Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When the Music Stops

Ruckus Media, an ad-supported media player that allowed you to download full albums for free recently closed it's doors. I'm not sure how I got introduced to Ruckus, but I've used it for about 3 years now. I liked that you could download full high quality albums and see what other people on your network were listening to, but the fact of the matter is that Ruckus was doomed from the start. Unless you had a very specific set of MP3 players you could not take the music with you anywhere, and couldn't burn it to CD's either. Also, if you were disconnected from the internet you couldn't listen to any of the music. While the idea was a decent one (give students free, legal music) it was often much easier to just use Limewire or Torrents to get music. I pushed it to the kid's in the dorms at a time when the RIAA was cracking down on students downloading music illegally, but it honestly hasn't gotten much use since then.

Now, I'm far from an expert when it comes to the music business, but even I can see the writing on the wall. The current business model for music is broken. Eventually what's going to happen is that (from what the smart people tell me) is that music will be given away for free by labels and artists, and they'll make revenue from concerts, merch, and special editions of albums. Basically the downloading and sharing of music was like a snowball rolling down a hill, and the music industry waited until it was about to flatten them before they stood in front of it and commanded it to stop. Either you can roll with the changes, and find a way to profit from them, and they'll flatten you, and someone doing it better than you will be the ones to benefit.


Ric said...

Artists can't rely on album sales to support their income, but some are trying new things. Radiohead made their album "In Rainbows" available allowing listeners to name their own price to download. Or, the artist Girl Talk (www.illegalart.netdoes the same thing, but with add-ons based on how much you spend.(i.e. get a copy of the physical CD in addition to the DL if you spend $10+).

But to show support for my favorite bands, I'll still go out and buy their album.

Chad said...

What it comes down to is that the RECORD COMPANIES made their money from the alblum. Not the band. Say a cd costs 15 bucks, standard.
1$ of that is material costs.
10$ of that goes to the record company for promotion, marketing and distribution and profit.
2$ goes to the bands agent.
2$ Is split between the 5 members of the band.

Most bands have always traditionally made their money from touring and merch sales. Which, now that the record companies aren't making any money from CD sales, will start gouging musicians for.

With the death of the record label we could see the death of no-talent pop music that's rammed down our throats by them.

We'll have an Interesting decade ahead of us.