Monthly Archives: September 2008

slot music

the listenerd on the Slot Music plan:

this nearly universally maligned plan is to sell albums not as CDs or MP3s, but on SD memory cards. The idea may well not be a good one at all, however, the attitude and authority with which so many people claim to know the music business and what’s good for it is appalling and depressing.

Amen.

Selling physical music media in a cell-friendly format is a no-brainer. It’s plainly a good idea. This isn’t like DAT or Minidisc, where a new format had to be accepted, because so many cell phones already have SD slots. It’s not like selling audio files in a new type of encoding (like WMA, AAC, or FLAC). It’s just making media available in a convenient form factor for listeners who are already using their phones for music.

Does anybody have a simpler and more widespread approach to loading music directly onto cells, one that will work at the checkout counter at any convenience store? Bluetooth? Wifi? Over the air? Nope. The buyers don’t keep the card, they throw it away (or put it away for backup) once they make a copy. It’s just like delivering software on a floppy.

What’s up with the dumb negativity of internet opinion? Everybody rags on everything the recording industry does, and the less they know the harder they rag. Selling music as files without DRM on physical media designed for cell phones is creative and rad, and if Apple or Google had done the exact same thing the peanut gallery would be loving it.

Ok, maybe this idea won’t set the world on fire. I’ll buy that. But so what? It’s a fine business decision with a plausible chance of success.

song pages at bandcamp

The song pages at Bandcamp are very good. For an example, see the page for the song “Mercury Vapor.”

They give the song a full page worth of real estate, which lets them elevate the song title to the page title and give the album art enough emphasis; that’s a great use of plain old semantic HTML for media metadata. The song title is also in the URL, which is good for search engine rankings; the pages have excellent search engine optimization overall, which allows musicians to capture search results for their own works. There are lyrics and a commentary by the musicians. You can download or stream the song. There is a link to the album containing the song and links to other songs on the same album.

And notice that the page isn’t empty. Giving the track a page of its own doesn’t waste space. The opposite — it lets the track have enough space for once.

details on changes in the music publishing business

Key points about the state of the music publishing business, gleaned from an excellent blog entry by Eric Beall:

Mechanical royalties take 2-4 years to get paid, so the apparent health of the business is deceptive in that it doesn’t yet reflect reductions in CD sales over the past few years. Mechanical losses *are* kicking in, though: The mechanical income that a publisher earned in 2007 was largely based on CDs sold in 2004 or 2005. Because of this, the publishing industry will always have a delayed reaction. If a bomb drops on record company profits this year, the explosion will be heard in the publishing business two to three years later. It appears that this year, there is the rumble of something about to go boom.

What about areas of growth? The other streams of income that keep publishers and songwriters afloat are actually rising, in many cases, enough to keep the overall budget numbers looking pretty placid. Sure, Warner Chappell’s mechanical income dropped. But the same report shows that their performance revenue jumped 7.9 percent, synchronization revenues climbed 6.3% and digital revenues also gained. That same week, BMI announced that they collected a record –breaking payout of $786 million this year, an eight percent jump over the previous year.

The new revenue streams emphasize hits more than ever: “hit” songs matter more today than ever before. Popular singles are the songs that will get played on the radio, on television, and in restaurants, bars and wedding halls. Consequently, the bulk of the money paid out by BMI and ASCAP goes to chart-topping “hit” songs. Very quickly, the whole industry is beginning to reflect the country music market, in which having a radio hit is all-important when it comes to earning significant income.

Except with revenue streams for soundtrack-style uses: “sync”- ability is the other key to cashing in. Songs that will work for advertising, television, movies or video games are far more valuable than generic album cuts on pop records. This gives a high value to certain styles, like electronica or alternative rock, which might not correspond with the level of CD sales in that particular genre.