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Dear self-releasing artists, I believe putting your stuff out on CD or CD-R will give your fans a quality product which is worth collecting and with that, they will keep you (and your brand) in their hearts and on their minds much longer than if your music were just bits on their smartphone. That situation is very much different for the majors since they need to press up such a high number of physical product that the number itself completely devalues their product and it's just not worth the money they want the consumers to pay for it. Hence, their interest is to destroy the market for physical sales of independent artists so the majors won't have to make the effort of pressing discs for the landfill. Well, I feel lucky these days for every great self-released album which I discover because during the end of the Myspace days, a lot of albums have been announced by great musicians for a future self-release which apparently have been shelved by now because the people had to earn money and believed it would be a better way to earn it not by releasing new recorded music.
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The labels have tremenduously downsized the amount of money they used to spend on new music development. During the Myspace years, artists were able to create new trends in music by themselves, maybe for the first time in history since major labels came into being. Now, it's just "pon de replay", nothing new anymore - only lowest common denominator music on the radio and the reissue craze for the boomer generation who seemingly do not seem to get that the very songs which used to be "revolutionary" are now owned by those which they originally rebelled against. And it makes me sad when I find I cannot get my newest musical discoveries in lossless sound and they do not have any liner notes either. How do the artists who go mp3 exclusively with their releases think they can become longterm cult favourites when fans do not have anything physical to collect? How do they think they will not be forgotten once their fans' smartphones have crashed? Do they really believe the people who once bought their music but somehow lost it accidentally will take the time to search out their stuff to buy it again? I guess the major labels could not care less. They don't want indies in the music business anyway. The old music business model is not dead yet.
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With the major labels now investing heavily in online communities, they get the ad revenue from music by self-releasing artists (and those posting their music for free even), and that totally without having to take any risk at signing them. It's like the music managers have curled up the "long tail" and drained it into their own pockets. That was still a little different during the myspace days just a few years ago when basically every musician was able to fund a small scale release of their own CD and have it available for shipping to every destination in the world through services which sprung from the independent community (cdbaby and the like). Now, there is iTunes which does not believe in a worldwide market and is subdivided into countries - and you cannot buy from all the stores, only the one which fits to the adress on your credit card. I feel this is some kind of discrimination which the internet originally started out to abolish.
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At one point several years ago, I was considering opening up an amateur internet radio station as a hobby so I would have an outlet where I could play songs I like and maybe get some new friends worldwide who also like the same kind of music. Unfortunately, over here in Germany, this was around the time that the performance rights societies increased their fees for internet radio stations, even those who only have the capability of having the smallest possible number of listeners (20 at a time) so much that they would not be affordable anymore for hobbyists but would have to be paid for by advertising. Of course, no advertiser would ever pay for 20 listeners so this increase by the performance rights societies was definitely a move against literally millions of tiny players eating the market share of the big players a/k/a media conglomerates. The grass roots internet radio scene had been poisoned away from the market there and then in Germany. Yet, I still investigated further because I was curious as to how the royalty system over here would have worked. And the outcome of that lead me to give up the thought of an internet radio station entirely because over here, radio stations do not name artist and songtitle to the money collecting agency, but instead, a label code. If you want to play music that does not have a label code with the agency on your station in Germany, you need to have a legal document signed by the rights holder or you would risk being sued off the airwaves by those kind of internet lawyers who first threaten to sue people and then contact those in whose name they have threatened. I guess this species is well known in the US, too. Anyway, I mostly would have played imported CDs I got through online retail and material the artists released by themselves. I immediately noticed as tiny internet radio station, I would have had to pay money to the collection agency but since the music I wanted to play had no label code, I would have paid somebody else with it, not the artists I would have played.
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Mar 13, 2012