Just because music is free doesn’t mean anyone will download it

Thursday, 5 January, 2012

Down-tempo electronic musician James Kirsch, whose music I listen to now and again, writes about what he has learnt in the time he has been producing and distributing music free of charge online:

Just because people know about something, doesn’t mean they’ll care. When I hand someone a business card, realistically, there’s a minuscule chance they’ll go check out my website. When I hand someone a cd, there’s maybe a 50% chance they’ll listen to it. The best time to hand someone a cd is when they’re about to go their car, and I can suggest they check it out on their journey. We now live in an era where data is free, and people collect it without using it. Humans like to have stuff. If they do end up on my website and download an album or track, it may get lost in the shuffle of other downloads.

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No longer number one, CD singles have fallen off the countdown

Friday, 1 April, 2011

Music company Mercury Records will cease to distribute music by way of CD singles after selling just over 150,000 units last year. Most sales – 99 percent of them – are by download so the move makes sense. They will continue to issue special edition CD singles however, but only when the occasion warrants it.

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Visualising the declining turnover of the music industry

Monday, 21 February, 2011

A chart visualising the recent decline in music industry turnover after peaking in the late 1990s… in straight dollar value terms though revenue is still far higher than it was 40 plus years ago.

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“The King of Limbs” new Radiohead album, may cost up to £33

Thursday, 17 February, 2011

British band Radiohead’s new album “The King of Limbs” drops on Saturday, 19 February, and while it – like “In Rainbows” which was self-released by the band in October 2007 – will be available for download, this time fans will have to pay a fixed price – rather than whatever they wanted to the last time – to obtain the new recording.

The King of Limbs will cost just £6 as an MP3, or £9 if you want a higher quality WAV version. Or you can spend £33 to get the WAV version plus, in two months’ time, an edition they’re calling “the world’s first Newspaper Album”. This comprises two clear 10in vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve, a CD, and lots of artwork.

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You may not be able to compete with free, but you can with easy

Friday, 3 December, 2010

iTunes, Apple’s online music store, and digital player application, is an example of a pay to use service that can succeed, even when facing competition from similar services or products that are free, because it is user-friendly and doesn’t make customers jump through all manner of hoops to enjoy.

Apple’s relentless emphasis on simple, attractive user interfaces, backed by Jobs’ steely negotiating power in dealing with music studios, produced a streamlined, curated service with which you could download and transfer music with a minimum of fuss. And we did – even though it cost us money and our purchases were bogged down with DRM that constrained what we could do with them. It turns out that there is something that can compete with free: easy. Napster, Gnutella and BitTorrent never attained the user-friendliness that Apple products have, and nobody vets the content on file-sharing networks, so while the number of files on offer is enormous, the files are rotten with ads, porn, spyware and other garbage. When Jobs offered us the easy way out, we took it. Freedom is overrated, apparently – at least where digital media are concerned.

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The Beatles apple shaped music stereo USB device

Friday, 6 November, 2009

There’s good news and there’s bad news. On the up, the music of the Beatles is finally available in digital format. On the downside though it’s not exactly going to be easy to obtain.

A limited edition of 30,000 apple shaped USB devices, containing their entire back catalogue, goes on sale in early Decemeber… with however no mention of any of the music being available via iTunes.

The Beatles are finally available in digital form. However, you need to shell out $279.99 for it. Granted, it comes in an apple-shaped USB stick, both in FLAC and MP3 formats. It seems they are all-together shunning the iTunes music store.

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Buy a CD player, be an early adopter, too bad there’s no CDs

Tuesday, 6 October, 2009

Big, clunky, expensive, and very little to listen to… being a musical early adopter can’t have been much fun when the first compact disc (CD) players first hit the market in October 1982:

The CDP-101 did not come cheap nor did it come svelte. Early adopters had to part ways with the equivalent of $2,200 in today’s ducats for a single 14 x 5 x 12½-inch unit. Worse yet, the CD player’s media library was pathetic. At launch a mere 113 albums were available for purchase.

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Digital piracy is not the same as high-seas piracy

Friday, 17 April, 2009

The recent, often violent, acts of piracy in international waters certainly make the term “digital piracy” seem inappropriate, and have a number of people asking whether another wording should be used instead.

It was a clever name, at least in the beginning. Hijacked movies, music, games, even books – yeah, it’s the outlaws taking from the establishment, creating some wealth for the common man, yada yada. But in recent weeks, as real-life pirate attacks have gained in intensity, violence, and geopolitical meaning, talking about digital thieves as pirates has come to seem clever to a fault, and inaccurate too.

John Gruber suggests the term bootlegging to be more suitable.

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Average teenager’s iPod has 800 illegal music tracks

Tuesday, 17 June, 2008

It looks like the anti-piracy message still isn’t getting through if recent research, showing every iPod or digital music player owned by British teenagers contains an average of 842 illegally copied songs, is any indication.

Fergal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and now chief executive of British Music Rights, said: “I was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs I had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected.”

At least I managed to find out what became of Fergal Sharkey, which, I think, is some sort of bonus.

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ISPs must prevent music piracy: U2’s Paul McGuiness

Tuesday, 10 June, 2008

Very long, but very absorbing, transcript of U2 manager Paul McGuiness’ keynote speech at the Music Matters conference in Hong Kong last week, during which he made it crystal clear that ISPs are responsible for curbing illegal music downloads.

And it’s been argued that the ISPs don’t have the means to help. I don’t believe that argument stands up any longer. The modern history of the internet is chock-full of examples of ISPs intervening in the traffic on their networks when it suits them. Comcast did it in the US, throttling traffic on BitTorrent until falling foul of concerns over net neutrality. Last year, in a precedent-setting copyright case, a Belgian court ruled not only that an ISP had to stop copyright abuse on its network but also identified six technologies that could be used for filtering.

McGuiness has managed U2 for 30 years now, and his keynote also offers some fascinating insights into the music industry, record companies, digital music, and the changing habits and demands of music audiences and consumers.

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