Digital Audio Insider -- the economics of music and other digital content


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Digital Audio Insider is David Harrell's blog about the economics of music and other digital content. I write from the perspective of a musican who has self-released four albums with the indie rock band the Layaways.

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January 30, 2007

The Growing Conflict: iTunes vs. Retailers
by David Harrell
What do indie record stores think of iTunes exclusives like this live Decemberists EP?

Not much. From a recent Coalition of Independent Music Stores e-mail by Don VanCleave:
I checked my Blackberry to find that iTunes has an exclusive with the Decemberists. It is an in store recorded at the swank (with all due respect) Soho location a few months ago. Now, this is a band that has LIVED at indie retail forever. Even at Capitol, we have made a very important contribution to the sales of The Crane's Wife. Our Capitol folks have been very supportive. We have been pounding the Decemberist's management and label for the same type of cool product for the past two years. I even cornered the lead singer, at LaGuardia for a few hours to explain our game. Guess what? Seems EMI UK has this policy that exclusive content only can be granted as DIGITAL content. Oh, I see. It is easier to deal with the retailers who are paying a small increment of your income instead of the retailers who are paying the bulk. It is also amazing that you would grant exclusive content to the very channel that is NOT replacing your lost income dollar for dollar. Keystone Cops indeed.
It's just going to get worse. Any medium-sized indie band will be hard-pressed to say "no thanks" to an offer from Apple/iTunes, but it means pissing off the retailers who have been the most supportive of their releases. I love indie record stores, but I'm not optimistic about the next five years.

Also from the same CIMS e-mail (sorry, no link, not available online):
On the digital side, we fully intend to sell music. However, we have watched one idea after another throw tons of money at the concept with only one winner -- Apple. We are only interested in launching a digital service that is DRM free. Hopefully we will get on the map in the coming year with our ideas. One thing is for sure; we have amazing brands in many parts of the country. Trusted brands that will continue to be a filter for fans of music. Even though the Internet is world wide, we find that many people are using it locally. I hear constantly from owners who report amazing response to their email blasts about what is happening in the stores and from customers who actually check stock levels online before driving to their favorite music emporium.
related: The Death of the Record Store

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    THE LAYAWAYS

    Out Now -- "Maybe Next Year" -- The New Holiday Album:

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/maybe-next-year">Joy To The World by The Layaways</a>

    "This is a sweet treat, deliciously musical without being overbaked for mass media consumption." -- Hyperbolium

    "Perfect listening to accompany whatever holiday preparations you may be making today." -- Bag of Songs


    O Christmas Tree - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    Away In A Manger - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Bandcamp. Listen to free streams at Last.fm.



    album cover art from The Space Between

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/the-space-between">Keep It To Yourself by The Layaways</a>

    "...about as melodic and hooky as indie pop can get." -- Absolute Powerpop

    "Their laid-back, '60s era sounds are absolutely delightening." -- 3hive

    "...melodic, garage-influenced shoegaze." -- RCRD LBL

    Where The Conversation Ends - free mp3
    January - free mp3
    Keep It To Yourself - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or CD Baby, stream it at Last.fm or Napster.



    album cover art from We've Been Lost

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/weve-been-lost">Silence by The Layaways</a>

    "The Layaways make fine indie pop. Hushed vocals interweave with understated buzzing guitars. The whole LP is a revelation from the start." -- Lost Music

    "Catchy Guided by Voices-like rockers who lay it on sweetly and sincerely, just like Lionel Richie." -- WRUV Radio

    Silence - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    The Long Night - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at Last.fm, Napster, or Rhapsody.



    album cover art from More Than Happy

    "These are songs that you want to take home with you, curl up with, hold them close -- and pray that they are still with you when you wake up." -- The Big Takeover

    Let Me In - free mp3
    Ocean Blue - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at Last.fm, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    More Layaways downloads:

    download the Layaways at eMusic download the Layaways at iTunes

    the layaways website