Fuck this shit.
Actually, no, don't fuck this shit. I've been reading some blog posts and forum threads recently about online music sales and one thing most people seem to be agreeing on is that no one (by "no one" I mean "no one that participates in those discussions", including me) seems to be selling any music online. Now, I have actually sold a couple of records and some single songs on these online services but if I looked at it as an investment with monetary return, I would have to find a pimp and turn some tricks pretty quick just to break even. Thank FSM that it's just a hobby for me.
A lot of people say that piracy is to blame. People won't buy music if they can find it for free on torrents, rapidshare etc. Having lived most of my adult life in Cyprus and Greece, I can certainly sympathize. Musicians download illegal mp3s but expect to make money from their own music. Programmers use cracked versions of software but people that use cracked versions of their software are assholes. Vampires drink their own blood. Hell, I'm sure that Bear Grylls would drink his own pee in Cyprus. Oh wait, he does that everywhere anyway.
While I'm pretty certain that piracy can be partially blamed for this situation, I have a suspicion I'd like to share with my fellow readers/musicians: another thing that hurts online sales is the lack of songs. Not tracks but songs. Generally, people like to listen to pleasant songs with verse/chorus arrangements and vocals. Pop stuff, with hooks, beats and, optionally, bimbos shaking their asses on videos. Now, I have nothing against bimbos shaking their asses on video (in fact I encourage it) but since most of us are not members of that exclusive bottom-shaking club we have to at least write some songs if we're expecting people to buy something.
Glitch-hop, noise country and ambient waltz are all fine by me (I love experimenting with new sounds and forms too) but I don't expect anyone to buy my experimental noodlings. If I want the people that actually buy music online (whatever the percentage) to spend their money on my tracks I'll make sure that I'll publish the ones that a majority of the music-buying public would like to listen to. Is it selling out? Not if I enjoy the tracks myself. In fact, if you want to make money from music professionally, you're just unnecessarily holding yourself back if you make only "difficult" music on principle.
Think about it. Rebuttals (I'm sure that there are many and that I'm probably full of shit) welcome. Chocolate cakes and champagne even more so.