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Don’t sell our music

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From the “I’m Just Sayin’ Is All” desk at the Ministry of Consequences, first up, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc, refuse to release songs to iTunes.

Some Bands Spurn Apple’s iTunes Online Music Store
Wed July 2, 2003 07:56 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rock bands The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica are refusing to make their music available as individual downloads on Apple Computer Inc’s AAPL.O iTunes online music store, a representative for the bands, said on Wednesday.

That move comes in response to Apple’s decision to allow users to buy single tracks and is intended to protect the future of the long-playing album, the format that has dominated the music industry for decades, an agent for the bands said.

“Our artists would rather not contribute to the demise of the album format,” said Mark Reiter, with Q Prime Management Co., which manages the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica and several other artists.

Green Day and Linkin Park, according to a source familiar with the situation, have also refused to make their songs available as individual downloads on the Apple service, which has already sold more than 5 million songs since launching this spring.

According to Reiter, Apple refuses to sell albums in their entirety unless the artists also allow the tracks on the album to be sold independently as digital downloads.

“We can’t let a distributor dictate the way our artists sell their music,” Reiter said, adding that the business terms were otherwise acceptable.

Smooth move in a declining market, refuse to use a new channel for doing business. And since when did lunkheads and mooks like these become “artistes”? Wankers. Hey Chili Peppers, I still want my money back for the crap filler tracks you’ve put on every album you’ve released.

Meanwhile, back in the States:

Billboard to track downloads
By STEFANIE OLSEN
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Billboard magazine is charting new territory this week, adding data for the first time on sales of Internet music downloads to its lists of top-selling albums.

Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks retail music sales and is the source of Billboard’s top music charts, will make data available on music downloads sold at several digital-tunes services.

These include Apple Computer’s iTunes, Roxio’s Pressplay, MusicNet, Liquid Audio and Listen.com. It also plans to track sales from the upcoming Napster service.

Nielsen SoundScan’s announcement that it will begin recording download sales lends credence to Web music-retail efforts and could help raise the general profile of on-line services among consumers and the recording industry. The entertainment industry also will finally have a window into digital music sales after years of fearing that illegal file swapping in peer-to-peer communities is cannibalizing offline album sales.

“Purchasing digital downloads has proved to be a viable emerging technology among a rapidly growing segment of music fans,” Rob Sisco, president of Nielsen Music, said in a statement. Nielsen SoundScan, a division of Nielsen Music, and Billboard are owned by VNU Media, based in the Netherlands.

Nielsen SoundScan will report digital downloads under the “nontraditional” category, which includes Internet, mail order and concert venue sales. In 2002, the Internet accounted for nearly 80 per cent of those sales. And sales in this segment have risen exponentially in the last five years despite a total overall decline in CD sales in 2002, according to the company.

Nielsen SoundScan will report only permanent digital music downloads sold through on-line services, rather than songs played through streaming-music subscription offerings. Digital download sales of recorded albums and singles will be included in the album and singles sales charts, respectively.

I remember the shock the industry went through when Soundscan first started. For the first time, record companies had to face the facts that what people were buying (country, rap, metal) wasn’t what they were pushing.

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About Jim Carruthers

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    Personally, I’m glad to see someone take a stand against the mp3ification of music. I, for one, still care about “the album” as a whole. Singles are typically the songs I cared for the least on most albums. If all bands do is release singles because of iTunes/etc., there really won’t be anything of substance for people like me to listen to. At least there are a few bands out there who aren’t jumping on a devastating bandwagon like this, and who are showing a little bit of integrity in not immediately going for the quick buck.

  • mike

    I have to disagree with Comment 1. I think people would buy more albums if they had a chance to first sample whole songs online. That is, they would buy more albums if albums were more reasonably priced. An article in Billboard said that $9.99 is the price at which people would actually start buying CDs again. Of course, that would require massive reorg of the record industry, so no wonder executives go around chasing downloaders instead.

    The Chili Peppers/Metallica stand is ridiculous because so many people just get the songs on kazaa anyway.

    In real life, the chickens rarely come home to roost, and the wicked usually escape punishment. The recording industry is a welcome exception to this rule. Watching it disintegrate is a delightful spectacle.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    In response to Mike, I actually am all for checking bands out via mp3 – what I am protesting is the demise of the album, which seems all but imminent in the face of, essentially, “singles” via mp3. Maybe the argument can be made that there are some “artists” whose best work is truly the music they choose to release as singles, but the downside is that the future bands won’t really have a need or option to produce a full album. With labels pushing solitary songs instead of albums, finding bands who want to develop song-cycles is going to be rare. That’s what I’m against, not the actual songs. I know – it’s a double-edged sword.

    I just hate to see something as wonderful as the “album format” disappear because of shoddy lossy music formats (you will see that I’m probably the only person in the world who protests mp3s more because they’re a lossy format than because of the copyright issues … )

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    A couple of comments to move from “what-if” to fact.

    The “artistes” and purity of the album format arguement is largely bullshit by Q-Prime to distract from business deals.

    This isn’t about music, Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers don’t make music – they make intellectual copyright property which is traded on audio and video carrier formats.

    The arguements about the album are the same as with the early years of the CD, and the reason why a number of acts wouldn’t let their songs be released on CD was because they were only getting the royalties for a 10 song LP, ie, they didn’t get paid for the bonus tracks.

    Nobody is saying they can’t sell albums, all Apple is asking is that single tracks be an option.

    The other fear is that with the precise and accurate tracking of downloads, what if it reveals (just like Amazon rankings) nobody wants to buy your crap?

    One of the real problems with the music business is that there are too many albums. Most of them are crap, nearly all of them have filler tracks. Acts are deluding themselves if they think they can consistently record 60 to 70 minutes of great music every album. They just can’t.

    I’m not saying one medium is better or worse as an audio carrier, but it is damned clear that if you use music as a commodity and then try to ignore the market, then you will fail.

    The reason for the decline of the music business is that they are failures as business people, and it is catching up with them.

    And if somebody wants to buy a still shrink-wrapped Nils Lofgren 8-track, I have it round here somewhere.

  • http://www.theamericanmind.com Sean Hackbarth

    “One of the real problems with the music business is that there are too many albums.”

    One of the problems with the industry is there’s too much music? That’s a strange statement.

    The Peppers’ and Metallica’s argument about the demise of the album seems week given that they allow individual songs–not whole albums–to be played on the radio. And song downloads in no way prevents big, well-known bands from making whole albums. What it does is encourage new bands who don’t have followings to create singles instead of albums. But how is that really different from the current state of things?

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Sean, not too much music, it’s that there are too many albums released with too little quality. Something like 10,000 titles a year.

    That’s not a realistic market for that many shiny discs. Now, if they retooled it for online distribution, then it would make sense.

    But face it, 95 per cent of albums released are crap.

  • http://www.theamericanmind.com Sean Hackbarth

    But more music available is better than less. That was my point of contention.