I found myself in yet another conversation with one of my fellow entertainers recently discussing what we will be selling, as the future becomes the present.
Many performers sell their own products at concerts including CDs and DVDs, that fans buy and often hand to us to receive an autograph.
Since so many people now carry their music collection on their hip, it makes me wonder what they will hand us in future to sign.
The latest generation seems to have returned to a historic practice of their grandparents in a way. As the long play album became the norm, the teens often reached for the 45 rpm with two songs instead of the whole album.
With the demise of vinyl and prior to the download era, with the exception of genres that accepted the one or two song cassette tapes, buyers pretty much had to take the whole album to get the song that appealed to them.
This trend created opportunities for artists to spend based on potential album sales encouraging projects that reflected their musical desires.
Now since many buyers simply buy one song at a time, many artists can no longer afford to pour huge budgets into an album that might produce one 99-cent sale per customer.
So in some respects, artists probably will have to go back to the old formula, producing one of two songs at a time, hoping to generate enough buzz to sell a massive number of downloads to keep creating more music in an environment where so much music is being listened to for free.
Personally, I also sell DVDs of my movies and my music, another product being hit with the decline of sales and questions about how movies will ultimately be delivered in the future. As far as music, now we get it one song at a time on You Tube or whatever source we choose to watch it on that thing we carry around that allows us to take calls, look up things on the internet, etc.
With the passage of years, I wonder if I might be selling a flash drive that will include my latest movie or CD, or I might be standing by a computer delivery system that allows a customer to plug in their phone or Ipad, swipe their debit card and get whatever it is they wish to buy from me, music or visual downloaded directly into their system. What will I autograph? I guess t-shirt and picture sales might increase.
I know it will not be very long until these questions get answered, and to be honest, as a consumer as well, I wonder how quickly I will be willing to embrace the change.
Let’s face it there are people in our country that so much wanted to go back to vinyl that companies found it profitable to start making albums and record players again.
So, I imagine there will be diehard folks who insist that CDs and DVDs remain for a while.
I probably will be one of them clinging to my players until they no longer work. I still have my vinyl and my solid-state record player.
But as an artist, I am worried in the sense that historically in the sub genres of most music fields, we rely upon sales of products to make a profit. With the decline of sales, and no immediate definition of the path, I wonder if we will be able to sustain enough to get by when we are having to rely on those 99 cent downloads on Itunes or Amazon.
After preparing this column, I was pleased to see a report that in the last year there has been an increase in buyers downloading entire albums in the last year, of course, that did not specifically outline impact on specific genres, but maybe the is some hope yet.
But remember, next time you download, it’s spelled R-a-n-d-a-l-l Franks. I am sure you can find something you want to spend 99 cents for, that has my name attached and even if you don’t, go ahead, it’s just 99 cents. If one million of you will go download my latest radio singles (You Gotta Know the Lows or Mississippi Moon), I will have a totally different prospective on this thing next week.