Posts Tagged ‘bandcamp’

Thom Yorke makes over $24 million on BitTorrent?

January 10, 2015
Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

It has been claimed Thom Yorke made over $24 million on BitTorrent during 2014 on downloads of his latest album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. 4.4 million downloads of a digital bundle, album plus video, $6 a download.

To put the figures in context, Frozen soundtrack has sold 3.46 million copies and is considered the highest selling album of 2014. A quarter of downloads were in the first week, as much as One Direction 2013 album, Midnight Memories.

An article in the Independent screams bullshit, though the only bullshit is the Indy article.

Reports that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke made a whopping £13m from a solo album he published solely via the BitTorrent website have been met by cries of “finally!” from those hoping for a direct means of making music profitable outside of the shackles of conventional promotion and distribution.

But, unfortunately for those who thought it must be too good to be true, it was. A spokeswoman for Thom Yorke described the reports as “totally and utterly false”.

Tomorrows Modern Boxes, which was released on BitTorrent for $6 last September, hadn’t made anywhere near the approximate figures being bandied about.

The news will be a blow to those who were beginning to see the web as a means of safeguarding the livelihoods of musicians and artists rather than simply a way of distributing content

The article in the Independent reads as a regurgitation of a press release from Big Record Labels.

The implication being, he should have stuck to a Big Record Label, or worse enter the sewer that is spotify.

Big Record Labels are dead, but mass media regurgitates their bullshit.

That Big Record Labels are dead, does not mean music is dead, what it does mean is more opportunities for more musicians, a better sharing of the cake, more money going to musicians.

There appears to be no dispute of the download figures. What we do not know, is the mechanism behind those download figures.

Let us assume the download of 4.4 million is correct, and $6 a copy is correct.

Most artists would be happy with 100,000 downloads, let alone a million.

If a CD, Big Record Label, he would be lucky to see 10%, less any advances, less studio, publicity promotion etc. $2.64 million.

Had he released on bandcamp, they would have taken their cut of 10%. This would have given him a cool $23.76, not to be sniffed at.

The 10:1 ratio in favour of the record label, is reversed in favour of the artist with bandcamp.

Not only that, he gets all the data, fans can listen on-line, share with their friends, leading to more sales.

Selling Right Now: Monsters sold for £25, £20 over the asking price.

Monsters EP, sold for £20 more than asking price

What this shows, is that fans, be it through BitTorrent or bandcamp, are willing to pay for music, are willing to support artists.

On bandcamp they often pay more than the asking price. What they are no longer prepared to put up with is being ripped off by Big Record Labels.

I have spent some time talking with artists, including big names, and they do not know what is available. And worse still, no one is going to tell them, not their agents, not their record labels, as all are taking too big a cut.

When the Big Record Label, offers big upfront payments, the naive think great, are we not doing well. Then into the recording studios, no expense spared, overpaid producer, more hangers on. What they fail to appreciate, it is not the record label paying, it is they, it all comes out of future earnings. Net result, at the end of the day, they are left penniless, all their money has been spent on their behalf.

Read Rock and Roll is Dead. Incredibly badly written, but wonderful from the viewpoint of the insider.

And if you think it cannot get any worse, welcome to The 360 Deal. The Big Record label offers to do everything, management, concerts, merchandising.

If you have the money, pay for studio, recording engineers etc. And if you lack the money, play a few gigs, crowd fund.

Examples of musicians who have done it themselves, Jewelia with Monsters, Carrie Tree with The Kitchen Table.

iTunes does not simply rip artists off with the cut it takes, it charges for being there. And what do you get, a few seconds lofi sample, iTunes gets all the data. Similar deal with Amazon. Similar deal with CDBaby. And do not even think of going down the sewer that is spotify.

Bandcamp takes between 10 and 15 percent, it used to be a straight 13%. Can listen to entire album in reasonable quality mp3 128, can download high quality audio including non-lossy compression FLAC, actively encourages sharing, and the artist gets the data.

The underlying problem as ever, is corporate greed.

Bandcamp by contrast was established to provide a service for artists, if they make money, bandcamp makes money.

The one thing artists should not try to do, is install own media players, on-line shops. Whenever I have seen this done, it is a disaster. Be prepared to pay a small fee for a site like bandcamp to do a far better and more professional job, and focus on what you are good at, creating music.

If they need a record label, try Any And All Records. It offers nothing and expects nothing in return.

The onus on all of us, is when we see artists using iTunes, Amazon, spotify, ask why, challenge them, tell them there are alternatives like bandcamp that offer a much better deal for everyone. And encourage them to move.

Bandcamp | P2P Foundation

December 27, 2014

The surprise is not that artists use bandcamp, the surprise is that they use anything else.

Jewelia acoustic set Staycation Live 2014

singer-songwriter Jewelia acoustic set Staycation Live 2014

Great music is priceless, bad music is worthless. — Steve Lawson

The best way to support an artist is to pay then directly. — Ethan Diamond

When I am at a live music festival for example Staycation Live and the musicians tell the crowd to find them on iTunes I groan, when they tell the crowd to find them on spotify I want to scream out loud.

Why oh why, are they sending people to sites where everyone gets ripped off, where everyone gets a raw deal?

Amazon or iTunes, take a big cut, iTunes even charges for being there, spotify you do not even want to go down that sewer. The least said about spotify the better, other than major record labels have a stake and artists receive a pittance.

Bandcamp by contrast, takes somewhere between ten and fifteen per cent. It used to be a straight thirteen per cent.

With Amazon, a few seconds lofi sample. That is to insult both the musicians and those wishing to listen. How can you judge a piece of music in a few seconds except maybe to reject as unbelievably bad?

On the other hand on bandcamp, can listen to entire album in reasonable quality mp3 128.

Bandcamp was co-founded by Ethan Diamond as a site for musicians.

The principle behind bandcamp is if you want to support musicians then pay them directly, not pay a global corporation in the hope that something trickles down to the artists.

Two years ago, I found few artists knew about bandcamp, now I am finding more and more do, and it offers both them and their fans a very good deal. And yet what is strange, they are still directing fans anywhere other than bandcamp, even when they themselves are on bandcamp.

It is not only they and their fans, by directing to bandcamp, they benefit all the other independent artists who are on bandcamp.

If you have the resources to record an album and if not, play a few gigs, crowd source, then you do not need a record label.

Sometimes artists have their own kludgy media player on their website. Why re-invent an inferior wheel, when you can embed bandcamp media player?

From the perspective of the fans, you can listen to an album on-line, the entire album in reasonable quality mp3 128 unlike Amazon or iTunes where all you get is a few seconds lofi sample.

Download is easy. And can download hifi not lofi, mp3 320, or better still studio quality non-lossy FLAC.

Fans can choose to pay more. Many do. Jewelia recently reported someone paying £30 for an album listed at £5 (or maybe it was for the free download).

Monsters her début album, limited edition signed copy or digital download.

snapshot of bandcamp sales

snapshot of bandcamp sales

Artists set a low price, sometimes free, leaving fans to pay more if they wish. Because fans are not being ripped off, because they know the money is going to the artist, they quite happily pay more.

Selling Right Now: Monsters sold for £25, £20 over the asking price.

Selling Right Now: Monsters sold for £25, £20 over the asking price.

Selling Right Now: The Kitchen Table sold for £16, £7 over asking price.

Selling Right Now: The Kitchen Table sold for £16, £7 over asking price.

Bandcamp has a very unusual feature. What is selling is shown in real time, including how much is being paid over and above the asking price. This is in addition to a listing of the top selling albums.

Artists get the data.

Bandcamp is a model of how websites should be.

Bandcamp is not backed by venture capitalists. It is not supported by advertising or abuse of personal data. It is supported by the music community.

Because of the way bandcamp works, especially its sharing button, word, essentially word of mouth, spreads laterally, or in other words peer to peer.

In essence this is the gift economy, sharing, collaborative economy at work.

If you like a piece of music or an artist, you spread word of mouth using social media.

Those who like, will spread the word, they may download, they may toss some money by the way of the artist, they may attend a gig.

Serendipity plays a part, as people stumble across something they may like, or a friend may tell them, or share with them. I stumbled across Quantic whilst writing this article on bandcamp.

The important aspect here is sharing.

Those who share, do not get anything out of it, thus a gift, but the artist may benefit through their collaboration. The artist will then feel it is a viable way to earn a living, and do what they wish to do, play and produce more music.

Everyone has a stake in the outcome.

It would be an interesting social experiment, having mentioned Jewelia, what difference she sees.

The big record labels hate the internet, they complain of piracy, criminalise those who wish to listen to music.

Bandcamp turns this on its head, far from seeing the internet as bad, sees as a force for good, the means to share music.

If I listen or download music for free, no one has lost out. On the other hand, if I like, I may buy, I may attend a gig, I may tell others. In other words an opportunity has been created.

And it is a truism, I cannot like a piece of music until I have heard it. Through sharing, makes it more likely to hear it.

Those artists who only make available a few seconds lofi sample, or in too many cases, nothing at all, are not doing themselves or their fans any favours.

Hope & Social make their music available for free for digital downlands, the productions costs for a CD. They do not get ripped off. Turn up to one of their gigs, buy a CD, you set the price.

Cotton Wool and Knotted Wood a beautiful magical live acoustic album from Hope & Social is on a pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth or what-you-can-afford model. For CD it is minimum price of what the CD costs to produce (plus shipping).

Cellist Zoe Keating published her accounts on-line, to enable people to see a breakdown of her income.

  • iTunes 32,170 single tracks and 3,862 albums netted her just over $38,195
  • Bandcamp 185 tracks and 2,899 albums netted her $25,575
  • Amazon mixture of physical and mp3 earned her $11,571
  • Spotify 403,035 streams earned her $1,764

Apple keeps 30% of iTunes sales, bandcamp takes a 10% cut of sales.

On bandcamp, albums considerably outsell tracks.

Jazz pianist and composer Will Todd is a classic of how not to.

I happened upon a rehearsal in a church for a concert that evening. A large poster for Lux Et Veritas. Had Will Todd been around I may have bought a copy of Lux Et Veritas. I was told he would be there in the evening. I checked out his website. Big record label outmoded thinking stamped all over it. Snippets of videos, lofi mp3 samples. This does absolutely no justice to the works of Will Todd and is an insult to those who may like and wish to listen to his music. He is not doing himself any favours.

What is the point, releasing music, then making it difficult to listen to?

Were I a radio producer, not a writer, they would be beating a path to my door asking to be put on my play list.

Very strange, musicians release music, which one would suspect they wish one to listen to, then make it difficult if not impossible to listen to.

Going back to the musicians telling the crowd where to find them, this time they say find us on bandcamp.

This makes a huge difference. Because of sharing, anyone who finds them, can click share, and immediately share with their friends, hey this is who I saw, they were great, word spreads. Or they may write about them and embed the bandcamp media player. Why write about music if no one can listen to what you are writing about? That would be as dumb as writing about a book or an author and not citing a few passages. Or writing about a work of art without a picture.

Although bandcamp is a centralised site not peer to peer per se, how it works in practice is peer to peer. There is lateral communication, and that is the key to the success of bandcamp, enabled by a share button.

We should never underestimate the power of sharing, of word of mouth.

What bandcamp does for music and the spoken word, leanpub does for the written word.

In the sharing economy, collaborative commons, a website should be an enabler that charges a small fee for its role, made self-financing by the users.

Bandcamp and leanpub fulfil that role.

Note: Reposted from P2P Foundation. An expanded version of this article on Medium, with additional examples and extensive notes.

Why The Major Labels Love Spotify

November 14, 2014
complete works

complete works

Oh yes, another blog post about Spotify. Just what the world needs. I’ll try [edit: and fail] to keep it brief.

There seems to be, at the moment, a massive gulf between the opinion of many artists-still-making-music and the labels that many of them are signed to. The major labels LOVE it. But artists are talking about Spotify as a wholly bad thing for artists – not enough money… ‘free’ music is bad… Rosanne Cash (a woman for whom I have an enormous amount of respect as an artist, writer, thinker and human) called Spotify ‘legalised piracy’. Why the gulf?

Here’s my take – The financial world of the major labels has, for a LONG time, been focused on back catalogue – music that’s already been successful. Reselling something that’s already in the public consciousness is WAY cheaper than marketing new, untested music. Licensing old tracks is also easier, because people know them. And there’s the simple question of scale.

Reality check: for the Majors, the vast majority of the music they will ever release has already been released.

Their model is weakening, the explosion in creative output over the last decade hasn’t been due to them, and hasn’t happened in their playing field. They still control the biggest selling artists, because they control the budgets and channels that allow artists to sell that many copies, but it’s almost tautological. They make the most money because they spend the most money on making money. They then siphon a lot of it off for executive bonuses and salaries. Some goes back into artists. Most records still fail to recoup on their advance.

So, what do those labels have as their primary asset? From the time when they released the vast majority of music, they own our nostalgia. They own our memories, the music that we grew up with.

Except, they don’t. Cos we ‘own’ it, mostly on CD and vinyl, some of it on cassette, much of it now ripped from CD to MP3. Which is worth what, to them? Nothing. They don’t get paid for us playing CDs.

So Spotify, which houses all that already-sold music, becomes a MUCH cheaper and easier way of getting paid for nostalgic listening than trying to re-format (selling us minidiscs/SACDs/remasters/any old bollocks). 500,000 songs paying $100 a year each is $50million. If you’re the label and publisher who earn that money in aggregate, from people listening to music they already own, you win massive. Especially if you’re still paying your artists a tiny ‘sales’ royalty on that stream, as though you’ve actually done anything, made anything, helped in any way.

What of new music? Well, sticking it on Spotify, for the labels that were spending BIG money to get things in shops, distributed on CD and marketed in the handful of big-box retailers that drive most high street sales, is a MUCH safer bet… you spend your ad-money online instead of paying thousands for prime positioning in Walmart or BestBuy. iTunes is great, but expecting people to pay a flat fee for an album by someone who’s painting themselves as a massive success, who is demonstrably rich, is a tall order. Why? Because it’s really hard to argue that not buying a Taylor Swift or Kanye West album is hurting the artist. It may at some point be true, it may be that they end up hiring less people because they sell fewer albums… there may be some kind of knock on economic damage down the line, but it’s a REALLY hard sell to the kind of people who buy music after seeing it on the shelves of Target or Asda.

So you stick it somewhere where the maximum number of people can hear it, you use back catalogue as the snare to get people into a listening environment, and then you do the same shit you’re doing with the old stuff, and keep the majority of the money as though the ‘stream’ is a sale. As part of your aggregate income, it works. The labels are doing GREAT out of this. They’re also the majority share holders in Spotify, having done an equity deal in exchange for their back catalogue in the first place (all without the permission of the artists).

How useful is this for any one individual artist on a label? Not so great. If you’re an indie artist, own your own recordings and publishing, and put them up there yourself, the streaming rate isn’t *terrible*. It’s not great, and you’d still need HUNDREDS of listeners for every normally-priced sale on Bandcamp, but it’s actually better than most of the headlines would make out. It can probably work for some kinds of enterprise. But if you’re signed? You’re fucked. Your label are making out like bandits on back catalogue and pretending that they have your interests at heart.

They don’t.

If your concern is the ongoing viability of new music, Spotify’s economic model is not one that supports innovation and sustainability for independent artists, on the whole. I’m not sure any other model is specifically geared to that either – it’s ALWAYS been hard to make a living as a musician, and the reduced cost of making and distributing music makes now the best time ever to be a recording musician, if you ask me, but this ‘the future is streaming’ nonsense only works if you’re only concerned with gross figures and the viability of massive record labels, and their ability to pay MASSIVE exec salaries and bonuses. For the record, I have no interest at all in supporting any industrial model that has ‘paying people millions of pounds’ as one of its primary outputs. I don’t think anyone has the ‘right’ to earn that much. Sustainability for the masses is way more important to me than riches for the few.

Last point – ad revenue. Spotify has two sources of income – subscriptions and ads. A LOT of their money, and their viability still comes from ads. Ditto YouTube and most streaming services. That means, in order for you to make money, the people listening to your stuff need to be clicking on ads for shit they don’t need, and buying things in sufficient quantities that the companies buying the ad space keep doing so. I’m not happy with that as a model for arts funding. I’m not happy with that as a model for ANYTHING funding.

So let’s find another way, eh?

Steve Lawson

Another excellent article from Steve Lawson on the music industry.

Originally posted by Steve Lawson on his blog, and reposted here and and on Medium.

Taylor Swift is the latest artist to remove all her material from spotify.

When I find artists, especially indy artists on spotify, I ask please remove your music, persuade other artists to remove their music, and ask music fans, please do not use spotify.

Please do not act as bait for spotify.

If everyone pulled the plug, spotify would collapse, and it is questionable if spotify is financially viable.

When indie artists are on spotify they are at best encouraging their fans to go to spotify, giving it a seal of approval.

The chances of anyone finding them on spotify, if not already known, is zilch.

The boss or founder of spotify recently speaking on BBC Radio 4 admitted, there may be bucket loads of indy music on spotify, but when users do a search it is for well known artists, for artists they already know.

Indy artists are often indy artists for a very good reason, they have wised up to the fact that major record labels will rip them off, chew them up and spit them out. And what do they need a record label for anyway, if they have the wherewithal to go into a recording studio, record their own music, release on bandcamp, release as physical CDs or on memory sticks, sell at gigs through bandcamp?

Steve Lawson, Amanda Palmer, Zoe Keating, Imogen Heap, Jewelia, are but a few of the many many examples I could give of artists successfully recording their own music, without the need of a record label.

There is a reason why record labels are mining past catalogue, because what they are peddling now is complete and utter garbage.

That is not to say there is not good music about, there is, but it is not mainstream.

Steve Lawson is a bass player with an extensive back catalogue. He is not on a record label. He does not release on spotify.

Synchronicty: Last night over dinner, singer-songwriter Jewelia and I were discussing this very subject, that and not being on a record label and using crowd sourcing to finance release of an album. I suggested check out what Steve Lawson may have to say, as he knows what he is talking about. And as if on cue, yes, he has something worthwhile to say.

Steve Lawson: Advice to musicians on using social media

October 12, 2014
Steve Lawson at Digital Music for Musicians

Steve Lawson at Digital Music for Musicians

There are few people who know how to make effective use of social media. Steve Lawson is one, Paulo Coelho another.

An example of how not to, was a discussion on The Bottom Line by people clueless on social media.

Another example Guildford Book Festival, who persist in sending out puerile, drooling, sycophantic tweets promoting boring celebrities.

Too many who use social media fail to understand or grasp the fundamentals of social networks.

  • social —> interaction
  • network —> many to many

If you engage PR or marketing people to handle your social media accounts, you have lost the plot.

If you are paying to promote what you have to say, then it is not worth saying.

I could not agree more with what Steve Lawson has to say on musicians using bandcamp.

Steve Lawson was a guest speaker at a Digital Music for Musicians seminar held in Leeds at the Belgrave Music Hall. A three hours talk on how jazz artists can use social media to their best advantage.

Ethan Diamond on bandcamp at XOXO Festival 2014

October 12, 2014

The best way to support an artist is to pay then directly. — Ethan Diamond

Ethan Diamond is co-founder of bandcamp, a site established to support musicians.

If you want to support musicians then pay them directly, not pay a global corporation in the hope that something trickles down to the artists.

If you know musicians and you want to support them, ask them why they are not on bandcamp?

At Staycation Live, if every band had said hey, you can find us on bandcamp, anyone who liked them would have looked them up, not only that, they would have maybe told their friends, and guess what, bandcamp makes sharing easy. And who better to share music than those who like it.

Downloading and playing music on Google Nexus 7

October 8, 2014

You cannot download Monsters the début album from Jewelia, or so I was told.

I knew this not to be true, as I had never had any problems downloading from bandcamp.

To check, I downloaded Monsters to a computer, then as I wished to play on Google Nexus 7, dragged my download across to a folder marked music.

What now, how was I to play Monsters?

Google Play Music did nothing, other than try to access the net.

In the absence of a music player, I downloaded and installed a music player from Google Play. I cannot recall what it was, but nothing happened, and so I deleted it.

The other problem, Google Nexus 7 has no means to explore folders or file content.

I can explore the Google Nexus 7 by connecting to laptop or computer, but this is ridiculous, and defeats having a tablet if need a laptop too.

It then occurred to me, maybe I am going abut this the wrong way, maybe I need to use bandcamp app to download and play Monsters.

I downloaded and installed bandcamp app, then used it to download Monsters.

I actually succeeded in downloading more than one copy as I thought nothing was happening.

I only learnt this when I tapped and slid down the status and saw several copies downloaded.

Although I still could not see where the albums were stored, maybe in downloads, maybe in music, at least the downloads showed.

Tap, and everything should be automatic, that is what usually happens, the appropriate app takes over.

Er no, I get an error message, can’t open file.

I guessed it was because the albums were zip files. But should not the bandcamp app download files in a format it can use?

I also noted the albums downloaded had meaningless names

  • …

When I downloaded to the computer and transferred across to the music folder, at least the file had a meaningful name.

It was time to visit TechStart, where they know more about Android than I.

Very much as I suspected, need to install a file explorer (which can also unzip files) and a music player.

Following their suggestions, downloaded and installed

  • File Manager
  • N7 Player

File Manager used to unzip Monster files and placed in a folder

  • Jewelia Monsters EP

within the music folder.

As more than one copy of album downloaded as mp3 and FLAC, allowed comparison between mp3 and FLAC.

mp3 320 is high quality. Quite impressive. Then FLAC, a noticeable difference. [see mp3 v FLAC]

Monsters is not only excellent musically, it is also high audio quality.

A curious thing. I tapped on Google Music Play, and there was Monsters already loaded and waiting to play. I had done nothing. That is other than making Monsters available as an album in a folder in the music folder.

Monsters now also in Google Music Play Library.

Which means I had no need to download and install a music player.

And now for books …

Note: Google Nexus 7 an Android device. Discussion thus applies to all Android devices.

Note: Bandcamp allows live streaming if you purchase and download an album. Cannot see what this offers, as can live stream albums on-line as often as you wish.

Soundcloud – now with advertising!

August 24, 2014

I’m all for Soundcloud making money. I think it’s a fantastic service and a great vehicle for promo, for works in progress and for allowing people to listen to your music.

It’s just a shame that when great services are looking to “monetise”, the answer is always advertising.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that I used to make radio commercials for a living, and I believe there’s such a thing as good advertising. You can entertain, and make a difference for a client (especially gratifying when it’s a small business trying to get a message out to people who would really appreciate what they do).

But when I hear “We’re adding advertising and paying the content creators – and you can pay to have the ads removed”, I always hear “we’ve made our service worse and broken the user experience, and you’ll need to give us money to fix it back the way it was, in order to stop the record labels from suing us”.

All of that is entirely unpleasant. And not just for the listener.

If I was an advertiser, and I was told that my commercials were essentially going to be used as a repellent to drive customers to pay to get rid of my message, I would not be excited about advertising on that platform.

Spotify is a case in point. Spotify wants paid subscribers. In order to do that, they make terrible, annoying and unpleasant ads. Who pays for these ads? Are they insane?

In an ideal world, businesses like Soundcloud and Spotify would choose between either making a service that people genuinely want to pay for (and giving artists and rights holders an equitable share of that revenue), or providing a service that is sustainable through the creation of great advertising that creates positive associations for the client and genuinely entertains, informs or at the very least, doesn’t piss off the target audience.

But the default message seems to be “give us money to make terrible and intrusive ads for your company, and we’ll use them to annoy people into paying us to make you go away.”

Which makes no sense to me at all. Hope that’s not what Soundcloud end up doing – but fear it might be.

— Andrew Dubber

Andrew Dubber is contributing editor The 360 Deal and co-founder of New Music Strategies.

I agree with Andrew Dubber, use soundcloud for tracks, works in progress, for albums use bandcamp.

But, if as Andrew Dubber reports, soundcloud is to introduce advertising, or even worse, pay to have the advertising removed, then that is indeed bad news, and this advice to use soundcloud will have to be reconsidered.

This is like at Larnaca Airport, crap check-in, with a premium ten euros for fast check-in. Or at least one mobile phone company, long delay if you call us, but pay a premium, and you get a better service.

There is something very wrong when a company provides a crap service, then expects you to pay to get a better service, the service you expected in the first place.

According to an article in The New York Times, advertising is part of soundcloud growing up, a deal with the major record labels, who will the use soundcloud to peddle their hyped crap. A deal with the major record labels, those global corporations who treat music as a commodity, who screw artists, who screw fans, who criminalise fans for sharing, is as bad news as advertising.

In many ways the move is a reaction to industry pressure to license content and produce revenue. It also reflects SoundCloud’s complex relationship with record labels, which use the service to promote new releases and even hunt for new talent but have been irritated by their inability to make money from SoundCloud’s millions of listeners.

As part of their licensing talks, major labels and some independents are negotiating with SoundCloud for equity stakes in the company.

It may be as Charles Eisenstein suggests in Sacred Economics, many of these services cannot be monetised. He cites Eric Reasons (Innovative Deflation):

Maybe the reason we’re having such a hard time finding out ways to monetize various internet services like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, is that they can’t be monetized.

We have reached the limits to growth, an end to the businesses model of exponential growth, loot the commons, then sell it back to us.

Internet enables a participatory gift economy. We have a desire to share. We use facebook, not because we like it, but that is where our friends are, who we desire to share with. Andrew Dubber, could be paid to write a couple of hundred words of drivel for a newspaper column, instead he freely shares his thoughts on the net. I share his thoughts, and add my two pence worth. Artists use soundcloud to share their music, poets and writers to share the spoken word.

When Murdoch introduced a paywall, people simple looked for the news elsewhere.

Bandcamp is a success because it enables sharing, but it also enables musicians to earn a living, and bandcamp takes a small cut for doing so.

To cite Eric Reasons again (Innovative Deflation):

We’re told to believe in our future in a knowledge based economy, but nobody has really figured out how to make real money of it. Of those who are making money off of it (Craigslist, Google), they are making pennies per dollar in the old markets that they’ve upset or practically eliminated with their innovation. This isn’t because we haven’t found the right monetization scheme yet. It is because innovation is leading to efficiency and not growth and that is exerting deflationary pressure on bloated industries. Moreover, it is largely being done by us, the end-user, in our free time, because we want to create and share, not just consume.

Innovation is cutting costs, and internet is accelerating that trend. The thesis of Jeremy Rifkin in The Zero Marginal Cost Society is that the marginal cost of things is tending to zero.

Open Source software gets written because software designers are willing to collaborate and do so for free, but what enables that collaboration is the internet. It is what has given us Apache and Linux upon which the net runs.

Greater efficiency, greater productivity, means more free time, though in reality it has resulted in mass unemployment and a concentration of wealth for the already rich. Those who have the free time fritter it away as zombies on soma in front of a widescreen TV, but it does not have to be, it can used creatively, through participation in the sharing economy, and although we may have less monetary income, in a sharing economy our lives are enriched through social engagement and interaction and through the gift economy, more for me becomes more for you.

Maybe it is my imagination but I appear to be receiving a growing number of promoted tweets. These are as annoying as junk mail and e-mail, junk texts and nuisance phone calls. If you have nothing useful to say keep quiet. If you have to pay to get your tweets promoted, then they cannot be worth reading. I generally ignore on the grounds maybe they will not know I exist. The only one I have responded to was from Vodafone, I hijacked their hashtag and used it to respond on their tax dodging. I did so with glee, knowing each and every response was costing them money. It caused an increase in their tweets then they stopped.

If soundcloud are to bastardise their service, users will simply migrate elsewhere.

One such alternative is mixcloud.

Steve Lawson recommends and to help, they even have a button to migrate from soundcloud.

Soundcloud controlled by major record labels, is not a place people will wish to be to share their music.

No, I do do not wish to see artists paid a pittance for having their output polluted by advertisements. I want to see artists rewarded for their creative output.

At Staycation Live this year, I was pleased to find a greater awareness of bandcamp, but still not widely used. Perverse when a band tells the crowd to find them on iTunes when they are on bandcamp. Anther told me they used spotify as better than bandcamp. It figured he worked in PR and marketing.

Many take a blunderbuss scatter-gun approach, they are everywhere and nowhere. Better to focus on a handful of worthwhile sites and keep updated. Twitter, facebook (a necessary evil), vimeo or youtube, bandcamp, soundcloud (or an alternative like mixcloud) a wordpress blog and a website, and interlink the sites.

What the internet does is provide equality.

If soundcloud introduce advertising or cut a deal with major record labels, then I strongly recommend artists migrate their work elsewhere and that users boycott soundcloud.

How not to

November 20, 2013

Last night I came across a guitarist showing a little trick he had picked up, that he had incorporated in a song. All well and good, but where was the song? Surely after showing the trick, you then show the song? Also mentioned in passing, a newly released album, the name of which I did not catch.

I contrast this with Steve Lawson at the London Bass Show 2012, he gives a tour of his gear, then plays Small Marvels from 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything.

There was only one thing for it, ask, which I did.

This was the reply

Keith, feel free to google my album, or visit my website, amazon, iTunes etc

It was probably meant to be helpful, only it wasn’t, as I did not know the name of the album (which meant a replay of the video) and I made the point, I do not use iTunes, Amazon or spotify, as they rip off both fans and artists.

I decided to search on the artist, to see what I could find.

I found a song, using the technique he had mentioned, but so badly filmed, bad video, bad sound quality, it was not doing him any favours.

I also found a video, again poor quality, that mentioned a new album. It even had a link. I clicked on the link, it took me not to the album, not even to the artist, but to the record label. No search engine for the site. Obviously the record label happy to promote itself, not its artists. And yet the link actually mentions long awaited album!

I scroll through all shown, cannot find what I am looking for. I then notice tabs at the top, one is marked acoustic guitar. I decided to give that one a try, as the demonstration was using an acoustic guitar.

I finally find the album. What palaver.

In the meantime, someone, not the artist, had kindly posted a link to the album.

And was it worth finding after all this hassle? Sadly not.

I find poor choice of material, poorly recorded, and all of 30 second samples to listen to. 30 second samples is to insult listeners. What is on the album, seems more to demonstrate technique. Technique should be invisible, it is the music that matters, on the other hand, if you are giving a music lesson ….

When I find the album, no links to further information on the artist. As already noted, all about promoting the label, not the artist.

The artist does have a website. A new website, inferior to the old website. You can buy the new album off the new website, at least you could if it worked.

Now if there had been a link to bandcamp from the original video I had come across …

Why reinvent an inferior wheel?

For some reason artists are obsessed with being on a record label. I have yet to understand why. Yes, they may record your album for you, only they are not doing it for free, it all comes out of your future earnings.

At this point, take a break and read what Andrew Dubber and Steve Lawson have to say in Music in the Digital Age, The 360 Deal and Rock and Roll is Dead.

I have not mentioned the artist, as to do so would be unfair to the artist, and would add nothing to this sorry tale.

I was though tempted to name and shame the record label, but decided best not.

It is not though only this artist.

An early music choral group has released a Christmas single with all the monies raised to go to the Disaster Emergency Committee appeal for the Philippines. So far so good. Except, you have to download from their website which is a nightmare, can only listen to a 30 second sample on their kludgy media play, the download is in a zip file containing all formats, and if you wished to give more, there is no mechanism to do so.

On the other hand, were this release to be on bandcamp, download is a single click, choose the format you want, set a low price and the user can choose to pay more, and you would be able to listen to the entire piece, and with a single click, share with friends, and embed if you wish to write about (as I have promised I will, if they make available on bandcamp).

Steve Lawson talks about music

August 14, 2013

Interview Steve Lawson gave to Irish Radio Station RTE.

As always, interesting points raised.

If you have a love of music, enjoy playing music, then play what you enjoy, master your art, do not confuse with being a a No 1 hit or celebrity status. That is like basing your life on wanting to win the lottery.

Free downloads, no. Instead think of zero cost transactions.

In the good old days of CDs, you might have run off dozens, if not hundreds of promo copies of CDs. Did anyone listen to them? Probably not. They did though make a hole in your pocket.

On the other hand, every time someone shares your music on bandcamp, it goes with a recommendation, and it has not cost you a thing, apart from the time and effort putting it there.

What is music worth? What value can you put on a piece of music that sends shivers down the spine or brings tears to your eyes?

So obvious, and yet why can so few see?

A tale of two (Music) websites and why using Bandcamp wins

April 25, 2013
Phil Widdows

Phil Widdows

I started writing this on Facebook while waiting for the servers to reboot/verify (overnight power outage) and then thought I would pop it here instead.

Let’s start with some background (get comfy this is a bumpy ride)

Every month FolkCast, put out a podcast that arrives in my MP3 player and provides 1 hour and 18 minutes of interesting folk music, some old stuff and some new. Folkcast is run by Phil Widdows (that’s him on the right) and Ken Nicol (who’s website exhibits some of the very issues we will be covering later).

This is mainly about the new stuff and one #hit and one #fail.

Lets start with the hit. The theme for the show was “Spring Into May: A Seasonal Special Music and poetry for the Spring to early Summer, from Easter to the Merry Merry Month of May.” I would suggest that you click on the link and you can have the show playing in background – who knows what you will find.


Neal Cousin

Neal Cousin

About 5 tracks into the show was “The Hit”” was Neil Cousin and his song “Oh For The Spring” (that’s it below)

I followed the link on the Folkcast website and found myself at Neil’s Bandcampsite. A quick sampling (or 2 or 3 or lots) and it was a no-brainer to slip him the 5 quid and get the album (as FLAC – insert audio snobbery here).

So, 2 days to check it out, a painless fiver via Paypal and a 15 minute download. Deal is done. (My PC automatically uploaded it to my phone and tablet so it’s there for me to check out on the tram to work in the morning)

And as added bonus Neil had already responded to the tweets I left and he seems to be a really nice dude. (I love Twitter)

This is how music works for me in the 21st century. Podcasts replace radio’s curation function (except for 3RRR and that is a whole other story) and they do it better, friends recommend stuff via Twitter (follow @dubber or @solobasssteve. It’s rare for a day to go by and them not to mention something new) and then there is the joy of seeing who else a performer is listening to and following up their lists.


What about the miss I hear you ask, well a dozen or so tracks later (Folkcast is a 2 hour show remember) was a track by a band called Magicfolk.

Same deal – tasty guitar, I follow their link and end up at their website.

I spot ”listen” in the side menu and was taken to a page that had a good selection of material, including the song I was looking for (Green Man for those of you playing along at home).

And here is where the wheels all fall off.

ALL the tracks listed on the page are 30 second samples. Yep, and to add insult to injury – it wasn’t even the 30 secs with the guitar bit that caught my attention. #megafail.

I rummage around and sadly this is as good as it gets, I head to Twitter (of course I do) and here I run into the next problem.

Their twitter and Facebook links are only on the contact page in their entire website (oops just spotted another brace of links at the bottom of the News page). So I send off a tweet and suddenly realise that they haven’t actually used it since Feb. Somehow I don’t see me getting a tweet back any time soon.

I could go to their Facebook page (which I subsequently did) and it hadn’t been touched for ages either, but wait it has a “Listen” button on it. BUT that takes you to “the new MySpace” and the same 30 sec samples, except none of the new stuff is there.

By now I have lost interest, the Folkcast podcast has over 20 tracks and there is some other great stuff to be followed up. There is a killer Steeleye track that I had never heard, and in a later tweet Phil told me that it was from a Live 2009 album Steeleye did, and yes it too has tasty guitar… but you already had guessed that 🙂

The End

Let me start with I am not “picking on” Magicfolk, they are just the latest in a long line of performers who go out of their way to make it near impossible for me to hear their music. Ken Nicol’s website has the same problem. I can’t hear the tracks before I whack down the money. On the plus side there are some great YouTube videos.

Over half the acts that I follow up in the UK folk scene have exactly the same website issues. You can’t hear the music – go figure. You are in the business of selling music. But you don’t want any one to hear it – the bad guys might steal it. The punters might get something for nothing. And so on. I have heard this argument time and time again.

Let’s look at an alternative, Steve Lawson, plays solo bass (and if you thought English folk was obscure – Steve wins hands down in the esoteric stakes).

Lets have a listen to him here This is his album Grace and Gratitude.

Now Steve let’s you hear and share all his music. You never have to give him a cent. But people do (I am one of them – hint buy the “everything” USB stick). I have chatted with Steve on twitter, he is a generous and inspiring soul. Through Steve I have found Emily Baker, Lobelia, Mike Outram, Neil Alexander, Daniel Berkman and a cast of hundreds.

Do I like everything he suggests? Hell no. BUT do I give everything he points out a listen? You betcha.

Is he successful? Go onto twitter/his website and ask him. I think he is.

What I heard on the podcast was interesting enough to make me jump through the Magicfolk hoops. BUT the experience (i.e. no music) has left the fiver firmly in my Paypal wallet unlike Neil who has something better than the fiver.

He scored a fan.

— Thatch

Originally published on ThatchSpace.

I am in complete agreement with the sentiments expressed. I am at a complete and total loss when I find musicians not using bandcamp. The same musicians who probably whine and complain, no one has heard of them, no one books them, no one downloads or buys their music.

Last summer I was at Staycation, a wonderful free music by the side of the River Wey in Godalming. I talked to most of the people who played. Very few had even heard of bandcamp, let alone had music there. Most were interested and a keen to follow through, but a few told me of how many sites they were on, and thus it was not for them. Those who had lots of sites my reaction was so what, and when I checked them out, nothing was up to date.

And why is anyone still using MySpace?

Recently I met Richard Smerin sat outside a bar in Puerto de la Cruz. He was just amusing himself, playing a guitar. We got chatting and I bought a couple of his CDs. I told him he must be on bandcamp, he half listened, but was not really interested, was already on dozens of sites, and if anyone wished to listen to his music, go to his site.

I did, and as I expected, the media player was awful, one of the worst I have seen. Why bother, why reinvent an inferior wheel? If on bandcamp, can embed on ones own website.

Maybe a little unfair on Richard Smerin, as I have picked him out, but sadly he is not atypical.

When are people going to learn, a few seconds of lofi mp3 is not doing yourself or your music any favours?

If people like your music, write about it, share with others, they are doing you a great big favour.

The West End Centre recently had retweet this gig and you get put in a draw for a free CD. This is a win-win for everyone. The venue gets publicity, the artists gets publicity, a few people get a free CD to tell their mates about.

I had never heard of Duke Special before. Although I have yet to listen Oh Pioneer, I have listened to his music, passed to others, said worth listening to. All because of one tweet by West End Centre and a free CD I was invited to collect.

Tonight they have Chris Wood, first night of a UK tour. They have tweeted his album on bandcamp, take a listen, if you like, are you not more likely to go along, maybe send to your mates invite them along too?

And I completely agree on Steve Lawson. Great music, knows how to use social media, and his blog is a must read. As is his book Rock and Roll is Dead.

Same goes for Andrew Dubber and if you have not read The 360 Deal, then please do, as it is a must read.

Top Story on #GoIndie (Sunday 15 September 2013).

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