My Quest To Purchase In Times - A Three Ring Viking Circus


Written by: BitterCOld
Published: 13.03.2015


So the new Enslaved, In Times, was finally released in North America today. (Well, was today when I started writing this). Hooray.

Being, quite possibly, the site's biggest Enslaved fan (hey, I was sporting Frost as a user icon back before any of their albums had 40 votes/ratings… In Times, just out, already has 70 votes of 9+), and someone who believes in supporting bands, I wanted to do the right thing and acquire a copy today.

Long ago I wrote a piece on supporting artists, piracy, and the industry's absurd reactions to the issue. A focus was on how delays in drop times (i.e. Europe got In Times four days earlier than those in the West, but often the gaps are significantly longer) encourage piracy for the current Veruca Salt "I want it NOW" generation.

I even included this little nugget:

"Do something to make your fucking music available in the interim. Put it up on iTunes. Put it up on Spotify. Make it available for (PAID) download straight from both the band and label sites."

And in addition to being a huge Enslaved fan, I'm also a huge fan of Douglas Adams's "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" trilogy. And thus, I dub my efforts to acquire In Times, "A day in the life of Arthur Dent





Quote:
"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."
"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or anything."
"But the plans were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."


When North American release day hit, I furiously pounded my keyboard to order myself a copy.

Now living in Paraguay, I had my heart set on a digital copy. Sure, with my shit WiFi connection it'd take most of my lunch hour to download, but was still my preference for a multitude of reasons. Aside from immediate (well, relatively immediate) gratification, there is the lack of Paraguayan mail service. I've lived here eight months and received my cell phone bill exactly once. Of the 30 Norteamericanos or so that work with Mrs Cold, exactly ONE has received mail directly from the US (or Canada) to their casa here. (Fun fact: It was from the IRS… go figure.) So the odds of a CD making it to my door between now and Ragnarok are longer than the odds of Paraguay winning the gold in Women's Ice Hockey come the next Winter Olympics. I could have it delivered to an address in Florida, then to PY via her employer's courier service. It's reliable. And would cost me about as much as the album itself.

Additionally, the only thing less existent than the reliability of Paraguayan mail is CD/DVD ROM drives on new laptops. We each bought one before the big move… neither has a CD drive. The industry is phasing them out. Just more increasingly irrelevant moveable parts to take up space and cause problems while the market pushes for increasingly slim devices. It's all digital these days.

So a CD is about as useful in my current situation as a Finnish-to-Korean phrase dictionary…

After logging in to Nuclear Blast USA, I quickly look up Enslaved, and it's all there, ready to go… in CD-Digi; double vinyl silver; double vinyl black.

Great.

I must confess, having checked the site in advance, feared this would be the case. While I can pre-order a digital copy of the upcoming Minsk via their bandcamp page, I noticed no such pre-order option at NB USA. I created an account to just inquire. No response. I attempted to message whoever runs the Enslaved Facebook page to see if it would be an option. Again. No response.

Come the day of release I even tweeted label and band, figuring that might get a response.

Again. Nothing.

Quote:

"But the MP3's were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to Germany to find them."
"That's the download department."
"With a translated page."

"But look, you found the download option, didn't you?"
"Yes," said BC, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a separate section entirely nowhere near the rest of the purchase option page, with a pop-up ad saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."


Finally, after scanning Facebook again, one of their posts, in the "see more" option has a link to a digital download option. Not on their NB USA or Norteamericano page, mind you. On the German site. You know, the first place Yanks and Canucks are bound to look. But, I guess, they had one.

But not on the same page as the other purchase options, either, mind you. In an entirely different section of the website altogether, one not linked to the primary band page.

But the stupidity did not end there. Oh no!

Not only was my Nuclear Blast USA account not recognized on the Nuclear Blast Deustchland/EU site, requiring me to create a second account, for the same label… but whomever was responsible for pricing should be immediately sacked. See if YOU can spot the issue:

Enslaved - In Times - $9.99
1. Thurisaz Dreaming - $0.99
2. Building With Fire - $0.99
3. One Thousand Years of Rain - $0.99
4. Nauthir Bleeding - $0.99
5. In Times - $0.99
6. Daylight - $0.99

You save a full 40% off the price just buying the freaking album track by track. I get the logic in single song pricing for the radio/club hit for Miley Perry or whoever, or on something like a Ramones comp with 28 songs on it… but maybe you might want to rethink that model for bands that make albums with fewer, but longer, songs.

Truth be told, though, my degree is neither in math nor economics, so maybe I got something wrong?



rumble


Quote:
"But you must realise that you can't lie in front of the bulldozers indefinitely!"

"I'm game. We'll see who rusts first."


The point of this eruption is not some twat whining because they can't get what they want and get it now.

Truth is, I already have it. Via means the band might not like. I just happen to be a huge fan of the band, one who owns(owned) all their prior works, has seen them each time they came to my prior home of Arizona, including a 270mi/400+km round trip on a work night to catch the Ruun tour, and have the shirts to show for it. Thanks to that whole "Downloading a Sheep" thing, I understand and appreciate the band's stance on illegal downloading. I wanted to do right by them and GIVE THEM MY FUCKING MONEY.

I am just trying to illustrate how incompetent labels are at adapting to their mortal enemy.



Yar.


It should not be this difficult.

If a huge fanboi jumps through a Tough Mudder's worth of fiery hoops and hurdles to attempt purchase the album, in the preferred medium, legally, do you think the majority of first world Veruca Salts' will? (Excluding you third world lot, I appreciate your situation entirely and first-hand.)

Labels and bands can work together to ensure loyal customers who want to purchase products should have it as easy as possible to fork over their Euros/Dollars/Loonies/Guarani to do so. There is absolutely zero reason the legal, PAY download option should be cloistered in to a side alley of only one continent's branch/site. It should be right. fucking. there. alongside the vinyl and CD versions. (Not even going off on the pricing thing again… my right eyelid is still twitching. #L2Math ffs.)

They can choose to adapt to the new environment - it seems many have. (See above: Minsk, on Relapse Records, and their bandcamp page.)

Or they can choose not to.

Let's see who rusts first.



 



Written on 13.03.2015 by BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.


Comments

Comments: 16   Visited by: 99 users
13.03.2015 - 22:11
Zaph
The Nothingth
Great article. Totally agreed too, labels should adapt to survive.
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Wubba Lubba Dub Dub
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14.03.2015 - 01:29
musclassia
I will forever be staggered as to why entertainment industries appear to be so set on preventing people actually access their products legally. I haven't really encountered it so much with music, but the most obvious example for movies recently is Snowpiercer, a film that eventually got a brief US cinema release last summer after a protracted producer-director battle before going on VOD, but which has yet to be released in any format in the UK. Back then, I sailed the seven seas to watch it, and I now own an imported DVD of it, but as far as I can tell, people in this country cannot legally see this movie that has been available in the English language for at least approaching a year without importing from abroad. For Pete's sake, if you can't be bothered to pay for cinema or physical copy distribution, just stick it on iTunes digitally! I paid to watch Joe on iTunes when it was uploaded on there alongside its cinema release - let me watch it and I'll pay for the privilege. Pirating is the cheap option for those too poor or spending-averse to actually pay for things, but in counter to that you'd think music/movie/TV/etc producers and distributors would make actually financially contributing to these products and the artists behind them easier, such as what Bandcamp has brilliantly accomplished like you mentioned. But people seem to want to try and make it difficult or even impossible to legally acquire (in the desired format) products that can be illegally acquired often without problems - it's mindboggling how people could consider this a sensible course of action. You're trying to sell a product, stop making it difficult to buy!
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14.03.2015 - 03:54
ScreamingSteelUS
Agent of Steel
Fantastic piece.
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Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I wonder how you will defend your ludicrous assertions.
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14.03.2015 - 22:39
Rulatore
Really great article, hope some of these guys read and learn one thing or two
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15.09.2015 - 18:05
BitterCOld
Gringo
Written by deadone on 15.09.2015 at 09:45

Interesting article and I totally agree that this stuff needs to be available online for people who respect the band enough to want to pay for music.

Though the amount of money bands get from legal downloads is even more pitiful than what they get from CD sales. Indeed some recent interviews revealed that one in fact gets virtually nothing out of Spotify. One Australian pop star revealed that she got UNDER $100 IN TOTAL from about 100,000 online plays on a number of different legal file sharing services.

So regardless the band gets fucked over. It's either a pitiful amount from legal downloading and most likely absolutely nothing from the majoirty of illegal downloaders. As Bruce Dickinson said, creative works such as music are being turned into low/no value products.

And bare in mind that physical music offers far more opportunities for added value than online downloads as you're sellling the art work and the packaging and can charge for extra content as well.

With online downloads, there is no real opportunity to value add. And once you hit a certain price point (and that's often very low), "fans" will just prefer to download the music illegally.

The greedy, cheap skate fans are killing the music industry and then blaming the bands and labels for not keeping up. And bands that do "keep up" don't get the same amount of income as they did back people were buying CDs.


You seem to be confusing legal download with streaming. if anything, online purchase streamlines the process an shouldn't impact the artist at all. you have removed packaging costs (and thus waste as well), shipping costs, and removed the record store's cut as well. (albeit that is a shame for everyone's fave town record store... )

in removing these factors you've driven the cost of purchasing the album down without impacting either what the label or the band get.

in referencing physically packaging, at no point did i suggest abolishing it. i merely suggested online download options shared page space with the physical purchase options. arrange it to make it as easy as possible for the person on the other end to buy the music via their preferred method. precisely what Nuclear Blast failed to do.

for an increasing chunk of the "market" digital downloading or streaming is the way to go, particularly non 1st world. labels and artists adapt to customer needs or they will pay the price. Australian pop star might have received $100 for 100,000 streams... how much did they earn from those who illegally downloaded the album? and how much did pop star earn from their song being played on Aussie radio?

the cheapskates bear some of the blame, as do the labels for simply not adjusting to the new market. the RIAA and labels are basically Blockbuster ... a decade late in responding to Netflix.

i agree in supporting artists. my current situation is digital, as it is for many. time to put it on equal footing.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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16.09.2015 - 02:20
BitterCOld
Gringo
Written by deadone on 16.09.2015 at 01:43


Whereas I agree 100%, I don't think it'll make any bit of difference. You will buy the digital copy whilst 100 people simply download it from whatever their choice of illegal download mechanism.

Though I will acknowedge not all of those people would've brought the CD/record in the first place. But many would and that's where its hurting labels and artists.


ffs i hate those quote splices. sorry you have so much time on your hand to attempt at surgically dissect posts. go out. have fun. live.

as for the remaining point, downloading exists and there is fuck all the industry can do to stop it.

by pushing people to choose on paying up for a physical copy which they might not actually want or need or downloading it free off some shady site, the labels are gashing their own wrists on anyone in a position like mine.

absolute and total failure to address the needs of the market.

i imagine nowadays most people listen to tunes on a pc/laptop or on some portable mp3 device which they link up through a pc at some point.

maybe you still roll with a 9 inch thick booklet of cds for your cd6 changer in the trunk of your car, but even in 3rd world Paraguay, it's phones and mp3 players.

physical copies are no longer needed. hell, neither of the laptops my wife and i both bought before coming here even have CD drives. another obsolete feature that takes up space and weight.

to go back to my Blockbuster analogy, major labels are offering DVDs and VHS tapes while people have shifted to digital.

they SHOULD have helped nip downloading in the bud by enabling paid download from day one. they still haven't fully adapted now.

they might not make back dollar for dollar, but they will capture more $$$ from a paid download option than the current model.

the sooner people get it through their fucking head that the game has changed - whether you or some dumbshit in a suit and tie in a big office at some record company - the sooner they can pull out of this nose dive.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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17.09.2015 - 18:52
paragraph7
Written by deadone on 15.09.2015 at 09:45

So regardless the band gets fucked over. It's either a pitiful amount from legal downloading and most likely absolutely nothing from the majoirty of illegal downloaders. As Bruce Dickinson said, creative works such as music are being turned into low/no value products.


But if we think about it: monetary value does not equal musical value. I think there's too much hyperventilating over the fact whether musicians get paid for their work or not, as the musicians should focus on creating the best musical experience and not to optimize their income. Discussions such as this always tend to have the idea of music being like any other dayjob where in the end you have to get paid; it's not. You play because you love to play and you write music because you want to and have to. Any remarks from musicians that say "you have no idea of the work that went into making this album" are always smelly to me - they seem as if the musician only recorded the album for the purpose of making money and not because it is something they love to do. In a perfect world, i.e. before illegal downloading, both approaches were possible, but its not anymore.

So yes, the band will get fucked over, but the band shouldn't care, because if they are able to record music they truly want to make, they've already won. God knows there are people in the world who are worse off than that. Whether Bruce thinks his or other peoples creative works are being turned to no value products shouldn't matter, if they themselves see personal value in them. I know that many might disagree with me, but to me, any notion further from that is just greed.
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18.09.2015 - 15:00
paragraph7
Written by deadone on 18.09.2015 at 01:39

You do realise that musicians are human beings who:

1. Have to eat
2. Need clothes to wear
3. Need somewhere to sleep
4. Have families that they have a responsibility too.
5. Have aspirations of comfortable living?

Even playing music is costly. Do you know how much a decent drum kit or guitar + pedals + amps costs? Then there's things like PAs, cost of touring, cost of promotional activites such as videos, websites etc etc.


Thus I find this argument of music as "non-monetary art" completely flawed.


Indeed, yet there are many musicians who are able to do all those things you listed, while not making any substantial money off of their music. They got day jobs or part time jobs which they use to fund their passions. It's not as if a non-musician who has a passion for something in life immediately gets paid for it, and it isn't any different for metal musicians.
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19.09.2015 - 13:24
paragraph7
Written by deadone on 19.09.2015 at 10:37

Sure but what compromises do they make to their living standards? And you would condemn them to jobs they probably don't want to do so you can continue to download the fruit of their labour for nothing?

I remember a couple of interviews in early 2000s that really showed how hard it was for musicians to make a living from their music even when they made money from the CDs e.g. one of the guys from Dimmu Borgir who could finally afford to quit his day job to focus on music and buy a car. Or Devin Townsend not being able to tour Europe at one stage cause he couldn't afford a second mortgage on his family home!


And why shouldn't they be able to live off their art?

And do you expect actors to also do their acting for free or painters and sculptors to give away their art for free? What next, not paying for gigs cause it's artistic expression?


They'll do what they'll have to do. Maybe even take the bus
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20.09.2015 - 02:13
BitterCOld
Gringo
Somehow Deadone has utterly devolved this into a near useless discussion now. shame he doesn't know when to quit.

back to reality.

shit is available for free download by shady means for anyone who wants it.

artists/labels should make their shit available for download to fit customer need at a reasonable price.

the labels will always lose to those who either have cash but won't spend it on albums as they can get 'em for "free", as well as those who don't have cash in the first place.

doesn't absolve them of adapting to those like me who are willing to fork over cash for a digital product. they are doing a disservice to both themselves and their artists who might be better off just going to bandcamp.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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20.09.2015 - 02:50
Zaph
The Nothingth
I sometimes feel like it'd be a smarter move to just put up every album as "name your price." I know I'm more likely to spend a few euros on one of those than I am to buy a CD or digital download for more than 10€. Lychgate's latest is a perfect example, I would probably never buy the CD, but since it was a "name your price" at bandcamp, I dropped 2 or 3 euros into that thing. If it wasn't on bandcamp I'd most likely just downloaded it illegally and never bothered getting a copy, so good on them.
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Wubba Lubba Dub Dub
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20.09.2015 - 03:01
BitterCOld
Gringo
Written by Zaph on 20.09.2015 at 02:50

I sometimes feel like it'd be a smarter move to just put up every album as "name your price." I know I'm more likely to spend a few euros on one of those than I am to buy a CD or digital download for more than 10€. Lychgate's latest is a perfect example, I would probably never buy the CD, but since it was a "name your price" at bandcamp, I dropped 2 or 3 euros into that thing. If it wasn't on bandcamp I'd most likely just downloaded it illegally, so good on them.


wouldn't disagree terribly.

there were albums I wouldn't buy in the US based upon my value/appreciation of the artist vs. price.

there are albums on bandcamp i won't buy for similar reasons. especially anyone charging north of $10USD for digital copies.

i've never dl'd an album from bandcamp for free (well, aside from labels giving me promo codes to do so for review purposes) - trumps zero.

maybe set a price floor for "big acts" - $6.99 or whatever.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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21.09.2015 - 03:17
BitterCOld
Gringo
Written by deadone on 21.09.2015 at 02:24

As for discussion, your original topic was a mere rant about it not being available in your preferred format. It had validity as a point but there's no discussion in it.



then why in the living fuck do you keep commenting?

if you want to engage in some unending argument that has nothing to do with the original post, do so elsewhere. between this and your NS blathering i'm pretty much done with you.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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27.09.2015 - 19:24
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Absolutely fantastic article, Craig. You really hit the nail on the head as to the largest incompetence in the music industry. The complete lack of evolution does nothing but piss off fans and force labels to lose potential revenue. It's bad for everyone, and only feeds piracy, an issue the industry so vehemently opposes.
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24.12.2015 - 14:29
Ace Frawley
The Spaceman
Enjoyed your article. It struck a chord with me because I'm also a big Enslaved fan and I too look to purchase digital versions of albums. At present I buy my digital albums through Google Play, just for the convenience. I have no idea of the business arrangement with the record companies and the artists in terms of the split up of the money, but I like to think it would be on a par with CD sales from the past. Most of my friends use streaming services to digest their music, so they never own it. I don't know how the money split up works here either. But from a consumer perspective, I think it has changed how people listen to music. Interested to hear what others think about that. Totally agree that it should be made very easily available for digital purchase/download and at a lucrative price. Even some sort of bonus arrangement for loyal customers to encourage legitimate purchasing, instead of illegal downloading. How about you receive a discount on ticket price to see the band live if you buy a legitimate digital copy of their album? Or a discount on merch?
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The sun shines over The Fool...
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24.12.2015 - 16:46
BitterCOld
Gringo
Not sure you could really do an effective discount on tix or merch, unless the download is priced significantly higher than Enslaved was listed at. Maybe allow a bonus track or live tracks or something that is a freebie to hand out but won't cut into label/artist revenue stream.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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