Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beaver's Mom Saves The World


My next door neighbor Rusty is a music producer.


He has wild, rock-n-roll hair and he wears hip clothing.

His two sons, who are eight and nine years old, are super-cool, long-haired, skateboarder dudes. They are both delightful.

I tease Rusty that he is the human version of the sea turtle dad in Finding Nemo.

[Because he is all "WHOA-AH" and then you are all "WHOA-AH," dude.]

Last weekend I saw them all out at our neighborhood park walking their Great Dane.

I was busy chatting with other neighborhood parents while our kids ran amuck.

We were on the cusp of figuring out who would be in charge of bringing a giant box of coffee to the playground next weekend when Rusty joined the conversation.

Someone must have asked, “How’s business?” because the next thing I knew the normally super-chill Rusty was off on a wild rant about the downfall of the music industry.

“People think music is free these days,” Rusty moaned. “We can’t meet our bottom lines! EMI announced they’re laying off 2,000 people… it’s ridiculous!!!”

Because I know in my heart that there's a conspiracy to track my every move on the internet, I purchase all my music online through iTunes, you know, legitimately.

[Oh, the honest and ethical joys!]

So while Rusty was bemoaning the music industry I was thinking about my little iTunes habit and piped up with,

“What about iTunes, Rusty? Isn’t that business model working?”

He looked totally aggravated and muttered something about "only .99 cents."

“You know who uses iTunes?” he spat with contempt. “The ONLY people who buy music from iTunes are housewives!”

Um... Hello.

[Okay, so technically I'm a work at home mom, but still!]




The internet has changed human behavior in a way that's bringing an entire industry to its knees.


That's pretty intense.

Personally, I think it’s kind of fascinating.

[Which I recognize is a luxury not afforded to someone whose livelihood depends on the music business.]

What will happen?

How will the industry re-invent itself to respond to the changing environment?


50 comments:

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Doggone it. Now you're going to have me thinking about how to fix the music industry all night long.

I'm at work right now knee-deep in work and I took a little bloggy coffee break. Now instead of trying to finish my project, I'm going to be thinking about ways music producers can better package their product so that consumers will spend money on it.

Thanks.

Rosie said...

Brilliant post and I love the picture! I buy itunes and I'm a sort-of-housewife, and the other people I know who do it are housewives too. Oh dear!

Now I must dash off and see if there is anything I can download!

Misa Gracie said...

Oh, the worries... But! Take heart, I think the music industry will be just fine. I say this as I pay $120 (each!) for concert tickets that aren't even on the floor.

And, I am not a stay-at-home or work-from-home Mom that pays for music through iTunes. Or *gasp* buys the actual CD! (How quaint!)

Natalie said...

Okay, so is Rusty upset that itunes only charges 99 cents, or that he thinks only housewives use it? (Incidentally, that's not true. I don't buy itunes but I do get the majority of my music these days from 99 cent downloads elsewhere, LEGALLY. I know plenty of other non-housewives that do as well. Who carries around a CD player anymore?) If he is upset that the whole 99 cent thing is ruining the music industry then record producers need to think about WHY we are not buying the entire album. Most albums have (in my opinion) at least a fifty percent dud rate. Why pay $15 for an album which only has three or four decent songs on it? I could spend $5 and get what I want.

Don't blame itunes for recognizing what consumers want.

Oh yeah, and I want to thank you as well for taking my mind off work when I've got a ton to do! ;)

furiousBall said...

i used to be a columnist for mp3.com before it went public and i can go on and on about how great the iTunes model is, truly empowering artists and removing some truly unnecessary hands from the musician's cookie jar. sorry Rusty.

Bob said...

my daughter will MOST CERTAINLY be interested to hear that the only people who buy music off of iTunes are housewives. She is 21 (today!) and a college student. AND. SHE. IS. NOT a housewife. Neither are any of her many friends who download from iTunes.

If you can get CDs from BMG for a little over 6.00 (on sale, which is all the time) I think .99 cents a track (10.00 for the entire CD) gives the music industry a decent profit.

I'm kinda surprised this guy is so unaware of the iTunes demographics.

The Chick said...

I had no idea I was doing just what i-tunes intended! Aaah, modern housewifery....

Edge said...

That's interesting he is still going through a publisher. Lots of people are self published these days. iTunes even promotes a self publication.

His contracts with musicians need to be restructured to reflect his payment is a percentage of sales from all channels including iTunes and electronic download.

Times they are a changin'.

~Jef

Wendy said...

Hey, I'm not just buying songs on itumes. I've actually bought Backyardigans episodes (supreme dork-dom!)!

But my 16 yr old niece didn't seem to mind me sending her an itunes gift card for Christmas.

I think the kids need cheap or free songs since concerts are WAY more now. I remember going to shows for $15, in a big arena when I was 15. Now they have to sell their Guitar Hero to see live music.

Amy said...

It hasn't shaken out yet in terms of what will happen. It IS fascinating to watch. I'm in publishing and we are going through the exact same thing, one step behind the music industry. Digital books on readers and self-publishing baby. It's changing everything.

TZT said...

Actually, 99 cents a song is pretty on par with the price of a CD, especially minus the material and design costs of packaging involved. Major labels are laying people off because they've been slow to adapt, technologically - litigating against downloaders instead of analyzing the new landscape and how to profit in it.

I think that dude's attitude about housewives is like WHOA, because housewives have THE buying power that every company longs for. If what he says is true, the music industry should be like, totally stoked.

Independent labels and artists are able to make more without being gouged by major labels now too, which isn't all bad (for all of it's hemming & hawing about downloading taking away from young artists, several major labels have been pretty awful to new artists).

Todd Rundgren is an example of an artist who has adopted a completely different business model. CEOs should be asking him for advice.

Mama Drama Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Don't ask me. I still own a walkman with a tape deck in it.

QT said...

I can't think about anything because the photo is so so disturbing.

Amy U. said...

heheh...you said "Beaver"

Assertagirl

jennifer h said...

Well, until just now I was feeling pretty proud of myself for all the $ I've spent on iTunes.

Honestly, I'd probably pay more than 99c if that's what iTunes charged. But, then, they're not producing an actual CD in a jewel case with liner notes, either. So I don't know.

Sounds like housewives rock (um, literally). Dude.

Mama said...

This housewife still buys CD's and if I do buy on iTunes, I'll buy the whole album. Singles tend to not only cut into artist cuts but they also destroy the integrity of the album. I look at the album as a piece of art. A lot of work went into picking the songs that would appear on it and what order the songs are in. I wouldn't just want a piece of the cake. I want the whole cake.

Was I just talking about cake?

The Flying Monkeys said...

HA, what a crock! Its a bunch of teenagers!

Blog Antagonist said...

He's wrong. I mean, yes, I buy music from iTunes, but the largest music buying contingent by far is teenaged kids. And THEY are the ones buying music off of iTunes. Because now instead of having to spent $13 for a CD, they can get all their favorite songs for $1.00
How many albums did you buy as a teenager, only to find out the rest of the songs sucked. I bought RELAXE. Yeah. They're not called one hit wonders for nothing.

Personally, I think CD's started the whole thing. "Better Quality Sound" they told us. But what they didn't tell us, was the the fuckers scratched unless you handled them, literally with kid gloves.

Naturally, people began looking for an alternative. Voila. Digital music.

LadyBugCrossing said...

LOL! I just noticed that the iPod shuffle went down to $49. I might have to get one so I can get my 99 cent itunes! Kids - lots of kids buy itunes. Why pay $15 for a cd with only one song you like when you can just buy the song for 99 cents??
I LOVE itunes.
xo
LBC

liv said...

oh, yeah? i'm not even a wife, yo. and i totally spend a fortune through itunes.

Beck said...

I can't even remember the last time we bought a cd that wasn't for the kids. The music industry needs to adapt - it was bloated and top heavy and now those days are over.

Loralee Choate said...

Hmmm...considering the cost of a CD in ratio to the number of tracks it contains, .99 is actually decent, IMO.

I think the issue is that instead of being forced to pay for tunes that we don't want, there is more selection.

So? Write and produce better music instead of putting on one great track and 16 "Eh" ones, yo.

Laura said...

It is amazing how much the internet has changed the world and has changed our economy.

Thanks for sharing. Hope Rusty is not impacted by the current situation.

The Super Bongo said...

monkeys hiding out from PETA buy iTunes too.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I don't know whether to be offended or proud that we housewives are keeping iTunes going.

GoingLikeSixty.com said...

Hi,
Very revealing post. It's guys like him that make me glad the music biz is changing.

For background music while on the net try Pandora.com. (no affiliation)
Free music, artists get paid!

Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Wally buys all of his music from ITunes.

Now why the heck isn't he wearing an apron, cooking, and ironing my shirts?

SUEB0B said...

Well, considering that the music industry was set up to benefit the execs and screw the artists, it can hardly get worse. More methods of direct distribution are good for the little guy and bad for the "industry." I'm not going to waste any time crying over it...though I do miss indy music stores a la High Fidelity.

Sugarplum's Mom said...

Hmm.... well .99 a song is a pretty good per song rate considering most CD's that have 17-20 songs are about $16. Problem is... people often only buy 2 or 3 songs on an album.. although, you can tell him I am not a housewife and I like iTunes.. better than the trouble Napster got everyone into

Cathy said...

That pic is brilliant!!

creative-type dad said...

Poor Crush...

Actually, if iTunes charged more I'm sure they'll be more music piracy. If they charged less, I'm sure they'll be less piracy.

Kids these days think everything should be free and Beaver's should pay for it all!

Chantelle said...

I gotta tell you, the college kids are pretty into the itunes as well. And my parents use it. And neither of them are housewives - at least not anymore.

I think what is great about itunes is that you can buy that one song that you can't get out of your head without having to pay for the whole (often overpriced) album.

Shannon said...

The industry can re-invent itself by paying the big guys less money.

Plus, I ditto everything Natalie said. There's a reason why iTunes is so popular.

phenom said...

Just the other day I made three purchases from iTunes: Devil Went Down To Georgia by Charlie Daniels; A Boy Named Sue by Johnny cash; and Jam On It by Newcleus (the nearly 9-minute version with lyrics I'd never heard). So yeah, blame me.

Tracey said...

For goodness sake, can we save the state of affairs in the government before we tackle the music industry? Somehow the government seems like it would be easier to fix!

phenom said...

By the way, I was in Best Buy awhile back and came across the Amy Winehouse CD I'd been thinking about buying, and it was $14. Same CD on iTunes - $10. So yeah.

Maureen said...

Well Rusty better get with the times or be left way behind... sounds like he should be working forward, not moaning about the past.

And my daughter buys from iTunes; at 17 she's definitely NOT a housewife.

nutmeg said...

My husband rants and raves about this all the time, he's so afraid cool musicians will become a thing of the past in his lifetime. It's not just music - it's happening in the book-writing industry as well. The fact is, musicians and writers are getting in line again as artists instead of the rich celebrity line. Van Gogh never made a penny off his art when he was alive. Just sayin...

JoeInVegas said...

I buy a lot of Cds, and very few can be listened to as a whole - some, like the old Beatles Sgt. Pepper really do work better listening to it all, but most just have a few good songs that have no relation to the rest of the album (album? CD?). But Itunes? Yes, cut out the middle man, you housewives everywhere.

~JJ! said...

Then my husband must be a housewife in disguise...he's the one that turned me on to the iWorld.

Now I feel bad.

Lottifish said...

While I love the idea of itunes, and I admittedly buy songs from there, I understand the problem. Musicians put out CD's and from those cd's usually only a song or two ends up the radio. When someone buys a song they heard on the radio in itunes they are missing out on hearing all the other possibly great stuff that that band put out. And buy doing so, keep the other $15.00 for another artist or something else entirely. It's quite a predicament and I'm not sure how it will all play out.

Annie said...

Wow - I only used itunes for the first time this week! Up til now I've loaded my own CDs on to my music library and cherry picked my faves for the ipod - I read that they're going to make even that illegal!

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Isn't the saying, "Change or Die?" I do think it sucks when it is your job which is on the losing end, but often, what results is better for the consumer.

And, itunes is for housewives? WHOA-AH, I'll have to tell all the guys I know that!

Mommahbear. said...

(It's not illegal in Canada. Shhh.)

imaginary binky said...

Until the music industry figures out how to allow holographic images of Jim Morrison dancing naked in my living room (screw Eli whatshisface and his prancing George Michael), I'm not buying a darn thing!

Except I downloaded tunes the other day.

But still, I shake my fists in the air until Jim Morrison is naked!

canape said...

He needs to get over himself. The music industry model has been changing for years and years - it's not just iTunes and crappy people who "share" music. It's the independent artist. The self distribution. The ability to reach people without the interference of EMI and other companies.

Music shouldn't be free, but it should be the musicians who are making the money. You can tell your neighbor I said to bite me.

Oh, and toss in that I'm a postpartum hormonal freak too. And I love iTunes. But for TV shows.

Alpha DogMa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alpha DogMa said...

Let's try that again. Now with proof reading.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Rusty,
I don't download music. Not illegally. Not even legally. I'm just that square.

Love,
Alpha DogMa

PS - I also believe that America Idol is vile. Yeah. I am getting squarer by the key stroke.

Mary Beth said...

My sister and I were just talking about this. When we took our first road trip (13 years ago, sigh), we had a boom box and tapes - cause it didn't have a CD player (poor us). But we made mix tapes to take with us and we had to get a zillion D batteries so the boom box wouldn't die. Now, we can get soooo many more songs on our ipods which measure 2 x 2.5 inches and get charged by the car. Aahh the wonders of modern technology! And I'm not a SAHM or a housewife (as my house will gladly testify in court) and I download all my music through itunes.

Janet said...

Tell Rusty this work at home mom still buys CD's. I'm so old school....