Cheap Tricks Manager David Frey Blasts Soundscan And “Too Much Information”
But His Attack Misses The Real Target
(UPDATED: Frey responds)
In a scathing editorial on the TuneCore blog, Cheap Trick manager David Frey blasts many of those who collect and sell information about music: "Ticketmaster 'owns' information on hundreds of thousands of Cheap Trick fans who have purchased their concert tickets. This is for sale. Amazon 'owns' information...Soundscan 'owns' information concerning CD and digital sales."
"So, every couple of years when the band releases a new CD we hustle, work, and pay to promote it ...And like clockwork Cheap Trick's former record company(s) release repackaged budget Special Products to cannibalize the new release," continued Frey. "So it was decided “The Latest” would not be registered with Soundscan...But keeping information from Soundscan so that it can't be sold to competitors is impossible."
"Similar to the 24/7 media that leaves no room for mystique, development, and nowhere to earn fans. Too much information in the wrong hands can kill", concluded Frey.
The Real Problem
But while Frey is right that Soundscan and Ticketmaster often do a poor job of collecting data and are even worse at sharing it with artists, is the real problem too much data or Cheap Trick's lack of access to it?
It's almost a certainty that David Frey uses data when deciding which radio stations and web sites to target; and that the sales numbers he received from Cheap Trick's last tour help determine where the band will play next year and what they'll get paid.
The problem is not too much data or even who controls it. Data is power and can lead to better decisions. Is Frey advocating that the music industry return to the cooked data days when it shipped a million copies to guarantee a #1 and then took back 600,000 in returns?
Frey's target should not be too much data, but rather access to it.
If Cheap Trick had the email address or knew the home city of each fan, how he markets the band would change dramatically for the better. Frey could accomplish that tomorrow by selling "The Latest" and tickets for the next tour only from their official web site. But when he chose to sell reach a wider audience via iTunes, Amazon or Best Buy, he entered into a partnership that includes Soundscan..
Cheap Trick's battle should not be over others collecting data on his band or even that they make money doing it. The real battle is that creators and rights holders deserve easy access to the data as well.
If David Frey points his guns at that target, much of the industry will jump to stand beside him.