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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

OK I'm ready to go


was fussing and futzing all day about what/whether to post something. then I looked under my mousepad where I remembered I'd stuck a piece of paper with a few ready-to-go topics. then it re-hit me.

- digital sales vs. CD

o snap that's right!

With Canadian copyright laws poised (by who in who's ear, exactly?) to get even more restrictive and to expand and build enforcement mechanisms and in effect, create new crimes endemic to society,

I want to talk about what art is worth.

It is certain, because I have lived it, that true artists create art no matter what. They'll eat nothing but ramen noodles for a month to afford a proper mic, or stuff it all inside until the loopholes in the storm of what might be happening in their personal life open just enough for them to revisit their most elevated condition: getting caught up in the act of creation.

At some point most will make a decision to sell their art, or else just do it privately. (I knew a guy who worked in the kitchen who played metal guitar, he was amazing and knew everything about it, but he really just wanted to do it for himself, I guess, so he did. He worked in the damned dish pit and was happy in himself because he had that to look forward to at the end of his day.)

Artists who want to sell art are basically left/stuck with a retail question: how the F#%$ do I pick a number?

I could get way sidetracked right now. But instead I will bring my head around to my original, galvanizing point:

- digital sales vs. CD

o snap that's right!

This is why I like working in production. I am privy to all sorts of experiential technical stuff about how production materials, namely paper, paperboard/cardboard and plastic, travel around a production shop and what effort is necessitated and roughly how dear it's to be.

And so you could say, I dunno, "It's going to cost $2.46 for each copy of your book." (You are responsible for distribution, for the sake of argument.) "If you want to make a profit, assuming no other expenses, you need to charge at least $2.47 per copy." A lot of people will go on to impudently charge $18.50 or $21.

But speaking for myself: How the F#%$ do you pick a number?

Here's another total poser for comparison: how much do you charge to download an mp3? It takes $0.00 to fabricate one, unless you get into web hosting expenses and that sort of bullshit.

Either way, really, one ultimately has to decide on some arbitrary symbolic amount as a reward for your artist, or if you are the artist, yourself. I hate doing that.

Most people don't know what materiel goes into making art. Most of us have little idea of each others' particular living expenses. So most people cannot make an informed decision on a useful and fair price for, say, the download of an mp3. So when it comes to choosing the amount of the reward, (as much as I love giving stuff away for free, I need more room to work to make even better stuff for you) I would rather specify it myself than trust the purchaser to pick an amount commensurate with the worth of the song and their own means. (Free is still easiest on the food budget, there's no denying it.)

Let's see if I can figure out how to choose fairly, for the sake of anyone still bristling over my use of the word 'trust'. ;))) and of course, for future generations ;P

by total round-numbers tally, I averaged 1 album / year for oh, three full-length albums. During each year let's say I spent the better part of 100 hours working on the album. I was doing everything myself with guerilla equipment and shit I had lying around.

Skilled labour in a life-long career should get I dunno, $35 / hour, before taxes? So in a year, that's $3500 (before TAXES) to make an album. Divide by oh, 11 tracks / album is $318 to make each track.

Multiply that by my obvious chops. I am seasoned! $500 a track!!! Whatever!!!!!

Now divide by the astronomical number of people magically and wonderfully enabled to obtain an mp3 on the internet(!!yay since so many people might potentially get a hold of my music, there's no need to be miserly)

Divide by the astronomical majority of people who have never heard of me (symbolizing risk to prospective buyers).

And just to be fair, divide by the people who never download my music. I'd say you have about 99¢ a download.

So on behalf of everyone at the Bullshit Math Bureau, and on behalf of all starving and non-starving artists, let's make it a tiny bit less than a buck for a song (before tax) and pay the artists, to comfort them; maybe we will buy food then, and like, candles; and we will feel buoyed and calm and assured and HAPPY! and confident and set to work making something else amazing for you.

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