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Dead Space: Why Video Games Are Worth The Money

October 19, 2008

This weekend, I headed to Calgary to see a buddy I haven’t seen in awhile. While there, he showed me this new game he got for his PS3.

Dead Space is one of the most engaging, scary, plot twist full games I’ve played. It’s like a sci-fi horror movie where you’re the hero and the movie doesn’t end until 20 or hours of play. Not only do you get to witness a very cool story unfold, you’re in control of what happens, not just watching actors. In terms of satisfaction, it scores so high you have no doubt why the gaming industry continues to grow and grow. People pay 60-70 bucks for games because they deliver such a great user experience. The entertainment value is huge.

What does this have to do with music?  The value in music is the emotional connection it has with fans right?   That being said,  that value continues to deplete as anyone can get music for free via P2P.  You get something for free, it’s easy to discard and not care much about it.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating:

Start thinking about how you can create more value around the music, so fans will be happy to spend their money on you. That could mean making great looking merch, bundling music and merch,  offering tracks to be re-mixed, etc

The music will always be important, but offering just the music and expecting people to buy it in today’s world is a weak offer.

Take Control of Your Music,


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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2008 3:59 pm

    The value of music hasn’t depleted at all.

    The value of copies has depleted, because everyone can make their own for a fraction of the cost.

    Those in the business of selling copies are going to go out of business (publishers).

    Musicians have never been in the business of selling copies. They’ve always been in the business of selling music. Most musicians have sold music to record labels and concert audiences.

    Musicians will still sell to concert audiences, but the record labels are going to disappear from their customer list.

    However, this doesn’t mean the musician’s audience considers their music has depleted in value. It just needs a new way of selling music to than via copies.

    I suggest the musician should start selling their music to their audience.

    Unfortunately, too many musicians think this means selling copies to their audience. Of course, they may well appear to be selling copies, but they are not, they are simply enabling their audience to patronise them.

    People are at least gradually realising they shouldn’t be patronising the labels, but the musicians directly.

    However, it’s extremely early days in terms of the musician selling their music recordings to their audience directly. That’s a recording – not a copy. The copy is worthless. The recording is extremely valuable.

    So, the musician should not sell copies, they should sell concert performances to the audience attending and studio recordings to their global, online audience (instead of the record label).

  2. October 20, 2008 1:04 am

    Thanks for the post Crosbie,

    I should have been more clear on my take on the value of music. You’re totally right on the fact that people will still value music for years to come. You’re also right on the fact that a digital copy of recording costs nothing.

    What I was trying to say is that P2P (along with the public being disappointed with lot of albums with too much filler) is depleting the value of buying recorded music. If you find a band that you love and you can find the album on a P2P service, a lot of people will download that instead of buying the music, even if it’s from the artist directly (not from a label). The positive side of P2P is that a band can really grow their fan-base, sell tickets, and merch because of P2P.

    My point was to build more value aka incentive for the fan to actually buy the recorded music. Competing with free is hard.

    I dig your idea of selling the recorded concert to concert goers. That’s selling a memory you can take home with you and listen to. It’s not just any live recording, it’s the live recording you were at. I have a few friends that bought a PIXIES concert recording the night they played here.

    I’m not not sure I agree with the idea of publishers going out of business unless managers or artists have the capacity to take on the role themselves. I think there will be a growing market for licensing music. The fees may not be as high, but new media opportunities continue to arise. Who knows how mobile will evolve?



  3. October 20, 2008 7:33 am

    I have a hunch there will be a shrinking market for licensing music (given failure of copyright to constrain copies will have knock-on effects in its ability to constrain other uses), but that’s another matter.

    However, I agree that it’s great that fans can now pick and choose the tracks they’re interested in listening to rather than have to suffer entire albums. That’s the flexibility and freedom that comes with MP3s and file-sharing.

    Fans have two problems: 1) discovering music and musicians they like, 2) persuading the musicians they like to produce more of what they like.

    Fans don’t care about publishers trying to sell copies that the fans don’t need (because they can make them themselves or get them from friends/file-sharers for no outlay). The publishers of course, do have a problem, and are finding that the constraint over copying (copyright) that they had been relying on is unable to control the public as easily as it had been able to control other publishers or large scale pirates. However, publishers’ problems only obliquely affect musicians and their fans.

    Musicians have the same two problems as their fans but in reverse: 1) getting their music discovered by the maximum number of likely fans and patrons, 2) enabling their audience of patrons that wants them to produce more music to pay them to do so.

    In other words, promotion and funding. Things that publishers/record labels have traditionally done for them. Self-promotion is fairly easy, just remove all constraint (copyright) from copies of your published music with a CC-SA license and be promiscuous in spreading it about. As for payment for ticketed performances, this remains unaffected, however, enabling your audience to pay you, to fund further creative output (composition, studio recordings), is a bit lacking in terms of solutions. This is the area in which I’m working (along with a few others).

    Don’t sell copies – it’s silly to compete with free. Sell the music.

  4. October 20, 2008 3:27 pm

    I just wanted to note that the music in deadspace is really good. Artists and traditional musicians should always take note of other opportunites to sell music such as royalty free stock sounds, and more. Just some places to do this are like iStock audio. The royalty rate might be small, but you always own all the rights to your music and it’s cumulative.

  5. October 20, 2008 5:22 pm

    Hey Crosbie,

    In regards to publishers again, I totally forgot to mention the losses they incur in regards to collecting mechanical royalties. The less music bought from a consumer perspective (the fan), the lower mechanical royalties delivered to publishers and artists.

    If you look online, ASCAP has been pretty intense about making sure internet streaming is licensed and that performance royalties are being paid. I don’t know how they police everyone, but they definitely try.

    I think music licensing in a B2B context won’t go away for awhile (music placed in commercials, film, video games etc), since the end goal of the licensor is to make money. A regular fan downloading an album off p2p is pretty unlikely to try and sell that recording (if he got it free, so can everyone else).

    If the artist agrees to give away their music for the “exposure” and credibility they may receive off being in the soundtrack of a cool indie film, then that’s up to them.

    I thought what you said about fans discovering new music was pretty important. As the net grows and as more and more artists are online trying to reach people, how do fans filter all that and get what they want?

    I’ve seen sites like The, where you enter what music and movies you like. They then send you new content catered to your tastes. Itunes Genius’ is doing the same thing too.



  6. October 20, 2008 6:05 pm

    You’re halfway through the paradigm shift. (it isn’t pleasant)

    Mechanical/performance royalties are a hindrance to the musician’s promotion.

    If you want your music heard far and wide then the last thing you want to do is to cause hassle and grief to those premises/performers that play your music, i.e. make them liable to demands from collection societies of which you remain a member. If anything, you’d want to pay people to play your music (‘payola’) or to incorporate it into movies, etc, so license fees are quite counter productive.

    So, self-promoting musicians have to terminate all membership from collection societies and other licensing agencies, and provide blanket, unilaterally ‘negotiated’ zero-rated licenses for all. This enables streaming services such as Pandora to exist without crippling fees (much of which simply pays for the collection societies’ ‘administrative’ overheads).

    In jurisdictions that permit collection societies to collect even for non-members, this is an invidious problem, but with enough agitation could still be legally remediable.

    There are no half measures. You can’t keep one foot in the old world, and one in the new. Either you believe in copyright and collection of royalties, compulsory license fees, etc. or you don’t.

    The new world is scary. Many people will be able unable to cope with the idea of ‘giving away’ their music, or letting others appear to profit from it.

    Anyway, yes, discoveral agencies such as Last.FM, Pandora, The Filter, Genius, etc. will become ever more popular and useful. People will eventually start paying good money for them – and then start paying good money to musicians for more of the music they like.

    The end of copyright (and its licensing) is not the end of the music business (just the copy business). Music lovers will always be happy to pay good money for music, and musicians will be happy to take good money to produce and perform it.

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