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Seth Godin (follicle-challenged marketing guru majoring on new media) wrote this recently:

Had shark for dinner last night. $10 a pound and totally worth it. Really fresh and delicious.

The fisherman, of course, was lucky to make a buck a pound. And all those middlemen added little in terms of value (they cut it, of course, and kept it cool, and allowed me to buy it midday, but they also added several days to the process of getting it from the dock to me).

What if the fisherman had my preferences and just let me know when he had a good haul? I could meet his truck at Union Square and buy direct, fresh, for $5.

Twice as efficient, twice as fresh.

No, of course it's not going to happen soon, because fishermen like being fishermen and don't want to deal with all of these hassles.

But the new middlemen are going to be a lot more efficient than the old ones!

{Read his whole post here.)

This only confirms my belief that there are other ways, more efficient ways to get music to people - and sell music to people - than handing a boatload of songs off to a label, who then hands them off to a distribution company, who then hands them off to bookstores and sub/independent distributors who then put them on a physical or digital shelf to wait for purchase. The fisherman gets 8% (before his expenses and after recouping the cost of the boat's gas and the store's electric bill) and everyone else in the distribution chain splits the other 92%. And of course this is fair since, like fishermen, most musicians don't want the hassles of doing anything other than being musicians.

And stores, labels and distributors won't go away anytime soon and shouldn't but still I'm thinking: How many people would be willing to just meet me seaside and pay $10 or less for the same catch going for $16 in stores? Better yet, how many want to ride on the boat and watch the fish get reeled in?

We'll see.


Blogger GrovesFan said...

Sign me up! I'd gladly pay for the "boat ride" and the fare to the corner to get the tunes if it meant I'd continue to be challenged spiritually and intellectually (admittedly not a difficult thing to do most days) by the likes of you.

Fresh music. Let me at it.


Blogger Liz Jennings said...

It's interesting that you post this particular blog. I've been enjoying your blog for some time now.

I'm an audio engineer working for a non-profit institution that rents out a studio for radio broadcasts, and just yesterday I was engineering for an interiew about Tune Core. It's business model is based on what you're proposing. It's on the web, tunecore.com. Perhaps I'm overstepping my bounds as a commentor, but it may be worth checking out.

Blogger Ichabod's Fortune said...

I am a *huge* fan of the online music model. I do feel that it's the future of the music industry. I like that you can take fans on the journey with you as you write and produce. I record at home on my laptop, and I personally like to post "beta" builds of my music and leave it out there for people to comment on. What do they like about it, what do they hate about it? I also like to challenge people to take my stuff, add a track to it and send it back to me. Many times it's something that I don't use, but from time to time they hit on something that I never would have considered that take a song in a different direction.

Many people are concerned about the financial viability of offering much of your music free online, but I don't think that it's much of an issue. When people feel that they've been a part of the journey in the completion of an album, then they're very likely to drop $10 on your website to get an shiny official copy. (That or pay $1 per song for a compressed version.) You may never sell as many copies as you would with national distribution and nation-wide radio play, but if you're keeping 70% of the sale price instead of 5% it's much easier to actually *make* money.

I feel that the entire entertainment industry is moving towards an online model. You can already see the television industry (on all those Tivos and Video iPods) and the video game industry (on Valve's Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and Gametap) preparing themselves for a online distribution model that completely gets rid of the middleman and greatly increases profit.

Well, I could go on all day with this, but suffice to say that I support this idea. I'd be first in line to download, listen, critique, and even *pay* for music available only online.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You inital release of white flag for $5 was genious...why not just press an extra 10,000 on the side and keep em in the garage and let your kids start a "small business"?

I like the way this is going, it would also help out us indies. without sex appeal we can't get a meeting, sadly even in the christian scene

Blogger holyteach said...

I recently wrote a long essay about very nearly this topic, and I reference your "You Don't Need Nashville" entries, as well. You might find it interesting reading: Music Piracy and the RIAA

Also, as a computer science teacher and sometimes web developer whose blog is the number one hit on Google for my own name, I've got some "web rank" suggestions, too. Email me (my address is on the 'contact' page of my site) if you'd like to talk about it.


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