Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Will the New Model Be for Music Sales on Tour?


Tunecore's blog has an interesting article regarding the relevancy of the CD in the age of digital downloads. As CD sales fall and digital sales increase, an important question to consider is how bands can sell their music when they tour. Most major label bands don't need to sell CD's at their live shows because their distribution is such, that the releases are pretty much everywhere, but for the rest of us, losing CD sales on tour is a not insignificant hit to our incomes. What is needed is a practical way to allow for digital sales at the merch table. One idea the article mentions is the sale of download cards. These would be customized with the band's artwork and the name of the album, and would include a code the buyer could enter on the band's website to collect the digital files they just purchased. I think this is a very interesting idea, but it does entail some rather significant technical hurdles for the average band who might not be made up of computer programmers. Perhaps companies like TuneCore will provide the service by producing the cards and providing copy and pastable code the bands can insert onto their own website. So what do you all think of this idea? If you buy music digitally, would you buy a card like this at a show, or would you prefer to just hit iTunes when you get home (keeping in mind that direct sales would mean a higher percentage of the sale going directly to the band). If you don't like the idea, what other possibilities would you like to see?

17 comments:

Bob's Country Bunker said...

what a stupid lazy article.

No: i'm not gonna buy a CD at the Hannah Montana show (shut up!)

Damn straight i'm gonna by a CD and a T-shirt when I go see The Presets or Lykke Li because it's the right thing to do. People who are willing to pay for music will buy a CD or any other merch. People who aren't willing to pay won't -- the medium of sales is not relevant.

Stupid stupid article

Tom said...

I'm not sure I agree, to be honest. Are you in your 30's or 40's by any chance? I'm in my late 30's and I prefer buying stuff on CD. I like having the artwork, I like reading the liner notes, I like having a physical product. But talk to the average person in their teens or 20's and they don't care about these things (there are exceptions, but I'm talking about the average). Obviously, there's going to be some crossover, but I think working musicians need to think about how to sell what they do in a format that's going to appeal to this new generation of fans. Will it stop piracy? Nope. But if you don't give people the option to buy it legitimately in the format they prefer, what other option do they have? (IMHO, obviously, your mileage may vary...)

visitour said...

i'd buy one of those cards

I haven't read a cd liner in a long time. Only the music really matters to me. if I want I can read about the band/music online

MPS said...

How 'bout putting it on thumb drives? Are some of the smaller capacity drives cheap enough to make that work?

Will C. said...

As I think the previous comments show, a lot of people are still really attached to the CD medium, so I think that's an option that'll stay, at least for a little while. As for the idea of "download cards," I don't think they'll work unless they become standardized - no one wants to trust a bunch of little indie bands with keeping their websites up and running without glitches.

jimc. said...

http://www.discrevolt.com/

Darkmaer said...

25 here and for bands that i really like i want the physical cd...and i'm a nerd for special edition type packaging. but yes i'd buy a download card...also if your doing it for tour purposes only, make them special per tour with like the tour info on it, kind of like a souvenir along with the good old T-shirt. but i always buy at least 1 cd at a show and without a doubt when i find someone new.

Anonymous said...

The download card idea already exists.

http://www.digstation.com/

A couple of the independent CD replicators offer packages already.

Tom said...

Ah cool, I had no idea these things were on the market already. I wonder how they do for the bands that have tried them.

lineofcontrol said...

i'm old enough (34) to still love vinyl and remember making mix-tapes for friends. the move to CD was a considerable one and not without serious financial outlay.

i always read liner notes, to me it was always like a secret message to me from the band or something. i loved to read about the other musicians on the albums, who the engineers and producers were- where i recognized the names from from other band's work.

there is nothing substantial to me about a purely digital source of music.

mangadrive said...

I'm 30+. I understand physical obviously but once you try to market it, you begin to loathe it.

For very smalltime unsigned independent artists like myself, physical distribution is a financial setback especially in the state of this economy. At points its one we can't possibly overcome immediately either. I'm not gunna sit and twiddle thumbs waiting for that record deal like a lot of artists stalemate themselves into so its up to me to choose. Its literally a situation of pay once for infinite product or keep paying for a physical one. You'd have to be a total retard in economics to not understand that. I do embrace the fact physical is still not totally out of the generation gap, but its getting more and more accepted. I can at least go to sleep at night knowing I will break even on my digital costs.

Sadly the only place I can find for distribution is online itself and I ship copies to them to be sold online. It just seems weird to choose to the physical option over the cheaper digital option that you could have right there, and even includes the liner notes in a jpeg. If the outlet doesnt and you really wanted them I'd email them personally happily. Its not like you don't have access to that. Touch and feel? Collection purposes? I guess, but for people struggling its going to be a 6 buck + shipping dent and we get whats left for physical distro. I wish fans would begin to understand that and I do for mine out of the sake of pretty much accepting physical is still around but its completely inconvenient. Digital just serves the independent scene far far far far better outside of selling at gigs and local shops.(which is still hours away for me as I live in BFE)

Now...back on topic. I like the Thumbdrive idea as they are basically dirt cheap now and lots of devices are using USB. E-credit cards through Itunes or others would work very well too. Again though in reality all of this defeats the point of digital purchases if you are involving something physical. Its actually another burden on the fan unless you are the type that does'nt work with credit cards and can pay cash at the show then order online.

Dan said...

Hmm, it seems to me that if you're willing to buy a physical card which requires MORE work, in that you have to LATER go to a computer to download (perhaps lower that cd quality) an album, you might as well just buy the CD which gives you more anyway? It's sort of an ironic twist on the whole "i want it NOW" mentality of downloading music in the first place.

Will C. said...

Dan: I don't know about that. If you're going to put the music on your mp3 player, as many people are going to, it's going to take longer to rip a CD and transfer it to your mp3 player than it is to make a quick download and move it to your mp3 player.
One thing I just thought of - the cards would have to say what quality the download is pretty clearly for me to consider this. I don't want to shell out for the music and then end up with low quality mp3 files.

mangadrive said...

Good point about quality. I dont think too many vendors are embracing the idea of 320k when 192k and even 128k are selling just fine.

MPS said...

I was thinking of thumb drives in response to Tom's comment about needing to sell product at shows. If you have your tunes on a little drive as MP3s people could buy them and take them home and load them into their computers. I mean if people don't want to buy CDs anymore...

Some acts are recording their shows live and selling copies of that specific show to their fans as they leave the venue. A nice memory to have.

mangadrive said...

That live show , on the spot thing wow.. I wish I had some of the 190903453459 shows I've been to on a disc. They could put it on reel to reel and I'd figure out a way to get it on my computer, so who cares about media distinction there!

Darkmaer said...

I thought i'd throw this in to this Blog post. I was just txting my ex today and found out her and her husband actually just started a indie record label up and is download card based so if you want to ask questions or whatever.

http://www.sleeponthefloor.com/