February 22, 2005
Wanted to make a few observations about some articles I've been reading lately. I think the sum of them really is nidicating that I have been right all along about this medium and its potential.
The first and most intuitive is this one from Yahoo! News, which is basically driven by Universal Music's Southeast Asia division's decision to license more than 1,000 Chinese-language pop tracks to Apple Computer's iTunes. It essentially argues that digital availability has "unlocked" traditional "World" music's appeal beyond its culture of origin.
In a physical sense this is a no-brainer (especailly to Bun' Ber E) but what it doesn't comment on is how this in turn reveals the dominance of the "music industry" with its focus on Western Pop. (Which, of course has been one of th points of discontent among music fans and independent artists for years.) How has there such an unmet demand for this kind of music arisen? This is the definition of Western Cultural hegemony and is directly related to much of the anger directed at the USA lately.
This phenonmenon is also reflected in the figures quoted by Phil Tripp, which show that:
* Last year in the US, there were 30,000 album releases. There were only 100 certifiable hits. Albums that made a hefty profit. Of those 30,000 titles, only 1000 sold over 5000 copies. Only 5000 sold over 1000 copies. In other words, 25,000 releases sold less than 1000 copies each. And this is in a country which has more than ten times the population of Australia.
* 22 million US adults (about 11% of the population) now carry digital music players. (Pew)
* And exactly 11% of US consumers and nearly 50% of music downloaders in the US, aged 12 or older, have paid for online music downloads. That's risen from 2% in December 2002 and 4% in December 2003. (Ipsos)
What all of this points to is that people who are Internet-savvy are eshewing the traditional "listen to the radio, buy the mass-promoted CDs" response to music marketing and seeking their own way forward. Man, of course, are not straying too far, but it seems that plenty are taking the opportunity to explore beyond the music the major record companies are jamming down their thoats.
The only real dissenting view on this point comes from Parks Associates, whose report "Digital Music: Analysis and Forecasts" shows that, although consumers like the idea of buying tracks one at a time, they're not yet sold on the idea of online subscription services. Not a big surprise, that, since they're only talking about a particular kind of digital download and "better customer service" is the marketing edge that a whole bunch of services are trying to grab.
So, what does this mean? Well, it's basically all good. It shows that there's a viable market out there for a wider variety of music that the major companies have let us believe was available for some time - but the finer points of servicing these customers have yet to be figured out ... and may not be for some time until the technogical aspects of the Internet stabilise and standardise.
In the meantime, I've got music to record and send through the digital download people ...Posted by Huge at February 22, 2005 1:52 PM