Music industry: torrents vs. middlemen?

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Yesterday, on’s (one of the most famous post-Oink torrent trackers) home page, you could have read an announcement which has already generated a lot of buzz on the interweb: Alphabasic, a U.S. indie label, has agreed to release its latest album on the site. Here you find an excerpt from the company’s CEO letter:
“Hello listener…downloader…pirate…pseudo-criminal…
If you can read this, then you’ve more than likely downloaded this album from a peer to peer network or torrent.
You probably expect the rest of this message to tell you that you’re hurting musicians and breaking just about every copyright law in the book. Well, it won’t tell you that.
What I would like to tell you is that my record label understands that a large portion of people pirate music because it is easier than buying it. CDs scratch easily, most pay-per-download sites have poor quality and ****ty DRM protection, and vinyl is near impossible to find or ship without hassle.
In many cases I wonder why people buy CDs at all anymore. A few like the tangible artwork, some haven’t adapted to MP3s yet, but most do it because they have a profound love for music and want to support the artists making it. Kind of restores your faith in humanity for a moment eh?
So, now what?
Like the album? About to go “support the artist” on iTunes?
Well, don’t.
Alphabasic is currently in a legal battle against Apple because NONE of our material (Sublight Records included) receives a dime of royalty from the vast amount of sales iTunes has generated using our material.
Want to buy a CD just to show your support?
If you don’t particularly like CDs, don’t bother.
Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon spike the price so high that their cut is often 8 times higher than the artist’s. Besides, most CDs are made out of unrecyclable plastic and leave a nasty footprint in your environment.
If you do particularly like CDs, buy them from the label (in our case, After manufacturing costs are recuperated, our artists usually receive over 90% of the actual money coming out of your wallet.
In addition, all of our physical products are made out of 100% recycled material.
Want to show your support?
Go here and browse our library of lossless, DRM-free downloads.
Already have that?
Then feel free to donate whatever you want to your favorite artist. 100% will go directly to them.
Hell, you can even donate a penny just to thank the artist.
If you really like ‘The Flashbulb – Soundtrack To A Vacant Life’ and want to show your support without it going to greedy retailers, distributors, and coked-up label reps, then click the button below.
[link to ]
If you send us your mailing address, Alphabasic may occasionally send you various goodies (overstocks, stickers, even rare CDs) in appreciation and encouragement for your support.
Thanks for reading….
Benn Jordan
CEO – Alphabasic Records”

From label’s homepage, Benn seems to be satisfied with the results of its viral effort. Is this going to be a new trend for labels? Well, we can agree on one thing: all those promises associated with the digital distribution (lower prices for users, better deals for artists, etc.) were basically lies. Users are in most cases paying a lot of money for barely acceptable compressed files, and artists in some cases get even less royalties than from phisical supports’s sales. The pay-what-you-want model (Jane Siberry, Radiohead, etc.), even if interesting, can’t be a solution for new artists. Free music with ads between songs? Come on, let’s get serious! Oh, and don’t let me started with new vinyls’ prices: music industry is going to become something like: “you are a real music lover? Fine, be prepared to pay top dollars for the ‘real thing’, be it vinyls or stupid special editions”.
Sometimes I’d like to close my eyes for a moment, and wake up in one hunded years…

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