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How can musicians make money and we pay a fair price?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:13 pm
by Gordon Moore
DRM is a monster, I've avoided it like the plague, until I bought my new iPod classic 160Gb (showoff!) and I had to load iTunes.

I've downloaded a couple of tracks, just so I could have a clean version of the odd track I ripped from my lps. I burnt them to disc and then re-ripped so that I could have them on my media center(s) as well as a hard disk backup - well you never know?

I find 79p a track to be steep for stuff I'd probably only rarely listen to. I usually see if I can find the album second hand or from the US on Amazon.co.uk and (as I've mentioned elsewhere) I can re-rip should lossless formats such as Flac become available on iPods etc.

I currently use 320kbs when ripping to mp3, though I wonder whether there's really any advantage to being above the standard near cd quality of (128kbs) and do wonder if I should use variable bit rate?

Anyway, to my main point. How much of that 79p does the artist get? Not more than 10p I'd guess.

I was one of the few people who paid Radiohead real money for their album - I thought £5 was reasonable, but clearly I overpaid. i don't begrudge it though, it's a pretty good album. I wonder how I would have felt if it had been crud?

Now that I've been getting "free" music via streaming or from MySpace (though I have forked out for a few gems), I'm feeling guilty, because even though I'll probably only ever play the tracks once in a blue moon, I think it's only fair that they get something if I like what they've done - a sort of electronic applause. (or a coin in the hat).

I've noted that the number of plays a track, band gets is also recorded on MySpace and that it seems to be the place where bands go to promote their wares.

Just think how much an artist could make if they made 1p-10p each track played (and liked). Some might make as much as a tenner!

You'd think by now there could be a way of making a few pennies donation (via paypal?) and get the "right" to play the track as you like. Pay even more and get a proper wav/flac version. Myspace could take the obligatory 10-15% and make an enormous amount of money. The musicians would surely make more than they do now.

I know there are subscription sites, but I'm not into that. I want to pay a few pennies for stuff I like. Or like a top up card, put in £10 and get 50-200 tracks.

I can't understand why no-one makes it or something similar happen.

Probably because like the majority of Radiohead downloaders/freeloaders many prefer to pay nothing. And that's what most musicians are probably making.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:27 pm
by Dayna
I wonder if Pepsi is doing the same promotion there as here. For every 5 Pepsi Bottle caps you save, you can put in a code from the lids & get a free download of your choice, from Amazon.com. I buy enough Diet Pepsi, that these musicans could make a fourtune from me. LOL. Hopefully, Pepsi is paying the artists that way. I think it seems like a fair thing, if they are. I do beleive these artists deserve to be rewarded for their work some how.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:38 pm
by Gordon Moore
The Amazon download site isn't available in the UK.

btw 79p is about US$1.50!

Of course the UK has additional overheads such as , as, er?

Re: How can musicians make money and we pay a fair price?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:22 pm
by Charlie
Gordon Moore wrote:Anyway, to my main point. How much of that 79p does the artist get? Not more than 10p I'd guess.

I'm sure you are right about that 'not more than' guess, Gordon. 10p from 80p (the maths is easier) is roughly 12% which is in line with what an artist would have expected to get as a proportion of the price of a vinyl record or CD.

My impression is that the artist probably gets quite a bit less, perhaps 5p or 6p, after all the in-betweenies have taken their cut: iTunes or its equivalent; the digital distributor which delivers the track to iTunes; the publisher of the song (on behalf of the writer, often also the artist); and the record label.

I should be able to give your more accurate information, since we have music that is earning money through this route. But although the accounting is scrupulous, it also voluminous. Literally dozens of pages detailing earnings in cents and fractions of cents, track by track, which we round up and assign to the accounts of the applicable artists without having the time or the inclination to work out all the finer details.

The main point is, that it does amount to worthwhile sums, for an artist in reasonable demand.

Re: How can musicians make money and we pay a fair price?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:12 pm
by Rob Hall
Gordon Moore wrote:DRM is a monster, I've avoided it like the plague, until I bought my new iPod classic 160Gb (showoff!) and I had to load iTunes.


I may be exposing my ignorance here Gordon, but what's the issue with iTunes and DRM? I have had an iPod for years, and have always used iTunes as a library facility (I buy a CD and import it into the iTunes library*). Over that time I have rarely used the iTunes Store to buy music, preferring to buy CDs. However, a friend recently lost a close relative and asked me to compile some music to play to mourners after the funeral. I was able to go onto the iTunes Store, play the clips to her over the 'phone, purchase the required tracks, burn them to disc and hand it over to her in not much more than an hour. If I had any desire to put the resulting selection (a healthy mix of Al Martino, Engelbert Humperdinck, Connie Francis and Bert Kaempfert and the like) onto my iPod to listen to at my own leisure, I'm sure it wouldn't prevent me from doing so.

My conclusion is that I don't think that the iTunes Store (in this country at least) has DRM.

(* = This isn't entirely true. I also have a monthly eMusic account. When I buy music from eMusic, I simply drag and drop the selections into the iTunes player to get them integrated into my iTunes library.)

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:05 pm
by Gordon Moore
Hi Rob,

the problem with DRM is that your music as downloaded (.m4a) is tied to the machine you downloaded it onto. Now I can't simply copy that m4a file to any of the other machines I own, and if I want to use it on any other mp3 players, e.g. in my car i can't simply convert it to mp3 and stick it on the sd card or whatever and simply play it. This is obviously to stop piracy.

What I have to do is as you did burn the tracks to cdr, then I can use my normal ripping program to rip the resultant audio cd as mp3 (or whatever). of course there is bound to be some quality loss on this process.

That's how I understand it anyway. For instance I downloaded that Scritti Politti track that CG played from somewhere, but now I can't play it anywhere since I got a new laptop etc.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:31 pm
by Rob Hall
Gordon Moore wrote:Hi Rob,

the problem with DRM is that your music as downloaded (.m4a) is tied to the machine you downloaded it onto. Now I can't simply copy that m4a file to any of the other machines I own, and if I want to use it on any other mp3 players, e.g. in my car i can't simply convert it to mp3 and stick it on the sd card or whatever and simply play it. This is obviously to stop piracy.


Yes and no. I just put the MP4 file onto a USB stick and played it on another machine here at home. However, I had to authorise the other machine - it apparently allows you to authorise up to 5 machines on which to play the files. So I was wrong - there is some DRM, but its implementation seems less than draconian and it allows you to burn the tracks onto CD. As for playing it in the car - assuming you can't authorise the car's MP3 player to play files purchased from the iTunes Store - if you really want to, you can burn the file to CD, copy that back as MP3, title the file whatever you like, and play it on any machine; you just have to do a little extra typing.

Maybe it's just me, but none of this seems unreasonable.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:37 pm
by Gordon Moore
As I said, I'm totally in favour of musicians making money from their endeavours, but DRM is so not the answer.

As you said you have to go through a number of steps to make things happen, As for my car mp3 player I can't set it up to do as you suggest. As for my media centers unless I load iTunes on them then I can't do what you have discovered (which I hadn't realised anyway).

I think the basic concern I have is that when I pay money for my music I'd like to have it at the highest quality in the most convenient format (and that changes depending on my needs and the gadget I have). If I buy a cd then I can take it and play it almost anywhere in this day and age.

If I get a download, then I am being restricted in this basic aspiration. if I want to have my iTunes downloads on another player, then I've got to go through hassle - and I'm pretty computer literate, my wife wouldn't have a clue. (As an example I had to find a very obtuse workaround to rip my Camille cd so I could play it on my mp3.)

If I change machine then I've got a load of hassle to go through.

The situation gets a lot worse when video/DVD is involved. Effectively it stops me from legally ripping my dvds to the hard disk and playing them, unless I resort to some underhand, potentially illegal actions. It's even worse for HD content. You might find that you cannot play your expensive Blueray dvd from your computer through to your LCD tv.

That is unreasonable.

Yet the reasons for it are entirely reasonable, to make sure that people aren't copying and not paying.

Yet people are circumventing drm all the time, piracy is worse than ever, musicians aren't reaping the benefit. Honest people though are having to find all sorts of ways of achieving reasonable aims, yet having to get hold of software that is potentially illegal in this country and having the frustration of having to configure stuff.

It may be that if you are in the Apple, iTunes, iPod sphere then none of this does affect you, but I'm sure you realise that you are in a minority, and I'm sure you'd also agree that it isn't right to be locked into a monopoly.

So the issue that really remains is how can artists get their due rights safeguarded, but without the consumer being inconvenienced and restricted - hard one. I tried to suggest a possibility in my original post.

:-)

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:30 pm
by Rob Hall
Gordon Moore wrote:It may be that if you are in the Apple, iTunes, iPod sphere then none of this does affect you, but I'm sure you realise that you are in a minority, and I'm sure you'd also agree that it isn't right to be locked into a monopoly.

So the issue that really remains is how can artists get their due rights safeguarded, but without the consumer being inconvenienced and restricted - hard one. I tried to suggest a possibility in my original post.

:-)


I'm not arguing in favour of DRM. I posted originally to suggest that iTunes didn't use it; I then admitted that position was mistaken, and went on to say that the way that Apple have implemented it was not unreasonable. And, yes, I'm talking strictly in terms of Apple iTunes. I have bought CDs that carry DRM code and they piss me off greatly. However, I don't necessarily agree that, as a user of iTunes, I'm in a minority. I might also argue with your characterising the situation as a monopoly, but that's another discussion.

I think we're both in favour of an artist receiving fair payment for their works - and I'd extend that to anyone who adds real value to the end product before it gets to me. Where we seem to differ is in our views on DRM as implemented by iTunes.

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 8:50 am
by Gordon Moore
Rob Hall wrote:However, I don't necessarily agree that, as a user of iTunes, I'm in a minority..


No, sorry, that wasn't the intention behind my comment, but the Apple Mac, Itunes, Ipod lock in as opposed to the Windows/Linux Itunes, Ipod/other mp3 player might have a variance in favour of the winlux segment of the dispersion er! :-)

Undoubtedly iTunes is the largest download site...at the moment.


Just to take the argument a stage further I wonder how people feel about this hypothetical situation.

Suppose friends want to introduce music they have heard/like to others in their group. Now on MySpace many artists that we are interested in promote their songs and we can listen to them as often as we like, without charge. Well, assuming we have a live internet connection.

Would it be wrong to take those sounds offline and continue to listen to them, e.g. say by recording the stream.

The only difference would be that you aren't connected.

I suppose then the artist loses some control over the availability of the song, which is a bad thing, but then they are getting good exposure.

What if a person makes a cd of links to the artists music pages/song tracks and passes it around. What if it is the tracks that are passed around.

Obviously if this were being done for commercial gain then that would be wrong. But in the former cases then the tracks that people really like should be bought and the other tracks discarded.

It's a minefield, no doubt about that.

This is your Thought For The Day, the Moral Maze.

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 10:09 am
by Charlie
Gordon Moore wrote:I suppose then the artist loses some control over the availability of the song, which is a bad thing, but then they are getting good exposure.

What you are describing sounds very similar to the days of making cassettes for each other. Many people went off to buy the album or single (vinyl in those days). I used to laugh at the slogan 'Home Taping is Killing Music' with its skull-and-crossbones logo that some record companies put on their albums.

There always has to be a way for people without much money to listen and share, in the expectation that a few will actually make a purchase. Most of us are indoctrinated into that most basis of habits, spending our money.

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 2:46 pm
by c hristian
What is the difference between Apple Itunes and Win/Linux Itunes?

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 3:19 pm
by Gordon Moore
Nowt, but I was referring to the fact that Windows/Linux already has plenty of alternatives to iTunes. Many people, believe it or not, don't actually want either Apple iTunes or even Windows media player. And an iPod is not the only mp3 player available. And ITunes isn't the only music store and ... Amazing isn't it :-)

Clarification: by "many people" I mean at least me!

And in case you're wondering what I have against iTunes, not a lot, apart from the fact that it doesn't utilise the AlbumArtist tag that I spent what seemed like hundreds of hours organising. But I already have my music structured as I want to and don't need another management system to manage what I have already managed to manage.

I remember David Flower mentioning something about laxatives er!

hahaha lol :-()

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 5:59 pm
by David Flower
actually I've heard about a medium for slowing and/or blocking I-tunes downloading

It's a software called I-modium

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 6:19 pm
by Gordon Moore
droll, very droll

iLaugh.


Also I've just been re-reading the Local heroes thread, which I even contributed to as gordonfmoore, that's ages ago. Anyway I realised you'd already recently covered the drm issue in some detail, so sorry for bringing it up again.

However, what we are discussing here, links nicely in with that thread.