A while back I ranted on the enormous number of ‘free’ downloads of my stuff.
Now here is a very interesting article about how at least one company is making serious money helping record companies convert some of this activity into sales.
In short, Big Champagne gathers stats on P2P file sharing data as demographic marketing information; the frequency by which songs and artists are being downloaded in various cities, states and countries. They then sell this in digestible chart and spreadsheet form to record companies so they can determine which artists to push in which markets.
So while the record companies are trying like crazy to shut down P2P sites, they are also not above getting whatever benefit they can out of their predicament.
I’m sure you’re at least vaguely aware of all the valuable medical information that came out of those Nazi experiments during the war. Same deal. People have to hold their nose to use such data, but it’s justÂ too valuable to ignore simply because the source was so reprehensible. And the labels are willing to pay through those nose to get it.
See the record companies have to swallow hard because, frankly, their own marketing efforts just don’t work. The data that Big Champagne offers is far more accurate than anything they get by normal market research.
The irony is so rich it oughta be illegal. Like patÃ©. I love it.
Does this mean I’ve ‘seen the light’ regarding illegal downloading? Heck no. Just because some small good is coming out of P2P for record companies doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly lost my mind. As an artist I see zero personal benefit to this dynamic. And furthermore, I think the record companies better not get to enamoured of this new found marketing data lest they take their eye off the ball.
What Big Champagne offers is a lot like using your credit card to make mortgage payments. Yeah, it’ll work. For a while. And then?
If the record companies need good marketing data to make good records again, I understand. And I wish them all the best of luck. But even though I dearly love the idea of them having to use info gleaned from bad acts as a fabulous form of payback, I really do want to see the industry find a way to get good info about users without needing them to do the very things (file sharing) that are killing creativity as a way to make a living.
To me, Big Champagne is kind of like pollster who interviews people to find out what they’ve stolen as they exit each shop and uses that to determine what kids like. You shouldn’t have to learn how many people are boosting iPhones in each city to learn where to put one’s marketing dollars.