Pearl Jam: Capitalist Moxie

Eddie VedderFor all their leftist pretensions and anti-music-industry hype, Pearl Jam has impressed me today as smart capitalists who know how to make a buck.

Friend Bruce McLean attended the LA PJ concert last night. For $18 he bought a copy of the performance. Today, he was able to download unmixed version of all the songs performed last night, and within a couple of weeks he’ll get a mixed CD of the show.

Apparently, Pearl Jam does this for every concert.

What a smart idea. It allows Pearl Jam to sell directly to the fans (no record company middle man), eliminates the bootleggers, takes advantage of modern technology, and answers concerns about file sharing. It is a totally free-market response to a rapidly changing entertainment world. This is good old American innovation and moxie. Too bad Eddie Vedder isn’t more appreciative of his country.

Record companies should take note.

If I were a CEO of a music company, this is what I would do: I would renegotiate all of my current contracts with my artists. I would stop charging bands to record their albums; I would give away for free on the internet all songs recorded by the artist; I would release packaged CDs at about half the current price; I would assume the burden of all band/tour promotion and booking; and I would require the artist to give me a share of all revenue from copyright, publishing, concerts, live-music sales (like PJs), merchandise and image licensing. We would sell concerts as events, treat songs as a commodities, and build brand loyalty. Everybody makes money and nobody worries about file sharing.

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