Our 10th digital release is approaching in about two weeks by Fused Forces and reflecting over what we have had out so far, from minimal and plain odd to deep, and chilled going all the way over to eyes down and broody, we have had a lot of material out in only five months of being a label.
With running a label comes the obvious problems of piracy and copyright infringement and I have decided to explain our recent action with a general point of view of the underground music industry with direct respect to the Dubstep scene.
Most of you will have or most of you know about ripping full tracks off YouTube or even downloading Torrents. These two factors are the two main downfalls that would affect the sales of music with the effects of it being positively exponential. All it takes is one person to upload the full track to YouTube for people to start ripping the music directly from the page and it then only takes one other person to put into a Dubstep pack or whatever respective pack and then the ball starts rolling. The larger amount of people that download the pack results in a larger amount of people that could even use P2P networking or even use standard file sharing hosts to spread the music.
There is a level at which you can prevent the exposure and free download of your own music and sometimes it can only take a polite email for the person responsible in uploading your music or the person who owns the file sharing site to take down the link.
Most of the time, the rate at which it is being illegally downloaded and uploaded, it is near enough impossible to prevent people from getting it removed and to be quite honest, if someone wants the track bad enough, there is always a way of getting it.
Recently we made a deal with a channel on YouTube called "DubstepTunez" that would be our exclusive host for all of our releases. We have our own channel but barely use it and we feel that Youtube is an incredible marketing tool and by using a host this would result in the channel already having roughly 40,000 subscribers and a huge database to send promo out to. This also means our music can reach 40,000 people that may have not heard of the label or heard of the artists that we have signed. The obvious downside is that people can now readily rip the music illegally as the channel only hosts full tracks.
Within a day Bosporus received over 7,000 plays and 3 other channels were already hosting Bosporus & Gloss The Doors. I personally emailed all of the other channels and said that they could keep their videos up under two conditions. The first one is that they prove they purchased the music legally and the second condition is that they merely mention in the description that it can be purchased from iTunes and any other various stores. All three channels replied back saying that they would remove the video immediately.
There were two solutions that we came up with. The first one is to give the music away for free and to earn money through licensing and physical releases of the music such as putting the music onto compilation CD's and retailing them, but all digital downloads would be completely free for consumers.
The main problem is that if the consumer doesn't part with any form of money in exchange for the music they will feel no need what so ever to listen to it properly and remember the label. It is similar to the people that stand in the streets and hand out free newspapers. Most of the time you might hold onto it and it'll end up in the bin, but what if it cost 20p? It might only be 20p, but you have had to go to a store or some guy in the street has offered you the newspaper for this price, you'll put it in your bag, suitcase or under the arm and take it home with you if you don't have the time to read it there and then. Because you have parted with a minute amount of money, there is an underlying need to keep the physical item.This same analogy shows how giving away music for free devalues the songs and the artist.
The second option would be to make the value of the music so low that it almost rallies downloading it for free. Personally, I would never spend £6.99 for an album on iTunes, I'd rather walk into HMV and get the CD, as then I have a physical object in exchange for my hard earned money. If the same album were on iTunes for say £2/£3 I would contemplate buying through iTunes rather than getting the CD.
I think you get what I mean.
We did a small trial through March where we put 7 releases together which consisted of music from Box Mouse, Kochari, Blind Prophet, Twitch, Seizure, Gnome & A-list. The pack contained 16 tracks and it retailed at £3.99, this means each song is roughly 25 pence.
The sales for this pack of music were more than the entire revenue produced from iTunes, Juno, Amazon, Play & more. The small trial proved to be successful which has resulted in us creating a Bandcamp where all of our releases are at 40p. Paypal takes about half of that, but never the less, we hope these prices are competitive and will make people think twice when looking to illegally download our music.
All releases will go up on Bandcamp approximately 2 months after the actual release date, so everyone that has bought from a premium or normal digital store such as iTunes will have it exclusively for this period of time.
All in all, we have a lot to learn and there are many more things we can all do to support the underground Dubstep music scene.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.