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Paying for downloads (was:Re: <OFF-TOPIC>)

american qabalah wrote:
> If I were you I'd stick with free song downloads and selling the 
>physical CDs.
> Why would I want to pay money to download an audio file from your site 
>when I
> can get ten gazillion of them for free from MP3.com?  

You could extend the reasoning here to say, "Why would I want to pay
money to go see [one of your favorite professional established artist
playing in a concert venue] when I can go to any number of clubs,
coffehouses and bars to see [unestablished/non-professional/highly
philanthropic artists] performing for no entry fee or cover charge?

Well, in both cases the answer depends on who exactly is charging a
price for their music.  If there's somebody you want to see in concert,
and they're charging a fee for entry, and you want to see them enough,
you'll pay the fee.  That's how things like tours, concerts, recordings,
rehearsals, gas, food, clothing, and shelter get paid for by
professional musicians.

> "Because our songs are
> better" isn't enough incentive for me. 

It may not be a question of automatically assuming that anything being
bought or sold is more worthwhile than anything being given away.  It
might be more of a case of someone trying to exercise their right to
profit from their work.  That's a right that many artists are happy to
forfeit simply for the sake of getting their music heard, and if they're
happy with that, then that's fine.  If someone ISN'T happy with the idea
of giving away their music, then that's ALSO fine.

Also keep in mind that the mechanics of setting up payment for downloads
is more involved than simply giving them away.  Yeah, everybody on
mp3.com is giving away their music, but mp3.com doesn't offer any means
by which they can sell downloads.  If they *did*, there would definitely
be people using the system.  Even if they charged some sort of fee to
the artist in order to finance the undertaking, people would still use

> Most of the band sites I come across give free one-minute-or-so samples 
> most of their songs, and maybe one or two full-length songs as freebies.
> What's wrong with that?

Nothing's wrong with that.  

But as direct downloading becomes a more and more commonplace means of
distribution (and believe me, it definitely will), you're going to see
people trying to launch careers (not just hobbies) largely through
online means.  As copy protection and sound quality improve, and as
bandwidth and download time increases, you'll see more and more
established artists charging some sort of fee for their work.  

Either that, or else you'll see more and more sponsorship of "free"
downloads or real-time streaming audio by various companies.  You think
paying one or two bucks to download a song is a drag?  Try streaming the
"free" new single by a big-time artist that's bookended by
fifteen-second ads for Pepsi, Levis, McDonald's, or some other sponsor
of choice.  

This isn't just a far-flung possibility -- this is the actual scenario
that was presented to me by a major label A&R representative who I spoke
to about the subject of online distribution a few months ago.  Why
should a label worry about encrypting or protecting a download when they
can set up a streaming-only link that anyone with a palm pilot or laptop
can access 24 hours a day?  

People will enjoy the freedom of being able to hear any song they want
any time they want for gree, and will get used to ads at the beginning
and end of streaming songs the same way they've gotten used to
commercial breaks on network TV or radio, sponsorship posters on artist
tours, and retail outlet co-op ads for new releases.

I don't know about you, but suddenly the idea of coughing up the price
of a soda or cup of coffee for a download that'll be paid directly to
the artist seems like a pretty good idea.  

Bottom line: People who make music for a living need to make a living. 
Money will be collected, if not from sale of the music, than from sale
of advertising surrounding the music.  It's great that hobbyists and
established artists alike are giving away free downloads, but that trend
shouldn't reflect poorly upon those who want to see a concrete return on
their online distribution.