Are You the Dope Paying For Everyone Else?
One of the interesting subtexts of the “FREE!” revolution is in order for musicians, artists, whoever to make a living, income still has to be generated. Since musicians are no longer suppose to sell their music on shiny plastic discs, and because of infinite distribution, the question comes up: How does a musician make money?
The answer, according to the Cynical Musician, is to find the Big Dope.
Who is the Big Dope? Well, the Big Dope is the one person out of a hundred (or thousand, or million) that is willing to pay you significantly more for something than it is really worth, because they are a “fan”. You know, they pay $90 for a band hoodie at a concert, even though it’s a $20 hoodie you could get at Wal-Mart with $1 worth of silk screening on it. They are the dope, because by paying for this hoodie, they have helped to pay for probably 200 people to enjoy free music.
The prices of concert tickets are on the rise as well. “FREE!” supporters like Mike Masnick at Techdirt will tell you it’s a good thing that artists are making more direct money, and that the increase in spending on live shows is a good thing that makes money for all artists. However, people rarely look at the increasing concert ticket prices, which see top acts often selling tickets in the hundreds of dollars for a 2 hour (or less!) show. In the UK, even acts like Bon Jovi are trying to push tickets at nearly $500us a seat. There is no indication that more people are attending live events, and every indication that people are just having to pay more for the same events. Key in this is that lower end artists (without the big followings) aren’t going to see any more of the money, because it is going to the top few percentage artists who are able to dramatically overcharge for their tickets, merchandise, etc.
Just as importantly, in the UK and Swedish studies, it has been shown that consumer spending on music has been flat for a number of years. The dollars gained in live music ticket sales is money lost on recorded music sales. What that means is that while music consumption is at an all time high, the income from selling music is dropping rather than rising. Everyone paying for the live music is in effect giving a subvention to those who choose to download music for free.
As the Cynical Musician points out, it’s the “anyone but me” syndrome. People don’t care who is paying, as long as it isn’t them. Everyone else is paying, but the actual music consumer isn’t.
Don’t be the big dope. Don’t buy the over priced merchandise, don’t pay for over priced tickets. Support your favorite bands by buying their music on CD, through Itunes, whatever, and show your dislike for a system that searches only for dopes.