Since starting the ‘Indie Way’ project, I’ve set google to hit me with everything related to the recording industry daily. Thanks to the election being over, I’ve shifted to being a political news junkie to a record industry news junkie. Here’s a couple of interesting recent stories, some relating to the ‘indie way’, some that I find compelling
1. The record companies are now adopting variable pricing online, meaning the days of .99 cent downloads are over. They will be priced at .69 cents, .99 cents and $1.29 cents. I think the idea is that stuff which sells better will be priced higher. But why have stuff sell for less? And what will sell at .69 cents? My guess is that this will hit indie bands – essentially their tracks will end up in the .69 cent category while Top 40 acts will move up to $1.29. Why the price hike? It’s not as if the price of distribution has increased. It strikes me as another desperate attempt of a dying industry to squeeze money from it’s increasingly alienated customers.
2. Also have been following the case of Joel Tenenbaum. He’s a grad student at BU who was sued by the RIAA (the legal arm of the record companies) for downloading 7 songs on Kazaa while in high school. Tenenbaum decided to fight back, at first defending himself and then enlisting the aid of Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson. Nesson and his team of Harvard Law students are really trying to use Web 2.0 to their advantage in this case, and in a fascinating legal precendent, fighting to have the procedings broadcast on the web. As an artist, I can definitely appreciate how much artists suffer by music become a free commodity, however, the tactics of the RIAA – suing kids who download a couple of illegal tunes for thousands of dollars, are ridiculous. Unfortunatley, the cat’s out of the bag – helped out by the record companies who made huge profits actually digitizing their collections in the 80’s and 90’s – and recorded music has become a very cheap and widespread commodity. I think instead of trying to reverse this fact – which is like the King who ordered the tides to halt – artists have to find new models which will take this fact into account.