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Downloads: Albums Instead of Singles?
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VegasMusicMan
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#1
26th November 2007
Old 26th November 2007
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Downloads: Albums Instead of Singles?

Maybe a way that the industry could upgrade the digital phase that we are going through is to allow labels and independent artists to choose whether or not they want iTunes users to be able to download singles, or albums..

An example here is that up until 1996 or so, when a label breaks a new artist, they release singles....if they did well, they either released another single, or released the album and discontinued the single.....it was the label/artists choice...

My feeling is this...Who the F is iTunes to tell ME how I HAVE to package my product....? If I decide to create buzz around a single, and it is successful, then I decide to dicontinue the single because the 10 song album is ready, then as the artist, why shouldn't I have that choice...What's to stop them from telling me that I have to make the album cover blue with orange polkadots on it?

If you have a 1979 Chevette and you need to go to NAPA to get a new mirror because you cracked the glass by hitting something, and GM decides that it only sells it complete with the whole assembly for $75 and NOT just the glass (which might be worth $3), then that is up to GM, NOT NAPA...

Likewise, I like to watch movies on cable TV, but find that I only like what comes on HBO and I don't speak spanish so no need for HBO latino, I am a 35 year old single guy so I have NO need for HBO Family, and I live on the East coast, so I have no need for HBO West...So why cant I just pay $3/month for the single HBO channel instead of having to pay $12.99/month for all 5.

The point is, HBO and other companies like this have conditioned the american public to this model, so why try to re-invent the wheel here, in this respect...

Now, I love iTunes and the fact that it has opened up a very, very powerful way for the independent musician to level the playing field...That being said, I think that making EVERY song available for $.99 no matter what the artist/label feels about it is what Steve Jobs did to send a big F.U. to the entire industry.

Allowing labels/artists to decide if and when a single and/or album is available, and the right to discontinue one to introduce the other would make this whole digital download age a lot easier for labels to swallow, make them WANT to work with iTunes (right now, they are basically forced to...), and while doing this, allow even semi-savvy artists the ability to earn substantially more money by generating more revenue from their music...

Going through the intense amount of work that you now have to do to promote yourself to introduce the masses to your music with the goal of selling as many $.99 downloads as possible just doesn't seem nearly as appealing as being able to discontinue the single in favor of the $9.99 album once you build serious momentum with creating your fanbase.

And to Mr. Jobs:

"If you say that you are going to help the industry with iTunes then this is how you do it...Otherwise, I feel like all you are doing is F'ing it up and devaluing EVERYONE's product...Who the F are you to tell the world that what was worth $18.99 yesterday is only worth AT BEST $9.99 today...?"

He single-handedly put a lot of people out of work, and a lot of companies out of business...

Sorry for the rant, but thanks for letting me get this out...I needed it.

John
#2
26th November 2007
Old 26th November 2007
  #2
Founder CD Baby
 
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Smile Good rant

Good rant, John, and I totally agree.

Since every other store was doing single-song sales, I made the CD Baby MP3 store a full-album-only download. (Which also let me maximize the credit card processing fee, to pay you a full 91% of the sale price, which song-by-song stores can't afford to do.)

Read more about it, here.
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#3
26th November 2007
Old 26th November 2007
  #3
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
 
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Know what I think is really going to force a change? Ringtones.

Phones simply don't work well with album-based models. The granularity is simply different. As more and more people go mobile, the album "packaging" model will come under increasing pressure to adapt, and maybe even wither away--or at least become a CHOICE.

--Peter
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#4
26th November 2007
Old 26th November 2007
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Nice point about lack of artist control over their own work/product. What can be done?
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VegasMusicMan
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27th November 2007
Old 27th November 2007
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The only other solution that I can think of is to make the singles $2.99 retail and MAYBE the labels will do some promotions for $.99 or $1.99....Now, with this model, the retailer would keep 1/3 of the selling price..I do believe that if this model is going to work for us, it needs to work for the retailer as well, and at that price and "1/3 to them - 2/3 to us" model, it would allow them to make money WITH us...
Now, of course this model would cause illegal file-sharing to increase a bit, however if we could receive some continued help from the government to keep cracking down on these peer-to-peer sites, as it seems that they have started, that would help....

Here would be the real benefits:

1.) More revenue and price control by the artist/label
2.) More revenue means more promotion money available to bring the music to the masses
3.) More financially stable labels and artists
4.) A much "easier" time to get the public to buy the album for $12.99-$13.99 (retail) instead of each of the 2-3 singles that they like at $2.99/each.

Now, I am in a bit of a different situation than many of you are here. While I am a musician, I am much more of a businessman, and am going to set-up a label, if this gets better. I have a very unique but win-win business model for this, and would work ideally under this above example, but not the way things are right now...

I have spent a lot of time evaluating where this industry is going, and feel very strongly that this is the only way to save it without "killing" the momentum that the "digital download" has created. Now, of course, you will have many people pissed off about having to pay $2.99 for a single, but just 3-4 years ago they were paying $6.99 for the CD5 or $15.00+ for the CD.

Thoughts..?
#6
27th November 2007
Old 27th November 2007
  #6
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
 
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You're right to assign this effort value, Vegas. But I suspect the $0.99 price point is here to stay. So back to the drawing board...

--Peter
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#7
27th November 2007
Old 27th November 2007
  #7
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterTuneCore View Post
You're right to assign this effort value, Vegas. But I suspect the $0.99 price point is here to stay. So back to the drawing board...
Okay, for some reason the system isn't letting me edit my post. So I just wanted to say, I didn't mean "back to the drawing board" dismissively! It's trying to get value out of a market with set expectations about price--perhaps we can find ways to make people want to pay $2.99 a track. Value-adds that help the industry subsidize these "hidden" costs ("hidden" because many, unlike Vegas here, don't see the expense of the mechanisms of promotion).

--Peter
peter@tunecore.com
#8
27th November 2007
Old 27th November 2007
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasMusicMan View Post

And to Mr. Jobs:

"If you say that you are going to help the industry with iTunes then this is how you do it...Otherwise, I feel like all you are doing is F'ing it up and devaluing EVERYONE's product...Who the F are you to tell the world that what was worth $18.99 yesterday is only worth AT BEST $9.99 today...?"

He single-handedly put a lot of people out of work, and a lot of companies out of business...
Because people stopped thinking it an album was worth $18.99 long before the iTunes Music Store. The P2P networks were the ones responsible for the devaluing of music by making it "free."

Apple came along with the iTunes Music Store at a time when CD Sales were down because people tired of paying $18.99 for a CD that maybe only had one or two tracks they actually wanted on it. Many of them chose to not pay anything and get it from P2P networks instead. CD prices kept rising, though the cost of manufacturing them kept getting smaller (now down to less than a buck in large quantities anyway). Apple figured, "Hey, people are stealing all this music - let's come up with a way to make people choose to pay for it instead." So really, Apple helped add value BACK to music (unless we're living in a parallel universe and 99 cents is not more than nothing). Jobs has said several times that they arrived at 99 cents a song because it was low enough to get people to buy it legally. Plus, if you want to defend the $18.99 list price of a CD and compare it to the price of a download, remember with the download there's no manufacturing or shipping costs like with a physical product, and the audio is compressed - shouldn't a lesser product cost less?

You don't like the way Apple runs their store? Then don't have your material sold there. Pretty simple really.
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