Imagine spending twelve months working on your new album. You shape the song structures a certain way to convey the emotion of each song, everything is precise. Your independent label pays for you to record the album at a professional studio, costing them $30,000, with a contract saying that you will repay the recording and reproduction costs if the album doesn’t sell fifteen thousands copies.
Everything is planned. Six months from now the album will be released. Marketing plans are formed, photo shoots are scheduled, and your website is being redesigned. You lay awake at night thinking about the expenses that are adding up, but you trust that enough people will buy the album and see you perform on tour.
Two months before the scheduled release, your marketing agency begins to send out promotional copies to trusted music blogs and media sources. You’re excited to read the response as bloggers give you exposure. A demand for the CD is created, and a few mp3s are given away for people to preview… but that was to be expected.
Then something goes wrong. Someone that received the promotional copy decided to place the album on a Torrent site. Now anyone can download your album for free and you won’t see a single penny.
Though you want people to hear your music, you also want to fulfill the part of your contract that requires you to sell fifteen thousand copies.
Questions flood your mind: When the album is officially released, will people buy it? Or will they download it for free? If you can’t sell enough copies you’ll be required by contract to pay the record label back.
This is the situation that most artists are facing today. As consumers, we seem to feel entitled to have full access to music, and we wince at the thought of paying for it.
Yes, artists are given more exposure when albums hit BitTorrent sites. If the album is loved, album sales reflect this and some of the loss is recouped. Recording and marketing music isn’t free, and music consumers shouldn’t expect it to be.
When you consider the costs that fall onto the shoulders of artists and record labels, it’s understandable why BitTorrent sites are caught in litigation. Today, Oink.cd joined the list of BitTorrent sites that have been shut down.
For this reason Puddlegum encourages you to support the artists by purchasing their music and buying tickets when they bus by your city. We don’t agree with exorbitant prices that are placed on CDs, nor do we support the RIAA. But the list of options to purchase music DRM-free at an affordable price is growing.
Note: This fictional story is not about the business model used in the example. We are not proposing this model as being ideal. There are better models and approaches that embrace the album leak. But the majority of artists take a risk with this established model.