Music and Money

At a certain point, it only bores and annoys people if you repeat the same things over and over (unless you’re a “pundit,” in which case people eagerly expect you to repeat yourself ad infinitum) — so I’ve resisted the temptation to hammer away at the recording-packaging-and-distribution industry’s ludicrously wrong-headed approach to the digital music transition.

This morning, though, I stumbled over to the P2Pnet blog’s application of economic analysis to the digital distribution of music files. Essentially, the author argues that an honor-system of payments would probably generate ample remuneration to encourage artists and recording. I’m not entirely convinced, but in a comment, the redoubtable Julian Bond suggests what seems to me the overwhelmingly superior suggestion: “Adopt the AllofMp3 model, pack it with every audio track ever recorded and then sell the tracks at the equivalent of 10c each for 192K VBR. In other words, get rid of the bits that annoy about iTMS et al (DRM, limited catalogue, low quality) and then see what price the market will bear and how much price elasticity there is.”

Case in point: the other day, Nate asked me about Ben Harper. I commended his work highly, and wanted to point out a couple of particular tracks. Now, because of DRM nuisances and high cost, I’m not about to download those tracks from iTunes Music Store — but if I could just pull them down from a legit online source for about a quarter per track, I would without a moment’s hesitation just buy the tracks for him and send them along. I wouldn’t be tempted to send him tracks that I’ve already bought. The “right thing” of buying each file is so easy, at that price point, that the benefit of clean files, full metadata, legitimate file ownership, etc., make buying a preferable alternative to unauthorized downloading.

I’m just saying. And I’m still trying to turn up copies of Tom Robinson’s “1967,” and of Jools Holland and the Millionaires’ first album, from whatever source.

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