Music Like Water revisited

Music may be like water — but it’s not water. Applying a tariff for all users of digital devices misunderstands consumers, music, the industry — and water.

One of the debates I get dragged into quite regularly is the Music Like Water thing — the idea that if everyone pays a little bit of money as a kind of flat tax (or the way we pay utility bills) and then listen to whatever they want over the internet, the music business will be just fine and dandy.

I’m skeptical.

I was interviewed via email for Denmark’s largest music community: MyMusic.dk, and with their permission, I repost the entire interview here for your entertainment — and hopefully to spark a bit of debate in the comments.

My interviewer writes: The debate on the whole music-like-water has been very one-sided in Denmark and everyone seems to think it’s a good idea. Inspired by your blog post on the subject, I would like to ask you a few questions.

Fire away.

Is the idea of making a music-like-water-system not a way of trying to make a legal alternative to p2p? Or is it simplifying things, forgetting the fans who use music in different ways?

It’s not so much an alternative to p2p as it is a way to make it not matter to the labels whether the music was sourced via p2p or as a direct download. If everyone’s paying a set fee every month, and all music is suddenly fair game for download, then the ways in which they choose to come by their digital music wouldn’t matter. Theoretically.

That said, record labels would still want consumers to download direct from them under this system, because downloading from them is a good way for them to collect valuable market research information.

The purpose of the flat fee ‘music-like-water’ system would be to reinforce, rather than eradicate, the current power structures of existing labels and media outlets. It would simultaneously make sure that major labels get the lion’s share of music revenues, take away a lot of the marketing incentive for many of their acts on the basis that customers would automatically download any new Coldplay album — since they’ve paid for it after all, whether they like it or not — and would make cutting through that music deluge harder for independents and niche artists.

I imagine a scenario where all the promotion a major label will have to do is send one email to 100 million people and say ‘This month, these three bands have new albums. Download? Yes/No’ and that would be it. The vast proportion of the sums collected by this new globalised music revenue collection agency would be siphoned straight into the Big 4′s coffers, thanks very much.

Worst of all, it would entirely remove the incentive for those larger labels to innovate. The economics of the ‘star’ system would prevail and it would be far more cost effective for these corporations to have a million people download one album by one mega pop artist than it would for them to invest in a dozen artists ‘giving away’ 100,000 copies apiece.

Want to guarantee that popular music becomes irrevocably bland and featureless? Set up a flat tax for music downloads.

And yeah — it completely overlooks the fact that consumption is actually quite a complex thing, as I’ve discussed at length on New Music Strategies. People don’t just buy and listen to music. They do a whole range of different things, depending on all sorts of cultural and economic factors. Simplifying things and pretending that everyone wants music in exactly the same way is not the answer — catering for increasing complexity is the only way forward.

Do you think it’s even possible to make a subscription service with everyone paying a fixed amount each month for free download?

Sure. We have globally networked music revenue collection bureaucracies already in place for royalty collections. It’d be a big job to set up another, but all it needs is political will, which is why it’s so frightening that the ‘music-like-water’ argument is so convincing.

What kind of obstacles would such a system meet, eg. different record labels, publishers, different regions etc?

If they’re smart, most record labels will oppose this. It seems like the easy solution, and letting it through would mean just collecting the cheques each month rather than battling the rather messy world of the online music environment… but it would be the death warrant for a large proportion of independent music and further reinforce the idea that music is valueless.

I believe that there’s a good argument to be made that music should be free — but I don’t think that’s even in the same league as suggesting that it has no value. Ironically, generating larger revenues for the industry as a whole by imposing a flat tax will have the effect of making it seem worthless. And that’s going to be bad for music across the board — live and recorded.

Giving music away as a gift, as bands like the Charlatans and the Crimea have done recently — not to mention Radiohead’s little experiment — reinforces the value of their work and is genuinely appreciated by their fans, who act in a reciprocally generous fashion.

Charging everyone a flat fee and pretending that all music is free has exactly the opposite effect.

To prevent p2p and direct download from melting together, it seems impossible to avoid watermarks and maybe even DRM. One of the main reasons for “freeing” the music. What’s your take on that?

I’m a little pessimistic here. I think we’re going to see watermarking as an ‘acceptable face’ of DRM, but what we might have fixed in terms of inter-operability, it looks like we’re making up for in customer surveillance. I’m not comfortable with it, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue that consumers are rallying around — and I’m concerned that the labels seem likely to get away with it.

To boost the Indies and motivate the minors, wouldn’t using existing platforms such as MyMusic, MySpace, Facebook etc. be part of the answer? Letting the future of music be about creative promotion and marketing – and the music. The one with most plays and downloads gets the bigger piece of the pie. Let the best man win?

It doesn’t work like that though. Promotional cultures are not organic ecologies or meritocracies. Like it or not, whoever spends the most on advertising and marketing will probably do the best. And the people who will be able to do that are the ones who already have the edge. And it’s not always true that the best music is that which is championed by the corporations with the most to invest in promotion.

In fact, some would argue that the opposite is true.

I have no problem with a profit share notion along the lines you suggest: that, say, a proportion of Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace advertising revenue is split between artists whose songs are played on the MySpace platform on a proportional basis. I’m less comfortable with all internet users being charged whether or not they visit MySpace, and with all artists being forced into a situation where they MUST have a MySpace page if they want to share in a single revenue stream.

Consumption is quite a complex thing yes, but couldn’t the answer just be to make a basic model, a deluxe model, and furthermore let people continue to buy LP’s box sets etc. as they wish on top of their subscription?

And then we could let them purchase vinyl 12″s to play at clubs, second hand discs from specialist stores, autographed CDs on eBay… and if they want to have a physical collection or engage with music in any way other than the prescribed download method or format, then they can pay more again.

I’m a big advocate of this sort of payment model for public broadcasting. I don’t think it works for music consumption. Public broadcasting allows for types of radio and television that a) are an important addition to culture and society; and b) simply would not exist in a commercial environment. I don’t think applying a public broadcasting payment model to the commercial music sector is warranted or appropriate.

Now, if that money was being put towards the creation, promotion and distribution of musics that would otherwise never be heard, I might be more sympathetic — but this is purely and simply an industry who is struggling to adapt to a changed technological environment requesting mandatory financial support from the general public, and to me, that’s outrageous.

In Denmark we have public service television which everyone is paying for. Same principle but it doesn’t feel free, and it definitely doesn’t feel as if it has no value. Why wouldn’t a collective system give the music value instead of decreasing it – we all pay for it, right?

Again, public broadcasting is a public good. Commercial music is a commodity item. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t contribute to culture and society — not at all — but if record labels want to be funded on a public broadcasting model, then let them be subject to the same criteria and imperatives as public broadcasters. All of the same criteria.

Popular music will sound very different if that’s the way they want to go…

In fact, you know what? I think I’ve talked myself into the flat licence fee / music-like-water concept, if that was a condition it came with. Wow. A public media approach to the music industry. Of course, they’d have to be not-for-profit entities for that to work…

An additional note though: Last week Jens-Otto Paludan, the chairman of IFPI Denmark stated that a subscription service is coming next year and will be carried out as licensing to the ISPs and internet, mobile phone subscription etc.

I was under the impression that these things were negotiated at the level of government policy and law-making. Either some back-room deals have been going on, or there’s a level of confidence here that isn’t backed up by actual events.

That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if it came to pass. But it can and will only be instigated as a piecemeal endeavour, and not as the global, totalising panacea for the music business that Gerd Leonhard envisages.

12 thoughts on “Music Like Water revisited

  1. Bruce Warila says:

    Andrew, you create the best scenarios on the Internet for discussion…

    If the water analogy were as simple as turning on a faucet, and out comes music that everyone pays a flat fee for, then I would agree with you. However, sticking with the water analogy, there are thousands of brands of bottled water, fizzy water, flavored water, tap water, fountain water, toilet water, brown water, fruit water, mineral water, etc, etc, etc. Only a dolt would let their brand become commoditized, municipal tap water… The water utility thing will never happen anyways; innovation will outrun legislation.

    I think the water argument is already becoming moot. Consider the following:

    1) Look at the Google text ads at the bottom of this site. You will most likely see four companies advertising “FREE MUSIC” (I did this morning). The facts is: 500,000,0000 people, or 50% of the English-speaking population, are motivated by the message of “FREE MUSIC”. How can you fight that? You would need nuclear weapons. The music police can’t turn this tide back to 1988.

    2) iPods are the new radio, and getting spins on the radio is one of the best ways for an artist to obtain recognition. If an artist is unrecognized, he will never be able to sell the things that will make him money (tickets, shirts, premium music, etc.). Holding out for a pittance of download revenue doesn’t make sense when an artist needs spins on the “radio” to get noticed.

    3) The technology that can conveniently deliver a custom stream of music to anyone anywhere will ultimately make downloading seem like an inconvenience. Artist revenue in this scenario will be royalty-based, and the royalty collection systems seem to be fairly efficient.

    No government from any country needs to step in to put money back into the pockets of artists. What the music community needs is revolutionary and NOT evolutionary innovation. MP3 players and MP3 platforms (illegal and legal) are evolutionary methods to consume music, and it’s the myopic focus on music consumption that’s killing everyone’s wallets.

    There has to be a revolution in innovation that breaks from pure music consumption. The revolution that I am looking for enables 1) the music industry to catch up with technology, and 2) redefines the notion of music.

    Consider this (I haven’t read all your writing; so if you covered this, then I apologize for being obvious):

    Almost one hundred percent of the scenarios in which we now consume music can involve a screen or monitor (desk, auto, walking, working out, etc). Eighty percent of the scenarios in which we consume music can involve an Internet connection. Music never has to be again, and practically never was, just an auditory experience.

    Daniel Levitin writes in his NY Times article “Dancing In The Streets” (October 26th, 2007, quoting the anthropologist John Blacking): “The indivisibility of both movement and sound…characterizes music across cultures and time.” The notion of putting forth a pure auditory experience is a relatively new to humanity and contrary to our natural instincts.

    It’s this connection between movement and sound, and other forms of indivisibility that we have to pursue to profit from music. It blows my mind how the labels have failed to capitalize on making music indivisible from other things both digital and physical.

    Yes, we have 360-degree deals; concerts, ringtones, wallpaper and music videos, but these arrangements and products don’t even scratch the surface of what’s possible.

    If you are an artist, don’t hold your breath waiting for the Music Like Water thing. New products and services that you haven’t even heard of will overrun the hand of government, and these products won’t just generate a few pence, they will return the industry back to growth and profitability.

    It’s a great time to be an artist (and a record label)…

  2. I guess a “broadcast model” is similar to the public live music events that are supported by government grants. If an online download project can make the same claims about cultural education, community building or whatever then it should be eligible for the same sorts of funding. I would have thought that many online projects could offer quite good value for money compared to real-world events.

    In that light, I don’t think we need any “blanket licensing” or even anything as rigid as the BBC – we just need existing grant funding to extend to online “arts events” as well as offline ones. If the tax-payers (or bill-payers) money is paying for anything, it should be for the groundbreaking, cutting-edge, unproven arts projects that aren’t in fashion but might become the next big thing. Coldplay will survive, illegal downloads or no illegal downloads – however much I might wish that weren’t true.

  3. Andrew, imho, you are confusing a couple of things here (but thanks for stirring up the debate on Music Like Water ideas, anyway).

    A flat rate for music (see mt latest chapter in my new book http://www.endofcontrol.com/2007/10/chapter-4-the-f.html) would NOT make it harder for new bands and artists; the exact opposite is true. A removal of the traditional distribution and airplay monopoly that the major labels have enjoyed for a long time would be a boon for all enterprising and pro-active new artists, more attention would garner more revenues in a very direct way. Yes, you would have to EARN that attention but this by and large something that indie artists and bands are much better at than the majors, anyway – they tend to just buy it ;).

    Yes, the major labels NOW own 80% of the world’s catalog, and would therefore profit from that position for a while (once the flat rate goes into effect), but only for a limited time since the open and “feels like free” access to music would attract more and more users that would come from an ever expanding array of niche markets. Free choice increases diversification – it does not smother it; and diversity unseats the obsession with hits.

    Yes, then there is the ‘paradox of choice’, too, and we will therefore have new intermediaries, but to argue that smaller acts would get lost in the flat rate is not logical – they are lost NOW if you haven’t noticed yet ;)

    Andrew – you should take a look at cable TV. This is a very similar situation: you cannot, by any stretch of imagination, argue that it’s only the hits that have an audience here, either, and now consider TV on the net: diversity x 10.000.000

    Now, let me comment on this stuff [from Andrew's post] “Worst of all, it would entirely remove the incentive for those larger labels to innovate. The economics of the ’star’ system would prevail and it would be far more cost effective for these corporations to have a million people download one album by one mega pop artist than it would for them to invest in a dozen artists ‘giving away’ 100,000 copies apiece”

    I don’t get why you don’t seem to get this, frankly. In a flat rate system, EVERYONE would have a strong incentive to innovate, since increased attention would always translate into increased clicks (i.e. USES you get paid for) — why would that be different for a major or minor label? If I have flat rate access would I ONLY download the latest tracks from some super-star I may or may not have heard about? Sure, but I would ALSO download that cool Indian Goa Trance band I saw on Youtube the other day. … Get it? Be smart, get attention, get clicks, get money. If anything, you could argue this is digital darwinism — but definitely NOT a lack of incentive to innovate.

    There are a few more points here, and I shall address them when I am not in some airport lounge somewhere – but Andrew, maybe you can actually clarify what your problems with the flat rate for music actually are – cause that does not quite come across here. And of course you can do that on my blog, too ;)

  4. Dubber says:

    With the greatest respect, Gerd, I think if I had to boil my objections to the Music Like Water idea down to five bullet points, they would be these:

    1) Recordings are not music
    Recordings are a subset of music. MP3 files of recordings of music are a subset of recordings of music. This is not a panacea for the Music Industries — or even the artists — but a band-aid for the Record Business. And a flawed one at that (see points 2-5).

    2) This is an old idea in a new dress
    Trying to innovate by monetising individual instances of mp3 recordings as if they are a scarce and finite resource is a new approach to an old way of thinking. Digital is not a new format that we’re trying to sell. It’s a new environment that requires new business types — not just new revenue streams. Things work differently – and selling individual instances of recordings for individual amounts of money (no matter how you collect) is a flawed basis for business in that new environment.

    3) When something seems too good to be true…
    I don’t believe the utopian notion that independents will get a better deal out of this. The drive to check out the Long Tail applies when people are paying for individual instances of ‘things’ — and those things are competing for disposable income (in other words, when people are making choices from an ever-increasing selection). But when given both infinite selection AND infinite accessibility (download as much as you like) — and therefore no reason to make choices — the ‘path of least resistance’ principle tends to apply. Why go digging when you can be entertained perfectly well by the incredible amount of stuff bubbling away on the surface. So much music — so freely available — who has time to go discover the new and unusual stuff other than the real fanatics? Breaking through becomes harder, not easier.

    4) People are interesting
    The Music Like Water concept tries to pretend that the world is simple. It isn’t. It’s complex and interesting. Consumption is a wildly diverse practice. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Or even a one-size fits most. Increasingly, solutions have to be custom designed, and this is the exciting thing that computerisation and digital technology allows — not to squeeze all music into one ‘press this button / pull this lever’ monetary machine.

    Besides… I can’t even begin to count all the ways to cheat the system. Songs split into ‘movements’ that have to be downloaded as five individual mp3s (does that count as five songs?). Download bots. Tracks that must be downloaded in order to enter the website. Albums that come as zip files with 50 extra ‘bonus’ tracks thrown in…

    And (I have to ask) is a 30-second ‘skit’ worth the same as a 30 minute jazz improvisation? Is a 96kbps mp3 worth the same as a FLAC file of the same song? Is a forwarded track the same as a download?

    5) Record labels are not utilities
    Without strict regulation, water quality would generally be pretty crap, in order to maximise profit. Unlike public broadcasting institutions, record labels do not have a responsibility to quality and to their constituents. So, if you propose to treat the consumers as customers of a public service or utility, should you not also treat the providers in the same way?

    Also, consumers should not be forced to pay a flat rate tax to the labels through their ISP on the basis that they might download music. It’s a bit like being asked to pay a parking fine when you buy a car. Besides, doing the revenue split will either require a compliance system that over-rules pretty much every online music platform that currently exists (or at least requires the implementation of standardised reporting systems) — or works on an sampling and estimation basis that could not help but favour the major releases over the more obscure tracks.

    Finally, I’m not sure why you don’t seem to take my point about the economics of the ‘star’ system thing, Gerd. Major record labels work on the basis of high fixed costs, low (or near-zero) marginal costs. Each record costs a great deal to make, but almost nothing to replicate and distribute. The profit on one album that sells a million is far greater than the profit on ten albums that sell a hundred thousand each.

    So… in a world where the payment flows frictionlessly, the incentive would be for the record labels to produce fewer – not more – recordings. Why put out ten competing pop albums when you can saturate the market with one? Why release an album by Keane, Snow Patrol, Kaiser Chiefs, Killers and Kasabian at the same time (for instance), when releasing just one of them will ensure a much greater net return on what will probably be the same overall number of clicks? Only when has the market been entirely flooded and everyone has the Keane album, will the Snow Patrol album come out.

    This would be superb for the bottom line of the record labels (which, after all, is what the Music Like Water project is designed to address). But it would not be good for the artists, the fans, culture or society. So I remain opposed until convinced that it would be otherwise.

    I’m really not trying to undermine your good work, but I think that we haven’t finished thinking this through — and it’s seriously not ready to be implemented as is.

  5. Scott says:

    Funny that…
    I had always taken the analogy of “music like water” being more akin to the bottling and selling of what was once a free resource.
    Coca Cola and Danone (and a few others) sell us all something (Water) that used to be free at a premium.

    So stretching a point out here:

    Music becomes “free” (are we there yet…?)

    We end up with poor quality music available for “free” (as in we are overwhelmed with sheer volumes we become unable to distinguish good from bad-how much music is unfindable on ITunes now?)

    Corporates start selling us all “packaged” music again as they have the $$ heft to buy the source. This can also be included for sale with something else -Like a magazine or car or ads on your phone.

    Sure we can all access the tap but the taste just isnt the same as that “pure springwater” we are told to buy by the mass media.

    We also like the packaging (its all about brands baby!)and so we end up paying extra to buy the premium music.

    I might be on the wrong limb of a very shaky tree here so feel free to sort me out…

  6. i must say that this is one of the most informative and insteresting discussions I read. Your points are really true thought there are other issues that was raised by other commentators. This is a nice read, really!thanks =)

  7. Martijn says:

    Andrew,

    It’s a great thing to think about the future and imagine how things will look like. With little imagination one could argue that everything created by mankind and consumed by mankind could be centralized. An institution where every individual pays a kind of tax and they will distribute the money prorate amongst the ones responsible for creation. Music, Movies, food and even prostitutes. The latter both male and female would just take any client and gets money between 6 and 12 months after the event happened. In this case the client would be totally anonymous (he/she could have been consuming music). The thing I want to get across is that even water is consumed in many different ways and paid for in many different ways, the source always gets the money and the one that uses always pays for the usage.
    I propose to stop the debate about music like water. The thing is that music is so NOT like water, we are getting in a debate that doesn’t really add anything. The discussion is only here because of the fact that music companies are searching for a solution against the decline in sales of CD’s. Reed this interesting article http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2007/10/everything-in-t.html. It will not take long before the industry finds the digital mode to make money. I predict a combination of subscription based and a la carte models and even illegal will never go away for the 100%. Today there are only a few places on the internet where one can actually buy music in a friendly way. Being iTunes, Rhapsody (only US), E-music and of course the likes of Beatport. My last words before I will never speak, write or have conversations about music like water is about the fact that I live in The Netherlands, more water would make our life really wet. M

  8. Bruce Warila says:

    Gerd: “In a flat rate system EVERYONE would have a strong incentive to innovate…” In Boston, taxis operate on flat rates. All taxis are yellow, all taxi drivers don’t speak English, the cabs are all uncomfortable and worn out, and they all seem to manage to find the longest route between A and B.

    Andrew: How can you say consumption is a diverse practice on one hand, but on the other hand say that labels would release fewer albums? Diversity will still exist and labels will continue to cater to it; thus lots of artists and albums…

    I hate the flat tax idea, but I don’t think it would lead to some of the consequences you put forth. Instead, like cable TV as Gerd suggested, the “spectrum” would be chopped up into thousands of micro markets or niches, and each niche would compete for consumer’s disposable time.

    In theory, the more time or mindshare you could acquire the more money you would make. Hey, this sounds like what we have now. A bunch of companies competing for attention; with the biggest ones getting the most of it.

    I honestly can’t imagine (on a full stomach) how tacking $5 onto my Internet bill would change my personal music acquisition strategies.

    I also can’t imagine how it would change my music marketing strategies; especially when I am the person telling everyone to give away your MP3s for FREE because it makes more sense, and pretty soon it won’t matter?

    At the end of the day, artists really need new (as I tried to say above) REVOLUTIONARY digital products that move beyond PURE music consumption. Everyone is stuck in the music, music, music mode. We are still selling gasoline when consumers have started to fly rocket ships.

    There’s going to be music that’s background noise, and that’s going to be a commodity like water. Every other instance of music can be lashed to something else contextual, stimulating, intriguing, interesting, informative, voyeuristic, educational, or etc, etc, etc.

    As Taco Bell says: Think Outside The Bun..

    Revolutionary high margin products = profitability = incentives for everyone in the value chain.

    Flat tax = low margins = status quo = shitty music = what we have today.

    Cheers!

  9. Phil Bradley says:

    Andrew, I’m largely shoulder to shoulder with you on the whole ‘music like water’ concept. I don’t like the idea of guaranteed returns for the music industry whether they’re outputting good music or utter crap – they’re not regulated public utilities, I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    As the music biz transitions from a ‘push’ environment to a ‘pull’ model – where the user selects the music he/she is exposed to (see my site re. this), the flat rate tax model completely misses the boat – this is typical shortsighted music label thinking – they see music losing its value, so go the whole hog to a system where it has no value.

    This is missing the wood from the trees. Falling value is a temporary symptom of a much bigger transition; it’ll last just as long as the infrastructure isn’t suited to the new model. Once Music 2.0 ‘institutions’ have become established and legacy systems – illegal p2p filesharing of traditional music label output, the iTunes store/Amazon MP3, the high street CD shop, the (traditional) music label itself, etc – have been abandoned, margins can recover and equilibrium restored.

    Nobody says that in a ‘pull’ economy, margins can’t be high. In a ‘music like water’ environment, the only way the industry is ever going to get its margins back is if the music it’s outputting costs them very little to make. Oh dear.

    In my opinion, the music industry should try and ACCELERATE the revolution, get to a consolidation period where push has become pull and the users are governing the music you’re producing, and then put your marketing minds to the task of extracting financial value from the newfound (increased) value the user is likely to attribute to music which is perfectly tailored to his tastes.

  10. Craig says:

    Great discussion

    it’s interesting though – how much these opinions are based on assumptions about people and their behaviour – for example “people will download x….” – trying to predict how people will respond to these models – but I think this is much harder to predict and there is only the option to look at current behaviour

    Radiohead have really raised the bar recently, and if Wired’s published estimates are correct then in the first week they sold (from memory) 1.2 mil and 500k were still d/led on P2P

    now to me that seems like a pretty good loss leader – they have earned a hefty income by providing it themselves, and that makes the illegal P2P side almost irrelevant

    of course, new and unknown artists wont get anything like that kind of response, but in my opinion it’s time musicians started to accept they are not super human and cant expect overnight platinum sales any more by signing to “the man” – they need to work hard, build a name and most importantly keep at it for years – like ANY OTHER BUSINESS

    Andrew – you really got me thinking about the implications of the flat rate system, and I totally see your points – however your points 3 and 4 seem to contradict each other – talking about people opting for ‘path of least resistance” then at the same time they are ‘interesting and complex’

    the thing is people have been prepared to pay for niche items and music merchandise forever – people like to collect and people like music to be part of their ‘identity’ – i dont think that will stop – hence the 1.2 mil in the first week who PAID for radioheads album, compared to those who didnt

    I have been copying music since I was a 10 year old kid in the 80s with a double cassette deck – it is nothing new, and to be honest I find downloading albums from limewire or whatever frustrating – variable quality, missing tracks – it always feels a bit “dirty” – so I’d rather by the real thing when I have the cash

    I think Chris Anderson’s long tail articles and the strength of Niche is a really, really important point – ebay almost functions on collectables, Amazon sells more than half of it’s books from outside the top 130,000 – these are clear indications people dont actually want the mainstream and are prepared to go searching

    I’m not convinced about music like water either – in fact I think the music industry is shaping up quite well as it is – the only ones losing out are the BIg 4 and that’s a good thing

    most of the listening I do now is to Last FM, and myspace – most DJs I know get all their tracks through myspace and beatport

    admittedly they use soulseek too, but I think probably beatport moreso

    I think people are prepared to pay for music, I just think we need to retrain ourselves out of the 20th century thinking in terms of ‘hits’ and start seeing sales of a few thousand as success

    illegal downloads are a loss leader and help artists more than hinder – people will still pay for a live show and merchandise, and I think a lot of the time for recordings too

    musicians shouldnt let the anxiety of ‘the big 4′ overflow onto them – it’s really their own fault they are in decline

  11. Craig says:

    sorry, I also meant to add…

    the most sensible thing I’ve seen in recent years was Apple’s introduction of pre-pay cards for iTunes – as I see it the only hurdle for the effectiveness of the current models of buying single tracks is the need for credit cards – especially as such a large portion of music consumers is still teens

    In my opinion this is the only solution needed – things like myspace, itunes, beatport etc are great and they are a perfectly acceptable model IMO – people clearly do use them

  12. Klaus K says:

    Another argument against the Music-like-water idea is the laws of human nature:

    What everybody can get – nobody wants

    What only a few can get – everybody wants

    The Music-like-water concept will crush the value of recorded music completely. This would naturally lead to a sharp rise of demand for music, that is not recorded – i.e. live concerts.

    We have already seen the concert business more than double since Y2K – that happend as a consequence of the value slide of recorded music after Napster / Kazaa / bittorrent filesharing was introduced.

    I think iTunes works good. Especially because you don’t have to write your credit card data every time you buy. It is just one click – buy. If more shops just copied Apples ideas, things would in the end work out just fine.