Friday, July 17, 2009

If You Don't Adapt, You Won't Make any Money

It's obvious in this day and age that the music business is nothing like it was ten or fifteen years ago. No one buy's CD's anymore, they just steal them from the Pirate Bay or other various sources on the Interwebz.

Because of that, bands and artists have taken to releasing various types of "Deluxe Editions" of albums, that may come with, say, a t-shirt, stickers, "double gatefold vinyl with hand-painted art and a 76 page foldout booklet with extensive liner notes" and other such bells and whistles.

This is really what it's come down to, I think. Bands can't just rely on their fanbase to buy a boring single-disc CD in a jewel case. They need more enticements to shell out their ten bucks, so labels and management teams and the like assemble these ridiculous packages for fans.

Look at what Metallica offered its fans for the release of Death Magnetic last fall:

NOBODY needs a picture of Lars Ulrich on a piece of paper shaped like a coffin. Bandannas? sure. A disc of Metallica's rough, unmastered demos of the songs on the album? Again, not necessary at all. Entire thing packaged in a coffin box and sold for an exorbitant amount of money? HELL YES!

Obviously, with the fanbase Metallica has, this probably sold really well, and that's a testament to how the band combated its album leaking early (which of course it did).

It's interesting how bands and their management crews took to these types of maneuvers in order to actually turn a profit on the albums they release. Since it's basically impossible to stop illegal downloading, this has taken place.

Some bands are trying other methods in order to remain fresh in the public's eye. Trent Reznor released the last NIN album, The Slip, for free on the Net. Girl Talk employed the "pay what you want" model that Radiohead started with his album Feed the Animals, and it paid off. Bands are slowly coming to the realization that they have to adapt to the musical environment in order to succeed.

Another example of this is one of my favorite bands, Rx Bandits. Their new album Mandala isn't even out in physical form until next week, but you can currently buy the ENTIRE THING on in Mp3 format for 3 dollars. That's an incredible deal.

Sure, some people can sit back and bitch and moan about illegal downloading and continue to sue single moms who download 12 songs from Limewire, but those days are dwindling. It's refreshing to see bands do things like Radiohead, Girl Talk and Rx Bandits have done. It's not as refreshing to see bands assemble ridiculous deluxe editions with a bunch of useless crap that no one needs, but they feel they must in order to turn a profit. It's a sign of the times.

I wonder what the next trend in this will be for the music business.....

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