A musical revolution is upon us. The time for innovation is now.
Humans have been making music for thousands of years, but recorded music has only been around for about 120 of them. Prior to the invention of the phonographic cylinder in the late 1800’s anyone wishing to hear music had to do so in a live setting. It was the recording of music that first revolutionized the music industry. Suddenly a person could listen to music in the privacy of their own home. The means through which a music listener got their music was similar any other consumer industry: they purchased a trusted product for a set price from a reputable retailer. Record labels, the institutions that created the physical music product, had complete control over how their product got to to their customers: the music fan. Music fans became accustomed to paying whatever price was set by record labels in order to hear the music they loved but they were ultimately limited in the amount of music they could own by the size of their own pocket books.
Gradually, the popular format on which recorded music was played changed many times; phonographic cylinders gave way to vinyl discs which in turn gave way to 8 tracks and cassette tapes. With the advent of cassette tapes we saw the beginnings of the second great revolution in the music industry. Suddenly music fans could replicate the music they’d purchased themselves. This practice, bemoaned by the music industry at large, was seen as a godsend by many music fans who could now make and share copies of the music they loved for virtually nothing. This practice increased exponentially in the digital age as music fans could share digital music files with greater ease than ever before. Today, with the advent of the world wide web, portable mp3 players and file sharing services, music fans are now able to listen to any music they want, anywhere they want, any time they want for free A large “black market” for music sharing is now in full swing and the music industry as we know it is in the midst of a great paradigm shift.
So here we are. The cat is out of the bag. Music is free. But “free” no matter how appealing the word is, is not a sustainable price. Music can’t stay free forever. Musicians and artist friendly record labels should be paid for the art the make and the work they do because their livelihoods depend on it. But the two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive right? Musicians and labels should be able to get paid fairly while at the same time, music fans get the music for a price that they deem fair. Fair to one person may be $1.00 for an album, fair to someone else might be $100. Perhaps record labels are leaving a lot of money on the table by limiting the amount someone can pay. Perhaps music fans are missing the true joy that comes with supporting someone who has made something they love.
The Priceless Music Project is a platform that could bridge the gap between free music and fair pay. The Priceless Music Project aims to usher in strong artist/label/music fan relationships during the digital music paradigm shift by allowing music fans the ability to choose the amount they give in exchange for the privilege of owning and listening to a given artists music. This exchange comes with the full acknowledgement of both artist and music fan that there is indeed a direct correlation between actual monetary support and an artists ability to keep making music.
The third great paradigm shift in the history of music will be seen in a direct connection between musicians and fans. Music fans have already taken the power back But, with great power also comes great responsibility. It is now not only a music fans right, but their responsibility to choose which artists and record labels they will support by purchasing albums, attending concerts, buying band merchandise and spreading the word about the artist through social circles.
It is, with all this in mind we deliver you the 5 tenants of the Priceless Music Project
1. Music is Already Free
Music is officially free on the internet. Downloading free music does not make someone a criminal.
2. Free Music is Not Sustainable
If music remains completely free with no social or moral responsibility attached to its free acquisition an unsustainable system is created in which it is very difficult for independent artists and labels to thrive.
3. Fans Should Choose the Price of Music
Music should be available on the music fans terms at the price they set, even if that price is free. Independent artists and record labels should trust in their fans, who love their music and creativity, to take care of them by paying a fair and honest price for that music. An open and un-restricted music buying market controlled by the music fan is a necessary change for the music industry at large to once again thrive.
4. Fans Should Participate
Artists and record labels still deserve to be paid fairly for the music they make. Creating, recording and distributing music costs money. If the artists and record labels are to continue to be able to make the music they love, music fans must take an active role in supporting these artists monetarily in some way, shape, or form. Though music fans have the right to download music for free, anyone who does so has an obligation to support that artist or record label in a different way. This could be attending a live show by that artist, purchasing the artist or record labels merchandise, actively participating in spreading the word about that artist to others in their community, paying for the music at a later date, making a music video for the band or any other creative support they can lend.
5. Music is Community… everyone is from somewhere.
Music struggles to exist without community. Artists and record labels share a social responsibility with music fans to give back to the local communities that support them. A certain amount of the money paid by music fans to support independent artists and record labels should go to non-profits within the local communities that in turn support that artist and label.
"The Priceless Music Project Manifesto" offers a brief history of the technologies that preserve music and their coincident privatization. The authors of this manifesto ultimately outline five principles of music preservation and dissemination, arguing that music should be easy to access and that its price should be determined by the user.
Copyright © 2014 The Priceless Music Project