Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Musical Numbers

Clearly the music business has been on everyone’s mind lately. Between Radiohead going with pay-what-you-want and the slew of announcements that followed, it’s been a hot topic. So, in a move that should surprise no one at all, I’m going to throw my two cents in the ring (inspired in part by Chartreuse calling me out).

So in no specific (or sensical) order . . .

  1. I’ve said it before (though maybe not here), digital technology and piracy is not to blame for the decline of the music business. Rather, poor planning and lack of strategic vision is the real issue. Rather than dealing with the hand they (and the rest of the media world) were dealt, they tried to hold back the dam with some chewing gum (even winning lawsuits for hundreds of thousands of dollars). If the industry had invested even a small portion of their legal fees in building something people wanted, they probably would have been the ones Rupert paid millions to instead of Intermix.
  2. Suing your customers is a bad business practice. Period.
  3. A while back I wrote that everything is relative. Well this, my friends, is a perfect example. Small artist invests small amounts to make record. Said small artists needs to recoup small amounts to break into the black (especially without all the accountants, lawyers, handlers and marketers to pay). It’s not brain science . . . Sure they may not make millions like the record company did, but then again, the only figure that really matters is the one you need to pay your rent (and whatever else you like buying I guess).
  4. I listen to more music and go to more concerts than I ever could/would have before all this digital music stuff happened. I love it. Two weekends ago I shelled out $50 for an Arcade Fire show and this week another $20 for !!! (which I didn’t even make it to thanks to a delayed flight). I am seeing Go! Team Friday in San Francisco (btw, if anyone wants to meet up, I’ll be out there for a few days) and Sufjan Stevens in two weeks. That’s a lot of music and a fair amount of money. All of it is being spent on bands not on major labels who I wouldn’t know about without all this crazy music sharing that’s going around.
  5. Despite what Chartreuse said, Radiohead is an anomaly and much of the success of this experiment is due to past work (not just marketing) and the hype Radiohead can create (seriously, how many other bands have fans who wait outside the night before the release?). That’s not to say that this isn’t a good model, but rather that few other bands will see the kind of success from it that Radiohead will. It’s not an indictment of the system or the other bands, but rather it’s praise for Radiohead.
  6. Speaking of revenue models for music, I think it’s Prince, not Radiohead, who’s got it figured out. (I wrote a bit about this a few months ago.)
  7. Doritos and Missy.
  8. And speaking of music and marketing, I’m pretty excited to see how things work out for RCRD LBL, I’ve been chatting with those guys and I think it’s bound to be big.

I think that’s it for now. I’m sure more thoughts will pop in my head and I’ll add them as updates or just stick them in the comments. Until then, feel free to throw in your own.

Update (10/17/07): Just read this entry over at Virtual Economics and thought you all might enjoy.

October 16, 2007