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Free Music, at Least While It Lasts

The convenience of pushing a button on a handheld device that streams wirelessly to a speaker is always going to trump hunting down a CD with marginally better sound and plopping it into a player.

Always hated CDs, opening them with barricaded shrink wrap, avoiding scratches, and the fact that they took up so much space. The only thing cool about CDs was the album art, which was a miniature version of what came in a Vinyl record.

Steve Jobs killed CDs by disaggregating the format into downloadable singles. He gave the music industry a life-line. I still wonder if Apple would’ve bought Beats of Kobs was alive though. I think he would’ve used his power to renegotiate with the big heads and put Spotify out of business.

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Music is still a small piece of the pie.
Music is still a small piece of the pie.
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New Record, Flash Sale

If you can’t sell records in today’s world then you might as well sell surprise and immediacy.  Beyoncé released a surprise bundled album last week leveraging her army of social fans, plus supportive tweets from Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.  Other than Miley Cyrus’s twerk, I think that it was the most significant music story in 2013.  

As I tweeted:  

2013: “Surprise releases from Beyoncé + Lorde on same day. Expect to see more of the social driven surprise viral releases.” – “@bombtune

It’s difficult to create scarcity in the digital world of infinite inventory and piracy. The only way to create hype is to make one big splash instead of a cumulative one. If you have the millions of followers that Beyoncé has, you can afford to ship new content on impulse.

Digital downloads along with physical record sales are done and gone. The only way to revive buying is through a flash type sale that rides the viral nature of social media hype.

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  • People still listen to terrestrial radio to discover new music
  • YouTube is a significant music discovery source, primarily because it’s free (ad-supported)
  • iTunes is still a major player from a jukebox standpoint.  This doesn’t mean people are downloading music from the iTunes Music Store.  
  • CDs are still relevant, somehow.  I’d love to see a number here for the increase in vinyl sales
  • All this mobile music consumption has created a need for headphones that cost as much as Jordan sneakers.

Check out the rest of the Sol Republic’s report

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As a songwriter Pandora paid me $16.89* for 1,159,000 play of “Low” last quarter. Less than I make from a single T-shirt sale.

David Lowery

Welcome to the online music industry of uber micro-payments. Go direct, if you can.