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Caffeinate Your Music

February 11, 2014

I’m so damn sick of the “If you can afford a $5 coffee, you can afford to support musicians” argument. Here’s why:

a) You’re lucky people can’t download coffee (or your argument would be out the window)

b) I’ll support what I like, when it’s at a fair price and it’s something I feel I need to have (essentially a page taken from Supply and Demand 101)

c) Stop comparing proverbial apples and oranges and remember “if your government can afford space exploration they can afford to pay musicians union wages!” (That’s a joke for those of you having trouble with this blog)

Now for the record, I’m not saying your music isn’t worth five bucks – in fact it could be worth a lot more. What I’m saying is that it is your job to tell me why I absolutely need to have it! Why my life will be less interesting without it! And what added value I get from giving you my money versus some other artist (or just stealing the audio online for that matter). And if you can’t do any of these things? Well, you probably aren’t going to get my money (or other fans money either).

To continue on the coffee analogy, think about it this way: some coffee shops charge you a dollar for a cup of java whereas others might charge you upwards of $5 for a nearly identical liquid bean. Some companies turn profits based on high volume sales (due to a lower mark-up) whereas others have a substantially larger profit margin. And of course, much like music, let us not forget that every person at home thinks they can brew a perfectly fine cup of roast as well and will gladly give it out for free to their friends and family. Similarly, musicians charge a wide range of prices for their CDs ($5-$20+) and some will even just give them away for free (however this seems to be mostly those who have an issue with selling the product).

I could continue on the analogy train comparing Tim Horton’s and Starbucks to the likes of Universal or Sony but the point I’m trying to get at is that both the coffee and the music industry are multi-billion dollar industries which are consumed regularly by the masses daily. The big difference is that the coffee industry hasn’t tried to convince consumers it’s dying in a painful sympathy vote to get your money. It realizes it has a service that people want (arguably need!) and are willing to pay for. And much like other industries it’s found creative ways to market their product and continue to inflate pricing while turning a profit and providing a service people desire.

Somewhere the music industry lost the fundamentals of Economics 101 and tried to re-write supply and demand to fit within the very confines it had built around itself. Not only did it miss the mark entirely but along the way it confused many artists. The bottom line is you need to create something people want and will hold value for. Once you have that you can monetize it any way you see appropriate for your consumers.

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