All of this has been on my mind for a while and after reading numerous blogs and tweets from artists with ‘Pay what you want’ I have been finally tempted to put it in writing after reading ‘Give it away, now?’ by Nick Tann
I understand the independent artists wanting to make their music available to as many people as they can via a ‘Pay what you want’ option, but I really do question if it’s a good idea in the way that is currently being used.
I can’t help it……….it’s how my head works!
The reality is that if you have tracks on your own website, music hosting websites or sites like ‘Jango’ or ‘Spotify’ the tracks can easily be captured, saved or recorded using various free software applications.
Depending on the website the music is hosted on and how the website is set up, if you know how to look around the internal folder systems of your computer, some of the music may just be sitting there waiting for you to look for it already after you’ve listened to it.
Ok, there are is possibly going to be quality differences between the ‘captured’ audio and the purchased options, which does give an argument for having the better quality paid for audio files as long as you can back this up on your website with the technical data.
I have yet to see any type of survey that asks how the audience listens to music, I’ve searched if they exist they don’t make themselves easy to find!
Without the knowledge of how an audience ‘hears’ the end product, it’s hard to know if they can tell the difference of different quality mps or other audio file formats.
You see, the way I look at things is that if the large part of the audience listens to the music through small laptop speakers then they will probably be happy with 128 kbps mp3s that are easily saved and captured from any website that ‘streams’ music.
Why would they bother to sign up to a mailing list when they just want to listen to a couple of tracks when it is so much easier to downlaod and install some free software and hit the ‘record’ button as they wander around the internet!.
Ok, I apologise for this not being very 'artist' friendly, but I am on your side.
Most artists like the idea of having a big mailing list regardless of how relevant the number of true fans it contains. We also live in a world with everything based upon statistics and knowing how many downloads for a track, free or paid, is far better then knowing how many ‘plays’ that might also include an unknown number of ‘captures’ or ‘records’.
Some people think that a 128 kbps mp3 sounds great on an ipod, others think a 320 kbps mp sounds rubbish on an ipod.
Personal experience tells me that when I listen to streamed music on my laptop speakers, plug the laptop audio into my stereo system or my home cinema sound system, it will sound different each time, although it is always the same quality signal.
I’ve got over 35 years of working in audio/media production so my ears are ‘tuned in’ and I can’t always tell the difference of different file formats and bitrates.
I know it may not be such a big deal to most people, but if independent artists gave away 128 kbps mps and sold 256 kbps* then maybe they could sell a few more tracks.
It’s just about making your audience aware that there ‘is’ a difference in the quality and not just saying ‘Have it free or pay if you want to!’
It will always be personal choice based upon the listeners experience and preferences, but it might just give an extra ‘edge’ in the reason for the purchased option.
*We don’t need 320kbps http://www.mp3-tech.org/tests/gb/index.html