Jane Siberry’s Amazing Music Store

Here is musician Jane Siberry’s new music store. It’s amazing. How? From the Pricing Info page:

What Should I Pay? — It’s up to you. Really. Although they’re not meant as guidelines, you can see two prices for each download. One is the “standard” price, which is just the old catalogue price before we instituted Pay What You Want. The other is the average price recently paid by customers, which is displayed when you make a menu choice. But they’re not guidelines, just fun statistics, just like the percentages of customers who have chosen each style of payment.

Like I said: amazing. This is how musicians should (and, I think, will) sell their music in the future.


andrea's picture
andrea on November 14, 2005 - 15:22 Permalink

Hi Peter,

Can you please explain further why you think the “pay what you want” is how musicians ought to charge for their work?

Would you be willing to offer the same “pay what you want” for your professional services?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 14, 2005 - 16:01 Permalink

There is a difference between my professional services, of which there is a limited quantity (my time) and sales of MP3 files, of which there is an infinite quantity.

John Boylan's picture
John Boylan on November 14, 2005 - 16:31 Permalink

It seems to me that both you, Peter, and Ms. Siberry are in the same boat. Both of you have a finite amount of time in which to produce a product, be it a website or a recording. The difference presumably is the potential volume sale of the product. I’m guessing that the typical webpage as a product costs more than the typical album, but as you point out, the songwriter has the potential of greater volume in sale of that product.

Having said that, the reality is that the sales potential of a song or album isn’t really infinite. Hard to say how the new distribution technologies will affect this, but regardless of the format, songs or albums only sell so many copies over a certain period. I guess the question for the artist is whether creative pricing structures pay off given that they’ll hopefully get more of the money from each sale using web-based direct distribution.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 14, 2005 - 16:41 Permalink

If Jane Siberry was make one-of custom songs for individual clients that couldn’t be copied and sold to other customers, I would agree with you. But once an MP3 exists it can be copied infinitely.

The key for me is not to look at the “lost revenue” from the “pay what you want” model, but rather the *new* revenue that a model like this gives the potential to capture.

For those parts of my work that, like MP3 files, are a commodity, I do offer them on a “pay what you want” basis.

John Boylan's picture
John Boylan on November 14, 2005 - 17:05 Permalink

My point, as pedantic as it may be, is that a Jane Siberry mp3 won’t be reproduced infintely, regardless of whether or not that’s technologically possible. It will be reproduced within a set of variables, such as how many people in the world enjoy Jane Siberry’s music. The kicker for me is still the amount of time that’s gone into the creation of the product. Whether you’re high-priced, low volume, or low-priced, high volume in your sales is immaterial.

The gamble, financially speaking, is whether or not pay what you want music will pay off in terms of increased web sales, attendance at concerts, traditional album sales and an increased fan base. Using web-based delivery systems it’s less of a gamble than it once was, given that less money is tied up in manufacture and distribution of product. I’ll be curious to see if more artists move in this direction.

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on November 14, 2005 - 19:51 Permalink

Is the term “one-of” or “one-off”? I’m forever confused about that.

Terry's picture
Terry on December 8, 2005 - 02:58 Permalink

You seem to be missing the point. This is NOT about numbers but about what the heart/spirit says. A new modle based on love and compassion.