Monday, July 28, 2008

Guest Blog: Death of the Record Industry

By James Clark

Finally, after 25 years of self-harm, the music industry has succeeded in taking its own life.
Seppuku was finally achieved with news that The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the music industry’s enforcement arm, is to join with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in issuing warning letters to thousands of customers whose computers contain illegally downloaded albums and songs.

The industry premise is simple: if you download songs without paying up then the artist and the label which invested in them get nothing, thus you are stealing and hurting the industry. Andy Burnham was straight in to back the move, citing the need to “protect artists”. It’s rubbish though; the real villains are elsewhere.

As a teenager I and everyone I knew would tape music from the radio shows like the late John Peel’s, hoping to hear new things we might like. This was equally illegal (remember those great “Home Taping Is Killing Music” warnings the BPI’s forerunner used to issue?). Did it kill the industry in the 80s and 90s? Not a bit. Artists I came to love at the time: The Cult, Billy Bragg, The Smiths and, as the adverts used to say, many, many more, all came to my attention through tapes like this. Having discovered I liked them I thirsted for more, and I went out and bought their records.

One of those bands whose records I bought after getting a tape from a friend called themselves Pop Will Eat Itself. True prophets from Birmingham, as it turned out. In the 80 and 90s music was about broadcasting yourself. If you were a “goth”, and loved The Cure and The Sisters Of Mercy, you dressed accordingly. Other kids knew your likes, and to some degree your view of the world, your values and what mattered to you just from seeing you.

The music you listened to reflected and reinforced this. It was like belonging to a clan. The same went for metal heads, skinheads, new romantics, grungers, hippies and a thousand other clans.
The commercial spin-off of this was that kids expanded their tastes, and thus spending, as they grew older because their music was rooted in something which grew with them. But the record industry couldn’t help itself. In the 90s it decided that paying money to drunken and difficult bands was a mug’s game, and investing in expensive A&R to find good acts was equally stupid.

Instead it started producing endless dance acts and boy bands. In the short term it worked – a “DJ” needs only some technical kit and a pile of someone else’s records to produce an album. Boy Bands, short on talent, do as they’re told for fear of being sacked. And it sold records, including to a new audience, the newly-financially-empowered under-14s. But when the 14 year olds were 18 year olds they simply stopped buying records altogether. Perhaps the odd Christmas No1, or “Now That’s What I Call Music! 3894”, but nothing else. Why? Because they had no musical identity. S-Club 7 and East17 meant nothing to them after they grew up. The music they listened to as kids didn’t lead them anywhere, or to anything new. The internet is the new John Peel, the new underground scene. It is through building a presence amongst file-sharers, and on social networking sites, that the acts of tomorrow break through from the underground to the commercial mainstream – not because they’re on iTunes, but because kids love the sense of discovery, of finding something others don’t know, of being first.

File-sharing should have been the industry’s salvation. I own dozens of records I came to via file-sharing friends. I suspect 80% of the records I have bought in the last five years can be traced back to file-sharing. Almost all of my friends have done similar things – file-shared to find new things amongst on-line communities of like-minded people, and then bought records as a result.

Sure, one or two people out there will “steal” everything and never part with a penny, but they’re a tiny minority and they have always existed (your friend with the 1,000 self-recorded tapes, remember him?). The industry, and the BPI, though, insist they should be able to deliver dross and expect people to buy it blind. I’m 37, and I’m still buying records and loving new things. I’m already a 20+ year customer for the industry. What of today’s 17-year-olds? There are only so many X-Factor winner albums one can buy in 20 years.

The reality is that the music scene survives, just, beneath this cloying blanket of commercial greed and risk aversion, with the odd band breaking through to the clean air above. Within a decade, though, the industry will be gone as we have known it, and the talent it uncovered, and the lifelong joy it bought people as a result, will have gone with it.

Blues legend says that the great Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil at a deserted Mississippi crossroads in return for his success. The next Robert Johnson will get there to find the offer rescinded – Satan is gorged on the souls of an entire industry.

50 comments:

Alan Douglas said...

Van Morrison has employed some cowboy outfir which calls itself "The Web Sherriff" to force instant removal of any youtube and siliar material, and as a byproduct has closed down some very old and worshipful fan sites through whom I would often introduce new people to Van.

I have not attended a concert or bought a record by Van since - somehow I feel constricted in daring even to talk about Van in case it is something he would disapprove of. Insanity.

Alan Douglas

PS This blog answer may well produce a personal reply from the Web Sherriff to me, labelled confidential and copyright, thus further inhibiting me from even thinking about Van.

No doubt they get paid by "results" or web messages dealt with ?

commenter said...

Equating taping off the radio with downloading entire albums from the internet is laughable. The first requires a lot of effort, and you end up with a crap analogue copy with talking over the music. The second is virtually effortless and you end up with a high quality digital copy of an entire album, without Mark Goodier burbling over the start and end of every song.

And where's the evidence that there are only 'one or two' people who download lots of music and don't subsequently buy the album when they like the music?

I am not in favour of totally banning music file sharing, but really... this article is crawling with nonsense.

Anonymous said...

The performing rights society are intimidating small firms with one or two employees, telling them if the pay £65 for licence to listen to the radio, they will not pursue them for past transgressions. If you just have the radio on to hear road conditions, as many firms have to; that also needs a licence because they play jingles between announcements. The're behaving like the mafia.

Boyce said...

The fact is, the ISPs don't have a clue what you're downloading if you're using torrents or other similar types of file sharing and there are many companies and indeed bands that use these networks to distribute freely material that they own anyway. BT or whoever cannot tell the difference. The most prolific downloaders (students) aren't going to take threatening letters seriously (just ask the TV Licensing folks) so it's going to be a wasted exercise anyway.

I also tend to download to "try before I buy" because there isn't really any other way to find new good bands since radio is so bad and there are so few DJs allowed to stray from the playlists the tastemakers pick out.

Now record shops are closing at a huge rate...pretty much all independents have closed over the last five years and Fopp collapsed, leaving only HMV and Virgin (now stupidly renamed Zavvi) who are notoriously poor at stocking indie labels or self-released records...buying music is almost totally limited to paid downloads which are expensive and poor quality and come with the very irritating DRM. It's surely only a matter of time until artists are forced to put their new records online for free and recoup the money touring and with merchandise. The longer the record companies try and stick to their outdated business model the bigger the shock to the system will be when big-name artists abandon them to self-release.

wrinkled weasel said...

James Clark cites the "tribal" element of music buying. It's true. Music buying, especially when you are young, is about cultural identity. Even in later life it can be the case.

Let us be very very clear. The music industry has always been operated by petty thieves at least, and at worst by gangsters - Sharon Osborne's dad, Don Arden, being a case in point; he threatened to have Ronnie Wood's legs broken if Ronnie joined The Rolling Stones in the days after Brian Jones's death. (Mick Taylor did the gig for the time being).

If you are in your fifties like me, you have already bought The White Album, several times over, on vinyl, on 8-track, on cassette and on CD. If you ever get to download it, they will want more of your money. Until very recently, the music industry was reeling in cash and able to run vast A&R departments, fuelled by cocaine and first class travel. This was coming out of the pockets of credulous hopefuls who, in the frenzy of being offered their first deal, took what was offered, which in most cases was a rip off. In an industry where Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney and many many great artists can lose control of their own work, it is pretty obvious to me that we are not dealing with saints here.

Well, they are now so desperate, these gangsters, that they are going after 14year old kids in their bedrooms.

James Clark is right. The music is out there and the majors can go and feck themselves. Kids know where to seek out new talent and it aint in HMV.

Anonymous said...

The music industry is a shambles. Even the collecting societies such as PPL and PRS are running around acting like glorified gangsters. Shame Andy Burnham has been nobbled by them.

Anonymous said...

So will someone tell me how these people will obtain the correct adress to send their threatening letters to? Presumably via an isp address which then begs the question, how is that linked to a specific telephone number and if that is case, surely both the isp provider and the telephone company may be guilty of breaking the data protection laws?

Anonymous said...

What value do the record labels add now?

Recording processes can now be substantially home made, distribution is via the net, and the most powerful marketing is, as you amply demonstrate Iain, by word of mouth and group sharing. They don't deserve to get much for such little added value.

There remains the challenge of delivering fair value to the songwriters and performers. Since they have historically been royally ripped off by the record labels... with no sign of improvement, then they are unlikely to suddenly get a fair deal from the record labels however much money file sharers are force to cough up.

It's an oppressive and unfair business model which is now broken, and should be consigned to the bin of history.

Tristan said...

Its interesting to look at what's happening now.

Many artists have decided to give up on the major labels, starting their own labels, or signing to independent labels again.

They embrace file sharing, knowing that it is good marketing. Some even encourage fans to remix their music.

Leading this is Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails who offers all his recent music under a license allowing free copying and remixing for non-commercial use.
He charges a small amount to download the whole of the album in good quality (typically $5) and is just giving away his most recent album as a thank you to his fans.

Despite this he's making money on physical CDs, both in special limited edition versions and in standard editions.
He's also touring and making money from merchandise and shows.
True he is already a big artist and can indulge himself, but he's pioneering methods which may work for smaller acts too.

Today, when the costs of setting up a basic recording studio are lower than ever, when advertising through word of mouth can encompass the whole world, the power of the big record labels is declining.
Artists no longer need to sell their souls to the major labels for little reward, they can go it alone more easily than ever.

Steve Albini wrote a good article on the way major labels treat their acts:
http://www.negativland.com/albini.html

If this is being torn down, then fantastic.

Atama Ga ii hito said...

I am a pedant perhaps, but nothing as plebeian as the music industry could be said to have committed Seppuku.

Ronnie said...

I worked in the music business for 25 years, working with real artists like The Smiths, New Order, Bowie and so on. The business knew all about downloading nearly 10 years ago and did nothing. They put their fingers in their ears and went blah blah blah. When they lost their jobs they wondered why? They should have embraced the technology and made it pay through clicks and advertising. Want the new Coldplay album? Fine its free, just watch these ads for BMW or Gillette razors or whatever..generating an income stream.

The old business model has collasped entirely and new bands now make their money through live performance and merchandising. What new band, in their right mind would sign to a major record company? They are useless, they cannot promote you properly and they will just waste your money.

Another thing: Who ever thought it was a good idea to let iTunes run the record industry? Overpriced, crap bit rate, shit interface. I get my music now from the Russian websites where a track costs $0.15, the bitrate is almost CD quality and it's not a rights infringement. I burn onto CD and give them away to fiends. Is that illegal? Who cares!

dan saffend said...

Billy Bragg, Iain?


Good grief!!!!

Anonymous said...

the 'traditional' retailers and media operators haven't even begun to realise what the internet and associated activities are going to mean to their businness'the demise of names like hmv, whsmith, woolworth and the traditional book publisher etc could be a rapidly accelerating feature of the next decade. equally the bbc licence fee may well disappear in favour of pay to view

equally the 'manufacturers' (the van morrison's the tv companies etc) are only at the beginning of the learning curve of the many different ways their 'product' will get to the customer and most ,although they speak some weird jargon have actually no idea and are secretly resistant to any change

as to the impact on politics, 'knowledge is power' and more and more the 'political elite' is going to find control of the flow of information harder and harder - but they still don't get it !

Chicago Bear said...

OT but

Iain

Thought you'd like to know you have (finally!) made it to the big time!

You are now 'Blocked' when searched for your blog in China - I know because I have just 'Escaped' from this beacon of freedom as the Olympics approach

Praise indeed!

Chicago Bear

Broon's Talking Bawgie said...

If you are in your fifties like me, you have already bought The White Album, several times over, on vinyl, on 8-track, on cassette and on CD. If you ever get to download it, they will want more of your money.

Yeah, exactly - every time the format changes they get to sell you same thing again, and in many cases, the format itself disintegrates or falls apart. Tapes suffer drop-off, CD delaminate, and what not.

I have ripped a fair amount of music off Limewire but without exception it has been stuff I have already bought and paid for, often more than once, in older formats not compatible with modern digital players (45rpm singles for example).

All this still isn't good enough for the greedy buggers. They must be socialists at heart - if they want to make money out of music, why not, you know, foster a bit of talent so there's more music rather than ration what's already out there?

Roger Thornhill said...

IIRC, EMI's decision to negotiate a DRM-free deal with Apple iTunes was when they invited a group of youths to their head office for a survey on music tastes and media.

At the end, they were brought into the Board Room and thanked for their input and invited to help themselves to the pile of CDs laid out.

The pile was left almost untouched. CDs were not the means to consume music anymore.

This move will be used, I fear, as a trojan to usher in stricter web control, more snooping, "guilty until proven innocent" and an attempt to control what is used on the net.

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

Well you're right about file-sharing but you know sweet F.A. about the role of DJs in the music industry.

Where do you think most people hear the really new music? Who do you think spends hours doing - as the most prolific file-sharers do illegally - all the digging through the chaff to find the wheat? DJs strive to find the next new record that they sense is going to make it big, and to have it first. It's what we DO.

Incidentally, what the hell is a "dance act"? Presumably you're referring to producers. Also, it's producers that make albums, not DJs. If a DJ does release something it's because they're also a producer or they've made it sufficiently big to produce a "compilation".

Don't knock the DJs mate, if it weren't for us you'd have a really boring time in the clubs.

Anonymous said...

I discussed this with my mates a while back.

Music did define who you were so much more than today. Now everyone wants to be the same. Eg. All young girls want to be Jordan and get her horrible plastic tits, fake smile and tan.

Ilja Nieuwland said...

I'm currently working part-time in the classical music industry, with a small label which releases 'forgotten' repertoire from the 19th and early 20th century.

In the 1980s just about every other classical music lover replaced their entire LP colleciton with CDs. While at the time it gained record companies enormous profits, the entire industry collapsed in the late 90s under the weight of an overly expensive 'star' system, decreasing revenue and, most of all, the industry's inability to be creative and act on the new circumstances.

Nowadays, the 'majors' (Universal, EMI etc.) are just regurgitating the same old material (Karajan, anyone?) while the creative impetus comes from smaller labels such as cpo, Hyperion etc., who cater to a niche audience and understand that the typical classical cd buyer is a sitting-room listener rather than a concert-goer (where the repertory is as static as it ever was).

The problems? The first is the High Street Store, which is disappearing left, right, and centre and is still unable to re-adjust. They will probably go, and leave the field to the internet warehouses that are generally doing a great job. Second problem is the online music sellers that are typically more interested in non-classical material and therefore ill-suited to provide for the necessities of offering classical music (composer listings, for instance, can be more important than artist listings).

The major labels have now effectively disappeared, and the situation has become much the better for it with regard to repertory. That, and the disappearance of the star cult has recreated classical recording as a creative industry.

Anonymous said...

Is it an offence to buy a book and then loan it to a friend or give it to the charity shop? I'm not loosing any sleep over pop stars and the less money they have to spend on drugs the better. Touring is where the money is.
freedom to prosper

Anonymous said...

I wish people would stop propagating this myth that downloading music is illegal. It is not. It *is* illegal to distribute (upload) copyrighted material though.

Of course, the nature of some methods of filesharing mean that you are both downloading material and re-uploading it on a continuous basis.

Perhaps if ISPs send out hundreds of thousands of letters then BPI workers will fine their building HQ plastered in them one morning?

Ade B said...

Somebody asked where the evidence is that people who download without paying then go on and buy CDs.

There is some research into this.

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/content/news/time-for-music-industry-to-embrace-freeloaders-in-.ashx

Seems to show that people who don't pay for downloading music spend a lot of money on both physical CDs and otehr music industry products.

Jilted John said...

What gets me is that the music industry whines that 'music pirates' (a touch hysterical) are 'robbing artists'. Um, no. That's, well, you that's doing that. And have been happily for at least a century. I can see why you're getting pissed off that someone is muscling in on your patch - albeit in a tiny way - in the same way that a large scale crack dealer might be peeved that someone was selling small amounts of weed on his manor, but if we're looking at who takes artists for a massive ride, it's the music industry every time.

As many bands are now happily demonstrating, the money is in touring and merchandising.

Anonymous said...

I think the majors are more worried about loss of control of the market than file sharing itself. That's why they keep on extending copyright. Their business model can only work if they control the supply of product. Digital formats don't wear out and file sharing has given us access to huge caches of old material. This bloated supply has made their limited stock a lot less valuable so their response is to try to control the supply.

I still buy a lot of music but its invariably from small labels. I find out what I want from the 'net, and if its any good I buy a recording.

Anonymous said...

This is good.

The pop recording industry has been a rip-off since the 1970s, a means of dressing up the mediocre with production technology.

Now, only artists who can cut it live will make money. Talent might now start to bubble up and the whole taste-fabric of the population might change - we might even get a revival of artists who can play their instruments well, a criterion that was destroyed in punk's fake revolution into fake nihilism.

The Sex Pistols and the boy bands are just two poles on a continuum of sub-standard crapola that has ruled the pop music industry for the past 30 years. New buds might now bloom.

koop said...

Niccolo Machiavelli
July 28, 2008 3:33 PM

typical response niccolo from people who think the world begins and ends with rock music,
some fine dj musicians and arrangers out there
nicola conte,jazzanova,marc mac,gilles peterson to name a few.

Anonymous said...

Well well well.

The industry that has undermined this country and the West for the last 40 years ("Back in the USSR/How lucky you are""God Save the Queen/The fascist regime" etc ad infinitum) is finally going to be axed in the head by the anti-social narcissistic indifference to law and property-rights it has created.

Pardon me while I dance on its grave.

curly15 said...

You cannot take this seriously when ISPs look both ways at the same time!

Richard Havers said...

James, I think you're confusing the medium with the message. The fact is that sharing tracks is so much easier these days with MP3s. Many people do not consider music to be an essential purchase, like you and I probably used to, is what has done for the industry.

Think about it, should you not be paid for your efforts? If you had written and recorded something would you not want to get some money for your efforts? Is it any more complicated than that?

Of course it's easy to pick on 'record companies' but as often as not they've advanced a lot of money to an artist for them to record their material.

p.s. You are the exception to the rule....

molesworth 1 said...

well said wrinkled weasel 12:13pm

"Home Taping Is Skill In Music"

Anonymous said...

Quote from the PRS (Performing Right Society):

"As it is a legal requirement to gain permission from the music creator to play their music outside of the home, if you continue to play copyright music without a PRS Music Licence you may have to pay costs or damages if PRS has to take legal action"

Make sure you pay that licence before you play your legally obtained music on your MP3 on the beach this summer...

Don't shoot the messenger - this was on one of the letters sent to thousands of businesses in the past few months.

Anonymous said...

37 my arse!

simon said...

Nah- what went wrong was 'pop' tried to go 'cred' in the nineties and hence went 'up the sh*tter'. I bought hundreds of singles throughout the mid to late 80's because the pop scene was fantastic and the price of a 7 inch ( the single- just in-case any Liberal Democrats get confused) was relatively low. Once the cd single arrived it was 'rip-off' heaven for the music companies and hence the product devalued by costing so MUCH. Single sleeve design went up the sh*tter too thanks to the cd single. Plus the bible of the 80's for us pop fans (smash hits)collapsed during the 90's and 00's because the material around was/is so shite. The 'industry' only has itself to blame.

Ilja Nieuwland said...

@Richard Havers: of course performers, producers and distributors (i.e. record companies) ought to be paid for their work. The question is: how often and up to what price? Is it reasonable to ask fees for a download? Yes. Is it reasonable to ask it again and again, for each location and each medium you play it on? No. The current download practice has grown also because people try to dodge expenses that they feel are unreasonable - the more so thanks to the incredible arrogance on the part of record companies.

Allow me to give a parallel example of the copyright maffia: if we record a piece of classical music, I have to rent the sheet music from the music publisher, pay copyright for actually using it in performance, pay again for using the music on a cd and pay several fees to individual editors (thank you, Dr. Sawkins!) independently from the publisher (for good measure, it's OUR responsibility to find and compensate the editors, not the publisher's. In other words: we're paying four or five times for the same notes.

The whole thing has become so incredibly complicated that it's become practically impossible to keep track of even your own responsibilies. And when you're trading internationally it's even more difficult of course, because practices that would get you prosecuted here are entirely legal in other countries, and vice versa.

The Girl Who Sued Shaun Ryder And Won said...

Ronnie - You are so right, I too worked in the music business with Talking Heads, B52s. Ramones, Deborah Harry, Big Audio Dynamite,
Black Grape and last but not least, the incomparable Muddy Waters. The record companies stuck their heads in the sand but of course they have been run by lawyers since the 90's who have absolutely no vision or creativity and have ruined the music industry. Live music and merchandising was ALWAYS the way for bands to make money as few of them ever recoup their advances because they don't sell enough and they all think they are spending the record company's money when it is really their own.

Before the rest of you get all teary eyed about the artists, while I have had the good fortune to work with some of the nicest, except for the foul Shaun Ryder, the good majority have over-inflated opinions of their own talent, are influenced by their jackass friends and would gladly sell you down the river for a dime. The music business now expects managers to work for nothing as do the artists which is why I packed it in. It is now run by lawyers and their hand picked flunkies who manage the acts. Tv talent shows sounded the death knell for music. We had manufactured bands in the sixties sure enough but not on the level it is now but then again music today reflects our society - venal and third division.

The Girl Who Sued Shaun Ryder and Won said...

Wrinkled Weasel - it has been a long time since bands were ripped off - pray tell how did Paul McCartney lose control of his music? As for Brian Wilson, the man was bonkers - he lost control because he was manipulated by his bogus shrink and his gargantuan drug habit. While there had always been shameless excess in record companies it can't compare with the excess of many of the artists. It was a two way street. I don't feel sorry for any record companies but I don't feel sorry for any artists either -with the exception of the black American blues musicians who were ripped off blind in the 50's and early 60's. THAT was a crying shame, not the snivelling little wussies that are around today.

Alan Douglas - Van Morrsison was always an asshole and much as I admired his music I couldn't listen to it because he is such a beast. What a jerk he is and how right you are.

Chris Paul said...

Some small tax on mp3 devices and indeed PCs wouldn't be a bad idea and would probably see this silliness off. cf blank cassette tape levy idea.

Paying a few pennies for a trial download ahead of a purchase doesn't seem too bad. And would at least get something for the authors from the knock off nigels of the world.

The recorded music industry and publishing have been well behind the wave of technology. It has ever been thus.

CharlesOJ said...

Reality check: music sales are plummeting. If the industry takes no action CD sales will fall to near zero.

It's no good theorising about why this won't happen. *It is happening!!*

Warren Buffett said "The internet is good for capitalism. But not for capitalists."

Free music at the touch of a button is a music lover's dream. Juts don't expect the music industry to start applauding as their industry's revenue shrivels up.

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

koop July 28, 2008 6:48 PM

I think you misread what I wrote, and we probably agree more on this than you may think, given that I'm a DJ and producer 'n all.

Incidentally, I do not, never have, and never intend to listen to rock music. House is my cup of tea.

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

Incidentally, there's no real purpose for the big record labels anymore - anyone can create music and, if it's good enough, sell it via the online stores.

The only thing you need is a mic, some software, a laptop and an internet connection.

It's great that they're losing their stranglehold.

Pete Wishart said...

What a load of rubbish this nonsensical article is and as always there is no mention of the musician and his or her rights and livelihood It’s easy to rail against those big bad record companies but the truth is that most musicians survive on an income of less than £10 000 per year - there is no such thing as a minimum wage for the thousands and thousands of jobbing musician. Musician’s income is based on their creativity. Their product is their talent. It is this that’s to be conveniently forgotten about in order to continue to secure their work for free.

Here’s an example. You can now buy your groceries on line from Tesco. But imagine the response if you refused to pay because you were merely “file sharing”, you would quite rightly be laughed out of court. But seemingly it is fair game if you steal someone’s creative work or Intellectual property. Just because music does not exist in some physical form it seems it is fair game and not to be treated the same as all other commodities.

File sharing is an example of people wanting something for nothing, but as always in these situations there is a victim, and the victims in this case are our musicians and artists. The UK has an ambition to be the world hub for the creative industries. If we don’t learn to respect intellectual property properly then that will never be realised.

Pete Wishart MP

lavrentiy beria said...

"Alan Douglas - Van Morrsison was always an asshole and much as I admired his music I couldn't listen to it because he is such a beast. What a jerk he is and how right you are."

As you say, Van the Man is a notorious curmudgeon who has always treated his fans like shit. He is just acting true to form. If you don't want to be treated like shit, best not be one of his fans, life's really too short.

koop said...

July 29, 2008 10:30 Am
Niccolo Machiavelli


sorry for confusion nicollo but if you read my comment again you'll
see i was already in total agreement with you.

Anonymous said...

Ah this all bring back memories of the 1970s when EMI used to sell LPs made out of recycled vinyl - definitely an inferior product than that of DG. They just wanted to make the most money possible.

If Naxos CDs can be sold for £6 in shops then why the extortionate amount for other brands of CDs?

Also what percentage of the CD money actually makes to the artist?

Sorry record companies - the way you manipulate what we hear on tTV and Radio by means of this copyright cartel means I shed no tears at all for you.

commenter said...

Good on ya Pete Wishart. Too many people, I suspect, settle on an argument (sorry, justification) for file sharing because they like not having to pay for the music.

Generalised 'Wolfie Smith' style whingeing about the record companies comes under this kind of misdirection masquerading as an argument.

I am not totally against it though - for example, I will download something I bought on iTunes so I can play it on my non-iPodular MP3 player.

Twig said...

It's a pity Kodak couldn't have persuaded the government to make it illegal to take pictures without a film.

James Clark said...

I wasn't going to respond to comments - rather I thought it would be good to let the debate run. However, the fact that the only ill-mannered comment of them all, the least informed and, frankly, least intelligent, comes from the only MP to respond rather draws me out.
Pete, congratulations. All the trademarks of the intellectually-bankrupt political hack are present. Let's run through the check-list:
* arguing a point that was never actually made (stealing people's work is generally fine) - check
* introducing a nationalistic argument which wasn't there before ("our" artists Pete? Are other people's less worthy?) - check
* missing the entire point (the argument here is about stiffling creativity. You suggest artists are suffering if their music is downloaded for free, but somehow manage to miss, or ignore, the essence of the article which is about the underground, the ability to become known. In other words yes, you're right, Elton John probably would become annoyed if people downloaded his songs without paying, but the dozens of bands out there who can't get a break because they don't have a commerical footprint of a scale which gets them into HMV or onto iTunes would be delighted) - check.

On this basis we should all stand for election; raise the bar a bit.

Ilja Nieuwland said...

@Pete Wishart: if you're really that concerned with artist's rights, do something about the extortionate practices foisted upon artists and the public alike by the record companies.

Martin said...

I can't remember the last time I actually played a CD on my hi-fi. I use my ipod plugged into the speakers rather than trawl through a pile of CD's.

In the car I either use an ipod plugged into the car sound system or a CD full of mp3's.

If I buy a CD I tend to just burn it to itunes, then stick it with a pile of other CD's. What's the point?

Years ago with vinyl at least you often got some "extras" with the album. With a CD you get nothing.

I have noticed that sometimes now if you buy a music DVD you get an audio CD of the concert as well or with say a greatest hits collection they put a DVD of the video's in.

I understand some record companies are even looking at putting video's on the CD that are already to play on portable devices.

That would be useful.

I've also suggested why not offer a voucher with a CD that if you say collect 10 of them you can get an album half price?

The music industry has always resisted change.

How on earth did a third rate computer company (Apple) end up as the worlds biggest seller of mp3 players and music?

Sony what were you doing?

The Girl Who Sued Shaun Ryder and Won said...

Anonymous 2:35

The reason why Naxos can sell CDs so cheaply is that the license older recordings from major labels so they do not have the expense of making the recording, paying the musicians, artists etc. It's a win-win situation for all - Naxos sells CDs, the public pays a bargain price, the record companies get to recoup money and the artist gets royalties.

As to royalties, royalty rates are paid on a rising scale - obviously U2 gets a better royalty rate than a new band. However most people outside the music business miss the point about royalties. The artist only gets their recording royalties after the record company recoups their costs. However, there is also income from publishing (again most artists receive a publishing advance and this must be recouped first). There is also PRS (performing rights) which kicks in every time a song is played so those railing against PRS while crying crocodile tears for the artists take note).

While I agree that the major labels are dinosaurs let us all remember that the music industry is a BUSINESS - why shouldn't they recoup their costs? It costs a whole lot of money to record and produce and promote an album as well as tour a band - most record companies will fund the shortfall for the first few tours. Most artists are greedy and self indulgent and do umpteen mixes of their records, demand huge per diems on tours (one dancing member of Shaun Ryder's band demanded we put his Ecstasy on the tour costs and when my partner refused, he punched him in the face; spend stupid money on CD artwork and then wonder why they are in hock to the record label. As a manager I tried my best to curb this and with intelligent bands it worked - others will do what they want and blame you when it goes pear-shaped.

I for one welcome the downfall of the dinosaurs and hope that we will see a return of record companies like Sire, Rough Trade and Stiff which made cutting edge music and didn't churn out pap. Not everything these labels released was great - they had to throw a lot of s..t against the wall but it was vibrant. Best news of all - the Stones left EMI and Guy Hands and his private equity compnay can take a flying leap.