Dear mr. Loaf,
From what I’ve gathered, you’ve got a new single out. Together with some buddies from Celebrity Apprentice you recorded a song to raise funds for your charity. That’s cool. And while that song isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I would have purchased a copy, just to keep my collection up to date—but I can’t. It’s only available on iTunes. In the United States. And since I’m not in the US the fact that I won’t use iTunes is irrelevant. So I did the next best thing: I strung together a couple of keywords, fed them to Google, and a few clicks later I had the song in my greedy little paws. For free.
The thing is this: goddammit Meat, you know I love you, but you got a hell of a lot to learn about selling rock and roll on the internet!
Lets start with the bleeding obvious: ever since this thing called the internet came along, the rules have been changed. The days that you sell well over 40 million copies of a single album are gone. As soon as something is released, you can assume it is on the internet waiting to be downloaded. You may not like that, but face it, it happens and there’s no way that spirit’s ever going to go back in the bottle.
So what can you do? The only logical thing to me—and this is the point where I admit to shamelessly parroting people who are more knowledgeable about this than me—seems to make buying your music so damn easy that “pirating” it is just not worth the effort. That means looking beyond iTunes, and beyond the US.
Not everyone can or wants to use iTunes. So just make sure that your fans can buy your music where they want to. Sell it on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Napster, 7Digital, Bandcamp, whatever. The more the merrier. Vendor lock-in, selling your music in just one place, only makes it harder to reach the people who what to buy your stuff.
(Also, why not sell this charity single through an platform that allows pay-what-you-want pricing? That should result in more money for the good cause.)
In this day and age, it just doesn’t make sense to impose geographical restrictions. One of the reasons I still prefer physical releases over digital ones is international shipping. While it should be trivial to buy a song from Amazon.com, I just can’t because of record industry nonsense. They can’t sell me mp3’s, but they can and do sell me the same music on CD. What gives?
I really don’t understand why buying music online is so hard. The technology is all there, but some suits think they know best, and a lot of artists, yourself included, seem to go along with it. Bottom line: I believe that when music is easily available at a fair price, it just isn’t worth the hassle to search for a decent ‘illegal’ download.
So, rage against the system, and as soon as your new single is out somewhere I can actually buy it, I will. Until then, my free copy is good enough.