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Gaggle Prices Single At 3000 Pounds To Raise Awareness Of Music Costs And Value

Power-of-moneyBy Tim Cushing of Techdirt.

If you asked most people what a single track is worth, most would answer with the going market price, which ranges from ~$0.79-$1.29. This is what the market has shown, for the most part, that it will bear. You veer too far away from the high end of that range and you'll find most people will opt for other music, cheaper music, or your music, fully detached from the high-end price tag.

Now, if you ask this same question of a certain 22-piece self-described "feminist alternative choir," the answer would be much, much different. Your initial estimate would need to be upped by approximately $4,850. Gaggle, the 22-member choir, has announced that they are selling their new single for £3,000 per download (no physical option exists). Why? Because they've chosen to use the persuasive power of economic fallacies to get people talking about "value."

Here's the womanifiesto:
"The Power of Money. What does money mean to you? How do you put a value on the things you care about? Is money the same thing as worth? Like it or not, money means that some people are rich and others poor, some considered successful, others failures. It determines your healthcare choices, education, clothes and how long you have the heating on for – whether you can have the things you want. But money is made up. Without our participation in the illusion, it's meaningless – in fact, if meaning equated to value, we would happily burn all the money tomorrow. Gaggle, of course, uses money. But Gaggle is an exercise in the power of other things as well – otherwise we wouldn't, and couldn't, exist. The Power of Generosity, Inventiveness, Courage. The Power of Flirting, Improvising, Blagging, Hard Work and Being Nice and Polite. The Power of Friendship, Faith, Obligation, Ambition, Anxiety…..Dreams. Without these Powers this track would not have been made. This song is precious. And yet, we're told that 'a single' is almost valueless. And that pisses us off. So we have done a budget of how much this single 'cost'. The many hours it took to write, arrange, compose, master; the expertise of all the musicians, technicians, designers, producers involved; the combination of all the Powers described above and more – we've totted it all up as best we can and… …we are putting this tune to market for the sum of £3000. The power of money? Let's see."
Well, good luck with that. It's been said time and time before, the customer has little to no interest in your fixed costs. This factor is completely irrelevant to purchase decisions, which are most often based on a more subjective perception of "value." While Gaggle may value their creation highly, it would be ignorant to assume that potential purchasers will value the track accordingly. In an era where creative output is at its highest, the sheer number of competing, cheaper options would be enough to bury this track's chances, even if Gaggle decided £5 was a reasonable amount to ask. (It isn't.)

Beyond that, there's some questions as to Gaggle's math. Are they intending for one sale to reimburse the entire creative effort? 10? 25? Wouldn't it be better to sell a few thousand copies at a price that people will actually pay, rather than pin the hopes of the collective on sales in the single digits? For that matter, wouldn't this scenario be more likely as well? And is it really fair to ask purchasers to support 22 musicians through the purchase of a single track? Aren't you running about 10-15 members over the upper limit for potentially successful bands that aren't named Broken Social Scene or Chicago?

But the issue at hand here really isn't £3000 or the perceived value of a single track versus the true cost of production. Gaggle's move here is a publicity stunt, primarily aimed at raising awareness of the band with a secondary aim of opening a dialogue about the value of artistic endeavors. All well and good except that it's rather hard to hold a discussion with a group whose opening gambit is to hurl themselves off the deep end while everyone else looks on in bemusement.

 

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