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


  digital audio insider

home

about/contact
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.

My personal website has links to my LinkedIn and Google+ pages and you can send e-mail to david [at] thelayaways [dot] com.

Support
If you enjoy this site, please consider downloading a Layaways track or album from iTunes, Amazon MP3, Bandcamp, or eMusic. CDs are available from CD Baby and Amazon.

links

music/media/tech:
Analog Industries
Ars Technica
AppleInsider
Brad Sucks Blog
Broken Record
Digital Music News
Duke Listens
Future of Music Coalition Blog
Hypebot
LA Times Technology Blog
The ListeNerd
Medialoper
Mediashift
MP3 Insider
Music Ally
Music Machinery
Music Think Tank
MusicTank
The Music Void
New Music Strategies
Online Fandom
Pakman's Blog
RAIN
Rough Type
RoughlyDrafted
Swindleeeee
TuneTuzer
Virtual Economics

economics/markets:
The Big Picture
Core Economics
Freakonomics
The Long Tail
Marginal Revolution
The Undercover Economist

mp3/music:
17 Dots
3hive
Fingertips
Shake Your Fist
Sounds Like the 80s
Unleash the Love

archives
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
August 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
June 2013
August 2013
February 2014
March 2014
September 2014
December 2014
March 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015

March 02, 2010

More On Buddy, Can You Spare A Hundred Dollars?
by David Harrell
My post last week about Camper Van Beethoven selling song sponsorships to fund its trip to SXSW generated a ton of traffic and a slew of comments -- 33 and counting, the most ever for a post on this blog. Three fifths of Camper Van Beethoven weighed in, as well as a couple dozen ticked off CVB fans.

In fairness to David Lowery, the first CVB member to respond, there were a couple of factors that I didn't know/mention at the time: The band originally thought the sponsorships would be purchased by companies, not individual fans. Even so, the band also vetted the idea with a Facebook note back in January and received an enthusiastic response from its fans. Finally, as a friend pointed out to me, there was a certain element of irony and humor to the whole sponsorship thing that I didn't pick up on.

In fairness to myself, however, I thought the post was a little more nuanced than most of the comment leavers perceived. I certainly understand the costs involved for travel and lodging for a SXSW appearance -- and that the artists receive a very nominal fee. The post wasn't an outright slam of the fundraising idea, more a musing on why I personally found it less appealing that the recent trend toward fan-funded recordings, and whether or not alternative fund raising activities by musicians will be a sustainable model. Believe me, I'm all for new ways for musicians to earn a living, given that they are the last ones paid under most music business models. (Also, I have to think there was at least a tiny element of calculation to Lowery's outrage, as he linked to the post from his personal Facebook page, the Camper Van Beethoven Facebook page, and the Cracker Facebook page.)

Anyway, I have no interest in feuding with Camper Van Beethoven. I'm actually something of a fan. Obviously, I didn't think the band members were living Sting-style, in Italian villas. But given its back catalog, coupled with the fact the early CBV albums were released on the band's own Pitch-A-Tent label, I had assumed the band might be earning a modest annual income (in the four-figure to low five-figure range) from CD and digital download sales. Yet CVB member Jonathan Segel, who left the most insightful comment to the post, paints a far bleaker picture of the band's finances, and the current state of the music industry:
...I don't think we've seen more than a couple hundred bucks in CD sales in the past decade. Digital sales are meaningless. Digital royalties are even more meaningless -- do you know anybody who's actually been paid by SoundExchange? Right's holders' royalties (BMI) make us a couple hundred dollars a year each, mostly due to Michael Moore having used Take the Skinheads Bowling in Bowling for Columbine in 2004 and its subsequent play on television. My own cds outside of CVB that I have released over the last 20 years are still hovering in the ~$10k region of debt.

The only money we make nowadays is touring, and the only way for a band to make money touring is

a) playing to large audiences in venues that will actually pay you and
b) scrimping.

It's not super fun much of the time, especially at our "advanced" ages (with respect to rock and roll!) and obviously we can't do it all the time due to market saturation, not to mention the fact that we have to go back to work. David is the only one who is full time professional musician, when he's not playing with Camper, he's playing with Cracker, and he bears a hellish touring schedule to make ends meet that way!

Anyway, the whole "fanbase as patrons" idea that was so touted at the onset of the digital music age has proven to be very much like the old patronage system -- if you have a patron (advertiser, record company, whatever will pay) they will pay and the rest of the peasants listen to what's been paid for. The masses don't pay for much of anything.
I exchanged several e-mails with Segel and sent him some questions for a follow-up e-mail interview. Look for something later this week or early next week!

UPDATE: My interview with Jonathan Segel.

tags:

link 1 comments e-mail listen to the Layaways on Spotify




More Digital Audio Insider: Newer Posts Older Posts



Subscribe:   RSS Feed



Add this blog to Del.icio.us, Digg, or Furl. Follow David Harrell on Google+.





The Digital Audio Insider Twitter feed:

    Digital music jobs: Looking to hire? Looking for a job? Check out the digital audio insider job board.



    Popular Posts

    A Long Tail Experiment
    By the Numbers: Using Last.fm Statistics to Quantify Audience Devotion
    Lala.com Owes Me Sixty Cents
    An Interview with Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven
    Price Elasticity of Demand for McCartney
    Sony and eMusic: What I Missed

    The Digital Pricing Conundrum series:
    Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four





    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