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January 20, 2005

Lies, damn lies and the music industry

Finally, some respectable research has pointed out the utter bollocks that ARIA has been sprouting about music sales figures in Australia. I almost gagged on the contradiction between the sales figures and the spin when they were released, and it's good to see someone has done a more rigorous analysis of the deception.

Of course, this myopic attitude is simply leading more people like Bun' Ber E and myself to bypass the traditional music-industry channels and seek distribution via the truly independent, worldwide distribution systems that the Internet has made possible. We do so without fear of peer-to-peer exchanges or CD ripping because the economics of our production is so different.

Releasing music through "iTunes and other pay-per download sites has been a great call for Bun' Ber E. I suspect it will be for many other "independent" artists. I certainly intend to use it for my releases.

What's really extraordinary, though, is that, following a single press release campaign via the web, Bun' Ber E's second release has attracted attention from radio stations across the US (www.kfok.org, CA; Will-FM, IL; KREV-LP 104.7 FM, CO; www.wuftfm.org, FL; www.kmud.org, CA; and WORT 89.9 FM, WI), in Japan and in Germany. Now, I would have thought that that kind of public response would indicate a certain market that could be hit quite profitably (especially given that our European iTunes sales are more than double those in the US) but are the record comanies interested? No!

Make no mistake, these are not speculative requests for the CDs. These are all responses from radio stations that have heard the music (thanks also to the power of the web) and think their audiences will like it. But the closest we've gotten to a record company is that MRA Entertainment, a local company with global distribution, commissioned us to make a generic recording of "Pipes and Drums of Scotland" - which has sold well all over the world. Are they interested in our other releases? They said they'd "listen to it" and the silence has been deafening.

This is the same risk-averse myopia that has led to the phenomenon noted in the above article. Boring music, more restricted choice, lower sales - well, DUH!

Bring on the wonderful world of music via the world-wide web.

Late addendum:

Just found out that the sales figures for CDs continue to improve (a 1.6 percent rise or 817 million CDs) in the second half of 2004 - but not as much as those for digital downloads (the legal ones, that is - a 376 percent rise or 91.4 million digital tracks). So much for the theory that the pitiful few tracks that are ripped or swapped are denting the market. I'd have thought that competition like this would be far more significant.

BTW - these are US figures, so the argument that the Australian market is an aberration, which was included in the ARIA spin, does not hold either.

Of course, the major chain music stores - those that sell what the major record companies tell them to - all reported reductions in CD sales. Also, not surprisingly, stores that discounted prices did better - their market share grew ...

Well - DUH!!

Posted by Huge at January 20, 2005 9:39 AM

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