About physical products

Physical products are needed in the music business. For a decade now, there has been a trend to aquire music via digital files, which are merely existing as zeros and ones on hard drives. At the same time another movement tries to cling to the old formats of CD:s and vinyl records. The debate has been hard regarding what will happen in the future and which type of delivering system that recorded music will use. Now, I have been thinking and debating for a while and here are some thoughts:

I am sure that musicians and listeners will always need the physical product. For several reasons: This past decade has proven that music without physical format is worthless: Noone wants to pay for it, it is collected like squirrels collect nuts for the winter. The inflation in musical value has been enormous. A decade ago there were actually “rare” music. It was hard to find, valuable, people found it attractive and worth the hunt. There was an interest from the audience to search for music. Today this seems strange. Music is hysterically available. Albums are sometimes downloadable even before their official release. The hunt for good music is limited to a couple of lazy clicks and there is no such thing as rare music anymore. A listener can possess a music library of millions of songs, but not really care or listen to the music. More like a prestigious mirror, or a kleptomanic need. This is not what the creators want. Not even the ones giving their music away for free, which is an increasing trend.

In musical marketing, there is no way what so ever for a manager, booker, artist or marketing firm to make an impression without a physical product. Anyone trying to work with music knows that an email, however ingenious it may be written, and a song in digital format to download, even if it’s the best song ever recorded, will go straight into the bin. Simply because a receiver doesn’t care, they want to be moved, to get a feeling, be impressed, get a present. Recently I listened to a lecture with an independent manager, trying to help four bands. He uses simple but beautiful packaging as his main strategy. Broken flying-V ukuleles, cigar boxes, strange parcels and creative ideas has made an impression with the receivers. It helps to remember the bands and the music it is meant to promote.

There is also a trend moving towards the old vinyl LP (for you younger ones, LP means Long Play, which points out that there’s room for about 40 minutes of music). I saw the new Calexico album on vinyl, a beautiful package, and with a sticker in the corner which read “With this album comes a voucher to download the MP3:s”. This is an excellent combination. A beautiful package with the mood and the attitude to amplify the music, and the daily usage of the music in digital format for the mobile phone or the computer. A vinyl album as the treasure, something to value and to care for. To pay for too of course.

And this is the main reason for physical packaging. A brand, a product, an artist, needs to be recognized. The graphics and the feel promotes an attitude and a mood. It helps to find the product in a shop or in the owners shelf. Just think about how you find the correct CD in your collection. You remember the thin and vague coloring on the back of the album. On the other hand a folder on your computer makes no impression at all. It comes down to alphabetical orders, which is the most unsexy way to get a feeling for your music.

Also, you cant give away virtual stuff as a present. Your best friends will be quite sad about an email with a playlist or some mp3:s. But a CD burned with ten great songs and a homemade cover is an excellent present. Simply because it comes with a feeling, some effort put into it and a physical weight and smell. Of course there are pros to digital products, and of course there are cons to physical products. You have heard them all. But I think there will be a movement back to some kind of physical product for musical publishing. I have started thinking about it myself, and will try to show you something in a while.

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Gramtone

Gramtone är musikutgivare och bas för ett gäng musiker och låtskrivare, baserade i Norrköping. Vi äger bolaget och studion tillsammans, folk med olika bakgrund och olika smak. Två dussin är vi, som ställer allt vi äger i ett rum och säger: varsågoda. Ett kollektiv av individualister har vi kallats, och varför inte: Grammisar har vunnits, stipendier har fåtts, medan somliga är kända för helt andra saker. Alla spelar roll, men inte nödvändigtvis rock. En driver ett enmansprojekt, en annan är med i fem band samtidigt. Några är runt 20, några har fyllt 50. En fick pris för årets bästa museum. Någon ligger bakom Softubes banbrytande pluggar och någon har fått utmärkelse för, hör och häpna, bästa fotbollslåt.

Gramtone satsar på en liten, spännande utgivning av ostyrig, vacker musik. Lyssna där du vill, vi finns i alla de vedertagna kanalerna. Vissa spelar live, andra spelar in. Några älskar att skriva låtar, andra spelar gitarr så fingrarna blöder. Gramtone är en plattform som används av varje band och artist som det passar dem bäst. Ibland är vi en lekplats, ibland kreativt nav, affärsyta eller en trampolin för musikkarriärer. Vi blir planterade och uppodlade av varandra, och vi gillar't. Vi tycker att musik gör tillvaron större och vill man att något ska finnas, då ska man också skapa det. Tre dussin utgivningar hittills, och mycket på gång. Titta in, lyssna in, och häng med.


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