I don't pirate music
I don't pirate music mainly because, like books, I generally don't listen to new music unless it's recommended to me personally. At that point, I normally just run out and buy the physical album, because I still enjoy hearing a set of songs specifically arranged together. You know, an album. I also sometimes hear new music played on 101.9 WRXP in New York City**. Radio has, and continues to be, basically the closest thing to "free samples" of music. But it's not free, despite the false advertising campaigns you may hear on radio attempting to persuade users not to switch to satellite and/or Internet services; the listener suffers through roughly 20% advertisements***, like television.
But I'm coming to a point - my own habits are similar to pirates in motivation: I enjoy free samples and when I encounter good music that I enjoy, I buy it.
Yet another study has come out indicating that - no surprise to me or many of you - music downloaders are much more likely to actually buy music than folks who do not download music for free. And yet, the RIAA wants them to become like their non-downloading customers - you know, the ones who spend less money on music. This makes no sense.
What does makes sense is the concept of free samples. Sometimes you get samples of toothpaste in the mail. You might have a swab of cologne in a magazine. At the supermarket, a person might hand you a tiny cup of juice drink, or a wedge of the cheese they're selling at the deli counter. Software does it all the time, too. Trial-ware, free-to-play games, and shareware have long since been great advertising and distribution mediums for software.
There's simply no free samples in music.
But what about music? There is no true free sample medium. Radio is close, but again, your attention is valuable. And let's face it - most radio stations are either ClearChannel or a ClearChannel clone, and play the same 25 songs 99% of the time. MySpace has those music widgets, but that only works if you go to a band's MySpace page in the first place. It's been tried with DRM, except DRM sucks for a variety of reasons, so few wanted to buy DRM-enforced hardware.
And here's what's really outrageous: the record industry expects you to pay for its advertising. Let's break this down.
There are two primary products of the record industry: Concerts and Music (in the form of CDs or paid downloads). How do you advertise these? With the radio, which you pay for with your attention to third-party advertisements. How about putting it stores? Stores need to pay for some sort of rebroadcasting fee. How about product placement in movies? Movies pay record companies for the right to play the songs.
You Pay For Advertising Music
So where's the advertisement? Occasionally, I'll hear a concert on an advertisement slot on the radio. This is partially paid for by the fact that it's impossible to get good tickets for a show, because they've been all given out to radio stations and scalpers, I mean scam artists, I mean, legal resellers. *eyeroll*
What other industry can possibly claim such a privilege? As I understand it, being a social media marketing type, no one. The record industry enjoys not only selling products, but selling you advertisements for products.
What can you do about it?
- Buy directly from artists whenever you can.
- Don't listen to advertising on the radio. Change the channel.****
- Consider unlimited subscription music services. For the music you get, at least you're not sitting through ads!
** 101.9 WRXP has become, in the last couple years, the best rock station I've ever heard in my life.
*** Fortunately, 104.3 is pretty decent in New York City, as well, so I can just change the channel. Another blog entry, I'll talk about how traditional advertising doesn't work for anyone with a brain in almost every medium.
**** Sorry, WRXP! :(
I don't pirate music