“Would an artist only let people see half a canvas then expect them to buy the painting?”
Jonny Taylor tweeted this morning: “One of my very best mates @edsheeran released his Album ‘+‘ today!! It’s a great day for UK music!! Go buy it now!! #nothingbutlove”. I’ve loved Ed Sheeran’s songwriting, stagecraft, hard work ethic and general career strategy ever since first seeing him play. His set on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury 2011 was an object lesson in how to write great songs and perform them masterfully. Ed’s management only let the BBC display the footage for a limited time, but you can get the general idea from this leftover clip on YouTube.
So having enjoyed his work live I headed along to edsheeran.com take a listen to the recorded versions on his new album, and sure enough there was a Soundcloud music player with all 12 tracks on it. But for all but two of them we can only hear 90 second clips. As mentioned before on this blog, the “buy first, listen later” approach to music is not only archaic and annoying, but also counterproductive. If you were a painter selling prints of your art on the internet would you only let people see half the image, then expect them to buy a copy before they could see the rest ?
Okay, an absurd example. So let’s suppose Chris Moyles offered to play the entire album on his Radio 1 breakfast show. Would Ed’s manager say “thanks Chris, but you can only play 90 seconds from each song beecause we want people to actually buy the album instead of hearing it free on the radio”?
Online streaming is the new airplay. If playing 90 second clips on Radio 1 would be an insane way for Ed to market his record, the same surely applies to EdSheeran.com and his Facebook page. Those are the first two places where music fans are will go to check out what the Big Fuss is all about. And when they find only 90 second clips the first place they’ll go is straight to Spotify.
Where needless to say all 12 tracks – the entire Mona Lisa in fact – is/are available for your listening pleasure with one click of the button below. And if you can’t be bothered to return to Ed’s website afterwards, here’s the Buy Now link where you can support this fine artist by buying his music on iTunes.