Friday, April 27, 2007

Release music that doesn’t suck

As a student at Carleton U back in the day I spent far too much time at the campus newspaper office and not enough time studying. That time did make for some amusing anecdotes though, and I was reminded of one of them this morning when I heard I heard a story on Newsnet about the Canadian recording industry complaining about declining CD sales.

One afternoon a few members of the university swim team came up to the office in a huff, wanting to speak to the sports editor. He came over and introduced himself, and proceeded to quietly listen as the swimmers aired their complaints. They were upset with the tenor of the coverage they had been getting from the Charlatan, and wanted to know just what the heck they had to do to get better coverage.

Having heard them out, my friend the sports editor looked at them deadpan and said calmly “swim faster.”

I was reminded of that story when I heard about the recording industry whining. They complain that old culprit, online music piracy, is eroding in store album sales and they’re demanding the government take action to fight piracy.

In reality, the reason CD sales are declining isn’t online piracy. At least, not wholly. Hey recording industry, want higher album sales? Try recording albums that don’t suck.

There’s a lot of spin and selective information in the recording industry line here. Sure, in store CD sales are down. But (legal) online single-song sales are dramatically up. The spin doctors ignore that fact. People are buying online now, but rather than buying an entire album of songs they’re only buying the songs they like.

Thanks to the online model no longer are people forced to buy an album of crap to get the few songs they want. That’s why album sales are down. If the recording industry wants to sell more of each album the answer is simple, stop filling albums with a lot of crap.

And again, there’s also (another) a big fat contradiction in the recording industry line here. While they rail against piracy, whenever someone buys an MP3 player, or even a blank CD I intend to backup my photos on, I need to pay a levy to the recording industry. That levy seems to me, and I believe perhaps the Canadian courts as well, as a tacit permission for file sharing/downloading from the recording industry. After all, what are we paying the levy for anyway?

It’s time the recording industry wakes up to the new technology, that’s been readily obvious for years. But once again there’s another, even easier answer to their ails: stop recording so much crap.

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6 comments:

Bailey said...

Yeah, the Carlton swim team wasn't so hot......I think their team was just cut.

At McMaster we were the best or second best swim team in Ontario and we received no coverage in the campus paper. Maybe before the championship meet there'd be some article about one swimmer.

Raymaker said...

"Swim faster." Nice. Wish I thought of that.

Jim said...

Hear hear.

Turn up the good, turn down the suck!

Mike said...

Well put Jeff.

You would think even Conservatives would get that simple fact - when techology changes and makes your business model out of date, you might want to consider changing your business model rather than running to the government fro protection.

I mean we transitioned from albumns to 8-tracks to tapes to cd to dvd without too much hassle.

If the recording industry were buggy whip makers 100 years ago, they would be pleading with the Laurier government to put a levy on those damn horseless carriages in order to protect their business.

Crazy.

paulsstuff said...

Excellant post Jeff. Things have gotten so bad in the recording industry some artists now publicly apologize for releasing cd's that suck.

In most cases its usually the exec's that demanded a release even though the artist was not happy with the recordings.

A Canadian example of this is Colin James. He pleaded with his record company to put out some blues and swing music and was told it would never sell. HE ended putting out a sub-level cd to fulfill his contractual obligations before switching labels and since his career has blossomed more than before, as well as cd sales..

The Rat said...

You nailed it, Jeff, if I'm paying a levy that is actually more than the cost of the CD then I have no qualms about helping myself to the music I have, therefore, paid for. Too bad there's, not much I want 'cause it all sucks so bad . . .