Rob Dickins once said to me you’ll never get anywhere wearing trainers. He was wrong about that and he’s wrong about the idea that all albums should cost a quid.
Rob Dickins is the ex Chairman of Warners and the BPI. The industry creation built to encourange people to support the industry by spending their money on music. He has recently come out to say that the way to save the music industry is to make all albums cost a pound.
As an alternative Christian Tattersfield, the incumbent Chairman of WMG, has refused to supply cd’s to Tesco’s claiming that their demands are simply not economically viable. So who’s right? How much is music worth? Should we be trying to push the price up or reduce it?
Both Christian and Rob are from the wrong generation, from a world where music was worth something, where careers and companies were built on record sales, and kids saved up their pennies to buy it. This is a world that doesn’t exist anymore.
You can’t make something worth something. It’s worth is precisely what the market will pay for it. Right now for most of recorded music that’s nothing. A recent survey by a bunch of geeks went out into the street and asked a selection of young people how much they would pay for all the music that was on their ipods. What was the average price all these kids would pay for these thousands of tracks they listened to and played every day? ZERO. That was all they perceived it to be worth.
You can’t turn round and teach a generation that something they are used to getting for free they now have to pay for. In this world, technology gets better and stuff gets cheaper, that’s just the way it works, the way it’s always worked. The whole point of recorded music was to make music cheaper and more accessible to all and we have done a fucking great job in achieving this.
Music technology has now reached the point where duplication is free. But the physical duplication of music has always been a fraction of the cost of the finished article. You are paying for the creativity and time that’s gone into creating it, as well as admittedly in modern pop music, the huge marketing and promotional costs involved. But shouldn’t we find a way to reward the people that create the music we devour?
The people who benefit our lives the most are health professionals, the nurses and the like who do their very best to ensure our lives continue. Nurses get paid fuck all but they do an incredibly hard, demanding job and one on which we all rely on at some point. Shouldn’t people get paid what their worth is to society? i would argue yes but people want Gucci more than health care and this is seen clearly in the US where people die with no health insurance but a nice car in the drive.
The reason we can get away with paying nurses fuck all is because as tough as it may be it’s a rewarding job and the majority of people are good and nice and they want to help others. Because people are always going want to be nurses and get emotionally rewarded anyway there’s no need to financially reward them. People are carers for free just cos they’re nice. Conversely no one wants to be a banker if they’re not getting paid, no one wants to clean toilets or work in Burger King, we need to pay these people to do these jobs. Unfortunately it’s the same with musicians. People who make music are creative individuals who will go on making music anyway. They love it, it rewards their soul, music is it’s own reward.
The side effect of all this is the people who end up doing rewarding jobs, nurses, musos, charity fundraisers et al aren’t neccessarily the best at it. Generally they’re just the ones who most want to do it, the ones who are prepared to put up with all the shit, the terrible hours and the crap pay to do it. Of course for a nurse this is probably a forte, the nurse who most wants to care for you is going to be a pretty good nurse. But in music not so much. The person who desperately wants to make music is most likely the david brent twat at work who likes to pick up an acoustic and serenade you with their own masterpieces after a few drinks. This is not good.
Sometimes the best musicians are reluctant creators. The ones we’ll lose when music doesn’t pay are those that have something to say, something important, but their hardships are too great, and there are bills to pay. It will just be posh people, who like making shit for the sake of it. Show me a rich bunch of kids that have ever made any great music. Life’s too fucking easy.
This malaise is prevalent too in all the major record labels. Who comes up through the ranks? The people who can afford to be an intern for free for a year. People with rich parents who see music as an entertaining little sideline. Now you may argue that the strange cyclical nature of the world is that when the shit hits the fan, and there is no money to be made, the greatest music will unfold from someone who, because of the hardship, has great songs, something to say, and despite or even because of the lack of money will make music that we all want to hear. And then, because of the amazing network that has built up to make all music free and available to all we will all be able to hear it, for free. And we will say thank you for this gift that we will have been given. And it will be a gift cos we still won’t pay for it. Not even a quid.
So how can we sort it out that people pay for what things are worth? Well this is pretty difficult with nursing and physical product but digital manufacture offers an amazing opportunity. If you like something a lot pay more for it. Pay per play, it doesn’t matter if something’s old, or hyped or unheard of, why can’t artists be paid proportionally for every time you play it? The technology must exist, does exist, to record all this stuff, it’s right there in your itunes account. When you buy an expensive coat but only wear it once that’s tough shit but music, why not? Hear of a new band, try it out, never play it again it doesn’t cost you shit but one plays worth. What a great incentive to try new music. Once you find something you love, that you play every single day and becomes part of your life why not pay more for it? Why not reward the creator who has given you something that makes your life a little bit better. All this shit about hoisting music on people they don’t want is insane. Give people what they want and they will happily pay you for it. People are saying about the Dickins 1 pound idea, people only want the single so why not give them the rest of the album for free? The clue is right there. THEY ONLY WANT THE SINGLE. So give them the single let them cane the shit out of it, and pay you accordingly. Why should people get music they don’t want and won’t play? Album’s only exist because that was how much space there was on bits of vinyl, that’s why filler tracks are called fillers. Now we can just have what we want why not give it to people. Let’s get digital.
Posted by: mayhem