Dec 16, 2009

Ted Cohen - "The World is Yours!"

Ted Cohen from TAG Strategic has a new MIDEM Blog post: MIDEM Blog: Breaking Through The Noise

Great post but one thing caught my attention:
According to my friend, Tommy Silverman/Tommy Boy Records and the co-founder of the New Music Seminar recently pointed out to me that less than one tenth of one percent of music released last year sold over ten thousand units.

Off the top of my head I can think of a bunch of artists: 16 developing acts and 11 career artists(who have had a hit song or a career spanning more than 3 decades) That Aderra is working with that would love to sell an additional 9,9999 albums this year. (Or instant concert recordings on USB, MicroSD wristbands or album downloads on iTunes...)
I get Tommy's point, the vast majority of sales go to a small percentage of artists. I'd guess that this is nothing new. In fact, I am sure that most economists would confirm that this is the case across the board, most money is drawn in by a minority of any population.

There are a few problems with framing things in this manner:

1) Why is over 10k in sales a benchmark? This is an arbitrary number at best.
The benchmark should be "ONE new fan who will listen, share and evangelize for the artist".
(If this is the case Ray LaMontagne owes me about $1,000,000,000,00. I bought the "Trouble" CD for just about everyone I know of people and then ripped it and shared it with plenty more...)(and then emailed everyone I know the version of him singing Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy")

Sidenote: "Trouble" might have been the last CD I bought. It was 2004, a little before the death of the CD. Actually went to a Tower Records Store to get them. (You know, the building that is now a Walgreens drugstore on Lake Street in Pasadena.)

So I could dive into a few different directions here:

  • a) what does the artist make per track on those 10k+ sales??

  • b) what do they make gross on those 10k plus sales? Are they better off selling 1000 for a higher profit margin and a MUCH greater value to the fans who are able to participate?

  • c) Does it matter? What if Free is the right price point for most of your fans anyway? (Because they used to Discover you by listening to the radio or watching Music videos on TV for free??)
  • d) what if you're an artist with a message and getting it heard by as many people who will listen is the goal, not units sold?

I'd like to stop with the arbitrary benchmarks (a "gold" record? That is a cool wall hanging for your office, not an achievement in connecting with fans.) so let's say "1 more fan = victory: 9,999 more fans = victory+"

P.S. By coincidence, Aderra recorded Sara Haze's Set at the Dakota in Santa Monica this past Monday and she was awesome.

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