Have you heard of Harvey Danger? I hadn’t, until half an hour ago or so. Had it not been for one specific thing, Harvey Danger would be nothing more that at most a name to me, in all probability. The one thing that changed the situation for me, is bittorrent.
Harvey Danger is a group, which recently released their third album: “Little by Little”. Being independent, they’re not bound by RIAA and their demonising of the p2p file sharing model – and so they wanted to do an experiment. They put out their album for download. It’s their complete album, DRM-free, in ogg vorbis and mp3 formats – and it’s free. We’re even encouraged to share it with friends. Not quite the view of the RIAA juggernaut, eh?
Of course, they don’t give it away just to be nice – they do sell the album, too, and would like to make money on it. The result they’re hoping for is to get some contribution for the downloads, and/or to sell the physical album (which includes a bonus CD) and more. History has shown us (those of us that don’t close our eyes) that people find new artists via file sharing, get curious and search out previous albums to buy. Other artists have noticed higher sales as they’re being shared – let’s hope the same is true for Harvey Danger, and that this experiment turns out to be a viable model.
Me? I’m listening to the album as I’m writing. I like it – how much I like it remains to be seen. 🙂
I was buying some music the other day, as I had got a gift certificate for quite a bit to spend in the music store. I had heard the latest Coldplay album should be great, so I decided I should listen to it to see what it was. The headphones fit snugly around my ears as the sales woman put the CD in the player and gave me the cover.
I noticed quickly by the cover that it wasn’t a CD after all, but a Copy Controlled disc – but I wanted to listen to it anyway. The music was nice, so I did listen for a while, but the experience was marred by repetitive clicks and small skips in regular intervals, as if the disc was badly scratched. When I told this, the reply was that this wasn’t too unusual – they just tried another disc if that was the case, and this could be without the clicks and that stuff – and they were easily ripped anyway. “Would I try another one?” But no, buying such a disc is totally out of the question for me. I would rather find another one, a CD that works as it should.
As I looked through the CDs, I noticed there were some tempting ones that I normally would try, even buy, but despite their placement among the innocent CDs, they couldn’t hide the ugly fact: The Copy Controlled logo told its story – not a CD, don’t buy.
So, the result? The record company (EMI and subsidiaries) lost sales of at least one CD, because they try to sell faulty discs. Sorry Coldplay, not this time – but if you decide you’ve had enough and want to release your music on CDs later, I may have a look again.
For thise who are curious, I ended up with “Leaves’ Eyes: Vinland Saga” – also an enhaced CD, but the enhancement in this case consists of some extra video tracks, not any copy protection stuff. Nice.
I like music, and have bought quite a bit up through the years. I have also bought music I had no idea what it sounded like, or if I would like it. In those latter cases it has been relatively cheap CDs, but it still cost me, so I didn’t try out as much new and unknown music as I might have wanted. And I haven’t just picked random CDs in the shops to listen to either, just in case I enjoyed it. Better to stay with the safe and well-known.
Things have changed now, when it’s possible to download music and listen to it via Internet. Since it’s possible to do this for free, it’s also easier to try new music and artists. There are also many ways to discover and try new artists. One way is to pay attention to mp3 blogs.
Mp3 blogs are written by music lovers, sometimes by artists themselves, where they tell about different artists. Often you can also find a taste of the music, too, in the form of music files to download or stream. Sometimes even videos. You may of course wonder where to find these mp3 blogs, but I’ll help you a bit on the way by offering some links to blogs I follow:
The only problem left is: What if you find some great music on the net – but are unable to find any place that sells it? Here’s where the record companies could do something good…
Hilary Rosen – yes, the RIAA one – has got an iPod from her girl friend. She appreciates it of course, but – she is a bit frustrated, too. Why, she asks, the incompatible DRM to shut the competition out? Why is she complaining about it – and why isn’t everyone complaining about it?
Well, Hilary – two points: One, we have been complaining about it, all the time. You just haven’t been listening. Two, the whole point of DRM is to shut out the competition – it doesn’t prevent copying, and never have. It just makes it impossible for a healthy competition by legal ways – DRM never had anything positive with it, especially not for the customers. And this is implemented because – well, you wanted it.
It’ve very nice that you se the down side of the business now that you’ve got an iPod you can’t do with as you wan’t – but you’re a bit late, aren’t you?
That the record companies claims the artists lose money because of the piracy is no news. Wether the net effect is that the companies are losing or actually earning more because of the p2p sharing of music is one thing, but what else is threatening the artists’ income?
The Register (among many) writes about Fiona Apple, and her third album, “Extraordinary Machine”. It was recorded and produced in May 2003, and… that’s it. It wasn’t released by Sony. The reason? Well, would it be any sound reason in any case? Corporate drones, bean counters, personal taste… The result is still the same: Fiona Apple isn’t making money on the album she made, not because of sharing over p2p networks, but because of Sony itself.
But the album made its way out in the free anyway. First via a DJ on radio, and later the whole album in CD quality mp3 files. So the only way fans of Fiona – and other people who would buy the album – can get it, is to download it. For free. Without Fiona nor Sony getting anything at all for it. Smart move, Sony. Not. If it can’t be released on CD because it would be too expensive, there are many ways and places to sell it online by download, with no costs for CD manufacturing.
Of course, one may wonder how that DJ got hold of those mp3 files in the first place. There must be someone inside Sony, or…?
So, how is the album? Why not find out for yourself? This page has some links where you can find it and download. I’m listening to it now, and so far I like it. 🙂
Right from the beginning, when Napster made sharing music easy, the music industry claimed that it hurt the sales, and robbed the artists from their money. For just as long, those who downloaded music for free said they bought more music, since they discovered new (for them) artists this way. After all, why not try something new when it doesn’t cost you anything?
Alan Wexelblat writes in his article The revenge of Sapir-Whorf that all studies have shown no negative effect on the music sales due to P2P-sharing, and studies that have shown an effect, have shown that it has been a positive effect. Not quite what the music industry want you to hear, eh?
So – what is the problem then? Well – from the consumers’ side it is that we haven’t been able to buy what we’re willing to pay for, simply because record companies wouldn’t sell it to us. Instead, they want to sell us what we don’t want instead: Music we can’t use as we want and play where we want on the equipment we want. Music with lots of restrictions. What’s the reason for this? Is it just the fear of not getting money for everything, or is it more? Do they want complete control over how we can listen to our music, making us pay several times for the same music if we want to play it several places?
Well – if the music sales finally go down, it may just as likely (or more) be because people stop buying music due to such restrictions, which just makes it cumbersome for us.