Digital or Die: The Future of PSB

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Deschanel
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Digital or Die: The Future of PSB

#1 Post by Deschanel » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 2:11 am

This is in response to the many negative (and some positive) replies I got for suggesting PSB release an Internet single to fans, for sale or for free, while we wait for a new album. I love PSB very much, and this post is a hope that they meet and creatively embrace the Internet. Because frankly, they won't have much choice soon.

The whole business of bands selling CDs to get by is literally cratering before our eyes. The entire recorded music industry is having a seismic breakdown, the entire business model of CDs is rapidly headed to extinction. And it will be largely dead by 2010.

I've never mentioned this before here, but in my professional life I'm a consultant (and friend) to a lot of people in the music industry, and the business of selling CDs is going the way of the dinosaur. It's a panic, a lot of people are losing their jobs, and it KILLS me that PSB still seems to think that selling CDs is the way to go.

This business model is collapsing so fast, watch out for the wreckage. Digital sales of recorded music is an unstoppable force , and the more I hear about PSB fighting it tooth and nail, the more I despair for my favorite band. Instead of embracing Internet sales , and their worldwide, far-flung fanbase, PSB are clinging to ancient modes of distribution. THEY STILL THINK THEY WILL MAKE NEW FANS SOMEWHERE, rather than directly serving their fanbase. This is a fantasy.
PSB treat their fans like an ugly date they've taken to a party, constantly scanning the room to find someone better, ignoring who they came with.

But WHO are the people buying their merch, going to their concerts, discussing their music, buying their output, giving a damn? Us, pretty much.

The new bands coming up make full use of the Internet, they EMBRACE their core fanbase, and they give those fans what they want. They don't tell their fans to wait 2 years, while spending X amount of dollars, expecting to recoup it in CD sales. This business model is DEAD DEAD DEAD.

Neil was vocal many years ago about how very much he resented people "stealing" PSB music without paying. He absolutely mistrusted the Internet, then. This was the late 90's. One can absolutely see his point and at the same time wish he would snap out of it in 2008 and creatively EMBRACE the Internet.

Of course, digital sales make less that a CD, but it also costs less to distribute. Neil is lamenting the passing of the star system, but join the club- the entire music industry is collapsing because of greed and short-sightedness. Any act wanting to get by selling CDs is doomed to extinction.

PSB have a vast, loyal international fanbase they could reach, be in touch with, and sell to if they wanted to. But they don't seem to want to. Fixating on ever-dwindling CD sales, country by country, is done. Digital distribution is the way to go, and these days, it's adapt or die. If meeting their actual fans' needs is too much, retirement is an honourable option too. Hope they don't wanna go out like that, though.

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#2 Post by Syncratic » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 2:17 am

De ja vu.

Didn't really see THAT much negative response to the digital single idea, which I'm sure has been touted more than once on here by a few people.

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glennjridge
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#3 Post by glennjridge » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 2:17 am

well technically,them offering "transfer" and some previously unreleased demo's like their version of run girl run powerful friend for free was pretty charitable of them. not to mention, think of all the music we have exchanged over the years, new album tracks,demos ,and they havent done jack to shut it all down.

while I of course would welcome any release exclusivly for us, they have been pretty good to us, and not only that, they are always working and putting out new CD's for various projects.

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#4 Post by Young Offender » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 3:30 am

I got my first I-pod a few months ago and can't believe i waited so long to get one, pretty amazing and how easy it is to copy to the library, download and update the thing. and I can take it anywhere and plug into my pc at work, car, home, hotel, etc.

As much as I like holding a nice cd and its artwork, i think your right digital distribution is the way of the future.

I hope they are able to use this to everyone's advantage.
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#5 Post by gregf » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 5:45 am

Hey Deschanel,

I know you are right. I was in IT and I know what happens to any business that does
not embrace new business situations quickly.

So I would like to ask what you think about another model as a secondary,
not primary, line of business : the direct marketing CD single or mini CD.

Something like a CD single with 4/6/8 tracks marketed thru the PSB shop site every 6 months or so.
If 5000 fans spend $10 twice a year on this, wouldn't that be a good match for the same tracks available on download ?
Overheads low as it does not go out the retail chains.
But it would keep gen-x happy and interested.

After thought : perhaps such a CD could be co-ordinated with Literally.
"Remember Bender, if you do it right, no one is sure you have done anything at all". -God. In Godfellas.

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Janet Street-Porter
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#6 Post by Janet Street-Porter » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 10:54 am

Yes but can you release four versions of the same album digitally? What about Farrow? For a group who've always embraced the visual aesthetic, why should they suddenly abandon that part of their product? Just because every no-mark indie band does so? (Probably because they're all called The Something and are about as visually distinctive as a test tube of clones.)

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Re: Digital or Die: The Future of PSB

#7 Post by Nickname » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 12:05 pm

Deschanel wrote:
This business model is collapsing so fast, watch out for the wreckage. Digital sales of recorded music is an unstoppable force , and the more I hear about PSB fighting it tooth and nail, the more I despair for my favorite band. Instead of embracing Internet sales , and their worldwide, far-flung fanbase, PSB are clinging to ancient modes of distribution. THEY STILL THINK THEY WILL MAKE NEW FANS SOMEWHERE, rather than directly serving their fanbase. This is a fantasy.
I see your point and I think digital sales are the future. Anyway, the fanbase is well served and there is nothing wrong in trying to make new fans and having promotion. With no promotion, PSB will be forgotten by the general public and I don't think is a good thing.

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#8 Post by Blogo » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 1:58 pm

I like the idea of having a physical copy... Pet Shop Boys do have a loyal fanbase but they dont score too high on downloads... I think Minimal got 200 downloads or something on its first week... thats pretty shit...
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#9 Post by tottenhammattspurs » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 1:59 pm

(Probably because they're all called The Something and are about as visually distinctive as a test tube of clones.)

The Somethings....This should be a name of an indie band...
is is and isnt isnt

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#10 Post by PSBehaviour » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 2:12 pm

I hope PSB will continue releasing their music physically. No mp3 can ever match the sound quality of a cd or vynil. And to all people who think different, just be logic. An mp3 is a compressed file. You always lose data/sound-quality. Not everyone cares for that, but I do. Which doesn't mean I don't play mp3s. When I'm just playing music in the background I use mp3s. It's easier than changing cd's all the time. But when I really want to listen to music I put on a cd and lay myself comfortably on the couch and enjoy it.
Conclusion: They have to sell their music in all possilble ways and try to find a good ballance.

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glennjridge
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#11 Post by glennjridge » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 2:43 pm

well I do understand there is a quality loss with mp3 but thats a technical problem that I'm fairly sure will obvious will be solved at some point.

so as far as format, and the way technology flows, it only makes sense that ALL music at some point will be strictly downloaded. will be a while though.maybe our kids kids will wonder what a physical CD was.

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TheGhostOfMyself
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#12 Post by TheGhostOfMyself » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 2:52 pm

I don't think PSB have missed the concept of digital at all. Neil said in an interview on Youtube that he thought iTunes was the best invention ever but was never a replacement for actual CDs. They also make good use of the PSB web site, releasing un-released tracks as well as their album tracks with links to online download sites.

However, they still take a few years to produce each album. Why? Because that's how they've worked and how their marketable image identifies them. If they were constantly releasing new material the novelty value of buying their latest would go. It's a classic supply/demand situation, the less you supply the more people demand.

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#13 Post by Janet Street-Porter » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 3:16 pm

glennjridge wrote:so as far as format, and the way technology flows, it only makes sense that ALL music at some point will be strictly downloaded. will be a while though.maybe our kids kids will wonder what a physical CD was.
You may as well say that our kids will wonder what a potato was because they can eat fries at McDonalds. Why should downloads necessarily mean the end of the physical medium? I find downloads to be soulless and ethereal: I want cover art; I want to ogle the breasts of scantily clad nymphette pop stars in the booklet inside.

Oh, and STRACHAN OUT!!!!!

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#14 Post by whateverman42 » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 4:56 pm

It seems to be in fashion now to say how the CD will be gone in a few years. My ass, though it will never be as big as it once was, and it will probably decrease more from this point on, digital downloads are different. The only reason the CD made vinyl extinct was because it offered everything vinyl had, ie) a physical object with a booklet and lyrics and artwork, but it was also compact and of better sound quality.

As a physical object, I can't see the CD being much more improved upon. I'm not against new technology, but it offers the best possible sound quality, and there's not much point in making it much smaller. Digital music is a bit poorer in quality, and offers no object. There will always be a core group of consumers who demand things that downloads can't give them, myself included. Bono said CD's will become the music equivalent of hardcover books, while downloads will be like paperbacks, and I see some truth in that.

For PSB to focus on downloads is a huge mistake, for their core fanbase is largely older people who won't change from CD's in their lifetime. Like someone mentioned, downloads of Minimal were dreadful. Why would they alienate the people who support them? And change their style after 2 decades of artistic success? I'm sorry, but I think completely the opposite, and hope they continue their unique output, instead of copying bland bands.

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#15 Post by Niall » Sat 29 Mar 2008, 4:57 pm

Celtic were shite in the second half.
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