Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I want to Review the Black Keys' New Album but...

Okay. So, I'm trying to find new albums to review and I come across the new Black Keys album. Cool beans... wait a minute. Yep, I can't stream it on rhapsody, which is the main way I listen to music. I pay my 10 bucks a month and can listen to all sorts of music I couldn't afford to buy. But this isn't a post to argue why consumers should get on board with subscription services. Nope it's a plea to the artists. The Black Keys made a deliberate decision not to stream their latest album.

First let me speak as a music consumer. I love music. Better yet I love media. But I don't have a lot of money. Subscription services like Rhapsody, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify, seem to me to be a godsend. I pay what I consider a reasonable fee and I get access to media, a lot of which I couldn't afford or wouldn't know about otherwise. I can get it legally, and digitally at will. Honestly. I like these services. I want them to at the very least be a viable option for the consumer, but more and more I hear that it is becoming difficult for services to continue because content providers don't want to get on board. Hate to break it to the Keys but that's them.

My instinct is that for the end user, these services are perfect. If I want music or a movie within minutes I have music or a movie.

Furthermore let me be clear these services are not free. I had a Napster and a Rhapsody subscription, but due to recent events, Rhapsody bought Napster, lets simplify things and just go with the Rhapsody subscription. (I don't use Spotify. It's new so I can't talk about people who use it. I had Rhapsody since 06.) Even before the music industry began to decline (2000) yearly per capita CD sales were about $70. My Rhapsody account is about $10 a month, which comes to $120 a year. And let me be clear I don't have the money to spend on every single album I want to listen to. That's just music that wouldn't cross my ears. As an end user it's a difficult to side with them when words like free start being used. I pay for that music, and I don't like the argument of "It kind of felt unfair to people who purchased our album to allow people to go on a website and stream the album for free whenever they wanted." That is simply not the case.

Now beyond that and this is where I become a bit of an extremist. I believe everything on the internet should be free. Allow me to explain. If somebody wants something on the net they should be able to get it. Now I understand that people deserve to be paid for their work. I think we're in a time of flux where people are trying to find the right business models so that things are at no cost or low cost to the end user, but the right people still get compensated fairly.

Around this time two centuries ago newspapers were having the same argument. For the past 150 with the exception of the last 15 years or so a news paper cost so little that it was a no-brainer to buy one on your way home. But it wasn't always that way. Like every other piece of media the paper was a luxury. Sure it wasn't super expensive but by newspaper's zenith (let's call it at 1944 just to make the research easier on myself) it cost $0.03 for a New York Times, $0.36 cents with inflation.

How'd they do it? Ads plain and simple. I still believe that internet is barley being tapped for its potential as an advertising medium. More so than in other it gives those guys the intelligence to target and evaluate and alter their campaigns.

One of the reasons why people loved Netflix so much-It's been a rough year for them but anyway-for $8.00 the consumer received access to so much content that it was a no-brainer to get on board. It was the same with Rhapsody. Back then I had a little bit of money and access to all that music for that price was again a no-brainer.

Anyway my point with that is that a blind monkey could see that the consumer can be better served with digital distribution, and it's just plain insulting that the media companies want cling to their old methods. I get it; people have to be paid. Nobody is arguing that point. But in the interest of serving the consumer which is what a business is supposed to do, it's long time they looked at new revenue streams, payment models, and distribution technology. As stated previously an idiot could see the media market is in a state of flux and these companies and yes artists you too, need to change up or die in that market.

My argument is that let's face it media is expensive. Sure $10 an album might not sound like a lot, but it adds up. I know for a fact I've listened to at least 36 new albums this year. At $10 a pop that would be $360 and that's not the old stuff that I keep going back to that's just what came out this year. There is a segment of the population that just flat out can't afford to buy every CD or movie video game that's out there they want. These services if run properly and fine-tuned would allow the entertainment industry to obtain the maximum amount of money they could from these people who reason states should be more populous than any other segment especially in this economy.

Why did the wii do better than the Xbox 360? Why does Apple keep lowering their costs? Simple because they still have a portion of the population that want their product but can't afford it. The media industry is no different. All the money they lose per unit could be made up in volume.

Corrections: Yeah I sort of jumped the gun on this one. While I was writing this I forgot that Spotify isn't Rhapsody. Or more bluntly the two work differently. People can stream stuff for free on Spotify. I still think that artists should give streaming services a chance though.

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