Confusing Value And Price, Choir Demands £3000 Per Download

from the let's discuss this rationally -- I'll start by setting an insane, but &# dept

If you asked most people what a single track is worth, most would answer with the going market price, which ranges from ~$0.79-$1.29. This is what the market has shown, for the most part, that it will bear. You veer too far away from the high end of that range and you’ll find most people will opt for other music, cheaper music, or your music, fully detached from the high-end price tag.

Now, if you ask this same question of a certain 22-piece self-described “feminist alternative choir,” the answer would be much, much different. Your initial estimate would need to be upped by approximately $4,850. Gaggle, the 22-member choir, has announced that they are selling their new single for £3,000 per download (no physical option exists). Why? Because they’ve chosen to use the persuasive power of economic fallacies to get people talking about “value.”

Here’s the womanifiesto:

“The Power of Money. What does money mean to you? How do you put a value on the things you care about? Is money the same thing as worth? Like it or not, money means that some people are rich and others poor, some considered successful, others failures. It determines your healthcare choices, education, clothes and how long you have the heating on for – whether you can have the things you want. But money is made up. Without our participation in the illusion, it’s meaningless – in fact, if meaning equated to value, we would happily burn all the money tomorrow. Gaggle, of course, uses money. But Gaggle is an exercise in the power of other things as well – otherwise we wouldn’t, and couldn’t, exist. The Power of Generosity, Inventiveness, Courage. The Power of Flirting, Improvising, Blagging, Hard Work and Being Nice and Polite. The Power of Friendship, Faith, Obligation, Ambition, Anxiety…..Dreams. Without these Powers this track would not have been made. This song is precious. And yet, we’re told that ‘a single’ is almost valueless. And that pisses us off. So we have done a budget of how much this single ‘cost’. The many hours it took to write, arrange, compose, master; the expertise of all the musicians, technicians, designers, producers involved; the combination of all the Powers described above and more – we’ve totted it all up as best we can and… …we are putting this tune to market for the sum of £3000. The power of money? Let’s see.”

Well, good luck with that. It’s been said time and time before, the customer has little to no interest in your fixed costs. This factor is completely irrelevant to purchase decisions, which are most often based on a more subjective perception of “value.” While Gaggle may value their creation highly, it would be ignorant to assume that potential purchasers will value the track accordingly. In an era where creative output is at its highest, the sheer number of competing, cheaper options would be enough to bury this track’s chances, even if Gaggle decided £5 was a reasonable amount to ask. (It isn’t.)

Beyond that, there’s some questions as to Gaggle’s math. Are they intending for one sale to reimburse the entire creative effort? 10? 25? Wouldn’t it be better to sell a few thousand copies at a price that people will actually pay, rather than pin the hopes of the collective on sales in the single digits? For that matter, wouldn’t this scenario be more likely as well? And is it really fair to ask purchasers to support 22 musicians through the purchase of a single track? Aren’t you running about 10-15 members over the upper limit for potentially successful bands that aren’t named Broken Social Scene or Chicago?

But the issue at hand here really isn’t £3000 or the perceived value of a single track versus the true cost of production. Gaggle’s move here is a publicity stunt, primarily aimed at raising awareness of the band with a secondary aim of opening a dialogue about the value of artistic endeavors. All well and good except that it’s rather hard to hold a discussion with a group whose opening gambit is to hurl themselves off the deep end while everyone else looks on in bemusement.

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Comments on “Confusing Value And Price, Choir Demands £3000 Per Download”

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77 Comments
Aria Companysays:

“Gaggle’s move here is a publicity stunt…”
Be sure to take your cut, Tim, for helping with the publicity.

Oh, and I’ll take a bit too for commenting on it.

This is going to get ugly. More comments are going to come, and they’ll all want their share too, decreasing my take.

Can’t wait to see how much our efforts get billed to Gaggle for our work in helping with the publicity!

It sure isn’t going to be 99 cents, right?

Dannysays:

Re: Re:

Good lord, the comments in this thread are hurting my brain. I keep reading comments about how “entitled” or foolish they are but Tim said it himself, this isn’t about selling copies of their song.

It seems pretty obvious to me that what they are attempting to do is alter the discourse we have around the value of music. Whether their attempt is at all successful, or even a good idea, is a productive direction to take the conversation. Comment after comment about how they are greedy or elitist or just plain clueless are completely missing the point of their actions.

Sneejesays:

Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps, but they are the ones that said, “And yet, we’re told that ‘a single’ is almost valueless. And that pisses us off.”

The choice of those words imply that they a) don’t understand the difference between price and value and b) believe that the price for singles should be much higher.

You’re right that we cannot take the next step to conclude they think it should be higher because they are greedy, but their own words have pointed the discussion in this direction.

Anonymoussays:

Meh, $3000 FOR ONLY THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO IT, WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE.

Thanks, but no thanks. I am not enabling monopolies anymore.

I will put $3000, hard work, inventiveness, knowledge and courage in more practical things.

Like on:

http://www.medstartr.com/ (the medical Kickstarter)

Or better yet in OSEHRA the open source healthcare.

The Real Michaelsays:

Re: Re:

I disagree with that broad-sweeping generalization. Money is not every artist’s primary motivation. Of course most would prefer to make a living off their craft, which is fine so long as they don’t blatantly rip people off or act like entitled snobs. But still, a lot of artists are happy to share their works.

Corwinsays:

Obvious answer is obvious

Kickstart the 3000 quid, release into public domain, with a “copyright note” that states the names of all donors in decreasing order of contribution amount. Embedded in the tags of the original files distributed by the project.

But 3000 pounds should cover everything, right? So, the masters should be openly distributed too. And the intermediary files, custom settings in the studio software, right? Everything that the choir could possibly have access to after having recorded the song, should be public domain, if the public pays a liberation fee to buy the song outright.

If the performers choose to one-time sell the song, it’s a very good idea, in the first place. Songs do have a fixed cost, so it makes very much sense to sell them as “one product”, with the natural right to share it once the product has been fully paid for.

Capitalism is the system where all products are supposed to end up priced at their marginal production cost. This choir may be doing something very, very right. Maybe someone could even reappropriate their song and make it a hit, earning millions by selling related, scarce stuff, just to show them how to make money from free.

Richardsays:

?3000 for what?

For the same rights they have – maybe?

That is a plausible business model. The first batch of purchasers can resell to recoup their investment at a profit. The price will progressively fall and at the end of the process the work will be effectively in the public domain with all fixed costs having been recovered (with a little profit.)

Sadly I suspect that this is NOT their model.

FreeCultureForFreePeoplesays:

OMG - my ears!

If you think the bad news is the pricetag, I suggest you treat your ears to the generous 59 second preview (https://bleep.com/release/41111#) of this “masterpiece”. They sound like they’re singing into a tin can, while at the same time banging about on said tin can.

dials number of solicitor to claim damages for pain and suffering

Nice publicity stunt, all right, though I doubt it will attract the type of audience (elitist + clueless) they’d hoped for.

Their sense of entitlement is absolutely amazing. People will always pay the price the music is worth to THEM, regardless of the cost it took to create said music.

Looks like there’s a lesson to be learned…

Anonymous Cowshitsays:

Re: OMG - my ears!

Finally, someone has actually listened to the object of this discussion.

There was me fuming (albeit quite smugly, I have to say) that you had all failed to confirm that this was NOT the most sensational piece of music ever produced. Might this not perhaps have been a uniquely glorious combination of sounds capable of producing a minimum of five orgasms per second for the listener while simultaneously reversing global warming, bringing about world peace and making my head hair grow back? For that, 3000 pounds would (as many of us – especially the follically challenged – might agree) be a bargain!

Self-tested. Smugness over.

All the music (unsure that this is the correct use of the word) did for me was to set my ears ringing, turn my brain to a strange combination of mushy peas and razor blades, propel me swiftly in the direction of the bathroom, and make me wish I had a second-hand ICBM to lob at the abode of the choir members of Gaggle (which Google quite correctly defines as “A disorderly or noisy group of people”), or whatever they are called. So much for world peace! And hair restoration.

In this instance, silence is much more golden. And a helluva lot cheaper.

Mind you … do you think I could copyright a few seconds of silence, and then ask you all to pay me royalties whenever you listen to (or produce) a copy or interpretation thereof?

FreeCultureForFreePeoplesays:

Video

Update: there’s a Youtube video of these nerds performing their “song”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMZwAZcEnZ4&feature=player_embedded.

I guess I’m lucky to live in Germany, where, thanks to our greedy collectors’ society (GEMA), it has become next to impossible to watch any Youtube video at all. Denying a whole country access to one of the worlds biggest video platforms is a great way to ‘support and promote’ artists.

Thank you, GEMA.

Josef Anvilsays:

Nice words

Gaggle can use any words they like to justify the reasons for the hefty price tag. Publicity stunt or not, the reality is that the internet has shown us that increasingly fewer of us are willing to pay for music.

Does that mean that music has no value? Nope. Music is priceless, it is a part of us and we feel entitled to it. Artists aren’t the only ones who feel a sense of entitlement. The internet just taught us that music is more like air. It’s something that has a VERY high value, but an extremely low price, if any.

Newsflash for the RIAA. Instead of whining, you should learn to market music like water. Convince your customers that even though they can get it for free, you have a “better” version. It worked well for bottled water.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

“The many hours it took to write, arrange, compose, master; the expertise of all the musicians, technicians, designers, producers involved;”

Seems like it was all wasted.
I listened to a few seconds and I’d like that portion of my life back please.
I’d also like to be paid for the damage to my eyes caused by your video editing choice’s which seemed to be based on how many effect buttons can we mash at the same time.

Anonymoussays:

If you asked most people what a single track is worth, most would answer with the going market price, which ranges from ~$0.79-$1.29. This is what the market has shown, for the most part, that it will bear.

I do not believe this statement is accurate. It would be more accurate to say that the big recording companies made up their minds early on that this is what music should be worth, and have refused to budge from that position. There have been numerous analyses and experiments that suggest there may be other pricing models that would return higher revenue, some of which suggest revenue would be maximized somewhere in the $0.15-$0.25 range (more so if the music industry had taken the lesson to heart early on before so many young music listeners got used to the idea of obtaining music for free).

Evidently, being able to dictate how much a song should be worth is more important to them than trying to make more money. I would speculate that this notion came from the same team that spearheaded the music industry’s (very successful) campaign to drive down CD sales by pissing off the music-buying public.

anonymousesays:

Funny

If this is some type of marketing ploy, well they have got people thinking of the cost of creating music, the cost is 0 yes you read that right ZERO i can sit today and strum my guitar for a few minutes put some words to it and release it on thepiratebay free for everyone in the world to listen to. Now as this group have declared all the time and effort that has gone into there creation as time that is being charged for.Now lets see how much do these people get paid for creating there track, Nothign you say they did it becasue they enjoy music, so in fact there music has only the value people are prepared to pay then, they put a crazy price on there track but it cost them Zero dollars to create it. They obviously as an entity already owned there instruments, they have already probably paid for them and use them all the time so there is no meaningful value to them, they have probably practiced at home and in school or church halls that provide the space free or for a monthly fee that is paid for by donations. Or even membership fees which are not used or should not be used for the valuation of this track as those costs would have still been there if the track was not created. Salaries are irrelevant as most musicians join an orchestra for the experience unless they are very well known whereupon they get there salaries from paying audiences and possibly cd sales.

SO all in all they have no costs and this track should or could be sold for the cost or value people have put on a track which is 99c or less , probably less as orchestral music is not that popular and is never seen in the top 100 songs.

Michaelsays:

Re: Funny

“i can sit today and strum my guitar for a few minutes”

– Your time (ok, that may not cost anything)
– Purchase or rent a guitar

“release it on thepiratebay”

– Something to record the music and turn it into a digital file

“they have already probably paid for them and use them all the time so there is no meaningful value to them”

Just because something has been used or paid for itself many times over does not mean it has no value.

“they have probably practiced at home and in school or church halls that provide the space free or for a monthly fee that is paid for by donations”

Speculation does not help an argument.

“SO all in all they have no costs and this track should or could be sold for the cost or value people have put on a track which is 99c or less”

And as stated in the article, the customer has no interests in the fixed costs. It doesn’t matter if they are zero (as you wrongly claim) or $1 million, they have no real bearing on the market.

I’m not sure what you were trying to argue, but something went awry on you there.

slick8086says:

All well and good except that it’s rather hard to hold a discussion with a group whose opening gambit is to hurl themselves off the deep end while everyone else looks on in bemusement.

How is a feminists group asking 3000 pounds for a music track any more the deep end than an ISP asking for $5000 for a cup of coffee if the goal is to raise awareness?

http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20121228/01025121504/sf-wireless-isp-monkeybrains-tries-to-crowdfund-325-million-satellite.shtml

John Fendersonsays:

The key point

While Gaggle may value their creation highly, it would be ignorant to assume that potential purchasers will value the track accordingly.

This hits the key point about the difference between price (cost) and value. Value is almost entirely subjective.

When you produce something, you value it very highly — much more highly than anybody else is likely to do. This is understandable and correct: it really is worth more to the creator than anybody else. This is understandable and accurate.

Nobody else, however, will value it as highly — and most people won’t value it even close to as highly. This is also understandable and accurate.

Too many creators don’t grasp this disparity and think that because it’s of immense value to them, it must be at least of high value to everyone else. Then they base business decisions on that supposition and wonder why nobody is willing to pay “what it’s worth”.

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