Brazil’s Free Music Economy

I’m reading a great book on Brazilian music styles called The Brazilian Sound.  Yep, you’ll be hearing some of those sounds from me in some new songs. 🙂

There’s an interesting comment about the way some indie bands are handling their music there.  In the world of Technobrega music, the composers freely allow DJs and producers to copy their music and even sell it on CDs that cost as little as $1 each.

The pirates therefore become distributors and the artists gain exposure.  Now, I hate whenever someone offers me “exposure” instead of money.  It almost never is.  But this Brazilian distribution of DJs is pumping up new artists’ careers.  Then they go make their money on live shows at festivals and clubs.

So what we have is a market where people expect to get music for free or extremely cheap.  And they reciprocate by supporting the artist’s concerts.  This is what we expect to see happening in the US too, though it’s proving problematic.  Here’s Bob Lefsetz’s comments on this summer’s imploding concert industry.

On the flipside is Jim McCarthy’s Live 2.0 thoughts.  Basically that shows are too expensive and not interesting enough.  Now, I’ve never seen a Brazilian Technobrega show to know how it compares to our’s.

I’m still not a fan of giving away a business’s core product.  Nike gives away a lot of stuff.  But not shoes.  Artists however are being pushed into giving away their core product.  The songs.  Though I’m sure producers of 3-dimensional objects are going to be dealing with the same problems when nano-printers make their way to the mainstream.

I think northeastern Brazil is an interesting study though.  Those indie groups giving it away are still selling a lot of CDs too.  Millions in the case of groups like Banda Calypso.  I’d like to see someone do some comparison studies.

Your thoughts?  Anyone familiar with the Brazilian music scene?

Phil Johnson

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