Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Open Letter to the CCM Industry

Dear CCM Music Execs,

STOP IT!!! We're trying to save your hide. Sometimes it's best to skip pleasantries and get right to the issue. Unless you've got your head in the sand, (and sometimes that's where I think the music industry is in general), you know that the music landscape is changing, and some may say dying. I have been associated with the industry long enough to watch the transition from Vinyl to Cassette to CD to Download. The sound is what the fans want, and not a product. Apple realized that the way to stop music piracy was to make it financially reasonable to buy music. The iTunes Store was born and we are pretty much used to an average price of $0.99 for a song, and roughly $9.99 for an album.

Music Videos are a different story altogether. Until the birth of MTV in 1981, nobody had even heard of Music Videos. From the start they were more of a promotional tool. Yes, there were early VHS full concert videos, but they languished on Christian Bookstore shelves while people bought albums. I thought the industry had learned, because the recent trend has been to package a DVD with a CD and to charge the same price as if you bought a CD only (In the CCM world that is about $15). That practice was a tantamount admission that the Video Format is a money loser and is good only for promotion.

Youtube is all about promotion. I was alerted by a post on Facebook from the band Rocky Loves Emily about their label deleting videos that the Band had given permission to post. What hurts most is that the label in this case is Tooth and Nail, a label that we at Night Beat HQ give high praise, but here in this case we think that President Brandon Ebel is acting unwisely. I said, a Music Video is all about promotion. While a good video is like a mini-movie, THERE IS NO MARKET for MUSIC VIDEOS. People just enjoy watching them and learning about the thinking of their favorite artists through their choice of expressions (Icon For Hire comes to mind). Put the videos back up on Youtube and encourage legal video sharing like Youtube. No one is creating pirate DVDs, at least not in any way close to the Music  or Movie piracy rackets.

I do have an axe to grind here. The Night Beat recently added a Best Music Video section to the Platinum Vinyl Awards. It will be really hard to do if the labels start pulling down videos everywhere. Not that the Music Industry is alone in this short sighted approach. The TV industry pulls down videos on Youtube on a fairly regular basis (though in that case they are only interested in 40 year old+ nostalgia shows like Top Cat).

There, I've said my piece. The best way to handle things may be to make sure that every band has its own youtube channel, and that videos are posted on a regular basis. That way the labels control what goes out, and the fans get an uninterrupted supply of music videos. The New MTV. Now that's an Idea worth trying. I wont hold my breath.