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Music at the Crossroads

6 steps to fix the music biz

By -- Sun Media

Hey, music industry. After talking to the experts, we've come up with some ways to fix your business (while you still can). You're welcome.

1. Prescription: Subscription

Now that people can go online and listen to almost any song ever recorded, the only way for you to compete is to open the vaults and put everything -- and we mean EVERYTHING -- online. Offer a menu of tiered subscriptions: Cheap packages for folks who just want to listen, higher prices for those who want to download hits and catalog tracks, and premium packages for fans who want front-of-the-line access to new titles and archived rarities. Build it right -- and price it fairly -- and they will come.

2. Do You Wanna Go Faster?

This one is a no-brainer: When Superstar X's CD leaks on a Monday, make it available for legal download on Tuesday. Stop slavishly adhering to the "official" release date and the promo campaign; just get the damn thing out there so people who want it can buy it instead of having to steal it. And give those early-bird shoppers a free copy of the CD on release date, along with a voucher for another free download, so they are rewarded for doing the right thing. Loyalty comes at a price.

3. Art or Commodity: Pick a Side

You want people to start respecting music? Quit devaluing your own product. Stop releasing greatest-hits discs by teen-pop singers who have released only three CDs. Stop putting out endless cheap best-of collections with one new song on them. And stop big-box stores from selling them for next to nothing and driving real music stores out of business.

4. Kill Your Idols

Seriously, the whole Idol thing? Stop it already. It's a desperate, short-sighted tactic that taints the entire industry and devalues music. This is especially true in Canada, where the Idol-Juno Awards-CTV triad appears to be a ridiculously incenstuous conflict of interest.

5. You Can't Beat Them -- So Join Them

You can give all the lawyers all the money and time in the world -- they're never going to eradicate online piracy. So why not fight fire with freebies? Set up your own online Torrent sites, stuff them with classic tracks, bonus cuts, rarities, live recordings, remixes, tunes from new bands and other cool stuff. Then let fans download and trade them for free.

6. Stop Sucking

Ask kids who their favourite acts are right now. Then throw away those lists and ask for their favourite acts of all time. Virtually every one will mention Led Zeppelin, The Stones, The Beatles, AC/DC, Nirvana, The Who or Black Sabbath. Why? Because those bands made great music. Great music is timeless. What you make is product. People don't want product; they want great music. So stop investing in every flash-in-the-pan trend and start investing in the next immortal band.





Has the Writers Guild of America strike affected you?
Yes, I don't like watching reruns
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