Friday, July 09, 2004

Reality trumps the RIAA, yet again

When Steve Winwood recently released a track from his new album onto the peer-to-peer filesharing networks, the recording industry thought he was insane. Then his record sales jumped by 800%.

They Might Be Giants decided to sell their two most recent CDs online as MP3s... $0.99 per song, or $9.99 for the whole album (which costs $18+ in stores).

Indie musicians have been doing this forever... I got turned on to quite a few bands in the early days of, and indie recording sites like Perishable Records put one or two songs from each artist online for free... it's viral advertising. So many indie bands do this that there's even a service that scours the web for them and collects them all in one place... it's a great way to get turned on to new tunes.

It is ironic that the greed of the recording industry is actually bringing in less profits through their unwillingness to deal with the new technological reality made possible by filesharing. The smart bands, for the most part indie bands who don't have a major label breathing down their necks, are adopting the technology as a free advertising service, and the increased exposure yields increased profits.

William Gibson's book Pattern Recognition talks quite a bit about viral marketing, and how those who adopt such techniques will be so far ahead of the pack. Lately his ideas are becoming reality.

For everyone except the RIAA, that is.