(R) Musicians can be quite full of themselves, particularly when talking about how valuable musicians are. Now, that's all fine and good for noncommercial purposes. But it gets really annoying and ridiculous when claims about being nice to artists extend to commercial transactions.
This quote is what set me off from Victory Records' founder Tony Brummel:
"I absolutely believe that allowing people to cherry-pick the tracks they want from each album cannibalises full-length album sales and is ultimately detrimental to the artists who created the music"
I'm not that passionate about music, but for some reason I feel like debunking this absurdity from the record industry in-depth (after all, it's not just indies that say this). Maybe that's the point; this is absurd because he's trying to claim creative protection for an economic transaction. Any quote from businessmen claiming some special right for their particular industry is always suspect, but never mind the short-term commercial interests of Victory Records' boss. There's a lot more that's interesting about complaints against consumer choice.
That's basically what this is, after all; a rant against consumer choice. Brummel doesn't think consumers deserve to speak for themselves. Rather, he thinks his artists are entitled to be given money. Nevermind what the people who are giving up that money want. In fact, those paying customers should feel guilty for even trying to signal their desires by something so profane and unclean as spending their money on the music they actually want rather than the music the record company wants to sell them.
There's also no warrant behind the claim. Apple sells a huge number of songs as part of an album through the iTunes Music Store. That inconvenient fact tends to get ignored in these kinds of discussions. And even if that were true, there's no reasoning that changing the ratio of songs sold on the album would be detrimental to the artist. It neither changes the total dollar value returned to the artist nor affects the artist's ability to put whatever he wants (or more accurately, whatever the record label will let him put) on the album.
Then there's the attitude revealed by the tone of comments like this. Unapproved actions by consumers are described in such negative language as cherry-picking and cannibalisation. So much for the consumer being king. Instead, consumers are supposed to serve the music industry.
Another interesting aspect of this complaint is that it's nothing new. Music videos, radio stations, advertisements, and other commercialized outlets already single out particular songs to be repeated ad nauseum. In fact, if anything, services like iTunes democratize the ability of music fans to determine for themselves which are the best songs. Try getting a Clear Channel radio station to play a different song from the album du jour. Not to mention the fact that iTunes returns money to the music industry. If labels big and small want to be so snooty about it, maybe we just shouldn't buy any music at all. Let's record songs off the radio and swap CDs with friends. Not to mention all the less legal things for which the iTunes Music Store and other charging services offer compelling alternatives.
Plus, real artists do it for the music, not the money, right?