November 11, 2003

First, read this - RIAA website
Key Stats/Facts - Cost of a CD

Bits to think about:

Marketing costs are the most expensive part of the music business today.

"For every album released in a given year, a marketing strategy was developed to make that album stand out among the other releases that hit the market that year."

"Another factor commonly overlooked in assessing CD prices is to assume that all CDs are equally profitable. In fact, the vast majority are never profitable. After production, recording, promotion and distribution costs, most never sell enough to recover these costs, let alone make a profit. In the end, less than 10% are profitable, and in effect, it's these recordings that finance all the rest."

So, 90% of what the music industry markets is seen by the purchasing public as crap.

Or...

is it?

maybe CD prices are sufficiently high that people aren't willing to take a risk on someone they haven't been able to
compare to the media saturators.

what would happen if all the aggressive high-cost marketing was replaced by the $4 CD...?

would britney still be a superstar? would I?

the thing is, no one knows... the music industry knows that it can make tons of money from its current business plan, so it isn't going to change course.

the internet is not the democratizing solution for distributing content that people once naively thought it would be. the best content is still produced by websites that can hire a bunch of people to produce good content and provide desired services. i can't hire anyone.

on the other hand, there is massive interconnectivity available if it could only be tapped. how do we get our music out to the masses?

let's say I want to go "gold" with 500,000 CD sales. let's assume i'm an amazing musician and everyone who hears one song of mine will want to buy my CD. I'll offer a free download... that's no problem; doesn't cost me anything besides bandwidth charges. How do I get 500,000 people to listen to my download; or in a more realistic world, 5 million or so, assuming that 10% of people who hear my stuff would consider buying my CD.

How can I draw this much attention to myself?

Even more importantly, how can I draw this much attention to myself while a thousand other artists are trying the same thing to the same set of people that i'm targeting?

The internet gives me the distribution opportunity that I need. It's not really a problem to sell direct. Shipping 500,000 copies of my album presents some logistical difficulties, but these could be easily overcome once i start selling them.

Is it possible for an artist or band to promote themselves up to nationwide stardom?

The bonaroo music festival pulled in 70 or 80 thousand people per year the last two years, essentially by word of mouth and the web. If you have jambandish appeal, you could probably hit this circuit and its built-in enormous crowds. If you could play one of these festivals, you'd certainly get a lot of people listening to you.

Maybe we need more festivals; more that would appeal to those that would rather forgo the drugs, the tents, and the bare feet (i like that kind, don't get me wrong, but some people don't).

Each festival needs to have a draw outside of specific bands. 80,000 people don't show up to bonaroo because all of them want to see one of the acts. there are a bunch of artists, known and unknown, and more importantly there is a long weekend sleeping in a tent in a field in tennessee in an impromptu community with members in various states of undress and altered conciousness. it draws people in.

the harder festivals are the same, but their attendees like mosh pits and black clothes and stuff.

i think that all of us musicians out there need to think about what we can do other than our music to get people to listen to our music. it takes 5 minutes out of someone's life to assess whether or not they want to buy my CD. multiply that by a thousand artists and ... well, people have other things to do.

think about it. i am.



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