Thoughts | Pay-What-You-Like


Anyone involved in the attempted sale of musical data is going to have to come to terms with a few things. The time when profitable swathes of the population were willing to spend £10 on a piece of plastic with music on it has passed. We can debate the morality and pathos of this forever but it will not change it.

Music is and will be digital.

The idea that there exists a solution to the problem of illegal digital distribution is no more than a fantasy. DRM appendages will always be removable by committed amateurs and file-sharing will not be discouraged by the raising of awareness or prosecution of teengaers. Even if ways of effectively locking files and enforcing copyright law were to be developed - they would do nothing but alienate the very people that music depends on.

We must stop seeing the fans as the enemy.

These are not problems for artists or audiences - they are problems for an industry that has seen its business models trashed by the changing reality. With the possibilities of the internet rapidly becoming clearer, we can see that an artist need not make a 30p royalty on each of a thousand CDs if they can make a £3 profit on each of 100 downloads. The industry is the only thing that needs to lose out. Industries end. Music endures.

At corporate records, we believe that the Pay-What-You-Like model benefits artists and audiences.

Audiences always say, when surveyed, that they are willing to pay for music but that they want their money to go to the artists themselves. Pay-What-You-Like makes them think about that at the moment that they start a download and makes it easy for them to act on any guilt they might feel. At the same time it removes the incentive to post the music elsewhere as, once you enter a zero in the payment field, you have a free download. Pay-What-You-Like recognises that many people will download your music for free whatever you do - but it brings it back into your control.

Your audience will know where the music came from and where their money will go if they choose to pay for it. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works.