well that’s interesting

(on facebook? go to www.joshuavt.com for the full post)

Last week when I released my album, there were a number of questions in my mind, some answerable and some a little trickier to pin down. Is this any good? Will people like it? Is there a point to making a physical cd? Do people only buy downloads? Should I have done vinyl? Is the cover too weird? One very large question that I somehow naively overlooked is ” do people buy music at all in any format?” Due to bandcamp’s pretty handy Stats feature I got a pretty interesting answer to that question.

Last Saturday, John Sakamoto and the Toronto Star listed one of the tunes from my album on their weekly Anti Hit list. I’ve always had a lot of respect for the list, so it was a real treat to have the first review of something from the album come in that form. On their website and in print, they list a web address to my bandcamp site where one  can very quickly have a listen to the tunes, and then buy them using a credit card or paypal. Bandcamp keeps pretty comprehensive statistics for you, and the most important ones in this case being

How many people came here to check out your music?

Which songs did they listen to?

and most importantly How much did they listen to?

The busiest traffic day happened for me last Friday; I had sent around an email/facebook/twitter blast, and the Star article came out online. All together, about 300 people came to the bandcamp site that day. Out of those people 139 of them listened to the album in it’s entirety, 105 listened to half of it or more, and 66 skipped through a bunch of the tunes. That’s a fair number of people sitting down and listening to a large part of the album. How did that translate into people purchasing the record? One cd and one download.

Please don’t think the point of this post is to whine and complain and try to shame people into buying my record, it’s not that at all. I’m just presenting you with pretty concrete proof that the way we view music that’s available online is that it’s free. This not a new concept but my first experience with it in a direct way. People spend so much time in front of their computers at work or home with a wifi connection, that there’s no need to purchase something because you can just stream the whole thing at anytime. I’ve actually had emails from people now that took the time to write me to tell me how much they love the album and have listened to it multiple times, and how bandcamp is awesome because it lets you stream music to their iphones.

I had a great chat with a friend about this yesterday who brought up some valid points, like a lot of people will stream it in bandcamp, but maybe buy the record on itunes because they trust the security of it, or they’re waiting to buy the album at a cd release in physical form. If that’s the case that would be lovely, but to be honest I’m not holding out for a big apple pay check 2 months from now. I think there are fewer and fewer music buyers out there in the world, but probably more listeners then ever before. Still working out what that means in terms of good or bad, but let me know what you think, by all means….

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One thought on “well that’s interesting

  1. Keith says:

    Joshua,

    To start, I think the album is great! It was the first time I had actually purchased anything on Bandcamp. I grabbed the mp3, something I’ve become more prone to doing as I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I might have a “music” hoarding problem (if you ever have a chance to see my music collection some day, you’ll understand).

    The issue with people (especially fans of music) purchasing music is unfortunate. I believe technology has created an entire generation of people who don’t understand the idea of purchasing an album, reading the liner notes, getting to know the songs, and in turn the artist. I can remember many years of carrying around a list of hard to find vinyl records that I wanted, scouring used record stores and yard sales hoping to come across an album that had never made it’s way from record to CD. It cultivated a new level of appreciation for the music itself, simply by relating your love of the sound to your quest and subsequent purchase of the physical album itself.

    We’re disposable in more ways than we can comprehend and I feel art (in this case music ) has suffered for it. I by no means think this has affected the outcome of an artists output, on the contrary. I think we’re seeing an unprecedented period of amazing musical discovery where genres and the such no longer even seem to exist (outside of music journalism that is).

    For what its worth i feel you’ve added to that here with a really nice quality piece of music. The incentive to purchase your album comes from a variety of places, most importantly the need to pay for music I like (in essence helping to create more in the future), and the desire to support local talent. Hopefully as artists such as yourself navigate the new terrain of the industry, fans will be able to find it in themselves to contribute to the process by ensuring the people creating these sounds can pay the rent.

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