I was hanging out having a whiskey at the Bourbon Bar outside of the Columbia City Theater with my friends Adam and Emily on Saturday night, waiting to MAYBE get into the sold out Jens Leckman show (it didn’t happen for me, they already had tix) and we were talking about the impact of peer-to-peer sharing on the record industry.
Of course, we were talking about something that’s changed the industry years ago, but it’s still growing and forming every day. The main question for us was, if you’re a small band starting out, would you make much money from a record or from touring, if you made any money at all? Is it actually better to have the opportunity to share records w/ millions of people within days and get some word going without making any money? Would you hope for the chance to make money later vs. putting distribution in the hands of a record company and maybe making some money?
This ignores a lot of factors, record companies who do good by the artists, making art not money (but, lets assume the band wants to quit their day job at some point), the cost of producing music, etc. But I think the core question is interesting – record company or no? Radiohead is releasing their own records, selling fewer of them, but making more money. They are in another stratosphere from the bands we were thinking of and for about 90% of the music you hear on popular radio, the music industry is necessary (but still changing.) But, for that band starting out, would you forego album sales altogether to start? Is the chance of listeners more valuable than the chance of album sales?