Quit Whining About SOPA and PIPA. Where’s the Public Outrage Over Internet Piracy? – Seattle Music – Reverb

Bad for business. Anti-piracy legislation could be bad for the Internet business. It almost takes my breath away. Internet piracy has claimed half of the recorded music business, and made the prospect of making a living as a musician harder for artists of all rank and file. Why didn’t Google, or Facebook, or Wikipedia ever stand in solidarity with musicians, actors, and writers – most of whom have never known fame and fortune – as their works were stolen with no recourse on their sites?

Where are the “fans,” the lovers of music? Why have they never stood up and taken a stand for the men and women in front of and behind the microphone? Yes, yes, this is all boring, right? It’s typical that the “rich rock guy” would be spouting from his golden pulpit. But let me tell you something, the working stiffs at recording studios and record stores that have had to close thanks to rampant internet piracy never were rich, but they are out of a job.

h/t Stephen Mason

the clatter of keys | an open letter to washington about SOPA (from me and some other amazing creators)

As creative professionals, we experience copyright infringement on a very personal level. Commercial piracy is deeply unfair and pervasive leaks of unreleased films and music regularly interfere with the integrity of our creations. We are grateful for the measures policymakers have enacted to protect our works.We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet. It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

Jonathan Coulton on why piracy is not worth legislative intervention

So if you can stand me sounding a little crazy, listen: where is the proof that piracy causes economic harm to anyone? Looking at the music business, yes profits have gone down ever since Napster, but has anyone effectively demonstrated the causal link between that and piracy? There are many alternate theories (people buying songs and not whole albums, music sucking more, niches and indie acts becoming more viable, etc.). The Swiss government did a study and determined that unauthorized downloading (which 1/3 of their citizens do) does not create any loss in revenue for the entertainment industry. I remember but am now too lazy to find links to other studies that say the same thing. I can’t think of any study I’ve seen that demonstrates the opposite. If there is one, please point me to it. So I have a lot of trouble with the idea that the federal government is directing resources toward an ultimately ineffective game of piracy whack-a-mole (with some unknown amount of collateral damage to law-abiding citizens), when we are not even sure that piracy is a problem.

And if you can stand me sounding even crazier, here is this: making money from art is not a human right. It so happens that technological and societal blahbity bloos have conspired to create a situation where selling songs about monkeys and robots is a viable business, but for most of human history people have NOT paid for art. I don’t want this to happen again, and I would be very sad if this came to pass, but it’s not up to me to decide. We are constantly demonstrating through our actions what we believe to be the norms for acquiring and consuming content. Right now a lot of us think that it’s OK to download stuff through illegal sites under certain circumstances, and a lot of us think it’s totally fine to use those things to make videos and put them on YouTube even though YouTube profits from it. That’s not ME saying that, that’s US saying that – we’re a nation of pirates and infringers. Based on our behavior, you would not be wrong to deduce that some of us think funny videos on YouTube are more important than honoring intellectual property rights. This kind of thing has happened before. Entire industries rise and fall as the world changes and our priorities shift. Sorry.

“Fanthropologist” Kristen Olson Studies Fans for Studios

Kristen Olson calls herself a “fanthropologist.” The title says it all: she uses the techniques of anthropologists to study fans and fandoms for the Los Angeles ad agency she works for. Olson’s job is to lay bare the inner workings of a given fandom so that studio executives can understand, and communicate with, the people who are passionate about their intellectual properties.

It’s a job made more complicated by the infinite hype chamber that the internet creates around media properties.

“The studios can’t tell the difference between the kind of hype that is economically generated by the need for bloggers to find something to hype,” Olson tells me, “and things that people are generally excited about. Which is one of the things that I do.”

Comic Con in particular has become a thorny issue for the studios over the past few years. As the event has become a giant promotional platform for studio creations, it’s become increasingly hard to tell what is going to be a real hit and what is a kind of summer fling for fans.

“Based on what we’re seeing coming out of it,” Olson says of the excitement generated by Comic Con, “it’s motivated by something more than simple love. [Fans are] looking for something to love.” Unfortunately for studio executives, that kind of enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into big mainstream audiences. The Comic Con audience fell in love with Scott Pilgrim, for example, but the film failed to live up to expectations at the box office.

Olson’s job runs in multiple directions. She likens it to being a plumber, but instead of water it’s information that she making sure flows properly.

“You’re looking at where the information is coming out and what you’re looking at is it traveling to all the places it needs to? What are people getting on the other end? Also another metaphor: telephone. Are people getting the message that you’re putting out? It’s tracing how the information travels and what factors are at play in what the end perception is.”

It’s a strange kind of mental wizardry. Analysts like Olson not only help media executives understand what the fans of their properties want, they help them speak the language of the fandom. To understand at a root level what fans get emotionally out of the property. Because a fandom is more than just a collection of information about a fictional universe, a celebrity, or a sports team. It’s a way of interacting with other people that colors the way fans see the world.

Digital Music News – Ringtones Still Make Four Times as Much Money as Spotify, Rdio, and Rhapsody Combined…

But wait: it gets even crazier.  Because it turns out that ‘mobile personalization’ products account for more than 1/3 of total digital music sales.  That mostly includes ringtones, but also more exotic products like ringback tones (at least exotic in the US).

But how could we have missed this?  Looks like if you’re not a shiny new technology, no one cares!  Case in point: slightly-less-sexy a-la-carte downloads still account for nearly 60 percent of the digital pie, while even less-sexy CDs are slightly less than half of all recorded music sales (according to the RIAA).   Meanwhile, subscription services comprise 8.4 percent of the digital music market.

So when’s the keg finally kicked on ringtones? Somewhere around 2016, at least according to Gartner, a near-eon in ‘internet time’.

Cheaper than Free – Bandcamp Blog

We see these sales as proof that Bandcamp can effectively compete with filesharing and other free distribution platforms by a) giving fans a clear, easy way to directly support the artist, and b) offering them a better user experience. Our favorite recent example of this was an $8 sale that started with the search “milosh flac -torrent.” So here was a fan looking for a Milosh record, wanted a high quality flac, but didn’t want to have to sift through a bunch of torrent sites. And that led them right to Bandcamp, and right to putting money in the artist’s pocket. Beautiful.

A little more uplifting info to ring in the new year:

  • In the month of December alone, Bandcamp artists raked in more than one million dollars in music and merch sales (bringing the total to-date to $12.6MM).
  • 22% of those sales happened because of Bandcamp, driven by things like tags, the home page, recommendations, and search.
  • 40% of the time, fans pay more than the asking price for name-your-price albums.
  • 53% of all purchases are made by fans located outside the U.S. (Check out the countries in this recent snapshot of the live sales feed.)

When we first launched Bandcamp, the conventional wisdom was that music retail was moribund, and that artists’ futures were all about those terrifically lucrative tours you guys go on, supplemented perhaps by trickle-down advertising revenue generated by millions of listeners enjoying your tunes while doing their best to ignore ads for toothpaste. Fortunately, it appears there’s still a thriving community of fans who understand that the best way to support the artists they love is by handing them money.

Digital Music Sales Surpass Physical Sales

Physical music sales have been decreasing every year since digital music offerings have become more popular, finally arriving at this moment: digital music purchases accounted for 50.3 percent of all music sales in 2011.

According to CNN, the boost past 50% was due to a significant increase in digital single sales, combined with a moderate increase in digital album sales.

As far as exact figures, digital album sales numbered around 331 million (a 1.3% increase), with music sales as a whole having increased year-over-year for the first time in 7 years.