Garth Talks Business; Rejected Baby Rich Names; George Strait’s Song-Selecting Savvy

Brody Vercher | October 23rd, 2009

  • Garth Brooks talks business in Chet Flippo’s newest Nashville Skyline column:

    “I’m not a record label fan, but on this one, I have to stand up for the record labels and say that they can’t afford development anymore. Because if you think you can live on 99 cents a single, I can guarantee you one of two things: You’re wrong, or you’re working for Apple.”

    [...]

    He continued, “What I find myself doing with these record label heads is they’re going, ‘Hey, we’re doing great!’ And the truth is, they’re doing great with what they’ve got to work with. But the truth is, they’re making one-twentieth of what they should be making. The people that are running Taylor Swift’s place? Those people, even though they’re the most successful, I betcha in the ’90s, they would’ve made 10 times more — without piracy and without having to sell everything at 99 cents. If that young lady, if for every single she sold, she sold an album, those people could have money for artist development again and for taking chances.”

  • Farce the Music presents the top ten rejected names for John Rich‘s forthcoming son.
  • Starting Tuesday (Oct. 27), Drew Kennedy‘s new album An Audio Guide to Cross Country Travel will be digitally available through his website and anyone who purchases it will automatically be entered into a drawing for a free house concert.
  • The recent Keith Urban-hosted “We’re All for the Hall” benefit concert raised upwards of $500,000 for the County Music Hall of Fame.
  • That Nashville Sound dubbed Jason Eady‘s new album, When the Money’s All Gone, a four-and-a-half star effort and described the singer-songwriter as “a Hal Ketchum like storyteller with a Joe Nichols voice — all drenched in a country-tinged Cajun blues.”
  • 11 Questions with Carrie Underwood
  • Twenty-two years after releasing her self-titled debut, Rosie Flores is still making music and continues to improve. In fact, The Austin Chronicle‘s Audra Schroeder says her new album, Girl of the Century, just might be her best. The album, due out Tuesday (Oct. 27), is her Bloodshot debut.
  • Download “Memphis” from Owen Temple‘s latest album, Dollars and Dimes, for free.
  • In a Q&A with Nashville Scene‘s Paul McCoy, Ralph Stanley talks about his new book, The Stanley Brothers sound, and his desire to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    You write in the book, “Seems like country people are most happy when they hear sad songs.” Why do you think that is?

    I don’t know, I just think this old-time sound just gets with them and helps them forget their troubles and so forth. Even though some of them are tragic songs, I think they like the melodies. I think they pay more attention to the melody than they do the words.

  • Twangville posted a couple of free downloads from artists like Sons of Bill and Those Darlins.
  • The 2010 Merlfest lineup has been announced.
  • If you’re a fan of Scott H. Biram, A Truer Sound urges you to check out Seasick Steve, who he says is to Biram “what The Flying Burrito Brothers were to The Eagles….that is, a purer form of the same art.”
  • Band of Heathen‘s Gordy Quist talks about five records that inspire him with Sounds Country.
  • While recording Speed of Life, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band‘s biggest reference point was its 1970 album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy. “They wanted us to circle back to what we were doing in the late ’60s and early ’70s,” Hanna said. “They wanted us to make ‘a hippy record,’ is the way they put it.”
  • The Austin Chronicle‘s Jim Caligiuri on Lyle Lovett‘s new record:Natural Forces sits comfortably next to early Lovett efforts like Pontiac – jovial, artful, and packed with deep Texas roots.”
  • Tim McGraw announced dates for his Southern Voice Tour.
  • Cowboy & Indians‘ Joe Leydon and songwriter Dean Dillon attribute George Strait‘s longevity to his song-selecting savvy:

    Quite simply, he knows what he likes and what other folks will like as well. “And that,” says veteran Music Row tunesmith Dean Dillon, “is one of the things that has made him the King of Country. He has that innate ability to look at a song, listen to a song, get inside that song — and deliver it the way it was written in a way that you can relate to.”

    Dillon goes on to recount his first encounter with Strait and the article ends with two interviews; one with George about ranching and the other with Bubba Strait about songwriting.

  1. stormy
    October 23, 2009 at 10:59 am

    “But the truth is, they’re making one-twentieth of what they should be making. The people that are running Taylor Swift’s place? Those people, even though they’re the most successful, I betcha in the ’90s, they would’ve made 10 times more — without piracy and without having to sell everything at 99 cents. If that young lady, if for every single she sold, she sold an album, those people could have money for artist development again and for taking chances.”

    Maybe if they didn’t have to spend as much time and money fixing the basic vocals on the album it would be cheaper to make.

  2. Leeann Ward
    October 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Bubba seems to have an even bigger aversion to interviews than his dad does. Didn’t learn much from his part of the interview.

  3. Jim Malec
    October 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

    But if you sell 10 singles over the lifespan of an album…

    Piracy isn’t going away. Selling singles makes sense because the cost of buying it from iTunes is LESS than the cost of the time and energy needed to pirate it. So, one of the big problems with the current model is that the life cycle of the single is way too long.

  4. Phil
    October 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Maybe if the Industry hadn’t gone about business as usual in the 90’s and looked ahead to the future and taken advantage of the technology and Internet that was out there back then, they wouldn’t have to put the blame on piracy and .99 singles, and would be making a lot more money today by producing quality music and developing artists and taking chances. The fact is, the Industry only has itself to blame…and the artists and the audience ended up paying for their mistakes because of it. So I have no sympathy for the record labels who charged $18 for a CD that costs less than a buck to make. Only empathy for those who have suffered because of them: Us.
    But the real problem took place because of the consolidation of the Music Industry (not only labels, but radio and concert promotion as well) back in the 90’s when it did become all about the money instead of all about the music. Radio stopped taking chances on artists and played the same artists over and over again…and MTV stopped playing music videos and started doing Reality TV shows. It’s no wonder it’s all about personality and image today rather than music and creativity. And it’s all because the Industry has and still continues to fail to look to the future, and only cares about its quarterly profits and making money…and not about good music obviously. It’s why I don’t take most of the artists being promoted today “seriously”, and don’t buy into the shallowness of an image or a personility masquerading as my source of music.

  5. Chris N.
    October 23, 2009 at 11:54 am

    When the industry was making money hand over fist 15 years ago, I don’t recall it putting all that back into artist development.

  6. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Well, Jim, if buying singles from iTunes costs less than piracy, then why isn’t piracy going away? It seems like your two propositions there are a little contradictory.

    Selling cheap downloads has probably reduced piracy, but mostly at the margins; I’ve seen quite a few estimates suggesting that as much as 80% of the music being downloaded these days isn’t paid for. It continues to be a big problem for artists and songwriters. And in the meantime, there’s a huge downward pressure on revenue via the retailers. At 99 cents a cut, you’re talking about somewhere in the vicinity of a 30% cut in the revenue for the same album, and even allowing for the savings on the cost side from digital over physical distribution, that’s still a big drop. (And BTW, while I realize that Stormy’s post was just another compulsive crack at Taylor Swift, the fact is that recording costs aren’t a very big part of the expense of making records – though they’re bigger if you’re only cutting one single at a time).

    Anyway, getting back to your comment, Jim, if the life cycle of a single is too long, is there anyone aside from country radio standing in the way of shortening it?

  7. Razor X
    October 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Garth is also making the assumption that everyone who has ever downloaded a Taylor Swift single would have bought the entire album if iTunes didn’t exist. Some people might have, but others would have bypassed the album altogether.

  8. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    “I have no sympathy for the record labels who charged $18 for a CD that costs less than a buck to make.”

    A physical CD, reproduced in quantity, costs less than $1 per unit, but that’s only one part of the cost. Song royalties alone amount to a dollar or more.

  9. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    “When the industry was making money hand over fist 15 years ago, I don’t recall it putting all that back into artist development.”

    20 or 25 years ago was a bit of a different story; 15 years ago is roughly the point at which they started handing off that job to publishers ;-).

  10. Brady Vercher
    October 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    “It’s time to pull out the sword and go to war.”

    King Arthur?

  11. Truersound
    October 23, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I have a hard time feeling bad for Garth Brooks statements, when a few clicks down in this same post we see that Tim McGraw raised $500,000 in a fund raiser.

  12. Chris N.
    October 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    “20 or 25 years ago was a bit of a different story; 15 years ago is roughly the point at which they started handing off that job to publishers ;-).”

    Yep, that’s about right.

  13. Dan
    October 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I think people like Garth just need to start looking beyond the mechanical-sales-are-king model, because it’s simply not going to come back. Didn’t we learn from the Napster fiasco that legal fear-mongering just builds consumer resentment? The internet has faciliated the piracy boom, yes, but the bigger thing it’s done is level the playing field. It’s given the consumer more opportunity to discover and test out music so that he/she doesn’t have to drop 14 bucks every time he/she wants to take one good single home, only to find the rest of the album sucks. If the music industry is smart, it will stop trying to screw its customers, bite some tough bullets, and focus on monetizing this change in consumer practice and mentality. Easier said than done, I realize, but the more labels cling to traditional mindsets, the more they’ll lose their grip on the changing market.

  14. Jim Malec
    October 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Well, Jim, if buying singles from iTunes costs less than piracy, then why isn’t piracy going away? It seems like your two propositions there are a little contradictory.

    I can see how my positions would seem contradictory.

    It just comes down to utility. What is the cost of pirating music versus the cost of buying music? That’s the essential question. Consumers don’t want to break international copyright law, and they know that pirating music is not free–it takes time to install the program, time to find a valid file, time to transfer it to the device. For some users, this is an easy process. For many others, it is not. In many cases, however, it is more cost effective to pirate than not to pirate.

    I am of the belief it would be possible to sell music to even the most technologically proficient music consumers if the cost of purchasing that music was low enough relative to the costs of piracy.

    Consumers have a limited entertainment budget. If a person has $50 a month spend on entertainment, it’s going to be difficult to convince him or her to spend $15 of that $50 on something he can download at much lower cost.

    The price is just too high. As long as labels continue trying to sell $15 albums, album sales will continue falling. There isn’t enough value built into the product to support that pricing level. And here’s what the majority of this industry is unwilling to accept: there will never be enough value built into the product to support that pricing level. Never again.

    And when it comes to cost, you have to include the “junk factor.” Who listens to albums today? In my opinion, the average music consumer does not want a Taylor Swift album. They want a handful of Taylor Swift songs. They listen to music on their iPod, and they will shuffle between Nirvana, Taylor Swift and Elvis Costello–what are they going to do with 14 Swift songs? They’re not digging that deep into her catalog. Sure, they’d take them if they price was low enough, but those filler songs are not what they’re buying! And you can’t force the consumer to account for a portion of the product that you’re forcing them to buy.

    Reverting to an album-only model would strip many consumers of the incentive to ever spend money on music by improving piracy’s relative value/cost relationship.

    Garth is stuck in a model that doesn’t work. Everyone in the industry should be cost cutting and figuring out how to lower prices, understanding that the marketplace will never be like it was. We will probably never again see the kind of record sales that Garth had. The market is too niche-based now, the audience is too fickle and the cost of creating a worldwide star is too high.

    Selling cheap downloads has probably reduced piracy, but mostly at the margins; I’ve seen quite a few estimates suggesting that as much as 80% of the music being downloaded these days isn’t paid for. It continues to be a big problem for artists and songwriters.

    It continues to be a problem for artists and songwriters who are caught in the bloated, outdated business model.

    When I was a music business student, not particularly long ago, the break-even point for a typical major release was 350,000 units. From an artist standpoint, the break-even was 500,000.

    I don’t care how much you reduce piracy, those figures are never again going to be reasonable in the music industry. We have to substantially cut costs from every part of the process and we have to figure out how to cut prices.

    Anyway, getting back to your comment, Jim, if the life cycle of a single is too long, is there anyone aside from country radio standing in the way of shortening it?

    That’s a complicated question, Jon. My opinion is that it would be better (from a business standpoint) to move to a single-oriented marketplace and fundamentally re-shape the entire distribution scheme in order to support that. You would either have to have radio on board, or you’d have to be willing to somehow circumvent radio.

  15. nm
    October 23, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I’m trying to remember when the charts got to be so slow. I always think of the early ’80s as the point when it shifted, but was it actually earlier?

  16. Leeann Ward
    October 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    There are some artists who are lucky to get my money at all. I wouldn’t have invested a cent in their careers if it wasn’t for the ability to download specific songs. If I had to buy albums of certain artists, I just wouldn’t own anything of theirs at all.

  17. Leeann Ward
    October 23, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    And as I’ve noted before, artists directly get more money from me now that I download, since I used to try to find deals through Amazon’s used albums before my downloading days started. Now, due to instant gratification and reasonably priced digital albums, I hardly ever buy used albums anymore.

  18. Razor X
    October 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Who listens to albums today? In my opinion, the average music consumer does not want a Taylor Swift album. They want a handful of Taylor Swift songs. They listen to music on their iPod, and they will shuffle between Nirvana, Taylor Swift and Elvis Costello–what are they going to do with 14 Swift songs? They’re not digging that deep into her catalog.

    I listen to albums. I listen to them mostly on my iPod, but if I really like an artist, I generally try to buy as much of their music as I can find. I usually only download singles if it’s an artist that I only have a casual interest in, or when an artist that I really like contributes a track to a multi-artist compilation and I don’t want the whole thing.

    Maybe it’s just a generational thing, but on the other hand, Taylor Swift’s albums seem to be selling quite well, which suggests that a lot of people actually do want an entire Taylor Swift album. (I’m not one of them.) I don’t know whether or not she’s selling more digital singles than complete albums but it does seem like it’s a bit premature to declare the album dead.

  19. Jim Malec
    October 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    1) When you’re discussing the state of the music industry, it’s really shortsighted to keep using the few at the top as the primary example. Taylor Swift sells a lot of albums…so what? That fact that an elite group can sell a couple of million albums doesn’t prove that the album is not dead.

    2) Obviously, the album isn’t dead. There are many people who buy full albums, and I’m sure there are some people who actually listen to full albums. Those people are not the majority–not even close. And that’s where we get into trouble–when we try to continue building a business on the back of something other than the needs of consumers.

    3) Of course it’s generational.

  20. Zach
    October 23, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    In the midst of this heated industry debate…you can grab an entire live show from Sons of Bill at Twangville (link above). They also have a ton of live tracks for free at their website..one of my favorite bands at the moment!

  21. Dan E.
    October 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Like Razor X stated, Taylor’s CDs are selling really well. Most people that buy her albums do so because they practically like every song on her albums. Her “Fearless” CD is back in the top 10 this week on the Billboard 200 and is likely to jump up even more when her Platinum disc of “Fearless” comes out next week. Her debut CD is still doing amazing business as well. To suggest that people only purchase her albums for a handful of songs is ridiculous. Those people would download those songs and not waste more money on an album. The “filler” songs on her cds are being loved by her fans as well. I hear “Forever and Always” being sung by people all the time. That isn’t a single yet. All of her songs seem to be real popular though. She’s already made 6 music videos from her “Fearless” CD and is planning another single come December.

    Basically, people every week purchase her albums because they know that they will like every song that she sings on the CD. Many people who already own the “Fearless” CD will also purchase the Platinum edition because they figure they will like the new songs being added to it.

  22. Razor X
    October 23, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Taylor Swift sells a lot of albums…so what? That fact that an elite group can sell a couple of million albums doesn’t prove that the album is not dead.

    I only mentioned Swift because that was the example that you used. You implied that her fans are more likely to download a few singles rather than buy the full album; I was just pointing out that her album sales figures suggest otherwise.

  23. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    “2) Obviously, the album isn’t dead. There are many people who buy full albums, and I’m sure there are some people who actually listen to full albums. Those people are not the majority–not even close.”

    I’d like to know your source for that, Jim. Because according to an NPD Group study published just a couple of months ago (8/18/09), physical CD sales accounted for 65% of all music sold in the US in the first half of the year. Now, maybe a minority of music consumers are responsible for a majority of the sales, but if so, I’d like to know who said so.

    Another point to keep in mind is that, in the US at least, digital sales don’t only mean digital singles; the IFPI reports that in 2008, about 15% of digital sales were of albums, and the percentage is growing. So it’s important to decouple the CD/download and single/album issues; they’re not exactly the same.

    “[Piracy] continues to be a problem for artists and songwriters who are caught in the bloated, outdated business model.”

    In what *successful* business model for recorded music is piracy not a problem? Especially for songwriters – it’s all very well to tell artists that they ought to be giving their recordings away to entice people to their live shows (though don’t forget the “successful” part of the question), but that doesn’t really do much for the writers.

  24. mickers
    October 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    “pirating music is not free–it takes time to install the program, time to find a valid file, time to transfer it to the device”

    Well, no, not really. Rapidshare/Mediafire/Megaupload/Badongo/Sendspace/others ad infinitum don’t require the installation of…well, anything. Just a click and a 60-second wait for a link. Free and easy peasy. To find the valid file, Google will do quite nicely (either instantaneous or limited to how fast your internet connection is). The download time will also depend on your connection, but an entire CD can be downloaded in as little as…oh, a couple of minutes (depending on the connection, of course).

    If record companies think they have a chance in hell, they are sadly mistaken. The war is over and they lost. I don’t really have a dog in the fight, but…well, as soon as one program goes the way of the dodo, 15 take its place. All offshore and away from the RIAA. The jig is up.

  25. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Oh, and I guess I ought to add that I agree with you, Jim, that the essential question with respect to piracy is “what is the cost of pirating music versus the cost of buying music?” But I think – and I know this is not exactly a popular view – that you have to include sanctions on illegal activity as part of the cost of pirating music. Any change in the equation you mention will have an effect, and moral questions about piracy aside, upping the price that people have to pay, or might have to pay, for piracy (e.g., disconnection), needs to be factored into the picture. Otherwise, you’re inevitably going to wind up at a cost of buying music that’s essentially zero.

  26. stormy
    October 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Jon:
    If Piracy costs so much then why do so many singles sell millions of downloads? The problem with the “blame it all on piracy” problem is that the majority of media players are the “only-works-with-apple-downloads” I-Pods.

  27. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    “If Piracy costs so much then why do so many singles sell millions of downloads?”

    Because people want to hear them. Some buy them, some steal them. What’s so hard to understand about that?

    “The problem with the “blame it all on piracy” problem…”

    Um, I haven’t blamed it all on piracy, and Brooks hasn’t, either. But to deny that it’s a real phenomenon and a real problem for musicians, songwriters and everyone else in the business is just ludicrous.

    “… is that the majority of media players are the “only-works-with-apple-downloads” I-Pods.”

    Well, that’s just wrong. iPods don’t just work with apple downloads (sic), they work with a variety of files, including the ubiquitous mp3. Sheesh.

  28. PaulaW
    October 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I know I’m in the EXTREME minority, but I’ve never downloaded a song – legally or illegally. I like my CD’s. And to my knowledge (and I realize I dont know everything) my daughter has never downloaded either. I do however know for a fact, she buys A LOT of CD’s.

  29. stormy
    October 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Jon: You have to sync all of your music through I tunes, which works only with encoded technology.

  30. Chris N.
    October 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    There are people besides me who like Nirvana, Taylor Swift and Elvis Costello?

  31. Brady Vercher
    October 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Actually, you don’t need to use iTunes to manage an iPod. Evenso, iTunes doesn’t only work with “encoded technology.”

  32. Rose
    October 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Ok, so say that Taylor Swift would have sold 10 times more in the ’90s. Does Garth REALLY think they would take that money and wisely invest it in artist development? Bwahahaha, yeah right! They’d just line their pockets like they do now…the only difference would be the bigger grins on their faces as they walk into the bank.

  33. Leeann Ward
    October 23, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I love my iPod and I was one of the skeptics in the past. But I didn’t know you could manage it in another way other than by iTunes.

    I usually download from Amazon or Emusic and both are perfectly compatible with my iPod. I typically stay away from itunes downloads, unless what I want is exclusive to them, because of the taxes.

  34. T. Scott
    October 23, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Just think,in ten years all these Taylor Swift fans will sit around bitchin’ that the “new artists” aren’t really country and if they had to download them to a replay device instead of having them force fed into their brains through an interface, the artists would write better songs..

  35. Rick
    October 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Garth who?

    Its nice to see Rosie Flores is still putting out quality music. On tribute albums where she’s singing great songs she always knocks them out of the ballpark. Give Rosie top notch material and she will know what to do with it.

    I get most of Trailer’s passed over names for John Rich’s pending kid, but the names Jared and Target have me stumped! Hmm…

    Wow, that Carrie Underwear interview was riveting!!! (lol)

  36. Razor X
    October 23, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Actually, you don’t need to use iTunes to manage an iPod. Evenso, iTunes doesn’t only work with “encoded technology.”

    And conversely, you don’t need an iPod to purchase and listen to songs from the iTunes Store. It’s amazing how many people don’t seem to realize that the songs can be burned to a CD instead of played on an iPod.

  37. Phil
    October 23, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    OK…so I read the whole Garth Brooks article. Does he really want the government to step in or did I misread that? They are probably just as much to blame for the problem as the Industry in the first place. And let’s not forget about the media. The fact of the matter is when the Telecommuincations Act of 1996 passed, it really hurt more than it helped, as it helped Clear Channel practically take over the radio air waves, which meant taking less chances on new music and artists, and shrinking radio playlists so much fewer songs and artist’s music was heard. Then when the Industry started losing money, the first thing they cut was their Artist And Development teams to save money. Add to that, it used to be that media outlets were owned by over 25 separate entities, and now they are all owned by a select few…so we all get our news and information from the same source practically, which means they focus their attention on fewer artists as well today. The boom of Reality TV shows is a huge problem and factor too. It did make today’s music and entertainment a personality and popularity contest, and more about who the person is rather than who the artist is. Shows like American Idol are just as much to blame for the problem as the industry…the industry just decided to use the American Idol model and market all of its product to that audience exclusively (or those who watch Reality TV). When MTV started playing these reality shows like “Real World” rather than music, it was hello personality and image, goodbye to music. Which also left out a huge chunk of the buying public in the process.
    I’m all for sticking up for the artists and their rights…but I’m waiting for the artists to offer me something in return for my investmest besides albums full of filler with a couple of songs designed just for the sake of getting radio play and selling millions off of downloads. I think the last thing the music industry needs is for the government to step in…it just needs to start creating a quality product again that people will buy at a reasonable price, promoting and marketing that product to a wider audience, and cultivating new talent from the bottom up (not from top down with an image or a personality playing the role of the “artist as a person” like it is doing so today). In other words, make it about the money for the love of music rather than the music for the love of money like it used to be. Unfortunately when the consolidation of the music industry took place, those with the love and knowledge for music were squeezed out by those with the love for money (accountants and lawyers), and didn’t have a clue about music. That’s who is running the Industry today. It obviously doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it’s more about money today than it is about music. Which is also why I have a problem with what Garth was saying in his interview. He seems to be more worried about the money he thinks he’s entitled to than saving music and the actual art of music.
    Taylor Swift is a great example of exactly what is wrong with the music industry today. Her albums sales are great, but the music industry has decided it is easier to go after those millions of people who will go for image and personality that the media has created and the industry has exploited, and forgot about the millions of people who won’t in the process…I’m one of the millions of people who won’t (for the most part).
    As far as piracy goes…well, that’s something the Industry is going to have to deal with since they failed to do anything about it when they actually had a chance to. They fought and lost that battle because they waited too long and went after the wrong people in the first place and pointed blame on them…when they should have been looking in the mirror at themselves the whole time. They only have themselves to blame for that, and I’m tired of hearing that excuse.
    And as far as charging $18 for a CD goes like I said in my previous comment…yes, they were charging $18 for a CD to begin with, and then refused to drop the price even after the production costs went down. The industry is responsible for not having a good relationship with its customers in the first place. All the Music shops run by people who have a knowledge and love for music have closed in exchange for mass quantity outlets like Target and Walmart who only sell a few select artists and whose staff has no clue about the music it is selling, let alone the other music that is out there. So blaming the customers for being the bad guy is the last thing the industry should be doing…I think the truth is pretty self evident that it’s the exact opposite. I understand where Garth is coming from…but his thinking is part of the problem, not a solution to the problem. And the fact that Apple has Itunes is another example of where the Industry went wrong in the first place…the Industry would own Itunes (or Itunes would not exist, but be under a different name owned by the Industry) if they had taken advantage of the situation and opportunities it had in the first place.

  38. idlewildsouth
    October 23, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    I think if artists want us to buy entire albums, they don’t need to make it harder for us to buy individual singles, but instead give us more incentive to buy an entire album. As i’ve said many times before, I’m much more likely to buy an album over downloading individual singles, for many reasons. I’d venture to say the reason Taylor Swifts albums sell so well is because most every track is the same “quality” (a term a reluctantly use very loosey). Her audience can expect the same level across the board from her. That’s the key, to me. Make better albums, people will buy more albums.

    And by the way….wasn’t the industry single based for a vast majority of the time until the 60’s?

  39. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    A person who illegally downloads pirated music files isn’t a “customer” any more than a shoplifter is. There are some important aspects of music piracy that are more or less unique, but some aren’t, and that’s one of them. It’s true that piracy can’t be stopped, but neither can shoplifting, and if there’s been a bevy of retail critics arguing that stores should stop trying to catch shoplifters and deter others, and instead adopt a “new business model” based on letting people carry off what they want without paying, I have yet to see any of them.

  40. Jon
    October 23, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    “And by the way….wasn’t the industry single based for a vast majority of the time until the 60’s?”

    Yes, with an explanation ;-). For one thing, the technology didn’t exist to make long play albums until (from memory) the mid-50s, and they pretty quickly supplanted singles as the main recording format. And on the other side (again, from memory), the 45 was created within a few years of the LP – the latter wasn’t, technologically speaking, a successor to the former. And before that, 78s (which, BTW, were sometimes sold packaged together as “albums,” which is where the term originated with respect to recordings) weren’t a very good format for mass sales, because of their fragility; as near as I can tell, at least in the country field, artists were more likely to sell songbooks, because those could be much more easily transported from show to show. Also remember that DJs didn’t really come into their own until the early to mid 50s; live radio shows were much more important.

    So while it’s correct to say that the recording industry produced mostly singles until the 60s, that can’t be taken as a description of an industry which looks like it does today (or did 10, or 20, or 30 or even 40 years ago), only selling singles instead of albums.

    And btw, it’s really instructive to go back and look at country LPs from the 60s and early 70s, because that’s when the “2 hits and 10 fillers” approach was really dominant – not that it was necessarily a bad thing, as a lot of times the “fillers” were actually covers of other artists’ recent hits. But that was the approach in a lot of cases, and those records weren’t any cheaper in constant dollars than CDs have been.

  41. Dan Milliken
    October 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    “A person who illegally downloads pirated music files isn’t a “customer” any more than a shoplifter is. There are some important aspects of music piracy that are more or less unique, but some aren’t, and that’s one of them. It’s true that piracy can’t be stopped, but neither can shoplifting, and if there’s been a bevy of retail critics arguing that stores should stop trying to catch shoplifters and deter others, and instead adopt a “new business model” based on letting people carry off what they want without paying, I have yet to see any of them.”

    If shoplifting became easy and prominent enough that it was behind more than 30 percent of all goods obtained by users, and if an entire generation of users grew up doing it because businesses were too slow and shortsighted to produce affordable legal alternatives, you can bet your ass that smart business leaders would start asking themselves how to adapt. You’re right that there’s no theoretical difference between piracy and shoplifting, but the realities of the two are completely different in scope and public perception. Whether it’s ethically right or wrong, people in my generation have grown up believing that art is something to be shared, not owned – which is an idea originally built into our copyright law anyway, but one that has since been watered down by multiple extensions of the term of ownership. If the music industry had managed its changing marketplace as well as the retail industry, your comparison of the two could make practical sense. But it didn’t, so it now has an exponentially greater problem than the retail industry, one which clearly hasn’t gone away just by bullying grandmas and college students with lawsuits.

  42. Dan Milliken
    October 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    And incidentally, no one’s proposing that consumers shouldn’t have to pay in any sense for music. What I’m saying is that payment in the traditional mechanical sense of a la carte item purchases is on its way out. Labels are experimenting with subscription or ad-based services, for example, that would allow customers to access socially networked music databases portably – Rhapsody’s recent move to iPhone is a first sign. And that’s a fun, convenient-sounding system – more convenient, even, than pirating. That’s the key: make music “purchasing” easy and desirable enough that fewer customers feel the need to circumvent the system.

  43. Stormy
    October 23, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    The other problem with the “new marketing” system is that it forgets that albums are supposed to be largely marketing tools and that most artists used to make the bulk of their money off of tours.

  44. Phil
    October 23, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Yes well, I agree that piracy is no better than shoplifting. But the music industry waited too long in the first place to do anything about it making people believe that it was OK to download songs for free, and that people could get music without paying for it. As I have said before, music and art is only worth what the consumer is willing to pay for it in the first place. I don’t think shoplifting was ever seen as being OK by anybody because it has never been deemed acceptable by society. So the industry is to blame for that mentality to have ever surfaced in the first place, and turned it’s cheek and went about business as usual thinking that it would not become a problem because they weren’t looking ahead to technological advances they could have used to their advantage in the future, and it wasn’t worth going after the few people who were doing it until enough people started doing it. And then they blamed and went after a select few people once it did become a problem (the wrong people in my opinion)…that’s just not smart business sense.
    The industry basically charged people a huge amount of money to replace their record and tape collections with CD’s when they became popular in the late 80’s/early 90’s…not even taking into consideration that once people replaced their music collection with CD’s, they might then transfer those CD’s to another format (digital)…which they could not charge the customer for since they didn’t look to the future and technological advances into ways that they could have at a reasonable price. So people did it for free…because they could and it was deemed acceptable. Which is where the music industry finds itself today…and they only have themselves to blame for it. Which is why the CD is no longer a viable format for the Industry to look to if they want to make a profit. It’s too bad that .99 cent singles and piracy isn’t either. Which is basically the problem they are staring at head on…if only they knew that they created that problem and should be blaming themselves, and looking at themselves in the mirror to fix that problem. They can start by putting out a quality product at a reasonable price, and stop trying to fool the public into believing that there is anything inside the image and personality package they are marketing today. Today, the package is the message…that’s why I think “Cowboy Casanova” is the perfect song to describe today’s music and the industry as a whole. It’s all just an image and a personality that looks like a tall glass of water and can be addicting, but when you get down to what’s inside that image and personality it’s nothing but candy coated misery. It’s not deceiving me.
    It’s no wonder the industry has gone from being worth almost $15 billion in 2001, down to being worth $10 billion today.

  45. idlewildsouth
    October 23, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I understand that the money then wasn’t near what it is right now, or was ten years ago, but I would think if the industry worked as a singles industry in the past, why can’t it now?

  46. Phil
    October 24, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Idlewildsouth: That’s basically what they’re doing because of the reasons I just stated. Even though it was through their own doing with the decisions they have made in the past, and wasn’t necessary. But for one thing, I don’t believe the Internet, file sharing, CD-R’s, and illegal downloading of music was around back then either.

    But if they market and promote their music to a wider demographic of listeners (both male and female), I still believe it would make a world of difference. Right now, they seem to be too focused exclusively on appeasing one audience, and disregarding everybody else.

  47. PaulaW
    October 24, 2009 at 8:24 am

    But if they market and promote their music to a wider demographic of listeners (both male and female), I still believe it would make a world of difference. Right now, they seem to be too focused exclusively on appeasing one audience, and disregarding everybody else.

    I agree!

  48. Razor X
    October 24, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Which is why the CD is no longer a viable format for the Industry to look to if they want to make a profit. It’s too bad that .99 cent singles and piracy isn’t either. Which is basically the problem they are staring at head on…if only they knew that they created that problem and should be blaming themselves, and looking at themselves in the mirror to fix that problem.

    I agree that the music industry is largely the architect of its own destruction, but the piracy issue aside, the shift to a singles-based market would have happened anyway, because modern technology has allowed it to happen. Undoubtedly the industry would be in better shape today if they’d gotten onboard with the digital revolution sooner and created their own version of iTunes, which they would have had ownership of, before Apple beat them to it. But ultimately, I think they’d still be complaining that too many people were purchasing individual tracks and not entire albums.

  49. mickersss
    October 24, 2009 at 10:24 am

    i hope none of us here actually think ‘the record/music industry’ and artists are the same thing. they are not. artists have to beg and cajole and sue and arm-twist and dangle executives off balconies to get their cut of the money, irrespective of their contracts. if any of us think helping the record industry will actually help the artist, think again. most are treated like slaves on a plantation (with the obvious stratosphere exceptions: springsteen, r.e.m., rolling stones, whoever). there was a story in the news just yesterday about a group called TLC (who had a few hits a few years back) having to hold clive davis by GUNPOINT in a dispute over royalties.

    record companies deserve every bit of their problems. it couldn’t have happened to a bunch of nicer people. so now comes the necessary market correction. i don’t know what the end result will be, but it has to be better than the current system.

  50. Brady Vercher
    October 24, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Looking outside the scope of the music industry, I imagine cell phone and internet bills becoming ubiquitous usurped a bit of the disposable income that used to be spent on music.

    I don’t think the the shoplifting comparisons are apt and the 80% of acquired music being pirated is misleading.

  51. Jon
    October 24, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Looking outside the scope of the music industry, I imagine cell phone and internet bills becoming ubiquitous usurped a bit of the disposable income that used to be spent on music.”

    No doubt, along with a lot of other entertainment options.

    “I don’t think the the shoplifting comparisons are apt…”

    Because? I mean, it’s not the same thing in some respects, but my point was that to say that, because you can’t stop or punish every instance of theft, therefore you shouldn’t try to stop or punish any just doesn’t square with the real world.

    “…and the 80% of acquired music being pirated is misleading.”

    In what way?

  52. Phil
    October 24, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Well, I did read an article that guys are now spending more of their money on video games rather than music. I personally don’t like video games, but I can understand that. I don’t spend money on either. Heck, I wouldn’t even download the music being put out right now for free even if it was offered to me. But I would be more than willing to buy it if I thought it was worth .99 for a song, or whatever they’re charging for an album these days.
    And getting back to Garth’s statement about Taylor Swift. I think the point he was making is moot because Taylor never would have made it in the 90’s (or before). Just like most of the artists who were successful from the past never would have made it in today’s music world. I’ll bet if Garth Brooks was another artist trying to make it in today’s music world trying the same approach he did when he became successful in the early 90’s, he wouldn’t have much of a chance either. Both were in the right place at the right time. The music industry, and what was acceptable and marketed and promoted is different now, just as the same is also true that it was different then.

  53. Brady Vercher
    October 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Because when you start comparing someone who downloads a copy of an unlimited product (hurting no one if they wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place), to someone walking out of a store with a scarce product and denying the owner the value of that product, I just don’t think the comparison holds.

    I haven’t seen the report, so can’t draw many conclusions, but I think saying 80% of music is pirated overstates the impact of piracy on the industry.

  54. Jon
    October 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    “I haven’t seen the report, so can’t draw many conclusions, but I think saying 80% of music is pirated overstates the impact of piracy on the industry.”

    So you haven’t seen any studies (of which there are many), and you can’t draw many conclusions – but you’re going to draw a conclusion nonetheless.

    “…when you start comparing someone who downloads a copy of an unlimited product (hurting no one if they wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place)”

    If they wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place, then why are they downloading it? Answer: they download it because THEY WANT IT. Whether it’s “unlimited” or not doesn’t matter in that respect. So…

    “…to someone walking out of a store with a scarce product and denying the owner the value of that product”

    If the downloader wants the music (see above), then regardless of scarcity (which is being sloppily dealt with here, but that’s another discussion), it has value – value created by someone else, who’s entitled to be paid for it. And if someone takes it without paying the price, then he or she is stealing.

    So yes, there are differences between the theft of intellectual property and of physical property, but they don’t really count for much at the end of the day from an ethical point of view. In either case, the same principle applies: if you want something that you didn’t create, you can either pay the going price or just not acquire it. As comparisons go, it’s not a perfect one, but it’s not inapt, either.

  55. sam
    October 24, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    The comparison between shoplifting and downloading songs doesnt quite work, especially if the person who uploaded the song doesn’t mind if others download it. Traditionally, it is not stealing if somebody gives you the thing. If I say to my friend, “here is a Cassette tape of Garth’s “No Fences.” Feel free to go home and make your own copy of this tape and use it for your own use” my friend has not stolen from Garth, even if Garth is now out of a sale. Of course, if there is some law prohibiting this activity, we may have done something illegal. But “stealing” doesn’t seem like the right word.

    I don’t think the analogy between downloading and shoplifting works, but that said, I imagine that much downloading creates a problem for the labels that is quite similar to the problem shoplifting causes for Walmart.

  56. sam
    October 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Re: downloading: If I upload my music to a website and someone downloads what I uploaded, the downloader doesn’t seem to be stealing from Garth Brooks or Curb records or whomever. The downloader doesn’t even seem to be stealing from me: I have, after all, authorized this person to download the music (lets assume), and I can’t give someone something and then claim they stole it from me.

    I don’t think downloading music is stealing music any more than my “No Fences” example above.

    But — though I believe the analogy to stealing fails, I absolutely see downloading as a problem, at least to the extent that it diminishes the profits of record labels and in turn discourages the production of music.

    The difference between the cassette tape example and the downloading is that the cassette tape copying probably wasn’t widespread enough to cause a huge problem (such copies are rarely high quality, they are annoying to make, et cetera). But it seems as if downloading may well be cutting into profits substantially. That is a serious problem. If there is no or less profit to be made from making music, then we may see a lot less music making. Certainly, a bad thing.

  57. Dan Milliken
    October 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I certainly haven’t heard that piracy accounts for 80%. If memory serves, the Digital Summit conference last year put the figure at about 25% for peer-to-peer piracy and 30% for personal sharing between friends and family. 80% sounds like some very skewed data.

  58. Jon
    October 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    “Traditionally, it is not stealing if somebody gives you the thing. If I say to my friend, “here is a Cassette tape of Garth’s “No Fences.” Feel free to go home and make your own copy of this tape and use it for your own use” my friend has not stolen from Garth, even if Garth is now out of a sale. Of course, if there is some law prohibiting this activity, we may have done something illegal. But “stealing” doesn’t seem like the right word.”

    Actually, there is indeed a law prohibiting this activity; it’s called copyright infringement and, in the US, derives from the Constitution. In essence, while you own the physical copy of the music (the cassette), you don’t own the music itself, and so you can’t authorize anyone else to copy that music, nor does anyone have the right to copy it from your copy.

    “The difference between the cassette tape example and the downloading is that the cassette tape copying probably wasn’t widespread enough to cause a huge problem (such copies are rarely high quality, they are annoying to make, et cetera).”

    That’s exactly right. People have been illicitly “sharing” recordings for a long time, but it was limited in practice by several factors: quality (sound degrades quickly in successive generations of analog copies) and access being the chief ones. Both of those obstacles have essentially disappeared; hence, the greater scale and consequent severity.

    “If there is no or less profit to be made from making music, then we may see a lot less music making.”

    Yep – and that doesn’t only operate on the big, bad labels. While the heaviest traffic in illegal downloading reflects the same pattern as legal sales – the big artists are the big artists – it also extends to less prominent artists and labels. It can be sobering to spend some time scouting around for illegal downloads of artists whom one might think would be too obscure to be available; one would be wrong in thinking so.

    Now, if an artist wants to promote his or her music by making it available for free – and it’s really theirs, meaning they’ve not only performed but written it – then that’s cool. But that’s not what Garth was talking about.

  59. Andrew
    October 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    As far as Sam’s cassette example, I think it became more common with the advent of CDs and CD burners. I know when I was in high school my friends and I would make copies of our albums to share with each other. It was no different than what happens with online pirating, but even if it was illegal it’s completely unenforceable.

  60. Rick
    October 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    The drop in CD music sales is hastening and accelerating the decline as the small music stores shut down and the big box stores carry fewer titles. I always look at the Sunday newspaper advertisements for Best Buy and Target (and Circuit City when it was still operating retail stores) and over the last couple of years the space dedicated to music CDs has been shrinking along with the number of titles featured. At the same time the space devoted to DVD and Blue Ray movie titles has skyrocketed. It seems consumers would rather spend that extra $ 10 in their wallet on a DVD movie than a music CD they can steal off the internet via illegal file sharing….

  61. Steve M.
    October 24, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I lost all sympathy for the record companies when they went after used CD sales in the 90s. As far as I am concerned, they are reaping the bitter fruit over their lack of vision and inability to adapt to new technology.

  62. Phil
    October 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Hmmm…..you could assume that Rick. Or it could be that more people are willing to spend a little more money on a quality product, and the Music Industry is not delivering that product with the music and artists it is promoting and marketing. And like I said before, the Industry seems to be marketing its product today to a very specific audience, while movies and DVD’s are being marketed to a much wider general audience.
    I know I would spend money buying more albums if I thought I was part of the targeted demographic and they were marketing the music to a wider more general audience…but I’m obviously not. So that is why I think the Industry is being foolish with its marketing strategy at the moment. They are leaving out a huge audience, and focusing their attention specifically on one targeted demographic. So of course there will be fewer choices and less to choose from because of it.

  63. Joe
    October 24, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Phil: Paragraphs. Please?

    Garth is living in the 1990s. I suppose that’s what retirement does: makes you just keep referring to how well it all was back when you were playing (and winning) the game.

    Jim’s comment about re-orienting the industry toward a singles market is so, so, so, so right. And, of course, the country music business is going to be the most hesitant. Since the dawn of time, the greatest stars of country music played the game by the rules dictated to them from Music Row. It’s contributed to an albums mentality; that is, when it outgrew the singles era (both of which were dictated by the Row).

    Mariah Carey released her latest album with an entire disc of remixes to the first single. There was a time when her label would have sold that “extra” disc for $5.99 AND the album for between $9.99 and $14.99. Yes, it costs a bit more to remix singles but if you’re writing them (and at least co-publishing them) then you’ve built a financial base from which to PERSONALLY afford to do that.

    What with these new 360 deals, for example — where’s Garth regarding that, by the way — there is a newfound sense that a country performer should start thinking like a business entrepreneur, not a desperate “artist” who needs great big corporate America to sponsor their creativity. All the smart ones have survived because of that shift in mentality. Even Garth.

    Until now. Turns out, the new music business is bigger than even Garth.

  64. Jon
    October 24, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    “I certainly haven’t heard that piracy accounts for 80%.”

    The IFPI’s report released a few months ago put it at 95%.

    “If memory serves, the Digital Summit conference last year put the figure at…”

    I’m guessing you mean that a speaker at the Summit served up those numbers, because Leadership Music (which organizes the Digital Summits) certainly hasn’t done any studies. I don’t suppose you happen to recall who that was? And in any event, even 25% is huge.

  65. Joe
    October 24, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    The two points I made above may sound contradictory but they’re not.

    The greatest (most successful) stars enjoyed their success because they played the game that Music Row dictated to them: by that I mean they didn’t try to go “outside the box” regarding recording, distribution, touring, etc, within their definition as an ‘artist.’

    The smart ones who’ve survived the shift in mentality noticed the difference between what they could control and what they couldn’t so they learned to keep on playing that game, but from both the artist side as well as the business side: creating their own publishing companies, management companies, etc.

  66. Phil
    October 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Oops…sorry Joe. I guess I’m trying to save space.

    And I still think the Music Industry could be an albums market…if they would market their music and artists to a more general audience and focus more on the quality of the music being produced today. But they seem to have abandoned that for personality and image over substance and creativity, and easily disposable music that will not be remembered tomorrow, and that is targeted at one specific demographic.

  67. Dan Milliken
    October 24, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    “I’m guessing you mean that a speaker at the Summit served up those numbers, because Leadership Music (which organizes the Digital Summits) certainly hasn’t done any studies. I don’t suppose you happen to recall who that was? And in any event, even 25% is huge.”

    Yes, Jon, I used shorthand; I’m pretty sure it was Russ Crupnick with the NPD Group, although it could have been from the following session that morning, which featured a panel of folks. I don’t have my notes from the Summit readily available here, but I’d be happy to regale you with them next time I’m in Maryland if you really care that much.

  68. Phil
    October 24, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I also think people aren’t taking into account what the economy has done to album sales. People are more willing to spend money on singles today because they may not have the money to spend on an album. So if and when the economy gets better, I’m sure album sales will rise as well. So right now it is a singles market in large part because of the economy…not because of piracy or the Internet.

    But I still think the Industry needs to focus on quality and market its product to a wider general audience, and give listeners more choices if it wants to be successful in the future. And while image and personality has always been a part of the Industry…I don’t think they should focus so much attention on that aspect.

    Anyway, I thought this was interesting…even if it only focuses on one aspect of piracy. One thing I have learned over time. Statistics don’t always tell the whole story and problematic assumptions are made because of them, and a lot of the time other important factors are left out to sway an audience one way or another.:

    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2007/08/a13-billion-fantasy-latest-music-piracy-study-overstates-effect-of-p2p.ars

  69. Jon
    October 24, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Um, Dan, I’m in Nashville, not Maryland, and I didn’t attend the Digital Summit this year only because I was playing and giving workshops in British Columbia. Any time you want to share your notes, just let me know, and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee at Fido.

    BTW, from looking at various NPD press releases and stories, it looks to me like the 25%/30% you refer to is a percentage of households involved in these activities, whereas the figures I’ve mentioned relate to percentages of files downloaded.

  70. Dan Milliken
    October 24, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I said Maryland because that’s where my notes are; if I had them here in Nashville, we could enjoy a coffee & note-swap date straightaway.

    “BTW, from looking at various NPD press releases and stories, it looks to me like the 25%/30% you refer to is a percentage of households involved in these activities, whereas the figures I’ve mentioned relate to percentages of files downloaded.”

    Thanks for the clarification on that. I have to say that percentage of households seems like the more telling figure to me anyway, just because it seems obvious that most people will download more if the price to them is minimal/free than they would if the price were substantial. I appreciate your bringing the other figure into the discussion, though.

  71. Brady Vercher
    October 25, 2009 at 1:41 am

    So you haven’t seen any studies (of which there are many), and you can’t draw many conclusions – but you’re going to draw a conclusion nonetheless.

    Did I say I hadn’t seen any studies, or did I say I hadn’t seen the specific report that you referenced and didn’t provide a source for?

    There’s also difference between speculating and drawing a definitive conclusion, and when you throw a number like 80% out there, it’s ripe for speculating.

    For someone who’s a stickler for detail from others, you sure are lacking yourself.

    If they wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place, then why are they downloading it? Answer: they download it because THEY WANT IT. Whether it’s “unlimited” or not doesn’t matter in that respect.

    Or they want to hear it to see if it’s actually worth purchasing in the first place? There is a difference between wanting to hear something and wanting to own it. Or maybe they just want to find out what everyone’s talking about? If you think every pirated download is a lost sale, you’re sadly mistaken.

    How about instances where the downloaded music isn’t even available for sale in any sort of accessible format? I’m sure that’s a lost sale as well?

    My speculation wasn’t unfounded and like I said, I can’t draw many conclusions because I don’t know what scenarios were taken into account when reporting such a number, but I do think it overstates the impact of piracy.

    Oh, and pirates can also be customers.

  72. idlewildsouth
    October 25, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I will say, anytime in the past that I have pirated a song, I had no intention whatsoever of purchasing the music if I couldn’t get it from Limewire. Of course, my convictions about such activities have changed in the past few years, but nothing I ever downloaded was going to be purchased. Unless, of course, it was a new artist. For instance, I downloaded Dean Brody’s “Brothers”, discovered I liked him, and went out that same day and bought his cd. So, there are ups and downs.

  73. karen
    October 25, 2009 at 9:18 am

    who’s selling for .99.. they’re all going for 1.29 and 1.49 now if they’re hits.. someone doesn’t download much.. as for garth, his popularity will never go out of style so he’ll always rake it in as far as cd’s go that’s for sure..

  74. karen
    October 25, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Garth is doing quite well for himself.. just got this from a friend..

    LAS VEGAS – Garth Brooks mused that the public may have moved on when he announced he was coming out of retirement.
    Was he ever wrong.
    Tickets for Brooks’ first 20 shows at the Wynn Las Vegas resort sold out in less than five hours. The resort said Saturday it reachedmaximum capacity for callers at 141,934, with many getting busy signals.
    Officials say the ticket Web site had more than 5.4 million page views with 40,000 waiting to buy tickets online at one point.
    Brooks announced a five-year deal with casino owner Steve Wynn last week that includes 15 weeks of shows a year in the Encore theater, which seats about 1,500. Tickets were $125 plus fees.
    Brooks, the best-selling solo act in history, plays Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of select weeks beginning Dec. 11.

  75. Jon
    October 25, 2009 at 11:26 am

    ““If they wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place, then why are they downloading it? Answer: they download it because THEY WANT IT. Whether it’s “unlimited” or not doesn’t matter in that respect.”

    Or they want to hear it to see if it’s actually worth purchasing in the first place?”

    There are plenty of legal ways to sample music before buying it.

    “There is a difference between wanting to hear something and wanting to own it. Or maybe they just want to find out what everyone’s talking about?”

    See above, and don’t forget that most of the pirated material is the same stuff playing on radio stations across the country and around the world. If “everyone’s talking about” it, you can hear it for free. Legally.

    “If you think every pirated download is a lost sale, you’re sadly mistaken.”

    I don’t believe I’ve said anything about every pirated download being a lost sale, and I haven’t served up any figures about purported costs of piracy, either. At the end of the day, it’s both legally and ethically irrelevant. As a creator, I have certain rights with respect to what I’ve created, and pirating that work violates them. At the bottom of each and every page on The9513 there’s a copyright notice that includes the phrase “All Rights Reserved.” What’s that all about, if not those certain rights?

  76. Jon
    October 25, 2009 at 11:40 am

    “who’s selling for .99.. they’re all going for 1.29 and 1.49 now if they’re hits.. someone doesn’t download much..”

    Or doesn’t download hits much.

  77. Phil
    October 25, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    who’s selling for .99.. they’re all going for 1.29 and 1.49 now if they’re hits.. someone doesn’t download much.

    You’re right…I don’t download much. Like I said, I wouldn’t download today’s “hits” for free even if they were offered to me.

    Why download something I’m not going to listen to anyway?

    Offer a quality product that I want to listen to, and I will purchase it. It’s that simple. Until then, I’ll spend my money elsewhere.

  78. Brady Vercher
    October 25, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    If “everyone’s talking about” it, you can hear it for free. Legally.

    “Everyone” can be broad or narrow, so if “everyone” consists of one’s immediate social group, then the music may or may not be readily available for free.

    I don’t believe I’ve said anything about every pirated download being a lost sale, and I haven’t served up any figures about purported costs of piracy, either.

    You took exception to my speculation that 80% overstates the impact of piracy, which automatically brings that into play, but whatever, you can change the scope of the conversation as it suits you.

    At the end of the day, it’s both legally and ethically irrelevant. As a creator, I have certain rights with respect to what I’ve created, and pirating that work violates them. At the bottom of each and every page on The9513 there’s a copyright notice that includes the phrase “All Rights Reserved.” What’s that all about, if not those certain rights?

    I haven’t argued that there’s nothing wrong with downloading music without paying for it, although I find some scenarios to be less ethically black and white as you do.

  79. Phil
    October 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    All I know is, artists should be blaming the music industry, and not the public for the piracy problem. So Garth is basically putting blame in the wrong place if you ask me.

    As far as a solution goes…well, think of how much the music industry has lost because of the way it is marketing personality and image over substance and creativity, and is disregarding a huge audience in the process. I’m sure that’s 10 times more than what piracy has cost them.

  80. karen
    October 25, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Phil you talk about the public and what they probably really want.. how the females are being overlooked for their artistry which is true… but it seems the country audience sure likes the handsome guys in the cowboy hats.. the industry I’d bet doesn’t even have to plunk that much cash down to market them either judging from the country charts… they’re obviously ga ga over the cowboys.. how many real men are cowboys these days??

    Now for the girls that is the hard sell… how do you market these women? Will their music sell with just them and a cowgirl hat???? not likely at all….

    I think the industry has to work twice as hard to sell these women and their music.. and most of the time it still doesn’t sell… at least not looking at those charts…

    and look at Garth!!!! perfect example of a man’s man with a cowboy hat.. of course the music has substance, but he didn’t need any marketing I’d bet… I think it’s a real challenge.. and the women that are on the charts today have killer voices.. You’ve got Reba, Martina, Carrie, Miranda up there right now.. most of the men have a one octave range… it’s funny how that is…

  81. sam
    October 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Phil’s argument about “image over substance” and “disregarding a huge audience” is interesting, but where exactly is the evidence that backs it up?

    Do we know that the “industry” could do better than it is now by spending some money on promoting acts that would appeal to this “disregarded” audience? Would this “disregarded” audience buy music at a rate sufficient to justify such expenditures? Is it possible to market to this “disregarded” audience on radio — or are radio advertisers uninterested in buying ads on a station that attracts this “disregarded” audience?

    Who, exactly, is this disregarded audience anyway? How do we know they are or aren’t buying music, anyhow?

    As to the “image versus substance” claims: how do we know that “substance” sells more CDs than “image?” It seems that there are complaints that all forms of popular entertainment lack “substance,” and yet these forms have succeeded in attracting a large audience for years and years. Often it seems TV programs allegedly lacking substance seem to do better in the ratings than the more sophisticated fare on PBS, for instance. Many people spend hours watching YouTube videos that seem to have even less substance than the most vacuous country song ever written.

    I’m not convinced that the public is eager to flock to music with “substance.”
    But if this is the problem, and if “substance” would sell, then why aren’t the record companies putting out “substance?” Are record labels really so ignorant that they don’t see what Phil seems to present as obvious? Its hard to believe that. Might there be some barrier to profitably releasing music with “substance” to a mass audience that leads the labels to focus on “image” instead?

    Finally, I’m suspicious of claims that top 40 country is less substantive and more image driven than it was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. “Image” is nothing new: its probably essential to creating stars. Is “substance” down? I’m not sure the top ten songs on the Billboard country charts in 1985 were significantly more “substantive” than they are today. True, the topics sung about have changed, the music has changed, Maybe there is less substance today, but is there significantly less? I don’t see it, though my only evidence is impressionistic.

    I’m not exactly clear on what is meant by “substance.” By substance do we mean songs sung by good vocalists? Songs that aren’t silly novelty ditties? Songs aimed drunks in bars rather than soccer mom in mini-vans? Songs about the pain of cocaine use rather than the difficulties of raising children?
    All of these? None of these? Its hard to evaluate suggestions that the industry’s problem is a lack of substantive music unless we know what is meant by that term.
    7
    Perhaps my suspicions are unwarranted. Perhaps Phil is right. If he is, there should be a great business opportunity out there for someone who wants to promote music of substance to the masses.

  82. Phil
    October 25, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    When I say substance and creativity…I mean make it about the actual music and the “artist” rather than who the “artist” is as a person is singing the song. It just seems these days people are more interested in who the person is singing the song, rather than the actual song, and that is who the Industry is marketing its product to.

    This concept of image and personality is not new by any stretch of the imagination…image and personality has always been part of the music business (and practically every form of entertainment). But when the people who are running the music business are more interested in the money they can make from it, than the music that is created due to it, it leaves fewer choices and leaves out a great number of people who would otherwise buy their product. The article I linked above states that 58 % of the respondents were disenchanted by today’s overall quality of music.

    The problem is because the Industry is promoting the image and personality side of it to the hilt, and marketing their product to a specific audience that buys into that, they are leaving out a number of people in the process who would otherwise buy their product, and leaves fewer choices for the public to choose from.

    I have already blamed Reality TV and shows like American Idol for this problem. And the Industry seems to have taken to the idea that this is the only audience out there who buys music, just because MTV happens to play more Reality TV shows than actual music. Which again limits people’s choices as to what is actually out there musically. So let’s say 30 million people in America watch American Idol…there are 300 million people in America, and over 5 billion people in the world. It seems to me, they are missing out on a huge demographic of people they could be marketing their product to who don’t watch American Idol or MTV. And yet, they seem content on marketing their product to this audience exclusively who fall for this image and personality. And even though many music listeners don’t necessarily watch these shows necessarily, that is the audience the Industry is catering its product to on a grand scale.

    In Country Music’s case, I know exactly what their strategy is. It is to bring in a new demographic of listeners who would otherwise not listen to Country Music. So they market their product to mothers and their kids hoping they will get hooked on Country Music and become fans of the genre for years to come. The only problem with this strategy is, they are ignoring a huge demographic in the process who end up spending their money elsewhere for their entertainment…and they fail to realize that these new fans are not really fans of Country Music, but rather, the “image and personality” that is masquerading as Country music at the moment. They are not loyal to the genre, only to their “favorite” flavor of the moment. 20 years from now they won’t be listening to Country Music…if Country Music is still around. The music industry is too short sighted though, and cares more about the earnings it will make this year, than the earnings it may lose in the future because of its decisions in the past, and need to appease its shareholders today.

    Now, as far as CD’s go…I think it’s fair to say that many people would rather buy singles than a full album today. Gone are the days when you had to buy a full album just to hear the one song you wanted to hear in the first place. And now consumers have that choice where they did not in the past. So if the Industry wants to survive, they will have to make those singles appease a much bigger listening audience than they are now. And as Jim Malec said in one of his comments…make the life of the single shorter on the charts so more songs get released and are heard on the radio so more can be sold. Which of course, may or may not help the overall quality of music being produced (depending on whether or not these songs can appease a wider demographic of listeners). If they want people to continue buying albums and CD’s, they will have to either lower the price, and/or start marketing that product to a wider audience and promote the actual music over the personality singing that music. And right now they are doing the exact opposite.

    And Karen…I understand what you are saying about marketing the Country male artists and female Country artists. However, you are looking at it from the perspective of how the Country Music Industry is marketing its product at the moment. They are more concerned about the image and personality side of it, rather than the music side of it, because that is the audience they are marketing their product to. It is harder for female Country artists though, not because of the image and personality so much as it is because Country Music has always been a fraternity of male artists, and they continue to follow their Traditional Country model. Until this changes, female Country artists will always have a harder time than the male Country artists of being successful. Don’t forget the fact that the music female Country artists are expected to make (even compared to the male Country artists) to appease the demographic that Country Music is catering to at the moment, and it makes it that much more difficult for them to be seen and taken as “serious” artists. Then add into it that they all try to copy and emulate what already worked for Carrie and Taylor just to get their songs on the radio (hence, we get bombarded by female revenge songs, or songs about how “it’s a girl thing”), and it becomes even that much more difficult to become successful because they are missing out on a huge demographic (not many guys want to listen to a female complaining about her personal problems on the radio…at least not that I know of). And then add into that, female Country artists are expected to bring in their own already established fanbase if they want any chance of getting their songs on the radio, and it makes it one big popularity and comparison contest between all the female Country artists. And those fans they are bringing in aren’t even necessarily the ones that Country Music should be trying to get in the first place. They should be focusing their attention on the fans they aleady had to begin with…

    As far as is Top 40 music less substantive than it was 10, 20 or 30 year ago goes Sam…I would say yes. Only because the Industry today is marketing its product to a select demograpic, and the music back then was taylored toward a much wider demographic that more people (both male and female) could relate to. Plus, today many of the songs are more about who the artist is as a person rather than who the person is as an artist. Making the message and meaning of the song that much more difficult for the general listener to relate to unless they like the “artist” singing the song personally.

    One last thing…and I have had this argument with my brother before. He says that I am just too lazy to go out and find music and artists that are out there on the Internet. My response is, I’m not about to go looking through millions of artists just to find one or two that I like. That is the music Industries job. And they are not doing it in my opinion.

    Anyway, I think it is a good discussion…and I got off topic. But my original point was that artists should be blaming the Industry for piracy and not the general public. In the end, music is only worth what the listener is willing to pay for it. And the Industry gave people the mentality that music was free because they failed to do anything about it to begin with, and did not take advantage of new business opportunities they had when they had the chance. And the music the Industry and most of the artists are producing today gives me little reason to think its worth paying for anyway, let alone listening to. Which gives me no reason to buy the music or pirate it. Oh well, at least it saves me money and time.

    Here is one last link to an article that was interesting…it was from almost 4 years ago…but I’m sure most of what it says holds pretty true today as well.
    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2006/02/6103.ars

  83. M
    October 25, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    To Truersound:

    Tim McGraw is not the same as Keith Urban.

  84. Dan E.
    October 26, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Phil: I know you must hate having to repeat yourself about the ‘artist over personality / image’ concept all the time. But, you know, it’s just not sinking in with me. If you post this same idea at least 10 more times on various subjects, it just might click. It might even help the process go faster if each post was longer than the last. I’m sure that shouldn’t be a problem for you. I mean, you were on a roll with this last post. And whatever you do Phil, don’t fall into the Industry’s trap of… of… well, I’m sure you’ll let everybody in on it one more time. Otherwise, we’re all doomed.

  85. Phil
    October 26, 2009 at 1:24 am

    All right Dan E. You can have your image and personality, but when that’s gone and you finally unwrap the package you’ll be left with nothing inside. But I’ll let you figure that out for yourself in time. Until then, have fun looking at the package…but please, whatever you do, don’t open it until you are ready to see the truth. I wouldn’t want you to get too excited, and then find out there is nothing inside that beautiful package you’ve been carrying around with you.

    Oh, and one more point I’d like to make about how the music of the past had more substance. It used to be that artists created themselves and defined a generation. Today, the Industry is basically doing that for the artist. They are looking for a person or persons to play the role they are looking for. So what ends up happening is, we get a bunch of copycat artists that sound the same. Believe me, I can’t tell the difference between Daughtry, David Cook, Lifehouse, Nickelback and the Fray when they come on the radio. And that’s just on the male side of things. There are no distinct voices today in music because the Industry is too busy trying to find someone who can copy someone else’s success. So the fact that artists are no longer defining a generation, and the Industry is doing that for them, leaves little room for anything creative or substantive to emerge from it.

    Oh, and sorry this post won’t be quite as long as my last one. :)

  86. karen
    October 26, 2009 at 5:17 am

    ok I read the article. I have to say I am a big downloader.. and I have bought hundreds of dollars of music since it became available digitally.. I was so pleased with napster when it first came out I went on and searched for all those long lost songs I loved from the past. All those songs I used to listen to on the radio but was too cheap or simply didn’t have the money to buy back then.. So I collected as much as I could find.. Now I have itunes.. and I’m still collecting music from the past and the present.

    I think musicians from the past and/or publishers must be making more money b/c how many people scoured record stores looking to buy cd’s of the past b/c they like one or two songs???? I know there is NO WAY I would have purchased even half or one quarter of the music I have if it wasn’t available digitally… It’s almost too easy too… So, I think once they get the buying public on board, they’ll be all set.. plus I think every time someone hears a song they like they probably find and download more songs of the same artist as they are sampling and discovering the music of that artist.

    As for the kids who steal, I don’t think that will stop until they get rid of those services who allow it… but maybe it’s providing some kind of marketing and sampling.. I do think they’ve eliminated a lot of it.. but it’s still a problem.. I know some teens who use limewire and steal all the time.. but these kids don’t have the money and can’t buy it.. but I’d bet they’d find a way if they had to.. they find a way to buy DVD’s of “one tree hill” or “the hills”… so they could if they had to…

  87. Phil
    October 26, 2009 at 8:31 am

    For me personally, I like having the physical copy of a CD because it makes me feel like I own the music. Just clicking a button on Itunes and not being able to see and touch what I have purchased makes the music seem like more of a service than an actual product. That’s just me though…

  88. Tara Seetharam
    October 26, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Phil, sometimes understanding an artist’s personality helps you understand the meaning and see the depth in his or her music. I’m a strong supporter of music being about the music and not the character of the artist, but I can’t help but relate to music a little more when I have a grasp on who the artist is as a person, what he or she believes in, etc…

  89. Phil
    October 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I agree to a point Tara. But it just seems like to understand and relate to today’s music, you almost have to know something about the artist personally to get a better understanding of the song…and therefore put yourself in the artists shoes to get any meaning out of it. For me, I would rather be able to put myself or anybody I want to in the situation of a song and relate to it that way. I know I am being a little bit overgeneralistic, but that is one of the main reasons I cannot relate to today’s music.

    A good example of this is when somebody mentioned the song “Fireflies” by Owl City. When I listened to it, the first thing I asked was “Does this guy have trouble sleeping?” Sure enough, I went to Wikipedia and it mentions his insomnia. So understanding who the artist is as a person can be very important…but in my opinion, it is the artist who can convey something personal to him or herself without having to know something about him or her personally so anybody listening can relate to it is the sign of a good song and artist, and gives me a better understanding of who the person is as an artist, rather than the other way around. Which, in turn makes a song timeless and relateable to anybody listening, whether it be now or 100 years from now or whether they know anything personal about the artist singing it or not.

    So in other words…I like a song that is geared toward a Universal audience that anybody listening can relate to, and that the listener of the song can put themselves or whomever they chose in the artists place, and that is timeless. And I would say those things are sorely lacking in much of today’s music. But that’s just me.

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