Cluephone Ringing Off the Hook

Courtesy of Doc and Nate:

First, JP “I’m cool for more reasons than just my collaboration with Chris Locke” Rangaswami, the grand slam analysis of Prince’s decision to give away copies of his CD to residents of the UK:

Prince understands how he makes money, what’s scarce and what’s abundant about it. Digital downloads are abundant. Concert appearances are scarce. He makes money because of his CDs and not with them [this emphasis c/o AKMA].

A word of caution. Some people are just not comfortable with abundance economics, so they try to create artificial scarcities as they go along. Second nature to them, I guess. . . .

You cannot bundle abundance with scarcity, it’s like trying to implement region coding of the air that you breathe. But then some people will try anything.

Then, via Nate (the unlinkable), the latest news from Canadian band Stars:

On September 25th, Arts&Crafts will release Stars’ fourth studio album, In Our Bedroom After War. . . .

Traditional music business practice says we are to begin sending out copies of this album now. We give advance copies to print publications in hopes of securing features that coincide with our September date. We meet with radio stations in hopes of securing airplay. etc, etc.

Inevitably someone will leak the album.

Throughout this process, the most important people in this value chain, the fans, are given only two options – wait until September 25th to legally purchase the new album or choose from a variety of sources and download the album for free, at any time.

We hope you’ll choose to support the band, and choose to pay for their album. However we don’t think it’s fair you should have to wait until September 25th to do so.

We believe that the line between the media and the public is now completely grey.
What is the difference between a writer for a big glossy music magazine and a student writing about their favourite bands on their blog? What differentiates a commercial radio station from someone adding a song to their lastfm channel? or their myspace page?

As such, we are making the new Stars album available for legal download today, four days after it’s completion. The CD and double vinyl versions of the album will still be released on our official release date, September 25th. We hope you will continue to support music retailers should a physical album in all it’s packaged glory be your choice of format.

It’s our hope that given a clear, legal alternative to downloading music for free, you will choose to support the creators.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


Stars and Arts&Crafts

If only they realized that it’s not the dollars-from-bits that they’re selling; it’s the packaging (for the physical artifact) and the performances (at live venues). But Rangaswami’s, and Prince’s, understanding of how this digital economy works will prevail in the long run. And if you want to buy the Stars album now, you can go here now; me, I’ll wait to hear how it sounds before I rush to buy. At least Arts & Crafts doesn’t DRM-cripple their digital versions.

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