What music is really worth.

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by Rally99, Mar 22, 2004.

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  1. Rally99

    Rally99 Member

    I found this article in my copy of Esquire magazine and wanted to share it with all of you. There are some good points made I think, that might help the industry from killing itself with signing subpar groups. Feel free to post your opinion.

    What Is Music Worth?
    If you think you're already paying too much for music, you should think again

    by Andy Langer | Apr 01 '04

    Lauryn Hill has balls the size of grapefruits. In case you missed it, she recently poked her head out of self-imposed exile to deliver a tirade against pedophile priests—while onstage at the freakin' Vatican. Then she asked fans to pay $15 for a one-song online video that you could view only three times. And when a music-industry message board carried the thread "For $15, you can listen to Lauryn Hill's new song," one poster asked, "Does the $15 go to her or us?" It's a good point, as L-Boogie is clearly no Alan Greenspan. It's ludicrous for her to ask us to pay the same $15 for a seven-minute crapshoot as we would for full albums of guaranteed genius like Rubber Soul or Led Zeppelin IV . But the craziest part of the whole thing is that she may have accidentally hit on an unpopular but important truth: The biggest threat to the future of music isn't piracy, it's pricing. And right now, we're not paying nearly enough.
    What music fans need is an option that allows us to rally for better-quality music the old-fashioned way—with our dollars. As Americans, we don't mind paying a premium for convenience. I'll gladly pay an extra two bucks for you to bring the wonton soup to my door. But we've also proven that we don't mind paying a premium for premium performance. It's the not-so-secret secret behind BMWs, Rolexes, and 420-thread-count sheets. Yet we're increasingly being asked to pay less for new music. Last year, to great fanfare, Universal Music, the world's largest record company, cut wholesale prices by nearly 30 percent. Part of its motivation was to win back those of us who turned to illegal downloading because we knew what music wasn't worth—$18.98 for a CD with only one song we actually liked. And in the upcoming months, the industry's newest player, Steve Jobs, will devalue music even further by giving 100 million Pepsi drinkers free iTunes downloads with the flip of a bottle cap. Fighting the notion that music isn't free with more free music is a nice way to sell iPods, but it's a shitty way to thank Willie Nelson or Los Lobos for their undeniable brilliance. What we're getting now is music at flea-market prices—which is good for our wallets but bad for the music we'll be looking for in the future.

    Cheaper music means cheaper music. Literally. The only artists who don't lose from cheaper albums are the ones already doing the kind of volume where it doesn't matter—big ol' lowest-common-denominator-pandering pop stars. And with cheaper music, only pop stars capable of that kind of pandering are going to get star-making marketing dollars out of their record companies. Any artist who doesn't fit into the usual mold stands in line for sloppy seconds. We'd be lucky to find the next Jack Johnson, let alone the next Bob Dylan, if things stay the same. Yet there's already a precedent that shows we're willing to pay extra for musical quality. Rarely do you see the Rolling Stones', the Beatles', or Miles Davis's records discounted, but the catalogs of each are mainstays on album-sales charts. Record stores know these are albums so satisfying that we're willing to pay full retail for them. Similarly, we're willing to fork over serious money for concert tours we believe will be serious entertainment. It wasn't long ago that we'd have balked at a $100 Elton John ticket. Now we realize that's what a full live set of shamelessly satisfying sing-alongs is going to cost. We should begin to treat recorded music the same way. And there's only one truly effective way to do it: an across-the-board price hike.

    Admittedly, raising prices on music will sting. It might even suck outright. But the free ride is over. And a price hike could indeed unite us, raising the stakes for everyone. It's good ol'-fashioned Darwinism. We'd simply raise prices on every record across the board and see what survives. And this much is clear: Paying more for music will mean we're bringing fewer bad albums into our homes, because this is a plan that effectively taxes shitty taste. Fans of Celine Dion have every right to keep her in business, but they'll have to pay extra to do it. In fact, if there's a way to make sure she retires for good, this may be it. True pop stars like Pink or dependable hit makers like Creed and Nickelback might still sell records, but raise the price to $22 an album and Bennigan's might just wind up with a bunch of new waiters who don't need name tags. Higher prices would not just weed out the weak but also encourage artists to offer us more bang for our buck. The first time they give us a record with all filler and no killer is the last time they get our lunch money. To encourage us to take a chance on new artists, upstarts would be exempt from the hike for their first two records or their first 100,000 albums sold, whichever comes first. And if you think higher prices just means more people running toward illegal file-sharing, think again. Eminem, Norah Jones, and OutKast don't sell millions of records today because they've found a silver bullet to thwart downloading in dorm rooms. They sell records because they create music that makes us thankful that we paid for it.

    The concept seems radical only because we're unwilling to admit that what we've got now is a bargain. After all, when you consider the $30 you're paying for a DVD you might watch all of three times, $20 for what could be a 55-minute soundtrack to the rest of your life sounds like a deal. And sure, raising the price of music will undoubtedly make legions of fans whine. Many may even boycott. But these people aren't your friends; they're the enemies of great music. Because the only antidote to the outdated system that's ruining good music is an incentive model that encourages new artists, rewards quality, and, most of all, provides consistency and value for you and me, the music fans who work all week to make our rock stars rich. Try finding that under the lid of a Pepsi bottle.
  2. here's a thought - give the artists an incentive to create better material without raising prices. how you ask? well, give more of a CD's earnings to the artist and less to the record label. The current pricing system is not too low, infact many would agree its too high. The record industry, in my eyes, is somewhat similar to a loan system. the artist essentially 'borrows' the record studio's money and clout in the buisness, and in return, the studio (usually) gets the rights to whatever is created, and a very big percentage of the profit of the works created. I realize that the studio does actively tend to the needs of its artists, and along with that, provide them financial support, and i do agree that such an act deserves compensation. however, even the highest intrest rates on a loan rarely exceed 20-30%, meanwhile the big 5 labels are taking >95% of the earnings from the artists. its no wonder the artists dont put out exceptionally great music - they have to pump out album after album just to make ends meet.

    having said that, here's my solution:
    current prices should be cut. Id say no more than $15 for a single CD. of that, the studio is allowed to take up to 90% of the earnings until their investment is recovered. after that, the studio shall not be allowed to take more than 50% of the earnings. the other 50% or more would then go to the artist.

    here's how the money from a $15 CD would then be broken down:

    studio expenses: $13.50 per CD until costs are recouperated.
    artists revenue: $1.50 per CD until studio recouperates costs

    after costs are recouperated:

    studio: $7.50 per CD
    artist: $7.50 per CD

    so say artist A releases a CD, and it sells 1 million copies @ $15 a piece. the studio put in $100,000 to fund the CD, etc.

    the studio would recouperate its costs with the first 7,500 CDs sold.

    the studio then gets ~$7.4 million in profits
    the artist gets ~$7.5 million in profits
  3. cheapprick

    cheapprick Member

    I tried hard to come up with a mature reply.

    I couldn't.

    The author is a dolt. His darwinist ideals would help p2p immensely, and I doubt that was his intention.


    Your idea is better Wonderboy, but $15 is still too pricey. CD's will have to drop to @ half of that before I'll start buying.
  4. notbob

    notbob I say what I want Established Member

    music is ephemeral, emotional

    its price is irrelevant

    oddly enough bad music is probably more expensive, using missy eliot as an example---
    millions spent on special effects in videos, licensing of samples used in her crap, advertising, radio station and mtv bribes, bail, etc

    p.s.-- i think the article was tongue in cheek/satire
  5. cheapprick

    cheapprick Member

    I disagree. (or do you mean that it wouldn't make a difference because some would still buy and some would still not?)
  6. notbob

    notbob I say what I want Established Member

    shitty music can be made for millions of dollars, and great music can be made for free (and vice versa)

    music is an art, and therefore it is only worth what the market will pay for it

    value in art is related to scarcity--music as an art form is now in an infinite supply, and as such, holds no value anymore. the record industry was once able to control the supply and inflate prices

    that isn't really possible anymore

    i still think the article is satirical
  7. cheapprick

    cheapprick Member

    Reading it as such does make more sense.
  8. johnsmatrix

    johnsmatrix Zeropaid Agent

    Wonderboy has the right idea. Riaa makes most of the money from start till finished. Even long after the band stops playing music, royalties are still being garnished. Change comes from the inside, especially in this case.
  9. method

    method yeah, whatever...

    "shitty music can be made for millions of dollars, and great music can be made for free"

    how true!!

    The music industry wastes too much money hyping artists that don't even need the exposure. Too much money on marketing and raising it's own profile and of course... too much money wasted on attacking it's own customers and on anti-piracy technologies all of which never work.

    None of these "investments" actually do any good for music as a whole. - They force music to become formulaic and predictable (to appease record label bosses), resulting in music becoming more about manufacturing and hyping than the artistic expression, passion, etc. that music should be about!

    I'd be happy to see the back of almost all mainstream artists and record labels.

    Music is starting to become less of a rip-off and the fact it WAS a rip-off until recently has been pretty much admitted by the recording industry. (Remember that stupid compensation thing a while back??)
  10. rainbowdemon

    rainbowdemon the zp police Established Member

    Whether the article was satire or not, I still agree with Wonderboy!
  11. shawners

    shawners Hurt no more my son.

    OUr lifes must be short, caause their saying the music could be a soundtrack of our lifes.. And only one good song gets played through out it? This writer must got a pretty penny from RIAA.
  12. Rally99

    Rally99 Member

    Originally quoted from NotBob:

    "shitty music can be made for millions of dollars, and great music can be made for free (and vice versa)

    music is an art, and therefore it is only worth what the market will pay for it

    value in art is related to scarcity--music as an art form is now in an infinite supply, and as such, holds no value anymore. the record industry was once able to control the supply and inflate prices

    that isn't really possible anymore

    i still think the article is satirical"

    I agree with that, they are just churning out music like a product and not giving much thought about whether people will enjoy it. Long as they recoup their investment or more then, what do they care. Making it more of an even split with the creator and maybe even letting him keep his music would be nice.

    To Shawners:
    I think she meant that you have that one album or two from a group that you just flat out love. Almost all of the songs on the record you enjoy listening to and you make sure you have that CD or CDs with you in the car on a trip or anything. Doesn't have to be the current pop album, maybe classic rock or somehting that's probably been around awhile. Just something you never get tired of listening to.

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