Posts filed under “Music”
"I know for a fact that a lot of people first heard my music by downloading it from Napster or Kazaa, and for this reason I’ll always be glad that Napster and Kazaa have existed."
- Moby, in his online journal last year
Fascinating discussion on file sharing from the artists perspective, via the the Pew Internet and American Life Project (pdf) :
A survey released last week, titled "Artists, Musicians and the Internet," combines and compares the opinions of three groups: the general public, those who identify themselves as artists of various stripes (including filmmakers, writers and digital artists) and a somewhat more self-selecting category of musicians.
Most notably, it is the first large-scale snapshot of what the people who actually produce the goods that downloaders seek (and that the industry jealously guards) think about the Internet and file-sharing.
Among the findings: artists are divided but on the whole not deeply concerned about online file-sharing. Only about half thought that sharing unauthorized copies of music and movies online should be illegal, for instance. And makers of file-sharing software like Kazaa and Grokster may be unnerved to learn that nearly two-thirds said such services should be held responsible for illegal file-swapping; only 15 percent held individual users responsible.
"This should solve the problem once and for all about whether anyone can say they speak for all artists," said Jenny Toomey, the executive director of the Future of Music Campaign, a nonprofit organization seeking to bring together the various factions in the copyright wars.
Ms. Toomey, whose group helped draft part of the survey, believes that artists are usually underrepresented in the debates about the high-tech evolution of the industry. "These decisions need to be made with artists at the table," she said, adding, "it’s not enough for both sides to reach out and get an artist who supports their position."
Very interesting discussion. Of course, the questions asked have a significant impact on the answers, a classic trial technique known as "framing the issue." I could have put together a survey that led to very different conclusions — namely, that file sharing is a disintermediating format replacing arbitrary decisions by labels and limited exposure on consolidated radio playlists with a broader, more meritocratic free market competition.
Expect to hear more about this in the near future . . .
click for larger graphic
Pew File-Sharing Survey Gives a Voice to Artists
TOM ZELLER Jr.
New York TImes, December 6, 2004
Towards the end of the book, there’s an interesting discussion: It turns out that Semisonic’s label, MCA, had a well deserved tin ear for deciding what was “single worthy” or not. The book suggests that a long series of missteps by MCA very much hindered the band. Despite critical acclaim, they never managed to really gain much traction on format radio beyond Closing Time.
Slichter offers Shaggy as an example of the pooor judgement of the execs at MCA. It seems the Jamaican born rapper handed in his new album, Hot Shot to the label, and the first two songs on the record suggested as singles were “It wasn’t me” and “Angel:”
“Remember those song titles and read on: The MCA bosses listened to the album and complained “They’re no singles.” The bosses demanded that Shaggy return to the studio and record new songs, and Shaggy agreed. This was exactly the scenario that Semisonic had faced in late 1997 when Jay Boberg and other [MCA] senior executives heard no hit potential in Closing Time and suggested we return to the studio to record more songs. Jim warned us that if we recorded a new batch of songs, the label would choose the single from the new batch and forget about “Closing Time.” Fortunately, we heeded Jim’s warning.
When faced witht he same dilemma, however, Shaggy accepted MCA’s mandate to record more material, and no surprise, one of the new songs was selected as the single. The CD came out in August 2000, the single flopped, and within weeks MCA stopped working the album.
Meanwhile, a DJ in Honolulu, Pablo Sato of KIKI 93.9-FM, had downloaded Shaggy’s album off of Napster and started to play one of the other songs, “It wasn’t me.” KIKI was flooded with calls and “It wasn’t me” became a local hit. Bonnie Goldner and other Shaggy supporters at MCA seized on the success and advocated the song be pushed to other stations, and within a few weeks the song was a nationwide smash. By Christmastime, the album was on its way to number one, and after another hit, “Angel,” the album had sold 12 million copies worldwide, no thanks to the people running MCA. It was Pablo Sato, his listening audience, and Napster — the dread enemy of the music industry — who pulled Shaggy’s album from its grave at the Music Cemetery of America.”
How many more of these stories are out there? Eminem, U2, Wilco, Radiohead and now Shaggy.
(If you have any other concrete examples of P2P functioning as a defacto promotional machine for the labels, please post them in the comments or send me an email).
A commentor reminds me of Steve Albini’s The Problem With Music; In many ways, this book lays out that critique from the musician’s perspective . . .
So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star
Broadway Books, 2004
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0767914708/ref=ase_thebigpictu09-20/102 7131547 9942524?v=glance&s=books
MCA, August 8, 2000
Feeling Strangely Fine
MCA, March 24, 1998
The Problem With Music
by Steve Albini