Stop me if you've heard this one before...

The manager of top singer-songwriter Bic Runga says eight of his "high-profile" and "major" New Zealand artists have been forced to take second jobs as illegal digital downloads kill the music industry.


Music industry representatives said digital downloads of songs were the future of the business and they embraced that change, but only if the artists' intellectual property rights were adequately protected.

NZ Herald

the people speak - read the Herald Articles user generated comments here

and El Sids very good response

Many of the comments in the herald are wildly inaccurate the numbers don't matter, nor does the fact most people who think they know how the music industry works actually wouldn't have a clue - you don't learn that stuff from MTV or the modern day version of Rip It Up.... the sentiments are blindingly obvious and have been so for a very very long time - perhaps they have something to do with the decline (freefall) of sales in todays marketplace...

It doesn't matter that your average consumer of music, or is that previous consumer, doesn't understand the full machinations of the music industry, they know enough.

They feel that prices for CDs are too high

They feel that artists are being 'ripped' off by the music labels

They don't think much of our overly touted local music stars

And you know, they are right on all counts, maybe the reasoning and logic isn't always correct. Yet simply put the tiny minority of the public (12% of the population traditionally brought music), who previously brought CDs don't see the need to anymore - for simply you are a mug if you purchase ALL your music or even some as is the case for many.

Sure their are moral dilemmas for some, (me for one) due to the notion that by stealing or illegaling downloading music effects the artist in a negative manner (their potential income), and this can be argued both ways quite convincingly... but its not the problem its a side show to where things have gone so very very wrong for the 'industry'.

Anyone who loves music is familar with many/most of the arguments and to be blunt I am over reading them so won't even bother to list them here... it is old news, bloody old news and bloody boring reading if you are even remotely interested in the subject you've already heard them too many times

The future of music distribution was always going to be digital, since the early/mid 90's it was obvious and whilst many sought the solution to digital distribution all the best solutions failed due to one thing - a restrictive and uncompromising stance on copywrite by the gaurdians of copywrite. So we ended up with todays major digital model - and it sucks

P2P on the other hand couldn't be easier or cheaper..... and its a community, it involves and is filled by music lovers.... try finding a music lover working in ya average (chain) music store these days

Copywrite was designed to protect the creator of works, not the business (model) that grew around them to 'exploit' that copywrite.... herein lies the source/root of the problem and here it will always rest.

Buying music today is a nightmere, most download sites are not user friendly, don't have most of what I would even consider buying and all of them (virtually, excuse the pun) offer up the music in a format or formats that are simpyl not of a high enough quality not to even start on the retarded and offensive use of DRM.

Why spend ya hard earned of sub standard products?

Why in a age where audio is and can be so amazingly good are we expected to settle for audio that is so sub standard?.

Play a 128Kbps song on a decent stereo (these alone, stereos that is, seem to be rarer and rarer these days of crappy digial playback devices) and tell me it doesn't sound 'wrong', do the same with 256 kbps and its not much better, 320 and you're almost in CD land - and CD sound generally isn't that crash hot either to be honest - refer to my post on compression by Russell Brown last month

Now play a record - feel the difference

I don't know where the future lies in the music world, but one thing is blindingly obvious it won't be coming out of the mainstream major orientated music industry, they are decades behind in their thinking and actions and inside the industry there are more than enough seriously intelligent people that should simply know better who are not being listened to or are being made redundant as they are not toeing the party line

Fucks sake, music is about passion something all too many concerned forget....

...except the public, they love music, they adore how it impacts on their lives and they also know how simple it is to get music without having to part with their hard earned.

Rearrange the deck chairs all ya want, the titantic has sailed and we all now where it is headed...

update (3/4) - links for more discussion/thoughts on this issue

Bomber on Kiwi FM

Dub Dot Dash short and sweet.

GP Forums

Public Address - best place for commentary on the proposed copyright amendments, awesome job Russell! Also check the Public Address System discussion and debate, some well clever minds in the mix

I advise checking the offerings comments for continued discussion

oh and perhaps most importantly, make your own mind up on what you think/feel on this issue - there are no right or wrong in this topic :)

Righto, I've found 4 tracks of Bic's on Soulseek, best I go ruin the NZ music industry.. actually no I won't, rather I'll leave the last words on the subject from Bic herself:

Back from the U.S.

Back from the U.S. today, had a great last show at the Troubadour in L.A. SXSW in Austin was fun too. But being pregnant on the road is not very rock n roll. I fell sleep straight after the Troubadour gig. Tucked up with a cup of Milo.

Caught up with the Flight of the Conchords in NY, visited their set in Brooklyn. It's like the Young Ones set, or like Ernie and Berts apartment. They're making a 12 part comedy series for HBO about a New Zealand band trying to make it in America. It looks like a lot of fun, they've made a music video for every episode!

Got home to some fuss in the media about how most New Zealand musicians have to have day jobs. Now that's never been news! But you know, I haven't flipped burgers since i was 15 (actually, I was very good at it, I once made up an order of 21 burgers in one go.) Thanks for your concern, but most musicians are just happy to be musicians.

Had my Mum on the road with me. She'd never been to New York before. Highlights for her were the potato cakes at Veselka on 2nd ave and 9th St, and seeing Patti Smith at Kelly and Pings on Greene and Houston. There you go.

Bye for now. I'm fast approaching the 'morbidly pregnant' trimester. So no more touring until after the kid comes in July. Will keep you posted.

I'm no fan of Bic's music but she does deserve our respect (not condemnation nor sympathy), she is one of us and one of ours... and to put it simply Bic rocks!


Simon said…
spot on Bob. I see Warners no longer have the money to buy EMI.

When do you think the last major wil shut their office in NZ? It can't be far off.
Bob Daktari said…
the majors should have moved much of their operations into Aus a couple of years back

the most logical thing they should be doing is to leave Australasia fullstop... there are some good options for the majors to retain some face and cashflow if they act wisely IMHO

interesting but also quite sad times, as anything they do will impact on some really talented, loyal and passionate staffers
Rubidoux said…
I hate to generalise but...there's much evidence to support the rant that major label music companies have always treated all their customers with contempt - by all their customers I mean the people that make the music (are actually clients of the record label, the record label is providing them a service), and the people who buy it. Just look at something as simplistic as a CD. Pick up a new CD. (Of course there's usually filler on there but that's another argument.) Put the cd down. Pick it back up, one part of the jewel case will be broken within a week of you 'owning' it. Look, don't give us extra 'content' as added value to make us buy your shittily manufactured goods that the artist has in part paid for. Give us songs we would bleed to hear again and again. Give us artists who are only interested in making music, because they can't do anything else. Ultimately it's not about the format. "It is about the music." So don't sue us, or tell us off like 50's children. (Certainly don't smack us!). Campbell Smith knows better. But he's just echoed the same sentiments as the RIAA and we all know how facile that argument is. Perhaps he could give up one or more of his numerous jobs, head of RIANZ, interests in a publishing outfit, or running Big Day Out to some of his artists, then he could focus on his management business and help his artists make great records. Jimmy Iovine has just left Universal to run Limewire. Phew. Go on big wig music guys. Change course now. Because now you have nothing to lose. Except your shareholders.
Bob Daktari said…
In Campbell's defence he is simply doing his job and RIANZ like the RIAA is owned or at least represents the views and wishes of the same companies, but its still a crying shame that RIANZ hasn't played this copywrite stuff way better - they had the US response to the RIAA crap to know its simply not cool nor clever to blame the consumer

As for extra content (sidetrack moment), I have argued many a time - unfortunately not with people who could actually make a diffrence, that the dumbest thing is to add content after a release goes out - it punishes fans and most people won't buy the same CD twice in 6 months simply for the added content or because its a 'tour' edition

My take was make the CD special on release, once the initial pressing is gone revert to a cheaper single CD (if it was a double), reward and cherish the initial buyers for they are the fans!

blah blah blah

Your sentiments on artists and songs we would bleed to hear again - spot on!

Anonymous said…
The End of the World as we Know It (part 22)

By El Sid
Paul McCartney has left Capitol and signed with Starbucks' label.

The McCartney thing is interesting because the speculation is, and not many people are talking about it (because the major labels don't want their shareholders to know), that the NEXT thing that will start rocking the majors is pedigree artists not re-signing once existing deals are up.

Why would they? Look what EMI International are doing to Norah Jones. They are marketing her to over-saturation, and that is seriously a no-no if artists want longevity. You think Norah Jones wants to be in this position. No way Jose!

Why would any successful band re-sign to a major when they can easily employ a similar team of people themselves and (allowing for 20% distribution) get 80% of the return, as opposed to say 25% minus recoupment.
This US article says it all:

The other thing that's already started happening is that the real music people in record co's are starting to jump ship and will set themselves up in roles where they become all things to select or individual artists. or like Jimmy lovine going to Limewire. They know the old business model is over. You've only got to look at the figures.

In Oz the number one album last week sold 5,600 units. In Last week's number one here in NZ barely made 1000. Number 2 was approximately 882. It's in free fall and the above WSJ piece is the first bit of realistic commentary I've seen this year.

In the old days we used to tour to sell albums, now it's precisely the opposite. There will honestly be more bands selling more T-shirts than CDs these days.

In previous years the CD sales numbers have been declining in increments of around 7%. This year the US industry is already down by about 18% on this time last year. What no one is saying is how bad last Xmas was. it was more than a flop - it was a Titanic disaster!

When I went into Marbecks on Tuesday they were playing Yasmin Levy who I'm told wowed everybody who saw her at WOMAD, and it was rocking out. I bet she isn't even on the chart return. It's almost like any artist worth their salt should distance themselves as far as poss from the Top 40.

The good thing that will come out of all this is the death/decline of marketing crap because labels can no longer afford it. And the public have wised up - goodbye Paris Hilton. This is an era of catering to demand, not trying to create demand, and that is the new dilemma that artists have to come to terms with.

Bottom line: No play (live), no pay! Artists can no longer take the public for granted. One of the most interesting things I've heard about WOMAD is how every artist circulated with their public. Instead of partying back stage they were out there signing and selling product, for as much as an hour straight after their shows.

The major labels aren't dumb, but they are certainly dumbfounded by the freefall that has hit sales figures this year - and their artists can see that. Once their deals terminate, they will be seriously re-considering their options. After all, Coldplay have already bailed EMI out once.