Jami Jackson's Music Player

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Variable Pricing with ITunes....Get Ready!

ITunes will begin varying their prices for digital tracks in April 7th. Many hit singles and classic tracks will cost $1.29. This new pricing plan could be the first real test to see how much consumers are willinng to buy for music. Psychologically, a new song may cause someone want to spend more for that song in order to have it to listen to. However, consumers have gotten so used to spending $0.99 on a song, that it could also be a detterent to charge more money. This pricing strategy will also lower the price of selected songs. The music industry has been pushing for a variable-pricing strategy to try to gain more revenue from digital downloads in the wake of declining CD sales.
But is it the right time for variable pricing? Much of the world is going through a recession and slow-down in growth, so will consumers be willing to spend more for this discretionary expense? Would it make more people want to pirate music, if they can't afford the downloads? $1.29 seems like it's not that much more, but if you are like me and buy 10, 20 songs at a time sometimes, then it can add up. Would it cause more people to move in the opposite direction?
Apple is planning to sell music at 3 prices, 69cents, 99cents, and $1.29. The tracks would be DRM-free and could play on unlimited computers. The prices would be geared to artist popularity. Newly released tracks by new artists would receive the lower prices, while popular acts would get the higher price. Classic tracks would also get the higher price. Most of the songs are expected to stay at 99cents. There could also be the option of bundling a more expensive track with a less expensive track in order to boost sales. These value packages could make customers want to buy more.
I think variable pricing is a smart way to sell music in order to take advantage of artist popularity, but I feel like it should have started in the beginning. Now, I think people have gotten used to how music was priced before and will have to get over the hurdle of the higher price now. People will definitely still buy music, but music purchases may decline from the change in price. The more expensive music purchases are, the more alternate options people begin to seek. Personally, I am a fan of streaming services. Although ad-supported download services haven't quite worked out, ad-supported streaming services have faired pretty well. I like to listen to a lot of music, so economically, it doesn't make sense for me to buy every single download. I would be spending thousands of dollars on music. I think eventually, music will move toward streaming services instead of downloading services because of the ability to listen to more music at a time and not pay for each song individually.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drummer Josh Freeze's Solo Album - Is He a Marketing Genius or Is Just Plain Crazy?

Today I was reading about a drummer named Josh Freeze and how he is marketing his first album as a solo artist. Josh Freeze has played with numerous bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Devo and A Perfect Circle and has recorded on hundred of albums. He is releasing his newest record, Since 1972, on March 31st. As a way to market the album, he is selling limited-edition packages along with the music. He is offering a free download of 1 song, or the entire album for $7, which is not too extraordinary. But he is also offering a lunch date with Freeze at P.F. Chang's or The Cheesecake Factory for $250, that is limited to 25 people, or for $2500 you can take 3 things from his closet, limited to 5 people, or for $75,000 people, you can take shrooms and cruise in Hollywood in Tool drummer Danny Carrey's Lamborghini.
However, this idea is not new. Nine Inch Nails did a similar marketing strategy in which they released their album, Ghosts, by either offering the album the first 9 digital tracks free on their album, or selling the entire digital album for $5, or a limited edition package for $300 would include the vinyl edition of the album in a fabric slipcase with 3 hardcover books containing the session files from the studio, a slideshow of the music, photographs, and other goodies. The limited edition package was only available for 2500 and they sold out!! What's interesting to me is that with all of the talk about internet piracy and digital downloads, artists still manage to sell records.
This goes to show us that some consumers are still willing to buy records if they find value in the music. For Nine Inch Nails to sell out of their $300 package tells us something. No one has to pay that kind of money and it is not usual for that kind of package to be offered for an album release in the first place. If piracy was so rampant that most people felt no real value for music other than free, then the $300 album package would not have been sold. These bundled packages seem to be a great way to add value to music. Die hard fans could especially appreciate the bells and whistles of an album and would pay for more. And those are the people that should be marketed to in the first place. Music is at most an intangible asset. It can easily be transferred, especially now with mp3 players, and can almost feel like it is and should be free. If it is bundled with other goods, it could be easier to market and profit from while also avoiding piracy. Some people are always going to try to get music for free no matter what. This happens in any industry, not just the music and film industry. There will always be a black market because every industry is affected by price and value of products. What I see as a new trend in selling music is finding ways to bundle the music with a medium that cannot be copied or transferred. This could include lunch date with Freeze, but it could also mean a vinyl album, or session files from the studio, or anything that is limited and therefore could assign more value to the music and give the fan more bang for their buck.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Should There Be An Internet Music Fee?

The Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) came up with a proposal recently for a Internet music fee of $5 per month which would allow users to swap as much music as they like. A fee such as this would mirror the fees that other music venues pay, such as radio stations, bars and restaurants, etc. A venue that uses music for entertainment is required to at least pay a blanket fee to cover the cost of playing copyrighted music. There are many business models floating around that is toying with the idea of making internet consumers pay a fee for music, whether they actually download music or not. It would be an automatic fee that the would have to pay to use the internet. However, this business model is less popular. The proposal by the SAC is actually asking for voluntary participation by artists and consumers. If consumers decide not to participate, it requires them to sign a sworn statement saying that they will not share copyrighted material. Artists can decide not to participate and not do anything further.
One of the issues of the proposal by the SAC is that the music fee may not be the end of the fees for using the internet. Will the fees just be getting started? The movie industry has also been losing money from illegal digital downloads and bootlegging. Will they also require a fee for the use of the internet? What about books and newspapers? Newspapers are going out of business and are desperately in need for more cash. When will the fees stop? Why is it that music seems to take precedence and attention? Should the fees stop with music?
If Canada implements a monthly fee for music on the internet, I believe other fees would soon crop up. Once the plan has worked through the kinks and other companies see iys importance, they would want the same treatment as the music companies. I believe that the current model of radio stations and bars/lounges paying a blanket fee for music is fair. Their whole business is based on music, so naturally, they will be playing music at their venues. There is no way around that and these venues would be out of business if they could not play copyrighted music.. However, the internet consists of more than just music. It covers everything and anything that you can think of. If you try to make a fee for the use of a small part of it, other companies will crop up and want a fee as well. The fees would become too great and defeat the purpose of the internet. The internet has mainly been about information. There is no tangible product, just transfers of ideas. Therefore, it will be difficult to regulate it. Music is basically a transferable product. It is heard, not touched. There will be many different ideas on how to get a handle of the music and internet, but I think the music industry is missing the point. The business model for music has changed since the advent of the internet and the mp3 player. Music is not used or heard the same way that it was used to. I think the music industry should take advantage of the new ways that music is heard and spread. There are other opportunities, such as streaming and mobile appliciations, that can take the place of the mp3. It also allows for a greater audience for the music and prevents a physical copy of the music from being spread. I hope that the music industry moves away from going after the consumer and instead tries to work with the consumer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Final Recording Studio Session for Keep Walkin' On

Today was a great day because I finally finished recording the vocals for "Keep Walkin' On", my newest song. I am so excited about that because recording in the studio can be a grueling process! Vocal takes have to be done and re-done until its perfect. Even the littlest imperfection sticks out on a recording. Thankfully, I prepared ahead of time for the recording and I had my vocal teacher, Carey Yaruss there. Her website is www.careyyaruss.com. Carey has been a great addition to my life. I just started working with her, but she has really helped me hone my vocal technique. She has a great ear and is able to pick out the littlest thing. It was nice having her in the studio today because this day was for my lead vocals and adlibs. Those parts of a song is the most difficult part of a recording because they have to be not only technically correct, but delivered correctly. The passion has to come through. Having Carey there helped take off some of the stress because I had other ears to hear what I was doing. I didn't have to concentrate on the technique, I could just sing. I'm really excited about this song and I hope that it touches somebody. It is a very inspirational, uplifting song and I believe in times like these, when people are losing their jobs and homes, we need something to touch us on a more deeper level. Once I finish mixing and mastering the song, I'll be able to start promoting it! More to come....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Church in Brooklyn

I am a professional singer for a really nice church in Brooklyn. I have been there since February 2008. It's a great church, not only because of the music, but because of the people that attend. The congregation is REALLY diverse; there are gay and straight couples, different races of people, mixed socioeconomic classes, you name it! What I love about it is that everyone has a unique story and a unique way about themselves. And lately, we've been drawing a crowd wider than our own vicinity. We recently had a talk about the transition team with President Obama that a few of our members talked about and participated in. We also had a dinner that celebrated the police in our neighborhoods. We drew a lot of press for those events.
Not only do I sing for their services in our choir, I also participate in the children's church. Children's Church is a service within a service; a service for the children that starts out with music and breaks out into groups for talking about the bible and reflection. I help with the music part in the beginning. For someone that has absolutely NO experience with children, it was hard at first for me to get used to it. Children's attention spans are so short, you really have to do a lot to keep them interested! And what I think they might enjoy ends up being too complicated or too boring. But it has been fun figuring out how to make them interested. They have gotten more warmed up to me and now get really excited to see me! Children can be so fun to be around. I think what's fun about it is that in order to please them, you have to put yourself in their shoes. They can't be put in your shoes. You really have to think back to when you were a child and what made you happy. Then, you can come up with interesting things. Otherwise, they will zone out. It definitely has been a learning experience.
Singing in the choir has also been an amazing time for me. Before, I was looking for a church home the entire time I was in NYC, ever since the beginning of college, and I never found one until now. That was for about 5 years! I mostly missed being in a choir. I grew up in the church in Durham NC. I had been singing in a church choir since I was 5 years old. So to not be singing in a choir during college was really difficult for me. I had no real outlet for church and I LOVE singing gospel music. When I learned that my church was looking for more singers, I immediately jumped to the occasion. Once I visited the church and listened to the choir, I felt at home. They were singing the kind of music that I like to hear. And they were singing very diverse kinds of music, some classical, some gospel, some in between. I hadn't found another gospel choir in NYC that really sang gospel. NYC gospel choirs to me are more stoic and opera-like. My choir can SANG! So it truly has been a blessing for me to not only be able to sing gospel, but to be a part of such a loving church family. And they love me there too, which is great!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

LIFEBEAT Hearts and Voices Show

Today, I performed for the Lifebeat Hearts and Voices show at Terrence Cardinal Cooke Center (TCC). It was a great show! I was super pumped today because I had another great recording session with Tommy the day before. I was listening to my new song all day and was just so excited about it. Performing in front of the residents really made me feel more alive that I ever had felt. I really felt like I was connecting with them and I was singing, "in the moment". I had also dressed nicely for the show to give it an extra kick. Every time I performed at TCC, the residents would ask over and over if I brought CDs. A lot of the times, I simply forgot to bring them! This time, though, I auctioned off 3 CDs for the residents. It was SOO much fun!! They were so excited to win the CDs!! I know how much it means to them and I can only imagine how much fun it will be for the winners to open the package and listen to the music on their own time. I truly love performing for the residents. It gives me an opportunity to take risks and try new things as an artist, but I am also able to make an impact with the audience. My next show is on March 31st and I can't wait! Here is a picture of Erika Banks, the coordinator of the Hearts and Voices program and myself after the show.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Studio Session with Tommy Faragher

On Saturday, I had the most amazing studio session with Tommy Faragher! Tommy is a Grammy-nominated producer who has worked with artists such as Taylor Dayne, The O'Jays, Al Green and has had publishing deals with Warner Chapell Music and Sony. However, I ran most of the show during the session on Saturday. I was playing some of the piano and synth parts of the song and coming up with the percussion. He definitely helped me to tailor my ideas but he is all about input and feedback. When I have worked with producers in the past, I would give the vocals to the producer and they would come up with the track behind. I had very little input on how the track would sound even though I was a musician as well. This time I had more opportunity to make the track exactly as I heard it. I didn't realize how tedious it was to come up with the track though!! There are so many layers to a song and it's important to keep it interesting to the ears. There are so many instruments and sounds that can go into a track, so it's hard to decide which one works best. But it was a lot of fun developing the track. The song is called, "Keep Walkin' On". I originally wrote it as "Keep Holdin' On", but that line has been used too many times. I hope to have the song finished in time for the AIDS Walk this year. The AIDS walk will be on May 17, 2009. That really only gives me one month to finish the song and one month to promote it. Keep your fingers crossed!!