iPods filled mostly with Ripped music
A research press release by ICM/Napster finds that:
1) UK owners of MP3 players only fill them to 58% capacity.
2) 16% of UK adults own such a device and 60% of those bought their players in the last year.
3) 66% of music on players is ripped from CDs, 10% is copied from friends and 17% is downloaded legally while 6% is downloaded illegally.
4) The benefits of devices are listed by consumers as follows: convenience (43%), portability (42%) and ease of use (18%)
What's most interesting to me is #3, showing that CD purchases are being used as the main source of mp3-player music. My guess is that as long as DRM and low quality, and the if-you-lose-your-download-that's-too-bad policy of online stores continue, CDs will continue being the preferred way of getting music for your iPod.
I've found at Magnatune that the majority of people who buy a CD also take us up on our offer to "download the music now while you wait for your CD"
Major label executive doesn't like being called evilMy wife Jan and I run Magnatune, and she tends to speak her mind. A major label executive stopped by our booth and chatted with Jan (I was off somewhere at the time). The conversation they had is both humorous and enlightening, so I asked Jan to type out a transcript of it, and reproduced it below.
Transcript of a conversation at Midem 2004 (in Cannes, France, end-of-January 2004) between Jan Hanford (Mrs. Magnatune) and a major record company executive (who will remain un-named) who noticed our "We are not evil" stand.
Major Label Executive walks up to Magnatune booth:
Exec: (pointing to trade show booth logo) "We are not evil." That's not very nice.
Jan: Why not?
Exec: Well, you're saying we're evil.
Jan: No we're not. Only you can be the judge of that.
Exec: (snicker, frown)
Jan: Depending on how you treat your musicians, you may or may not be evil. How do you treat your musicians?
Exec: Well, I think we treat them pretty good.
Jan: Do they make any money?
Exec: Um… well, you know. It varies from contract to contract.
Jan: You mean that there could be a contract where a musician would not receive any money? That's evil. (giggle)
Exec: (frown) No, it isn't. So you really think this idea of yours will work?
Jan: Yea, we do. Everyone's really excited and many of the musicians are already making money.
Exec: Well, I don't see how this business model can work in the long term.
Jan: From what I read in the press your business model isn't working out too well.
Exec: (smirk) But mergers like BMG and SONY are going to have an impact.
Jan: Oh good, then they can go bankrupt together instead of separately.
Jan: I mean, your whole industry is based on stealing people's music. It's like running a restaurant and not paying the cooks. Eventually you're going to run out of food and then the customers will stop coming. It seems they already have stopped.
Exec: Yea, ha, you're funny. Well, it's been interesting talking to you. I mean it, really interesting. No hard feelings, ok?
Jan: (shaking hands) No problem, have fun at MIDEM.
Victor Stone remixing C Layne & others
Victor Stone, the musician and producer responsible for the Magnatune Remixed project
is working with Magnatune artist C. Layne http://magnatune.com/artists/clayne and he's been producing/re-engineering C. Layne's newest songs with great results.
The thing that's really exciting to me is that C Layne is an incredible song-writer, but lacks polish and music production experience, while Victor is strong both as a producer/remixer, and as a musician in his own right (some of the C Layne tracks are reperformed by Victor to exactly mimic C Layne's original performance but with a cleaner sound).
You can hear his Victor/C-Layne's current works-in-progress at:
Victor tells me that he's started work with the ultra-talented Lisa DeBenedictis http://magnatune.com/artists/debenedictis along similar lines.
This kind of cooperation really excites me, because it's nurturing talented people to develop their art. Music is mostly a nasty, dog-eat-dog business, and I don't think this sort of talent development happens too often. I'm reminded of the 1950's Science Fiction Magazine editors, who honestly engaged their submission authors to help them hone their craft, yielding a flowering in science fiction writing. I'm hoping for a similar outcome in music.
Darin Marshall (aka Belief Systems) visits
He makes all his music in a program called Reason, and he's something of a God at it. He runs his own record label, releasing 12" singles of his music, and that of his friends. Distribution has been hell the past few years, as trends come and go in 3 month waves in the 12" business, and his type of intelligent, interesting, electronic listening music (but still with a beat, he warns me) is just sooooo 2 minutes ago. But hey, it's great music.
Back from MIDEM 2004
We (Magnatune) just got back from the MIDEM 2004 music trade show in Cannes, France, where we exhibited. It's the biggest of the "Big Music Industry" shows, and I was very curious to see how they'd react to the not-evil thing we do.
The show was amazing for us -- we handed out over 3000 compilation disks (all 6 genres were popular, suprisingly), and lots of t-shirts. We had plenty of interest by the International classical press, had many music licensing inquiries (hopefully some of them will come through) and created a lot of buzz (a major label record exec was offended by the "we are not evil" slogan and told us so, but otherwise response was extremely positive).
As you can see from our photographs, the lower floor of midem was like a set from DOOM -- perfect rectangular partitions, a maze, dim lighting, smoke everywhere. The upper floor was roomy, but quieter -- mostly pavilillions representing different countries' music.
Some big items:
We negotiated a deal with www.emusic.com to have our music available on their site to their subscribers. This should produce some revenue, which I'll be splitting with our artists as always.
iTunes et all:
Our music will be distributed through several online stores including iTunes, Rhapsody, the new Napster.com, and others. Again, this should generate more sales revenue, which we'll be splitting with our artists.
We're negotiating to create CDs-on-demand of all our catalog, so that people can receive a perfect-quality CD in the postal mail of any of our music. This is still several months away. I'm trying to get the price to around $4, so it's cheap enough to keep Magnatune CDS less expensive than what you find at a store.
We also talked with other companies about representing our catalog, especially those where we fill significant genre holes in their offerings. Again, this should generate licensing revenue that we split with our artists.
The next conference we will be exhibiting at is SXSW (South by SouthWest) in Austin Texas, on March 12-21st.