After lecturing a bunch of 14 – 17 year old teenagers on the future of the music industry last Thursday, I have had to revisit some of the opinions I outlined in my previous article focusing on this topic. Compounding this was a number of comments on that particular article and especially one from a high level English Music Promoter forcefully stating that my views were very “old school”. This same industry executive also went on to state that new and upcoming artists should be giving away their music for free in return for collecting fans email addresses.
First I will examine some of the responses from these teenagers I lectured last week. It was heartening to hear that close to 95% of them still brought hard copy CD albums and used torrent sites to check out new music before deciding what to buy and add to their hard copy CD collections. So where does this leave the IFPI’s premise that file sharers or torrent users are leading to the decline in recorded music sales? In Tatters in my own mind anyway The Pirate Bay. As these teens are too young to have credit cards or mobile phone contracts in their own names, they are left with no means to purchase digital tracks!
When and how is the industry going to address legal access for teenagers who are too young to have access to credit cards to purchase digital music legally? What are the models? Is the only model the industry can come up with ad-funded? If so, from these kids responses, we are doomed thehiltonian. When I asked them if they would be prepared to listen or view advertisements before having access to stream or own a digital track, 100% said “No”. Why would they waste time listening to advertisements when they could access their desired track instantly via a torrent site?
My suggestion would be for the industry to insist on a revenue share from the banner advertisements displayed on these torrent sites and then perhaps there would be significant revenues as we all know that the ratio is almost 1000:1 in terms of digital tracks consumed illegally via torrent sites (such as lime wire) as opposed to being purchased legally. Yes – every single one of these kids has a mobile phone but it is their parents who are named on the mobile contracts. Each had purchased one or two ringtones but that was it, as almost all of these teenagers also used an MP3 player. Less than 20% of them used the MP3 player in their mobile phones.
I replied to the music promoter posting by agreeing that perhaps not only should artists be prepared to give their music away for free in exchange for an email address but they should also collect the fans mobile number as well. I query whether attaining an email address alone is a valuable exchange. We are all over inundated with email spam. Experience has showed me that after a successful live show, fans are more than willing to give you their email details without you having to give them a CD for free. The industry executives point was that record labels have stopped investing in new talent apart from the “radio 2 supermarket acts” – hello duffy and adele! He goes further, stating that artists have to treat themselves as mini-companies in a cottage industry. I agree with this, to a point.