Over on NPR’s Monitor Mix Blog, Carrie Brownstein rounds up a bunch of people who run indie labels and gets them to talk about how the role of the record label has changed over the past decade. It’s a fascinating conversation that touches on everything from iTunes to filesharing to artist development to vinyl to Pitchfork to licensing… Here’s my favorite part:
Chris Swanson (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): Are many of you guys having luck making money on singles? Or is it primarily an artist-development tool?
Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): Singles for us are always about development.
Portia Sabin (Kill Rock Stars): A weird thing for us is that, no matter what song off an album we give away as a free MP3, that song is always the most-purchased song off that album.
Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): Same here, Portia.
Gerard Cosloy (Matador): Same thing happens to us.
Darius Van Arman (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): We have the exact same experience.
Mac McCaughan (Merge): That’s “the single” to people.
Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): So we should just all give away all of our albums!
Carrie Brownstein (NPR): Problem solved!
Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): We do; we can’t help it.
The funny thing is that we’re noticed that same trend even on our small scale with Glorious Noise Records. The songs we give away for free are consistently the ones that sell the most via iTunes and emusic. (Well, that was true anyway until Riviera‘s “Golden Lies” was used in an episode of a show on A&E. Since July, we sold over 60 copies of that song via iTunes alone, which is about ten times more than any other song we’ve released.)
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