Getting money per “copy” of a piece of music is over. Per album, per song, download, stream, blah blah. Wasted energy. I am totally convinced per-copy distribution of music will be a tiny 100 year blip in the history of man. The thing that puts it over the top are the predictions that within 10-15 years (or sooner) personal storage devices (like your phone) will be able to hold all music ever recorded with or without the use of molecular switches (pdf). So a younger brother leans over the top bunk and says “Hey bro, can I get a copy of all music ever recorded?” and the older brother says “Yea, but it’ll take 15 minutes to copy” and the younger brother says “Really? Oh, OK, well, do it any way.”
Without listing out all the ways musicians can get paid, my favorite, as romantic as it is, is fan funded. Maybe it’s cyber busking at its lowest form but for all the sites that allow a musician to post music with a ‘donate’ button (hello Sound Cloud, Band Camp, join the party…) it strikes me that all of these have exactly the same model: the “free for all” – and by that I mean both “free as in beer” and “feel free to upload any piece of crap music.”
How many times can we prove that shit music does not inspire music appreciators to donate money?
So in Jamendo’s case we confirm that great music, buried along side mountains of shit music also doesn’t yield decent donations.
Quite a while ago Brad commented on a PBS model. That post already seems dated to me as the “reward” he mentions for large donors includes a physical CD. I don’t know about you but at this point I would pay $30 for anybody to take the last few remaining CDs I have off my hands. But that’s besides the point: The thing missing from the discussion is how important the programming is at PBS. People don’t give them money because they air everything that’s ever been submitted. Somebody is seriously curating the air time.
They have to curate and parcel out the air time because it is a sliver thin resource. It’s just possible that all these sites have a serious flaw in that they assume that just because you can host every piece of crap that you must host every piece of crap.
I won’t link to all the discussions of the importance of a layer of taste-making required in ‘net music. Maybe podcasters or social playlist sites like the old WebJay are/were a step in that direction but I still don’t see a full court press on trying to make it work on a large scale, with real money which, again, I believe is there.
Extending the PBS analogy, don’t forget that PBS takes corporate donations (oh, how they take it) and spend concentrated air time periods begging for money (not-so-affectionately called “squirm week”). I would not exclude this kind of “extended under-writing” or concentrated fund raisers from a musician’s collective.
Maybe it exists, maybe 100 times and failed but I haven’t heard of a site like this:
- A collective ‘net label which is heavily curated by a small committee that has proven taste for picking music. No it is not democratic. Is anybody sorry the Tate Modern is not a popularity contest?
- An active corporate fund raising department that knows how to write a grant or otherwise suck money out of the corporates. I would propose zero advertising inside any of the “products.” Ads are bumpers, not interrupters. If getting noticed for supporting and funding public arts isn’t enough for the company being pitched then keep moving.
- An active public fund raising department that also focuses on donations as a public service with probably two all-out fund raisers per year.
- The money is distributed to operations, musicians and curators in that order.
Or something like that.