Thoughts on being a Musician

Armando Alves wrote yesterday about the fact that Amon Tobin is pissed off with Piracy, because his album leaked to the Internet before its release, and he's claiming because that happened his disk won't sell. I beg your pardon? Reality check: even if the album had not leaked before its release, it would certainly be a zero-day leak. He's enough well-known for that. Heck, even my musical project, Merankorii, had it's first album (a 33 only copies release) leaked before it sold out, and the second one (a 50 only copies release) also leaked before it sold out. Not that it matters to me - it sold anyway! Crash (the second album) is actually still selling - you can buy it in mp3 format on Amie St.! So don't let you be fooled, someone's turning the menace of the pre-release leak into an opportunity, and creating a publicity campaign in order to sell more!

But Rui Seabra posted on that blog some comments that I also disagree - claiming that the album should be released in a mp3 store like eMusic instead of CD. I'm sorry, but it's just that there is a lot of added value in a CD in comparison with its tracks in a digital format, and there's also lot's of fetishism regarding the package itself. I still purchase some music digitally, but still I'm just not able of giving complete attention to an artist until I can have one physical album of that artist in my collection (may it be CD, Vinyl or even Cassete). Let me use once again my experience as a musician to give you an example: not only I force myself into releasing my music in CD (actually the forthcoming album will also have a Cassete release, but it wasn't really my call but my labels', which I heartedly embraced), but I have some problems in releasing in a digital format. This is something that I wanted to talk a long time ago (or here or on Merankorii's blog), and I felt the urge to write as a comment to a blog post Melo did last month, so here's the time and place for it. Releasing an album is expensive. Really. I'm not whining, just stating. I spent some money releasing Mordor (my previous band), I spent some money releasing "O Monólogo do Mudo" (Merankorii's first album), I spent a big load of money releasing "Crash" (Merankorii's second album), and with "Melencolia III", the latest Merankorii album, I got signed with an underground label, meaning that I had a better release and spent almost no money (still, the balance is negative). With Sanguine (the forthcoming album), I have no intentions of spending money anymore, even if I also don't make any money (it was never my intention in the first place). But how do you manage to cover the costs? Easy - selling CD's. CD's give you a better ROI than digital music, if you're a small artist. Two points here: 1 - selling CD's when you have the digital stuff out there, specially if it will be cheaper that the actual CD, is harder; 2 - selling digital music turns the revenue to the artist, selling CD's turns the revenue to the label. If you don't give revenue to the label (even more - if you don't make it have profit instead of loss), you're not going to do another release with them. So, I'm selling Crash in mp3 format, but Melencolia III is sold in CD format until it sells out. This decision I took already granted me an extention of the deal with the label for the forthcoming album, so, in a certain way, the decision is providing me better ways of keep being a musician. Cool, heh? Oh, and Miguel, I undestand that some people really believe that bands make the big money in gigs. Sorry, that's false for a big portion of the artists out there. Anyway, if you give me the means to do a concert, I'm available! ;-)

Finaly, on digital music stores. Rui (yes, once again! ;-)), I know that you like eMusic, but I think you really should take a look on Amie St.: it's also music in mp3 format, no DRM, you can buy per track or per album (an album costs the sum of it's tracks), and no track costs more than $.98 USD, ever. What's the really sweetness? Well, Amie Street works as a "music market": the songs arrive at Amie Street costing $.00 (yes, it means FREE), and if people think that one specific track is worth more than that (basicly if the track sells), it's cost starts rising. Meaning - lot's of free music, and lot's of really cheap music. To give you an example, Crash costs there $.40. Now that's way cheaper than the 1.50€ it costed in CD.

Now to comment final pieces I caught from the comments in the blog post that lead me to this one:

Armando: Tobin had no "very expensive production costs". His label did. Also, having stats of more than 90% of Flash plugin penetration in the browser market means that potentialy almost 10 in every 100 visits that website gets are from people who can't see nothing. It actually was my case - I read your blog post with Opera Mini, and there's no Flash for it (blame Adobe and their stupid license). I really don't see a big of a problem with Flash websites, if I have an alternative way to go to the info. That happens in lot's of websites, but in Tobin's he's just telling me "I don't want you to know what I have here". Which sucks, because I want. Oh, and my comment asking a "link to those statements" was misunderstood: I was just asking a link to Tobin's logbook (which I still didn't find, and I am curious to read).