Selling Albums in a Spotify World

SXSW Panel Reviews

Selling Albums in a Spotify World
by Gary Miller

Selling Albums in a Spotify World

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 15

Only 30 folks showed up for the "panel about finding and building an audience and helping them do what it is they want." If that's an analogy for the way that albums are selling these days, this panel needs to think up some solid answers. Dresden Dolls debutante Amanda Palmer spoke first, hypothesizing that "stealing music won't even be a thing" in a matter of five years. "It will be like stealing electricity – just find a plug." That mindset means that former British record shop owner Adam Tudhope has had to consider more than a few alternatives in copyrighted subscription listening, but those applications (Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG) have built what Mom + Pop Music GM Thaddeus Rudd calls "a bifurcated market that compensates songwriters with fractions of pennies." Rudd suggested those applications are also responsible for the "listen then leave" phenomenon: streaming an artist on Spotify and forgetting about them 15 minutes later. "That drives me crazy," pleaded Palmer. "I remember putting on a record and getting into the B-side, listening to the filler tracks because they were there and they eventually grew on you." Palmer traffics in those types of fans; last year she raised more than $1 million through Kickstarter. "You have your $25 fans, and the next group is good for $100," she explained. "That's the way fans interact." That's also the way albums get made now.

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