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

  digital audio insider


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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February 21, 2012

Tuesday Odds and Ends
by David Harrell
Is France's "three strikes" law resulting in more digital music purchases?
Studies show that the appeal of piracy has waned in France since the so-called three-strikes law, hailed by the music and movie industries and hated by advocates of an open Internet, went into effect. Digital sales, which were slow to get started in France, are growing. Music industry revenues are starting to stabilize.
Apple's size and success has a huge effect on the S&P 500 index:
For all the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, earnings are on track to post a 6.6% year-on-year rise in the fourth quarter. Once Apple's earnings are factored out, the expected fourth-quarter gain shrivels to just 2.8%, according to UBS.
Fractals and music rhythms -- identifying composers by their rhythm signatures.

And two great bits from some WSJ book reviews: How Henry Mancini learned the value of writing your own songs:
It was a Vegas choreographer who clued him in to the importance of writing his own songs: Arrange someone else's composition and you get paid once; write the original song and every time it is performed or a record is sold you get a royalty.
Legendary jazz producer Norman Granz had no problem with "niche" artists:
When a distributor of one of Granz's labels complained that one of his artists sold too few copies, Granz roared that if just 1,500 people wanted to hear the musician, that was enough -- and he fired the distributor.

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February 10, 2012

Friday Flashback Fun: Debating Music Sharing in 1978
by David Harrell
Long before the advent of music filing sharing, there was the "home taping is killing the music industry" debate. While the head of the European Tape Industry Association was hardly a neutral party, in this 1978 Billboard Magazine piece, Henry Pattinson frames the issue with some quotes that sound very similar to modern arguments about file sharing:
"The British Phonographic Industry has said that $135 million is lost each year through home taping. Now that figure is absolutely hypothetical. It is money that was never spent and there is no way of knowing if it ever would have been."

"In fact, the indications are that home taping is most prevalent among age-groups who share records and tape them simply because they can't afford to go out and spend money frequently on new albums."

"Music is one of those things that the more you know about it, the more you want. But if you kill off the interest of young people, you will lose a future generation of adult record-buyers."

"It is clearly demonstrable that the blank tape business, illegally used or otherwise, has improved awareness of music, increased demand and directly stimulated the expansion the industry has enjoyed in the last five years."
That last bit is a key difference, of course, as music sales were actually growing at the time.

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February 06, 2012

Buy It, Cherry Pick It, Stream It, or Steal It?
by David Harrell
Randall Roberts's review of the new Van Halen album in the L.A. Times does a great job of summing up the choices today's music listeners have:
Now the dilemma isn't just, should you spend money on the CD ($14.99 list price) or a digital copy (also -- frustratingly -- $14.99). It's also, how much are you willing to commit to buying in? Will a few dropped bucks on a handful of the best individual tracks suffice? Or will "A Different Kind of Truth" be the perfect Spotify streaming album, not good enough to pay hard money for but worth a mouse-click when you've got a spare few minutes? Or should you just ask your computery friend to Sendspace you a pirated copy?
I'm still working on my in-depth post on Spotify economics, but the above description of Spotify being a "good enough" option for some albums will be a central component.

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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

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    album cover art from The Space Between

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

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    Where The Conversation Ends - free mp3
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    More Layaways downloads:

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