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Why Quality and Value Still Matter in the Music Industry

A recent article begins with the loaded title, “Music Is Still To Expensive To Be Free, Too Free To Be Expensive.” I’ll let you hash out what you think about the overall argument made by the article, but I was intrigued by a couple of snippets from the piece, starting with a bullet point way down at the end of the article:

“Kids get old and start to have more money than time, which is when they might start paying for stuff they used to have time to track down for free.”

Digital Audio

Immediately after reading I thought, “Of course, why didn’t I think of it that way?” To an extent that applies to most things in life just as easily as it does the music and CD mastering industry.

So is this the way record labels and artists (particularly independent labels and artists) will get paid in the new digital music industry? Do we just have to wait for the first generation that grew up completely in a time when free music seemed to be the norm to get older and too busy to find said free music?

Maybe to some extent this might be true, but there’s always going to be another generation coming that also has too much time on their hands. And it might not matter, anyway. These days it seems everything is moving to the cloud, and music is no exception – as evidenced by the popularity of services like Pandora and Spotify.

But the above article also points out that recording artists typically make somewhere between $0.001 and $0.003 per stream, depending on the service. Despite these low payouts, both services still lose tens of millions of dollars every year.

Obviously no one in the music industry knows how to answer the problem plaguing this still-new digital music era we find ourselves in, provided by another quote from the article: “…any music service must, always, from here on out, compete with free.”

And this is where I redirect the subject matter at hand. The above quote uses the words “music service” to represent Spotify, Pandora, et. al. But we can broaden that definition, and recognize a problem older than Spotify and Pandora combined. Reputable recording studios and CD mastering houses have long had to compete with studios that charged very little money and, in turn, produced very low quality results.

With the rise of home recording in the past couple of decades, this has become even more of a problem. Here at Sage Audio, we want to see the digital music industry discover a business model that works, whether that involves free (or subscription music) from the cloud, paid downloads or some new technology that has yet to emerge.

What we don’t want to see is listeners beginning to think that just because the music they are getting is “free,” that it can be lower quality. That’s why Sage Audio provides high quality recording studio and CD mastering services at a fraction of the cost of many other high quality studios. We give you both quality and value, something we don’t want to see disappear in the ever-evolving entity that is the music industry.

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