Monday, August 13, 2007

£100 a pop?

The music industry dreams of being able to charge more for records, but no label has yet had the balls to try and demand £100 for a debut single.

Until now.

Record of The Day have founded an imprint - Victorious Kiam (named after Victor, of course) - to push The Thurston Revival's first seven inch. And, yes, they're asking £100. There's an element of stunt pricing to it, of course:

“But I’m not bothered if some don’t sell. The hefty price tag is a statement on the value of music in general. Music’s value is subjective. How much you love a song has nothing to do with how much you paid for it. Somewhere There’s an Angel is on my page on MySpace and anyone can hear it for free. Does that mean the song has no value? Of course not. Yet that’s what we’re constantly told.”

Hmm. Fair point, but we're not sure the economic theory quite supports the professed experiment.

First, the record is on a very limited edition, which, coupled with the press interest, means a lot of the value of the disc is going to be determined by both its scarcity and its curiosity value. Then, there's this:
10 acclaimed young British artists, including Jasper Joffe, Sarah Doyle, Cathy Lomax, Edward Ward and Harry Pye, have each designed a sleeve – there will be 10 of each – inspired by the song.

You might, perhaps, wonder if the sleeve by Cathy Lomax might be the call to purchase rather than the vinyl inside.

Record of the Day insists not:
“The value of the product is not in the artwork, it’s in the concept,” insists James Barton, commercial director of Record of the Day, the London-based music company that set up the show. “We wanted to help Dan because Somewhere There’s an Angel is one of the most astonishing pieces of music we’ve ever come across. If any pop song can remind people that music is art, this is it.”

Of course, it's all a stunt, but it's a lovely piece of marketing theatre and does raise an interesting question in an engaging way - more than a free ringtone with every download would, for example.

The choice of Victor Kiam for label inspiration, though, does carry a warning for those who would build their artist by making a huge splash in the press. As Kiam said:
You can hype a questionable product for a little while, but you'll never build an enduring business.

The cost of the second single is going to be down to the quality of the music, and the quality of the music alone.