Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kill the Bird, Kill the Song

The time has come! You can now buy Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory at my Web site.

We're still looking good for our AZ and Denver shows in a couple of weeks. Some of you have received MySpace messages from me. If you're on my MySpace Friends list and live in these areas, you'll be getting one soon.

Everyone by now knows that going into the music business in the 21st century is kind of a foolish enterprise. So much has changed since the Refreshments roamed the earth, and most people think that the change has been in favor of music listeners, the consumer, as opposed to record companies and artists. Music is much easier to get for free, and the free music is of a much higher quality than the cassette copies you made of Wang Chung back in the day. Many artists have responded by giving away their music. The attitude is, "They're just going to get it for free anyway." And they change their business model to emphasize live shows, merch, or other ways of making income.

Unfortunately, I can't give away my music. Here's the reason:

Something inside of me puts a certain value on giveaways, and I can't bring myself to put that value on my CDs.

Even in 2008, there's still a subculture of people who love buying albums. They love opening their mailbox and finding the CD they ordered, or downloading an album from iTunes, or going to a record store to buy the newest from a favorite band and popping it into their car stereo. This is an irreplaceable process for them. They look forward to it every time. I'm one of these people.

I've come to appreciate the way this process shapes the world. I believe that purchasing a CD is not just a way of getting something. If I buy a CD, as opposed to finding a way to get the music for free, I've helped make it more possible for an artist to subsist, making it more likely he'll record again.

When I pay for something, I'm saying, "This is the way I'd like the world to be."

So, the ability to get clean copies of music and CDs easily and for free is not a huge benefit for me as a consumer. Moreover, it's helping to create a world where songwriters and musicians record for nothing, or at a loss, and that can only make more artists give up on recording entirely, or on music as a whole. (This happens. I know them.) It's helping to create a world where musicians and songwriters have to give away their music and make their livings on things like touring and merch, if at all. One artist I know admits to making more on women's t-shirts than on CD sales.

This is not the kind of world I'd like to help create.

I know there are plenty of people who feel the way I do. They love music, love a new album, and understand that an artist needs to make money from it if she hopes to remain an artist. These people are the ones I'm focusing on as I move forward into the music business.

Thanks. Next week, AZ, baby!



Anonymous said...

Very interesting blog! I am also one of those people who loves the process of buying a cd. I want to pay for the music so the artists that I want to hear can afford to continue making music. In a free world, the only music likely to be available is the Top 40 (mostly garbage) from the radio. I worry that most independent artists can't sell enough tickets and t-shirts to support themselves.

I just read an interesting interview in Advertising Age with Chris Anderson who wrote an article for the newest issue of Wired about "Freeconomics" that discusses the free economy. while I like getting things for free, a world where all media is free is very scary... What then has value? I would rather keep the free economy limited to household and personal care product samples!

MisterJ said...

I'm with you, dude.

Anonymous said...

I also enjoy the whole process of buying disc, reading the liner notes and checking out the artwork. Heck, I'm old enough to miss lps.