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I’m nearly all out of CDs of I Don’t Know What I’m Doing and have a new album slouching slowly towards release. Thinking about dropping a few grand on plastic discs while I myself have downsized my once large CD collection to about 15 “keepers” is a tough thing to reconcile. It feels stupid.
I think I’m stuck with pressing CDs up for the near future. But what to replace them with?
In hanging around Cambridge and Harvard this week I spoke to a lot of people. Here are some of the links I remember referring to:
- Kevin Kelly’s Better Than Free article. A great, great article breaking down what artists can still charge for when the art itself is given away for free.
- Scott Adams’ How To Become A Cartoonist. I read this years and years ago and the idea of the “copy test” was hugely influential — though I applied it to music.
- thesixtyone – community voted music site.
- Magnatune – “We’re not evil”, creative-commons based record label. Doing variable pricing long before Radiohead’s In Rainbows.
- RCRDLBL – Advertising supported record label.
- Eminem sues Apple for using song – when talking about what would happen if Apple used one of my songs in their ads without permission. (I believe I said it would be “hilarious” and great for me.)
- The Superficial. When talking about the escalating trend of dismantling celebrities who “artificially” elevate themselves.
- Daft Punk’s Live Show – I described their (awesome) masked, pyramided largely pre-recorded performances as blurring the lines of what people expect or want from live shows and what people will pay for.
- ccMixter.org – Creative commons based remix site.
- Brad Sucks Digital Download Store – the open source digital download store I wrote. Referenced when defending myself that I don’t care about “the money” enough.
- Gimme Some Money – the open source icon donation thing on the right side of this page. Also reference when defending myself that I don’t care about “the money” enough.
- Source – where to get all the source files for my album.
- Out of It community backup vocals – call for vocals for the title track on my next album (results soon, it’s sounding good!)
- Toy Story 2: Requiem – the Toy Story 2 / Requiem for a Dream mashup featuring an Israeli remix of my song Dirtbag which led William Gibson to my music, later inspiring a character in his novel Spook Country.
I’ll add more if I can remember any.
Saul’s previous record was released in 2004 and has sold 33,897 copies.
As of 1/2/08,
154,449 people chose to download Saul’s new record.
28,322 of those people chose to pay $5 for it, meaning:
18.3% chose to pay.
Of those paying,
3220 chose 192kbps MP3
19,764 chose 320kbps MP3
5338 chose FLAC
- 28,322 * $5 = $141,610 which for a solo artist and zero marketing investment seems pretty decent. Of course partnering with a super famous established artist like Trent helps.
- With 154,449 downloads and earnings of $141,610 that works out to earning $0.92 per download which vastly exceeds all bandwidth costs.
- 154,449 seems like an extremely low number of downloads. The hype for this album was primarily in nerd-centric venues so I’m assuming the majority skipped the ecommerce shit and went straight to torrents for their downloads.
- This isn’t counting other digital sales avenues — did they put it on iTunes? That’s where most people are buying their digital music these days, not going direct to the artist’s website.
- I think putting such a low limit on what people could pay was a dopey idea. If we’re going to be dealing in intangible value, why not let consumers decide for themselves?
- Are there really that many FLAC users out there?
All in all I think it was a success even if they feel disheartened. Trent admits that he spent too much on the record. I’d be interested to know what the costs amounted to. I can’t even conceive of spending $40,000 on a record let’s say and having $100,000 left over would keep me in beer and guitar strings for another year or two.
I’ve been jealous of Gimme Some Candy for a long time. I’ve hassled them to let me in but they’re not accepting new artists. It’s a great idea — a tip jar with benefits. Supporters can buy items and leave a little message that gets displayed on the artist’s homepage.
So I’ve written and released an open source clone that’s pretty easy to set up. It’s called Gimme Some Money. The default items are a star, heart and cookie but they can be swapped out. You can see mine (using the default icons) over on the right sidebar.
Requirements: PHP 4+/MySQL & a Paypal account
Update: fixed an IE/Opera bug and updated it to v0.86 (thanks to jason for pointing out the bug).
Hope everyone’s having a nice holidays. I’ll have a belated open source Christmas present for other artists up here tomorrow when I’m less stuffed full of spätzle, potato dumplings and beer.
Fantastic optimistic article in Wired by David Byrne about emerging music models: David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars. His conclusion:
No single model will work for everyone. There’s room for all of us. Some artists are the Coke and Pepsi of music, while others are the fine wine — or the funky home-brewed moonshine. And that’s fine. I like Rihanna’s "Umbrella" and Christina Aguilera’s "Ain’t No Other Man." Sometimes a corporate soft drink is what you want — just not at the expense of the other thing. In the recent past, it often seemed like all or nothing, but maybe now we won’t be forced to choose.
As someone doing the 100% DIY thing for years, I’ve been scouting around for the low to midrange music biz services and been fairly disappointed with the options. Hopefully that’ll improve.
The Washington Post has a cute article: The Moby Equation. A helpful sellout guide, taking into account rock and roll ideals, the song’s sacredness, the artist’s reputation, wealth and time since their heyday.
These days with a PVR and downloading TV from the Internet, television commercials are alien to me. The idea of a song being "wrecked" by a commercial seems like a thing of the past, but I’m often weird about these things.
Scott gives the lowdown on his pre-orders. Very awesome and open of him to give the numbers out. Looks like it was a pretty great success and huge congratulations to him.
I’ve been thinking about taking pre-orders for the next Brad Sucks album but I don’t think I have the energy or time or talent to set up a sweet system like Scott’s so I doubt I’ll bother. It’s hard enough getting the record out the door.
I don’t know if anyone told you — I mean the Internet has been practically silent about it — but Radiohead is offering Magnatune-style pay-what-you-like pricing (including free) on the digital download of their new album In Rainbows (site is currently dead slow), to be released in ten days. Or you can buy their $80 box of vinyl and extra songs and stuff.
I don’t have much to say about the move. Radiohead is in a unique position that’s about as far away from most musicians as can be imagined and I’m thinking it’ll work great for them.
What’s interesting to me though, especially as I try to decide on one myself for the next record, is all the different sales models out there that musicians are using. It’s a little overwhelming:
There’s giving it away for free and asking for donations, variable pricing, lower-than-retail pricing, higher-than-retail pricing, tiered clubs with rewards, pre-ordering incentives, club memberships, merch bundles, box sets, etc, etc, etc.
How do you choose which one’s best?