It's funny how clueless the music industry still is, even after all the debates about file sharing, dowloading and home taping.
They think they can expect me to wait for a release date scheduled by the marketing department when the product I want can be obtained through other sources, often faster and at a lower cost. But just so we are clear, this is about accessibility, not about money.
Let me give you an example. Two weeks or so ago I discovered The Baseballs through a video on YouTube that was posted on several blogs and facebook. I checked out their album on Spotify and decided that this was something I wanted to own.
So I checked all the places I usually shop for cd's. Yes, I am an old-fashioned girl and I prefer my music on that little round piece of plastic that I can play in the car.
But I couldn't find the album anywhere. The Baseballs' website offers both the cd and some nice merch, but only ships to adresses in Germany.
I want to pay for the cd and am thinking about spending even more money on merchandise, but I can't. So what do I do? Because I can't find the album or any information on when it will be released in my area I choose to download it. I thus have the music and can play it in the car and on my mp3-player, but it's not what I wanted in the first place.
I found The Baseballs (presumably someone at their record label or management who tweets in their name) on twitter and left a comment on how I couldn't find the album. And this is the reply I got:
Thanks, but I already got it. And in any case, I'm not prepared to wait another two months for something I know I can find right now.
I work in the music industry and I understand that pre-release hype does great things for record sales. And I know that sales are very important when you are launching a new act.
But what The Baseballs and their record label/management are overlooking is that their music is being promoted for free by their fans in a viral marketing campaing. That is, everyone who is posting links to the video on YouTube and the album on Spotify are in fact promoting the band. When I look at the statistics I can see that people from Brasil, Mexico, Poland and Switzerland arrive on my blog after searching for "Baseballs Umbrella".
The video on YouTube has been shown 1 108 959 times and has 2 338 comments as I type this. These are really good numbers for a new act that hasn't been featured in the internationall press or on MTV outside Germany.
But I wonder if the viral campaign wouldn't be more successful if fans from all around the world could buy the music and merch directly from the band? They would certainly make a bigger profit on each item sold. As I have shown, I was prepared to buy the album but couldn't find a way to do so.
We are only a small web shop, but the HepCat Store ships internationally, as do many smaller web stores run by punk bands and independent lables. I got some awesome Bouncing Souls merch from Chunksaah in New Jersey, USA just last week. That makes it even more frustrating when I can't order from a neighbouring country in Europe.
Let's hope those weekend greasers in The Baseballs will get hip to viral marketing and start shipping internationally.
I really like this shirt and if I can't buy it I'll just have to make my own.
So I downloaded the music and didn't pay, but look at all the free promotion The Baseballs got in this post. I guess we can call it a fair trade?