The value of music

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BlackRiven
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The value of music

Postby BlackRiven » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:08 am UTC

I just watched a presentation from Techdirt (the presentation can be found here) that described how Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails made a profit from his latest CD The Slip despite making it available for download for free. The presentation details what things he did to "Connect With Fans" (CwF) to create enthusiasm, and what he did to give them a "Reason To Buy" (RtB), the combination of which, as the presentation concludes, equals a good buisness model.

In respect to the RtB part, it was often said that the various little gimmics he added in the paid versions, such as a color changing CD and extra content, "added value" to the package and as such gave people a RtB. The question I kept asking myself while watching was: "doesn't the music in itself has any value? And isn't that inherent value constitutes a RtB in itself?" There seemed to be an unspoken message that the thing that gave the package value was not the music itself, but the extras it included, and to me that feels pretty backwards. The music was the central theme in Reznor's brand; it is what gave him a following and what the fans were excited about, and yet it's a well established fact by now that many of those people would've probably downloaded the music instead of buying it had it been traditionally released, which to me is synonimous with saying that it doesn't have enough value to spend money on. And yet, when there were extras involved, it was suddenly worthy? If this experiment is any indicator that people will pay when there is a precieved value, why is it that the music itself is not seen as a good enough reason, despite the fact that many people apparently value it enough to want to get it in some way, and will probably be offended by the insinuation that their ability to enjoy new music should be limited unless they are willing to pay the appropriate fees?
In short: do you think music has value in itself that constitutes a RtB? And if so, why is it that it doesn't seem to be a very dominant consideration for many people? Why is it that only when extras are involved it's suddenly a worthy package, and the music itself is taken for granted?

Second: from discussions I had with people and things I read on the web there seem to be a common argument that "the price of CD's is too high and the value is often too small, so I have to resort to downloading the music illegally", which to me implies that the person *has* to have some way to acquire new music, as if the option to just have to live without it is not even there. It almost sounds like they consider it a right that they have, like the idea of having to give up on new music is unthinkable. My question is: why? Who said you deserve entertainment? It's not food, it's not a shelter in a cold winter day. Why is it so fundamentally important that people not only expect access to it, but do not even consider it special enough unless the artist goes the extra mile to capture their attention?
Do you think that it *is* a right, or something that people shouldn't have to live without? And if so, why?
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Re: The value of music

Postby Azrael » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:14 am UTC

I've seen this debate several times here on the forum and invariably someone comes along and says: "But I believe that music should be free!" without the smallest inkling of support.

I will delete such unsupported claims.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:01 am UTC

In respect to the first point, I think you're underestimating the 'collector instinct', where people will fork out extra dosh because they *have* to have the 'rare' edition. It's like when I bought the 'original theatrical release' Star Wars DVDs on the first day they were available because I thought it was going to be a limited run only available for a few months, and was considering buying two copies in case their value appreciated after a year or so. No such thing happened (you can still buy them now).

Also, there is the whole guilty thing about not buying music. If I get a lot out of an artist, I want them to have some of my money. The best way to reward them is to buy your CDs at gigs, so I usually download stuff to see if I like a band, and then buy a CD if I really like it. Yes, the music has value, but pirating has become so simple and accessible, that you really have to *want* the CD to pay for it.

Regarding the second point... people like to justify their naughty behaviour (illegal downloading) so they can feel good about themselves (the record companies, and their corporation and their profits!), but I don't think you have any 'right' to the music. The band might let you listen to their songs on myspace, but that doesn't mean downloading their albums is morally okay. But it's a good tool to use to filter through the crap and find the stuff you actually like, without forking out hard earned cash.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Minstrel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:00 am UTC

I suspect Reznor is attempting to create a working business model within the current structure of laws, while staying true to copyright ideals separate from what those current laws support. Currently, an artist cannot easily gain monetary compensation for the value of his work, save by live performance, while at the same time releasing it for public download, without cost. So he is adding value to the physical copy persuade people to pay him.

The issue is not whether music "has value". The medium over which music is distributed no longer does. The recording industry and the law need to adapt to that reality if they want to maintain profits for themselves and for the artists. Until that happens, progressive artists like Reznor will have to adopt strategies similar to what he is doing.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Plasma Man » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:12 pm UTC

The music itself does have value, but a lot of people quite like the idea of getting something of value for free. I partly agree with Pez Dispens3r that the paid version appeals to the collector instinct, though I think it goes further than that. Consider that you can buy an ordinary T-shirt much more cheaply than a band T-shirt, yet people will pay the extra for a band T-shirt. Not only is this a tangible and visible display of your liking for a band, it's a way of showing your support for that band by spending the extra money.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Carnildo » Sat Feb 07, 2009 2:49 am UTC

BlackRiven wrote:In respect to the RtB part, it was often said that the various little gimmics he added in the paid versions, such as a color changing CD and extra content, "added value" to the package and as such gave people a RtB. The question I kept asking myself while watching was: "doesn't the music in itself has any value? And isn't that inherent value constitutes a RtB in itself?"


What is "value"?

In the simplest definition, "value" is the price people are willing to pay for something. The music itself is an abstract thing, and it's hard to place value on an abstract; people are much better at dealing with concrete things: a concert, a CD, an MP3. As has been demonstrated repeatedly over the past decade, people consider digital copies of music to have a very low value (see: Napster), and I suspect this comes from the near-zero cost of making a copy. The value in a CD of music comes from its form (the concrete CD) rather than its content (the abstract music), so by adding these gimmicks, he's giving people a reason to choose a form they give a high value to over one they give a low value to.

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Re: The value of music

Postby yy2bggggs » Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:41 pm UTC

Carnildo wrote:What is "value"?

In the simplest definition, "value" is the price people are willing to pay for something. The music itself is an abstract thing, and it's hard to place value on an abstract; people are much better at dealing with concrete things: a concert, a CD, an MP3.

Not really. I actually do place a value on the abstract. In particular, the atomic unit of the thing I place value on (in general... there are exceptions) is a specific performance of a musical work. For example, I would buy an MP3, but an MP3 with a restriction on it that I can only play it on one machine has no value to me. If I can't convert it to an Ogg Vorbis, due to arbitrary restrictions, it also has no value. In general, music that is controlled below my "atomic" layer will simply tend to get ignored by me.

However, if it's a different performance, even of the same song, and I like it, I would consider buying said other performance (typically, this is a different artist, but there have been cases where it's the same artist).

A live performance is a good example of the exception--that has a distinct value to me in itself. For example, I would pay to go to a live performance of an artist I like, and would gladly consider paying again to buy his CD, even of the same performance I attended.
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Re: The value of music

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:34 am UTC

The inherent value of the music, whether or not it's there, doesn't constitute a reason to buy because that same music can be easily and effortlessly acquired for free. From the point of view of the consumer who has no qualms with illegal downloading and who doesn't care about physical ownership (that is, many, many people), the physical CD is exactly the same as what they could pirate. For this person, there is no reason to buy the music, because they can get it without paying for it.

Basically, the music industry cannot stop file sharing, and they are gradually coming to grips with this fact. So, rather than insist that consumers not pirate, they're looking at ways to convince the potential pirate to purchase the music instead, by adding a value to the purchase beyond the easy-to-acquire music itself. It has nothing to do with whether or not the data on the CD has inherent value, and everything to do with convincing the consumer to purchase what they could easily get for free.

As for your second point, I don't think it's a right, but I think the argument is more than just "I deserve to have this music." You have conventional theft, which would be stealing a CD from a store. The effect on the company is that they are down one unit of inventory, whereas if you had not stolen it, they would still have the piece of inventory they paid for, which they could sell to someone else. With file sharing, if you steal it, nobody is down on inventory, and unlike conventional theft, the effect on the company is the same as if you had never stolen it and never purchased it. The company loses, at most, a potential sale, whereas if you had stolen a physical CD, the company loses a tangible amount of money.

The argument that defenders of file sharing make is that most CDs are too expensive, so they would never buy them anyway. They set up a system with two outcomes: 1) They never buy the CD and never acquire the music. The company makes no money off them. 2) They never buy the CD, but acquire the music. The company makes no money off them, but they now have music. The argument is that the effect on the company is the same, while the effect on themselves is better. The company isn't losing any potential sales, so they aren't losing any money.

I think this argument is faulty, because there's no way to prove that they wouldn't buy the CDs if file sharing were not an option, or that they would buy the CDs if they were "affordable" (and the argument usually figures ~$15-20 per CD, which is about twice what I usually pay and what you can easily find online). However, the argument isn't about entitlement. It isn't so much that they *deserve* the music as it is that, well, they can get it without hurting anybody, so why not?

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Re: The value of music

Postby StealthAstroturfer » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:16 am UTC

I download music. A lot of music. Shit-tons of the stuff. So do most of the people I know. In addition to that, almost everybody I know commits some form of copyright-infringement on a regular basis. I and all my friends freely rip each others' CDs. I put albums on to USB sticks for people. I've had friends copy the entire contents of my /music folder to portable HDs; and I've copied the music folders of some of my friends, too. I place no moral worth in respecting copyrights whatever. I understand why they're sometimes useful, and understand the arguments made for why they're needed, but none of it makes a blind bit of difference to me. I do it because I can. Just so you know where I stand on this thorny issue. :roll:

As far as mp3s go, I don't consider the direction magnets are facing on my hard disk to have any value at all. I do consider a live show to be well worth my time and money, though. As also are well-produced boxsets and all that jazz: I'd be extremely pleased to see more of them. These are things I can hold, and scuff, and love. I would say the music itself has value, but it is not monetary. I reckon it has cultural worth: by which I mean a thing that isn't strictly necessary for survival, but something that would make life unbearable if we didn't have it. I don't expect it to be given to me for free; I don't have any silly notion that I'm entitled to any of it. If I want it; I'll go out of my way to get it. Supply and demand, working as intended. I think of music as art. If people make money out of it: great. But just as I don't expect artists to give me stuff for free, I don't think artists should expect anybody to pay for the stuff they make. It would be a pretty cyclical argument with no solution if it wasn't for the simple fact that people will always find a way to make music regardless of whether or not they get paid for it. The notion of the music itself being something that one must pay to get is a pretty new thing in human history. It's starting to go the other way again, now.

The "piracy" debate is a non-starter. I'm glad you didn't bring that one up. But that video was pretty positive about it without explicitly mentioning it: having people download your tunes costs you nothing, might win you a few fans, and more importantly, some of them just might pay to see one of your gigs. Even if the download-to-dollars ratio is pathetically slim, it's still money made at zero cost to you. The overriding message for other artists seems to be adapt or die. If enough people in the world are cheapskate bastards just like me, complaining about it won't solve anything. I'm proud to be part of the problem.

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Re: The value of music

Postby a386 » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:37 am UTC

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=98591002 is very interesting and much more thought out than anything i can say about this. My favorite part of it is at the end (around like thirty three or thirty four minutes in) when he talks about Sousa and phonographs and consumer versus creator culture, and how we are maybe on our way back to a bit more of a creator culture, with more amateurs creating. It's really really exciting to think about, and you see it a little with people having an outlet for their creation with youtube and blogs who would not be able to reach an audience (or as large an audience) without the internet. It's exciting, i said that already but it is worth saying again.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Malice » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:03 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:Basically, the music industry cannot stop file sharing, and they are gradually coming to grips with this fact. So, rather than insist that consumers not pirate, they're looking at ways to convince the potential pirate to purchase the music instead, by adding a value to the purchase beyond the easy-to-acquire music itself. It has nothing to do with whether or not the data on the CD has inherent value, and everything to do with convincing the consumer to purchase what they could easily get for free.


The question will (I hope) eventually become, why bother putting out the CD at all? Why not just publish the music for free online, and sell the extras? That model seems to work for webcomics.
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Re: The value of music

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:18 am UTC

Malice wrote:The question will (I hope) eventually become, why bother putting out the CD at all? Why not just publish the music for free online, and sell the extras? That model seems to work for webcomics.
God, I hope not. Collecting CDs is one of my hobbies, I would hate to lose that.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Dream » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:19 am UTC

StealthAstroturfer wrote:Even if the download-to-dollars ratio is pathetically slim, it's still money made at zero cost to you.

Please enlighten me as to this "zero cost" concept. If you know how to record an album without spending any money at all, I'd like to hear how, so I can do it, and start making money at zero cost. Even if you could just tell me where my living expenses can be covered at zero cost for the duration of writing and recording. That would be really brilliant.

StealthAstroturfer wrote:If enough people in the world are cheapskate bastards just like me, complaining about it won't solve anything. I'm proud to be part of the problem.
If you're proud to be part of the problem, then perhaps you'd like to take your participation to the next level. Only listen to music that has been made by people who hold down a full time job while writing and recording, because they have "adapted" and are not making any money whatsoever out of their hours of rigouros rehearsal and practise, and their investment in equipment and either studio time or training. Leave behind all those stone age "artists" who think that if you enjoyed listening to their album, that you might owe them for that enjoyment. Because what you enjoyed certainly wasn't magicked up for free, and they just won't get it through their heads that they shouldn't ever expect to see remuneration for their time and money. Be an example to all, and kick those guys to the kerb.
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Re: The value of music

Postby a386 » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:30 am UTC

Dream i think that the idea is that there are some feasible models for making a living off of being a musician and still accepting the current technology, perhaps even embracing it so far as to offer your music for free. I probably couldn't detail one but the worn-out example is Jonathan Coulton.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Malice » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:11 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:
Malice wrote:The question will (I hope) eventually become, why bother putting out the CD at all? Why not just publish the music for free online, and sell the extras? That model seems to work for webcomics.
God, I hope not. Collecting CDs is one of my hobbies, I would hate to lose that.


Oh, I think CDs will still be made, just like webcomics usually put out books. The medium itself becomes the "extra". But that's very much a sideline. The paradigm will shift from "how can we get them buy our CD?" to "what, including CDs, can we sell them?"

Dream wrote:
StealthAstroturfer wrote:Even if the download-to-dollars ratio is pathetically slim, it's still money made at zero cost to you.

Please enlighten me as to this "zero cost" concept. If you know how to record an album without spending any money at all, I'd like to hear how, so I can do it, and start making money at zero cost. Even if you could just tell me where my living expenses can be covered at zero cost for the duration of writing and recording. That would be really brilliant.


Stealth was clearly talking about the lack of distribution costs. It costs you little to put music up for download on a website, and basically nothing if you put it up on torrent sites. The idea being that maintaining a free downloadable file online is worth it even if only 1 out of a thousand people pay you money for it, because that's still profit. Obviously alternative sources of cash may be necessary, and creation costs are the same either way, but as a distribution practice it makes sense.
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Re: The value of music

Postby StealthAstroturfer » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:25 am UTC

All right, I'll bite.

No, *I* will: Clean up your tone and content or I'll eject you from the thread.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Dream » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:57 am UTC

Malice wrote:The idea being that maintaining a free downloadable file online is worth it even if only 1 out of a thousand people pay you money for it, because that's still profit.

No, it's not. It's income. It might be profit, if it comes after expenses have been covered. Those expenses are very real, and The only way there could be zero cost in creating that miniscule revenue is if the process of creating the music involved no expenses whatsoever. It doesn't. It involves large expenses of time and money, and I genuinely believe that people like Astroturfer blithely ignore the origin of the music they are enjoying for free, in order that their enjoyment makes some kind of twisted economic sense as well as much more agreeable ethical sense.

Let's look at the numbers you used, even though I realise they are arbitrary and not meant to be a complete argument. Let's say 100,000 people pay me for a record that I produce. They pay an average of $5, depending on where and how they pick it up. That's $500,000 gross. Let's say that one quarter of those sales are CDs and three quarters are paid downloads. Arbitrarily, we can write off a dollar per CD for costs, even though it wouldn't actually be that much. That's less $25,000, leaving $475,000. That's in the upper tax bracket where I live, so we''l tax it it 50%, just to be easy for my bad maths. $237,500. That's a successful album. 100,000 sales is not very common for anyone. But if I made that much money, I could reinvest some of it into new music, recording and equipment, I could finance a tour (they're not free either), and I could live for the year or two it would take me to realise another album. I'd have some left over, though I'd be far, far from rich. Maybe I could get a mortgage, or take some time off for a holiday. And that's with a very successful release. Most are not that. But of course, that only works if people actually pay for the music.

Let's say, instead, that your one in a thousand figure is accurate. (It might well be, once an artist gets popular enough to really drive downloading.) 100,000 copies, at $5 for every thousand. That makes $500. That is approximately one tenth the value of the equipment I'm sitting in front of right now, so if I move a million copies, I break even, except I haven't paid for any living expenses at all, and I don't have a single cent left over to put into the next album, nor anything to invest into touring. And that's if, like me, the artist makes their music very, very cheaply, and posesses all the skills necessary to finish a release themselves. (So that's not breaking even at all.) That means that I'll need someone in invest into any work I do next, like a tour, and they'll take most of the earnings from that. Not that I'll actually have the time or money to organise a big enough tour to get anyone interested in investing. Oh, and the ticket prices will be astronomical, because the tour has to be certain to make money in order to attract investors, and I can't risk the amount of debt that would come with a failure or accident while running a tour at a narrow margin. But, I might sell some t-shirts, maybe, if they are good enough.*

What's the difference between these two scenarios? The five dollar price of the album. Five Dollars. Listen to it a few times, that's a dollar an hour. There isn't any entertainment you could find anywhere that comes that cheap. And that's all I'd ask. I'm entertaining a hundred thousand people. They can have attribution-non-commercial-derivative work CC licenses, so they have total ownership of the material. And you think that instead of selling my output cheap as chips to make enough to live comfortably and continue working, I should become a t-shirt salesman? No way. Anyone making such a big contribution to society deserves to live comfortably from that contribution. This is an ethical issue, not an economic one.**

*$30/t-shirt, by the way. Is that more sensible and ethical a price for $2.00 worth of cotton than $5 is for a digital copy of something?

**There are many places, iTunes and Amazon among them, to download music DRM free for a sensible price, every bit as quickly as torrenting it. Which a person chooses is entirely their own ethical choice. It used to be that you couldn't easily pay an artist for a copy of an album, but now you can, so there are no excuses for those who chose not to. Every download these days is someone deciding that the artist doesn't deserve anything for their efforts.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Iori_Yagami » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:08 am UTC

The whole system must be changed in order to get rid of copyrights. The whole idea is so artificial. And so necessary with current way of making things.
Somehow it seems that recording companies are the ones who slurp away all the cream from the top, robbing both the listener and the artist. It all so reminds me of witty swindler crime mind of Ostap Bender and his 'fees' to pay for passing into the mountain gorge for seeing a nice view. Actually, physical medium is obsolete. It is no longer a necessity, such as a horse for travelling. There is no reason for it, except that those businesses don't want to fall down yet. There is a place for small businesses making actual disks and recording them for you with colorful labels and gold rims, if you want to, like photo lab makes posh frames for your holiday pictures. Sometimes you are not satisfied with boring stainless steel spoon with plastic handle and want a silver one with ivory. That's fine, give someone with talent a chance to make it for you and earn. However, they should have nothing to do with content. Every time I hear about them complain, I say: "Who are you? Why do I need you? You are just an extra burden, like those 'buy cheap - sell expensive' trade middlemen types, who don't add anything of value, leeching of the existing situation."
Apart from benefits like saving trees for paper and not making any more plastic junk in the process, electronic transfer works faster, is easier to use and is more effective and available. While authorship is a basic right and must be respected, copyrights are an abomination born of shortcomings of current system.
The whole 'I do not have to work, my money works for me, because I am an owner" infuriates me to no end. It is just like living near only lake in the area, building a fence around it, and charging anyone for water. Ugh!
So, the BIG question is, "who's gonna pay for mah work, bro?" And this is why socialistic elements are good. You are paid for actual usefulness and work, and not because you were tricky enough to abuse the situation. That also would require fiddling with the core of the system, and you are so afraid of it. Many Russians in 90's learnt ancient Chinese curse: "Lest you live in the time of changes!", so you wouldn't want any of it, with all that reform trouble.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Dream » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:53 pm UTC

Iori_Yagami wrote:Apart from benefits like saving trees for paper and not making any more plastic junk in the process, electronic transfer works faster, is easier to use and is more effective and available. While authorship is a basic right and must be respected, copyrights are an abomination born of shortcomings of current system.
The whole 'I do not have to work, my money works for me, because I am an owner" infuriates me to no end. It is just like living near only lake in the area, building a fence around it, and charging anyone for water. Ugh!


I'm going to assume that this is the centre of your point, so please correct me if it is not. Would you support copyright if it were non-transferable? So only artists could "own" a work in terms of using it for profit, and labels or publishers could not. Because I think exactly what you said. Authorship should be respected, but arbitrary limitations on use of data, or diktats born of "ownership" are ridiculous.

But I don't think music is like a lake of water. My preferred analogy is an orchard. The farmer will only grow apples as long as it feeds his family to do so, no matter how much he love doing it. For most people, paying for apples is ok, and they will do it and enjoy the apples. For some, it's just easier to rob the orchard. The farmer doesn't really lose out to orchard robbers, because he is still making enough money to get by, or better from legal sales of apples. The apples that are stolen are literally valueless to him. But what if public opinion slowly becomes accepting of orchard robbing. Then it might reach endemic proportions, and threaten the farmers ability to make money form honest people. Then it is less acceptable, and a great deal less valueless. And if he finds himself going out of business because everyone is getting too used to free apples, that's a problem. Without the farmer, there would be no apples at all, and everyone would lose out. So he says to everyone who is taking the apples for free, "I'm paying for those apples you're taking. I work hard to make them ,and just because your one apple isn't all by itself putting me out of business, doesn't mean you aren't contributing to the problem that is putting me out of business. Next year there won't be a crop at all if you don't pay me enough to live."

So basically filesharing is fine as long as it has little or no effect on those making the music. The principle is fine: copying doesn't actually hurt anyone. But that principle can easily be taken too far, and prevent the artist from making any money at all, which is bad for everyone. Currently filesharing is at a crossroads. there are still thousands of musicians making a living from music sales, and far fewer making a living from modern new revenue systems. I filesharing goes in the direction of more sharing and lesser revenue, there will be less ability for musicians to make music. If it goes in the direction of paying a fair, low price for downloads, it can continue to provide new music to supply its demand indefinitely.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Muffins » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:56 pm UTC

But I think that music should be free!
Just joking.
Seriously.

I apologize if what I'm about to say fails at addresssing what this thread is about, but I'm doing my best.
I think its wrong to download music without paying for it or having the musician's consent.
Before I go on, let me say that I download shit-tons of music. I love music. Music is my life. However, I don't believe that it's right and, if I had a conscience, I would not be able to sleep at all.
I just don't care if I'm doing the wrong thing.

The artist spent THEIR money and devoted THEIR time to make the music.
To download their music is the equivalent of stealing a painter's painting (even though I know the analogy has probably been used already).

Eh, I'm in class, I don't have time to write any more.
Sorry.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Malice » Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:15 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
Malice wrote:The idea being that maintaining a free downloadable file online is worth it even if only 1 out of a thousand people pay you money for it, because that's still profit.

No, it's not. It's income. It might be profit, if it comes after expenses have been covered. Those expenses are very real, and The only way there could be zero cost in creating that miniscule revenue is if the process of creating the music involved no expenses whatsoever. It doesn't. It involves large expenses of time and money, and I genuinely believe that people like Astroturfer blithely ignore the origin of the music they are enjoying for free, in order that their enjoyment makes some kind of twisted economic sense as well as much more agreeable ethical sense.


I think you're looking too far beyond a limited point. The point is, hey, I have created some music. What's the best way to make money off of that? Sometimes it is concerts, sometimes it is merchandise, sometimes it is donations, sometimes it is CDs, and sometimes it is free online distribution. The last has some important benefits to it--it's great advertising, it's zero-cost, it's available to anybody with an internet connection (meaning you can bypass a studio). And since putting out a CD means people are going to download it, you might as well encourage and control the practice.

It's all well and good to say that in a perfect world artists would always get paid directly for their work, and they shouldn't have to be t-shirt salesmen to be musicians, but we don't live in Magic Fairy Pony World. We live in a world where there are no barriers to theft, and yet people will still pay money to musicians they like, and it is up to the musician to figure out how to best take advantage of those two realities. I'm sorry, but musicians always have to double as businessmen (or pay people to do it for them) if they want to make money. It's not a new thing. Yeah, it's harder these days, but what are you going to do? Telling people they're being immoral isn't going to stop them from downloading music, but it might stop them from supporting you and your tunes. As a solution to the problem it's about as head-in-the-sand as abstinence-only sex education--you have to acknowledge that teens are going to have sex, people are going to steal music, and in economics, success goes to the smart manipulators more than it does the purely talented.

To address the number examples you used, you made them unequal. It's:

1. 100,000 record sales = 75,000 downloads @ 5 bucks + 25,000 CDs @ (5 bucks minus 1 buck expenses = 4 bucks) = $475,000.
versus
2. 100,000 record "sales" = 74,925 downloads @ 0 bucks + 75 downloads @ 5 bucks + 25,000 CDs @ (4 bucks) = $100,375.
Even if you tax that at 50%, you've got 50,000 dollars. That's a lot of money. Plenty of people live on a lot less. Sure, it's not rock star money. And if you want more, maybe you have to sell other things, too. Maybe you ask for donations, maybe you sell t-shirts, who knows. Maybe without that it'll take two or three albums to justify the cost of your recording equipment.
But the real discrepancy between these two examples is that if 75,000 people will pay 5 bucks for a download, a much larger number will download it if it's free, and some of those people will like your music and support it by buying a CD or a t-shirt or donating or simply giving you a following that will interest larger music organizations in your product. I'm not saying this model will work in every situation; but it will work in some of them, and it is one way of dealing with these realities.

What's the difference between these two scenarios? The five dollar price of the album. Five Dollars. Listen to it a few times, that's a dollar an hour. There isn't any entertainment you could find anywhere that comes that cheap.


On the contrary, I can find comics and books online for free, I can find television and movies online for free, I can find music online for free. Even without stealing. 5 dollars is a lot of money in comparison to that. I can't afford to pay 5 dollars to every musician whose music I'd like to listen to. What I can afford is to support those musicians I like the best, and listen to all the rest. I'm sorry that in that situation, musicians have to work harder to actually earn my support--oh, wait. No, I'm not. The results are better music and better ways to support them.

And that's all I'd ask. I'm entertaining a hundred thousand people. They can have attribution-non-commercial-derivative work CC licenses, so they have total ownership of the material. And you think that instead of selling my output cheap as chips to make enough to live comfortably and continue working, I should become a t-shirt salesman? No way. Anyone making such a big contribution to society deserves to live comfortably from that contribution. This is an ethical issue, not an economic one.**


It is completely an economic issue, because it's about incentives. Why the bloody fuck would I pay for something when I can get it for free? You're absolutely right, it isn't about DRM and it isn't about speed; it's about paying you 5 bucks for something I can get for free just because you claim you deserve it for being awesome. Thanks for the advice, but I'll make that determination on my own.
I don't think I'm ethically required to pay you for what you make just because that's the way the system has worked before. But like I said, the ethics are a sidetrack--society decided a long time ago that copyright is bullshit and they'll share music if they feel like it. You're never going to turn the clock back on that one, so you might as well accept it and figure out how to deal with it. Business models change to fit the world, not the other way around.

*$30/t-shirt, by the way. Is that more sensible and ethical a price for $2.00 worth of cotton than $5 is for a digital copy of something?


Yes, because I can't get the t-shirt for less, whereas I can get the digital copy for free. A sensible price is one that people will pay; the only non-sensible prices are the ones higher than where demand meets supply, and unlike t-shirts, for music the supply is infinite, so the price point is always going to be zero. Anybody paying for a CD or a digital copy is buying extras (like the physical medium, or the convenience of a brick-and-mortar store) or just using the purchase to support the artist, not paying for the music. Paying for music is over.

--

Muffins wrote:I think its wrong to download music without paying for it or having the musician's consent.
Before I go on, let me say that I download shit-tons of music. I love music. Music is my life. However, I don't believe that it's right and, if I had a conscience, I would not be able to sleep at all.
I just don't care if I'm doing the wrong thing.

The artist spent THEIR money and devoted THEIR time to make the music.
To download their music is the equivalent of stealing a painter's painting (even though I know the analogy has probably been used already).


Actually, painting is an excellent example, because most people don't pay for them either! You might pay to own a painting, but you don't pay to look at them--I can find photos and reproductions on the internet, I can go to a museum (either free, or I'm paying to support the institution). Nobody stands with a black cloth over the Mona Lisa and refuses to let you see it until you cough up a few euros. A painter owns his painting, but not the idea of his painting, not the ability for people to see his painting once he makes it available. The same goes for music.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Muffins » Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

Malice wrote:Actually, painting is an excellent example, because most people don't pay for them either! You might pay to own a painting, but you don't pay to look at them--I can find photos and reproductions on the internet, I can go to a museum (either free, or I'm paying to support the institution). Nobody stands with a black cloth over the Mona Lisa and refuses to let you see it until you cough up a few euros. A painter owns his painting, but not the idea of his painting, not the ability for people to see his painting once he makes it available. The same goes for music.


Darn! Fooled again!

However, downloading music to your computer is essentially becoming an owner of it.

I think the analogy is that, while you can find photos and reproductions on the internet, you aren't actually becoming an owner of it until it is downloaded onto your computer for storage. Same thing with the Mona Lisa. People can look at it, sure, but no one can walk up and take it with them back to their house.

The problem is ( as it is in most of the "Serious Business" issues), where to draw the line. The line is drawn, I think, perfectly by Pandora Radio. If you have ever used it, then you know that it plays songs for you, but you don't actually own the song. It chooses the song from paramaters that you establish and plays it, but you can't keep it on your computer/iPod for play whenever you want. You don't have to pay for Pandora radio, its totally free.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Malice » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:06 pm UTC

Muffins wrote:
Malice wrote:Actually, painting is an excellent example, because most people don't pay for them either! You might pay to own a painting, but you don't pay to look at them--I can find photos and reproductions on the internet, I can go to a museum (either free, or I'm paying to support the institution). Nobody stands with a black cloth over the Mona Lisa and refuses to let you see it until you cough up a few euros. A painter owns his painting, but not the idea of his painting, not the ability for people to see his painting once he makes it available. The same goes for music.


Darn! Fooled again!

However, downloading music to your computer is essentially becoming an owner of it.


Well, it's becoming the owner of a reproduction. When I buy a reproduction of a painting, I'm paying for the act of copying it (free with music) and the physical canvas/frame itself (free with music). The reproducer pays a copyright kickback, but that's not necessarily my intention, nor is it necessarily ethically required.

The problem is ( as it is in most of the "Serious Business" issues), where to draw the line. The line is drawn, I think, perfectly by Pandora Radio. If you have ever used it, then you know that it plays songs for you, but you don't actually own the song. It chooses the song from paramaters that you establish and plays it, but you can't keep it on your computer/iPod for play whenever you want. You don't have to pay for Pandora radio, its totally free.


But why is that the logical line? Why is listening to the music free, but controlling when and where not? How does that make sense, given the basic argument that artists deserve to be rewarded for their art?
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Re: The value of music

Postby Weeks » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

If this is at all relevant, I must add that in my area people don't recommend becoming an artist, as it is poorly paid for.

Many people around me prefer free music, or none at all.
Which means that probably the value of music is really low, especially music of relatively unknown/new genres, even though it is widely used as a source of entertainment. We obtain our music from radio, sites like YouTube, pirated CDs, and occasionally original CDs.

I would say the RtB comes from the professional work of the artist: ethical value. However, ethics are part of our education, which I think needs a lot of work and money put into, especially in my region. Also, it's not that we don't realize it is a professional work, but rather we don't want to pay for it because of our economical status. Hence all the pirating.

However, I see more profit coming from concerts, tours, and the little gimmicks you mention. They create fandom and attachment to an artist, so fans then buy a CD.
An artist needs to be popular or known to a certain extent for people to actually spend money.

So I think we as a society have contributed to alter that basic argument that says: "Artists deserve to be rewarded for their art", to: "Artists deserve to be rewarded for their art if it is popular/cool".

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Re: The value of music

Postby StealthAstroturfer » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:02 pm UTC

No, *I* will: Clean up your tone and content or I'll eject you from the thread.

-Az

Man I should have seen that one coming. Apologies and all that. It's a shame too, cause I had a whole bunch of links to substantiate my asinine claims. I'll be civil! And no, that isn't sarcasm!

Please enlighten me as to this "zero cost" concept. If you know how to record an album without spending any money at all, I'd like to hear how, so I can do it, and start making money at zero cost. Even if you could just tell me where my living expenses can be covered at zero cost for the duration of writing and recording. That would be really brilliant.

Well others have already reiterated the point I was making. The distribution costs nothing. Ten gazillion people downloading an artist's music costs the artist exactly zero if it's done properly.

If you're proud to be part of the problem, then perhaps you'd like to take your participation to the next level. Only listen to music that has been made by people who hold down a full time job while writing and recording, because they have "adapted" and are not making any money whatsoever out of their hours of rigouros rehearsal and practise, and their investment in equipment and either studio time or training. Leave behind all those stone age "artists" who think that if you enjoyed listening to their album, that you might owe them for that enjoyment. Because what you enjoyed certainly wasn't magicked up for free, and they just won't get it through their heads that they shouldn't ever expect to see remuneration for their time and money. Be an example to all, and kick those guys to the curb.


If some guy spent a ton of money making some super great piece of music, then great. But I don't owe him anything. As far as he and I are concerned, the music really did magically materialise out of my speakers, via the ethereal realm naughts and ones fed into a suitable codec, and neither one of us paid a penny for the privilege. Others have commented on my blithe arrogance for this claim. But shouldn't we make a distinction between royalties and salaries? I pay artists to put on a damn good show. Or rather, I pay the hosts of the venue, but hopefully some of it will get into the artist's pockets. I'm not going to pay someone for something made years ago. Royalties are a crock of shit. Artists want to make a few tunes and then lay back and retire? God forbid the prospect of having to work like the rest of us. Is that their right? is that their privilege? It used to be when the means of distribution were controlled. Our technology has run ahead of these lofty ideals, so get off your lazy ass and do a show. If you still can't make money, then perhaps it's time to go back to the day job. Or at the very least make use of the marketing machine that is the interweb. "Stone-age artists" shall be kicked to the curb, and in great numbers, till they realise this simple fact and actually do something productive rather than cry about it.

I'm not telling artists to work for nothing: I'm not against artists making money; my point is that complaining about the morals of people like me solves nothing. It's also completely irrelevant: this is happening right now, and nothing will stop it. The benefits of having great music whenever you want are just too good for people to ignore. It enriches every aspect of our culture. It also makes the record companies completely impotent, and all the sharing has done has made people realise what vultures they truly are. More music is being produced and being more widely distributed than ever before, thanks to sharing. Bands are coming up out of nowhere to reach global audiences. And to top it all off, some of them have even found a way to make money, rather a lot of it if you're lucky. I'm proud to be part of that.

Those last couple of links are examples of businesses trying to take advantage of this music business upheaval. You might as well call them middle-men. Fancy that, enterprising managers have found a way to profit from all of this. And isn't that the very essence of capitalism: taking a really crappy situation and making a go of it. Have some more links about the positive side of things. It's not all doom and gloom, you know.

Still, whilst numbers are being bandied about, I might as well throw in some as well. Take an 80 gigabyte (85899345920 bytes) iPod or iAudio (totally superior to the iPod, but I am paid to come to forums and say stuff like that). Now fill it with tunes bought from Amazon or iTunes at 69 pence a track. Assume an average file-size of 3.5mb (3670016 bytes). So that's about 23,000 songs, costing somewhere around 16,000 pounds. Who, really, honestly, has the disposable income to do that? And to answer the inevitable "Why would anyone want to have so much music?". Perhaps because they don't like waste, perhaps because they want to get their money's worth of storage, perhaps they just want to fill the damned thing. Anyone who would pay to do that would be the most illogical human being alive. Why cling to such morals when they are so harmful to you?

Copyrights have been the loudest argument here in this thread. It's the same deal as with protecting music. The whole concept lives off "This is mine, pay me and I'll give it to you", and as many people have noticed, many young people just don't think like that anymore. Is the new way of doing things sustainable? We'll just have to wait and see. I'm optimistic. For artists who revel at the thought of getting [deleted] and respect from their peers, or who love the idea that their shitty music might get listened to by millions, or who entertain the possibility of fans doing stuff for them for a change, the whole thing is a godsend. Those who take advantage of it will prosper.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Bobbias » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:10 pm UTC

Alright, this is my first post here, and I will say that I haven't had the chance to read all the posts before me, because I'm a little strapped for time right now.

... and it's readily apparent that you haven't read the section rules, either. Please do so before participating further.

-Az


Spoiler:
However, I'd like to share my view on pirating and music.

And I'd like you to share your views on the value of music, much like the topic title and preceding conversation would indicate, rather than provide vague personal and unsupported musings at length about the recording industry.

Before I start, I'd like to point out that I do buy some CDs. However, I find that most of the music I'm interested in enough to buy is too rare or hard to find for me to be able to easily come across, and until I find a way to get it on CD, I'll pirate it. Not only that, but I rarely have enough money to afford to spend it on a CD, however, I'm not going to let that stop me form listening to my music. I see music as being something more than simply the money you paid for it. If I have enough money to spare for the CD, and I find some place to buy it, I will pay for it. But until then, I'll listen to my pirated copy.

Personally, I pirate a lot. If I have a computer with internet access that has some sound output system attached to it and software to download with, I will inevitably download music. I realize it's wrong, and that I should support the band, but I've got my reasons for not paying for that CD.

First: I am strongly opposed to large labels. Yes, I said it. I hate large labels. I don't believe that a company who's only consideration in business is to try to sell me a shiny piece of plastic deserves my money. Period. I want to support the band, not some gigantic corporate entity that takes 80 or 90% of the real profit from a successful album and filters the rest down to the artists (if it even makes it to them, and that has been a subject of numerous lawsuits, breaches of contracts, etc.)

As I said, I support artists, not record companies. However, I also support small independent labels. Most of those are either artist run, or run by friends of the artist and such. They are also much nicer entities than the large corporate labels. They don't steal profit from the artist. They take usually a nominal fee to continue to run, and most of the profit goes to the artist.

Second: recording music is becoming a LOT cheaper than it was years ago. Now you can buy a decent sound board for a couple thousand (even with onboard effects, to boot), and a digital multitrack recorder for relatively cheap as well. 10 years ago, it would likely cost 50,000 for this hardware, yet we can buy it for maybe 10,000 now. With it costing less and less to record your own music, we are seeing a drastic increase in the number of small independent studios willing to record music, creating a more competitive business and ultimately lowering prices yet again. It's costing less and less to finance the release of an album, and so independent artists who wouldn't have recorded 10 years ago, are recording now.

Third: CDs are obsolete. Let's face it, they don't last as long as the record companies thought they would, they are small, and inefficient at carrying music data. We can barely fit more than an hour of stereo sound on a CD, yet we are seeing more and more surround sound systems at home. Very soon, the CD is going to become a thing of the past, and newer storage forms will be used. I'm amazed that there are still so few music DVDs out there, since they have the capability of storing music higher quality music than a CD can.

Fourth: The whole business model that the large labels began with is becoming outmoded and is proving to be their downfall. the reason that these labels became as big as they are is because they were able to exploit their bands/artists years ago. They backed the production costs, forced the artist to sign a contract giving all rights to the label, and took a HUGE portion of the sales. That was essentially necessary back when it cost so much to produce an album. However, with the lowering costs, it's costing less and less to produce an album, and so more and more people are turning to alternative systems, such as starting their own label, using the internet for distribution, etc. All this causes the labels to lose business and therefore profits.

As far as I'm concerned, in this modern music world, the "value" of the music itself is less than it was, because it is becoming cheaper and easier to get out there. And the large labels are falling behind because they are based on a business model that is based on the monetary value of music being higher than it is now.

Some people would argue that the labels are good because they can afford to spend the money advertising and getting your music out there. However, my opinion is that pretty much all the music that a label is willing to advertise sucks. Plain and simple. I hate most pop music. And the pop music I do listen to is still relatively unknown. Overall, if the big labels went bankrupt today, I'd hardly blink, because the music I listen to (And I listen to a HUGE variety) is made by people who care more about getting their music out there than they do about profit margins. They are the people who would make music even if there was nobody to listen to it, because they aren't making a CD to make more money, they are making a CD to share their music.

The bottom line:
Music is more than simply a vehicle to make money. The big labels treated it simply as a product to sell, and are failing because of it. Even if every single label on earth were to disappear over night, there would still be people making music. They are the people who matter, not some selfish pop star outraged because they only made enough money for last years model of sports car. Until someone can prove to me that the large labels are worth preserving, I'm gonna continue to pirate as much as I want.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Carnildo » Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:36 am UTC

Dream wrote:What's the difference between these two scenarios? The five dollar price of the album. Five Dollars. Listen to it a few times, that's a dollar an hour. There isn't any entertainment you could find anywhere that comes that cheap. And that's all I'd ask. I'm entertaining a hundred thousand people. They can have attribution-non-commercial-derivative work CC licenses, so they have total ownership of the material. And you think that instead of selling my output cheap as chips to make enough to live comfortably and continue working, I should become a t-shirt salesman? No way. Anyone making such a big contribution to society deserves to live comfortably from that contribution. This is an ethical issue, not an economic one.


For the past six months, I've been tracking what music my Pandora Radio stations play. During that time, Pandora has played 3,701 tracks from 1,980 different albums. The average track is four minutes ten seconds long, and has played six times. At $5 per album, and extrapolated over the course of a year, that total cost would be on the order of $20,000. That's not cheap, that's bloody expensive! Is $5 really an appropriate price for 47 minutes of background music while I'm programming or cooking dinner?

Ethics aside, the value of music lies somewhere between your $5 per album and my $36 per year, and consumer behavior clearly shows that it's rather closer to mine.

Dream wrote:My preferred analogy is an orchard. The farmer will only grow apples as long as it feeds his family to do so, no matter how much he love doing it.


I see this analogy or variations on it come up all the time, and I see no evidence that it's true. If you look at history, or even at the modern day, very few people create music for the money. Compare the number of garage bands and community performance groups to the number of RIAA-signed acts and professional orchestras -- and then subtract the professionals who are working a second job to make ends meet.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Azrael » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:12 pm UTC

StealthAstroturfer wrote:Still, whilst numbers are being bandied about, I might as well throw in some as well. Take an 80 gigabyte (85899345920 bytes) iPod or iAudio (totally superior to the iPod, but I am paid to come to forums and say stuff like that). Now fill it with tunes bought from Amazon or iTunes at 69 pence a track. Assume an average file-size of 3.5mb (3670016 bytes). So that's about 23,000 songs, costing somewhere around 16,000 pounds. Who, really, honestly, has the disposable income to do that? And to answer the inevitable "Why would anyone want to have so much music?". Perhaps because they don't like waste, perhaps because they want to get their money's worth of storage, perhaps they just want to fill the damned thing. Anyone who would pay to do that would be the most illogical human being alive. Why cling to such morals when they are so harmful to you?

Trying to argue that I'm entitled to a commodity simply because I have sufficient storage for it, and it would be wasteful of me to leave that storage unfilled is pretty silly. It makes for a convenient way to rationalize filling my computer with pirated movies and stolen software, but when it gets applied to say, filling my basement with stuff stolen from your house, the logical breakdown is pretty apparent.

The converse argument, that 8gb iPods (80 gb started showing up with video, and let's leave that one alone for right now) exist only because of pirated music is more likely, because the 2285 songs it would take to fill that is a significant enough price barrier.

Horse before Cart and all that.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Dream » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:35 pm UTC

Carnildo wrote:That's not cheap, that's bloody expensive! Is $5 really an appropriate price for 47 minutes of background music while I'm programming or cooking dinner?

You don't, and I'm not asking you to pay for background music. If you just paid for the albums you actually seriously listen to, there would be a massive difference. If you pay for the top ten or twenty artists you really care about, then the rest of your listening really is songs you wouldn't otherwise have paid for, and shouldn't have to pay for. $5 is a cheap price for unlimited listens to 47 minutes of music for you to enjoy as fully as you like forever.
Dream wrote:My preferred analogy is an orchard. The farmer will only grow apples as long as it feeds his family to do so, no matter how much he love doing it.


I see this analogy or variations on it come up all the time, and I see no evidence that it's true. If you look at history, or even at the modern day, very few people create music for the money. Compare the number of garage bands and community performance groups to the number of RIAA-signed acts and professional orchestras -- and then subtract the professionals who are working a second job to make ends meet.

Actually post your made up stats and I might argue them.

Regardless of that, the orchard analogy is that the seemingly limitless availability of apples is only limitless from the consumer's side. From the producer's side there is a harsh limit on apple availability imposed by the commercial viability of the next crop. And if you don't think music has a next crop, you can just listen to the same files you have now forever. Even though $5 for ownership of an album is more than cheap enough, the real benefit of paying that amount is that the artist you deem worthy of paying can use that money to make more music for you to enjoy in future. If you don't pay, they might as well get any other job, and play in their bedroom on weekends. You then lose out because you'll never hear another note from them again. I'm not asking that people pay for every track they possess. I don't do that myself. I'm asking that they pay for those artists whose output they actually care about enough to want more of it in future.

Malice wrote:It is completely an economic issue, because it's about incentives. Why the bloody fuck would I pay for something when I can get it for free? You're absolutely right, it isn't about DRM and it isn't about speed; it's about paying you 5 bucks for something I can get for free just because you claim you deserve it for being awesome. Thanks for the advice, but I'll make that determination on my own.


If you could copy money, and everyone could do the same, would it be moral, ethical or economic to copy that money freely, leading to the annihilation of economies everywhere? You can do it, and in the short term your immediate situation will improve. But in future, the whole world will be fucked because good luck getting anyone who can copy their own money placing any value on your copied money. It is immoral and unethical because of the damage it would do to society as a whole, not because copying is wrong.

Copying music isn't wrong because of what it is. If that were the case I would never copy any music at all, and I do. Copying music is only wrong where it actively prevents the person who made the music from making a living from their efforts. The music makes a contribution to society, but that contribution is not rewarded. The musicians then quit making and releasing music professionally, and only do so for their own enjoyment. You never hear from them again, because they are only interested in playing for their friends and family. Then society has no music industry between a world tour by Prince and your drunk uncle playing the violin at a wedding party. There are legions of bands, artists, session artists, producers, sound engineers and technical experts who need to be paid to support anything remotely like the music industry you're used to today. They can't sell t-shirts, they can't go on tour, and they can't whore their output to commercials for a percentage or some exposure. Until you come up with some explanation as to how that whole industry survives people giving up entirely on paying for recorded music, your arguments will make no sense at all.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Malice » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:18 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
Malice wrote:It is completely an economic issue, because it's about incentives. Why the bloody fuck would I pay for something when I can get it for free? You're absolutely right, it isn't about DRM and it isn't about speed; it's about paying you 5 bucks for something I can get for free just because you claim you deserve it for being awesome. Thanks for the advice, but I'll make that determination on my own.


If you could copy money, and everyone could do the same, would it be moral, ethical or economic to copy that money freely, leading to the annihilation of economies everywhere? You can do it, and in the short term your immediate situation will improve. But in future, the whole world will be fucked because good luck getting anyone who can copy their own money placing any value on your copied money. It is immoral and unethical because of the damage it would do to society as a whole, not because copying is wrong.

Copying music isn't wrong because of what it is. If that were the case I would never copy any music at all, and I do. Copying music is only wrong where it actively prevents the person who made the music from making a living from their efforts. The music makes a contribution to society, but that contribution is not rewarded. The musicians then quit making and releasing music professionally, and only do so for their own enjoyment. You never hear from them again, because they are only interested in playing for their friends and family. Then society has no music industry between a world tour by Prince and your drunk uncle playing the violin at a wedding party.


There is a wide swath you're ignoring here. Plenty of musicians play music because they want to be heard, not because they want money. If they can afford to play and record themselves, they'll get it out there any way they can. They'll work a 9-to-5 and make songs on the weekends if they have to. Music will still exist.

To take a different tack--what's the difference between paying for the few albums you really enjoy (and/or directly supporting the artists) and listening to those, and paying for the few albums you really enjoy and downloading anything else you want?

There are legions of bands, artists, session artists, producers, sound engineers and technical experts who need to be paid to support anything remotely like the music industry you're used to today. They can't sell t-shirts, they can't go on tour, and they can't whore their output to commercials for a percentage or some exposure.


Why not? Plenty of bands manage to sell t-shirts and play gigs and use that to pay the rest of the people in line to get recordings. It seems to me to be a perfectly viable way to do business.

Until you come up with some explanation as to how that whole industry survives people giving up entirely on paying for recorded music, your arguments will make no sense at all.


Until you come up with some explanation as to how people give up entirely on paying for recorded music, your apocalyptic doom-sayings will be utterly irrelevant. It hasn't happened yet.

Besides, I don't need the whole industry to survive. I'll take a limited industry whose music is freely available over a flowering industry whose music I have no access to because I can't afford it.
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EstLladon
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Re: The value of music

Postby EstLladon » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:24 pm UTC

What would happen if those who live from art (be it music or whatever) will give up and won't try to fight copyright infringements of this kind? Situation will be like that: if it exists in digital format, then you can and will get it for free. What will be left? Bands will live from tickets to the live shows(you cannot get quite the same experience by listening to a record) and whatever money they get through donations and stuff mentioned above. Moviemakers will live from what they get from theatrical run (you usually do not have huge ass-screen and dolby surround stuff at home). Anything that produces something that is not readily digitalizable (like artists) will be ok. Probably writers will have it worst - they do not produce anything that cannot be copied flawlessly.

What would really be damaged are record companies. But they seem to be the least popular part of current system anyway (and the only one is really dependant on selling records).

Will it be a change for good or for worse I do not know.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Malice » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:29 pm UTC

EstLladon wrote:What would happen if those who live from art (be it music or whatever) will give up and won't try to fight copyright infringements of this kind?


What makes you think their fighting is the only thing keeping digital art profitable? Anti-file-sharing methods aren't perfect by any means, but that doesn't mean you can't still make a profit off an album or a DVD. There's room for infringement and success, because people will support artists they like. The result will actually be a marketplace that more directly responds to consumer demands, and that's better for everybody.
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Re: The value of music

Postby eds01 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:37 pm UTC

EstLladon wrote:Anything that produces something that is not readily digitalizable (like artists) will be ok. Probably writers will have it worst - they do not produce anything that cannot be copied flawlessly.


Writers do produce something that is not easily digitalizable, at least for now: People just don't like e-books. People would much rather hold a book in their hands then read it on their computers. This will not change for at least another generation or so, until people don't mind reading a book on their computer or e-book reader.

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Re: The value of music

Postby EstLladon » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:52 pm UTC

eds01 wrote:
EstLladon wrote:Anything that produces something that is not readily digitalizable (like artists) will be ok. Probably writers will have it worst - they do not produce anything that cannot be copied flawlessly.


Writers do produce something that is not easily digitalizable, at least for now: People just don't like e-books. People would much rather hold a book in their hands then read it on their computers. This will not change for at least another generation or so, until people don't mind reading a book on their computer or e-book reader.

Writers do not produce books. Writers produce text. Publishers produce books.
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Re: The value of music

Postby StealthAstroturfer » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:29 pm UTC

The suggestion that writers might have it hard is a valid one, but there are opportunities to make money still. Corey Doctorow is a fine example. It seems preposterous that anybody should make money by giving their stuff away for free, but look at the evidence from the on-going Doctorow adventure--he's written about it extensively over on his site. More bewildering is the amount of stuff his fans do for him: translations, spoken word adaptations, more file formats than you can shake a stick at etc. People seem to forget that fans are willing to do stuff for people they like. All of it increases his fanbase. The logic is a little bit the same as spam email: you'll make a lot of money if the catchment area is large enough. And what has a bigger catchment area than the internet? I read all of his stuff when I was working on board ship. It motivated me to buy a few of his titles for my younger brothers.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Brooklynxman » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:33 pm UTC

Personally, I buy almost all the music I own. Only if a song is not readily accesible will I download it for free. Now should music be free? Yes and no. We need to find a way to compensate artists for their work if this is the road we are going to go down (I don't object to it). However, making music free without compensating the artist is theft. Plain and simple.
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Re: The value of music

Postby Azrael » Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:01 pm UTC

Iori_Yagami wrote:The whole system must be changed in order to get rid of copyrights.
While there is certainly a lot left to be desired in the middle of the artist-to-listener interaction, getting rid of copyrights altogether is more difficult than I think people realize.

If the artists don't have some kind of copyright (including CC or other alternatives) than what's to prevent their art being used by someone else for commercial use? Without the notion of authorship and some form of legal ownership, anyone could produce records of any artist at a profit without compensation. A band could use someone's lyrics or music (writer, composer, another band etc) and reap the benefits without compensating the authors. Companies could use music in commercials without permission and in the end benefit from the artist's reputation (effectively) without the artist's consent. Radio stations would turn increased profits off their advertising without the requirement to pay royalties to those that created the works.

So sure, some sort of non-commercial exceptions are probably in order (necessary/inevitable or not, depending on how you view the technological shift) but commercial retention of authorship rights is pretty necessary.

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Re: The value of music

Postby Bobbias » Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:52 pm UTC

I apologize for my previous post. I do have a habit of not reading section rules in most forums, however, this is the first time it's gotten me into any trouble. I appreciate that you spoilered the rest of my post, instead of deleting it, like many other places likely would have.

Maybe the structure of my previous post was not very good at expressing what I was trying to get across. I probably should have talked a little more on topic as well, about the specific value of music, however I believe that much of what I talked about was linked to it. The fact that recording prices have been dropping drastically over the past many years has a direct effect on the industry. The fact that heavily controlling contracts like the large labels originally used are becoming unfeasible due to that is also heavily connected to the value of music. If we were to simply view the value of music as a monetary value based solely on the amount of money that went into producing it, and any other associated costs, the value of music has certainly dropped over the past number of years.

The business model is "we'll help finance the production, advertisement and distribution of your music, in return for a cut of the sales." However, thanks to the internet, distribution and advertisement have become dirt cheap compared to what they once were. That further devalues music.

Brooklynxman wrote:However, making music free without compensating the artist is theft. Plain and simple.

Not always. Many artists release music for free. There are lots of hobbyist musicians out there who enjoy releasing music for free. Just check out Soundclick.com or ccmixter.org among many others. For someone like that, simply having your music listened to is enough to satisfy them.

EstLladon wrote:Writers do not produce books. Writers produce text. Publishers produce books.

Agreed. And I would say the same thing applies to music: The musicians create music, and the record labels create CDs. Remove the label, and there is still music. Writers wrote before there were books, and musicians will make music, whether or not there are large labels to distribute it for them.

EstLladon wrote:What would really be damaged are record companies. But they seem to be the least popular part of current system anyway (and the only one is really dependant on selling records).

Will it be a change for good or for worse I do not know.


I personally think it will be a change for the better. Record companies rely on marketing through TV and through the artist being played on the radio. They rely heavily on CD sales in a record store. They rely on people still believing that a CD is worth $15 or more (average around my place is probably a lot closer to $20 [However, we could chock that up to the CD store needing profit margins too]). CDs have been priced this way because they cost more to produce and distribute than an electronic copy.

So from looking at it form this perspective, if it only costs the space to store it and the bandwidth to transfer it (disregarding the aspect of advertising on the internet and running costs for a website) it costs a lot less than a CD would.

Let's figure out how much digital distribution costs theoretically.
We will assume storage space to be roughly $1 per GB of space, a song to be roughly 4:10, stored in WAV uncompressed at ~10Mb/minute (therefore 40.16Mb/song), an album to be 14 songs (assuming a 1 hour length per album and 4:10 per song gives 14.4 tracks, so deduct 1 track ), and a bandwidth cost to be $.25 per GB (just over 25.49 song transfers/GB, rounded to 25/GB).

This means that 1 album of 14 tracks at 40.16MB per track takes up 562.24 MB. At $1 per 1024MB that is $.5490625 per album in storage costs. Say someone buys that album as a digital download at $.25/GB; that now costs $.137265625 per download.

Let's assume you're a label who has 20 bands with a total of 35 albums available between them.
35 * 562.24GB = 19678.4MB / 1024 = 19.2171875GB * $1/GB = $19.2171875 total storage costs.
19.2171875GB * $.25/GB = $4.804296875 cost to sell 1 of each album.
= $24.021484375 total costs to store 50 albums and sell 1 copy of each.

So say you are charging $1 per album to sell them. Now we can say that our profit per sale = cost/sale-gross profit/sale or $1 - $.137265625 per download.
Assuming the previous scenario of 50 albums and selling 1 copy of each, that is $.862734375 * 50 = $43.13671875 of profit on the downloads before storage costs. $43.13671875 - $19.2171875 = $23.91953125 after storage costs.

That is a profit of nearly $24 from selling 1 of every album at $1 per entire album (and uncompressed at that!). Imagine what sort of profit margins you would have selling 10,000 copies of every album. That is $239,195.3125 of profit above the running cost of the server (well, storage and bandwidth).

Sure, there are many other costs I haven't listed here (server hardware, server co-location costs, company internal costs, downtime/repairs, etc. etc. etc.) but you get some picture of how profitable the internet can be and how cheap it truly is to sell CDs on it. Even a price of $1.25 per album would increase that to $298,994.140625. Nearly $300,000 of profit above storage and bandwidth. Considering that it is possible for even a smaller company to afford the required bandwidth and can for a slightly higher price easily get a server to use, it's technically feasible for a small label started on a loan, or started with someone's savings/spare money to be extremely profitable. Possibly more profitable in the end than trying to sell CDs.

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Re: The value of music

Postby poxic » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:17 pm UTC

Bobbias wrote:Nearly $300,000 of profit above storage and bandwidth.

Have you taken production costs into account? As has been mentioned above, a band's equipment alone can easily be $50,000 or more. Granted, that isn't a per-album cost, but it's still a cost. Professional studio time, recording tape (~$500 for a 22-minute reel), an engineer and assorted studio staff for the number of days/weeks it takes -- it all adds up to a hefty fee. Mastering is another expense, one I've never actually heard the price of. The equipment used for mastering is hella expensive, though.

So that can take -- depending on the quality of the recording and the time put into it -- a couple hundred thousand bucks. What profit is left is divided between the band members, usually 50% for whoever wrote the lyrics and the other 50% divided among the people who wrote the music. If your kick-ass drummer didn't write anything, the kick-ass drummer makes next to no money from the album. It all has to come from the tour. (I think there is some compensation for performance on a recording, but I don't know how it works for people other than session musicians.)

The reason recording quality has become so high is because there has been big money behind it. If there is no more big money, there will be lower recording quality. Most people probably won't notice because they squish everything down to mp3 and listen to it through earbuds. Some people will notice, and will cry over their Columbian Gold for the good old days. Maybe this needs to happen. Maybe it will force people to get more creative in their recording and distribution, turning it back into a cottage craft. (Our jam band has turned bottom-dollar home recording into an art. Cheap little vacuum tube units on every line going into the digital 8-track, high-quality-but-affordable instruments, two of 8 tracks reserved for the drum alone and one for the bass which has a pricey-but-buttery processing unit... the recording is quite sweet for the combined cost. We still suck a lot of pond water, though.)
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Re: The value of music

Postby Malice » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:14 am UTC

Brooklynxman wrote:Personally, I buy almost all the music I own. Only if a song is not readily accesible will I download it for free. Now should music be free? Yes and no. We need to find a way to compensate artists for their work if this is the road we are going to go down (I don't object to it). However, making music free without compensating the artist is theft. Plain and simple.


This question is irrelevant. Music already is free. What are we going to do about it?

Poxic, as you yourself demonstrated, if there is a market for low-cost, acceptable-quality recording equipment/methods, they will develop.
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