Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Week 3

This is a summary of my thoughts for Gordon’s The Future of the Music Business for Chapters 5, 6, and the websites provided.

Chapter 5

I found it interesting that Gordon included a chapter on music videos at all. My band is releasing an album at the end of this month and I was thinking it would certainly be cool to shoot a music video for our single, but have been second guessing myself wondering if people really watch them anymore or if they even really have an impact on music consumers. It seems the days of MTV and the “Video Killed the Radio Star” generation is over, but perhaps websites like YouTube make music videos a still viable form of music media.

Firstly, I can certainly agree with Gordon’s terminology of “promo videos” rather than “music videos.” In a casual comparison between videos from the 1980s and 90s to the ones now, it seems modern music videos are much more concerned with selling the band and making them look the part rather than being an artistic vision that compliments the music as it was back then. It’s more of a music commercial than it is a music video.

Later in the chapter, I found it odd that iTunes sells music videos. As a Zune user and generally a person that avoids Apple products (for no particular reason), I am not too familiar with iTunes. As previously mentioned, it seems that YouTube is a viable source to watch music videos for free. I can understand wanting to own a song to download onto an mp3 player or to burn, but actually owning a music video seems like a strange practice. Have music videos become a replacement for standard mp3s? Does the audiovisual effect necessitate repeat viewings?

Chapter 6

The information on music compilations was eye-opening. I had never considered that a record company might be reluctant to release a song that might still benefit them. It seems like a bit of a risk to hope that the compilation would renew a listener’s interest in that particular song, which would then lead to he or she purchasing more albums by that artist whose recordings the original label owns. In my experience, local bands will get together to make compilations to generally raise awareness of other bands around town. The bands can each split the cost of pressing and everyone can enjoy new exposure. It’s interesting to see things on a small versus large scale.

The rules of music on film are interesting. The idea that it costs more to play a song during the opening credits rather than in the background makes sense. Many of the songs played at the beginning of James Bond films for example, stick out in my mind. On the other hand, I will oftentimes listen to film soundtracks and not remember hearing even half of the songs during the film. It seems that music on film is a compromise between both recording artist and director: the artist wants exposure but the director does not want to let a song interrupt the flow of his or her film.

I also found MFN costs to be a fascinating negotiation. Between all of the licensing and rules that Gordon has already summarized throughout the first chapters, MFN seems to be one of the more nightmarish to negotiate. MFN essentially means that in a contract with multiple artists, whoever garners the best deal financially, all of the others on the compilation/film/etc. gets the same deal. So if Madonna demands a certain high price to be on a soundtrack, all other artists get paid her fee too unless they decide to drop Madonna off of the soundtrack altogether.

From many of Gordon’s descriptions, it seems that a savvy record label representative can negotiate his or her way around the fees and contracts that the industry is rife with. For example, when he speaks of using songs in commercials, a savvy representative would perhaps track down a lesser known song that is cheaper to license. This way everyone is happy, the artist gets exposure and the commercial has a fitting and hip song for its product. Additionally, Gordon mentioned that MFN costs can be negotiated and avoided depending on when and where a song is played in TV or film. If a song is played only on cable TV in the U.S., Gordon states that this can cut down on costs a bit.

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