Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Thoughts on Music" Copying

Someone emailed me this article from Wolfish Musings on music copying. Although the post is based on a discussion from Yeshiva World News, which can never be of any use, Wolfish raised an important subject and I would like to add my two-cents.

Music copying is of course a problem not only in Jewish Music but in the music industry in general, and every since the internet emerged the record labels suddenly saw themselves in a very dangerous position (think Napster).

There were many attempts to curb music downloading, first with the Napster lawsuit and then with DRM. But the problem was still there and one new idea changed the game for the music industry - iTunes. Since Steve Jobs came up with the easy-to-use online music store, people proved that if given a good channel, they would pay the fair buck for their beloved songs. In Jobs' keynotes, he always stresses how consumer behavior has changed since iTunes came to being and I think is hard to disagree with this premise. Now, Jobs is pushing for the end of DRM, and he is slowly getting through with the major record labels.

We already had a lengthy discussion about the feasibility of selling JM in iTunes and although there is some JM for sale there, by large JM is still the same industry it was 10 years ago. And I fully understand the arguments that were made about the relatively small size of JM and why financially it doesn't makes sense to sell Jewish Music in iTunes. But with CD's costing 17 dollars in the US (in Israel even more) these days, I don't believe JM is at this moment an efficient industry.

I used to say that it's a matter of time until Jewish Music gets its way into iTunes. Somewhere along the road I stopped being a dreamer and I concede it's hard to see JM in iTunes anytime soon. But just like the goyish music industry was saved by iTunes and other efficient ideas, JM has to somehow address its current inefficiencies. I don't know how that can be done, but again, the best way to stop music copying is not through Mussar schmuessin in the back of the album jackets (or leasing agreements) but through creative and practical ideas. The more the industry is efficient the more consumers will be funneled to do things the easy way, that is, buying all their music.

Some good ideas that popped up lately include free songs (Spinner and AKAPella and now the 8th Day), creative marketing apparatus (Lipa's bumper-sticker) and podcasts (Sameach). I'm quite sure Spinner, AKAPella and Lipa were all rewarded in return and I think that's the way to go in JM at the present time. Of course, iTunes would be great, but that's still a dream. So singers, keep being creative!


JoeFlix said...

Great post.

I dont copy music or let others copy mine. If you try to do it the right way God will provide you with the $17

Anyway, I bought alot of Carlebach (Shlomo and Neshoma) and Yehuda Glantz and Blue Fringe on Itunes. Dont see why the JM industry wouldnt go the itunes route.

I would give it maybe a year or two. They will have no choice.

An insider said...

Joe. Search the archives here, mainstreamers like Shwekey and Fried will never go to itunes, it's too much of a loss and stores would have to stop selling music, the industry would implode.

go read the archives here it's all covered, all the details.

Just be patient. In the next few months something big will be coming (g-d willing)

YK said...


As insider mentioned, it's currently not viable to sell JM in iTunes by large for various reasons that were mentioned in an earlier thread. I changed my mind about JM in iTunes because of that discussion (there's a link in this post that leads you to that discussion).


Now you got me curious! What is it?


Anonymous said...

There are some jewish music artists on itunes. i know aryeh kunstler and php are as well as blue fringe

YK said...


That's nice. I got Six13, Piamenta and of course Matisyahu in iTunes. For 9.99 bucks I dont think twice!


Downpressor said...

Allow me to introduce myself in context. I'm a producer/small label owner. I do reggae. Even though my experience is not in JM, there are parallels in that the markets for most fringe genres (non mainstream) are pretty small. I get 300 to 500 units of each single manufactured, then digital sales. Other small label guys I know report similar numbers. To be completely honest, most mainstream releases dont sell 1,000 units anyway. Its easy to be distracted by large sales numbers of major mainstream performers.

I read through the referenced post and discussions. Its my opinion that services like Tunecore, CD Baby and similar are a blessing for those of us who want to sell to a limited audience. I prefer to sell wherever my customers might be in whatever format they want.

P.S. I found this through Frum Satire. I mention that because of the discussion over there about "is the word goy offensive". Over there I'm Chris_B and I'm of the opinion that it is. Not saying that the form of the word used consistently in this blog is intended derisively, but business is business and whether you are marketing secular or religious music, we're all facing the same hardships trying to keep our businesses going. I dont want to spread the argument over here so thats all I'll say.

YK said...

1) It's interesting to hear that. Like you, Mike Boxer from Six13 told me about Tunecore and CD Baby saying that it's a win-win. But I don't see this happening by large in JM anytime soon, I feel people are too resistant to radical changes.

2) downpressor is a much cooler screen name. Keep it!

3) Secondly, I read the post you mentioned, very interesting. You are very articulate in your posts and I will not even think about contradicting you.
The G word is officially banned from this blog


Downpressor said...

All music businesses which serve a specific group's needs have to consider this very carefully. I think reggae probably relies on small dedicated retail just as much as JM does, but at least for me & mine we can split channels without damage because for reggae retail is focused on vinyl so digital sales dont erode the base so much.

This name is my "music biz" name, for posting as "me" I use Chris_B. Its rare that the two intersect.

Thanks for the consideration, I wouldnt have asked for the change but it lightens my heart when people see things like that for the impact they may have.