Friday, 21 November 2008

Surrounding the product with culture

How do musicians combat music piracy? It seems to depend upon the audience. Radiohead famously allowed their fans to decide for themselves how much they should pay for their last album. Both Bob Dylan and Miles Davis (well, his record company) have went the other way and released very expensive editions with loads of extras.
£90 was what Dylan asked for a deluxe 3 CD edition of his Tell Tale Signs album including a 150-page book, a bonus disc of tracks on top of the regular edition and an exclusive 7" vinyl if you ordered direct from his website The first 5000 customers were also given a Theme Time Radio Hour poster.

Sony BMG have just released a 50th anniversary edition of Davis's Kind of Blue which includes out-takes, DVD footage, fold out pictures, essays and a 12 in vinyl original. It costs £50.

While this can be explained to a certain extent by Dylan and Davis having older, boomer audiences with cash to spare, even today. I think there's something more going on here. Matt Mason, the bloke mentioned earlier who wrote The Pirate's Dilemma, talks of how the producers of Heroes created so many income stream s around the show that the impact of DVD pirate's was negated.

Why will people pay so much for something that they can get for free? Because, It's not just about the basic product, the movie or the show, it's about all the culture that surrounds it.


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