recorded music is a commodity

As I sit here thinking about the new year ahead, I feel compelled to group some growing thoughts on the value of recorded music.

Recorded music obviously adds tremendous value to our everyday lives. The market for recorded music has, until recently, proven just how valuable it is. However, as we all know, recent trends (e.g., digital music, file compression, peer-to-peer file sharing networks like Napster) have fundamentally changed the industry.

Previously it was quite simple to “protect” recorded music since copies were obvious degradations in quality. Digital recording and CD ripping software have changed that forever.

People are very willing to shell a few hundred bucks for an iPod but seem to think the recorded music content should be free. This has been debated elsewhere so I won’t belabor this.

But the most interesting aspect of this for me is to consider the implications of these actions.

Consider – which is a next-generation label that is trying to get seed funding for recording projects as they are being created. I find this interesting in that it is helping an artist record something but it also establishes a community (since participants subscribe to ongoing details behind the project).

There is an interesting interview with Brian Camelio (president of artistshare) where he does some financial projections behind what an artist makes per download on some of the pay-per-download sites. Very sobering.

But this all condenses down into the core value of music: providing a live experience for people to share. Composer William Neil ( recently started using the term “experience” to describe what we offer audiences. I agree completely with this idea. We have to share much more than just music if we’re to really reach out to people.

I see all this as a boost for live music. It’s the beginning of a new year. I can feel optimistic, can’t I?

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