on the Premier League. "I'm leaving home, mum. I say I'm leaving home.")

This has attracted a "grow up" post from Tim Worstall at Forbes, which finishes by saying that if you're not making enough money on Spotify that may be because not enough people like you, and a similarly robust slap from music industry controversialist Bob Lefsetz who offers this piece of advice from marketing boffin Seth Godin:
"Send your stuff to ten friends. And if they don't tell others, if nothing happens, the problem is you."
Here's the inconvenient truth about the music business. It used to be you could only get music by buying it in units of 12 songs, only two of which you really liked. Bands did very well out of that system. Now that the album's unbundled you can buy the albums you truly love (which is why Adele sells in such huge quantities), buy the single-track downloads that reflect the moment (which is why sales of the big singles are as big as ever) and then taste and try a couple of songs from scores of other albums, most of which don't impress you enough to persuade you to buy the whole album.

If you think the gatekeepers of the music industry aren't fair then take it up with the general public. They're even less fair than the man with the big cigar.