Saturday, 14 June 2008

Would you join this club?

Here's an idea. I've been looking a lot recently at the evolving music industry and the internet and wondering where it is all going. It's not news that filesharing has had a big impact on the industry (although exactly what that impact has been and whether it's positive or negative does rather seem to depend on whether you're a major record company or not) and things will continue to change and develop in the future in ways we probably can't even predict yet.

Radiohead pulled a great stunt with their last album making it available to download for whatever price you wish to pay and as far as I know have done very nicely out of it, but it was a risky stategy financially and not all of us are necessarily in the position to take that kind of gamble. Personally, I also still like physical CDs and records and I believe a lot of other people do too (and Radiohead made a physical version of the album available too to satisfy that demand) but there's no getting away from the fact that many people prefer the simplicity and cheapness of grabbing files off the internet rather than acquiring a hard copy. So, how best to satisfy both worlds?

Well, here's the idea. How about an annual subscription, something like £10 ($20, €15) a year gives you a digital (download) copy of everything new we release, whether it's a brand new album, live recordings, remixes or whatever. Maybe you would get them a little before the CDs hit the stores, maybe some of it would be available to subscribers only, maybe you could get the physical CD for cost price too. I don't know, I'm making this up as I go along. But in principle is the idea of a subscription something people would go for?

Or to look at it another way, would you like to support the arts by patronising your favourite artist? You give us cash to keep us alive so we can make music to give back to you, it's pretty much how Mozart, Bach and most of those old composer chappies did things and it seemed to work ok then.

Or would you rather support us by buying the music after we've released it in the traditional way, thus ensuring you definitely get something worthwhile for your money? I suppose it's partly a matter of trust but also one of involvement. By subscribing you would be directly involved in making the music happen whereas by buying the finished CD you just get to consume it. Worth the risk?