Friday, September 18, 2009

The Internet and Physical Music Product

Remember back when kids who’d never heard IRON MAIDEN were buying their posters and T-shirts, and, in some cases, vinyl just for the artwork. The days of band’s putting thought put into artwork seem to have long gone. Take a walk to your closest music retailer and flick through the CD racks and see how many CD’s scream out “look at me and buy me for the cover”. If you got a few I’d wager that you’d walked over to your favorite section and are looking at music you’d buy regardless.

The heyday of vinyl has long gone despite the current resurgence, which enables you to buy the latest NICK CAVE disc new on vinyl at three times the price of the CD. A huge appeal of vinyl was not only the cover but also the inserts, which often included lyrics. Staring at the artwork and looking at the lyrics often sold the disc to a listener much more than a cursory record shop hearing sesssion.

There are lyrics still available on some CDs but with the growing ever-presentness of the Internet, some bands are now publishing their lyrics and artwork on the net instead of on their physical release. I’m often traveling while I listen to music and sometimes enjoy looking at a band’s artwork and lyrics while on the move. If you take a train or bus, count the number of people wearing headphones and those surfing on the Internet. My guess is there aren’t many doing both. A blog or website is a good idea for a band but if they really want people to pay attention to both their lyrics and artwork, then they need to publish them on their own product and not Al Gore’s.

Nowadays while a CD is fresh off the pressing plant, a free T-shirt is often included as a marketing strategy. Over time the T-shirt becomes unavailable while the album decreases in value and appears available for download. Record labels really don’t want to push older product but they could if they kept the T-shirt deal intact. Ever downloaded a T-shirt? Attention spans are getting shorter so hit people with the whole of your musical product in the quickest possible time.

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