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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Louis C. K. and Others Take Stand-Up to the Web – NYTimes.com.

Comedian Louis C.K. sold a full-length performance film for $5.00, that’s right 5 bucks, DRM free as an MP4 file.  Once you buy you get 2 streams and 2 downloads (in 720p HD mind you), and then have to pay again, but if you’ve downloaded since it’s DRM free you can watch over and over again.  That’s 62 minutes of uninterrupted pure entertainment at one-third the price of a physical DVD and with zero creative trespass from the part of a production company or studio.

Louis C.K. knew the content would be pirated and he had this to say about it:

To those who might wish to “torrent” this video: look, I don’t really get the whole “torrent” thing. I don’t know enough about it to judge either way. But I’d just like you to consider this: I made this video extremely easy to use against well-informed advice. I was told that it would be easier to torrent the way I made it, but I chose to do it this way anyway, because I want it to be easy for people to watch and enjoy this video in any way they want without “corporate” restrictions. Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the video, and let other people find it in the same way.

It’s one thing to rip-off a corporation, another to take from a one-man production company who’s asking you not to rip him off.

RESULT: Over 200,000+ paid downloads for a total of over $1+ million.
PRODUCTION COST: $250K.
PROFIT: $800K free and clear for Louis C.K. to do what he wants with.

Leave it to a comedian, a truth teller, to show all you pseudo-entrepreneurial, creative dilettantes the way forward in this Information Age.  Sure Louis C.K. is just one of the funniest comics working in America today, but that’s the point!  When you can offer us a constant, steady stream of great creative content at a killer price we fans will respond in droves and pay you for it.  I guarantee if and when Louis C.K. puts out garbage for sale, even under the same DRM-free terms, if it’s crap then we fans will clearly let him know.  Fearless, gutsy, assured, unique – all good reasons for why I’m willing to spend my money.

A $0.99/song per download is an outdated charge of the past modeled on physical product.  Fans need AND want an opportunity to discover, share and consume digital music at an affordable price.  If you want your fans to be compelled to consume over and over again, then give them a viable price alternative.  Try $0.25 to 0.33/song per download and see what happens, especially if you offer up fresh, new and different music constantly.  Walk, talk and share with your fans through the creative process from songwriting to producing to recording and mixing and see how they respond – from an acoustic demo, to a fully produced yet unmixed master, to the end result.  This is the closest opportunity fans will have to be right there in the studio with you. And for that privilege the result will be… Ka-ching!

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After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses – NYTimes.com.

…to figure out that at a cost of $1,500.00 for 32 leather bound volumes they could no longer afford to compete with the free, user generated, 11 years old, encyclopedic website Wikipedia.  It took a decade for a digital phenom to disintermediate a nearly two and half century old business.  Why hasn’t there been a similar, swift change of the guard when it comes to music?

If we credit Edison’s 1886 patent for the wax coated recording cylinder as the start of the recorded music industry, then the business of music today is in its 124th year.  That said mp3 files have been on the internet since 1994, so applying the same disintermediation arithmetic to music means it should have taken about 5 years for the physical consumption of music to go the way of the Dodo bird.  Ironically, 1999 was the music industry’s zenith with global sales topping out at nearly $27B.  Many well known factors (from the failed draconian enforcements of the Copyright Cartels, to the steady adoption of broadband, to the falling costs of technology, to the rebirth of Apple, and the P2P revolution launched by Napster) have since reversed that trend with sales of music dropping steadily every year.

So, again, why is it taking so long for things to change?  Some say CDs are here to stay, that they serve a qualitative and nostalgic purpose.  One good friend, who sells physical CDs online, argues that millions of CD buyers are still out there looking for what he has to offer, and with less competition from brick and mortar stores he’s poised to make a seven figure a year income.  OK, but for how long?  The CD is well on its way to becoming a collectors item and, like the Encyclopaedia Britannica, physically obsolete.

Music fans have spoken, they want 24 hours access to their music wherever they might be, in an easy and cost effective manner.  The way forward is mobile streaming because when fans leave the house it’s their keys, wallet, and cellphone that they take with them.

The Spotify music streaming service is the closest thing they have to that desired ubiquity, but cost for the service and its condescension for indie artists & labels has made for a spotty service.  Spotify is not the future, it’s the staid present under the watchful eye (and ownership) of major labels.  If major labels and their cronies (publishers, PROs, trade organizations) aren’t the agents of change, then why do artists still appear dumbfounded by the fact that change is being spearheaded by TechCos?

What is it going to take for artists to embrace change on their own terms and scale their musical offerings to a global marketplace instead of falling prey to copyright politics defined country by country?

Today your customer is global from the moment you make your music available.  Isn’t it time you started competing and cooperating with each other on a global scale to meet the needs of your fans?  That’s the genius of the Visa credit card: No single owner, no centralized power, no country by country politics, instead a global marketplace defined by a financial exchange between all merchants for the customer and all customers for the merchant.

So why not all artists for the fan and all fans for the artist?

If you’re serious about the business of music, then do yourself a favor and read Don Passman’s book, All You Need To Know About The Music Business.  It is THE music business playbook, the best book out there for artists bar none.  Passman’s book is all about the details, definitions, nuances and everything in between.  He’s on his 7th Edition © 2009 and he’s got tons of info on the digital state of things in this Information Age we now live in.

Note, the only thing missing from Passman’s book are the “tasty bits”, that is real world examples of the actual contracts & financial statements – be it Recording Agreement, Publishing Agreement, royalty statement, PRO statement, etc. – all the things Don gets paid handsomely to negotiate for you.

SoP plans to remedy this by offering for download and review as many contracts and statements as we can get our hands on so we’re talking not just in the abstract but also looking at concrete examples of what’s really going on.

In the meantime, READ THIS BOOK, and familiarize yourself with the jargon because you’re going to see plenty of it here.

If Major Labels Are All About Helping Artists, Why Do We Keep Seeing Artists Calling Out Their Labels For Screwing Them? | Techdirt.

KiD CuDi the ArTiSt© is upset because his major label, Universal Republic, doesn’t want to work hard on his new WZRD album with producer pal Dot Da Genius.  Ahhh, I’m sorry CuDi that your latest Artiste project is getting dissed by your label even before it’s out.  Thank God you can twhine about it and inform us fans that everything you release is a HIT HIT HIT cuz if you ain’t on the radio we’z wouldn’t know it’s a hit, right?

RIGHT!

And herein lies the problem.  Major labels, and most Indie labels worth anything, are in business to make money, and ever so rarely – art.  They’re into making art when the balance sheet is in the black.  KiD CuDi was signed as a hip-hop artist, not a rock artist and his latest 6 string ruminations with pal Da Genius clearly have nothing to do with why he was signed in the first place.  Sadly the only one who doesn’t seem to see this is CuDi ze Artiste.

When an ARTIST is starving in his dingy Bed-Stuy basement apartment getting stoned all day, creating killer beats, laying down insane rhymes and honing his mad skills to conquer the world he’s got one up on the signed ArTiSt©.  He only has to make music for art’s sake.  He can raise his middle finger in defiance to the internal label critics, blissfully unaware that once signed he will be the subject of countless focus groups and surveys to see which radio format(s) he fits into.  Ignorance is truly bliss.  Once you’ve done a deal with da devil (da-la-bel), then shit man know your rights and SHUT THE F*** UP and take it like a man.

Problem is most artists don’t know their rights from a hole in the ground cuz most of them have sold their rights out for the almighty dollar and left their deal to a lawyer or manager who’s in bed with the label and publisher they’re now twhining about.  It’s hard to go back to the basement when you’ve been in the penthouse for a while, but creativity is not a measure of sales and talent is even less a measure of success.  For an ARTIST to become an ArTiSt© today it’s all about determination, timing and a small miracle. Be thankful when you’ve got the © after your nom de plume, and arm yourself with knowledge and people much smarter than you.  A little humility doesn’t hurt either….