Friday, May 30, 2008

Buy vs. Steal

I was once told by a friend of mine that "we don't make the kind of music people BUY, but the kind that people STEAL." I remember disagreeing, only to be reminded of the many websites out there like Soulseek, Bit Torrent, etc.. As an artist, sites like this never scared me. In fact, I embraced the idea of "throwing" a track out there to get it traded. My assumption, if people like the track they heard, they'd spend money to buy the CD.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about these corporate so-called "album leaks." I'm talking about a legitimate campaign here -- "Listen to this new AC song... If you like it, the album comes out soon... Buy it!" It seems fair enough, eh?

This morning (yes, I know I'm late), I read an article about Radiohead. They offered a "pay what you want" type of deal with their last album. My immediate thought was "what the hell are they doing?" Don't they know how many people would simply download their album for FREE? I could just hear the many excuses today -- I'm a college student; Fuck the RIAA; The economy's tight; There's too much garbage out there... All of these are valid, of course! But AGAIN, as an artist who does this for a living, do I really WANT someone else telling ME what MY hard work is worth?

I have mixed emotions about this... I understand that times are changing. I understand that "everyone" with a computer + software is all of a sudden a producer, or DJ, or whatever. I ALSO understand that even before downloading became an issue, the market was flooded with garbage.

I AGREE that the RIAA (or whomever) shouldn't be able to force-feed me some highly-marketed bullshit, and tell me it's the hottest track I've ever heard.

But in MY situation, I'm confused... I run my own record label I'm NOT a bullshit artist. And from a label standpoint, I KNOW how much it costs to produce an album -- studio time, label designers, etc... I'm not greedy. While I do this for a living, I disagree that a CD should break the bank -- especially nowadays, when there's maybe only one or two songs you'd even like.

Long story short, I've considered following Radiohead's plan. Let the customer pay what they will, for the CD. While I'm confident that I have enough quality songs to justify paying for, I CRINGE at the thought of someone downloading my album for free -- especially after all the hard work and soul I put into this project!

Digitally, the album is being distributed through an aggregator. Physically, I'm selling the albums directly through my website. I don't like dealing with distributors too much, only because then you have to play the game... "How much do I think YOU can sell?" Again, thank God, I don't really have this issue. I've consistently sold decent amounts of records over the years, but I DO NOT LIKE the corporate GREED!!! Some of these record prices are ridiculously overpriced!

So my question is... How much IS my new album worth? If I wouldn't mind paying the "average" price of $12.99, is that too much? Not enough? (In my opinion, it's just right.)

During the festival, I sold copies for $10. (Thank you, those who bought it!) I ALSO noticed that some people weren't happy unless they got the CD for free. (I gave away a couple, yes..)

And as a side note, please remember that regardless of ANYTHING ELSE, I do my music because I LOVE it. just happens to also be what I do for a living! Y'all know how I feel about that! So don't say "oh he's just in it for the money..." I'm not -- but one cannot live on compliments alone...

So I hope this sparks conversation. I'm curious to know your thought, so don't be shy...


PS: And by the way... for those who are asking me where they can sample and buy the album from, it's here.


augustus said...

AC you need some backing merch so people can take a piece of you home. Us electronic people should take a que from the rockers and start selling stuff. I'd buy a shirt with some AC lyrics on it. I could a bar of soap and Wash it on the bottom in bold letters on a shirt lol.

Aaron-Carl said...

LMAO!!! YOU are funny!! I might just consider that... :-)