I wrote a post about iTunes and how it is affecting classical music downloads in March. You can find that post here.
Wired News recently put out a story on some popular artists who only now agreed to sell their music on iTunes. Here is a quote from the story about why certain artists think online distribution is bad:
But the artists argue online distribution leaves them with too small a profit. And, they say, iTunes wrecks the artistic integrity of an album by allowing songs to be purchased by the track for 99 cents. Some bands, such as AC/DC have released albums on other, more flexible sites, but not iTunes.
“We’ve always thought certain artists put out albums that aren’t meant to be compilations with 50 other artists,” said Ed “Punch” Andrews, manager for both Seger and Kid Rock. “We’re hoping at some point albums become important again like they were in the past 30 years.”
There are other reasons bands avoid cyberspace. In some cases, various parties that own or control older music catalogs can’t agree to a distribution contract. Others have avoided the internet altogether out of piracy concerns. (Most online stores, however, use rights-management technology to protect against unauthorized distribution.)
It is my understanding that Apple gives record companies a very large percentage of each individual download. Record companies have started to renegotiate contracts with artists (since legal online distribution took off) to give even less to the artist. Many artists that were making the equivalent of 30 cents per song sold are now making only 10 cents.
It is not online distribution that is hurting artists but rather the greedy tactics of record companies. Many recording musicians make substantially more distributing their music themselves rather than dealing with a record company. Michael Dean (formerly of BOMB) is a great example. Put out your own music, offer some tracks for free from your band website, put some tracks out on the Podsafe Music Network, and sell your music through CD Baby (thereby getting into the iTunes music store). Who needs a record contract?