Thursday, January 17, 2013

NoiseTrade Took My Idea

For those of you who don't know, NoiseTrade is a website, which allows musicians to make their music  available for "free" download. Now, I say "free" because you don't have to pay any money in order to download, but there are some strings attached.

You have to provide your email address and are encouraged to make a donation and spread the word through your social network. Your email address isn't sent out into the seedy underbelly of the net so you can get shady spam emails for the rest of your life. It goes to the artist whose music you downloaded so they can connect with you and keep you updated on their musical exploits.

I think this is fantastic. In fact, I thought it was fantastic before I ever heard of NoiseTrade.

I keep a list of ideas that I would like to research or look into further. Most are related to academic research that hope to publish someday, but some are a bit more in the hobby realm.

One of the ideas on my list is called "Re-Patronizing the Music Industry". The idea is, way back in the day (b.s. alert! This may not be historically accurate, but based on my extensive reading of fantasy novels, it seems about right) musicians either made their living by traveling around playing music and sharing news,

Minstrel Style (Two points for guessing the movie this is from)
or they were essentially kept on retainer by some rich guy who wanted them around for whenever he wanted music. The closest thing the old school iPod, I guess.

The rich guy was called the musician's Patron, and by necessity a Patron would have an exclusive set of musicians available (his human media library). If you played well, someone would want to hire you and you would make a living.

Fast forward to the past few decades and we see a much different beast. Now, we have bands and artists selling their music to millions of people at a time. This is great because many more people can all enjoy the same great music if they choose to.

However, a lot of times the music industry types put more emphasis on the industry and less on the music, and we end up with a huge chunk of music that is mediocre, yet makes heaps of money.

Now, I'm not saying that the music industry is pure evil and that it doesn't produce the best music around. I'm just excited to see something like NoiseTrade, which is kind of like going back to the Patron days. Instead of one rich guy who likes your music and keeps you around, musicians can be supported a little here and a little there by their fans.

This just requires a little shift in the music consumer's mindset. Instead of, "I like this music so I'll pay for the songs I want to have around whenever I want to listen to it," we need more, "I like this music, so I'll support the musician so they can keep making music I like."

Radiohead had a similar idea when they released In Rainbows in 2007 as a download customers could set their own price for. Their fans liked their music and thought it was good music and about 40% of people who downloaded the album paid for it at an average of $2.26 (averaged across those who paid and those who didn't. That is, people who were willing to pay, paid a lot.

That's my Re-Patronizing the Music Industry idea, and I think things like NoiseTrade and the surge in popularity and feasibility of Indie music are good indicators that the music scene is moving in the right direction.

This brings hope to someone like me who likes to make music and is learning how to record it well. If I can make enough money with my music to keep upgrading my gear and making better music I'll be quite happy.

So, check out NoiseTrade and be happy with good music.


OztN Miller said...

The Return of the King. FrodooOoOo of the niiiine fingers..... and the Ring of DooOoOoOm.....

Todd Jones said... The Milk Carton Kids released two albums completely for free. They have been downloaded 150,000 times, building up a fan base. They are selling their third album.