Jan
19

Talkin' Transformation

The music business as we know it will soon be dead, and that just might be a good thing for artists, says pop star and composer David Byrne in Wired magazine.
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While Web downloads have crushed CD sales, the changes under way in the recording industry have greatly expanded the ways in which artists can reach consumers and make a living, the former Talking Heads leader writes in Wired. Some of the new models give artists greater control over their creative output than they have had in the past — he cites the growth of profit-sharing arrangements, self-distribution by musicians and deals that allow artists to retain copyright and ownership of their recordings.

By doing more themselves, artists stand to reap a larger percentage of fewer sales — a potentially successful formula, says Mr. Byrne, though he concedes that not every artist is capable of shouldering the additional responsibility. Audiences, he says, should benefit, too, by having access to more, and more interesting music — Read the whole article in Wired

Can a Firm Profit from Free Tunes?

Read Ethan Smith’s article from the Wall Street Journal.

Amid a seemingly endless slide in music sales, the industry is constantly casting about for new ways to make money from its product. The latest experiment: Give it away online, and enlist advertisers to cover costs.

The fate of a new company — Rcrd Lbl (pronounced: Record Label) — will be a test case.

A joint venture of Downtown Records, the independent label behind Gnarls Barkley and others, and Peter Rojas, a journalist and entrepreneur who founded the respected technology blogs Gizmodo and Engadget, Rcrd Lbl is a hybrid record label and blog; its releases are to be posted on the company’s Web site for downloading, free and unrestricted by digital-rights management software that limits copying.

The company has signed up three sponsors so far: Richard Branson’s Virgin America Inc. airline, Nikon Corp., and PPR SA’s Puma AG sneaker unit. The site will also include short articles, social-networking features and Internet radio stations.

Cold War Kids will have music on Rcrd Lbl’s Web site.
Rcrd Lbl’s plans could be read as either a step forward for the ailing music business, or an acknowledgment that the once-thriving industry’s core product is increasingly worthless as a consumer proposition. Already this year, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Radiohead, offered its new album to the public in a digital form permitting consumers to decide what they would pay; data collected by comScore inc. indicated that around 60% of the people who downloaded the album opted to pay nothing; Radiohead has disputed that statistic, without offering its own figures.

Read the entire article

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