Music Industry! I want to spend money again! But you still screw up …


Why Youtube helps selling CDs and DVDs and how the industry still screws that up although they could earn so much money if they only would think about it … New media does not only work for the long tail but for original music – especially for classical music. But the industry still is too stupid to pick up on the trends rising. Customers are are screaming out loud why, how and where they would be willing to spend money.

Over the last weeks, I spend more time than I probably should have listening to classical music. ‘Watchlistening’ to be more precise, because I spend the time on youtube. And after looking through so many interesting examples, going through comments, finding so many fans, experts, idiots, some of them diving into political issues and other of topic activities, I am now ready to spend money.

Money for you, dear industry, to satisfy my aroused need of wanting more input.
Ready to spend some money on quality input. Structured input, from experts, well selected and adjusted to my interests and level of knowledge. Not so much on any expert, but the ones who are “similar to the ones I liked before”. I would like to learn about classical music, easy starting and then go on from there. The field of classical music is so wide, that this could be a customer relationship for the next decades.

And you know what? My aunt got her iPod because she could not stand any more the “music” in the gym and rather would like to listen to opera. Even though she got no DSL she would be in the mood for buying new music when she encounters it – so I could download her some media, burn it on a DVD and send it to her – she could then go on and buy the real CDs. (No worry there for you dear industry btw – she likes arias, and I hate them.)

And she has a lot of classical CDs already – still she might be in the market for new, undiscovered stuff. You, dear music industry could have a new customer, get one of the lost ones back and get more out of an existing customer. Both waiting for your suggestions, ready to lay down money. And still you screw it up.

I don’t want those boxes but you make me prefer them!
I do want to get rid of DVD and CDs. They take up space and get dusty. I rather have a little booklet which I receive from you, with a code, where I can a) have secure online access to my bought goods for backup and b) download them to enjoy them on wherever I would like them to hear. To be more precise – completely digital with backup would be fine as well.

But rather than taking advantage of the new media channels, building up a true digital inventory, and get rid of costs for packaging / logistics / vendors / etc and use direct access to customers you actually try to screw me over and charge me nearly as much for online access than you would charge me sticker price for the sold goods. You might not have noticed, but one does seldomly pay sticker price in the store. And with DRM you reduce my freedom to do with this as I like to do or am used to doing it from CDs.

So I would buy DVDs and CDs on my preferred shopping mall, called Amazon. Except that I would have to ship them over at a ridiculous price and also I can’t play them because of the regional code. The German Amazon does not even offer this! Neither as a UK import (which is the same regional code) nor as a normal offering. So even if I would be interested in buying, I can’t. At least not until I made my DVD player region free. I think you call this one deadlock?

Profits are falling, poor industry!
With so many reasons not to buy (and I only scratched on the surface) every body is fast to point out that the reason for the diminishing profits of the industry lies in the fact that new artists suck, there is no good music, no good new singer / songwriters – but you know what?

While this is true for contemporary music, it is not for classical. The last time I bought a CD in the last oh 10 years? was one album of a podsafe music band who was able to provide me with a download and I rather gave money than really ‘buy’ an album. I am procrastinating putting my existing CDs onto my computer but should because there is one I would really like to give a away though the rest I don’t even remember. I even still own LPs which are except a small handful of albums are space waster.

‘Normal’ people start getting there as well. Putting their collection on MP3 players and suddenly relisting to music, know how to make a ringtone out of if – they are slowly getting there. And file sharing but much more portals like Youtube and alike are places to “watch” TV and watch music.

So far nothing new. And yet, I feel like I would love to go out and shop today. Classical CD to be precise.

I don’t shop anymore – though I did a lot when I was younger
While my first cassette was a mix of terrible 70s music (it was white with blue label and my grandpa bought it for me – from Ti Amo til Theo wir fahr’n nach Lotz) I was six or eight. My first LP came to me with my own stereo, and was a best of Abba. Along came a bit of money and I still have about 1,5 meter of LPs. My first ever CD, bough in 1985 or so was a recording of Beethoven’s 5th – little did I know back then the role of this composers relevancy to the CD. (The second was a maxi of the Cure’s Lullaby).

Over the years I did purchase quite a lot of CDs and LPs, and yes I still remember when an LP costs 16 Deutsche Marks while a new CD today roughly costs I think about 40 Deutsche Marks. But since nearly a decade my purchase has dropped to nearly zero and this is not because of file sharing or exchange with my MP3 player or anything – it just stopped to be interesting to have new albums. The ones I did buy where some few presents for family.

Oh! There is great stuff out there I did not know about!
So with this history, why am I suddenly in the mood for actually buying CDs? Because over the last days I spend time on Youtube comparing different recordings of different conductors and artist. I looked at recordings from past time and current, hopped from comment to comment to see discussion and learn about new names of other artists. Jumped from Beethoven to Bach to Brahms, from Karajan and Bernstein to Horowitz and then to Billy Joel’s Root beer Rag.

Learned about a recorded piano roll of Rachmaninoff himself so we can hear him kind of play like he was alive today, was reminded again that nobody except singers with German on a native level should ever sing German especially not Beethoven’s ninth at the end, discovered interviews with Yo-Yo-Ma and and and.

“Ode to Joy” is a perfect example of what Youtube can do. Just taking the final part … it may not seem different to you to listen to this recording to this during the opening of Nagano but for me there is such a difference as a native speaker and lover of this part – clearly understandable in the first one, mixed together and kind of uncomprehensable in the second. [Though I have to admit that the interpretation of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Georg Solti I own is much worse. For the reader knowledgabe of German I am just saying ‘froide schäner gütterfanken’ brrrr. ]

Paul Potts, the mobile phone seeling guy who got everyone scared on Britain’s Got Talent when he said “I want to sing opera” but then just blew away everyone when he sang Nessun Dorma – he may not be as thrilling to a person knowing about opera, but this one is sending chills down my spine every time I see it. This one of Luciano Pavarotti is supposed to be ‘better’ and even I as an amateur can hear some differences – still I listen to this and enjoy it, but the one of Paul Potts chills me more.

Maybe it is the people cheering? Why not listen to Pavarotti’s last performance of it during the opening of Turin 2006? Or maybe you would like to see a recording of tenor Mario Del Monaco?

From there it is easy to jump towards actor Dudley Moore. Hm? Yes. Your may remember him as an actor, and when you read “Dudley Moore Beethoven Sonata Parody” you rightfully expect the worst. But interestingly, he does play piano very well.

I would like one Bernstein please, extra educational

Which got me into another cycle of going listening to piano and then to cello. And so forth. Liking Leonard Bernstein for no particular reason, I remembered his teaching on television, some black and white stuff. Amazon has it.

Leonard Bernstein – Young People’s Concerts / New York Philharmonic (1961)” on nine discs, or “The Unanswered Question – Six Talks at Harvard by Leonard Bernstein (1976)” on six?

This is the internet age. I would like to see a bit more about what I am about to buy. No preview, no peak into it … why not?

From the descriptions, I would choose the Harvard lectures from the above, but spending around 90 dollars on this without knowing what that is seems not really a good idea.

If I would be responsible for anything which ships products being sold on the net, it would be one of the first things to find somebody to fill up all those metadata with everything useful a customer could want to know about this product. Photos, content, additional information, everything.

So back to Youtube. And of course there is an example there.

Hm. Not very convincing. It may be a horrible set of the the whole discs, but this is what I have to base my judgement on. How about the other series? Just have a peak look into “The latin american spirit 1”:

Much better. I will have some more digging to do. But in the meantime, this “Bernstein on Beethoven: A Celebration in Vienna/Bernstein in Vienna: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 comes at a much cheaper 17,99 dollar and seems to be related to this!

This could be my next impulse buy! Could be, because this is only and Region 1 again. But back to the topic and the title – as you can see from my writing above, it is not really the music industry per se I am willing to spend money on / with.

It is about content, about expertise, about making collections for me, catering towards my interest, my level of knowledge and my preferred way of consuming media.

And this is something, which you can automate. Program. Run sophisticated enhancements on. Dear music industry (and let’s not get started with the video industry), can you please look at what Google and Amazon are doing right and just implement this? You would do mighty fine with that. And earn money.

If you only would take a look and prepare for the future. Because this is not going to go away.

And if you would excuse me now, I have to look into custom regulations on how much I can order from the US and how much I have to pay additionally, get an unlock for my DVD player and study how long it takes Amazon to ship at the cheapest price …


One Response to “Music Industry! I want to spend money again! But you still screw up …”

  1. Wow, great post. I write a lot about the music industry (I’m quite a music passionate), and I really like to see new points of view from consumers or “would be consumers”.

    I don’t exactly feel like you do – but I completely understand how you feel. I mean, I’m an heavy music buyer, but I don’t buy digital music. I like to have my CD’s collection, but I understand those who can’t find value in the packaging and related art (like artwork or the package itself) and consider CD’s – like you – space wasters. Unfortunately the major labels (which, also unfortunately, represent the music industry) aren’t ready to think, to adapt, to look around. They don’t get it – they don’t understand the concept of having some people finding added value in CD’s and others finding added value (no space-waster, no time lost in ripping, and so on) in a digital file.

    Regarding your space-wasting, did you know that the vinyl market is rising again? Maybe it’s the perfect time for you to sell your records on ebay – and you might be surprised on how money you’ll get for it…

    Good luck on your extra educational course plan. In the mean time, you might be interested in check out to some neoclassical movements also, like my favourite ones Ashram