Thursday, January 05, 2006

Question on my mind...

As a self described music whore I have a great level of gratitude to the artists that have provided me with a soundtrack to my life. I like to express that gratitude by supporting the artists for the music they make by going to concerts and legally purchasing their music whether it be via CD or a paid download.

I have found myself wondering though what is the best way to financially support an artist when it comes to buying their music? Specifically, of the options listed below - which one gives the most $$ back into the hands of the artists?

Option 1: Purchasing a physical CD at music store*
Option 2: Purchasing off of one of the major download site (iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.)
Option 3: Downloading off of my fav music site - emusic.

* I'm pretty sure buying CDs at concerts is the best option because aside from the small percentage that goes to the venue, the artists get most of the $$ that would normally go to your best buy or amazon. BUT I've removed that option from the running because generally I'm all about instant gratification and want a CD as soon as it's released and not have to wait until the next time said artist comes into town....that being said though a great opening act is generally gonna motivate me to explore the merch table...

Some thoughts/questions:

* a lot of times for artists I really love I'm gonna want the physical CD anyway. There's nothing quite like having a full collection of great CDs to display. I have been known to buy a physical CD after I've fallen in love with my downloaded copy of it...

* emusic has been a great source for me to really get to discover artists that I may have heard of but never really heard. I went there for the 50 free downloads, but stayed for the diverse selection of indie music. I think they are a great resource to increase an artist's exposure.

* As great as emusic is for artists to reach new audiences, I wonder how much $$ they really make off it though. I'm paying 25 cents a download vs. iTunes 99 cents. Does that mean the artists get less of a kick back or does emusic just grab less of a share of the profits than iTunes does?

So I'm hoping one of these guys could some day in passing ask this guy to offer some insight and report back to me. Specifically I wonder what option gives him the most $$ - cds, iTunes or emusic?


At 8:20 AM, Anonymous WufPup said...

I actually think that downloading the song from iTunes at 99 cents a pop provides the artist with the most money.

When you're dealing with an electronic format, the label basically has the single upfront cost of getting the music over to Apple's iTunes store. After that, they don't need to spend any money on promoting it or anything, since apple will take care of that.

Further, you don't have the CD production and distribution costs, nor the overhead which the record label or the retailer will tack on. I think this is where the labels take their biggest chunk out of the artist' profit -- i read somewhere this is why some artists have pissed their labels off first by releasing their new music on iTunes either well in advance of the CD version, or simply only in an electronic format.

Further, the AAC files you download from iTunes is protected with a DRM scheme which will prevent you from easily* distributing the music, unlike a CD which is easily copyable.

there will be always those who want a physical cd and the liner notes to caress with their grubbly little hands -- and those who just care about the music. isn't that what it is all about?

* and of course, there are ways to circumvent the DRM scheme if you've got a bit of time and patience.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Stef said...

Great question and great comment response. I'm brand new to downloading music and I'm using iTunes so far, but I have heard good things about emusic. What is the best way to hear about new music? Do you just randomly try new songs, or do you go on recommendations from friends or something else? I am sadly out of touch with the music world, and I never really listen to the radio, so my musical taste is pretty much stuck in the 80's and 90's unless I hear something new via a movie soundtrack.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Mr. Bartender said...

Wufpup - while iTunes gets rid of some of the costs (production, etc) I'd be interested to know how much of a chunk of that 99 cents they pocket for themselves. Also I'm sure the record companies grab a nice portion of that fee to recoup recording costs, etc.

As for it being about the music - yeah that is ultimately what it is all about but you've gotta admit there are some cd covers/packages that are true works of art by themselves.

re DRM - the easiest way to get rid of it is just to burn the track onto a CD and then rip the CD as mp3s. There are also programs like tunebite that can help ease the process as well....

Stef - there are several ways I've found new artists to listen to:

- a friend makes a mix cd and a song stands out that just grabs me (and I know a certain coworker of yours can probably burn you a mix CD or two)

- i go to a concert and the opening act is really great

- at the record store i see a CD cover that looks interesting and I check it out at the CD listening station

- reading blogs/reviews of CDs that rave about an artist

- and finally a MUST TRY: Pandora . It's a website where you plug in the name of a song or an artist that you like and it plays you samples of other artists that you may enjoy as well.

Hope this helps!

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Stef said...

Thanks for the tips. I should read more of the music section of Ent Weekly - it's the only one I kinda skip over. And I'll definitely try Pandora!


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