Some thoughts on how MP3 is helping record sales based on how I, as a consumer, work.
I’ve noticed an increase in the need-to-buy list of records that we have. And none of this would have taken place if it wasn’t for MP3 previews of artists music on their websites. We’ve lately added such smaller, yet relatively unknown Finnish bands such as For My Pain, Twilighting, and Korpiklaani to our list. All of their albums are something we will buy, sooner or later. But one band that has suffered from not having MP3 previes on their site is Rautakello, who lost their record deal after their first record had dismal sales.
The problem with Rautakello in our case was that the album looked interesting, but since we couldn’t hear what kind of music they played, we didn’t make the decision to buy the record. I know that our single purchase wouldn’t have done much to save their record deal, but who knows how many others have refrained from buying it for the same reason. Luckily you can listen to their latest songs at mikseri.net (in Finnish only).
We are both quite picky in the music we are willing to invest in. Paying ~20 € for a recent release makes you wary of what you’re buying. Alas, in such a small country as Finland, especially in the Eastern reaches, the radio channels we get are playlist controlled. Smaller artists, especially metal ones, have a hard time getting on those lists. So, delivering samples of their music via the web is the way to go if they want any free publicity.
I’d like to see some real statistics on how record sales have really been impacted by file sharing etc. After all, lately the TV ads advertising records have increased from what they were five years ago. If record sales are getting worse one would think that TV ads would be the first expense that would be removed. A study on how having samples of an artists music on the net has impacted record sales would be beneficial if we are to fight against various idiotic DRM solutions. Copyright law is quite clear in this case (at least in Finland): I have a right to make copies of artists work for my own personal use. So if I buy a CD I must be able to make a copy of it for my own use.
Another way in which MP3s have increased my spending in music is the fact that I listen to music much more now than before I had a sensible way (read powerful enough computer and speakers) to listen to music while working/studying. After all, why would I (or anyone else for that matter) want to shell out various sums of money for something that sits unused? I know that most of us probably have too much clutter in our homes, but very few can offer to spend without any thought of what is being purchased. In the last two years I’ve bought more albums than in the preceding five or so. Simply because I listen to music much more now. And an MP3 player in the car will just help matters…
On a side note, I was amused to see that Blackmore’s Night has made a cover of Wish You Were Here by the Rednex. Umm, a great man of metal covering a Swedish humour group? Where is the world going to? But seriously, it is the best song of theirs that was played (and still is). The real reason why I was looking into Blackmore’s Night in the first place was that I’d seen their album in a local store and wanted to find out what the music was like. I know that I won’t be paying full price for it, but from a discount basket sometime, who knows?
And a final plug. This entry has mainly been written while listening to Rammstein’s latest ‘Reise, Reise.’ Its single Amerika kept playing in my head so we had to go get it Friday night. And what was the first thing I did? Listen to it? No, rip it into MP3s. Now I can listen to it at home and work and not worry about the physical medium (which sits safely in our shelf).