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.

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

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.


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September 26, 2011

Monday Odds and Ends: Beatles Edition
by David Harrell
I'm a life-long Beatles fan, but this bit from Peter Doggett's "You Never Give Me Your Money" was news to me:
In a strange precursor of the 'Home taping is killing music' campaign of the 1980s and the 21st century concern about illegal downloads, Lennon and McCartney feared that record sales would suffer if the newly devised cassette tape recorder went into mass circulation. Mardas developed an electronic signal that could be added to recorded sound to prevent it being copied. 'It seemed quite possible,' noted commentator Tony Palmer in 1969, 'that within a few years, every single record sold anywhere in the world would carry this device, and thus pay to the Beatles a royalty.'
The Wall Street Journal collects some negative quotes about the band, from "10 Ways to Recycle a Corpse" by Karl Shaw.

And nearly one year after the introduction of Beatles music to the iTunes catalog, George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" remains the top-selling digital Beatles track. Harrison compositions also account for three of the top-12 tracks on the group's listener chart. As a composer, Harrison famously had to fight for space on Beatles albums -- I wonder if the emergence of this type of data has altered the internal dynamics of modern bands with multiple songwriters. It not just ego or the struggle for artistic expression -- songwriting and performance royalties (the latter are paid only to the composer and publisher for terrestrial radio play in the U.S.) often dwarf those from music sales and can result in huge income disparities among band members.


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September 06, 2011

Tuesday Odds and Ends: Unlimited Cloud Music Storage from Amazon
by David Harrell
I opened my Amazon Cloud Player for the first time in a while and noticed that Amazon has quietly (no press release, I believe) upped the storage limits for mp3 and AAC music files, perhaps in an anticipation of the release of Apple's iTunes Match. All paid Amazon Cloud storage plans now include unlimited space for music files:

Amazon Cloud storage limits for music
BTW, my "$20 a year" subscription was a freebie upgrade after purchasing a $2.99 album from Amazon MP3. Cloud storage isn't free, but if anyone can afford to give it away, it's Amazon.

From a Billboard interview -- why Lindsey Buckingham opted to self-release his new album:
How did you go from lifelong major-label artist to self-releasing Seeds We Sow?

My deal with Warner Bros. had expired. Trying to shop this album was kind of like starting over. I actually started [shopping] with Warner Bros. [chairman] Rob Cavallo, who is a friend of mine and is in this new position over there. Rob liked it a lot, and then he had to go back and deal with the people in Burbank [Calif.], and when I talked to him on the phone, he started talking about the numbers he had to make quarterly, and I thought, "Well, that's the end of that." I did talk to a few independent labels and finally decided that what they were doing was something I could probably just as easily do myself.
Finally, I haven't digested the entire piece, but the following paragraph was excerpted on Andrew Sullivan's blog and it got me thinking about ego gratification and self-released musicians:
I'm astonished at how readily a great many people I know, young people, have accepted a reduced economic prospect and limited freedoms in any substantial sense, and basically traded them for being able to screw around online. There are just a lot of people who feel that being able to get their video or their tweet seen by somebody once in a while gets them enough ego gratification that it's okay with them to still be living with their parents in their 30s.
Without the new forms of gratification that the Internet has enabled for musicians -- music blog posts and reviews, listening stats, etc. -- would we see much less self-released music? It's not the primary reason I record and release music, but there is a level of feedback/audience reach available today that was unimaginable a decade or so ago, and it's a "payment" of sorts for your efforts. Back in the day, a self-released album could easily disappear without a trace. Today, you can at least count on a minimal amount of online attention, even if sales are minimal.


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

    <a href="">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

    album cover art from The Space Between

    <a href="">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 or Napster.

    album cover art from We've Been Lost

    <a href="">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, 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, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    More Layaways downloads:

    download the Layaways at eMusic download the Layaways at iTunes

    the layaways website