Friday, January 18, 2008

Cuban Says: Season of Music

Check out this link to Mark Cuban's blog (I didn't know he had one either) posting about his take on the music industry. Cuban suggests that there is strong evidence that folks are willing to buy digital singles, but not albums (physical or otherwise), because it's easier to stomach spending $.99 a pop, and that if an artist released music over a "season", like a television series, people would get interested in stringing the purchases out over time. While I agree that it's certainly easier to get consumers to pay $.99 a song rather than shell out $13+ for a whole album, Cuban is missing a key fact. The songs that people are purchasing in high volume at $.99/song are hits. If it was so easy to record and produce and market and promote a string of bona-fide hits, his suggestion might make some sense. In fact, Cuban points to Flo Rida's "Low" as the illustrative example. Yeah, #1 record, tons of sales. But how much money does a label have to spend to make a hit? And, how many artists are signed that the same amount is spent on that don't have hits and thus can't sell- singles or otherwise. Unfortunately, that's why I think Cuban's argument fails. But I like the fact that someone is thinking differently, because the way we are thinking now obviously isn't working at all.

UPDATE: Here is a response to this article from Steve Guttenberg hoping that the creativity of the album as an artform is presrved.


Confused: A Blind Dyke at a Fish Market said...

I think that Cubans thought process is pretty genius. I mean so its bad because not all the songs on a album are a hit and its a lot of work to ask them to be so?

In reality from a consumer stand point 14 hits strung out over time at 99 cents each is not a bad thing at all. Thats what the consumer wants. Hits. In fact thats exactly what they are doing now, buying hits. Its up to the label and the artists to figure out how to effectively monetize the trends and Cuban seems to be pretty dead on with what they are doing.

I don't want to spend 15.00 on a album for 3 good tracks. Thats 5.00 a song. Thats exactly why the industry is in the position its in now. 99 cents each is much more attractive. It also requires the labels to actually DO SOMETHING and it requires the artists to step their game up and actually make hits rather than an album full of filler and 3 singles.

No disrespect because I know you are a label owner but really, your opinion on the flaws in his theory reflects your position in the industry and financial best interests. I agree its a lot of work and expensive but the days of throwing darts aimlessly at the dartboard and banking millions off 2 good songs are gone. Adapt or go out of business. Thats pretty much the position the labels are in these days.

From a consumer stand point if labels were less likely to sign garbage artists that put out trash but focused only on the artists that can produce hit after hit after hit after hit the music industry would benefit greatly. The music as a whole would be of a higher caliber and people will have more confidence in spending 15.00 on a collection of songs from proven artists.

There is no way you are going to get a new artist out there and have him even go gold until you've put out 3-4 hits from him and people are confident its worth purchasing.

I'm not saying its a perfect theory. I can see over saturation and exhaustion being an issue when you ask an artist to be out there actively promoting 14 different tracks over the course of say 2-3 years with tenacity. Its not the answer but its definitely the correct direction.

P-MONEY said...

"Thats what the consumer wants. Hits. In fact thats exactly what they are doing now, buying hits."

I think the above statement only rings true for a certain (rapidly shrinking) sector of music fans. The hits are only generating revenue from those fans who still BUY music.

Using the current SALES figures to determine how best to adapt to the new music market is the wrong strategy.

What we have lost are those fans who buy music cos they love the ARTISTS, not JUST the hits! They want a whole record, infact they may want every single thing that their favourite artist records. But they dont wanna pay full retail for every individual release on CD. They wanna fill their iPods with thousands of tracks from all their favourite artists and they want it real fast and real cheap.

Confused: A Blind Dyke at a Fish Market said...

I think more people are willing to buy music than you think the difference is people are listening first and then deciding if they want to break out their wallets. If its just one or two songs they want rather than deal with the whole process they will just take what they want and delete the rest.

If you were a business owner and knew that your product was being distributed for free and people were then making a decision whether they were going to donate for the cause (which is really whats happening) why would you sit around and fight it? You either give the user a big incentive to actually purchase or you adapt to the marketplace figure out how to give the consumers what they want (the music for free) while getting your revenue from other avenues. There are several other avenues out there that do not necessarily include making the artist get on the road for 10 months. They just need to think outside of the box a little bit..

As far as the fans who want all the tracks from their favorite artists.. granted but they spend an ungodly amount of time searching for those things and sharing them on various internet sites. One could make this very easy for them and make more money than on a release going triple plat.

This is assuming that there are many artists left these days that the masses will follow that way. If you haven't noticed there are no superstars in Hip Hop that haven't already been out for years and years. I'm looking and I can't quite seem to find one artist that is skilled enough or marketable enough to carry the torch to the level that the masses would sit around and seek out every single work they have ever done in their whole lives. Where is the next generation?

The labels have fallen on the hot single hot garbage band wagon. They no longer sign or nurture the careers of artists to make it to that level. They are going to have to completely and totally revamp their business model or they will end up finding themselves obsolete and unnecessary to the music making process. (They nearly already are)

Confused: A Blind Dyke at a Fish Market said...

commenting quickly on Steve Guttenbergs response.. He's absolutely correct.. 10000000% however the album has changed. The albums that he listed as examples are classic without filler and considered timeless. This is how a album should be and people WILL pay for such a thing. The issue is there are few artists out capable of creating a complete works that will stand the test of time.

I can sit back right now and listen to Prince 1999 from start to finish, remember every word of every song and mentally go right back to that time period and enjoy it despite the fact there were only 2 or 3 commercially released singles. On the contrary I find myself jumping around American Gangster for a few weeks then put it down never to be picked up again . Half the songs I'd dont know nor will ever know the words to.

And thats the difference.

Crap music and so so albums thrown together full of filler equates to downloading first and pay later if its worth the effort.

Its the labels fault the album is going bye bye. They really have nobody to blame but themselves for this marketplace. The whole make a quick buck on a single concept has come back to bite them in the ass.

The market is correcting itself and forcing it to go back to THE MUSIC over the dollar. Musically speaking I think thats pretty great. It sucks for the current artists stuck in contracts and they are the ones who suffer the most from the market shift but it is what it is. Long term I think its pretty nifty.

haha can you tell this is a subject Im pretty passionate about.

Martin Campoverde said...

I'm with you, Bunyan. Good music will always prevail. There is nothing better than popping in an album and taking a journey with an artist.