How Many More Records Could You Be Selling This Holiday Season If Your Album Wasn’t FREE Streaming?


Adele, Taylor Swift, Beyonce’, Coldplay and more artists are fully understanding the value of not giving away their work for free right out of the gate. This is especially important during the biggest consumer spending season of the year. Why would anyone with a solid fan base and known demand for their work give it away for free during most profitable window of the year? This then begs the question how many more records would you be selling this holiday season if your record was not available on free streaming platforms?

Spotify and other free streaming services should be structured more like Netflix. The film industry understands the value of strategic pricing in the context of time based value propositions. Friday night block buster movies are not available on Netflix at the same time for a good reason.

There has been a lot of good work and innovation by the film industry to create “day and date” titles that are available both in theaters and as video on demand at the time of release. However none of these are made available free to consumer on an advertising supported platform. In fact, all the major film and tv streaming services require payment of some kind, be it subscription (HuluPlus, Netflix, Amazon Prime) or transactional fees for rental or permanent download (Itunes, Amazon, Vudu).

“Or Else They’ll Steal It!”

The only argument that is ever made against the use of windows is that tired old song that they like to sing in Silicon Valley called, “Or Else They’ll Steal It.” The problem is of course, they’re already stealing it, and will continue to steal it until there are real consequences to not do so. But the film and tv industries are not listening to the song of Stockholm Syndrome. Instead the film and tv industries continue to innovate and experiment with new windows, digital distribution models and competitive pricing based on the new value propositions.

Converting consumers from “pirate 2 paid” is dependent upon giving consumers more value and pricing options, not less. If the record industry doubts this for even a split second the proof is expressed in a single word, “vinyl.”

By contrast the record industry has given away valuable profits to tech companies like Spotify who give little in return for the high value products that are being licensed. The ubiquity of distribution on streaming platforms drives the price of all products to zero.

Windowing allows for price elasticity and rewards consumers who are willing to spend more for the premier product or experience. Of course, for windowing to work there has to be a fair and regulated marketplace where artists and rights holders actually can withhold their work from various platforms should they chose to do so.

If we’ve learned anything at all in 2015 it is that YouTube is probably the single greatest threat to the ability of artists and rights holders to have a long term sustainable business. There can be no windows if everything appears on YouTube via User Pirated Content anyway. 

The grand irony here is that in a well controlled and regulated distribution system, it is far more likely that all stakeholders would have the ability to generate greater profits within their sectors. We now have a decade and a half of data behind us while heading towards the second half, of the second decade, of the new millennium. It’s time to for the adults to put an end to play time.  It’s just math and common sense.

Windows work. Period.

Business decisions need to developed through common sense, innovation and time tested principles of basic economics. We’ll repeat our previous suggestion for an industry wide, consistent windowing platform strategy below.

Windowing works better when there is a reasonable amount of consistency. Our friends in the film business have been highly effective at windowing for decades and there’s no reason why it can’t work similarly well for the record business.

Every new release should have the option to determine the release windows when the record is being set up. For example the default could be 0,30,60,90 day option for transactional sales, followed by 0,30,60,90 day option for Subscription Streaming prior to being available for Free Streaming.

Windowing is not new for the record business. The industry has never had pricing ubiquity across all releases, genres and catalogs. There has always been strategic and flexible pricing strategies to differentiate developing artists, hits, mid-line catalog, and deep catalog. An industry wide initiative to re-allign time proven price elasticity is the key to growing the business and developing a broad based sustainable ecosystem for more artists.

  • Windowing allows for Free Streaming to exist as a strategic price point.
  • Windowing allows for Subscription Streaming to exist as a strategic price point.
  • Windowing allows for Transactional Downloads to exist as a strategic price point.
  • Windowing allows for artists and rights holders to determine the best and most mutually beneficial way to engage with their fans.

Windowing is the key (as it always has been) in rebuilding a sustainable and robust professional middle class that will inevitably lead to more artists ascending to the ranks of stars. Some will become superstars and legends capable of creating the types of sales and revenues currently achieved by Adele, Taylor Swift and Beyonce’. To get there however we need to abandon Stockholm Syndrome and embrace windowing that works for everyone.


Google attacked by MPs over failure to curb music and film piracy | The Guardian UK

Company accused of ‘derisory’ attempts to stop many illegal downloads amid concerns over level of influence in coalition

Google will be criticised by MPs for making “derisory” attempts to curb music and film piracy and using its “perceived power and influence” at the heart of David Cameron’s government to shore up its position.

The Commons culture, media and sport select committee accused the search engine of offering the thinnest of excuses to avoid taking action against widespread piracy, a problem that the committee claimed is costing the creative industries millions of pounds in lost revenue a year.

Tory MP John Whittingdale, the chairman of the committee, said his fellow MPs were “unimpressed by Google’s continued failure to stop directing consumers to illegal, copyright infringing material on the flimsy excuse that some of the sites may also host some legal content. The continuing promotion of illegal content through search engines is simply unacceptable, and efforts to stop it have so far been derisory.”


The Lie is Falling – Dr. Price sizes the Piracy Universe | Illusion Of More

In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch (Paul Newman) sits astride his horse outside the same boxcar of the same train he’s successfully robbed over and over.  Frustrated by the railroad owner’s ceaseless but futile attempts to thwart the hold-ups, Butch proclaims, “If he’d just pay me what he’s spending to make me stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him!”  Of course it isn’t true, is it?  Neither the character nor probably the real Butch Cassidy would likely have given up the life he knew for something as boring as just money.

If you wanted to watch this classic film directed by George Roy Hill right now, you could do so on Netflix or Amazon Prime or rent it from iTunes for four bucks. None of these innovations existed just a few years ago, and those who have repeatedly insisted that they “only use pirate sites because affordable, flexible, online alternatives don’t exist” are starting to sound a little dumb.  This is especially true as of yesterday, with the release of a new report by Dr. David Price of London-based NetNames, entitled Sizing the piracy universe.


UnSound : New Film Explores Artists Rights in The Digital Age (Video Clip)

From the forthcoming documentary Unsound: Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph Records founder Brett Gurewitz talks about how large tech corporations make millions of dollars selling advertising- essentially making people the product, without them even realizing. The promise of free or cheap music is often used to draw eyeballs to websites, apps, and social networking platforms, allowing corporations to make large amounts of money from advertising. The public is generally unaware and happy to have free/cheap music, corporations make tons of money from advertising, but how is the musician benefiting from this?


Unsound uncovers the dramatic collapse of the music industry and its impact on musicians and creators of all kinds trying to survive in the ‘age of free’.

Facebook Communities For Artists Rights

The Trichordist links through to FarePlay on Facebook  from the blog and there are also these other communities. Please support all of these pages and let us know if there are more.







The Trichordist Random Reader Weekly News & Links Sun Jun 17

Grab the Coffee!

This past weeks posts on The Trichordist:
* The Wall Of Shame Continues…
* CopyLike.Org – Pay Creators Like You Pay Everyone Else
* FarePlay.Org – An Open Letter
* Launch & Iterate, Google’s Permissionless Innovation
* Google Launches “Hot Trends”, The Pirate Bay Tops News Items…
* Artists Deserve To Be Compensated For Their Work by Mark Isham (Guest Post)

The biggest story of the week is no doubt the Pro-Creator/Copyright win in the court of public opinion which has the pro-piracy crowd tongue tied. Oatmeal Versus FunnyJunk is no doubt a case study for creators when looking at the illegal exploitation of their work. We applaud Matt Inman for turning the tables on those illegally exploiting his work in such a profound way. There’s much to be found on the Web this week about this story, and it deserves it’s own in depth post, until then this brief overview from Copyhype is our favorite:

21 Cents per stream? We’re watching this one with interest. New music streaming service Arena says, “101 Distribution has announced the launch of 101 Arena, the first and only free streaming music service to pay 100 percent of all advertising revenue generated directly to artists and film makers.” To put this in perspective, Spotify is only paying out .005 Cents per Stream according to most published accounts. More info at this link from PR Newswire:

Independent film distributor Kathy Wolf has launched a legal and legitimate online movie distribution and sharing platform. We’re always excited to see new models evolve that respond to the marketplace while respecting creators rights. The Huffington Post Reports:

Here’s a fun little post we found from Moses Avalon this week following a panel at the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association Summit. Nice plugs for both Robert Levine’s “Free Ride” and David Lowery’s “New Boss / Old Boss”. More here on the StumbleUpon Blog of Moses Avalon:

There is a lot of debate over how search engines operate, including the filtering and ranking of search returns. The way search engines operate is suggested to effect everything from consumer choices to the aiding in the illegal exploitation of copyrighted works, SearchEngineLand.Com reports:

Think Social Media is a game changer? Maybe… Digital Music News Reports 93% of Americans still listen to Broadcast Radio…

Will Apple, Amazon and Google own .Love and .Music? Forbes is calling it the greatest land grab in history as tech and internet companies battle for the next generation of root level domain addresses.

One of our favorite thinkers, Jaron Lanier gave a fantastic speech at the Personal Democracy Forum titled, “How to Not Create a New Cyber Plutocracy.” You can read more about Jaron and the Personal Democracy Forum at the link below, the YouTube video of his talk follows.



The Paradox of Pirate Logic : Music Versus Music Software – Part 2

by Chris Whitten
(Copyright in the Author, Posted with Permission)

Entertainment pirates cite what they see as false barriers to access as a major factor driving them to pirate sites.

So is music software easy and convenient to obtain? The answer surely has to be yes. Most music software is available for instant download. Some music software can even be used immediately as a demo without payment.

I was working on some music a few months ago and realized late one night I needed a certain FM synth sound resembling a Yamaha DX7. Not having the keyboard to hand, I went to Native Instrument’s webshop, bought and downloaded FM8, a virtual instrument based on similar architecture to the DX7. Granted it’s quite a large program and I have a basic broadband connection, but I was using FM8 in my project about one hour later.

By the way, FM8 cost me a fraction of the original price DX7’s sold for in the early 80’s. And smaller programs like plug-in EQ’s and compressors are much quicker to download and even with anti-piracy security, you can be using them within minutes. Modern musicians are drawn to music software exactly because it is cheap and convenient.

Music pirates claim digital music has no value.                                                                                  

 MP3’s for example are just ‘1’s and 0’s’ that can be infinitely reproduced at zero cost. Well then I guess digital music software is the same, just 1’s and 0’s, something that can be copied endlessly at no cost. Music pirates say they expect free digital music because it is free to produce, but they will support music by buying concert tickets, which directly fund true performance.

If you superimpose this claim on to music software, the logic falls apart immediately. Would the people who pirate EZdrummer be likely to pay $40 to see EZdrummer live on tour? What form would that tour take? I’m imagining a ‘technerd’ onstage for 12 hours coding the software, or maybe 12 hours of me sampling drums, one drum hit at a time, both of which are akin to paying good money to watch paint dry. What about merchandising? Well I must admit there are some cool Ableton Live t-shirts, but I still feel it’s the incredible music tool I should be valuing, not a Hanes in XL.

And what about the zero cost of reproducing the product indefinitely? Well I don’t agree with that either. Music software has to be maintained, developed and supported full time by a team of workers. Like many things these days, customers demand answers within hours of contact, even if they’ve emailed their query at midnight on Easter Sunday.

Then there is the initial investment in the creation of the software. If a hobbyist doesn’t count their man hours, a basic software plug-in like a softsynth, or compressor can be produced at low or no cost – but only IF they don’t count their man hours. However, sample based music software is much more costly to produce. For example, my most recent EZdrummer sample pack was recorded over four days at a commercial studio in New Jersey. I don’t live in New Jersey, the recording engineer doesn’t live in New Jersey, the Toontrack production team don’t live in New Jersey. My drums and cymbals aren’t located in New Jersey.

So why work there? Well because it was the right studio for the product we wanted to create. But let’s be clear: the costs involved are significant. To produce the included midi content alone, I recorded my own v-drum performances over two days. Then I spent two weeks, working ten hour days editing that midi. So again, are we working for free, for the ‘fun’ of it, or is it a job, or better still a career? The answer according to the pirates is it’s up to me to decide, but don’t expect to be paid. They say if I don’t like the work conditions and lack of pay, someone else will, or at least be more flexible and accepting than me.

But there are no free equivalents to EZdrummer. Why? Because it costs a lot of money to record several drum kits over several days in a decent recording studio, and hobbyists, or the free software evangelicals, aren’t prepared to spend that kind of money, or work that hard, then give away the end product without recompense.  So I guess you can argue that digital copying is zero cost, but when people pirate music software, they aren’t just taking 1’s and 0’s without payment, they aren’t ‘paying back’ by contributing anything towards the production cost of the original product.

Put another way, our first EZdrummer customer could pay $25,000, then all subsequent customers could take it without payment. More fairly however, I’d suggest the first customer and every customer subsequently should pay the same small share towards the production costs, say $39.99?

Entertainment pirates claim Hollywood and the music industry have failed to innovate and failed to listen to their customers.

They go on to state they’ll pay for movies and music if the content industries offer “a good product at a fair price, while making it convenient and easy to obtain”.

Meanwhile, the music software industry has responded to customer demands. While continuously improving their products, they’ve priced them competitively and fairly, many producers encouraging customers to audition products freely first. Almost all music software is available for instant download, wherever you are and at whatever time of the day or night.

Those customers who buy their music software are funding new ideas from young innovators and entrepreneurs directly, not giving money to middlemen who keep most of it for themselves while passing on a pittance to the creative employees, as is claimed happens in the music industry.

And yet music software products like Live (Ableton), EZdrummer (Toontrack), FM8 (Native Instruments) and Omnisphere (Spectrasonics) all appear on unauthorized file sharing sites for people to download without paying. Are the pirates therefore sincere in their promise to buy if the product is right and the price is fair, or is the only ‘fair’ price no price?