Some of the opinion offered on this blog may tend to question the relevancy, if not the sometimes overzealous protection of copyrights by publishers, and those companies who control the rights to the creative work of artists.
Yet copyrights do have an essential role in the business, and the way that studios recoup their own costs before paying royalties to artists, for example, have emerged as a way for studios to reduce their risk. Given the low probability of a new musician’s music becoming a hit, for example, the studio will naturally want to protect their investment first before passing on rents to the artists (described in Richard Cave’s Creative Industries as the “nobody knows” phenomenon).
This opinion piece offers a very alternative view to the established studio system. And while one does have to question the extent to which the author is actually making a living from his music, he does make some interesting points. Particularly worthy of consideration is his take on providing copyrighed content for free distribution.
Yet to what extent can an artist (or a studio) earn a living from giving away their works? While the implementation is somewhat tricky, it comes down to a few points.
- The ability to provide different versions of their work. Providing a low bit-rate mp3 file for free gives users a taste of the music and may encourage purists to pay for the higher quality version
- As much value as exclusivity has, there is also value in familiarity. Having your work known may be more profitable than keeping it locked up or available only through certain channels. That of course depends on the branding strategy. As a case in point, I turned down buying a box set of The Blue Bar CD compilations in Singapore (mainly because of the S$90 price tag!!) but now can’t find it anywhere. Yet, that fits with the exclusive image of the swanky bar at the Berkeley Hotel in London.
- Providing users with something that can’t be replicated. Or at least charging for that which can only be delivered by the artists themselves. For musicians, concerts are a classic example. The more your music has been distributed, the more likely you are to have more interest generated in your music. A live performance is something that can’t be digitally reproduced (yet?).