A thousand people walking / everybody talking
There’s a set of data that shows that file sharing is actually good for artists
So says Douglas Merrill, Google’s former Chief of Information, who is now running EMI’s digital division.
Ahhhh – wow – haven’t a bunch of folks been saying that for years. It’s hardly a groundbreaking revelation to many of us. Common sense tells us this – we don’t need research to tell us this surely. Artists are all about currency. Sure it’s a fine balancing act but the reason Michael Jackson and The Beatles and Elvis were so huge is simply because they existed beyond the record store. Their currency as artists, and as figures in popular culture, and thus their revenue earning ability, came from the fact that they had a momentum that was not absolutely subject to whatever ads the record label put in the magazines or however many copies they’d sold. They sold because of that popular momentum, not the other way around.
And in a similar way, mass pickup and exposure via P2p implies a validity and a momentum in itself and to attempt to translate those downloads to lost sales is simply to miss the point.
Artists and their managers should be over the moon that their tracks are being shared and encouraging that.
I suggested to a label a year back that a band should give away 10,000 copies of their hottest track – hand it out at schools on a CD. If one in ten of those makes it onto an iPod or a Zen, it worked. And then launch the single on Limewire – complete with ‘new single out now’ advertising. This was a year before Radiohead. It met with blank uncomprehending stares.
Maybe, just maybe, one of the labels is finally getting it.