Just found this article on the BBC news site about a company who are offering free music downloads in exchange for the listeners sitting through adverts. There’s a whole load of interesting stuff in there, including the – frankly encouraging – figure that the ratio of illegal to legal downloads is 40:1 – I’d have guessed closer to 400:1 myself, so that’s not so bad…
What the article completely fails to touch on (I guess because it’s in the business news section and so this would fall outside of its remit) is the ickyness of having no control over what products your music is associated with, and even the notion that digital encouragements to consume stuff you don’t really need or want but are being convinced you should have is in anyway compatible with the goal of ‘unfettered creativity’ (I’m assuming now that that particular goal is a Good Thing, though I’m well aware that there are many musicians for whom such things are lofty nonsense in the face of trying to make some dough without getting a day job…)
The main problem is that you’re trying to get people who categorically never pay for music to put up with this, and that, I’m afraid seems astonishingly unlikely. Surely the bit of the market that the download marketeers should be targeting are those people who would buy it if it were a) a bit more sensibly priced and b) there was some sense of the music going to the artists (bizarrely, when it comes to finding excuses for downloading music, everyone suddenly turns faux-communist and starts railing against big businesses, those same big businesses they’re only too happy to frequent when they want to buy a cheap TV or pair of jeans… dot.communists, perhaps?)
But anyway, methinks making people watch ads for tunes still misses the goal of getting those people who haven’t already reached the point of seeing recorded music as essentially valueless to buy it.
I might try an experiment.. in fact, let’s do it now – I’m going to go and make three three Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline albums £2.50 each to download – $5. They’re great albums that were available as limited editions of 100 (and as such are highly prized – one recently sold for almost a million rand on the South African Ebay.. honest…) and contain some of my favourite of my own tunes… So they’ll be £2.50 each. Go and buy them… let’s see how many of you do. It’s a great way to get some fabulous new music (If you’re on last.fm you can listen to bits of all of them to hear what you’re getting)by