Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Head Like A...Businessman

Herr Zrbo sent me the link to a Trent Reznor interview in which Reznor seems to address many of the exact same issues I brought up in my post on the music industry back in June. Hell, I'll just post Zrbo's e-mail:

Here's an interesting interview with Trent Reznor on Cnet, I guess he tried pulling a Radiohead and offering a new Saul Williams album (titled: The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust) for virtually nothing and it ended up failing. He has some interesting thoughts:


Here's a couple interesting parts:

"It kind of gets into the bigger picture that you've had to face as a musician over the last few years, which in my mind was a bitter pill to swallow, but it's pretty far down the hatch with me now: the way things are, I think music should be looked at as free. It basically is. The toothpaste is out of the tube and a whole generation of people is accustomed to music being that way. There's a perception that you don't pay for music when you hear it on the radio or MySpace."

"For me, I choose the battles I can fight. In my mind, I think if there was an ISP tax of some sort, we can say to the consumer, 'All music is now available and able to be downloaded and put in your car and put in your iPod and put up your a-- if you want, and it's $5 on your cable bill or ISP bill.'"

Little Earl again. I said back in June that I liked the ISP idea best. If musicians are expecting to make any sort of money at all from their recorded work again, the ISP model is probably going to be their most reasonable shot. I think the Radiohead experiment is going to be a freak occurence rather than the start of a new trend. Fans probably felt so grateful for Radiohead's gesture that those who decided to pay might have felt a little guilty just downloading the album for free, so they paid some money. But when 20 other artists start doing that in a month? Forget it. Eventually fans will lose their charitable impulse. Trent says:

"What disappointed me is that I had thought--and this is just based on how I experience music--given the opportunity (his voice trails off). Why do I end up stealing music? Usually because I can't get it easily somewhere else or the version I can get is an inferior one with DRM, perhaps, or I have to drive across town to get it to then put it on my computer or it's already out on the Internet and I can't pay for it yet. If I think of it a month later walking through Amoeba (record store), hmm...do I want to just buy a piece of plastic and give most of the money to the record labels, who have to be thieves because my experience with them has always been that? And you have a lot of reasons why you didn't do it. So I thought if you take all those away and here's the record in as great a quality as you could ever want, it's available now and it's offered for an insulting low price, which I consider $5 to be, I thought that it would appeal to more people than it did."

First of all, I barely even know who Saul Williams is (I thought he was a poet). Just how strong is the appeal of this album? (I like the title though). Secondly, why would people pay $5 for something they can still get for free? You just can't count on public generosity in a situation like this. Even if I did really want to hear this album, I must disagree with Trent and say that $5 is still too expensive. To quote my old post: "But I'm not paying $18 for a Led Zeppelin CD. Even with the packaging. What would I pay for, you ask? Hmmm. I can conceive of paying for an artist's entire catalogue, on mp3, in high-quality sound, with no glitches, for maybe about 50 cents. Seriously. And maybe with some exclusive video clips, photos, and essays thrown in."

The reason I say that is because what I'd be paying for is basically a service, and not a product. Instead of downloading all the albums myself and making sure they're glitch-free and labeled correctly, and instead of going through all the trouble of rounding up the videos and the essays and such, I'd be paying someone else to do it for me. And yes, I'd pay for that, but I wouldn't pay very much. It would be like asking people to pay me for the mp3 mixes I make them. Gimme a break. Still, if it were legal, I'd go for it. However, I think the record industry will just have to suffer a little longer before it finally realizes that it's come to that.


yoggoth said...

The main reason I still consider buying CDs is that I cannot hook up my mp3 player to my car stereo. If I could I would have no use for them other than as gifts. They do make good gifts I think because they often have nice pictures on the front and the person you give them to can look at the booklet right when you give it to them. It's often hard to immediately listen to something after being given it, so that physical element makes a nice conversation piece in the gift-giving milieu. Does that make sense? Rephrased- when you give something to someone it's nice for them to have something to hold on to.

yoggoth said...

Oh, about Trent's disappointment with sales on that album--I don't know who that guy is either. The review I read made it sound quite unappealing. I wouldn't use it as a barometer.

herr zrbo said...

I wouldn't have any problem paying $5 a month if it granted me the right to download as much as I wanted without legal repercussion.

Mmm, I wonder if we'll see Mr. Reznor anywhere on the current top 10 lists? I doubt it with this crowd.

yoggoth said...

Hey if this was based on my favorite albums when I was 17 he would definitely be up there. Should he go above or below Mr. Corgan?