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Copyright & Copy Protection Watch - Moby: 'Artists With Tech-Savvy Fans Get Less Sales'

by , 8:00 AM EDT, June 26th, 2002

Techno artist Moby suggests that artists with higher sales are more likely to have less tech-savvy fans, and that record companies should take this into account when considering the popularity of some of their artists. A Launch (Yahoo) article quotes this recent entry in Moby's online journal [Moby's lack of punctuation quoted verbatim] :

i described the 'pearl jam effect' as being a phenomenon wherein bands who have very technically savvy fans will see their records do poorly in the charts, whereas bands/artists who have less technically savvy fans will see their records do quite well in the charts. This is owing to the fact that bands/artists with technically savvy fans will have a lot of fans who will end up downloading music or burning CDs, whereas less tech-savvy fans will generally end up buying their cd's [sic].

Moby continues by comparing Weezer's recent release with that of Pink, suggesting that it's not that Pink's better chart success is due to her being more popular, but that Weezer is a victim of the 'Pearl Jam Effect'.

weezer sold a lot of records in their first week of release, but since then their sales have dropped off considerably. even though they have radio hits. even though they have a very loyal fan-base. even though they've made a record that their fans really like. even though there's good press coverage on the band and their new cd. etc. i would be very interested to know not how many cd's weezer have sold, but how many copies of their record are actually in existence. i have a feeling that there might be almost twice as many copies of their new record in existence (in the form of mp3's or burned cd's) as have actually been sold.

i don't mean this as a criticism of pink, i'm just using her as an example. just look at the american top 20 and you'll see what i'm talking about. most of the records in the american top 20 are by bands whose fans are, for the most part, more inclined to buy a cd as opposed to burn or download it.

You can read the Launch article in full at their Web site. Because it only quotes a small part of the journal entry, you can also read the entry in its entirety at Moby's online journal.

The Mac Observer Spin:

If we were cynics, we'd read a little something between the lines here about the average intelligence of the Britney-generation's fan base. It's a good thing we're not cynics, right?

He's quick to point out that he makes this observation solely as a comment on how record companies should look at artists' popularity; what he isn't saying here is clearly spelled out in an earlier entry:

But I did have one little thought...as time goes by and cd-burning and downloading become more commonplace it is safe to say that the profitability of the record business will continue to decrease (...) could you imagine if the only people involved in the music business were people who loved music more than money? It is safe to say that if the record business ceases to be very profitable that manufactured boy bands and girl bands and pop artists will disappear pretty quickly. Ok, I'll offer an opinion because I can't actually contain myself anymore...a world wherein people made music purely out of the love of music as opposed to the love of money would be F**KING AMAZING.

Perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel here is that CD burning and ripping could bring about the music industry's return to producing quality music, rather than concentrating solely on commercial success.

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