Please tell us a little about yourself and your role in the music industry:
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Pete Wentz - that one guy ap.netters would not mind dying in a carcrash.
I apologize for the short answers and typos--I am writing this on a sidekick from freezing Germany.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: I handle publishing rights and licenses for a major label, and consult with a couple indies doing royalties work.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: As Art Director for The Militia Group I work on everything from the album packaging to an albums marketing tools (stickers, posters, ads, etc.). I also operate a studio with a few old college friends of mine that does quite a bit of work for bands and music industry related companies.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: I handle Marketing and Publicity for Hopeless Records and our download site Downloadpunk.com, we have the deepest catalog of independent music, no DRMís, and the songs work with iTunes and all the other players and devices.
Krystal / Moxie Star: I run a music publicity and marketing company called Moxie Star. I work closely with Takeover Records and its roster as well as other bands and labels like Kaddisfly, Small Towns Burn A Little Slower, Cue The Doves, Em Dash Music, etc.
Kelly / AOL Music: Hello hello. I currently graduated from college with a music business degree. After interning with several music companies (Lost Highway Records, UMG Nashville, Fuse TV, Octone Records) I acquired a lot of insight into the business. Most of my time was spent in labels, so thatís where majority of my time was spent. Now, I work for AOL Music working on Grassroots efforts.
Brendan / Atticus: Hi, my name is Brendan and I work for Atticus Clothing. I work with all of our artists in the U.S. as well as help coordinate promotions with our international offices.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: My name is J'Net Nguyen. I'm currently in college majoring in communications and minoring in music. In my free time I enjoy drumming, shopping and eating out. Senior Writer, www.TheMusicEdge.com
Has downloading helped or hurt your career?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Downloading has definitely helped the career of fall out boy. We are a band who was born in dorm rooms and on parents computers. The only reason our record debuted in the top ten on billboard was because of the "new word of mouth" downloading on the internet. Before this, radio and mtv would not touch our band.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: If you are specifically referring to Ďillegalí downloading, it has not really had much of an effect on it at this point.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I think downloading has not had much of an effect on me yet, however it really is one of the biggest threats to my favourite part of an album, the artwork. Eventually if we were to eliminate physical cdís my job would be a lot less creative, and mainly work on marketing the music in whatever form it would be delivered.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: Downloading obviously has hurt sales across the industry, but what the technology has taken away in sales it has made up for in the ability to get smaller bands heard by millions of people cheaply and easily. I feel most people who download music, especially independent music would not have paid for it anyway. Music companies need to figure out how to use the new technology. One way that will not work is by putting DRMs on music, fucking up peopleís computers with sneaky software, and charging $19 for a CD. Most people will pay for music if it is easily accessible and priced fairly.
Krystal / Moxie Star: I would say it has helped because it gets a bandís music out there, which makes the band more recognizable to fans. Itís a form of promotion for the band, and my goal is to promote them as much as possible, so it goes along with what Iím doing.
Kelly / AOL Music: While I have not experienced the personal effects of downloadingÖI believe it has hurt the music industry as a whole. By cutting into album sales, downloading has forced record labels to significantly cut staff and consolidate- lessening jobs in the industry. Also, when the labels are strapped for money, are inclined to take less risks on new artists and the time it takes to develop artists.
Brendan / Atticus: I can't say one way or another.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: It definitely helped by allowing me quick access to every band imaginable, and introduced me to some great bands, which I later wanted to cover for the site.
For those of you who have streamed albums or songs on MySpace/pureVOLUME before the release date of an album, have you seen it help sales any? Do you think the advent of music sites such as these has prevented downloading at all? How have they helped (or hurt) bands?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: I think that it prevents people who I call impulse downloaders. Someone who just sees a band name and decides they want to hear the music to know what its about is going to go to the place where they can do this the fastest, since most bands seem to have myspace accounts I think people check there first. However, people who download music regularly may not be satisfied with simply streaming a song. I think many of us have a drive for ownership and streaming a song isn't enough. I do think that myspace and pv mesh well with many bands own sites and internet communities.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: I havenít seen anything directly linking streaming early to increased sales. I think the advent of these sites has definitely prevented Ďillegalí downloading. Not for everybody but for some people downloading was merely a way to preview bands before going to a show or buying a CD. Now that we can do that without downloading many have stopped downloading. It has helped bands if anything. The ability to make fans instantly without pushing a product to them, and in such an expedient and simple manner has definitely helped them to spread their music.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I think the biggest advantage to streaming the music is giving people the opportunity to decide before they buy if they like it. I understand kids work hard to earn the $15.00 they spend on an album, they should have a way to see if they like it. Personally I find great joy in the random pickup of an album I have never heard a note of, just for some random reason (usually artwork) and it becoming one of my favourites.
At TMG we stream almost every albumís tracks in 30 second clips, and usually offer 3 full songs to preview through e-cards and through sites like ap.net. I think it has helped the sales for these records and definitely given the smaller artists more exposure to people that might not hear of them.
I know a lot of people download illegally to see if they like a record, and while I think you have the right to see if you like it before you buy, that is just another way to attempt to rationalize you breaking the law (how many people actually delete that album that wasnít good enough to purchase?). I will remind people that e-cards, sites like ap.net, iTunes, and even live performances are all great ways to find out if you like a band without breaking the law.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: From a label point of view we have seen a lot of success. We previewed Amber Pacificís full album on Purevolume before street date and a lot of people ended up discovering the band and then buying the CD or downloading from downloadpunk, iTunes, etc.
Krystal / Moxie Star: I think giving people the option to stream the music may have curbed downloading in a way, since it allows people to hear the music for free. It gives the band exposure, and in the case of streaming the album before itís released, itís something the band can do to help promote the release and draw attention to it. In that way, it totally helps bands.
Kelly / AOL Music: I donít have any evidence/experience on sales differences. I would hope that legal streams would discourage downloading by allowing consumers the chance to ďtry before they buyĒ and that they will buy records that they truly like. Also, by freely offering albums for stream, consumers arenít prompted to find the record online and download it.
Brendan / Atticus: It's a double edged sword, if the record is good.. then yes. If no.. well I think you can guess the answer to that. To the second question, no, kids are gonna download if they don't feel like paying for music. And to the third question, I think in the beginning they really helped bands a-lot, its was a great, no risk way of listening to music to help discover new bands. Now since everyone has garage band and an IP address, those sites are totally saturated to the point that it's almost impossible to sift through the mire.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: I truly believe these sites contribute to the increase of sales because they cater to music fans. Kids who seek music are the ones who actually care. They're the ones creating the buzz by hyping an album online or telling their friends. No, they haven't prevented piracy because downloading is cheap and easy. But overall, they help bands, especially indies--through the sale of concert tickets.
What can bands and labels do to prevent albums from leaking early? Or is it desirable, so that thereís some buzz for the album by the time it hits stores?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: I think often early leaks can and have been used to create a buzz on records where there isn't much of one. I also think that leaks can often dispel erroneous thinking about how a record is going to sound-the best way to keep a record from leaking is for no one in the band, management or label to have copies- its inevitable that someone will give it to a friend and it will get out. No one in fob had a copy of our record until it shipped. As soon as you ship or go to factory the record will leak. I also am a fan of putting out files that preview the entire record in a medley under each song title and flooding illegal downloading networks with them... I think a company called "overpeer" does this. Simply, rock bands wait too long between record often in my opinion- keep the fans interested by continually offering updates and demos, let them be a part of the process- they won't then feel the need to find a leak.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: This completely depends on the band and the situation in general. I can think of a situation where a leaked album has caused a good buzz prior to its release date, but also where it has spread so far so quickly it has hurt sales.
Randall / The Militia Group: I think more than being desirable, it is inevitable, it will in fact happen and labels/bands try to look at the positive along with the negative. It does mean exposure, but if there were a guaranteed way to make sure every album could not leak, it would be done.
We have used whatís known as watermarking on a few of our advances, as well as technology that will not allow you to transfer it to a computer and they seem to curtail the leak to a certain point.
Where the leak is bound to happen is once the album is manufactured, or if you donít use protected advances and send it off to the press and retailers. It is quite unfortunate that the majority of albums leaking are because of people who make their living in a business that exists because of the music industry. The same people that have reaped the benefits of this industry are the one who are hurting it in the biggest way.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: I think for smaller bands it is not a big a problem if an album leaks early. Our bands usually grow well past the release date of an album. We try to protect the album, but it is also important to get the album out early so people can talk about it.
Krystal / Moxie Star: Itís tough to completely prevent an album from leaking early if you want some press surrounding its release. Hundreds of promo copies of an album get sent out to various magazines, newspapers and websites before its release, and not to say that these are the people leaking the album, but once it gets mailed out, itís out there and you canít control where it ends up. We purposely leak songs on bandsí PureVolume or MySpace pages to help create buzz, so I think getting a Ďtasteí of the album out there before its release is desirable.
Kelly / AOL Music: The record sees so many hands before it makes its way into market. Also, sending advances to certain parties is a standard in the industry. And, until people are ďhonestĒ and donít put the albums up for downloadingÖ.records will find their way to the internet. Not sure how I feel about the second question.
Brendan / Atticus: Stop giving them to people. It's the only answer. Every case is different, but with IM, peer to peers and iPods, 50,000 kids could have a record in a day if it falls into the wrong hands. To a band that only sells 75,000 records on average that can really hurt them.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: They could stop making promotional copies for the media, or lock the final copy in a safe until the time comes for it to be pressed. I don't think leaking an album early is a good way to create buzz. The anticipation for the album greatly diminishes. There are plenty of other ways to create buzz. That's what publicists, the internet and streetteams are for.
Why do you think sales for major labels have dropped, relatively speaking, in recent years, while it seems that indies have stepped up and become more successful (of course, this is a generalization)? Is downloading the cause of the drop in sales?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Major labels have no idea how to market a record from 0-80,000 copies. Without immediate radio success the labels are lost. This is why major labels have begun cherry picking bands off of indies and doing indie upstream deals. A major label is a giant machine that can sell millions of record but it is a broadsword not a scalpel. Though I think many indie labels are imitating majors with their "throw it against the wall and see what sticks" kind of mentality. I think the indies that have been successful are the ones who have capitalized and worked bands until they broke. "The problem with indie rock labels is that most are not independent, nor do they rock". I see downloading as a symptom of a bloated and saturated industry, not a cause.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: My personal belief is that the last few years have seen another change in the guard of popular music on the independent level, particularly the rock and punk scenes. Whenever that happens, labels that have the ability to move quickly and pursue those artists have a chance to rise and grow. This is similar to what happened with Nirvana and Sub-Pop in the early 90ís. As these independent artist take off they bring up labels that control their early catalogue.
*Also worth noting is that although sales are down at major labels, partly due to downloading, certain genres are affected more than others. For instance, hip-hop is downloaded 3 times as often as it is purchased, where alternative music is at a ratio of about 1.3:1 downloads to sales. As you can see, the labels that focus on hip-hop are going to be more affected than independent rock or punk labels. Country artists are at a 1:1 ratio for downloads to sales.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I think the Indie labels success has more to do with smart spending and planning. Majors have traditionally gone about things one or two ways for every release; they have the established band, and they have the developing band. It seems to me, even on these developing bands, the majors spend way too much, so that the band can never make money of their album.
The system of incubators/up streaming that we see happening is a great situation. A band gets the hands on attention of the Indie while they develop, then proves themselves to a certain level that needs what the Major can offer and they get the support they deserve. If it is a true partnership it can help both labels grow, though sometimes this situation can be used to strip the Indie of its bands and set it back more than advance the Label.
Downloading has obviously caused a drop in sales, but I think over-saturation has had its impact as well. There are more bands than ever, and more smaller labels that are able to get there product into stores to compete with all the other releases.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: People are more connected to underground music. It is more personal. Fans want to support the band and there is a connection between bands, fans, and even labels that is not very common in the major music world.
I canít see a lot of people having a personal connection to The Black Eyed Peas, or 3 Doors Down, Etc.
People into that music just want to have the new hit while it is a hit and once it is past its peak of popularity they no longer listen to it. That kind of music is very disposable. Downloading is perfect for these people because they really donít want the music-they want to be in on whatís hot-and if it can be free then all the better.
Indie music is different people are very connected to bands and labels and will stay with that music for a lifetimeÖ
Krystal / Moxie Star: I did my senior thesis in college on downloading, and I found that there is no significant difference in the amount of money downloaders spend verses non-downloaders on music, meaning they both spend roughly the same amount on CDs in a given amount of time. This indicates that downloading is not the cause of the drop in CD sales. In the case of major label sales dropping, maybe that can be attributed to them signing crappy bands and trying to capitalize on whatís Ďcoolí.
Kelly / AOL Music: I think downloading deserves partial blame for the drop in sales. However, I also believe that a decrease in quality of music, and the shifting mindset of society (i.e. the return to the singles business where buying singles is popular vs. albums). Indies have become more successful due to the increased opportunity for exposure. Majors have long-dominated the industryóboth in distribution and especially in terrestrial radio. The Internet, Satellite Radio, Licensing in shows (ex. O.C.) and other increased opportunities for independent music to get exposure has lead to the boost in popularity and therefore experiencing a boost in sales.
Brendan / Atticus: Big labels usually sign "next big thing" over and over again, trying to keep up with each other and more importantly the kids. In the end they sign 10 of the same band and they end up being way behind what's really happening in music. They also have HUGE overhead and tons of people working for them. I think kids are over being force fed crap all the time. Small labels sign a new never heard of band that has an awesome sound. That particular label may only have one or two people working there but they have thousands of connections, tons of energy to make this band heard and hopefully successful. The biggest difference is that small labels actually believe in what they do for the love of music. Anyone that actually cares about their work is gonna do a better job than some shit-head at a major label who is
there for the money.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: Sales for major labels have dropped due to the internet. People have access to more music. This, in affect, causes them to realize that the stuff on commercial radio is dull and repetitive. It's just there to sell you stuff you don't need. Indies are successful because the image appeals to kids, and the music contains substance. Indie bands don't have an "I'm too good for you" aura, which makes them approachable and genuine. Being genuine is good. People notice that.
Are albums over-priced?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Yes. But that is an oversimplification- labels were in fact underpricing new records in stores down to almost 6.99 to create a swell in sales. This in fact lost record labels more money and forced them to sell higher- there are price points for each record that have to be matched based on the cost of production- overall there are too many middle men-you rarely see bands getting superrich off of cd sales until they are multiplatinum and even then on a major your share in your own record isn't what it should be.
But yes. To the consumer I believe that records are often overpriced or at the least feel overpriced. There is an industry standard and that means everytime you see a record in an end cap or at the counter, the label had to pay for that placement.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: I love it when the same people who go to shows out here in Hollywood pay 10 dollars to park for an hour at a show. Pay ten bucks to get in to the show to see one band their friend is in play a 30 minute showcase. Then pay 7 dollars a beer three times in that same hour and complain that 13 bucks is too much to pay for something that will last you the rest of your life. Most people can associate moments in their life to songs or bands at the time. Thatís worth more to me than a parking spot or an extra shot in the bar. People need to put the price in the context of the rest of the shit they waste their money on.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: Yes and No. I buy a LOT of music at Best Buy, I go almost every Tuesday, so I try to get a record when it first comes out and is on sale. This does not usually work for smaller releases, so I also frequent Fingerprints, an Indie store in Long Beach, to fill the void. Albums the first week of release are generally on sale at either location, so I find fair prices.
Albums are not over-priced if you are in tune with all the new music coming out, which is impossible, or if you are only into the biggest acts that are kept on sale for eternity. For the stuff you missed catching on to, or cannot find on sale then you are going to find some really expensive prices.
All in all it is relative, we donít seem to mind spending $6.00 for some lunch at a fast food place. Isnít a good album worth more to you than 3 lunches?
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: Absolutely! Labels have to cover costs, but they are only encouraging downloads by charging $3-4 over what is a fair price for an album. Most people think downloading should drop the prices because there is no packaging to pay for. There is a savings there, but most of the money is spent on marketing, not packaging.
Krystal / Moxie Star: When Best Buy has a sale where CDs are $7.99, then no, I donít think theyíre overpriced. When CDs are $15.99 or higher, thatís a little steep. A low price gives people incentive to buy and makes them feel theyíre getting more value out of the album, so itís definitely to an indie labelís advantage to try and keep the prices down.
Kelly / AOL Music: There are several costs that go into an album: from the studio costs, mixing costs, equipment costs, mastering costs, packaging costs, etc. therefore the label sells albums to retailers for any range between $10-15. Loss leaders like Best Buy, use music as a way to ďget people in the doorĒ with low priced music in hopes to get the customer to buy an appliance, computer, or larger ticket item. In many cases, they lose money because they sell the CD for much less than they bought it. In the case of independent record storesÖ they are forced to mark up their CDs in order to stay in business. Itís hard to say though. It is a sad thing that people have been able to download music for freeóit gives people a sense that music has no monetary value and that it should be free and that it is okay to download when strapped for cash.
Brendan / Atticus: Hahaha, thatís all relative. How much would you pay for the new Korn record? I'd pay about 10 cents, so yeah as I see it they are over priced.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: $14 for a CD, if you really want it--is not alot.
Do you think the RIAA is handling the file-sharing situation effectively?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: No. They are far too reactionary and archaic. They don't have the money for the lobby it would take to get laws changed. Though as we see newer technology in video downloading and compression things may change as the movie industry does have the money and power to effectively lobby lawmakers.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: They are just trying to make the situation public through Ďshock and aweí tactics. I am not sure whether I agree or not, but it is working for some reason. The problem prior to their lawsuits was that there is a generation of kids that grew up on the internet and had no idea that taking songs was illegal.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I do not at all feel they are. Do I have the solution? No. Something needs to be done that actually educates people. Downloading school, as opposed to a fine?
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: They are only driving more people to download. The music industry needs to figure out how to effectively deliver music to people the way they want it.
Krystal / Moxie Star: Not at all. I donít think suing music fans is going to solve anything. The RIAA is perpetuating the problem by doing this, since it obviously pisses people off and makes them want to retaliate. Suing the people youíre trying to market your music to isnít a very smart thing to do. Technology will always be ahead of the law, and trying to play Ďcatch-upí like this by stepping in and being extreme is ridiculous.
Kelly / AOL Music: No, I donít think suing individuals is very effective. I can see how they justify it- by trying to make an example and set a precedent- but itís not working. I honestly donít know what the best option is- or have a suggestion.
Brendan / Atticus: To their credit I think they are doing all they can, put out a blanket warning about something that IS a law and then target a few people and make examples of them. You know, so many kids get in a huff about this, but itís the fucking law, it says on the CD don't share me, it's illegal. What do they expect to happen?
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: No, blaming their problems solely on downloading is irresponsible. The need to look at the way they conduct business and the system as a whole.
What are your thoughts on DRM (digital rights management), where people are unable to copy music they've purchased (say, for example, they want a copy of the cd in their room and car), etc.? Is it necessary in this day and age?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Ill be honest this is not a topic I know very much about. It seems as though most people downloading and copying music do it for themselves rather than to sell but that is simply my own perception...
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: Itís completely ridiculous. It didnít bother the industry when people made cassette copies for themselves, but now they have an issue with CD copies for personal use. This is just another way of struggling against the obvious technological shift that the industry is unable to keep up with.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I donít think limiting how people can use the music they bought helps either. The whole issue with the rootkit scandal is just ridiculous on how they tried to limit how people could enjoy something they purchased and plan to use legally. I put all the music I buy on my iPod, and really donít listen to the cd more than the drive back from the store, but I still love having the packaging.
I think the way to solve a lot of this is trusting people, but at the same time we have to be trustworthy and not break laws just because we can get away with it. The breakdown is in the moral fiber of people. I posed the question a while ago in a discussion of downloadingÖ If you walked by a mall store after seeing a late movie and realized the door was left open, would you go in and take a few things just to see how they looked on you when you got home?
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: WE have NO DRMs at Download Punk.com!! They Are an extremely short-sided approach. Pissing people off and making it difficult to own music they paid for is only encouraging downloads. People that are into downloading can break all of the DRMs. The only people they are punishing is people that want to buy the music and donít know how to get around itÖThey are pushing these people into the world of illegal downloading as well.
Krystal / Moxie Star: I wouldnít say itís necessary. I think itís unfair to the person who bought the CD if they canít make an additional copy or two for their own personal use. They paid for they CD, they own it now, so they should be able to do what they want with it, even if that means making a copy of it to leave in their car or whatever. CDs are also vulnerable to scratching, so it should be a personís right to make a backup copy of a CD if they so chose.
Kelly / AOL Music: Iím not too well versed in thisÖ but last time I checked, you were allowed 2 copies for yourself when purchasing a CDÖ? Or is it one? Anyway, I think that makes sense in order to increase portability. That is, 2 copies for your own/your householdís use.
Brendan / Atticus: I think it is to an extent. I think iTunes did it right, you can only assign 5 computers to play your songs and only burn a handful of CD's. From what I've heard, those DRM CD's work in some players and not others so it kinda screws you. It'd be cool if they were standardized a bit more. Like get everyone on the same page so to speak.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: I don't agree with it because there is nothing wrong with wanting an extra copy for the car or to give to your little sister. I don't think DRM is necessary. Besides, even with DRM people will seek other ways to copy.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have regarding file-sharing/music piracy?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: That downloading hurts all bands. People in bands and at labels don't download. Downloading only hurts the labels not the bands.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: In my mind the biggest misconception is that musicians that argue to get paid for their music are somehow money driven and in it for the cash. Musicians work harder and devote more time to their particular career than anybody else. Nobody goes to the grocery store and walks out with food because the grocers just love what they are doing. Nobody gets their taxes done for free because their accountant loves math. But everybody wants music for free. If you donít want to support the industry I can understand that, but there are better ways to fight labels than stealing music.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I hear three arguments rationalizing piracy; first being that they just do it to see if an album is good, second that it REALLY doesnít hurt the artist, and lastly that they make up for it by purchasing merch and going to concerts. I covered the first one earlier, but the other two really have to be drilled into people brains by artists themselves.
I think artists are so thankful there music is being listened to at all, they just ignore the fact that it is hurting them a lot. Sure artists make some good money from concerts and merch, but the reason that a lot of artists donít make money off their album is simply because the album isnít selling enough for them to re-coup. That solution is pretty simple, buy the album and they can make money. There are bands that can make money off their albums, if they and the label are responsible in what they spend on the album, it can easily happen. I have seen it done.
Overall I think people have this mentality that they deserve music, like it is air or something. That is a perception that is just so far skewed from reality. If you canít afford something, music, cars, clothes, you cannot and should not have it.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: I guess that it is not hurting anyone.
Krystal / Moxie Star: That bands donít want their music downloaded. There are plenty of bands, mostly indie or unsigned bands of course, who just want their music out there and just want people to listen to it. They want to build a fan base, and giving away your music for free is a great way to do that.
Kelly / AOL Music: That thereís nothing wrong with it. And also that it doesnít affect artists.
Brendan / Atticus: That they shouldn't get in trouble for doing it...dummies.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: That it's bad for the music industry. I think the pros outweigh the cons.
Many people say theyíd rather download albums and then support the artists by attending shows, buying shirts, buying the CDs directly from the band, etc. What are your thoughts on this?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Honestly, I think this is an excuse that people give- if its true then whatever. But to me its very similar to the way every single inmate in prison "didn't commit a crime".
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: I think that is a great idea. The only downside is that if the band doesnít sell any albums, no labels are going to help them put out their next album. Most labels, yes even indies, will look at soundscan numbers before committing any money to marketing a release or signing a new band. In a perfect world the fans would do both.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: Buy the cd from the band, itís one of the cheapest ways, and it puts a smile on their face. I think far too many kids download the record, and then go see them live and think that rationalizes it. I wonder if those kids would sneak into the show for free if they could get away with it?
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: Buying CDs from bands on the road is great, along with merch it helps the bands eat and continue touring. Downloading the CD for free robs both the artist and the label of needed income that allows these bands to exist. The amount of support a label gives a new artist is essential and that canít continue unless people buy the music.
A lot of people say that digital music will allow bands to bypass labels in the future, but often times labels really spend time a lot of time and money developing artists. Both Thrice, Avenged Sevenfold, and Amber Pacific took a lot of time, money and development to go along with their talent to achieve a big following.
Krystal / Moxie Star: In a world where CD sales numbers didnít carry so much weight, this wouldnít be so bad. Unfortunately, CD sales mean a lot to a band in this industry, so downloading an album and then going to a show instead of buying the album isnít going to help the band as far as that is concerned. Donít get me wrong though, attending shows and buying a bandís merch are great ways to support a band, so itís definitely better than not supporting them at all.
Kelly / AOL Music: Well honestly, touring and licensing are the top ways that artists make money. So in that regard, I agree. However, buying records is still important, this day in age. The model is starting to shift with the ability to buy music independently on the internetÖ but for those artists who sign to major labels, their future is affected. Whether they write their own material or not, or whether or not they hold their own publishing rights or not, with the current state of the record business, labels are less likely to take a chance on developing artists. For example, if an album isnít a retail success, the artist may be dropped, etc. Going to shows, buying merchandise are also very important ways to support artists.
Brendan / Atticus: Well to be honest I wholeheartedly agree, if you buy a tee the money goes right to the artist along with an awesome profit margin that allows them to go to the next city to play another show, and more importantly eat food. For the most part I'm not sure that many bands at the level we work with ever make enough money on their records to recoup the recording costs so buying the record really supports the label more than the band. However, without the label putting out said record we may never have heard of Johnny and the Tight Pants Bandits. So it's good to buy the CD too.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: I agree with this. Bands pocket more money this way. I'd rather have my earnings go to a band I admire than towards the purchase of some greedy executive's 3rd yacht. I mean, it's essential that labels make a profit, but 99% of the time I don't think they're fair to the artists.
What do you think of the rise of such services as iTunes and Napster?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Itunes is a strange situation. Steve jobs is a smart guy and a bunch of labels have found themselves in a situation where they bought into itunes and then realized they wanted to make pricing subjective for certain artists- steve jobs is not willing to budge- this means "oops I did it again" costs the same as "hammersmashed face" by cannibal corpse. Whatever you think of the price the concept that record labels can't establish price points is kind of ridiculous but this is the deal that many labels made... Itunes is a very complicated situation for bands and labels- but being on the itunes top ten can be very valuable for bands. And many bands will see platinumn download plaques and never come near a million records sold- in the future. Napster in my mind is a dinosaur- but again I don't know much about it. Itunes lapped it as well as other networks like "aquisition" stayed under the radar and beat it.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: They are great. It is another way to level the playing field for independent music, which by default raises the level of creativity in the music business. This also allows music fans to check out new music without forcing them into a full album. It gives the consumer the power back to decide what they are going to buy, with lower financial risk.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I love iTunes, love it. I do wish there was some way to include the art that was as cool as packaging for an album, but at the same time I hope there never will be.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: I think most of these sites are essentially the new music stores. Itunes is like a Best Buy of Wal-Mart. We see Download Punk as a virtual indie-shop. You can go there to find all your favorite music, but you also will find a lot of music that the other stores have never heard of and you can learn about new upcoming bands while you are there.
Krystal / Moxie Star: I think theyíre great ways for people to purchase music online. This allows for the opportunity to purchase single songs at a time verses an entire album. It letís people buy the songs they like and not have to pay for a bunch of songs they donít like, which might be one reason why some people download in the first place.
Kelly / AOL Music: Itís the future. These services are bringing back the notion of a ďsinglesĒ business, when full albums arenít necessarily what consumers want. Personally, Iím such a sucker for physical product (especially vinyl) so I have a hard time utilizing these services. However, I do use iTunes when I want to purchase one song that I would never buy the full album of---like a guilty pleasure Destinyís Child song or something
Brendan / Atticus: I use itunes about 3 or 4 times a week, so I'd have to say I love it.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: It's a great way to discover new music.
Do you think we will ever switch over completely to consuming music digitally? Or is there something special about record shops, holding the CD in your hands, etc, that can't be replaced?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: I don't think we are ready to yet. We as human beings still want the things we buy to have some kind of tangible quality in my opinion. As ipod culture gets bigger and bigger there will be new ways to buy music in stores and online and possibly at some point we will switch formats completely but I don't see it in the very near future.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: This is similar in my mind to Vinyl. I think the overwhelming majority of music is going to go completely digital. For the rest of us that like artwork and products in physical form there will be some available. It just wonít be the major emphasis of the industry.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: There is something magical about going to a store searching for something new, or something you have been anticipating, and putting it in the player for the drive home. You can never replace that.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: It will probably go heavily to downloads eventually because it is so easy and the quality is getting better, but physical packaging will never die, CDs may be replaced just like Lps, cassests, etc, but some people will always want something physical to hold.
There is something special about indie shops but unfortunately Best Buy and other big chains have really pushed a lot of them out. The best part about an indie shop always was talking to the employees and finding out about new music. Thatís what we try to do at Download Punk. Fans also have a lot more access to info on new bands now through sites like AP.net.
Krystal / Moxie Star: To me, it seems there will always be a Ďphysicalí part to music. People like looking through a CDís insert, and the artwork projects an image of the band that canít be seen in digital music. To have an entire package for an album, there needs to be that visual component. I envision a time where weíll walk in the store and pick up an album that will be packaged similarly to a CD, but contain a memory stick or memory card with digital music files on it instead of a disc.
Kelly / AOL Music: Ha you read my mind. Already addressed this a bit. There is definitely something with physical product. However, I believe that I am just a weirdo. When looking at the selling trends of iPods, MP3 players in general, and digital tracks, I am forced to reevaluate my opinion. Do I think that product will shift to mainly digital? Yes. Am I personally excited about this? No. However, majority of the universe does not get excited about the disc, record, cover art, etc. as I do.
Brendan / Atticus: You can't replace that feeling of opening a new CD and going through the booklet. That feeling is amazing. I can't see how we'll ever switch over 100%...
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: I think in time, as technology keeps progressing, it will happen. Record shops and holding onto the actual CD is indeed special, but I think people's values will change as the culture becomes even more fast-paced.
Is it ever alright to download songs that bands/labels havenít made available? In other words, are there ever any circumstances under which illegal downloading is acceptable?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: The two situations that I download music in are: if the music is a guilty pleasure of mine- ie, there is no way I would ever purchase the cd but a single might be just cheesy or hilarious enough for me to want to listen. Or to get music that I am sure I am going to buy anyway, but to possibly get it early.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: The only way I can see it being acceptable is in a case where an album is out of print or just plain impossible to find. Most independent music is being streamed somewhere online at this point, so permanently downloading music is no longer a viable excuse for checking out new music. If you like what you stream, buy it.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: I think bootleg live stuff is really benefited from the peer to peer networks we have. This has been something that has gone on for years by trading tapes and whatnot, and now can really be one of the plus sides to all this technology. I donít know any bands that are against bootlegs of live shows.
Demos are another interesting discussion and the decision should be up to the band, a lot of times they want it heard, sometimes they donít. I enjoy hearing demos of a record and hearing how it comes along, it is nice when a band can provide this for you (the way JEW did with the deluxe version of Futures).
I think this all falls under the gray area of what is and isnít illegal downloading, because to my knowledge both of those situations I presented (if having the bands blessing) would be legal.
I do believe there is benefit in burning someone a copy, or sending a friend an album on IM (especially for developing bands). I know this sounds kind of hypocritical with all I have said, but I think there is responsible file sharing. This is still illegal, and I donít recommend it, but when you are sending it to one person at least you know where it is going, and who is getting it. You can also give that friend shit about not buying the bands next record once they get into them.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: It is cool that fans love certain bands so much that the will search out unreleased and rare tracks and albums. It technically is still stealing, but that is not really the source of the problem. Die-hard fans seeking rare music are not hurting the industry.
Krystal / Moxie Star: I donít want to condone illegal downloading, but it may be acceptable for super fans to download b-sides, live bootlegs or demo versions of songs. These kinds of songs are one reason why people download; they want this kind of exclusive or rare material that isnít available anywhere else. Since thereís no way to buy this music (and there most likely wonít be in the future), it doesnít really harm the bands or labels in any way.
Brendan / Atticus: No, unless the band/management/label has made it available to you prior to the release it shouldn't be shared.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: It's alright because you won't be able to find it anywhere else.
What solutions do you have for all this (that is, if you're against it)?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: I think labels need to rethink how they market and promote bands. Bands need to take less time between records. If you look at all of the iconic bands 20 or 30 years ago- the output of music and record they made is astounding compared to artists that take 2 to 3 years between records. Bands need to make more than just 1 or 2 singles and a bunch of throwaway tracks. I think bands should be intimately involved in the packaging and art. We need to go back to the music business not the bssiness of music. We need to stop persecuting downloaders and behaving in reactionary ways. We need to find ways to rather harness these new ideas of the consumption of music. We need to find a way to excite those that are disenfranchised by commercial radio and mtv and get them involved again.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: I donít really have a solution other than education of the general public. Kids are going to take music no matter what. If downloading were a reality when I was in high school, you bet your ass I would have downloaded everything I could find. Now I have a job, some money to support music and the ability to find almost everything I need it isnít necessary for me to steal it. I think as people realize that by taking music they are killing the industry that brings that music to them in such an available manner they will back off. The people that want to steal it and claim Ďfuck the record businessí will always steal. They always have and they will never outgrow that mentality, so why try to fight them.
Randall Jenkins / The Miliita Group: Ideally I think the only true way to control it all is a system much like iTunes uses, where the music is registered to you. You can use it any unlimited way you want as long as you are using it. However if someone else has a copy that is registered to you, then there is an issue. I think this is pretty much impossible to pull off, but maybe if we all put microchips into our foreheads or something.
Aside from that, it is all about responsibility, mostly personal responsibility. If you want to spread the word of a band do so in a positive way, go on message boards, take your friends to their shows, Im even okay with you making a copy for your friend. But having music floating all over the Internet at anyoneís disposal makes it like porn, and thatís just disgusting.
Bands should take a stand more, donít go all Metallica on people, but donít encourage it either. If you as a band truly donít care if people get your music for free, next time your record deal is up, donít sign a new one, just record on your own dime and release it to everyone for free.
Krystal / Moxie Star: I wouldnít say Iím against downloading, but I think a solution would be to make music affordable enough that there isnít much of a reason to download in the first place. Maybe offering some kind of bonus with CD purchases (like free/discounted merch, signed poster, etc.) would also give more incentive to purchase instead of download. Kids donít want to Ďstealí from their favorite artists, they just want to hear and enjoy the music without having to shell out $15+ for a CD.
Kelly / AOL Music: Gosh, I donít know. If there were a viable solution out there that has been thought ofÖ then it would already be helping. But so far, nada. Suing unknowing individuals and all that rootkit crap isnít the way to approach though.
Brendan / Atticus: Keep it under lock and key, its the only 100% safe way to ensure it doesn't get out.
Have you ever downloaded music (be honest!)? If so, why?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Yes. See above.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: No.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: In all honesty yes I have. There have been a few things I just have not been able to find in a store that I really want, usually older stuff that is out of print. I generally avoid the whole mass p2p thing. There have been a few times I have gotten an album before release imíed over to me, or got my hands on an advance copy (one not sent to me). If I get an album this way, it is usually something I am anticipating a lot, and always buy it on release day. ALWAYS!
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: I get a lot of music sent to me and we have virtually everything you could want to listen to here at Download Punk. If it is older stuff that I want I buy the CD because I like packaging and Art and Lyrics. I donít download music-legally or illegally, but I am connected closely to most of the music I really like so I donít need to that much.
Krystal / Moxie Star: Like the vast majority of music lovers under the age of 30, yes I have downloaded music. PureVolume.com owns, Iím not gonna lie. The main reason I download is to check out a new band or new songs, and if I like what I hear, Iíll go pick up the CD. Itís like trying on clothes before you buy them.
Kelly / AOL Music: Illegally? Yes. But at the time I didnít know any better. However, as my schooling progressed (music business degree) and I learned the repercussions of it all, I stopped. Especially as I am trying to pursue a career in the industry, I felt it necessary to support it at all costs.
Brendan / Atticus: Yes, most often I get music over IM for me to hear because the band/label/management wants me to hear a band as a way of introducing them to Atticus.
JíNet Nguyen / TheMusicEdge.com: Yes, I wanted to see for myself if a band I heard about would live up to my expectations. Another reason was that I knew for a fact I would never buy the band's
album (even if downloading ceased to exist). I was only interested in a few specific songs. Hey, it's better to be heard than not heard at all.
Is there anything else youíd like to say about file sharing? Anything youíd like to say to the readers of ap.net in general?
Pete Wentz / Fall Out Boy: Again I apologize for all of the typos due to writing this on my sidekick.
Leo Ferrante / Interscope/Geffen/A&M: I guess I would just try to remind people to take every situation one at a time and put in into context. When the price of a bag of weed is more than a CD and you choose to get high for a weekend, remember how much that bag meant to you as opposed to a CD that could change your life. When you are taking music illegally, try to remind yourself that the label, in the end, will find a way to make the artist take the hit for that. Thatís why they are in business, to avoid loss. So you are only taking from musicians you respect. There are better and more creative ways to bring about change in our industry.
Randall Jenkins / The Militia Group: Just truly think things through. If you are okay with knowing you break the law and do something wrong, download. Please own up to it though, donít claim to be helping a bands career.
Ian Harrison / Hopeless Records: Go to downloadpunk.com we have all you favorite stuff with no DRMs. Our song are compatible with every player and device and the prices are fair.
Krystal / Moxie Star: Iíve done plenty of research on this topic in school, and my findings showed that downloaders spend virtually the same on music and music related purchases (merch, shows, etc.) as non-downloaders, so this indicates that downloading doesnít hurt CD sales, and in turn doesnít boost merch or ticket sales. It seems the RIAA likes to point fingers though, so as long as CD sales are low, the downloaders will be to blame.
Anyone who wants to read my thesis on downloading can feel free to email me at email@example.com and request a copy.
Kelly / AOL Music: I think thatís it!
Brendan / Atticus: I think I covered all my thoughts, thanks to everyone at AP for their support of Atticus, we'd be nothing without you guys!!!
Well done all, I think this was one of the best articles ever posted on this website. Pete Wentz came across as extremely intellegent and I think those that reading this (should) have a completely different outlook on the man.
All the other responders also did an amazing job at showing different sides from different portions of the industry.
Well done all, Rohan has once again made me look smart by hiring him.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this event. I am very pleased at the outcome; we should do more things like this in the future.
I agree, this was a great read. I, too, was pleasantly suprised by Mr. Wentz as well as the other panel members.
Tate/Rohan: I'd be interested to read the same sort of thing, but with the panel being interactive so that they could discuss the issues at real time. Just a suggestion, hope you read this.
I was definitely thinking about that (Randall at TMG and I were talking about it)... I'd definitely like to do that sometime soon. It'd def be tough to get all these people here at the same time, but it could be really cool. I'd love to start a thread and lock it except for the responders, but I don't know if that's possible...
I was definitely thinking about that (Randall at TMG and I were talking about it)... I'd definitely like to do that sometime soon. It'd def be tough to get all these people here at the same time, but it could be really cool. I'd love to start a thread and lock it except for the responders, but I don't know if that's possible...
I think that'd be possible. It was done all the time with the weekly political threads with Cal and Paul (I believe it was Paul), wasn't it?
I download music to check out if I like the band or not. Those 30 second clips or the 3 to 4 singles that they release is not enough to make me buy the cd.
I have heard albums where the singles that they released were the only good songs on the albums. It pisses me off. I have to check out the whole cd first, or be a longtime fan of the band to buy the cd without having the listen to the whole thing.