Want to figure out what’s up with the confusing claims of piracy and whether your overpriced CDs go to fund new artists? You can do little better than reading this Register piece about Fiona Apple’s new album–or lack thereof. Seems a new album has been created and finished for some time, but Sony, her label, won’t release it.
Thanks to the world of P2P filesharing, some people have heard it. So, el Reg asks, why not just put it online where there is zero marginal (per-sale) cost to the record company, and every download is pure profit? Because their heads are far, far embedded in their digestive tracts and can’t conceive of a world where marketing doesn’t surround collections of songs sold on physical media–and because promoting physical media well enough for it to be profitable is so hard, they try like hell to follow whatever the latest trend is in each subgenre…in this case, female singer-songwriters.
Additionally, the online material they want to put out is the most-heavily-downloaded: the back catalog. I mean, what is Fiona Apple really going to do when competing with Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez? Actually, she’ll probably do quite well as the per-unit cost to the consumer is so low they can afford to take a sampling from many artists as opposed to being forced into betting larger sums of money that they’ll like enough music from a single artist’s CD to make up for the 15x higher purchase price.
But the recording industry doesn’t understand that, which is why they spend their time quaking in their boots about online file sharing rather than on figuring out how to market in the first decade of the 21st century–which is half over.