Sunday, February 14, 2010

When Information Is More Important Than Music

David Frey, manager for Cheap Trick, hit upon an interesting point in his post on the Tunecore blog the other day. He stated that Neilsen/Soundscan (the company that measures CD and digital sales), Amazon, Ticketmaster and a host of other entities own all the information of the band's sales, and that they then sell it to whomever wants it. Of course, the band doesn't get a piece of the sale but that's besides the point here.

Frey was taking issue especially with Soundscan, who would sell that info and the end result was to the detriment of the band. Whenever Cheap Trick would self-release an album, a new re-issue would suddenly appear from the band's former record labels which would in turn cannibalize the sales of the band's new release. How would the labels find out? They'd buy the info from Soundscan.

So Frey and the band decided to try to get around Soundscan, this time by releasing the album through Tunecore and specifically requesting that it not be reported to Soundscan. But Soundscan still managed to get the data. Since they could no longer collect it, they'd buy it from the likes of Starbucks, the major retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart, iTunes, Amazon, and any number of other sources. Soundscan then was able to sell the info once again to anyone that wanted it, and so the cycle continues.

Cheap Trick has been a more-or-less music business constant for over 35 years so this incident doesn't apply to most artists and bands just entering the business or trying to get over the visibility hump. Still, it does illustrate that your information (both the sales data and meta-data) is an important product in Music 3.0, and that's it's difficult at this time to control and near impossible to make money from.

I predict that data and meta-data ownership will become a huge battleground in the future as more artists become aware that they own own a lot less of their information than they think.


Anonymous said...

Why does this sound like Tommy Chong saying, "It's the SYSTEM, man!"?
He has a great point, but that is still what it sounds like can "the SYSTEM" be stopped?

Bobby Owsinski said...

I think the point is that an artist/band must pay attention to any kind of info or metadata that surrounds them, since they can't take advantage of it unless they are aware.


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