I did just a tad bit of digging on this one because the abused phrase “never look a gift horse in the mouth” originally entered my head as I read it. The phrase originated in and era when horses were commonly used in trade and, big surprise, gifts. In that era, according to this little post, it would have been rude or stupid, when gifted such, to look into the mouth of the animal to determine it’s age and value. I wonder how a punch, kick or a cattle prod would go over?
According to Mashable and in my opinion, The music industry did just that. At first, it may seem like a stretch, however, I beg to argue that it is not. While Apple may be announcing the securing of cloud deals with labels and launching as soon as June 6, what sense does it make for an industry, supposedly in trouble, to chop off 100 M? Mashable is reporting that Bloomberg Business stated that Google was willing to pay 100 million to the four major labels for cloud license. Apparently the labels were concerned about the fact that Google often points to video and music that violates copyright and the talks broke down.
I think it parallels the gift horse analogy pretty well and I am sure that the Racketeering Idiots Association of Absurdity would have not only punched the horse but would certainly take the next step and sue it, it’s owner, the local blacksmith and the company that sold the owner the grain.
Sticking with the pun, they are also putting the cart before the horse. Even if Google did somehow completely stop linking to copyright infringing material, does the industry not realize that some other search engine would still link to said content? If the industry claims it losing billions per year to illegal downloading, why not take the 100 million and let the search giant create the legal cloud service? Seriously, Google is big time and business smart. Does the industry not understand that if Google had a legal service would it not follow to tweak it’s search results to point to it’s own money maker? Perhaps the industry doesn’t get that because, at least in my lifetime, they have specialized in business models to drive away their few remaining customers. In related news, Apple has secured a deal with the big four and is expected to release a cloud music service with iTunes automatically incorporated. Quoting the PhysOrg.com article:
PhysOrg.com reports in a separate article, that this new service may actually curb piracy and allow the record industry to recoup some of the losses from the new media order. If that is true, would more legal services curb it even more? Why deal with Apple and not Google? How could it not lead to more total sales? Is it just me or does this not even have “horse sense”?
It is the opinion of this author that piracy will cease when the industry simply gets the fact that today’s consumer wants non DRM electronic media and NOT the dated obsolete CDs. If the industry would spend more time as a marketing force and less time as a police force and litigation squad, maybe the consumer will want to do business with them.
Personally, I have boycotted the mainstream music industry for over a decade and have mega gobs of great creative commons music by artists of all genre from all over the world. You hear independent music here because I simply refuse to give a single penny to any business that thinks it tolerable to sue their customers.
There already plenty of legal music download sites that cater to the independent artists… funny how they never seem to get mentioned when the industry compares illegal downloads to it’s declining sales. They usually leave out success stories like the half million per year earnings of Jonathan Coulton who has no deal with any label.
If I am so wrong about us wanting MP3s and downloads, how did it work out so well for Lady Gaga? She brought down Amazon without any help from Anonymous. You know why, because even though Gaga is a bit freaky, she is totally hip to the new media order. She has even said that she thinks 99 cent album downloads are reasonable. Her album, “Born This Way (special edition)”, has sold more albums it’s first week of release than any other album released in the past 6 years.
While some claim that Amazon lost 3 million with the special one day 99 cent deal, it sure seems certain that it had a great marketing value. (Amazon did extend the deal one additional day due to crash and complaints.) It is believed that of the 1.1 million first week sales, 440,000 thousand of them were at the price of 99 cents. So if they lost three million on those cheap ones, does that not mean they made about 4.5 million on the remaining 660,000 thousand sales that were at the regular price? Does that not put them 1.5 ahead in the first week alone?
(3 million / 440 000) * (1.1 million – 440 000) = four million five hundred thousand
I don’t know if my figures are perfectly accurate, we are dealing with an industry that does not have the best reputation for math and accounting. However they agree with many other sources but for an album that was anticipated to sell under 500,000 copies does one really need to be that exact with the numbers?
She is only one of five female artists to have a million sale week and certainly that the promotion had an impact. However, the majority of the sales were not at the special price and she still blew by the estimated sales. As of this post, she is still #1 on Billboard’s Top 100 and expected to stay there though out this week. According to Amazon, the album is still the number 5 seller on Amazon overall and it is still the number 1 MP3 download. If you go to her MP3 download page, she even offers a free download and some of her tracks are even below the typical 99 cent price. You can also find her on where she is also currently the number five download.
Lady Gaga is not the only one to take advantage of the new method of media distribution and marketing. While Lady Gaga may be an artist who is well known and may well be the current queen of pop, the artists who can really capitalize on this new media order are those that need to be found and heard. Jonathan Coulton has mentioned in interviews that his enemy is obscurity. While many established artist view file sharing and free files as a threat to profit, JoCo is wise enough to know that if you are not known, there is no profit. The cost of marketing yourself and publicizing yourself is virtually free.
The best recent example of a band really capitalizing on it is the band Sick of Sarah. This rocking girl band wisely released their entire album via bit torrent. The album broke records for downloads and, at least partially due to the downloads, the band is still touring. In today’s world, that is where the profit really is.
The reality is that the old method of media distribution for the music and entertainment industry and press has changed. The consumer of today wants it now, wants it DRM free, and wants it easily accessible. Getting it free is nice but how many 99 cent tracks have been sold to date? They don’t want to go to a record store to buy, they want to click a button on their phone. I have still not found any cell phones with a built in CD player.
In other words, the environment of the industry has changed. Historically speaking, the dinosaurs that didn’t adapt or morph to our planet’s environmental change simply became extinct. Western Union and AT&T used to be a telegraph companies. Is it not time for the music and movie industries to realize that they used to sell CDs and DVDs? The new business model is simple:
Connect with Fans (CwF) + Reason to Buy (RtB) = The Business Model
I used to buy CDs, although I still do, they are for station give-aways and not for my music library. I used to have a huge shelf for my CDs, now I have a hard drive and a MP3 player. I didn’t follow this gaga girl much but, I gotta tell ya, I think the Lady really gets it. She connected with 440,000 fans and gave 660,000 more a reason to pay full price. She doubled anticipated sales and is still in the top ten on most relevant charts.
I really, really, really wish that the industry she is in would also do the same and just get with the new media order. I would love to write a post about how they finally “got it” and announce that I am, once again, buy 2 or 3 major label albums each week. Unfortunately, I think the reality is we shall see another Triple Crown winner before that happens. Meanwhile, they stick with a business model best sent off to a glue factory.
- Are the RIAA and MPAA the Biggest Threat to Innovation? (indienation.fm)
- Follow Up – RIAA Will Give “Some” of the Royalties to The Artists (indienation.fm)
- RIAA and MPAA Back Legislation to Support Warrentless Searches of DVD Duplication Labs (indienation.fm)
- Apple iCloud, Google Music, Amazon Cloud Drive, Its Getting Crowded (ghacks.net)
- Apple’s cloud music could finally make piracy pay (ctv.ca)
- iTunes in the Cloud Versus Other Music Services (pcworld.com)